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doth a fault admit any plea, apology, or diminution? SERM. charity will be sure to allege it: may a quality admit a good name? charity will call it thereby.
It doth not yieσbaι kakov, impute evil, or put it to 1 Cor. xiii. any man's account, beyond absolute necessity.
It hopeth all things, and believeth all things; 1 Cor. xiii. hopeth and believeth all things for the best, in favour7 to its neighbour, concerning his intentions and actions liable to doubt.
It banisheth all evil surmises; it rejecteth all ill 1Tim. vi. 4. stories, malicious insinuations, perverse glosses and descants.
5. Another charitable practice is, to comport with the infirmities of our neighbour; according to that rule of St. Paul, We that are strong ought to bear 'Avrixsodas the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves; and that precept, Bear one another's bur-1 Thess. v. dens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Acts xx. 35.
Is a man wiser than his neighbour, or in any case freer of defects? charity will dispose to use that advantage so as not to contemn him, or insult over him; but to instruct him, to help him, to comfort him.
As we deal with children, allowing to the infirmities of their age, bearing their ignorance, frowardness, untoward humours, without distasting them; so should we with our brethren who labour under any weakness of mind or humour.
6. It is an act of charity to abstain from offending, or scandalizing our brethren; by doing any thing, which either may occasion him to commit sin, or disaffect him to religion, or discourage him in the practice of duty, (that which St. Paul calleth to
Rom. xv. I.
76 The Nature, Properties, and Acts of Charity.
SERM. "defile and smite his weak conscience,) or which anyXXVII. wise may discompose, vex, and grieve him: for, If thy Mora brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou Τύπτοντες" not charitably.
1 Cor. x. 7.
σιν ἀσθενοῦσαν. 1 Cor. viii. 12. Rom. xiv. 15. Οὐκέτι κατὰ ἀγάπην περιπατεῖς. 1 Cor. x. 32. viii. 13. Rom. xiv. 21.
MOTIVES AND ARGUMENTS TO CHARITY.
HEB. X. 24.
Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.
THAT which is here recommended by the apostle, SERM. as the common duty of Christians toward each other, XXVIII. upon emergent occasions, with zeal and care to provoke one another to the practice of charity and beneficence, may well be conceived the special duty of those, whose office it is to instruct and guide others, when opportunity is afforded: with that obligation I shall now comply, by representing divers considerations serving to excite and encourage us to that practice this (without premising any description or explication of the duty; the nature, special acts, and properties whereof I have already declared) I shall immediately undertake.
I. First then, I desire you to remember and consider that you are men, and as such obliged to this duty, as being very agreeable to human nature; the which, not being corrupted or distempered by ill use, doth incline to it, doth call for it, doth like and approve it, doth find satisfaction and delight therein.
St. Paul chargeth us to be εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι, Rom. xii.
SERM. or to have a natural affection one toward another: that supposeth a σropyn inbred to men, which should be roused up, improved, and exercised. Such an one indeed there is, which, although often raked up and smothered in the common attendances on the providing for our needs, and prosecuting our affairs, will upon occasion more or less break forth and discover itself.
That the constitution and frame of our nature disposeth to it, we cannot but feel, when our bowels are touched with a sensible pain at the view of any calamitous object; when our fancies are disturbed at the report of any disaster befalling a man; when the sight of a tragedy wringeth compassion and tears from us: which affections we can hardly quash by any reflection, that such events, true or feigned, do not concern ourselves.
Hence doth nature so strongly affect society, and abhor solitude; so that a man cannot enjoy himself alone, or find satisfaction in any good without a companion: not only for that he then cannot receive, but also because he cannot impart assistance, consolation, and delight in converse: for men do not affect society only that they may obtain benefits thereby; but as much or more, that they may be enabled to communicate them; nothing being more distasteful than to be always on the taking hand: neither
Οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἕλοιτ ̓ ἂν καθ ̓ αὑτὸν τὰ πάντ ̓ ἔχειν ἀγαθά. Arist. Eth.
Hominem homini natura conciliat. Sen. Ep. ix. Nullius boni sine socio jucunda possessio est. Sen. Ep. vi. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς βουλόμενος συνδῆσαι πάντας ἀλλήλοις, τοιαύτην τοῖς πράγ μασιν ἐπέθηκεν ἀνάγκην, ὡς ἐν τῷ τῶν πλησίον συμφέροντι τὸ τοῦ ἑτέρου δεδέσθαι· καὶ ὁ κόσμος ἅπας οὕτω συνέστηκε. Chrys. in 1 Cor. Or. xxv.
indeed hath any thing a more pleasant and savoury SERM. relish than to do good; as even Epicurus, the great patron of pleasure, did confess.
The practice of benignity, of courtesy, of clemency, do at first sight, without aid of any discursive reflection, obtain approbation and applause from men; being acceptable and amiable to their mind, as beauty to their sight, harmony to their hearing, fragrancy to their smell, and sweetness to their taste: and, correspondently, uncharitable dispositions and practices (malignity, harshness, cruelty) do offend the mind with a disgustful resentment of them.
We may appeal to the conscience of each man, if he doth not feel dissatisfaction in that fierceness or frowardness of temper, which produceth uncharitableness; if he have not a complacence in that sweet and calm disposition of soul, whence charity doth issue; if he do not condemn himself for the one, and approve himself in the other practice.
CP. Ep. in
This is the common judgment of men; and there- Eis yag fore in common language this practice is styled hu- λανθρωπίας manity, as best sorting with our nature, and becom-xsing it; and the principle whence it springeth is call- Flavian. ed good-nature: and the contrary practice is styled Syn. Chalc. inhumanity, as thwarting our natural inclinations, III. or divesting us of manhood; and its source likewise is termed ill-nature, or a corruption of our nature.
Act. i. p.
It is therefore a monstrous paradox, crossing the common sense of men, which in this loose and vain world hath lately got such vogue, that all men naturally are enemies one to another: it pretendeth to be grounded on common observation and experience; but it is only an observing the worst actions of the worst men; of dissolute ruffians, of villainous cheats,