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III

And if it was reasonable and equitable than the unmerciful servant should be punished according to his desert, which surely every one will grant; then it must be alike reasonable and equitable that God should call us all to an account for our present behaviour, and deal with every one, either in a way of favour, or displeasure, according as the merit or demerit of our actions deserve. This was intended to be shewn by the parable;, and thus Christ applied it, and thereby has made his appeal to the common sense and reason of mankind. Our Lord, in the prefent case, does not consider the doctrine of a future retribution as solely founded on a divine determination, but rather argues for it from the reason of things; so likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Here Christ declares that there will be a furure retribution, and observes. several things concerning it. Namely,

First, Who is that being to whom we are accountable, and to whose judgment we must stand or fall, viz. the heavenly Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ; or that being, agent, or person, whom in common language we characterize by the term God. God is the original author and fountain of our beings, the upholder of our lives; and

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the common guardian of our happiness, and therefore it is to him that we are in reason accountable. Indeed our Lord Christ, is declared to be the person who will judge the world, but then it is to be remembered that he is so only as the minister of God, as one whom God hath appointed to execute his will therein. Christ will be the immediate minister, but it is God who will be the principal in that judgment. So likewise shall (my heavenly father) do alfa unto you, &c. Christ, in the course of his ministry, took all imaginable care to prevent, if possible, that great defektion from the truth which has taken place in the christian world, by ascribing supreme dominion to no other being, no other agent, or person, but that one being, agent, or person, who is his God and Father. Again,

It is farther observed, with respect to a future judgment, who will be the subjects judged. This is .expressed by the term you, so likewise shall my heavenly Father [do also unto you] &c. The persons to whom the term you was directly and immediately applied, were the people to whom Christ was preaching at that time. But then by it we are to understand all mankind, because there is the same ground or reason for God to call us all to account for our present behaviour, as chere is for his acting

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thus by those persons to whom Christ then preached. We, viz. mankind, are free beings, who have it in our power, (though some more, some less) and it is left to our choice, either to contribute towards, or to oppose and frustrate the general end of being 10 intelligent beings, which is a general happiness; and as such, we are the proper objects of, and are in reason accountable for our actions to God, who is the common guardian of his creatures good. Again,

It is observed, what will be the rule of judging, viz. according as we behave one to another. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one [his brother) their trespasses. But this is what Christ hath more fully declared where he professedly undertook to treat of the last judgment, as in Matthew xxv. 31. to the end of the chapter. What I would farther observe, is, that as forgiveness is here considered as one branch of our duty which we are to exercise towards one another, and that the fame measure we mete to others, in this respect, shall be measured to us again ; so it is not here intended that we should forgive all offenders, but only such as have rendered themselves worthy of, and are become the proper objects of that forgive

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ness. This is not only evident from the Teason of the thing, which Christ had always a strict regard to, when he recommended or laid down rules of action for us to walk by, but also from what he has elsewhere declared concerning it. Thus, Luke xvii. 3. Take heed to your selves, if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. Besides, it is our repentance and reformation which is the ground of God's forgiving us, and therefore we may be sure it is upon the same grounds · that he requires and expects we should forgive one another. I would likewise farther observe, that the forgiveness which God requires at our hands, when exercised towards our offending brother, must proceed from the heart, that is, it must not be the produce of any vicious view, but must arise from a right temper of mind, from a forgiving and benevolent disposition ; for otherways, it will not render us worthy of the divine forgiveness; so likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye {from your hearts] forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

Upon the whole, I think, it appears that rewards and punishments are not merely medicinal, but are also founded in reason and equity; and that that is the case with respect to a future judgment and retribu

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tion, in which God will reward or punish us, as well for, as according to our works, and our present behaviour will be the reafon, as well as the rule of that judgment. Indeed, when the wicked shall have suffered such punishment, in consequence of a future judgment, as God shall judge to be a proper and suitable correction for their faults, (in which we may be sure he will not exceed) and when such punishment shall have had its proper effect, by changing the finner, and thereby rendering him the proper object of mercy ; then we may be sure God will have mercy on him, and deliver him from his burchen.. I say, we may be assured that this will be the case, because God is unchangeable, and therefore will be as much disposed to Thew mercy to the proper objects of it at any time to come, as he is for the time present. · I am sensible it has been thought by some, that the end proposed to be anfwered by the future punishment of the wicked, is to give warning to the inhabitants of some other, and future worlds, and that that punishment will be made perpetual, to answer such a purpose. But this, I think, is a supposition which does not appear to be well grounded. For either men's present misbehaviour will render them worthy and delerving that pu

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