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i COR. Xüj. 4.
rity envieth not ; Charity väunteth not
HE Apostle having spoken of
the Necessity of Charity, in the
three former Verses, now goes on to commend this Grace unto us from the Properties and Effects of it; some of which he reckons up in this Verse, the rest follow afterwards. Now concerning these Properties of Charity, some Things may be observed in the general, before I descend to speak of them particularly, as they offer themfelves in the Text.
1. These Properties are such, as 'tis evident that the Charity which the Apostle here describes and characteriseth, is that which respects Men : For he all
along sets forth the nature of Charity, with relation to our carriage towards Man, and our deportment towards one another. But yet however, in our Charity towards our Neighbour, our Love to God is implyed, and neceffarily supposed. No Man loves his Brother as he ought, but he who loves him in relation to God, for his fake, and upon his account. And this,
(1.) With respect to God's Command,
and in Obedience thereunto. God hath Lev. 19. injoined him to love his Neighbour as
himself; to love his very Enemies, and
out of Love to do them any good OfMatth. s. fice; Bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which defpitefully use you and persecute
(2.) Because he refembles God, and bears his Image ; at least in respect of his Natural Perfections and Endowments, especially the Dignity, Immortality, and excellent Faculties of his Soul. And if he be one who is regenerated, he is moreover renewed after the Image of God in Righteousness and true Holiness, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. 4. 23, 24. and in that regard ought he to have so much the more Love from
and the more still as he shall come still more to resemble God in that which is the chief part of his Image in Man.
2. Whereas these Properties of Charity are many, we may observe that divers of them are so nearly allied, and of so near affinity to one another, that 'tis not easie to distinguish them exactly, or to say any thing of one of them, that may not as properly fall under some other of them : As for Example, That Charity suffereth long, ver 4. is not easily provoked, ver. 5. beareth all things, endureth all things, ver. 7. And as 'tis hard to determine precisely wherein these do differ, lo perhaps 'tis not very necessary that we should perfectly and exactly distinguish or difference them. For why might not the Apostle use divers words and expressions almost of the same importance, and signifying much the same thing, the more fully to express his sense, and set forth the nature of the Grace he was discoursing of? Thus we know the Scriptures often describe and set forth the same Thing by variety of Expressions, all tending to the same Purpose, and signifying the
same Thing. Neither is this done without respect to our Benefit several ways.
(1.) Hereby the Things treated of, are conveyed into our Understandings with greater evidence and clearness.
(2.) We are also more affected with the Things by the redoubled impressions that are made, while they beat and rebeat upon our Minds, under those various terms by which they are ex. press’d.
(3.) As to the design of the Apostle in this large description of Charity, by so many Properties and Effects thereof, we may well conceive that though he chiefly intended to commend Charity unto them, to make them the more in love with it, and the more effe&ually to stir them up to labour after it ; yet he had also other subordinate and less principal Ends therein. While he thus describes the nature and properties of Charity, and how it frames and dispofeth the Hearts and Carriage of Men towards their Brethren, 'tis probable that he thereby further intended ;
1. Indire&tly, and by the way, to tax the Corinthians for their contrary Carriage towards each other, whereby they þewrayed their want of, or great defi
ciency in this Grace, how much foever they abounded in Gifts.
2. To help them and all others, to try the truth and measure of their Charity by these characters and properties thereof.
3. To lay before them, and all other Christians, the chief Offices and Duties of Charity, which all should make Conscience of, and endeavour to perform ; and especially those who would be thought to have attained greater measures of that Grace, than many others. And so much in the general : I come now to speak of the several Properties of Charity in order as they lye in the Text. This one Verse contains five of those Properties ; of which the first is, That Charity Suffereth long. Divina planè Charitatis descriptio profe&ta ex pectore ejus pleno : A Divine Description of Charity, proceeding from a breast that was full of it, faith a Learned Man, None could better describe Charity than St. Paul, whose Heart was so full of Love to Christ, and Love to the Saints, and Love to all Men, whose spiritual and everlasting Good he so affectionately and ardently desired, and so industriously and restlesly indeavoured to