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Christian Forbearance.

Christian Forbearance.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY WILLIAM B. 0. PEABODY, D. D.


THEN CAME PETER TO HIM AND SAID, LORD, HOW OFT SHALL MY BROTHER SIN AGAINST ME AND I FORGIVE HIM ? TILL SEVEN times ? — Matthew xviii. 21.
BY WILLIAM B. 0. PEABODY, D. D.


THEN CAME PETER TO HIM AND SAID, LORD, HOW OFT SHALL MY BROTHER SIN AGAINST ME AND I FORGIVE HIM ? TILL SEVEN times ? — Matthew xviii. 21.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 26, 2014
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CHRISTIA FORBEARACE. BY WILLIAM B. 0. PEABODY, D. D. THE CAME PETER TO HIM AD SAID, LORD, HOW OFT SHALL MY BROTHER SI AGAIST ME AD I FORGIVE HIM ? TILL SEVE times ? — Matthew xviii. 21. This question, taken in connection with the reply, is the more instructive, because it was proposed by a person of great generosity of feeling : who was ardent, but always ready for reconciliation, impetuous to hurry into wrath, but equally swift to repent and forgive. Knowing his Master's feelings and princi- ples, he evidently thinks that a great effort will be required of his followers, and he evidently thinks that it would be a great effort to forgive an injury seven times repeated. And this is true. Still it is not all that the Saviour requires, not all that he himself would do. It is plain that he had in his mind a measure of the duty of Christian love, car- ried as far as he then thought it could be carried. He placed his mark on the outmost bounds of what he considered the reach of human attainment. The farthest flight of human generosity and kindness which he could imagine was that of seven times for- CHRISTIA FORBEARACE. 183 giving the seven times repeated wrong. How much he must have been astonished at his Master's reply,
 
 — "I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven " ! — that is, about five hundred times as far as he thought it possible for human kindness and generosity to go. ow the moral of this short and striking story is this. Every one, like the Apostle, has in his own mind a measure of Christian love in what he thinks is its full extent ; — not always very definite, but still there is a sort of boundary in his mind beyond which he thinks it cannot be expected to pass. It is his mark. It is the point to which he thinks it reason- able that the duty should be carried, — or, what is the same thing, to which he thinks that he should be willing to go. And thus he assumes that the mind of God is the same with his own. Instead of saying, as St. Paul did, " We have the mind of Christ," and consulting that oracle without regard to any other, he takes it for granted that his own nat- ural feelings are always to be trusted, though they were formed and came into his heart he knows not when nor how. The Indians, when they can count to six, believe that numeration can go no farther ; and thus, in morals and religion, we make our own attainment the measure of what man can do. One is not less unreasonable than the other. For as ewton and Laplace extended the power of num- bers immeasurably farther than the unenlightened could follow, one Christian may have enlarged ideas of religious duty, which another, so far from attain- 184 CHRISTIA FORBEARACE. ing, is not yet able to understand. The truth is, no one knows what he can do. o one is able to fix the boundaries of his own power, or, what is the same thing, of his obligations which are commen- surate with his power. one, save He who knows
 
what is in man, can be an authority here ; for that man does not know what is in himself is taught us by the experience of almost every day. But there are some considerations worth regarding, which may show us that forgiveness, forbearance, and kindness may be carried farther than we now think possible, — more than seven times farther than we carry them now. To a few of these I will ask your attention. First. It is certain, that, if our kindness is limited and partial, there must be something in us which prevents its growing and extending. What is it ? There is nothing in our nature which says to our generosity or forbearance, " Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther." Therefore it must 'be some- thing in our acquired feelings, — in the passions which have sprung up in our communication with the world. There are some individuals who have excited in us feelings of distaste, perhaps aversion, which we think it impossible to overcome. Cer- tainly this is a disadvantage, and one not likely to be overcome without effort and care. It is compar- atively easy to keep the garden clear from weeds if they are not permitted to grow : but when they have once struck their roots deep beneath the surface, it is not easy by direct effort to dislodge them. What, CHRISTIA FORBEARACE. 185 then, can be done ? Carefully prevent their rising ;

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