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SERM. will defend us from the like treatment; for scarce XXVIII. any man is so malicious as without any provocation Vincit ma- to do mischief; no man is so incorrigibly savage, as los pertinax boni- to persist in committing outrage upon perfect innocence, joined with patience, with meekness, with courtesy charity will melt the hardest heart, and charm the fiercest spirit; it will bind the most violent hand, it will still the most obstreperous tongue; it will reconcile the most offended, most prejudiced heart it is the best guard that can be of our safety from assaults, of our interest from damage, of our reputation from slander, detraction, and reproach.
If you would have examples of this, experience will afford many; and some we have in the sacred Gen. xxxii. records commended to our observation: Esau was a rough man, and one who had been exceedingly provoked by his brother Jacob; yet how did meek and Gen. xxxiii. respectful demeanour overcome him! so that Esau, it is said in the history, ran to meet him, (Jacob,) and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.
Saul was a man possessed with a furious envy and spite against David; yet into what expressions did 1 Sam. xxiv. the sense of his kind dealing force him! Is this thy voice, my son David?-Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil :-behold I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. So doth charity subdue and triumph over the most inveterate prejudices, and the most violent passions of men.
8 Carbones ignis congregabis super caput ejus; non in maledictum et condemnationem, ut plerique existimant, sed in correctionem et pænitudinem; ut superatus beneficiis, excoctus fervore charitatis, inimicus esse desistat. Hier. in Pelag. i. cap. 9.
ra parte deserta. Sen. de Ir.ii. 34.
If peace and quiet be desirable things, as certainly SERM. they are, and that form implieth, when by wishing peace with men, we are understood to wish all good Cadit stato them; it is charity only that preserveth them: tas ab altewhich more surely than any power or policy doth quash all war and strife; for war must have parties, and strife implieth resistance: be it the first or second blow which maketh the fray, charity will avoid it; for it neither will strike the first in offence, nor the second in revenge. Charity therefore may well be styled the bond of peace, it being that only which Eph. iv. 3. can knit men's souls together, and keep them from breaking out into dissensions.
It alone is that which will prevent bickering and clashing about points of credit or interest: if we love not our neighbour, or tender not his good as our own, we shall be ever in competition and debate with him about those things, not suffering him to enjoy any thing quietly; struggling to get above him, scrambling with him for what is to be had.
IX. (4.) As charity preserveth from mischiefs, so it procureth many sweet comforts and fair accommodations of life.
amatorium sine medi
Friendship is a most useful and pleasant thing, Ego tibi and charity will conciliate good store thereof: it is apt to make all men friends; for love is the only camento, general philter and effectual charm of souls; the fire sine herba, which kindleth all it toucheth, and propagateth itself venefica in every capable subject: and such a subject is every si vis aman in whom humanity is not quite extinct; and hardly can any such man be, seeing every man hath some good humour in him, some blood, some kindly juice flowing in his veins; no man wholly doth con
mari, ama. Sen. Ep.ix.
SERM. sist of dusky melancholy, or fiery choler; whence all men may be presumed liable to the powerful impressions of charity: its mild and serene countenance, its sweet and gentle speech, its courteous and obliging gesture, its fair dealing, its benign conversation, its readiness to do any good or service to any man, will insinuate good-will and respect into all hearts.
It thence will encompass a man with friends, with many guards of his safety, with many supports of his fortune, with many patrons of his reputation, with many succourers of his necessity, with many comforters of his affliction: for is a charitable man in danger, who will not defend him? is he falling, who will not uphold him? is he falsely accused or aspersed, who will not vindicate him? is he in distress, who will not pity him? who will not endeavour to relieve and restore him? who will insult over his calamity? will it not in such cases appear a common duty, a common interest to assist and countenance a common friend, a common benefactor to mankind?
Whereas most of our life is spent in society and discourse, charity is that which doth season and sweeten these, rendering them grateful to others, and commodious to one's self: for a charitable heart Prov.xv.26. is a sweet spring, from whence do issue streams of wholesome and pleasant discourse; it not being troubled with any bad passion or design, which may sour or foul conversation, doth ever make him good company to others, and rendereth them such to himself; which is a mighty convenience. In short, a charitable man, or, true lover of men, will, saith St. Chrysostom, inhabit earth as a heaven, every where
carrying a serenity with him, and plaiting ten SERM, thousand crowns for himself. Again,
X. (5.) Charity doth in every estate yield advantages suitable thereto; bettering it, and improving it to our benefit.
It rendereth prosperity not only innocent and safe, but useful and fruitful to us;` we then indeed enjoy it, if we feel the comfort of doing good by it: it solaceth adversity, considering that it doth not arise as a punishment or fruit of ill-doing to others; that it is not attended with the deserved ill-will of men ; that no man hath reason to delight for it, or insult over us therein; that we may probably expect commiseration and relief, having been ready to shew the like to others.
It tempereth both states: for in prosperity a man cannot be transported with immoderate joy, when so many objects of pity and grief do present themselves before him, which he is apt deeply to resent; in adversity he cannot be dejected with extreme sorrow, being refreshed by so many good successes befalling those whom he loveth: one condition will not puff him up, being sensible of his neighbour's misery; the other will not sink him down, having complacence in his neighbour's welfare. Uncharitableness (proceeding from contrary causes, and producing contrary effects) doth spoil all conditions, rendering prosperity fruitless, and adversity comfortless.
XI. (6.) We may consider, that secluding the exercise of charity, all the goods and advantages we
* Τὴν γὴν οὕτως ὡς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἰκήσει, πανταχοῦ γαλήνης ἀπολαύων, καὶ μυρίους ἑαυτῷ πλέκων στεφάνους. Chrys. in 1 Cor. Or. xxxii.
SERM. have (our best faculties of nature, our best endowXXVIII. ments of soul, the gifts of Providence, and the fruits
of our industry) will become vain and fruitless, or noxious and baneful to us; for what is our reason worth, what doth it signify, if it serveth only for contriving sorry designs, or transacting petty affairs about ourselves? what is wit good for, if it must be spent only in making sport, or hatching mischief? to what purpose is knowledge, if it be not applied to the instruction, direction, admonition, or consolation of others? what mattereth abundance of wealth, if it be to be uselessly hoarded up, or vainly flung away in wicked or wanton profuseness; if it be not employed in affording succour to our neighbour's indigency and distress? what is our credit but a mere noise or a puff of air, if we do not give a solidity and substance to it, by making it an engine of doing good? what is our virtue itself, if it be buried in inertia Ce- obscurity or choked with idleness, yielding no benefit lata virtus. to others by the lustre of its example, or by its real influence? what is any talent, if it be wrapped up in a napkin; any light, if it be hid under a bushel; any thing private, if it be not by good use spread out and improved to public benefit? If these gifts do minister only to our own particular advantage, to our personal convenience, glory, or pleasure, how slim things are they, how inconsiderable is their worth!
But they being managed by charity become precious and excellent things; they are great in proportion to the greatness of their use, or the extent of their beneficial influence: as they carry forth good to the world, so they bring back various beneLuke vi. 38. fits to ourselves; they return into our bosom laden