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But how did the other Servants resent this base and unworthy Treatment of one of their Fellow-Servants? Why That the following words declare; So when the Fellow-Ser'vants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and Told unto their Lord all that was done. They were much Troubled at the hard Ufage and Sufferings of one of their "Fellow-Servants, and likewise at the insolent and barbarous Behaviour of him that dealt thus unmercifully with him: and knowing how widely disferent this Ufage was from what he himself had found from his Master, they came in a Body together, to inform their Lord of all that had'
fiass'd. Which may teach us to resent all such Baseness and ngratitude, and to bring all such cruel and barbarous Users of their Brethren to condign Punishment.
But what follow'd upon their acquainting their Lord with this matter? Why, 'tis faid that his Lord, after he had caWd himi said unto hini, O thou wicked Servant, I forgave thee all that Debt because thou defiredst me ; fcouldst not thou also have had compassion on thy Fellow-Servant, even as I had pity on thee? Where he first rebuk'd him with sharp and severe Language, calling him, Thou wicked Servant; and upbraiding him with his former Kindness, shew'd to so vile and unworthy a Wretch •, together with his ungrateful and unrelenting Ufage of his Fellow-Servant, in not shewing the least Compassion to him, when he himself had just then found so much. These words of the Parable are thus paraphras'd by a Learned Divine: " O thou unconsciona"ble Man, thou canst not but remember how I lately for"gave .thee all that vast Sum owing to me, with which "this of thy Fellow-Servant bears no proportion •, and "that upon thy bare Request, without any other Motive "but my own Compassion, to invite me to so great an "Act: of Mercy: was it not then reasonable for thee, "who hadst receiv'd such a Favour from thy Master, to "have shew'd some pity at least in remitting so small a "Sum, when I had remitted to thee •six hundred thoufand ** times as much?" This was smart and good Reasoning indeed, and enough to convince or shame the most hardhearted Wretch.
But was this all that the Lord did to so wicked and unworthy a Servant? No, he knew well enough that Words to such vile Persons prove no better than Wind, and leave no Impression behind them: and therefore 'tis added, That his Lord was wroth, and deliver d him to the Tvrmenters, till Vol. IV, Part 2. Uh he he should pay all that was due to him: meaning, that he was justly enrag'd against him, and serv'd him as he had done his Fellow-Servant, delivering him to the Tormentors, that is, either the Bailiffs or Officers appointed to seize such Persons, who for the Miseries, Charges, and Troubles they commonly put upon them, are stil'd Tormentors •, or else the Keepers of Prisons, who are wont to detain them there till the Debt is discharg'd. In short,
The Lord recall'd his former Pardon, and exacted from him the whole Debt, committing him to Goal, till he had paid the utmost Farthing.
This is the Parable appointed to be read for the Gospel of this Day: The Application whereof is in the Close of it, in these words •, So likewise stjall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your Hearts forgive not every one his Brother their Trespasses. Where by this Resemblance we see what measure to expect from God in this matter, who will deal with us as we do with others: if we forgive not Men their Trespasses, neither will our heavenly Father forgive ours•, and they shall have Judgment without Mercy, who (hew no Mercy.
This is the Drift and Scope of this Parable, from whence we may learn the following Lessons.
1. That 'tis an Act of Charity to remit a Debt, where it cannot be paid. This we learn from the Example of God himself, who requires from none more than they can do; and therefore we may not exact from any beyond their Ability. We are bid to he merciful, as our heavenly Father is merciful; and to follow the Example of his Beneficence and Charity, who forgiveth Iniquity, Transgression, and Sin. This God daily does for us, and this he expects we should in some measure do for one another. Not that any should take encouragement from hence wilfully to run into Debt with a design to defraud, or to pretend Poverty to enrich themselves with the Spoils of others: in such cases the Severity of the Law may and ought to take place. But in cases of real and extreme Necessity, and where unavoidable Accidents have occasion'd the Inability, there Mercy and Pity ought to be shew'd.
2. From the Servant's taking his Fellow-Servant by the Throat for a small Sum, when he himself was just before forgiven airmen" greater; we learn the Cruelty of the rigorous requiring of any, more than he is able to perform, . -. -..''.. ... .'..i:' \': • espeespecially when we our selves have found favour in that kind. The Master here had remitted to his Servant many Talents and Pounds, and yet the fame Servant would not remit a few Pence or Farthings to his Fellow-Servant , for which the Master was so highly offended at his Cruelty and Ingratitude, that he revok'd his former Pardon? and call'd him to another Reckoning, where the remitted Sum was again charg'd upon him and exacted from him, and he cast into Prison till he mould pay the utmost Farthing. The same Dealing may they reasonably expect, and will surely find at God's hand, who are thus cruel and unmerciful to their Fellow-Creatures. We daily run on the score with our Maker, and contract Debts to him, which we can ftever pay j and if we expect that God should forgive us our Debts, we must forgive them that are indebted unto us, without which we cannot hope for any Favour: for this is the Condition upon which God hath promis'd, and upon which we are to ask Forgiveness of our Trespasses^ viz. as we forgive them that trespass against m , without which, neither Reason nor Religion can give us any Encouragement to hope for it: for God expects that we should be so dispos'd towards our Brethren, as we would have him be towards us, which is no more than what the golden Rule of Reason and Equity requires of us ^ to wit, to do to others as we would be done by our selves. So that if we forgive others, we may reasonably hope to be forgiven our selves j but if we have no Bowels of Mercy and Compassion towards our Brethren, we may not wonder if God's be clos'd up, and yearn not towards us. Wherefore, in the Last Place, let us learn to forgive others, as well as ask Forgiveness at God's hand ; for these are so closely tack'd and link'd together, that we may not hope for God's Pardon, without granting ours. Let us lay aside all Malica and Prejudice against our Brethren, and quit all old Scores against thole that have not paid that Duty and Respect that is owing to us j yea, let us forgive Enemies that have us'd us ill and done us harm, and then we may depend upon God's Goodness in forgiving our Offences. If we pass not by the lefler Debts and Wrongs of our Brethren, God will exact his greater from us; and therefore let us take heed, that we bring not God strictly to account with us, for our being too rigorous towards others: but let us learn to shew Mercy in smaller Matters, and then we shall find Mercy in greater; which God grant, &c.
The Epistle for the Three and Twentieth Sunday after Trinity.
Phil. iii. 17, to the end.
Brethren, be Followers together of me, and mark them who walk so, as ye have us for Enfample•, for many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are Enemies of the Cross of Christ, &C.
TH E Collect for this Day beseeches God to hear the devout Prayers of his Church, and to grant that those things which we ask faithfully, may be obtain'd effectually. To which end,
The Epistle for the Day teaches us how our Persons mast bequalify'd, that our Prayers may be accepted; to wit, by following our Forerunners in the Faith, and a pious Imitation of their Examples. It begins with the loving Compellation of Brethren, which the Apostle here gives to the Philippians, on purpose to insinuate and instil his Instructions into them •, for that is better done by the endearing Expressions of Love and Kindness, than the rougher Methods of Power and Passion, as gentler Rains pierce deeper than greater Storms: and therefore St. Paul told Philemon, Phil. 8.9. that tho he might command him as a Father, yet he chose rather to intreat him as a Brother. In like manner he treats the Philippians here, not as Strangers or Enemies, but intreats them as Friends and Brethren, the better to prevail and work upon them. The Advice he here ushers in with these Endearments, is, that they would follow, his Steps, and those of the other Apostles, and observe and imitate those that walk so, as they have them for Enfamples •, and that because there are many who walk very disorderly, and set such bad Examples before them, as lead only to Misery and Destruction, by minding nothing but Sensualities and earthly things; whereas the other will lead them to Heaven, where their Converfation is: from whence also we look for a Saviour, and thereby prepare for the second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will then change our vile mortal Body into the fashion of his glorious Body, by that infinite Power whereby he is abl* to subdue all things to himself.
This is the Sense and Substance of this Day's Epistle, which must be therefore particularly consider'd. Accordingly I begin,
First., With the great and principal thing which the A-' postle here exhorts to, and that is, To be Followers together
Xhim, and the other Apostles ^ and to mark them who walk , as they have them for En samples. Examples you know have a very great Influence upon Mens Manners, either for the mending or marring of them they often draw much stronger than Precepts, and most Men like Sheep are wont to go, not so much where they should, as where they see others go before them : which shews it to be a Matter of great consequence what Company we keep, and what Patterns we have before us. 'Twas wife Advice of a learned Heathen, that every one should propound to himself the best Patterns, not only of Vertue in general, but of each Vertue in particular j instancing in the Piety of Socrates, the Gravity of Cato, the Justice of Aristides, the Fidelity of Regulns, and the like j willing them to set these and other like good Examples before them, as their Copy to write after, and to transcribe their Vertues as a Rule of their Lives and Actions, This excellent Advice hath been improv'd by others since, who have directed to the reading the Lives of the most eminent and worthy Persons recorded in Sacred and Civil History, and making Observation of the best and worthiest Actions related of them, that by often thinking and remembring of them, they may be a Spur to our Emulation, and prick us forward to the Practice and Imitation of them.
But the Epistle for this Day propounds to us the best Patterns of this kind that can be set, to wit, the Lives and Actions of the Holy Apostles ., whose Diligence in propagating the Gospel, Constancy to the Faith, and firm Adherence to the Principles and Practices of their Profession, notwithstanding all the Difficulties and Discouragements they met within it, are highly worthy to be follow'd by all Christians. But the foregoing Verses, mentioning the Harmony of the Apostles in Doctrine and Discipline, and
Hh 3 their