Flavel, Fountain of Life, File 30.
( ...continued from File 29)
Sermon 30. Of the Instructiveness of the Death of Christ, in his 
seven last Words; the first of which is here illustrated. 
Luke 23:34 
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they 
The manner in which Christ died has already been opened in the 
solitude and patience in which he died. The third, to wit, the 
instructiveness of his death, now follows, in these seven excellent 
and weighty sayings, which dropped from his blessed lips upon the 
tree, whilst his sacred blood dropped on the earth from his wounded 
hands and feet; so that on the cross he exercised both his priestly 
and prophetical office together, redeeming us by his blood, and 
instructing us by his words. 
    These seven words of Christ upon the cross are his last words, 
with which he breathed out his soul. The last words of a dying man 
are remarkable; the scripture puts a remark upon them, 2 Sam. 23: 1. 
"Now these be the last words of David." How remarkable are the last 
words of Christ. 
    These words are seven in number; three directed to his Father, 
and four more to those about him. Of the former sort this is one, 
Father, forgive them, &c. In which we have, First, The mercy desired 
by Christ, and that is forgiveness. Secondly, The persons for whom 
it is desired, [Them,] that is, those cruel and wicked persons that 
were now imbruing their hands in his blood. And, Thirdly, The motive 
or argument urged to procure that mercy from his Father, for they 
know not what they do. 
    First, The mercy prayed for, that is, forgiveness; Father, 
forgive. Forgiveness is not only a mercy, a spiritual mercy, but one 
of the greatest mercies a soul can obtain from God, without which, 
whatever else we have from God, is no mercy to us. So great a mercy 
is forgiveness, that David calls him blessed, or rather admires the 
blessedness of him, "whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is 
covered." This mercy, this best of mercies, he requests for them, 
Father, forgive them. 
    Secondly, The persons for whom he requests forgiveness, are the 
same that with wicked hands crucified him. Their fact was the most 
horrid that ever was committed by men: they not only shed innocent 
blood, but the blood of God; the best of mercies is by him desired 
for the worst of sinners. 
    Thirdly The motive or argument urged to procure this mercy for 
them, is this for they know not what they do. As if he should say, 
Lord, what these poor creatures do, is not so much out of malice to 
me as the Son of God; but it is from their ignorance. Did they know 
who, and what I am, they would rather be nailed to the cross 
themselves, than do it. To the same purpose the apostle saith, 1 
Cor. 2: 8. "Whom none of the princes of this world knew; for had 
they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Yet 
this is not to be extended to all that had an hand in the death of 
Christ, but to the ignorant multitude, among whom, some of God's 
elect were, who afterwards believed in him, whose blood they spilt, 
Acts 3: 17. "And now, brethren, I wet that through ignorance ye did 
it." For them this prayer of Christ was heard. Hence the notes are, 
    Doct. 1. That ignorance is the usual cause of enmity to Christ. 
    Doct. 2. That there is forgiveness with God for such as oppose 
    Christ through ignorance. 
    Doct. 3. That to forgive enemies, and beg forgiveness for them 
    is the true character and property of the Christian spirit. 
    These observations contain so much practical truth, that it 
would be worth our time to open and apply them distinctly, 
    Doct. 1. That ignorance is the usual cause of enmity to Christ. 
    "These things (saith the Lord) will they do, because they have 
"not known the Father, nor me," John 16: 3. What thing does he mean? 
Why, kill and destroy the people of God, and therein suppose they do 
God good service, (i.e.) think to oblige and gratify the Father, by 
their butchering his children. So Jer 9: 3. "They proceed from evil 
to evil; and have not known me, " saith the Lord," q.d. Had they the 
knowledge of God, this would check and stop them in their ways of 
wickedness? and so Psal. 74: 20. "The dark places of the earth are 
full of the habitations of cruelty." 
    Three things must be inquired into, viz. what their ignorance 
of Christ was. Whence it was. And how it disposed them to such 
enmity against him. 
    First. What was their ignorance who crucified Christ? Ignorance 
is two-fold, simple, or respective. Simple ignorance is not 
supposable in these persons, for in many things they were a knowing 
people. But it was respective, particular ignorance, Rom. 9: 25. 
"Blindness in part is happened to Israel." They knew many other 
truths, but did not know Jesus Christ; in that their eyes were held. 
Natural light they had; yea, and scripture light they had; but in 
this particular, that this was the Son of God, the Saviour of the 
world, therein they were blind and ignorant. 
    But how could that be! Had they not heard at least of his 
miraculous works? Did they not see how his birth, life and death, 
squared with the prophecies, both in time, place, and manner? Whence 
should this their ignorance be when they saw, or at least might have 
seen, the scriptures fulfilled in him; and that he came among them 
in a time when they were big with expectations of the Messiah? 
    It is true, indeed, they knew the scriptures; and it cannot but 
be supposed the fame of his mighty works had reached their ears: But 
    First, Though they had the scriptures among them, they 
misunderstood them; and did not rightly measure Christ by that right 
rule. You find, John 7: 52. how they reason with Nicodemus against 
Christ; "Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and see: for out of 
Galilee ariseth no prophet." Here is a double mistake: First, They 
supposed Christ to arise out of Galilee, whereas he was of 
Bethlehem, though much conversant in the parts of Galilee: And, 
Secondly, They thought, because they could find no prophet had 
arisen out of Galilee, therefore none should. 
    Another mistake that blinded them about Christ, was from their 
conceit that Christ should not die, but live for ever, John 12: 34. 
"We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever: and how 
sayest thou, the Son of man must be lifted up? who is the Son of 
man?" That scripture which probably they urge against the mortality 
of Christ, is Isa. 9: 7. "Of the increase of his government and 
peace, there shall be no end, upon the throne of David," &c. In like 
manner, John 7: 27. we find them in another mistake; "We know this 
man whence he is; but when Christ comes, no man knoweth whence he 
is." This, likely, proceeded from their misunderstanding of Micas 5: 
2. "His going forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Thus 
were they blinded about the person of Christ, by misinterpretations 
of scripture-prophecies 
    Secondly, Another thing occasioning their mistake of Christ, 
was the outward meanness and despicableness of his condition. They 
expected a pompous Messiah, one that should come with state and 
glory, becoming the king of Israel. But when they saw him in the 
form of a servant, coming in poverty, not to be ministered unto, but 
to minister, they utterly rejected him: "We hid as it were our faces 
from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not," Isa. 53: 3. Nor 
is it any great wonder these should be scandalised at his poverty 
when the disciples themselves had such carnal apprehensions of his 
kingdom, Mark 10: 37, 38. 
    Thirdly, Add to this, their implicit faith in the learned 
rabbis and doctors, who utterly misled them in this matter, and 
greatly prejudiced them against Christ. "Lo, (said they) he speaketh 
boldly, and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers know indeed that 
this is the very Christ?" They pinned their faith upon the rulers 
sleeves, and suffered them to carry it whether they would. This was 
their ignorance, and these its causes. 
    Thirdly, Let us see, in the next place, how this disposed them 
to such enmity against Christ. And this it does three ways. 
    First, Ignorance disposes men to enmity and opposition to 
Christ, by removing those hindrances that would otherwise keep them 
from it, as checks and rebukes of conscience, by which they are 
restrained from evil; but conscience binding and reproving in the 
authority and virtue of the law of God, where that law is not known, 
there can be no reproofs; and therefore we truly say, That ignorance 
is virtually every sin. 
    Secondly, Ignorance enslaves and subjects the soul to the lusts 
of Satan; he is "the ruler of the darkness of this world," Eph. 6: 
12. There is no work so base and vile, but an ignorant man will 
undertake it. 
    Thirdly, Nay, which is more, if a man be ignorant of Christ, 
his truths, or people, he will not only oppose, and persecute, but 
he will also do it conscientiously, i. e. he will look upon it as 
his duty so to do, John 16: 3. Before the Lord opened Paul's eyes, 
"he verily thought that he ought to do many things contrary to the 
name of Christ." Thus you have a brief account what, and whence 
their ignorance was, and how it disposed and prepared them for this 
dreadful work. Hence we learn, 
    Inference 1. How falsely is the gospel charged as the cause of 
discord and trouble in the world. It is not light, but darkness, 
that makes men fierce and cruel: as light increases, so does peace, 
Isa. 11: 6, 9. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the 
leopard lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion, and 
the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them; they shall 
not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be 
full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." 
What a sad condition would the world be in without gospel light! all 
places would be dens of rapine, and mountains of prey. Certainly we 
owe much of our civil liberty, and outward tranquillity to 
gospel-light. If a sword, or variance, at any time, follow the 
gospel, it is but an accidental, not a direct and proper effect of 
    Inf. 2. How dreadful is it to oppose Christ and his truth 
knowingly, and with open eyes? Christ pleads their ignorance as an 
argument to procure their pardon. Paul himself was once filled with 
rage and madness against Christ and his truths: it was well for him 
that he did it ignorantly: had he gone against his light and 
knowledge, there had been little hope of him, 1 Tim. 1: 13. "I was a 
blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy, 
because I did it ignorantly, and in unbelief." I do not say, it is 
simply impossible for one that knowingly and maliciously opposes and 
persecutes Christ and his people, to be forgiven, but it is not 
usual, Heb. 6: 4, 5. There are few instances of it. 
    Inf. 3. What an awful majesty sits upon the brow of holiness, 
that few dare to oppose it that see it! There are few or none so 
daringly wicked, to fight against it with open eyes; 1 Pet. 3: 13. 
"Who will harm you whilst ye are followers of that which is good:" 
q. d. who dare be so hardy to set upon known godliness, or afflict 
and wrong the known friends of it? The true reason why many 
Christians speed so bad, is not because they are godly, but be cause 
they do not manifest the power of godliness more than they do: their 
lives are so like the lives of others, that they are often mistaken 
for others. Cyprian brings in the wicked of his time, thus scoffing 
at professors, "behold, they that boast themselves to be redeemed 
from the tyranny of Satan, and to be dead to the world, how are they 
overcome by the lusts of it, as well as other men:" Look as the 
poverty and meanness of Christ's outward condition was a ground of 
their mistake of him then, so the poverty and meanness of our love 
to God, heavenly mindedness, and mortification to this world, is a 
disguise to professors, and cause why they are not more owned and 
honoured in the consciences of men at this day. For holiness, 
manifested in its power, is so awfully glorious, that the 
consciences of the vilest cannot but honour it, and do obeisance to 
it, Mark 6: 20. "Herod feared John, for he was a just man." 
    Inf. 4. The enemies of Christ are objects of pity. Alas, 
they're b1ind, and know not what they do. It is pity that any other 
affection than pity, should stir in our hearts towards them. Were 
their eyes but open, they would never do as they do: we should look 
upon them as the physician does upon his sick distempered patient. 
Did they but see with the same light you do, they would be as far 
from hating Christ, or his ways, as you are, Simul ac desinunt 
ignorere, desinunt odisse; as soon as they cease to be ignorant, 
they cerise to hate, saith Tertullian. 
    Inf. 5. How needful is it before we engage ourselves against 
any person or way, to be well satisfied and resolved that it is a 
wicked person or practice that we oppose? You see the world 
generally runs upon a mistake in this matter. O beware of doing you 
know not what! for though you do you know not what, Satan knows what 
he is doing by you: he blinds your eyes, and then sets you to work, 
knowing that if you should but see what you are doing, you would 
rather die than do it: you may now do you know not what but you may 
afterwards have time enough to reflect on, and lament what you have 
done: you may now do you know not what, and hereafter you may not 
know what to do. O beware what you now do! 
    Doct. 2. That there is forgiveness with God, for such as oppose 
    Christ out of ignorance. 
    If all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, 
then this, as well as others, Mat. 12: 31. We are not, with 
Theophilact, to understand that place of the certainty of pardon; 
much less, with Origin, of the desert of it; nor yet, with 
Jansenius, of the facility at it, but rather of the possibility of 
forgiveness: it shall be so to some; it may be so to you; even those 
whose wicked hands had crucified Christ, may receive remission by 
that blood they shed, Acts 2: 23, 38. compared. 
    I have two things here to do: First, To open the nature of the 
forgiveness, and show you what it is. Secondly, To evince the 
possibility of it, for such as, mistakingly, oppose Christ. 
    For the First, Forgiveness is God's gracious discharge of a 
believing penitent sinner, from the guilt of all his sin, for 
Christ's sake. 
    It is Gods discharge: there is indeed fraternal forgiveness, by 
which one man forgives another; so far as he is interested in the 
wrong, Luke 6: 87. There is also a ministerial forgiveness, whereby 
the minister of Christ, as his mouth, and in his name, declares the 
pardon, or ministerially applies the promises of pardon to penitent 
offenders, John 20: 23. But none can absolutely and properly forgive 
sin, but God only, Mark 2: 7. The primary, and principal wrong is 
done to him; Psal. 51: 4. " Against thee, and thee only" (i.e.) thee 
mainly or especially, " have I sinned." Hence sins are metonimically 
called debts, debts to God, Mat. 6: 12. Not that we owe them to God, 
or ought to sin against him; but as pecuniary debts obliges him that 
owes it to the penalty, if he satisfy not for it; so do our sins. 
And who can discharge the debtor, but the creditor? 
    It is gracious act to discharge. "I, even I, am he that 
blotteth out thy transgression for mine own name sake," Isa. 43: 25. 
And yet sin is not so forgiven, as that God expects no satisfaction 
at all; but as expecting none from us, because God has provided a 
surety for us, from whom he is satisfied, Eph. 1: 7. "In whom we 
have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, 
according to the riches of his grace." 
    it is a gracious discharge from the guilt of sin. Guilt is that 
which pardon properly deals with. Guilt is an obligation to 
punishment. Pardon is the dissolving that obligation. Guilt is a 
chain with which sinners are bound and fettered by the law. Pardon 
is that Aquafortis that eats it asunder, and makes the prisoner a 
free man. The pardoned soul is a discharged soul, Rom. 8: 53. "Who 
shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is "God that 
justifieth, who shall condemn? It is Christ that died." 
    It is God's discharge of a believing penitent sinner. 
Infidelity and impenitence, are not only sins in themselves, but 
such sins as bind fast all other sins upon the soul. "By him, all 
that believe are justified from all things," Acts 10: 43. So Acts 3: 
19. "Repent therefore, that your sins may be blotted out." This is 
the method in which God dispenseth pardon to sinners. 
    Lastly, It is for Christ's sake we are discharged; he is the 
meritorious cause of our remission, "As God, for Christ's sake, has 
forgiven you," Eph. 4: 32. It is his blood alone that meritoriously 
procures our discharge. 
    This is a brief and true account of the nature of forgiveness. 
    Secondly, Now to evince the possibility of forgiveness, for 
such as ignorantly oppose Christ, let these things be weighed: 
    First, Why should any poor soul, that is now humbled for its 
enmity to Christ in the days of ignorance, question the possibility 
of forgiveness, when this effect does not exceed the power of the 
cause; nay, when there is more efficacy in the blood of Christ, the 
meritorious cause, than is in this effect of it? There is power 
enough in that blood, not only to pardon thy sins, but the sins of 
the whole world, were it actually applied, 1 John 2: 2. There is not 
only a sufficiency, but also a redundancy of merit, in that precious 
blood. Surely then thy enmity to Christ, especially, before thou 
knowest him, may not look like an unpardonable iniquity in thine 
    Secondly, And as this sin exceeds not the power of the 
meritorious cause of forgiveness; so neither is it any where 
excluded from pardon, by any word of God. Nay, such is the 
extensiveness of the promise to believing penitents, that this case 
is manifestly included, and forgiveness tendered to thee in the 
promises, Isa. 55: 7. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the 
unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and 
he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly 
pardon." Many such extensive promises there are in the scriptures: 
and there is not one parenthesis in all these blessed pages, in 
which this case is excepted. 
    Thirdly, And it is yet more satisfactory; that God has already 
actually forgiven such sinners; and that which he has done, he may 
again do: yea, therefore he has done it to some, and those eminent 
for their enmity to Christ, that others may be encouraged to hope 
for the same mercy, when they also shall be, in the same manner, 
humbled for it. Take one famous instance of many; it is that of Paul 
in Tim. 1: 13, 16. "Who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and 
injurious. But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in 
unbelief. - Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me 
first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a 
pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to everlasting 
life." It is no small encouragement to a sick man, to hear of some 
that have been recovered out of the same disease, and that 
prevailing in an higher degree than in himself. 
    Fourthly, Moreover, it is encouraging to consider, That when 
God had cut off others in the way of their sin, he has hitherto 
spared thee. What speaks this but a purpose of mercy to thy soul? 
Thou shouldest account the long-suffering of God thy salvation, 2 
Pet. 3: 15. Had he smitten thee in the way of thy sin and enmity to 
Christ, what hope had remained! But in that he has not only spared 
thee, but also given thee a heart ingenuously ashamed, and humbled 
for thy evils: does not this speak mercy for thee; surely it looks 
like a gracious design of love to thy soul. 
    Inference 1. And is there forgiveness with God for such as have 
been enemies to Christ, his truths, and gospel? Then certainly there 
is pardon and mercy for the friends of God, who involuntarily fall 
into sin, by the surprisals of temptation, and are broken for it, as 
ingenuous children for offending a good Father. Can any doubt, if 
God have pardon for such enemies, he has none for children? If he 
have forgiveness for such as shed the blood of Christ with wicked 
hands, has he not much more mercy and forgiveness for such as love 
Christ, and are more afflicted for their sin against him, than all 
other troubles they have in the word? Doubt it not, but he who 
receives enemies into his bosom, will much more receive and embrace 
children, though offending ones. 
    How pensive do the dear children of God sometimes sit, after 
their lapse into sin? Will God ever pardon this? will he be 
reconciled again? May I hope his face shall be to me, as in former 
times? Pensive soul! if thou didst but know the largeness, 
tenderness, freeness of that grace, which yearns over enemies, and 
has given forth thousands, and ten thousands of pardons to the worst 
of sinners, thou wouldst not sink at that rate. 
    Inf. 2. Is there pardon with God for enemies? How inexcusable 
then are all they that persist and perish in their enmity to Christ! 
sure their destruction is of themselves. Mercy is offered to them, 
if they will receive it, Isa. 55: 7. Proclamation is made in the 
gospel, that if there be any among the enemies of Christ, who repent 
of that they have been, and done against him, and are now 
unfeignedly willing to be reconciled, upon the word of a King, they 
shall find mercy: But "God shall wound the head of the enemies, and 
the hairy scalp of such a one as goes on still in his trespasses," 
Psal. 68: 21. "If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he has bent 
his bow, and made it ready; he has also prepared for him the 
instruments of death: He ordaineth his arrows against the 
persecutors," Psal. 7: 12. 
    This lays the blood of every man that perishes in his enmity to 
Christ, at his own door; and vindicates the righteousness of God, in 
the severest strokes of wrath upon them: This also will be a cutting 
thought to their hearts eternally: I might once have had pardon, and 
I refused it: the gospel trumpet sounded a parley: fair and gracious 
terms were offered, but I rejected them. 
    Is there mercy with God and forgiveness, even for his worst 
enemies, upon their submission; How unlike to God then are all 
implacable spirits! Some there are that cannot bring their hearts to 
forgive an enemy; "to whom revenge is sweeter than life." 1 Sam. 24: 
16. "If a man find his enemy, will he let him go?" This is hell 
fire, a fire that never goes out. How little do such poor creatures 
consider, if God should deal by them, as they do by others, what 
words could express the misery of their condition! It is a sad sin, 
and a sad sign, a character of a wretched state, wherever it 
appears. Those that have found mercy, should be ready to show mercy: 
and they that expect mercy themselves, should not deny it to others. 
This brings us upon the third and last observation, viz. 
    Doct. 53 That to forgive enemies, and beg forgiveness for them, 
    is the true character and property of the Christian spirit. 
    Thus did Christ: "Father forgive them." And thus did Stephen, 
in imitation of Christ, Acts 7: 59, 60. "And they stoned Stephen, 
calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit. And he 
kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to 
their charge." This suits with the rule of Christ, Mat. 5: 44, 45. 
"But I say unto you, love your enemies; bless them that curse you, 
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully 
use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of God your 
Father which is in heaven." 
    Here I shall first open the nature of this duty, and show you 
what a forgiving spirit is; and then the excellency of it, how well 
it becomes all that call themselves Christians. 
    First, Let us enquire what this Christian forgiveness is. And 
that the nature of it may the better appear, I shall show you both 
what it is not, and what it is. 
    First, It consists not in a Stoical insensibility of wrongs and 
injuries. God has not made men as insensible, stupid blocks, that 
have no sense or feeling of what is done to them. Nor has he made a 
law inconsistent with their very natures that are to be governed by 
it: but allows us a tender sense of natural evils, though he will 
not allow us to revenge them by moral evils: nay, the more deep and 
tender our resentments of wrongs and injuries are, the more 
excellent is our forgiveness of them; so that a forgiving spirit 
does not exclude sense of injuries, but the sense of injuries graces 
the forgiveness of them. 
    Secondly, Christian forgiveness is not a politic concealment of 
our wrath and revenge, because it will be a reproach to discover it; 
or, because we want opportunity to vent it. This is carnal policy, 
not Christian meekness. So far from being the mark of a gracious 
spirit, that it is apparently the sign of a vile nature. It is not 
Christianity to repose, but depose injuries. 
    Thirdly, Nor is it that moral virtue for which we are beholden 
to an easier and better nature, and the help of moral rules and 
documents. There are certain virtues attainable without the change 
of nature, which they call homilitical virtues, because they greatly 
adorn and beautify nature; such as temperance, patience, justice, 
&c. These are of singular use to conserve peace and order in the 
world: and without them, (as one aptly speaks) the world would soon 
break up, and its civil societies disband. But yet, though these are 
the ornaments of nature, they do not argue the change of nature. All 
graces, in the exercises of them, involve a respect to God: And for 
the being of them, they are not by natural acquisition, but 
supernatural infusion. 
    Fourthly, and lastly, Christian forgiveness is not an injurious 
giving up of our rights and properties to the lust of everyone that 
has a mind to invade them. No; these we may lawfully defend and 
preserve, and are bound so to do; though, if we cannot defend them 
legally, we must not avenge our wrongs unchristianly: This is not 
Christian forgiveness. But, then positively, 
    It is a Christian lenity, or gentleness of mind, not retaining, 
but freely passing by the injuries done to us, in obedience to the 
command of God. 
    It is a levity, or gentleness of mind. The grace of God 
demulces the angry stomach; calms the tumultuous passions; new- 
moulds our sour spirits, and makes them benign, gentle and easy to 
be entreated; Gal. 5: 22. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, 
peace, long suffering, gentleness," &c. 
    This gracious levity inclines the Christian to pass by 
injuries; so to pass them by, as neither to retain then revengefully 
in the mind, or requite them when we have opportunity with the hand: 
Yea, and that freely, not by constraint, because we cannot avenge 
ourselves, but willingly. We abhor to do it when we can. So that as 
a carnal heart thinks revenge its glory, the gracious heart is 
content that forgiveness should be his glory. I will be even with 
him, saith nature: I will be above him, saith grace: it is his glory 
to pass over transgression, Prov. 19: 11. 
    And this it does in obedience to the command of God: Their own 
nature inclines them another way. "The spirit that is in us lusteth 
to envy; but he giveth more grace," James 4: 5. It lusteth to 
revenge, but the fear of God represseth those motions. Such 
considerations as these God has forbidden me; yea, and God has 
forgiven me, as well as forbidden me: they prevail upon him when 
nature urges to revenge the wrong. "Be kind one to another, 
tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake 
has forgiven you," Eph. 4: 32. This is forgiveness in a Christian 
    Secondly, And that this is excellent, and singularly becoming 
the profession of Christ, is evident; inasmuch as, 
    This speaks your religion excellent, that can mould your hearts 
into that heavenly frame, to which they are so averse, yea, 
contrarily disposed by nature. It is the glory of Pagan morality, 
that it can abscondere vitia, hide and cover men's lusts and 
passions. But the glory of Christianity lies in this, that it can 
abscindere vitia, not hide, but destroy, and really mortify the 
lusts of nature. Would Christians but live up to the excellent 
principles of their religion, Christianity shall be no more out-vied 
by heathenish morality. The greatest Christian shall be no more 
challenged to imitate Socrates, if he can. We shall utterly spoil 
that proud boast, "that the faith of Christians is out-done by the 
infidelity of Heathens." 0 Christians yield not to-day to Heathens! 
Let all the world see the true greatness, heavenliness, and 
excellency of our represented pattern; and by true mortification of 
your corrupt natures, enforce an acknowledgement from the world, 
that a greater than Socrates is here. He that is really a meek, 
humble, patient, heavenly Christian, wins this glory to his 
religion, that it can do more than all other principles and rules in 
the world. In nothing were the most accomplished Heathens more 
defective than this forgiving of injuries: It was a thing they could 
not understand, or, if they did, could never bring their hearts to 
it; witness that rule of their great Tally: "It is the first office 
of justice, (saith he), to hurt no man, except first provoked by an 
injury." The addition of that exception spoiled his excellent rule. 
    But now Christianity teaches, and some Christians have attained 
it, to receive evil, and return good, 1 Cor. 4: l2,13. "Being 
reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we 
intreat." This certainly is that meekness wrought in us by the 
wisdom that is from above, James 3: 17. 
    This makes a man sit sure in the consciences of others, who, 
with Saul, must acknowledge, when they see themselves so outdone, 
"Thou art more righteous than I," 1 Sam. 24: 16, 17. Had we been so 
much injured, and had such opportunities to revenge them, we should 
never have passed them by, as these men did. 
    This impresses and stamps the very image of God upon the 
creature, and makes us like our heavenly Father, who does good to 
his enemies, and sends down showers of outward blessings upon them, 
that pour out floods of wickedness daily to provoke him, Mat. 5: 44, 
45. In a word, this Christian temper of spirit gives a man the true 
possession and enjoyment of himself. So that our breasts shall be as 
the Pacific sea, smooth and pleasant, when others are as the raging 
sea, foaming and casting up mire and dirt. 
    Inference 1. Hence we clearly infer, That the Christian 
religion, exalted in its power, is the neatest friend to the peace 
and tranquillity of states and kingdoms. Nothing is more opposite to 
the true Christian spirit, than implacable fierceness, strife, 
revenge, tumults and uproars. It teaches men to do good and receive 
evil: to receive evil, and return good. "The wisdom that is from 
above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be 
intreated; full of mercy and good fruits; without partiality, and 
without hypocrisy; and the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace 
of them that make peace," James 3: 17,18. 
    The church is a dove for meekness, Cant. 6: 9. When the world 
grows full of strife, Christians then grow weary of the world, and 
sigh out the Psalmist's request, "O that I had the wings of a dove! 
that I might fly away and be at rest." Strigellius desired to die, 
that he might be freed ab implacabilibus odiis theologorum, "from 
the implacable strife of contending divines." 
    The rule by which they are to walk, is, "If it be possible, as 
much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, 
avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is 
written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay it, saith the Lord," Rom. 
12: 18, 19. It is not religion, but lusts that make the world so 
unquiet, James 4: 1, 2. Not godliness, but wickedness, that makes 
men bite and devour one another. One of the first effects of the 
gospel, is to civilise those places where it comes, and settle order 
and peace among men. How great a mistake and evil then is it to cry 
out, when atheism and irreligion have broken the civil peace; this 
is the fruit of religion! this is the effect of the gospel! Happy 
would it be if religion did more obtain in all nations. It is the 
greatest friend in the world to their tranquillity and prosperity. 
    Inf. 2. How dangerous a thing is it to abuse and wrong meek and 
forgiving Christians? Their patience and easiness to forgive often 
invites injury, and encourages vile spirits to insult and trample 
upon them: but if men would seriously consider it, there is nothing 
in the world should more scare and affright them from such practices 
than this. You may abuse and wrong them, they must not avenge 
themselves, nor repay evil for evil: true, but because they do not, 
the Lord will; even the Lord to whom they commit the matter; and he 
will do it to purpose, except ye repent. 
    "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord," 
James 5: 7. Will ye stand to that issue? had you rather indeed have 
to do with God than with men? When the Jews put Christ to death, "he 
committed himself to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Pet. 2: 22, 23. 
And did that people get any thing by that: did not the Lord severely 
avenge the blood of Christ on them and their children? yea, do not 
they and their children groan under the doleful effects of it to 
this day? If God undertakes, (as he always does) the cause of his 
abused, meek, and peaceable people, he will be sure to avenge it 
seven fold more than they could. His little finger will be heavier 
then their loins. You will get nothing by that. 
    Inf. 3. Lastly, Let us all imitate our pattern Christ, and 
labour for meek forgiving spirits. I shall only propose two 
inducements to it: the honour of Christ, and your own peace: two 
dear things indeed to a Christian. His glory is more than your life, 
and all that you enjoy in this world. O do not expose it to the 
scorn and derision of his enemies. Let them not say, How is Christ a 
lamb, when his followers are lions? How is the church a dove, that 
smites and scratches like a bird of prey? Consult also the quiet of 
your own spirits. What is life worth, without the comfort of life? 
what comfort can you have in all that you do possess in the world, 
as long as you have not the possession of your own souls? If your 
spirits be full of tumult and revenge, the spirit of Christ will 
grow a stranger to you: that dove delights in clean and quiet 
breasts. O then imitate Christ in this excellency also! 

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