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Where Two or Three are affembled in his Name, he is with them.

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on Earth, fhall be loofed in Heaven. (See Note (b) Sect. 94. on Mat. xvi. 19. Vol. i. pag. 546.)

Mat. XVIII.

19.

And further, as a convincing Token and De-
monftration of this, I say unto you, that this
Authority and Power not only fhall attend the
Actions of your whole united Body, but even if
any Two of you fhall agree together here on Earth (g)
concerning any Thing which they shall think it pro-
per to afk in Prayer, for the miraculous Confirma-
tion of any of their Determinations, it shall be im-
mediately done for them by my Father in Heaven (h).
For where but Two or Three are affembled in 20
Name, with a Regard to my Authority, and to
the Purposes of my Glory, whatever the peca-
liar Occafion be, I am there by my special, tho'
invifible Prefence, in the Midft of them, and will
fhew by all proper Interpofitions of my Divine
Power, the Regard I have to their Interest and
their Prayers.

IMPROVEMENT.

my

10.

HUS happy are the meanest Servants of Christ, in the Care and Mat, xviï. Favour of their Heavenly Mafter, and in the Angelic Guard which by his high Command are continually attending even the Lambs of his Flock. So condescending are the Bleed Spirits Above, that even the greatest of them do not difdain to minister unto the Heirs of Salvation. (Heb. i. 14.) Let not the wisest and greatest Men defpife thofe, whom Angels honour with their Guardianship and Care; especially fince the Son of Man, that merciful Shepherd, has come forth into this Wilderness, to fave Ver. 11, 12. that which was loft, and even to feek and recover us, when we were gone aftray, and fhould otherwife have wandered on to our eternal Ruin.

What could have been more happy for the Church of Chrift, than the Obfervation of this plain and eafy Rule, which he has given for ending Ver. 15, 16.. Difputes among his Followers! And yet who, that fees the Conduct of

the

(g) If any Two of you shall agree together here on Earth.] The Text fo exprefsly refers to agreeing in a Petition, that I wonder the learned and judicious Editors of the Pruffian Teftaanent fhould render it, If any Two of you shall live on Earth in a good Understanding with each other. Perhaps there may be a Reference to the Notion the Jews had, that it was neceffary at leaft Ten thould concur in focial Prayer, if any extraordinary Succefs was expected. See Trigland. de Sectâ Karæorum, cap. x. pag. 172.

(b) It shall be done for them, &c.] That this refers to a miraculous Anfier of Prayer, may appear from comparing Mat. xxi. 21, 22. Mark xi. 23, 24. John xiv. 13, 14. 1 John. iii.. 22. v. 14, 15. and Jam. v. 16. See Tillotson's Works, vol. iii. pag. 307.

30

Reflections on the Management of Church Genfures. Sect. 94. the Generality of Chriftians, would imagine, they had ever heard of fuch

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a Rule? Inftead of this private Expoftulation, which might often bring a Debate to a speedy and amicable Conclufion, what publick Charges! what paffionate Complaints! what frequent and laboured Attempts to take, if the leaft fcandalous, yet not the leaft pernicious kind of Revenge, by wounding the Characters of thofe, whom we imagine to have injured us?

As for Church Cenfures, how lamentable is it, that they have been fo little conformable to this Rule, and in many Inftances fo contrary to it, in almost every Christian Nation under Heaven! Is this the Form, in which Ecclefiaftical Judgments do appear, in the Popish, or even in the Proteftant World? Are these the Maxims, by which they have been, or by which they are determined, even by thofe, who claim the largest Share in the Promises made to the Apostles, and boaft with the greatest Confidence of the Prefence and Authority of Christ with them, to confirm their Sentences, and to fanctify, perhaps, Rapine and Murther? Vain wretched Confidence! Let us earnestly pray, that this Difhonour to the Chriftian Name may every where be wiped away; and that true Religion, and even common Humanity, may not with fuch folemn Mockery be deftroyed in the Name of the Lord.

Let humble Submiffion be always paid to Apoftolical Decifions in every Difficulty; and let the Promifes made to thefe Leaders in the Chriftian Church, be fome Encouragement even to us, on whom the Ends of the World are come. None but an Omniprefent, and confequently a Divine Perfon, could fay, Wherever Two or Three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the Midft of them. His Power, and his Goodness, can never be impaired; let it therefore be an Encouragement to Social Prayer, and let the Remembrance of our Redeemer's continued Prefence and Inspection, engage us to behave ourselves agreeably to the Relation that we claim to him, and to thofe Expectations from him which we boast.

SECT. XCV.

Our LORD cautions his Difciples against a revengeful Spirit, and inculcates mutual Forgiveness, by the affecting Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Mat. XVIII. 21, to the End.

MAT. XVIII. 21.

MA T. XVIII. 21.

Sect. 95. THEN when Jefus had given this Advice, for THEN came Peter to

Mat.XVIII.

21.

the Accommodation of Differences among his Difciples, Peter, imagining it might be abused by ill disposed Perfons, as an Encouragement to offer

Injuries

him, and faid, Lord,

how

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offending Brother should be forgiven.

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Injuries to others, came to him and faid, Lord, Sect. 95.
how often must 1 forgive my Brother, if he offend.
against me? must I go on to do it, until he has
repeated the Injury feven Times? ·

Mat. XVIII.

21.

And Jefus in Reply fays to him, I do not 22
merely fay to thee, Till feven Times, but even till
feventy Times feven: In short, the Precept is un-
bounded, and you must never be weary of for-
giving your Brethren, fince you are fo much.
more indebted to the Divine Mercy, than they
can be to yours.

24

For this Reafon, or with or with Respect to this 23 Matter, I may properly fay, that the Kingdom of Heaven, in its Conftitution and final Process, may be likened to, or be illuftrated by the Inftance of a certain King that ruled over a large Country (a), who, as he had a great Number of Officers under him, was determined at length to fettle an Account with his Servants. And when he began to reckon with them, there was brought to him one, who had fo abused the eminent Station in which he had been placed, and the high Confidence which his Prince had reposed in him, that he owed him a most immenfe Sum, and ftood accountable for Ten thousand Talents (b): And as he had 25 nothing to pay, which could be any Equivalent for the Debt, or any confiderable Compofition for it, his Lord, according to frequent Custom in fuch Cafes, (Exod. xxii. 3. Lev. xxv. 47. and 2 Kings iv. 1.) commanded him to be fold for a Slave, and alfo bis Wife and Children, and all the Goods that be bad, and Payment to be made with the Price of them, as far as it would go. The Servant 26; therefore falling down in helpless Confternation, proftrated himself at his Master's Feet, and faid, Lord, I befeech thee to have Patience with me for

a:

(a) May be likened to, or be illuftrated, &c.] See Sect. 58. Note (i), Vol. i. pag. 355. (b) Owed him Ten thousand Talents.] According to Dr. Prideaux's Computation, if thefe were Talents of Gold, this would amount to Seventy-two Millions Sterling; which is fo immenfe a Sum, that it seems ftrange, Antiochus the Great should be able to pay it, as Eutropius tells us he did, to purchase a Peace with the Romans. (Eutrop. lib. iv. cap. 2.) If they were. Talents of Silver, it must have been 4,500,000l. See Prid. Connect. Vol. i. Pref. pag. 20.Our Lord feems to have used it, on purpofe to intimate the Number and Weight of our Offencesagainst Go D, and our utter Incapacity of making him any Satisfaction.

(c) On

Mat. XVIII. 27.

27 Then the Lord of that Compaffion, and loofed him, Servant was moved with and forgave him the Debt.

32 The Parable of the unmerciful Servant. Sect. 95. a while longer, and I will endeavour to pay thee all. Then the Lord of that unhappy Servant, whofe Affairs were fo utterly defperate, being melted with Compaffion, graciously discharged him; and knowing how vain it was to expect he fhould ever pay him, declared, that on Condition of his future good Behaviour (c), he frankly forgave him all the Debt.

28

But just as that Servant went out from the
Prefence of his generous and indulgent Sovereign,
be met with one of his Fellow-Servants, who owed
him but a very inconfiderable Sum of Money, no
more than an Hundred Pence (d); and laying hold
of him by the Throat, and almost strangling him (e),
be faid, in a furious and outragious Manner, Pay
me that which thou owest me immediately, or I will
29 detain thee as my Prifoner.
And his poor
Fellow-Servant fell down at his Feet, as he had
done at his Lord's, and intreated him, faying in the
very Words, which he himself had used but just
before on the like Occafion, Have Patience with
me for a while longer, and I will endeavour to pay
30 thee all. And he would not be prevailed upon
to forbear him any longer; but went away with
him before a Magiftrate, and caft him into Pri-
fon, protesting he fhould lie there, till he should
pay even the laft Farthing of the Debt.

31

And when his other Fellow-Servants faw what was done, they were exceedingly grieved at fuch an Inftance of unexampled Cruelty from a Man in his Circumftances, and came and gave their Lord the King an exact and faithful Account of the whole Matter (f), who was highly incensed 32 at fo inhuman an Action. Then his Lord

28 But the fame Servant went out, and found one of

his Fellow-Servants, which owed him an Hundred Pence: and he laid Hands on him, and took him by the Throat, faying, Pay me that thou oweft.

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32 Then his Lord, after

having called him again, faid unto him with just that he had called him, faid

Indigna

unto

(c) On Condition of his future good Behaviour.] This is a Circumftance exceeding natural, and by the Revocation of the Pardon afterwards, it feems ftrongly implied..

(d) An Hundred Pence.] Reckoning the Roman Denarius at Seven Pence Halfpenny of our Money, it amounted to Three Pounds and Half a Crown.

(e) By the Throat, and almost strangling him.] This is the proper Import of the Word Eve, which yet more ftrongly expreffes his Cruelty.

(f) Gave their Lord an exact and faithful Account.] This is the Meaning of the Word Soapnear, as Albert has fhewn; Obferv. pag. 116.

(g) Thou

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unto him, thou wicked Servant, I forgave thee all that Debt, becaufe thou de33 Shouldft not thou alfo have had Compaffion on thy

firedft me:

33

If we forgive not our Brethren, we shall not be forgiven. Indignation, The wicked and barbarous Slave (g), Sect. 95. thou knoweft that I frankly forgave thee all that vaft Debt which thou owedft to me, because thou didft intreat my Pity: And shouldst not thou Mat. XVIII. also have had Compaffion on thy Fellow-Servant, when in thy Power, even as I but just before had Compaffion on thee? Thou art most inexcufable in what thou haft done, and I will treat thee accordingly.

Fellow-Servant, even as I had Pity on thee?

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33.

And bis Lord being juftly incenfed, revoked the 34
Grant of Remiffion he had juft before made, as
forfeited by fo vile a Behaviour; and not only put
him in Prifon, but delivered him to the Tormentors
there, to fetter and fcourge him (b), till he fould
pay all that was due to him; which was equivalent
to condemning him to perpetual Confinement,
and painful Imprisonment during Life.

And Jefus concluded the Difcourfe with faying, 35
Thus alfo will my Heavenly Father deal with you,
if you do not every one of you from your very
Hearts forgive his Brother his Trefpaffes; and I
leave it to your own Confciences to judge, whe-
ther it be fafe for you to tempt the Strictness of
his inexorable Juftice, by the Severity of your
Conduct toward your offending Brethren.

IMPROVEMENT.

OW unreasonable, and how odious, does a fevere and uncharitable
Temper appear, when we view it in the Light of this Parable!

Yet what Light can be more just than this? We are indebted to GOD Mat. xviii. more than Ten thousand Talents; from our Infancy we begin to contract 24.

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the Debt, and are daily increafing it in our ripening Years: Juftly there

fore

(8) Thou wicked Slave.] The Word dene is not always a Term of Reproach, nor does it neceffarily imply more than Servant : (Compare Mat. xxv. 21, 23.) Yet in this Connection, I thought it would well bear the Verfion I have given it, and would best exprefs the Indignation with which his Lord is fupposed to speak.

(b) Delivered him to the Tormentors, &c.] Imprisonment is a much greater Punishment in the Eastern Parts of the World, than here; State Criminals especially, when condemned to it, are not only forced to submit to a very mean and fcanty Allowance, but are frequently loaded with Clogs, or Yokes of heavy Wood, in which they cannot either lie, or fit at Ease; and by frequent Scourgings, and fometimes by Racking, are quickly brought to an untimely End. (See Samedo's China, pag. 225.) To this there is probably a Reference here. Compare Sect. 32. Note (h), Vol. i. pag. 192.

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