And here likewise there needs a caveat. Mercy does not rob us of our right judgment, so as to take stinking fire brands for smoking flax. None will claim mercy more of others than those who deserve due severity. This example does not countenance lukewarmness, nor too much indulgence to those that need quickening. Cold diseases must have hot remedies. It made for the just commendation of the church of Ephesus that it could not bear them which were evil (Rev. 2:2). We should so bear with others as to manifest also a dislike of evil. Our Saviour Christ would not forbear sharp reproof where he saw dangerous infirmities in his most beloved disciples. It brings under a curse to do the work of the Lord deceitfully (Jer. 48:10), even where it is a work of just severity, as when it is sheathing the sword in the bowels of the enemy. And those whom we suffer to be betrayed by their worst enemies, their sins, will have just cause to curse us one day.
It is hard to preserve just bounds of mercy and severity without a spirit above our own, by which we ought to desire to be led in all things. That wisdom which dwells with prudence (Prov. 8:12) will guide us in these particulars, without which virtue is not virtue, truth not truth. The rule and the case must be laid together; for if there be not a keen insight, seeming likeness in conditions will give rise to errors in our opinions of them. Those fiery, tempestuous and destructive spirits in popery that seek to promote their religion by cruelty show that they are strangers to that wisdom which is from above, which makes men gentle, peaceable and ready to show that mercy which they themselves have felt. It is a way of prevailing agreeable both to Christ and to man's nature to prevail by some forbearance and moderation.
And yet often we see a false spirit in those that call for moderation. Their doing so is but to carry their own projects with the greater strength; and if they prevail they will hardly show that moderation to others which they now call for from others. And there is a proud kind of moderation likewise, when men will take upon them to censure both parties, as if they were wiser than both, although, if the spirit be right, an onlooker may see more than those that are in conflict. (pages 29-30)May I be "gentle, peaceable and ready to show that mercy which" I have experienced from the mind of Christ.
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