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SERM. that holy spirit of love, which can serve to no meaner XXV. purposes, than to quell that forry principle of niggard
ly selfishness, to which corrupt nature doth incline; and to enlarge our hearts to this divine extent of goodness.
8. Lastly, many conspicuous examples, proposed for our direction in this kind of practice, do imply this degree of charity to be required of us.
It may be objected to our discourse, that the duty thus understood is unpracticable, nature violently swaying to those degrees of self-love which charity can nowise reach. This exception (would time pernit) I should alsoil, by shewing how far, and by what means we may attain to such a practice; (how at least, by aiming at this top of perfection, we may ascend nearer and nearer thereto :) in the mean time experience doth sufficiently evince poffibility; and assuredly that may be done, which we see done before us. And so it is, pure charity hath been the root of such affections and such performances (recorded by indubitable testimony) toward others, which hardly any man can exceed in regard to himself: nor indeed hath there scarce ever appeared any heroical virtue, or inemorable piety, whereof charity overbearing selfishness, and sacrificing private interest to public benefit, hath not been a main ingredient. For instance then;
Did not Abraham even prefer the good of others before his own, when he gladly did quit his country, patrimony, friends, and kindred, to pass his days in a wandering pilgrimage, upon no other encouragement than an overture
of blessing on his posterity? Chryf. in
Did not the charity of Moses stretch thus far, when for 1 Cor. Or. the sake of his brethren he voluntarily did exchange the Eph. Or.vii. fplendors and delights of a court for a condition of vaHeb.xi. 24. grancy and servility ; choosing rather, as the Apostle
speaketh, to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin? did not it overstretch, when (although having been grievously affronted by them) he
wished that rather his name should be expunged from xxxii. 32. God's book, than that their fin should abide unparΒέλομαι MST' ixésse doned?
1 Sam. xii.
1 Sam. xx.
Did not Samuel exercise such a charity, when being in- SERM. gratefully and injuriously dismounted from his authority,
XXV. he did yet retain toward that people a zealous desire of a rodiola, their welfare, not ceaħng earnestly to pray for them ?
νων σώζεσ. Did not Jonathan love David equally with himself, Jav ovtus when for his fake he chose to incur the displeasure of his qavíaövras father and his king; when for his advantage he was con- Chrys. in
Eph. Or.vii. tent to forfeit the privilege of his birth, and the inheritance of a crown; when he could without envy or grudge 23. look on the growing prosperity of his supplanter, could 30. heartily with his fafety, could effe&tually protect it, could purchase it to him with his own great danger and trouble : when he, that in gallantry of courage and virtue did yield to none, was yet willing to become inferior to one born his subject, one raised from the dust, one taken from Pfal.lxxviii. a sheepcote; so that unrepiningly and without disdain he could say, Thou shalt be king over Ifrael, and I shall be 1Sam.xxiii. next unto thee ?-are not these pregnant evidences, that it was truly said in the story, The foul of Jonathan was Sam.xviii. knit to the foul of David, and he loved him as his own soul ? 1. XI. 17.
Did not the Psalmist competently practise this duty, when in the sickness of his ingrateful adversaries he Pfal. xxxv. clothed himself with sackcloth, he humbled his soul with fasting ; he bowed down heavily as one that mourneth for his mother?
Were not Elias, Jeremy, and other prophets as much concerned for the good of their countrymen as for their own, when they took such pains, when they ran such hazards, when they endured such hardships not only for them, but from them; being requited with hatred and, misusage for endeavouring to reclaim them from fin, and stop them from ruin?
May not the holy Apostles seem to have loved mankind beyond themselves, when for its instruction and reformation, for reconciling it to God, and procuring its salvation, they gladly did undertake and undergo so many rough difficulties, so many formidable dangers, such irksome pains and troubles, such extreme wants and losses, such grievous ignominies and disgraces ; lighting all concerns
23. iv. 8.
SERM. of their own, and relinquishing whatever was most dear to
their reputation, their pleasure, their very blood and
Survey but the life of one among them; mark the
which he suffered; the pinching wants, the desperate 2 Cor. xi. hazards, the lamentable distresses with the which he did 1 Cor. iv. ever conflict : peruse those black catalogues of his afflic
tions registered by himself; then tell me how much his
one vie with the other, when he, for the benefit of his Phil. i. 24. disciples, was content to le absent from the Lord, or suf
pended from a certain fruition of glorious beatitude; reft2 Cor. v. 1, ing in this uncomfortable state, in this fleshly tabernacle
wherein he groaned, being burdened, and longing for en.
largement? Did he not somewhat beyond himself love Rom. ix. 3. those men, for whose salvation he wished himself accursed
from Christ, or debarred from the assured enjoyment of 2 Cor. xi. eternal felicity; those very men hy whom he had been i Thet. ii. ftoned, had been scourged, had been often beaten to ex
tremity, from whom he had received manifold indignities
Did not they love their neighbours as themselves, who fold their poffeffions, and distributed the prices of them for relief of their indigent brethren? Did not most of the ancient saints and fathers mount near the top of this duty, of whom it is by unquestionable records testified, that they did freely bestow all their private estate and substance on the poor, devoting themselves to the service of God and edification of his people? Finally,
Did not our Lord himfelf in our nature exemplify this
Acts iv. 34.
duty, yea by his practice far outdo his precept? For, he SERM. who from the brightest glories, from the immense riches,
XXV. from the ineffable joys and felicities of his celestial kingdom, did willingly stoop down to affume the garb of a servant, to be clothed with the infirmities of flesh, to become a man of Sorrow and acquainted with grief: he who for our fake vouchsafed to live in extreme penury and disgrace, to feel hard want, fore travail, bitter persecution, most grievous shame and anguish: he who not only did contentedly bear, but purposely did choose to be accused, to be Nandered, to be reviled, to be mocked, to be tortured, to pour forth his heart-blood upon a cross, Rom. v. 6. for the sake of an unprofitable, an unworthy, an impious, 1 Pet. iii. 18. an ingrateful generation ; for the salvation of his open Eph. ii. 1. enemies, of base apostates, of perverse rebels, of villainous Chryl. in traitors: he who, in the height of his mortal agonies, did Eph.Or.vii
. fue for the pardon of his cruel murderers; who did send Or. Xxxii. his Apostles to them, did cause so many wonders to be done before them, did furnish all means requisite to convert and save them : he that acted and suffered all this, and more than can be expressed, with perfe& frankness and good-will; did he not signally love his neighbour as Heb. xii. . himself, to the utmost measure ? did not in him virtue conquer nature, and charity triumph over self-love? This he did to seal and impress his doctrine; to shew us what we should do, and what we can do by his grace; to oblige us and to encourage us unto a conformity with him in this refpect; for, Walk in love, faith the Apostle, Eph. v. 1. as Christ hath also loved us, and hath given himself for us ; 16. and, This, faith he himself, is my commandment, that ye John XV. love one another as I have loved you : and how can I better conclude, than in the recommendation of such an example ?
Now, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God even 2 Thek. ii. our father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting confolation, and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
i John iii.
12. xiii. 34.
OF THE LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR.
МАТтн. xxii. 39.
Thou shalt love thy neighbour'as thyself. SERM. I HAVE formerly discoursed on these words, and then XXVI.
shewed how they do import two observable particulars : first a rule of our charity, or that it should be like in nature; then a measure of it, or that it should be equal in degree to the love which we do bear to ourselves. Of this latter interpretation I did assign divers reasons, urging the observance of the precept according to that notion : but one material point, 'scantiness of time would not allow me to consider; which is the removal of an exception, to which that interpretation is very liable, and which is apt to discourage from a serious application to the practice of this duty so expounded.
If, it may be faid, the precept be thus understood, as to oblige us to love our neighbours equally with ourselves, it will prove unpracticable, such a charity being merely romantic and imaginary; for who doth, who can love his neighbour in this degree? Nature powerfully doth refift, common sense plainly doth forbid that we should do fo: a natural instinct doth prompt us to love ourselves, and we are forcibly driven thereto by an unavoidable sense of pleasure and pain, resulting from the constitutioi of our body and soul, fo that our own least good or evil are very sensible to us : whereas we have no such potent inclination to love others; we have no sense or a very