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the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, gentleness, goodness, SERM. meekness; and created according to God in Christ Jesus to XXVI. the practice of answerable good works.
Gal. v. 22. 7. There are divers means conducible to the abatement of difficulty in this practice, which I shall propose, re- Eph. iv. 24. ferring the matter to issue upon due trial of them.
1. Let us carefully weigh the value of those things which immoderate self love doth affect in prejudice to charity, together with the worth of those which charity doth set in balance to them.
Aristotle himself doth observe, that the ground of culpable self-love, scraping, scrambling, scuffling for particular intereft, is men's high esteem and passion for, and greedy appetite of wealth, of honours, of corporeal pleasures : whereas virtuous persons, not admiring those things, will constantly act for honesty fake, and out of love to their friends or country; wherein although they most really benefit and truly gratify themselves, yet are they not blamed for selfishness c. .
And so indeed it is: if we rightly did apprehend the infinite vanity of all worldly goods, the meanness of private concerns, the true despicableness of all those honours, those profits, those delights on which commonly men do so dote, we should not be so fond or jealous of them, as to scrape or scuffle for them, envying or grudging them to others; if we did conceive the transcendent worth of future rewards allotted to this and other virtues, the great confiderableness of public good at which charity aimeth, the many advantages which may accrue to us from our neighbour's welfare, (entertained with complacence, and wisely accommodated to our use,) we should not be so averse from tendering his good as our own.
2. Let us consider our real state in the world, in de
and trol.Ty; wher
coi pis sv sis trusa Zyoutes avrò, poreúrous xahiri rås laurois á rovinortas sò πλύσιν εν χρήμασι, και τιμαίς, και ηδοναις ταις σωματικαίς τόσων γάρ οι πολλοί ορί. gopes, ir oudexarı wsgi aita, ws üpısa övra' diò si rigouáxntá isno o di sopà ταύει πλισέεται χαρίζονται ταϊς επιθυμίαις, και όλως τους πάθισι, και το αλόγω Tiña Houzas diraios din mois cou Pulaútois óvudíGotasi Arift. Etk. is. 8. Vid. tot.
SERM. pendance upon the pleasure and providence of Almighty XXVI. God.
If we look upon ourselves as fubfisting only by our own care and endeavour, without any other patronage or help, it may thence prove hard to regard the interests of others as comparable to our own; seeing then, in order to our living with any convenience, it is necessary that we should be solicitous for our own preservation and sustenance, that will engage us to contend with others as competitors for the things we need, and uncapable otherwise to attain: but if (as we ought to do, and the true state of things requireth) we consider ourselves as subsisting under the protection, and by the providence of God, who no less careth
for us than for others, and no less for others than for us; 'Ouesíaos di (for, as the Wise Man faith, he careth for all alike ;) who a povost więi recommendeth to us a being mutually concerned each for Sap. vi. 7. Other, and is engaged to keep us from suffering thereby;
who commandeth us to disburden our cares upon himself; who assuredly will the better provide for us, as we do more further the good of others : if we do consider thus, it will deliver us from solicitude concerning our subsistence and personal accommodations, whence we may be free to regard the concerns of others, with no less application than we do regard our own.
As living under the same government and laws (being members of one commonwealth, one corporation, one family) disposeth men not only willingly but earnestly to serve the public interest, beyond any hopes of receiving thence any particular advantage answerable to their pain and care; so considering ourselves as members of the world, and of the Church, under the governance and patronage of God, may difengage us from immoderate respect of private good, and incline us to promote the common welfare.
3. There is one plain way of rendering this duty poffible, or of perfectly reconciling charity to self-love; which is, a making the welfare of our neighbour to be our own: which if we can do, then easily may we defire it more seriously, then may we promote it with the greatest zeal and vigour: for then it will be an instance of SERM. self-love to exercise charity; then both these inclinations XXVI. conspiring will march evenly together, one will not extrude nor depress the other.
It may be hard, while our concerns appear divided, not to prefer our own; but when they are coincident, or conspire together, the ground of that partiality is removed.
Nor is this an imaginary course, but grounded in reafon, and thereby reducible to practice : for considering the manifold bands of relation (natural, civil, or spiritual) between men, as naturally of the same kind and blood, as civilly members of the same society, as spiritually linked in one brotherhood; considering the mutual advantages derivable from the wealth and welfare of each other, (in way of needful succour, advice, and comfort, of profitable commerce, of pleasant conversation ;) considering the mischiefs which from our neighbour's indigency and affliation we may incur, they rendering him as a wild beast, unfociable, troublesome, and formidable to us; confidering that we cannot be happy without good nature, and good humour, and that good nature cannot behold any fad object without pity and dolorous resentment, good humour cannot subsist in prospect of such objects; confidering that charity is an instrument, whereby we may apply all our neighbour's good to ourselves, it being ours, if we can find complacence therein ; it may appear reafonable to reckon all our neighbour's concerns to our account.
That this is practicable, experience may confirm; for we may observe, that men commonly do thus appropriate the concerns of others, resenting the disasters of a friend or of a relation with as sensible displeasure as they could iheir own; and answerably finding as high a fatis. fa&ion in their good fortune. Yea many persons do feel more pain by compassion for others, than they could do in fustaining the same evils; divers can with a stout heart undergo their own afflictions, who are melted with those of a friend or brother. Seeing then in true judgment
SERM. humanity doth match any other relation, and ChristiXXVI. anity far doth exceed all other alliances, why may we
not on them ground the like affections and practices, if reason hath any force, or consideration can any wife sway in our practice?
4. It will greatly conduce to the perfect observance of this rule, to the depression of self-love, and advancement of charity to the highest pitch, if we do studioully contemplate ourselves, ftri&ly examining our conscience, and feriously reflecting on our unworthiness and vileness; the infirmities and defects of nature, the corruptions and defilements of our foul, the fins and miscarriages of our lives : which doing, we shall certainly be far from admir
ing or doting on ourselves; but rather, as Job did, we Job ix. 20. shall condemn and abhor ourselves: when we see ourselves xlii. 6.
so deformed and ugly, how can we be amiable in our own eyes? how can we more esteem or affect ourselves than others, of whose unworthiness we can hardly be fo conscious or sure? What place can there be for that vanity and folly, for that pride and arrogance, for that partiality and injustice, which are the sources of immoderate selflove?
5. And lastly, we may from many conspicuous experiments and examples be assured that such a practice of this duty is not impossible; but these I have already pro duced and urged in the precedent discourse, and shall not repeat them again.
THE NATURE, PROPERTIES, AND ACTS OF
Ephes. V. 2.
And walk in love.
ST. Paul telleth us, that the end of the commandment (or SERM. the main scope of the evangelical doctrine) is charity, out XXVII. of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned ; 1 Tim. i. s. that charity is a general principle of all good practice; (let all your things be done in charity ;) that it is the sum 1 Cor. xvi. and abridgment of all other duties, so that he that loveth 14, .,
Gal. v. 14. another, hath fulfilled the whole law; that it is the chief Rom. xiii. of the theological virtues; the prime fruit of the divine : Spirit, and the band of perfeclion, which combineth and 13.
Gal. v. 22. consummateth all other graces.
Col. iji. 14. St. Peter enjoineth us that to all other virtues we should 2 Pet. i. 7. add charity, as the top and crown of them; and, Above 1 Pet. iv. 8. all things, faith he, have fervent charity among yourselves.
St. James styleth the law of charity vómov Baoinixòy, the Jam. ii. 8. royal, or sovereign, law,
St. John calleth it, in way of excellence, the command- 1 John iii. ment of God; This is his commandment, that we should 21 love one another.
Our Lord claimeth it for his peculiar law; This is my John xv.13.. commandment ; and a new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another. And he maketh the observance of it the special badge and cognizance of his followers ;