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1 Tim. i. 6.
SERM, instances it is very feasible to love our neighbour no less XXVI. than ourselves.
We may love our neighbour truly and fincerely, out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, as
St. Paul doth prescribe; or according to St. Peter's in1 Pet. i. 22. junction, from a pure heart love one another fervently: and (Rom. xii. in this respect we can do no more toward ourselves ; for
truth admitteth no degrees, fincerity is a pure and complete thing, exclusive of all mixture or alloy.
And as to external acts at least it is plain that charity toward others may reach felf-love ; for we may be as serious, as vigorous, as industrious in acting for our neighbour's good, as we can be in pursuing our own designs and interests: for reason easily can manage and govern external practice; and commion experience sheweth the matter to this extent practicable, seeing that often men do employ as much diligence on the concerns of others, as they can do on their own, (being able to do no more than their best in either case :) wherefore in this respect charity, may vie with selfishness; and practising thus far may be a step to mount higher.
Allo rational conGderation will enable us to perform some interior acts of charity in the highest degree ; for if we do but (as without much difficulty we may do) apply our mind to weigh the qualities and the actions of our neighbour, we may thence obtain a true opinion and just esteem of him; and, secluding gross folly or flattery of ourselves, how can we in that respect or instance be more kind or benign to ourselves ?
Is it not also within the compass of our ability to repress those passions of soul, the eruption whereof tendeth to the wrong, damage, and offence of our neighbour; in regard
to which practice St. Paul affirmeth, that the law may be Rom. xii. fulfilled : Love, faith he, worketh no evil to his neighbour ;
therefore love is the fulfilling of the law ? And what more in this respect can we perform for ourselves?
3. We may consider, that commonly we see men inclined by other principles to act as much or more for the sake of others, as they would for themselves.
Moral honesty hath inclined some, ambition and po- SERM, pularity have excited others, to encounter the greatest XXVI. dangers, to attack the greatest difficulties, to expose their safety, to sacrifice their lives for the welfare of their country
Common friendship hath often done as much, and brutish love (that mad friendship, as Seneca calleth it) Infana amicommonly doeth far more: for what will not a fond lover
Ep. ix. undertake and achieve for his minion, although the really be the worst enemy he can have ? yet for such a snake will he not lavish his estate, prostitute his honour, Chryf. in abandon his ease, hazard his safety, shipwreck his con
797. science, forfeit his salvation? What may not a Delilah obtain of her Samson, a Cleopatra of her Anthony, how prejudicial soever it be to his own interest and welfare?
Why then may not a principle of charity, grounded on so much better reason, and backed by so much stronger motives, be conceived able to engage men to the like practice? why may not a man be disposed to do that out of a hearty, good-will, which he can do out of vain conceit, or vicious appetite? why shall other forces overbear nature, and the power of charity be unable to match it?
4. Let us consider, that those dispositions of soul which usually with so much violence do thwart the observance of this precept, are not ingredients of true self-love, by the which we are directed to regulate our charity ; but a fpurious brood of our folly and pravity, which imply not a sober love of ourselves, but a corrupt fondness toward an idol of our fancy mistaken for ourselves.
A high conceit of our worth or ability, of our fortune or worldly state, of our works and achievements; a great complacence or confidence in some endowment or advantage belonging to us, a stiff adherence to our own will or humour, a greedy appetite to some particular interest or base pleasure; these are those, not attendants of
• 'Αληθές δε το σιρί το στυδαία, και το των φίλων ένεκα πολλά πράττειν και της serpią, rą, din úzigazolváoxu, Arif, Eth. ix. 8.
SERM. natural self-love, but issues of unnatural depravedness in XXVI. judgment and affections, which render our practice so ex
orbitant in this regard, making us seem to love ourselves so immoderately, so infinitely; so contracting our souls, and drawing them inwards, that we appear indisposed to love our neighbour in any considerable degree: if these (as by serious consideration they may be) were avoided, or much abated, it would not be found so grievous a matter to love our neighbour as ourselves; for that sober love remaining behind, to which nature inclineth, and which reason approveth, would rather help to promote than yield any obstacle to our charity: if such perverse selfishness were checked and depressed, and natural kindness cherished and advanced, then true self-love and charity would compose themselves into near a just poise.
5. Indeed (which we may farther consider) our nature is not so absolutely averse or indisposed to the practice of such charity, as to those may seem who view it lightly, either in some particular instances, or in ordinary practice: nature hath furnished us with strong instincts for the defence and sustenance of our life; and common practice is depraved by ill education and custom ; these some men poring on do imagine no room left for charity in the conftitution of men; but they consider not that one of these may be so moderated, and the other so corrected, that charity may have a fair scope in men's hearts and practice; and they slip over divers pregnant marks of our natural inclination thereto.
Man having received his soul from the breath of God, and being framed after the image of his most benign parent, there do yet abide in him some features resembling God, and relics of the divine original; there are in us seeds of ingenuity, of equity, of pity, of benignity, which being cultivated by sober consideration and good use, under the conduct and aid of heavenly grace, will produce noble fruits of charity.
The frame of our nature so far disposeth us thereto, that our bowels are touched with sensible pain upon the view of any calamitous object: our fancy is disturbed at
Eth. viii. 1.
the report of any disaster befalling any person; we can SERM. hardly see or read a tragedy without motions of com- XXVI. passion.
The pra&ice of benignity, of courtesy, of clemency at first sight, without any discursive reflection, doth obtain approbation and applause from us; being no less grateful and amiable to the mind than beauty to our eyes, harmony to our ears, fragrancy to our smell, and sweetness to our palate : and to the same mental sense malignity, cruelty, harshness, all kinds of uncharitable dealing are very disgustful and loathsome.
There wanteth not any commendation to procure a'ots tès respect for charity, nor any invective to breed abhorrence Piersica of uncharitableness; nature sufficiently prompting to her. Ariß. favour the one, and to detest the other.
The practice of the former in common language hath ever been styled humanity; and the disposition from whence it Aoweth is called good-nature: the practice of the latter is likewise termed inhumanity, and its fource ill-nature; as thwarting the common notions and inclinations of mankind, divesting us of our manhood, and rendering us a sort of monsters among men.
No quality hath a clearer repute, or is commonly more admired, than generosity, which is a kind of natural charity, or hath a great spice thereof: no disposition is more despised among men than niggardly selfishness; whence commonly men are ashamed to avow self-interest as a principle of their actions, (rather fathering them on some other cause,) as being conscious to themselves that it is the baseft of all principles b.
Whatever the censurers and detractors of human nature do pretend, yet even themselves do admire pure beneficence, and contemn felfishness; for, if we look to the bottom of their intent, it is hence they are bent to Nander mankind as void of good nature, because out of
ο 'Επιτιμώσι γάρ τοις εαυτούς μάλισα αγαπώσι, και ως εν αισχρά φιλαυτους apoxarici. Arif. ix. g.
"Orx &r Biations, pãnzor dià rà xaddy, s píso Trexa, ri di airi sagincu. Ibid.
SERM. malignity they would not allow it a quality so excellent XXVI. and divine.
Wherefore, according to the general judgment and conscience of men, (to omit other considerations,) our nature is not so averse from charity, or destitute of propensions thereto; and therefore cherishing the natural seeds of it, we may improve it to higher degrees.
6. But supposing the inclinations of nature, as it now standeth in its depraved and crazy state, do so mightily obstruct the practice of this duty in the degree specified, so that however we cannot by any force of reason or philosophy attain to desire so much or relish so well the good of others as our own; yet we must remember, that a subsidiary power is by the divine mercy dispensed, able to control and subdue nature to a compliance, to raise our practice above our natural forces. We have a like averseness to other spiritual duties, (to the loving God with all our hearts, to the mortifying our flesh and carnal desires, to the contempt of worldly things, and placing our happiness in spiritual goods ;) yet we are able to perform them by the succour of grace, and in virtue of that omni
potency which St. Paul assumed to himself when he said, Phil. iv. 13. I can do all things by Christ enabling me. lv ru indu
If we can get the Spirit of love, (and assuredly we may γαμύντι. 2 Tim. i. 7. get it, if we carefully will seek it, with constant fervency
imploring it from him, who hath promised to bestow it on those that ask it, it will infuse into our minds that light, whereby we shall discern the excellency of this duty, together with the folly and baseness of that selfishness which crofleth it; it will kindle in our hearts charitable affections, disposing us to wish all good to our neighbour, and to feel pleasure therein; it will render us partakers of that divine nature, which so will guide and urge us in due measure to affect the benefit of others, as now corrupt nature doth move us unmeasurably to covet our own; being supported and elevated by its virtue, we may, surmounting the clogs of Aeshly sense and conceit,
foar up to the due pitch of charity; being JeodidaXTO!, 1 Theff. iv. taught of God to love one another; and endowed with