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not unrighteous to forget this our labour of love; but will take abundant care that whatever we bear chearfully on his account, far from giving us cause of complaint, shall assuredly be matter of great joy to us in the end: not that we should be so vain as to think we merit heaven thereby; nor may we presume to drive a bargain with God, by putting our good works into the balance with an infinite and eternal reward.
IV. Our CHARITY must also extend to the credit or Of charity reputation of our neighbour, whether he be innoin respea of cent or guilty. Consequently, should our innoibe credit. cent neighbour be maliciously brought into judgment, it is our duty not only to vindicate him from falle imputations in private, but to offer our voluntary evidence before the court. And though we know him to be guilty, if some other branch of charity or justice does not oblige the contrary, we must not take upon us to divulge his faults, nor to report them upon hearsay; for, as they are men and christians, our neighbours and our brethren in Christ, it is our duty notonly to honour good men for their virtues, but to pity the evil for their miseries, to relieve their wants, to conceal their defects, and to vindicate their injured reputation; to pray for them, and to take such steps as may probably recover them to a true sense of their spiritual state. Suspicions, fancying the worst defigns, and putting the worst interpretations upon words and actions, hard centuresand suppositions, are reigning fins among adversaries, too common among those who are otherwise ferious and devout; and this not only against particular persons, but on all hands against whole bodiesand parties, who, in any thing relating to the times, are of different opinions and sentiments. Allwhich are contrary to the nature of charity, which is always inclinable to think the best and leans to the side of favour both in judging and speaking of their deeds. Besides, it is plainly contrary to our Lord's rule, who warneth us not to judge, that we be not judged; because with what measure we mete it will be measured to us again. Dwelling upon an injury received, and hearkening to idle tales, increase a fault, and the malice, and unworthiness of him that is guilty thereof. By these our reLentinent is heightened, and our minds are made difficult to
be brought into temper; whereas, if we did not give way to them, we should find ourselves much more easy to forgive. · And the best means to help us in the practice of this virtue is always to keep before our eyes that grand the areat rule of loving our neighbour as ourselves, which rules of the apostle makes the sum of our whole duty to charity. our neighbour. For though men are so careless of their fpiritual affairs as to wish for no assistance, they are not thereby freed by this rule from those sorts of charities. Because the love of ourselves, which is set as the measure to that of our neighbour, is understood to be that reasonable love which men ought to have for themselves; and therefore tho'a man failof that reasonableloveheowes himself, yet his neighbour thereby forfeits not his right. Again, what weactually would that others should do to us is not in all cases a rule of our du. ty; but the lawfulness of the action is to be presupposed: for I may not do or forbear a thing to my neighbour, merely because I am content or desirous that he should do or forbear the like to myself. Now that desire of mine must first be known to agree with God's commands ; because a drunkard may be willing to be made a beast by another : but it is not the more lawful for him to do the like to his neighbour. So a man upon evil courses cares not to be disturbed in them by the reproofs of his superiors or friends: but that does not lera sen his obligation to be a monitor to other finners, especially to those under his careand government. Neither do we fulfil this rule by doing that to others, which we might be glad they would do tous; but itconsists in this, to do all that we can expect from them, as matter of dutyand right. For tho’a poor man might be glad that the rich person would give him a part of his estate, so as to make his circumstances easy and plentiful: yet the rich man, who is master of his own estate, may lawfully gratify such a desire; but he may as lawfully refuse to do it. In like manner, the duty to love our neighbour as ourselves is not, either that we should love any neighbour with equal tenderness as ourselves; for that I conceive is hardly possible; or that we should love every neighbour alike; which if we suppose possible were neither just nor natural : or that we should do for our neighbour all that he now does,
it; the authority to make a wrong contevangelical prophet,
or that we, if in his circumstances, might perhaps wish and desire to be done for ourselves ; for such desires may be irregular ; or if not sinful, yet unreasonable : but it is to do all that for him, which, were our case his, and his ours, we should in reason and good conscience expect and be glad to have done to ourselves. Human laws are often so numerous, as to escape our memories; fo dạrkly sometimes, and inconfistently worded, as to puzzle our understandings: and their original obscurity is not seldom improved by the nice distinction and subtile reasonings of those who profess to clear them; so that under these several disadvantages, they lose much of their force and influence; and, in some cases, raise more disputes, than perhaps they determine. But here is a law, attended with none of these inconveniencies; the groffestminds can scarce misapprehend it, the weakest memories are capableof retainingit: no perplexing commentcan easily cloud it; the authority of no man's gloss upon earth can (if we are Sincere) sway us to make a wrong construction of it. What is said of all the gospel-precepts by the evangelical prophet, is more eminently true of this: It is an high-way; and the way-faring man, tho’a fool, shall not err therein. It is not enough that a rule, which is to be of general use, is suited to all capacities ; so that wherever it is represented to the mind, it is presently agreed to: it must also be apt to offer itself to our thoughts, and lie ready for present use upon all exigencies and occasions. And, as the love a man bears to himself is always sincere, so should the love to our neighbour be, in this respect, as that to ourselves; not mercenary and designing, but disinterested and hearty, intending the benefit of the party we express it to; not indirectly seeking our own profit or pleasure: this end whoever constantly aims at, and steadily pursues, will never greatly fail in the particulars of his duty. So he that loves his neighbour sincerely as himself; and is willing to do to all men, as he desires they should do to him ; that thinks himself sent into the world on purpose to do good to others, and looks upon it as the sum and end of his duty to promote the aniversal peace and happiness of mankind ; will certainly upon this principle regularly and uniformly perform all the parts of his duty towards men: he will naturally treat his superiors with chearful
submission. fubmiffion, his benefactors with gratitude and all decent respect, his equals with affability and readiness to do all offices of kindness, and his inferiors with gentleness, moderation, and charity.
V. Peace-making is another great instance of charity; which though it doth not directly fall under any Peace-maof the foregoing heads, yet frequently contributes king. to the practice and success of them all: because it will not report of neighbours any thing false, nor any thing true which may tend to variance; and it will discourage eve-droppersand tale-bearers, who, out of malice, envy, or idleness, are busybodies : a peaceable man will never low the seeds of diffenfion. If there be any dissension, a peaceable man will fo be. have himself as not to inflame or widen a breach. Shortens If men would behave with this prudence towards quarrels. those that are at variance, it would go agreat way to the shortening of quarrels. 'Tis vain to imagine we may meet with a person that shall please us in every thing: but this we may do, we may find out something that will please us in every person. A man is not fit to live in the world, who does not fee several things, without seeming to see them; who does not see through the little by-ends and selfish views, which men may have; against which he must use all the reality of caution and distrust, with as little appearances of it as possible, if he would preserve peace. For human nature is not so very bad as some representit: most of the little strifes and contentions, which happen, would die of theirown accord, if ill-natured people (pretending to be friends to both parties) did not blow the coals, and throw on fresh fewel. Ascoals are to burning coals, and as wood to fire, fo is a contentious man to kindle frife; where no wood is, the fire goeth out; so where there is no tale-bearer, the strife ceaseth. Where Removes the contention is hot and fierce, a lover of peace will contention. incline both parties to coolness and good temper. Ifthou blow the spark, it will burn; and if thou spit upon it, it shall be quenched; and both these come out of thy mouth. Quarrels proceed out of the mouth, by carrying tales, aggravating offences, or persuading revenge: so damping them proceedsout of the mouth by foft and gentle intreaties ; by reprefenting
the smallest of the things they quarrel about; and by shewing how inconsistent it is with peace to take offence at every thing, or to interpret it in the worst fenfe. When the passions are hot and inflamed on both sides, though gentle words and intreaties cannot suppress them, they may serve to bring them down. When a man, desirous to make peace, sees that they are resolved to fight it out, he will endeavour that their contention may be ended with as little hurt as may be; he will persuade them to refer the matter in dispute to the judgment of some wise neighbour, where, with less charge and more satisfaction, the itrife may be ended; because, tho' a law-suit may determine a controversy, it commonly continues a breach of peace and charity among the contending parties. * And Whoever undertakes this good office of peace-making
: must take care that he lives a remarkable peaceable A peace
û life himself: for in contending parties one of the obe also, ther in all probability will be angry at good advice; peaceable. and endeavour to take off the weight of such admonitions as tend to reconciliation, if the peace-maker be given to contention also; then it may be objected, as the Hebrew did to Moses, Who made thee judge over us? Or at least he may be abruptly silenced with, Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine'own eye. Therefore he that would persuade peace in another, must be also peaceable himself. · If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably Horw to be with all men. To live peaceably with all men, in peaceable. the strictest sense of the words, is a thing absolutely impossible, and out of our reach; for it depends upon what we are not masters of, the disposition and passions of other men. Let us take what care we can to prevent mistakes, they will sometimes arise; let us with never so much caution avoid doing injuries, we cannot always avoid receiving them. Where violent incroachments are made upon our fortune or good name, we not only may, but must vindicate ourselves from them, though breach of peace and an open rupture with any man attend our doing it. Slight affronts and small injustices we may put up with; but where we are wounded
* See what has been said on this subject in the duty of parents and children. Sun. day 8, Seci. V. and also here below.