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SUMMARY OF SERMON XXX.
ROMANS, CHAP. XII.--VERSE 18.
It having been already considered what it is to live peaceably; also what are duties included therein, and the means that conduce thereto; it is next considered,
II. What is the object thereof, and why the duty of living peaceably extends to all men ; that is, why we are bound to bear good-will, and do good offices, and show civil respects to all men; and to endeavor that all men should be reciprocally well-affected towards us : for it might be said, why should I be obliged to love those that hate me, to help them that would hinder me, or strive to please them that scorn and would offend me? Or why should I be bound to maintain amicable correspondence with those who are professed enemies to piety and virtue; or how can any love or communion of good offices take place between persons so contrarily disposed ? To this it may be answered, such good offices may, and ought to take place; and that, because the obligation is not grounded on any peculiar respects or special qualifications, but on the indefectible score of common humanity: we owe it, not to the men, but to human nature resident in them. There are various other sorts of love; but the love of benevolence, (which is precedent to these,) and the duties consequent on it, are grounded on the natural constitution, necessary properties, and unalterable condition of humanity, and are on several accounts due
1. On account of universal cognation, agreement, and similitude of nature. We are but streams issuing from one primitive source, branches sprouting from the same stock; one substance, by the miraculous efficacy of the divine benediction, diffused and multiplied: this point enlarged on.
2. We are indispensably obliged to these duties, because the best of our natural inclinations prompt us to the performance of them; especially those of pity and benignity, which are manifestly discernible in all, but most powerful and vigorous in the best natures; and which questionless by the wise and good author of our being were implanted in us, to direct and excite us in the performance of our duty.
3. We are obliged on account of common equity. We have all implanted in us a natural ambition and a desire of being loved and respected ; and are disposed in our need to require assistance and relief: therefore in all reason and equity we should pay to others the same respect, aid, and comfort, which we expect from them.
4. We are obliged on account of common interest, benefit, and advantage; since the welfare and safety, the honor and reputation, the pleasure and quiet of our lives, are concerned in our maintaining a loving correspondence with all men.
5. We are obliged by a tacit compact and fundamental constitution of mankind, in pursuance of those principal designs for which men were incorporated and are still contained in civil society.
6. We are, by observing these rules, to oblige and render others well-affected to us; because the being on such terms with men, conduces to our living, not only delightfully and quietly, but honestly and religiously in the world. How peace and edification, spiritual comfort and temporal quiet, concur and co-operate, is intimated in Acts ix. 31. &c.
7. We are obliged to perform these duties of humanity, because by so doing we become more capable of promoting goodness in others, and so fulfilling the highest duties of Christian charity; of successfully advising and admonishing others; of instructing their ignorance, removing their prejudices, reclaiming them from vice, and reconciling them to virtue : this subject enlarged on.
8. We are bound thereto in compliance with, and conformity to the best patterns; God, Christ, the Apostles, and the primitive saints : this point illustrated at large.
Since therefore, on so many accounts, we are obliged to this universal benevolence and charity, no miscarriages in practice, no ill dispositions of soul, no demerits in himself, no discourtesies towards us, ought wholly to alienate our affections from any person, to avert us from doing him good, or incline us to render evil for evil : this point enlarged on.
III. It is briefly considered, whence it comes, that though we do our parts, and perform carefully the duties incumbent on us, we may yet prove unsuccessful in our endeavors to live peaceably, and may be hated, harmed, and disquieted. That it so happens is found by experience and example: instances of Moses and David ; of our blessed Saviour himself, and of his faithful Disciples.
This will be found by investigation to proceed chiefly from the exceeding variety, difference, and contrariety of men's dispositions, joined with the morosity, aptness to mistake, envy, or unreasonable perverseness of some ; which necessarily render the means of attaining all men's good-will insufficient, and the endeavors unsuccessful : for as men see with such various lights, we can hardly do or say any thing, which, if approved by some, will not be blamed by others : but the fatal rock on which peaceable designs most inevitably split, is the unreasonableness of men's pretences, who will on no terms be friends with us, or allow us their good-will, but on condition of concurring with them in dishonest and unwarrantable practices
&c. But though peace with men is highly valuable, yet this is nothing in comparison with the favor of God, or the internal satisfaction of conscience: this point enlarged on.
Briefly to induce us to practise this duty of living peaceably, we may consider,
1. How good and pleasınt a thing, as David saith, for brethren (and so we all are by nature) to live together in unity : the delight of such intercourse and the absence of distracting cares, passions, and dissensions dilated on.
2. That as nothing is more sweet and delightful, so nothing is more comely and agreeable to human nature than peaceable living, it being, as Solomon observes, an honor to a man to cease from strife ; and consequently a disgrace to him to continue therein.
3. How that peace with its near allies, its causes and effects, love, meekness, gentleness, and patience, are in sacred writ reputed the genuine fruits of the Holy Spirit, issues of divine grace, and the offspring of heavenly wisdom; producing like themselves a goodly progeny of righteous deeds, &c. To close up all, if we must live peaceably and lovingly with all men, then much more are we obliged so to live with all Christians ; to whom by nearer and firmer bonds of holy alliance we are related, by more precious communion of faith endeared, by more peculiar obligation of divine commands engaged. Conclusion,
OF A PEACEABLE TEMPER AND CARRIAGE.
ROMANS, CHAP. XII.-VERSE 18.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with
I HAVE very lately considered what it is to live peaceably,' and what are the duties included therein ; and what means conduce thereto.
II. I proceed now to consider the object thereof, and why the duty of living peaceably extends to all men,' that is, why we are bound to bear good-will, and do good offices, and show civil respects to all men; and to endeavor that all men reciprocally be well-affected toward us. For it might with some color of reason be objected, and said, why should I be obliged heartily to love those, that desperately hate me; to treat them kindly, that use me despitefully; to help them, that would hinder me; to relieve them, that would plunge me into utter distress; to comfort them, that delight in my affliction; to be respective to, and tender of, their reputation, who despise, defame, and reproach me; to be indulgent and favorable to them, who are harsh and rigorous in their dealings with me; to spare and pardon them, who with implacable malice persecute me? Why should I seek their friendship, who disdainfully reject mine ? why prize their favor, who scorn mine? why strive to please them, who purposely offend me? Or why should I have any regard to men, void of all faith, goodness, or desert ? And most of all, why should I be bound to maintain amicable