Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

and cumming while they shamefully forgot the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith; but our Saviour well determincs upon it, These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. The smaller matters of religion, the ceremonies, the outward circumstances, and every injunction of its ought to be carefully observed; but surely the argument holds much stronger for the observance of such precepts as tend to inward and universal holiness. There is no composition to be expected, we must be good to the utmost of our power in every thing, or, like the corrupt defective Scribes and Pharisees, we shall never enter into the kingdom of God.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Of canseless Anger, and of fcornful and

cenforious Language.

MATTH. V. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26. Te have heard, that it was said by them of old

time, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever Shall kill, shall be in danger of the Judg

ment.

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry

with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment : and whosoever Shall say to his brother, Raca, Mall be in

danger

danger of the council: But whosoever Mall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of bella

fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar,

and there remembrest that thy brother hath

ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go

thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother,

and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him: left at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer,

and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means

come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing

UR Lord having in the foriner para

graph declared, that fuch as would be O his Disciples, must practise a more ex

cellent and refined morality, than the

Jewish doctors taught, and carry the precepts and prohibitions of the law of God beyond the then received interpretations of them, proceeds to give an instance in the matter of the sixth commandment. The Jews understood by it, no more than what the letter of the precept forced them to acknowledge, a prohibition from murder, but he extends it to the forbidding of all such illgovern'd passions, and provoking behaviour, as were the principles, and might prove the occasions of murder. Let us suppofe our Saviour to have express'd himself after the following manner.

[blocks in formation]

“ MURDER ye know to be forbidden by the “ law under the pain of death, the judgment u“ sually inflicted for such a crime. But the com“ mission of murder, and the actual · Shedding of “ blood, is far from being all that is restrained by " this commandment. For I, who am sent from “ heaven as an authentick interpreter of the divine “ laws, declare to you, that whosoever indulges “ himself in rash, unreasonable, or excesive anger, is “ in the eye of God guilty of a capital crime. " And whosoever proceeds farther, to scornful and

contemptuous language, is still a more heinous of6 fender, and worthy of a more severe punishment " than an ordinary death, even as a council uses to “ be held amongst you for the punishment of notorious malefactors, when the common methods " of justice are thought too mild and gentle for " their crimes. And he who gives his tongue the " liberty of reviling, is still more odious to God, and " worthy of the most dreadful severities that can be “ inflicted upon him. If therefore, when you come “ to pay your devotions to Almighty God, ye remem“ber, ye have been in any of these kinds injurious “ to your neighbour, go first and reconcile your « felves to him, and then return and finish your « devotions; which then, and not till then, will “ be acceptable. Make up the matter in time with your adversary, whileft it

may

be made up, be« fore the cause comes to be heard; left being cast

ye be committed to prison, from whence ye “ must not expect to be released without suffering “the utmost rigour of the law, whatever it be.

In explaining of this paragraph farther, I will not trouble you with a critical account of the three degrees of punishment, referred to in verse 22. It will be enough to observe, that by such an allusion our Saviour signifies to us, that even causeless anger is a fin, contemptuous language a greater, and

cenforious

1

censorious reviling yet worse; and that accordingly
a punishment proportionable to the degrees of guilt,
is reserved for each of these by the judgment of
God, as well as for the groffer acts of murder.
The precept therefore, as it is here refined upon
and enlarged, extends,

I. To the moderating of anger.
II. To the restraining all scornful and contemp-

tuous language, and all Nanderous and vile re

flections. III. To the obliging us, when we have done an

injury, to repair it as well as we can, and to folicit a reconciliation as soon as is possible.

Let us consider these distinctly. I. I begin with the first, the rules to be observed for duly moderating our anger. It was never the design of the christian religion to root out human pasfions; they being essential to our very nature, we are not men without them; but to reduce them to their true use, and confine them within due bounds. The motions of fear and love, of joy and grief, of complacency and anger, are not evil in themselves, but as we use them : Let them be governed by the law of God, and by the rules of reason, and they are as innocent as any other faculty of the rational soul, and every way as subservient and necessary to the ends of virtue. But if we let them loose, they will certainly drive us before them, as their slaves, to all manner of sin and extravagance ; then the law of God will be trampled upon, reason will be over-born; the peace of our own minds, and thc good order of all about us will be destroy’d. It is highly requisite, therefore, to keep a strait rein upon our passions, that we may govern them, and not they us; which, in the case I am now particularly {peaking of, I suppose to be the meaning of St,

3

Paul's

P 3

Paul's advice, * Be ye angry, and fin not. He suggests indeed, that there is something of difficulty in being angry and innocent together; because the corruptions of our nature have given our passions that command over us, which nothing but the grace of God, and our own vigorous endeavours can restrain; yet certainly, he supposes it to be poffible, or else the direction would be absurd. And that we may thus preserve our innocence, it concerns us carefully to look to it, that the cause, the measure, and the continuance of our anger be under due prescription. (1.) FIRST then, we must not be angry

without a great and just provocation. I take it for granted, that there are warrantable causes of anger, and that anger is not forbidden where the occasions are just But since it is natural to us all, when we are moved to think, with peevish Jonah, that we do well to be angry'; let us consider a little, what those occasions are, which really will or will not, justify our being so. One rule I am sure we may depend upon, that whatever" resentments proceed from PRIDE, or from .exorbitant SELF-LOVE, are utterly unlawful; for these are principles corrupt and vicious in themselves, and who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? And hence we must concludo against all resentments of neglect, contradiétion, personal contempt, and other the like affronts, whether real or imaginary: Except where the authority of a parent, a master, or a magistrate is insulted; and then indeed for the sake of natural reverence and political order, contempts become just occasions of anger, and ought to be resented. But when the offence is merely personal (especially if the importance of it is not great ) humility and meekness ought to govern, and all should be pass’d

* Erh iv. 6.

by

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »