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DÍSCOURSË VI. Good we do to shift for itself, without being anxious to pry into the Causes and Motives leading to it: But let us double our Care to seek out our Failings, and to correct them; that our Love may be without Stain, and deserve the Name of that Charity, which jhall cover the Multitude of Sins.
Ť remains now that we confi
der in what Sense the Apostle's The Affertion is to be understood,
That Charity Mall cover the SKOM
Multitude of Sins. To cover Sins signifies to excuse them, to exempt them from Wrath and Punishment: In any other Sense it is impossible for Sins to be covered in the Sight of God, who cannot be deceived or imposed on, or so over delighted with the Good we do, as not to see and note our evil Actions.
With respect to the Judgment of Men, this Expression will bear a stronger Expofition: For, whether we consider the charitable
Person judging of other Men's Sins, it may very well be, that his Charity may incline him to think much better of Sinners than
they deserve; or, whether we consider others judging of the charitable Person's Offences, it is natural enough for Men to be charmed with the Goodness and Excellency of Charity, and not to see, or not to attend to, the Defects which appear in fo good Company.
Which of these two Expositions ought to prevail, depends upon a farther Inquiry : namely, whether the Apostle in his Affertion, that Charity shall cover the Multitude of Sins, had respect to the Judgment of God, or the Judgment of Men.
Nor is this the only Inquiry neceffary in order to fix the determinate Meaning of the Text: For we must consider also of whose Sins the Apostle speaks; and whether he means to affirm, that Charity shall cover the charitable Person's Offences, or the Offences of other People.
There are probable Reasons to be given for the Support of each of these Interpretations : And it will be proper to examine these Reasons, and to consider how far each Interpretation may be admitted within the Limits of Reason and Scripture.
First, There are good Reasons to be assigned for limiting the Apostle's Affertion concerning Charity to the Judgment of Men. Hatred, says the Wise King of Israel, stirreth up Strifes, but Love covereth all Sins: Where covering of Sins being opposed to stirring up Strifes, the Meaning needs must be, that as Hatred perpetually begets Complaints, Animofities, and Resentments, fo Love allays these intemperate Heats, and disposes to Peace and Friendship, and inclines Men to overlook and to forgive the Offences of each other. In this place therefore it is evident, that Love is said to cover all Sins with regard to the Judgment that Men make of each: other's Offences. And the Expression in St. Peter is so much the same with this in Solomon, that it is very probable the Apostle borrowed it from hence, and applied the Saying of the Wise King in Support of his general Precept, Have fervent Charity among yourselves.
In this View then the Apostle recommends mutual Charity, as the only Thing that can render Life comfortable and supportable to us, and deliver us from perpetual Vexations, and
put the Mind in a proper Posture to consider and prepare for the great Change at
hand: For thus his Reasoning stands, The End of all Things is at hand; be ye therefore fober, and watch unto Prayer; and above all Things have fervent Cbarity among yourselves. A Man drunk with Passion, and engaged in perpetual Strifes, is no more capable of making a due Preparation for the great Change which is near, than one intoxicated with Wine.
Temperance and Charity are the properest State we can put ourselves into, to wait for the Coming of our Lord. And the Apostle had learned to subjoin this Advice to the Mention of the great Day from his blessed Master, who had denounced Judgment without Mercy to all such as should be found, at his second Coming, void of Charity and Sobriety: But and if that Servant say in his Heart, My Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to beat the Men-fervants ord Maidens, and to eat and drink, and be drunken; the Lord of that Servant will come in a Day when be booketh not for bim, and at an Hour when be is not aware, and will cut him in funder, end will appoint him his Portion with the Unbelievers. In Conformity to this Declaration of our blessed Lord, the Apostle having given Wäsning of the End of all Things