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is none that doth so much need our prayers as this: for in all cther cases, either it is in the power of the miferable to help themselves, or it is in the power of the merciful to rescue and relieve them, or their miseries are fuch as will quickly end and expire into eternal eafe: but the mifery of the obftinate finner, is fuch as God alone can remedy, and fuch, as if not remedied, will quickly conclude in mifery and torment for

ever.

IV. The next branch of charity is regarding the bodies of men. Wherefore obferve that, altho' natural blemishes and defects, fuch as lameness or crookedness, the want of our fenfes, or the difproportion of our parts or features, render our bodies lefs ufeful or lefs graceful and lovely, and do not only upbraid us to ourselves, but create a contemptible opinion of us in the minds of others, the fufpicion of which is apt to grieve and afflict our minds; charity requires us not to contemn men, nor to upbraid or reproach them upon the account of any bodily infirmity; but to render them all refpect, which the graces and virtues of their minds are worthy of. The body is not the man, but the immortal mind that inhabits it ; even as many times the richeft diamonds wear the roughest coats. So that those natural blemishes are infelicities, which men cannot prevent nor rectify; and therefore to deride and expose them for any blemish in their compofition, is to fling falt into their wounds to fret and inflame their miserable condition.

Charity to the body.

Charity requires us to render to our fick friends, In fickness. neighbours and acquaintaince, fuch good offices as

do conduce to their fupport or recovery; and if their sickness
be fuch as will fafely admit of converfation, we are obliged to
vifit them, to chear their drooping fpirits and forrowful hours
with godly converfation, and to adminifter the fupports and
comforts of religion; to awaken their minds into serious
thoughts and purposes; to refolve their doubts; to comfort
and support them with the hopes of glory, and to take all
opportunities to prepare their fouls for a happy death; that
fo, whether they recover or no, this fickness of their bodies
contribute to their fouls health; and if they are poor and
may
indigent to supply them with fuch remedies as are neceffary

to

to their health and recovery, and to be their earnest advocates at the throne of grace, that the God of all power and goodness, in whose hands are the iffues of life and death,would take pity on their forrows, refresh their weariness, and either remove their fickness, or fanctify it to their eternal falvation. When a man is in prison, he is in a fort of captiIn cafe of im- vity. Is it not a calamitous condition for a man to prisonment. be fhut up in aclose and unwholsome gaol, to dwell with hunger and cold, confin'd to hard lodging and wretched companions; to be with-held from the converfation of friends, from the comforts of diverfion, and from bufiness and employment, and all opportunities of making provifion for his family in diftrefs? and yet these are the unhappy circumftances which do commonly meet in the state and condition of prifoners, and render it miferable and wretched; and it is our duty towards these unfortunate men, to vifit them in this their uncomfortable imprisonment, if they are our friends and acquaintance; and to divert their forrows, to ftrengthen their hopes, and to chear them with affurances of friendship; to use endeavours to mollify their adverfaries, to vindicate their innocence, or to compound with their creditors, if they are not able to discharge their debts. Yet whether they are our friends or acquaintance or no, charity obliges us, as we have opportunity and ability, to relieve their neceffities, to redrefs their injuries, to contribute to their enlargements, that they may by their honest industry make provision for those who depend on their honeft endeavours. But

fecution.

Those who are unjustly perfecuted for conscience In cafe of per- fake, who to fecure their fouls, and their loyalty to God and their Saviour, are forced to fly, or to fubmit to fpoil and plunder, to imprisonment and famine and death, are of all others the greatest objects of our mercy; because they suffer for our common master, and in our common caufe, which ought to be dearer to us than our lives: because religion fuffers with them, and what they fuffer we must suffer, if we are reduced to their condition. If we have any compaffion, by what more fuitable acts can we express it, than by a kind reception of those, who fly to us for fuccour, and a liberal contribution towards their relief and fubfiftance, and by af

fifting

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fifting those with the charity of our prayers, whom we cannot reach with the charity of our alms; by remembring those that are in bonds, to pity and pray for them, and if it were in our power, fo to vifit and relieve them, as being bound with them, and alfo to remember those that fuffer adverfity, as being ourselves alfo in the body? And,

V. If it fhould fall to our lot at any time to profecute an offender in a juft caufe, we must remember, that tho' injuries do give us a right to punish the offender by courfe of law, or by our own power, when at our own difpofal'; yet, because men's fouls are out of the reach of human punishments, we can exact no other penalties of offenders, but fuch as affect their bodies with fhame or pain, with lofs of goods, with wearisome labour or confinement: which punishment is an act of mercy, more than an act of revenge, the end of it being to do good, rather than to return evil for evil; to defend myself or others against offenders, or to fecure offenders against themselves, or to defend others against the infection of their pernicious examples: but he who punishes to vent his fpleen, or gratify his malice with mischief to the offender, under pretence of juftice, facrificeth to his own favage nature. Therefore feeing that the end of punishment is doing good, it ought to be executed with a kind intention; not to discharge our rage, or recreate our malice, but to vindicate our right, to reclaim the offender, or terrify others by his punishment. Confequently, this is the first thing which mercy requires of in refpect to our punishing offenders, that we should always do it with a good and merciful difpofition. As then the end of punishment is doing good, it is cruelty to exact it for flight evils, because the punishment is a greater hurt than the offence committed. For what reafon can I have to hurt another for small offences, which do little hurt to myself or others, but only to gratify malice and revenge? fuppofe that in a heat of paffion a man should give me the lye,or call me names, or treat me with reproachful language; and I should strike or wound him, or profecute him with a vexatious fuit of law; would not my punishment hurt him more than his offence could hurt me? if so, my design in punishing him would be to

5

do

us,

How to profender.

fecute an of

A debtor.

do hurt and not good; which only defign to do hurt is malicious and inhuman. So that in lighter injuries, mercy requires us to remit and forgive, and not rigidly to exact the hurt of the offender for fuch trifling offences, as do no great harm. Again, Put the cafe I have an infolvent debtor that owes me a great deal, and can pay me nothing, and it is in my power, according to the letter of the law, to caft him into prifon, and force him to languifh away his wretched life; to what end fhould I inflict this punishment? I can't hope to recover my own by this means; for a prifon will pay no debts, as every body must know. Can I pretend to reform him by it? no; for prifons are fruitful nurseries of all evil. Neither can I warn others by it; for what warning can oblige men to do that which is not in their power?

Hence observe, that he is an unmerciful creditor, Who are un- who rather than abate the least part of his due, will merciful. ftrip his poor debtor to the skin, and reduce him to

How charity

the utmost extremity: and he is an unmerciful punisher that
exacts to the full defert of the fault, and ftretches his right of
punishing to the utmoft extent, to make the offender mifera-
ble, without any service to himself or to the publick.
Where you are legally obliged to judge or profe-
proceeds. cute an offender, you are to proceed by the measures
of the law, which obliges you, and which usually
determines you to the kind and degrees of the punishment to
be inflicted: but where the matter is in your power to forgive
or increase the punishment, charity obliges you not to exact
the utmost punishment. If you punish more than the offence
deferves, you are unjuft; because as your right to punish comes
from the offence, fo your right to punish to fuch a degree ac-
crues from the degree of the offence; which you cannot ex-
ceed, without exceeding your right, and exacting more pu-
nishment of the offender than he owes you in equity. Confe-
quently every degree of punishment, which exceeds the defer-
vings of the fault, is lawless and licentious cruelty. In a word,
mercy requires us to follow the great example of God, who, in
the midst of justice, doth always remember mercy; who makes
large abatements of his right to punish us, and never exacts the
utmost punishment which our iniquities require. Wherefore

we

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with our

we are oblig'd in punishing others to mingle mercy
severities, and proportionably to the offenders penitence, or the
pitiable circumstances of his fault, or the neceffities of his pre-
fent condition, to make a favourable allowance. Again,

VI. If we fee our brother have need, pinch'd with
hunger, or parch'd with drought, his hungry fami- By almígiv.
ly crying for want of bread, and none to give them;
children shivering with cold, and drooping with famine, and
without any view of relief, whilft their pined carcaffes are co-
vered with rags, and more destitute than the beast of the field,
and birds of the air, for want of proper fhelter where to lay
their heads; then we are oblig'd by charity to a tender sympa-
thy, to affect our fouls with a compaffionate fenfe of the wants
of our poor brethren, and reprefent their condition, as if it were
our own: tho' indeed if we are poor and needy, we are not ob-
liged to pinch ourselves or families to relieve the neceffities of
others; for the defire of self-preservation being of all others the
moft vehement paffion in our natures, God doth thereby not
only warrant, but direct us to take care of ourselves, and not to
facrifice the means of our own prefervation to the neceffities of
our neighbours.

tions first.

Our relations being next to ourselves, we are obliged to relieve them; and in all cafes to prefer the To our relaneceffities of those who have any dependence on us. Nevertheless, tho' we may not be able to give alms to our neceffitous brother; yet if by representing his neceffities to others, who are able to relieve him, if by begging relief for him,which he perhaps is ashamed to do for himself, we can any way contribute to his fupport, we stand strictly obliged to it by charity; and this will be as acceptable to God, as the moft liberal almsout of our own substance. Where the deed is impoffible, God accepts the will for it, and reckons all good works to our account, which he knows we would do if it were in our power. So when he furnisheth us with means to relieve the neceffitous, he expects the deed; knowing that we cannot fincerely will the deed, if when it is in our power we don't do it; the neceffity of which deed, to fhew the fincerity of the will, appears from that paffage where it is written; whofo hath this world's good, and feeth his brother have need, and shutteth up

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