תמונות בעמוד

John xiii. 35.

SERM. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye XXVII. love one another.

It being therefore a duty of so grand importance, it is most requisite that we should well understand it, and faithfully observe it; to which purposes I Mall, by God's asGistance, endeavour to confer somewhat, first by explaining its nature, then by pressing the observance of it by several inducements.

The nature of it will, as I conceive, be best understood by representing the several chief acts, which it compriseth or implieth as necessary prerequisites, or essential ingredients, or inseparable adherents to it; some internally refident in the soul, others discharged in external performance; together with some special properties of it. And such are those which follow.

1. Loving our neighbour doth imply, that we should value and esteem him : this is necessary, for affection doth follow opinion; so that we cannot like any thing which we do not esteem, or wherein we do not apprehend some considerable good, attractive of affection; that is not amiable, which is wholly contemptible; or so far as it is such.

But in right judgment no man is such; for the Wise Prov. xiv. Man telleth us, that he that despiseth his neighbour, fin

neth ; and, He is void of undersianding that despiseth his neighbour : but no man is guilty of fin or folly for despising that which is wholly despicable.

It is indeed true, that every man is subject to defects, and to mischances, apt to breed contempt, especially in the minds of vulgar and weak people ; but no man is really despicable. For,

Every man living hath stamped on him the venerable image of his glorious Maker, which nothing incident to him can utterly deface.

Every man is of a divine extraction, and allied to Hea

ven by nature and by grace; as the son of God, and broJob xxxi. ther of God incarnate. If I did despise the cause of my 13, 14, 15.

man-servant or of my maid-Servant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up? and

Prov. xi.12.


when he vihteth, what shall I answer him ? Did not he that SERM. made me in the womb make him ? and did not one fashion XXVII. us in the womb ?

Every man is endued with that celestial faculty of reason, inspired by the Almighty, (for, There is a Spirit in Job xxxii. man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding, and hath an immortal spirit residing in him; or rather is himself an angelical spirit dwelling in a visible tabernacle.

Every man was originally designed and framed for a fruition of eternal happiness.

Every man hath an interest in the common redemption, purchased by the blood of the Son of God, who tasted death for every one.

Every man is capable of sovereign bliss, and hath a crown of endless glory offered to him.

la fine, every man, and all men alike, antecedently to their own will and choice, are the objects of his love, of his care, of his mercy; who is loving unto every man, P. cxlv. 9. and whose mercy is over all his works; who hath made the Job xxxiv. fmall and the great, and careth for all alike ; who is rich, Wird. vi. 8. in bounty and mercy, toward all that call upon him.

How then can any man be deemed contemptible, hav- iii. 22. ing so noble relations, capacities, and privileges ? How a man ftandeth in esteem with God Elihu telleth us; God, Job xxxvi. faith he, is mighty, and despiseth not any: although he be Pi. Ixix. 33. fo mighty, so excellent in perfection, fo infinitely in state exalted above all, yet doth not he night any; and how can we contemn those, whom the certain voucher and infallible judge of worth deigneth to value? Indeed God so valued every man as to take great care, to be at great coft and trouble, to stoop down from heaven, to assume mortal flesh, to endure pinching wants and fore distresses, to taste death for every one.

We may ask with St. Paul, Why dost thou set at nought Rom. xiv. thy brother?

Is it for the lowness of his condition, or for any misfortune that hath befallen him? But are not the best men, Jam. ii. 3. are not all men, art not thou thyself obnoxious to the Pl. xxxvii.

33. cxlvi.9.

Rom. x.12.



SERM. like? Hath not God declared that he hath a special reXXVII.

gard to such ? And are not such things commonly disposed by his hand with a gracious intent ?

Is it for meanness of parts, or abilities, or endowments? But are not these the gifts of God, absolutely at his disposal, and arbitrarily distributed or preserved; so that thou who art so wise in thy own conceit to-day, mayest, by a disease, or from a judgment, deserved by thy pride,

become an idiot to-morrow? Have not many good, and 1 Cor. i. 26. therefore many happy men, wanted those things?

Is it for moral imperfections or blemishes ; for vicious habits, or actual misdemeanours ? These indeed are the only debasements and disparagements of a man; yet do they not expunge the characters of Divinity impressed on his nature; and he may by God's mercy recover from them. And are not we ourselves, if grace do not uphold us, liable to the same? Yea, may we not, if without partiality or flattery we examine ourselves, discern the same within us, or other defects equivalent ? And, however, is

not pity rather due to them than contempt? Whose chaLuke xviii. racter was it, that they trusted they were righteous, and 9. xvi. 15. despised others ? That the most palpable offender should

not be quite despised, God had a special care in his Law,

for that end moderating punishment, and restraining the Deut. xxv. number of stripes; If, faith the Law, the wicked man le

worthy to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed : left, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

We may consider that the common things, both good and bad, wherein men agree, are far more considerable than the peculiar things wherein they differ; to be a man is much beyond being a lord, or a wit, or a philosopher ; to be a Christian doth infinitely surpass being an emperor, or a learned clerk; to be a finner is much worse than to be a beggar, or an idiot. The agreement of men is in the substance and body of things; the difference is in a cir


cumstance, a fringe, or a shadow about them; so that we SERM. cannot despise another man, without reflecting contempt XXVII. . on ourselves, who are so very like him, and not confiderably better than he, or hardly can without arrogance pretend to be fo.

We may therefore, and reason doth require that we should value our neighbour; and it is no impossible or unreasonable precept which St. Peter giveth us, to honour all 1 Pet. ii. 17. men; and with it a charitable mind will easily comply: it ever will defcry something valuable, something honourable, something amiable in our neighbour; it will find somewhat of dignity in the meanest, somewhat of worth in the basest, somewhat hopeful in the most dege- 1 Cor.xiii.7. nerate of men; it therefore will not absolutely Night or scorn any man whatever, looking on him as an abject or forlorn wretch, unworthy of consideration.

It is indeed a point of charity to see more things eftimable in others than in ourselves ; or to be apprehensive of more defects meriting disesteem in ourselves than in others; and consequently in our opinion to prefer others before us, according to those apostolical precepts, Be Rom. xii. kindly affected one toward another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another. In lowliness of mind let Phil. ii. 3. each esteem other better than themselves. Be subject one to 1 Pet. V. . another.

II. Loving our neighbour doth imply a fincere and earnest desire of his welfare, and good of all kinds, in due proportion : for it is a property of love, that it would have its object moft worthy of itself, and consequently that it fhould attain the best state whereof it is capable, and persist firm therein; to be fair and plump, to flourish and thrive without diminution or decay; this is plain to experience in respect to any other thing (a horse, a flower, a building, or any such thing) which we pretend to love : wherefore charity should dispose us to be thus affected to our neighbour ; so that we do not look upon his condition or affairs with an indifferent eye or cold heart, rut are much concerned for him, and put forth hearty wishes for his interests : we should wish him adorned with all


SERM. virtue, and accomplished with all worthy endowments of XXVII. soul; we should wish him prosperous success in all his

designs, and a comfortable satisfaction of his desires; we should wish him with alacrity of mind to reap the fruits of his industry, and to enjoy the best accommodations of his life. Not formally and in compliment, as the mode is, but really and with a cordial sense, upon his undertaking any enterprise, we should with him good speed ; upon any prosperous success of bis endeavours, we should bid him joy; wherever he is going, whatever he is doing, we should with him peace and the presence of God with him : we should tender his health, his safety, his quiet, his reputation, his wealth, his prosperity in all respects; but especially with peculiar ardency we should defire his final welfare, and the happiness of his soul, that being incomparably his chief concern.

Hence readily should we pour forth our prayers, which are the truest expressions of good desire, for the welfare of our neighbour, to him who is able to work and beItow it.

Such was the charity of St. Paul for his countrymen, Rom. x. 1. fignified in those words, Brethren, my heart's depre and

prayer to God for Ifrael is, that they may be saved ; such ir was his love to the Philippians, God is my record, how υμάς. Phil. i. 8. greatly I long after you all, in the bowels of Jesus Christ : 2 Cor. xiii. and this I pray, that your love may abound more and more

in knowledge, and in all judgment.

Such was St. John's charity to his friend Gaius, to 3 John 2. whom he said, Beloved, I wish above all things that thou

mayr prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Such is the charity, which we are enjoined to express 1 Tim. ii. 3. toward all men, by praying for all men, in conformity to

the charity of God, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Such is the charity we are commanded to use toward Matt. V. 44. our enemies, blessing those who curse us, and praying for

those who despitefully use us, and perfecute us; the which Acts vii. 60. was exemplified by our Lord, by St. Stephen, by all the I Cor. iv, 12.

holy Apostles.


Luke xxiii. 34.

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