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many Christians either speak of more gladly, or listen to more willingly, than the Infirmities of others.
I need not say how contrary all this is to the nature of Love, and to that Long-sufferance that is a property thereof. Charity would make us less captious and critical in spying out and observing the Infirmities of others, less severe in censuring them, more patient in bearing them, mort sparing in speaking of them, more willing to cover them. We love our felves so well that thus we stand affected in reference to our own Infirmities, and so likewife in reference to the Infirmities of those who are nearly related to us ; I mean, if they be those whom we dearly and intirely love, and who have a special interest in our Affections. The Infirmities of these we are so far from delighting to pry into, that we turn away our Eyes from them, and are unwilling to see them
and when we cannot but take notice of them, we are so favourable as to apprehend them to be less than they are, rather than greater; and as for the itch of divulging them, there is so little of this, that we do all that we can to conceal them. And if others
take notice of them, we are ready to make the best Excuses and Apologies that we are able, that seeing they cannot be altogether hid from other Mens Eyes, yet as much of the Evil of them may be concealed as is possible. And if we loved others that are a little more remote from us, as well as we love our selves, and those that are near us, would not the effects of our Love be the same? 'Tis therefore from what hath been spoken, too apparent that we have but a very little Charity for any but our felves, and some few others thať are so near us, as that they may in some fense be accounted a part of our selves, and consequently our Love to them little other than Love to our felves.
4. As for the more enormous Faults and Irregularities of others who are of a vicious and profligate Life, certainly it cannot in reason be well supposed that we should have more true Love and Charity for these, than we have for those who lin through Infirmity. Our want of Charity that suffers long in reference to these is most visible, in that we are so quickly weary of waiting for their Reformation ; in that we are so easily perswaded, after a little unsuc
cessful Pains taken with them, to look upon
them as incurable, and desperate, such as we may not hope that ever any Good will be done upon them : In that because God is not presently prevailed with to change their Hearts, we are so ready to conclude that he never will do it ; and thereupon cast them out of our Prayers, and forbear to give our selves any further trouble in making use of any other Means for gaining them. This is indeed a short way to be rid of them, and to ease our felves of the labour of indeavouring their Conversion. But Charity would not be so quick ;
that would suffer long, and wait long in the use of Means, and never be weary of waiting, if God peradventure might at
time be pleased to give Repentance to the acknowledging of the Truth.
Use 2. If to suffer long be the property of Love, let us be exhorted to indeavour to evidence the truth and fincerity of our Love by Long-suffering. Let us not give up our selves to be transported with those inordinate Pala. sions, which Persons void of Charity are subject to. Let neither Unkindnesses nor Injuries fo work upon us as
to put us out of order, or make us meditate, contrive or a&t any thing contrary to Charity. Let us bear the Infirmites of the weakest of Saints, and wait for the Repentance of the worst of Sinners. And wherefoever we find that at any time we come short of that Long-suffering which hath been described, let us thence conclude, that as much as we want in Long-suffering, so much we want in Charity, and accordingly be humbled for, and bewail our deficiency in that Grace, and labour to strengthen it. As our Charity grows stronger, our Long-suffering will be greater.
And so I come to the next property Cor.13. of Charity; Charity is kind.
I COR. xiij. 4.
N handling of this Property, I shall
only speak a little of the nature of
Kindness, and then make Application. As concerning the former, the nature of Kindnefs cannot be set forth better than by shewing, by way
particular Instances, what the Things are in which it is discovered : and they are chiefly-these that follow.
1. Kindness shews it self in a propension, or readiness to do Good to Men, or to be useful and beneficial to others. The Greek word Zensos, is a good, beneficent, or useful Man. So Rom. 2. 4. Despisest thou the riches of the Goodness of God ; of tense'n duit; that is, of his Beneficence, or Bounty. So