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te?-ness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another. For if ye forgive not men their trespasses against you, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.* And let us remember, that he who sheweth no mercy, shall have judgment without mercy.\
If we are truly merciful, we shall love mercy; we shall take pleasure in the exercise of charity, and delight in doing good. We shall remember the infinite and unmerited mercy of God as manifested to sinners through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we shall seek that grace which is offered us in the Gospel, to enable us to repent of our sins, to believe and obey the truth, that we may obtain the salvation which is provided for and promised to the penitent, the believing, and the obedient
In the last place, let us learn to walk humbly with our God, by confessing our original and actual sins, and by turning to him with true repentance. Let us acknowledge, with the Patriarch Jacob, O Lord, lam not worthy of the least of these thy mercies.^ And let us learn to confess with the same humility as the Prophet Jeremiah: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassionsfail not; they are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.^ Finally, let
* Ephes. iv. 31. t James ii. 13.
X Gen. xxxii. 10. $ Lam. iii. 22, 23.
us follow the admonition of the Prophet Hosea, from a serious consideration of this subject: Therefore turn thee to thy God; keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.*
* Hos. xii. 6.
Note.—Page 41. A right to relief, tyc.—On introducing the New Poor Law into the House of Commons (April 17th, 1884), Lord Althorp is reported to have said, that "in making the statement he had done (relating to the abuses under the old law), he begged not to be understood as expressing his disapprobation of a well-regulated system of Poor Laws. So far from that being the case, he was of opinion that a well-regulated system of Poor Laws would be productive of great benefit to the country. He was aware that he was now expressing an opinion contrary to the more strict principles of Political Economy. Indeed, those principles went further, for they even prohibited the exercise of private charity itself. But as long as we were accessible, not only to the feelings of religion, but to the dictates of humanity, we must be convinced that the support of those who were really helpless, and really unable to provide for themselves, was not only justifiable, but a sacred duty on our parts."
Note.—Ibid. But no law, fyc.—" In all countries laws were instituted in support of religion and morality, of civil and social rights. The laws of a Christian people should therefore never be at variance with the laws of the
Gospel."—Sermon of the Bishop of St. David's, before the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in the Abbey Churchi
Westminster, January 30th, 1807.
DIVINE RULE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Matthew vii. 12.
Therefore All Things Whatsoever Ye Would That Men Should Do To You, Do Ye Even So To Them; For This Is The Law And The Prophets.
The excellence of the moral precepts of the Christian religion forms one of the brightest evidences of its truth. Universal charity was First taught by our Saviour, as a duty incumbent upon all his followers. A new commandment J give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye love one another; by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.* This benevolent disposition is made the great characteristic of a Christian, and the test by which the sincerity of his faith and religious profession is to be tried. It is that charity which is so forcibly described by the Apostle Paul. And now abideth faith, hope, charity—these three; but the greatest of these is charity. We will confine our attention simply to the commandment of our Lord in the text; a com
* John xiii. 34.
mandment so rational, so beneficial, so wisely suited to correct the depravity, to prevent the wickedness, and to diminish the misery of mankind, that if it were universally obeyed, we should see an important and blessed change produced in the world. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. From the expression therefore, we are to consider the words of the text as a conclusion drawn from the preceding arguments used by our Lord to enforce the sublime doctrines in the sermons on the Mount. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Judge not, that ye be not judged; for with what judgment ye judge (others), ye shall be judged (yourselves); and many more precepts of a like nature. Arguing thus from divine to human conduct, the meaning of Christ's command may be, "If God be so abundantly merciful and gracious to you as to give you whatever ye could reasonably expect from a most kind and loving Father, then ought ye also to act in the same merciful, forgoing, and benevolent manner, as ye would reasonably wish others to act towards you, if they were in your circumstances and you in their condition; for this is that great rule wherein is contained our duty towards our neighbour. This is the sum and substance of the moral law, and of revealed religion, as taught by Moses and all the prophets."
In discoursing further on this subject, I shall endeavour,
I. To state and explain the sense and meaning of the rule here given by our Saviour;
II. To illustrate this rule by particular instances;
III. To show the great reasonableness and excellency of it.
And, in the first place, with regard to the sense and meaning of the rule, though the expression used is very general and comprehensive, All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, yet it must be confined within the limits of what is reasonable and right; for we are all apt to form unreasonable desires and wrong expectations, from a principle of self-love, and from being too partial to ourselves. But when there is nothing unreasonable or unjust in our expectations and desires, the rule then becomes absolute as a duty. If the case were otherwise, it would tend to promote disorder and confusion, instead of harmony and peace, in civil society. Justice must lay aside its sword, and Charity, by observing no measures, would soon destroy herself. The sense, therefore, of the rule is evidently limited; and whether it be expressed in a positive or negative way, the meaning is the same. In the words of the text, it is expressed in a positive manner, All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. But in the Apocrypha the form of the expression is negative; Do that to no man which thou hatest.*
• Tobit. iv. 15.