תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

SERMON XXVIII.

MOTIVES AND ARGUMENTS TO CHARITY.

HEB. X. 24

Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to

good works. That which is here recommended by the Apostle, as SERM. the common duty of Christians toward each other, upon XXVIII. emergent occafions, with zeal and care to provoke one another to the practice of charity and beneficence, may well be conceived the special duty of those, whose office it is to instruct and guide others, when opportunity is afforded: with that obligation I shall now comply, by representing divers considerations serving to excite and encourage us to that practice: this (without premising any description or explication of the duty; the nature, special acts, and properties whereof I have already declared) I Thall immediately undertake.

1. First then, I desire you to remember and consider that

you are men, and as such obliged to this duty, as being very agreeable to human nature; the which, not being corrupted or distempered by ill use, doth incline to it, doth call for it, doth like and approve it, doth find satisfaction and delight therein.

St. Paul chargeth us to be eis årýnes pinósopyou, or to Rom. xü. have a natural affection one toward another : that fup-10. poseth a sogy inbred to men, which should be roused up,

SERM. improved, and exercised. Such an one indeed there is, XXVIII. which, although often raked up and smothered in the

common attendances on the providing for our needs, and prosecuting our affairs, will upon occasion more or less break forth and discover itfelf.

That the constitution and frame of our nature disposeth to it, we cannot but feel, when our bowels are touched with a senGble pain at the view of any calamitous object; when our fancies are disturbed at the report of any difafter befalling a man; when the light of a tragedy wringeth compassion and tears from us : which affections we can hardly quash by any reflection, that such events, true or feigned, do not concern ourselves.

Hence doth nature so strongly affect society, and abhor solitude ; so that a man cannot enjoy himself alone, or find fatisfaction in any good without a companiona: not only for that he then cannot receive, but also because he cannot impart asistance, consolation, and delight in converse: for men do not affect society only that they may obtain benefits thereby; but as much or more, that they may be enabled to communicate them; nothing being more distasteful than to be always on the taking hand : neither indeed hath any thing a more pleasant and favoury relish than to do good; as even Epicurus, the great patron of pleasure, did confefs.

The practice of benignity, of courtesy, of clemency, do at first fight, without aid of any discursive reflection, obtain approbation and applause from men; being acceptable and amiable to their mind, as beauty to their fight, harmony to their hearing, fragrancy to their smell, and sweetness to their taste : and, correspondently, uncharitable dispositions and practices (malignity, harshness, cruelty) do offend the mind with a disgustful resentment of SERM. them.

* Ουδείς γαρ λουτ' άν καθ' αυτόν τα πάντ' έχεις αγαθά. Αrit. Eth. ii. 9. Hominem homini natura conciliat. Sen. Ep. ix. Nullius boni fine socio jucunda poffeffio eft. Sen. Ep. vi.

Και γάρ ο Θεός βουλόμενος συνδήσαι πάντας αλλήλοις, τοιαύτην τοις πράγμασιν επίθηκαν ανάγκην, ώς εν τω των πλησίον συμφέροντα το του ετέρι δεδίcθαι και ο κίrHöras to ouvisnxs. Chryf. in i Cor. Or. xxv.

XXVIII. We may appeal to the conscience of each man, if he doth not feel dissatisfaction in that fierceness or frowardness of temper, which produceth uncharitableness; if he have not a complacence in that sweet and calm disposition of foul, whence charity doth issue; if he do not condemn himself for the one, and approve himself in the other practice.

This is the common judgment of men; and therefore Els gàę pra in common language this practice is styled humanity, as

λανθρωπίας

igra uro best sorting with our nature, and becoming it; and the oti ratio

σκευάσματα: : principle whence it springeth is called good-nature : and Flavian. the contrary practice is styled inhumanity, as thwart- CP. Ep. in ing our natural inclinations, or divesting us of manhood ; AP. I. p. and its fource likewise is termed ill-nature, or a corruption 111. of our nature.

It is therefore a monstrous paradox, crossing the common sense of men, which in this loose and vain world hath lately got such vogue, that all men naturally are enemies one to another: it pretendeth to be grounded on common observation and experience; but it is only an observing the worst actions of the worst men; of dissolute ruffians, of villainous cheats, of ravenous oppressors, of malicious politicians, of such degenerate apoftates from humanity; by whose pra&ice (debauched by rain conceits and naughty customs) an ill measure is taken of mankind. Aristotle himself, who had observed things as well as any of these men, and with as sharp a judgment, affirmeth the contrary, that all men are friends, and disposed to entertain friendly correspondence with one another b: indeed to say the contrary is a blasphemy against the Author of our nature; and is spoken no less out of profane enmity

• Oixtie rãs Sqwtos ás gára og pírov. Arift

. Erh. viii. 1. Rker. i. 11. 'Ενίθηκι γάς Θεός φίλτρων τη φύσιν τη ημετέρα, ώσε αλλήλες αγασάν. Chry. in Epk. Orat. ii.

Συνδεσμών εις ομογνωμοσύνης και άρισoσίχνης Θιός ήν εδημιούργησε φύσιν τη διαθέσει ris nóyo diurouzeóws ovriomyšs, &c. Proclus Conftantinopl. Syn. Chalc. Aa. ziv.

SERM. against him, than out of venomous malignity against men: XXVIII. out of hatred to God and goodness they would disparage

and vilify the noblest work of God's creation; yet do they, if we found the bottom of their mind, imply themselves to admire this quality, and by their decrying it do commend it: for it is easy to discern that therefore only they Nander mankind as uncapable of goodness, because out of malignity they would not allow it so excellent a quality.

II. Let us consider what our neighbour is; how near in blood, how like in nature, how much in all considerable respects the same with us he is.

Should any one wrong or defame our brother, we should be displeased ; should we do it ourselves, or should we omit any office of kindness toward him, we Mould blame ourselves : every man is such, of one stock, of one blood with us; and as such may challenge and call for real affection from us.

Should any one mar, tear, or deface our picture, or

shew any kind of disrespect thereto, we should be offended, si oppiórn- taking it for an indignity put on ourselves; and as for piasi agès

ourselves, we should never in such a manner affront or

despite ourselves : every man is such, our most lively Plaro Symp. image, representing us most exactly in all the main fi

gures and features of body, of foul, of state; we thence do owe respect to every one.

Every man is another self, partaker of the same nature, endued with the same faculties, subject to the same laws, liable to the same fortunes; distinguished from us only in accidental and variable circumstances: whence if we be amiable or estimable, so is he upon the fame grounds; and acting impartially (according to right judgment) we should yield love and elieem to him: by Nighting, hating, injuring, hurting him we do consequentially abuse ourselves, or acknowledge ourselves deservedly liable to the fame usage.

Every man, as a Christian, is in a higher and nobler 'way allied, assimilated, and identified to us; to him therefore upon the like grounds improved charity is more due;

τις πάντα

άλληλα συνarrsodan ,

and we wrong our heavenly relations, our better na- SERM. ture, our more confiderable selves, in withholding it XXVIII. from him.

III. Equity doth plainly require charity froin us : for every one is ready not only to wish and seek, but to demand and claim love from others; so as to be much of fended, and grievously to complain, if he do not find it.

We do all conceive love and respect due to us from all men; we take all men bound to wish and tender our welfare; we suppose our need to require commiseration and succour from every man : if it be refused, we think it a hard case, and that we are ill used; we cry out of wrong, of discourtesy, of inhumanity, of baseness, practised toward us.

A moderate respect and affection will hardly satisfy us ; we pretend to them in the highest degree, disgusting the least appearance of disregard or disaffection; we can scarce better digest indifference than hatred.

This evidenceth our opinion and conscience to be, that we ought to pay the greatest respect and kindness to our neighbour: for it is plainly unjust and ridiculously vain, to require that from others, which we refuse to others, who may demand it upon the same title; nor can we without self-condemnation practise that which we detest in others.

In all reason and equity, if I would have another my friend, I must be a friend to him; if I pretend to charity from all men, I must render it to all in the same kind and measure.

Hence is the law of charity well expressed in those terms, of doing to others whatever we would have them do Matt. vii. to us; whereby the palpable equity of this practice is demonstrated.

IV. Let us consider that charity is a right noble and worthy thing; greatly perfective of our nature; much dignifying and beautifying our soul.

It rendereth a man truly great, enlarging his mind unto a vast circumference, and to a capacity near infinite ; so that it by a general care doth reach all things,

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »