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But how did the other Şervants resent this bafe and unworthy Treatment of one of their Fellow-Servants? Why that the following words declare; So when the Fellow-Servants sad 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 Usage and Sufferings of one of their Fellow-Servants, and likewife at the insolent and barbarous Behaviour of him that dealt thus unmercifully with him : and knowing how widely different this Ulage was from what he himself had found from his Master, they came in a. Body together, to inform their Lord of all that had pass'd. Which nay teach us to resent all such Baseness and Ingratitude, 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 said that his Lord, after he had call’d him, Said unto him, O thou wicked Servant, I forgave thee all that Debt because thou desiredst me; Wouldst 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 Usage of his Fellow-Servant; in not shewing the least Compaliion to him, when he himfelf had just then found so much. These words of the Parable are thus paraphras'd by a Learned Divine: “ O thou unconscionai ble Man, thou canst not but remember how I lately forC gave thee all that vast Suni owing to me, with which " this of thy Fellow-Servant bears no proportion ; and « that upon thy bare Request, without any other Motive
but nay own Compassion, to invite me to so great an “ Act of Mercy: was it not then reasonable for thee, c who hadst receiv'd such a Favour from thy Master, to « have shew'd some pity at least in remitting fo fmall a “ Suni, when I had remitted to thee fix hundred thousand " times as much?” This was finärt and good Reasoning indeed, and enough to convince or shame the most hardhearted Wretch.
But was this all that the Lord did to fo wicked and unworthy a Servant?. No, he knew well enough that Words to such vile Perfons 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 Tormentors, till Vol. IV. Part 2.
this of the all that valte ts but remember thou unconfi
paid the whole Debts his formerlchared and wontormentors;
he would pay all that was due to him: meaning, that he was justly enrag'd against him, and sery'd him as he had done his Fellow-Servant, delivering him to the Tormentors, that is, either the Bailiffs or Officers appointed to feize such Perfons, 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 then there till the Debt is discharg'd. In short,
The Lord recallid 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 shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your Hearts forgive not every one his Brother their Trespases. 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 fhew no Mercy.."
This is the Drift and Scope of this Parable, from whence we may learn the following Lessons, .
1. That'țis an A&t 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 be merciful, as our beavenly Father is merciful; and to follow the Example of his Beneficence and Charity, who forgiveth Iniquity, Transgref. fion, and Sin. This God daily does for us, and this he expects we should in fome 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 cafes 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 a much greater; we learn the Cruelty of the rigorous requiring of any, more than he is able to perform,
especially when we our felves 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 hini and exacted from him, and he cast into Prison till he should pay the utmost Farthing. The same Dealing nay 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 never pay; 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 Trespases, viz. as we forgive them that trespass against us ; without which, neither Reason nor Religion can give us any Encourage. ment 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 ; but if we have no Bowels of Mercy and Compaffion 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 Malice and Prejudice against our Brethren, and quit all old Scores, against those that have not paid that Duty and Respect that is owing to us ; 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 lesser 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. , Hh 2
· DISCOURSE LVI. The EPISTLE for the Three and Twentieth
Sunday after Trinity.
· Phil. iii. 17, to the end. Brethren, be Followers together of me, and marke
them who walk so, as ye have us for Ensample; 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.
T HE Collect for this Day befeeches God to hear the I devout Prayers of his Church, and to grant that
I those things which we ask faithfully, may be obtain'd effectually. To which end,
The Epistle for the Day teaches us how our Persons must be qualify'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 infinuate and instil his Instructions into them; for that is better done by the endearing Expressions of Love and Kindness, than the rongher Me. thods 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 Ena mies, 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 thofe of the other Apostles, and obferve and imitate those that walk so, as they have them for Ensamples ; 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 bur Sensualities and earthly things; whereas the other will lead them to Heaven, where their Conversation 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 able to subdue all things to himself.
This is the Sense and Substance of this Day's Epistle, which must be therefore particularly consider'd. Accord ingly I begin,
Firt, With the great and principal thing which the Apostle here exhorts to, and that is, To bé Followers together of him, and the other Apostles, and to mark them who wilk So, as they have them for Ensamples. .Examples you know have a very great Influence upon Mens Manners, either for the mending or marring of them; they often draw niuch stronger than Precepts, and most Men like Sheep are wont to go, not fo 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 wise 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; instancing in the Piety of Socrates, the Gravity of Cato, the Justice of Aristides, the Fidelity of Regulus, and the like; 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 iniprov'd by others since, who have directed to the read, ing the Lives of the most entinent and worthy Perfons recorded in Sacred and Civil History, and making Observation of the best and worthiest Actions related of them, that by offen 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 Ad. herence to the Principles and Practices of their Profeflion, notwithstanding all the Difficulties and Discouragements they met with in 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