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fruits of Love ? Are they agreeable to the Dictates of Charity whose property it is to believe all things that make for our Neighbour, and not against him, fo far as they are such as are any way capable of being the objects of our belief? Are not these things the fruits of Ill-will, and Malignity of Spirit against him rather than of Love? If we did truly Hate him, and were his avowed Enemies, what could we do more than readily believe the worst of him, and be glad if we think we have sufficient ground for so doing? You who may possibly think you have attained a degree of Charity above many others, look in upon your selves, and search if you be not the Persons who are sometimes guilty this way: if you be, loath your felves for it, and for the future think soberly of your felves as you ought to think; think not your Charity to be greater than otis, but humbly acknowledge that you
find it to be much less than fometime you thought it had been.
The next Property of Charity is, that she hopeth all things. In all things that concern others she hopeth the best that can Rationally be hoped. 'Tis true, as
Charity Charity cannot believe Irrationally, and against clear Evidence, or stronger probabilities to the contrary; fo neither can she hope against all Reason, and where the grounds of Fear, or Despair are so strong, that there remains no fufficient foundation for Hope to rest on. We Read indeed concerning Abraham, Rom. 4. 18. That against Hope he believed in Hope. Wherefore it seems that he Hoped even where no grounds of Hope were, and where all things looked the other way, and had such an appearance as there seemed to be no ground for any thing else but Despair : For what is it else to Hope against Hope? But we must consider, that
Abraham had ground for his Hope and he had not. He being now little less than an Hundred Years Old, and his Wife Ninety, according to the ordinary course of Nature there was no ground of Hopes that he should have a Child ; but God unto whom nothing is impossible having promised it, he had a most sure and firm Foundation for his Faith and Hope. He Hoped, and that most Rationally, upon supernatural grounds, and building his Hope upon the immovable Foundation of God Almighty's Power
and Veracity; and yet against Hope as to Natural Causes. I say therefore, our Hope muft ever have a Foundation to
for otherwise it would be a vain, empty and ground lefs presumption. Now though this property of Charity, that it hopeth all things, be of much larger extent, yet I shall' at present fpeak of it chiefly with reference to Mens Spiritual and Everlasting Estáte. If I should have considered it with reference to Mens Moralities, their Words, Actions,and Conversations, it would have been a hard matter to have faid any thing of it, that would not have fallen within the compass of the former property, that Charity believeth all things. Wherefore waving all those things, I shall confine my self to the Estates of Men here and hereafter, shewing briefly, that Charity hopeth all things concerning Mens Spiritual and Everlasting Estate, that can
Rationally be Hoped. Concerning Meng Spiritual Estate both present and future.
1. It Hopeth all things that can Rationally be Hoped concerning Mens prefent Spiritual Estate. I take Hope here in a large Sense, as 'tis vulgarly taken in common speech : for we usually ap
ply ply it, though not so properly, to present things, as well as to things not at present in Being, but that may be hereafter : As when we fäy we hope such a one is Alive, or in Health : Of that we understand such a thing, or have such a thing in our Possession. Taking Hope in this larger Sense, I say Charity hopeth all things, that may Rationally be hoped concerning Mens present Spiritual Estate.
For First it hopeth that true Grace may be where none clearly appears to be, so long as it sees nothing to the contrary ; so long as nothing is difcoverable in the Person, that is inconsistent with True. Grace. And there may be several grounds of this Chari
1. Because Grace is small in its first beginnings, in which respect our Saviour compares the Kingdom of God to a grain of Mustard Seed, Matth. 13. 31. Hence it may well be that there may be some small beginnings of True Grace where none appears, or can be discerned.
2. The operations of the Spirit of God upon the Heart, and the work of Grace in the Soul are secret things,
things of a very abstruse, hidden and misterious Nature, especially in the first beginnings of them; and therefore also Charity hopes there may be True Grace where there is no external discovery of it, seeing also there is nothing discoverable from whence it may be warrantably concluded there is none.
3. Many a Believer that now evidently discovers the work of Grace in his own Heart, cannot tell when God first began that gracious work in him
j and many a Believer now thinks he had True Grace long before that time when he thought himself to be utterly void of Grace. Hence Charity will reason thus ; if Believers themselves may not discern when God first begins to work Grace in them, and if long after that work is really wrought in them, they may not discern it, why should not i hope there may be Grace where I cannot yet discern it. I see nothing to the contrary, I discover nothing in them that clearly evidenceth there can be no Grace in them ; therefore I will hope the best.
2. Charity hopes there may be True Grace where some very great and considerable miscarriages are too apparent ; provided that the Persons do not openly