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any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Thus did even Esau on the present occasion. He had a quarrel against his brother, but he forgave him, and shewed him kindness, when it was in his power to do him serious injury. Let not those who have the precepts and the example of the blessed Jesus, who bear his name, and profess to learn of him, be outdone by one who had neither such a pattern, nor such instruction, nor such motives as they have; but let them form themselves upon the texts already quoted, or upon another very similar to the preceding, and equally beautiful and impressive, (Ephes. iv. 31. 32.) “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be
ye to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, bath forgiven you.” Can we consider what need we ourselves have of the forgiveness of God, and yet be unforgiving to our fellow-creatures? Can we reflect upon the number and the greatness of the pardons which we receive
from him, and yet be unwilling to pardon their comparatively light offences ? Can we receive the blotting out of ten thousand talents, and yet refuse to remit unto our brother a hundred pence? Let us learn by the mercies of God to be merciful ourselves ; or, if we will not be induced to imitate his mercy, let us fear his wrath, for he hath also said, “He shall have judgment without mercy who hath shewed no mercy.” Be afraid to usurp the prerogative of God, who reserves the exercise of vengeance to himself, since he alone knows how to exercise it aright.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath ; for it is written, vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord; therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink ; for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head : be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” These are the precepts of the Gospel. May he, who poured such a spirit into the heart of Esau, cause us also to feel and to exercise forgiveness of injuries, and by grace immediately
communicated from himself make us also merciful, “ even as our father, who is in heaven, is merciful.”
III. But, returning again to the case of Jacob, let us think, in the third place, that if reconciliation with an earthly enemy, who has power to hurt us, be so great an object of desire, how much more desirous should we be to obtain reconciliation with God.
Is there not need of this ? Alas how multiplied and how heinous have been our offences against God! Who ever has received injuries and insults from all his adversaries and haters reckoned up in succession, which shall bear any comparison, either in number or degree, to those which God has received from every individual of us? And what fear should we have of a creature, who can only kill the body, in comparison of him who can not only kill the body, but after he has killed can cast both body and soul into hell? Who can contend with him, or who can stand before him when he is angry? There is infinite need therefore that we seek his forgiveness, and endeavour to propitiate and remove his wrath. For this we must apply in the most humble manner. We must come to him as sinners, with fear and trembling, with broken and contrite spirits, bowing our knees and our hearts before him, and using every posture, and feeling, and expression, of the deepest humility and self-abasement, and of his transcendent power and majesty. We must acknowledge him as our Lord, and ourselves as his Servants, yea as servants who have failed of their duty, as offenders who justly deserve the severest punishment. But we have no presents which we can offer to him. What would our flocks and herds, our silver and gold, or any of our riches, be to him ? Yet we have a propitiation, a most powerful and acceptable one: we have a sacrifice of inestimable value, and a saviour, whom we can send before us with all his merits and riches into his presence.
Yes, Christian brethren, we must remember that we have a peacemaker, by whom we can obtain reconciliation with God. But in comparing the method of reconciliation between a sinner
and his offended maker, with that which so happily took place between Jacob and Esau, what a difference is there in the conduct of the parties ! There it was the offending party, and the weaker party, who sent his messengers first to his offended brother, and who so anxiously sought that his brother should be reconciled to him: but here it is the great and almighty God, the justly offended maker, who makes the first overtures, and sends his messengers on embassy of
and love. The language of the Apostle is extraordinary (2 Cor. v. 20.) “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” This surely is not the manner of men, who instead of sending expect to be applied to; instead of intreating expect to be intreated; but it is consonant with all the mercy of God, who sent his son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved : it is in unison with all the love and grace of the blessed Redeemer, who died for us even