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' serve you when your enemy, as the mete moral
man can be, when he is your friend.'-This, no doubt, is the tendency of his religion ;-but how often, or in what degrees it succeeds,-how nearly the practice keeps pace with the theory, the allwise Searcher into the hearts of men, alone is able to determine. But it is to be feared, that such great effects are not so sensibly felt as a speculative man would expect from such powerful motives; and there is many a christian society which would be glad to compound amongst themselves for some lesser degrees of perfection on one hand, were they sure to be exempted, on the other, from the bad effects of those fretful passions which are ever taking, as well as ever giving the occasions of strife ; the beginnings of which Solomon aptly compares to the letting out of waters,—the opening a breach which no one can be sure to stop till it has proceeded to the most fatal events.
With justice, therefore, might the son of Sirach conclude, concerning pride,-that secret stream which administers to the overflowings of resentments, that it was not made for man; nor furious anger for hiin that is born of a woman. That the one did not become his station and that the other was destructive to all the happiness he was intended to receive from it. How miserably they must those men turn tyrants against themselves, as well as others, who grow splenetick and revengeful, not only upon the little unavoidable oppositions and offences they must meet with in the commerce of the world, but upon those which only reach them by report, and accordingly torment their little souls with meditating how to return the injury, before they are
certain they have received one !-Whether this ea. ger sensibility of wrongs and resentment arises from that general cause to which the son of Sirach seems to reduce all fierce anger and passion ? or whether to a certain sourness of temper, which stands in every body's way, and therefore subject to be often hurt? - from whichever cause the disorder springs, the advice of the author of the book of Ecclesiasticus is proper :- Admonish a friend,' says he, it may be he hath not done it ; and if he have, that he do it not again. Admonish thy friend, it may be he hath not said it ; and if he have, that he speak it not again. There is that slippeth in his speech, but not from his heart : and who is he who hath not offended with his tong ue?'
I cannot help taking notice here of a certain species of forgiveness, which is seldom enforced or thought of, and yet is no way below our regard : I mean the forgiveness of those, if we may be allowed the expression, whom we have injured ourselves. One would think that the difficulty of forgiving could only rest on the side of him who has received the wrong; but the truth of the fact is often otherwise. The consciousness of having provoked another's resentment often excites the aggressor to keep beforehand with the man he has hurt, and not only to hate him for the evil he expects in return, but even to pursue him down, and put it out of his power to make reprisals.
The baseness of this is such, that it is sufficient to make the same observation which was made upon the crime of parricide among the Grecians:- -It was so black,—their legislators did not suppose it cuuid be committed ; and, therefore, made no law. to punish it.
DUTY OF SETTING BOUNDS TO OUR
2 KINGS IV. 13.
And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been carte
ful for us with all this care;--what is to be done for thee?wouldst thou be spoken for to the king, or the captain of the host ?--And she answered, I dwell among mine own people.
The first part of the text is the words which the prophet Elisha puts into the mouth of his servant Gehazi, as a message of thanks to the woman of Shunem for her great kindness and hospitality; of which, after the acknowledgment of his just sense, which Gehazi is bid to deliver in the words,~" Be" hold, thou hast been careful for us with all this « care,”-he directs him to inquire in what manner he may best make a return in discharge of the obligation,—“ What shall be done for thee? Wouldst
thou be spoken for to the king, or the captain of as the host ?”—The last part of the text is the Shunamite's answer, which implies a refusal of the honour or advantage which the prophet intended to bring upon her by such an application, which she indirectly expresses in her contentment and satisfaction with what she enjoyed in her present station, I dwell among mine own people.” This instance of self-denial in the Shunamite, is but propcrly the introduction to her story, and gives rise to
that long and very pathetick transaction which follows--in the supernatural grant of a child, which God had many years denied her; the affecting loss of him as soon as he was grown up, and his restoration to life by Elisha, after he had been some time dead; the whole of which, though extremely interesting, and forming such incidents as would afford sufficient matter for instruction, yet, as it will not fall within the intention of this discourse, I shall beg leave at this time barely lo consider those previous circumtsances of it, to which the text confines me; upon which I shall enlarge with such reflections as occur, and then proceed to that practical use and exhortation which will naturally fall from it.
We find that, after Elisha had rescued the distressed widow and her two sons from the hands of the creditor, by the miraculous multiplication of her oil,—that he passed on to Shunem, where, we read, was a great woman, and she constrained hini to eat bread; and so it was that, as often as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. The sacred historian speaks barely of her temporal condition and station in life," That she was a great woman,' but describes not the more material part of her (her virtues and character) because they were more evidently to be discovered from the transaction itself; from which it appears, that she was not only wealthy, but likewise charitable, and of a very considerate turn of mind;--for after many repeated invitations and entertainments at her house, finding his occasions called him to a frequent passage that way, she moves her husband to set up and furnish a lodging for him, with all the conveniences which the simplicity of those times required : “ And she said un
4 to her husband, Behold, now I perceive that this " is an holy man of God, which passeth by us con“ tinually, let us make him a little chamber, I pray " thee, on the wall, and let us set for him there a “ bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick; " and it shall be when he cometh to us, that he shall
turn in thither.”-She perceived he was a lioly man ;-she had many opportunities, as he passed by them continually, of observing his behaviour and «leportment, which she had carefully remarked, and saw plainly what he was :—that the sanctity and simplicity of his manners the severity of his life, --his zeal for the religion of his God, and the uncommon fervency of his devotion, when he worshipped before him, which seemed his whole business and employment upon earth,—all bespoke him not a man of this world, but one whose heart and affections were fixed upon another object, which was dearer and more important to him. But as such outward appearances may,
and often have been counterfeited, so that the actions of a man are certainly. the only interpreters to be relied on, whether such colours are true or false, so she had heard that all was of a piece there, and that he was throughout consistent; that he had never in any one instance of his life acted as if he had any views in the affairs of this world, in which he had never interested himself at all, but where the glory of his God, or the good and preservation of his fellow-creatures, at first inclined him : that, in a late instance, before he came to Shunem, he had done one of the kindest and most charitable actions that a good man could have done, in assisting the widow and fatherless; and, as the fact was singular, and had just happened