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serves. Gratitude consists in an equal return of benefits, if we are able; and of thanks, if we are not. Con- Gratitude to sequently, every receiver is debtor to his benefac- benefactors. tor, whether spiritual or corporal. And he must not only acknowledge the benefit received, and pray to God for him; but he owes him, when he hath opportunity, a fuitable rețurn. And though my benefactor gives me his benefit freely, as having no need of it himself, or not so much as I, and therefore cannot legally demand a repayment of it; yet whatsoever he gives me, be deferves of me; and if ever circumstances change, and he hath my need, and I his ability, I am in conscience as much obli to repay it, as if he had lent it me upon legal security ; because in this case my ability is security for the benefit I owe him, and his need is a just demand of it; and since what he hath merited of me is his due, I am unjust, if I do not repay him so far as I am able to repay him, or he hath no occasion for it, I am in justice to express my gratitude in thankful acknowledgements, and, by all the services I can render him, to express a willingness to make him a full return. Thus, as in matter of debt, he, who cannot pay all, must compound and pay so far as he is able; fo, in the matter of benefits, he who cannot make a complete requital, is obliged in justice to make some composition, and pay so much as his ability extends to; and, if he can do no more, to give thankful words for benefits received, which generous benefactors esteem the noblest return : so he, who receives benefits, without some thankful acknowledgement, acts the part of a swine, that greedily devours the acorns, and never looks up towards the tree from whence they drop: and he, who requites benefits with injuries, acts the part of him, who would fain have thrown that blessed Being out of heaven, who created and placed him therein.
SUNDAY SUNDAY XII.
I. Of charity or love to our Neighbour's soul and body,
as it respects our affections, shewing the effects, motives and pleasantness of this duty; and, II. As it respects our actions, Jewing in what cafes, and how to admonish the vicisus, and how to behave towards those that are sick, in prison, or persecuted, with a caution to those that profecute an offender, go to law, or imprison an insolvent debtor. Ill. Of charity to men's goods, including almígiving; with the manner, obječt, proportion, and reward of that duty. IV. Of charity to our Neighbour's credit and reputation, with rules to perform it; including, V. Peace-making, going to law, and loving our enemies. .
I. THE second general branch of duty to our Of charity. 1 neighbour is Charity. By Charity, I do not mean only almsgiving; for that is only one branch of it, and one outward expression of this duty: I mean the most liberal sentiments and the most enlarged affections towards all mankind. A charitable man will endeavour to see every thing through the mirror of good-nature, which mends and beautifies all objects, without altering any. Far froin surmifing evil, where there is none, he will rather think no evil, where there really is; judging it better toerr through a goodnatured credulity, than through an undistinguishing fufpicion. He will never hate any body or community of men, provided there be nothing immoral in their profeffion, howeyer he may dislike some individuals in it. He will not pass a hard precipitate censure upon a whole nation or country. Can any thing good come out of Nazareth? was a low, confined, ungenerous thought: goodness is not limited to, or excluded from any place: the good are diffused throughout all nations, all sects, all persuasions, all ranks and orders of men. True charity ever dwells with a largeness of soul, which takes in all mankind; sincerely wishing, that all, who are in any material error, may embrace the truth ; and all, that embrace it, may hold a pure faith in a pure conscience. In
short, true charity is to deteft nothing but vice; and to de spise nothing but contracted, illiberal notions. This is the sharity, or the love of our neighbour, which consists in doing all good offices, and shewing kindness towards our neighbour both in our affections and in our actions, is a duty to which we are difpofed by the frame of our nature, and our inclination to fociety, in which there can be no pleafure nor advantage, without mutual love and compassion. This is the best expreffion of love towards God, fince our neighbour is God's creature and his image, and the object of his love and mercy. And this is the particular command our blessed Saviour urged upon his disciples so earnestly, as if he required nothing else in comparison thereof. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another. This is the proper badge and cognisance of the christian profession; by which the disciples of Jesus were to be distinguished from the disciples of any other profession; so that in the beginning of christianity this virtue was so well practised, that the very heathens did admire and say, behold how these christians love one another! for, though this commandment may be supposed to have some foundation in nature, yet it is by our Lord and Saviour fo much enlarged as to the object of it, having extended it to all mankind; so greatly advanced as to the extent of it, even to the laying down our lives for one another; fo effectually taught, fo mightily encouraged, so very much urged and insisted on, that it may very well be called a new commandment; for though it was not altogether unknown to mankind before; yet it was never taught in this manner, nor so much stress laid upon it by any other appointment. Therefore by this, Christ faith, shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.
The charity of our affections disposes us to love our neighbour in such a manner, that if he be virtu- Inihe of ous, it will make us esteem him; if he be honest, fections. but weak in judgment, it will raise pity and succour; if he be wicked, it will incline us to pious admonition in order to reclaim him; if he receives good, it will make us rejoice; if he receives evil which we cannot redress, it will make us take pity on him; if we can, it will make us relieve him, by sup
plying his necessity, or by hiding his disgrace, if it be deserved, which is concealing our neighbour's defects; and by wiping it off, where it is not deserved, which is vindicating his reputation or good name. When he is our inferior, it will make us affable and courteous; if our equal, it will make us candid, and ready to maintain a good correspondence; if our superior, respectful and submissive; if we receive good from him, it will make us thankful, and desirous to requite it; if we receive evil, it will make us slow to anger, easy to be intreated, ready to forgive, long-suffering, and merciful when we are justly angry...
In which description of charity towards our neighbour is included a desire to do all the good in our power to their fouls, bodies, goods and credit. And first, This should make us conTo the souls cerned for the salvation of their souls, and put us of men. upon means to recover them froin a state of sin. and unbelief. The next branch of charity regards the bodies of men, to which we are to with all health and wel
leihe fare. Wherefore observe that, although natural dies, goods, blemishes and defects, such as lameness or crookand credit. edness, the want of our senses, or the disproportion of our parts or features, render our bodies less useful, or less graceful and lovely, and do not only upbraid us to ourfelves, but create a contemptible opinion of us in the minds of others, the suspicion of which is apt to grieve and afflict our minds; charity requires us notto contemn men, not to upbraid or reproach them, upon the account of any bodily infirmity; but to render them all respect, 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 richest diamonds wear the roughest coats. So that such natural blemishes are infelicities, which men cannot prevent and rectify; and therefore to deride and expose them for any blemish in their composition is to fling salt into their wounds, to fret and inflame their miserable condition. Nor must our desires for our neighbour's welfare stop here ; for whoever does not wish that his neighbour's goods and credit may thrive and prosper, can never be faid to love his neighbour as himself. .
· So when the love of God secures our own duty: when it makes us earnestly concerned, that all the world where should be influenced by the same divine flame, of tbis chaand that our neighbour should become a fit object rity. of infinite mercy; when we are sensibly touched with the blindness and obstinacy of wicked christians; and endeavour by the properest methods to cure their ignorance, and to remove their great indifference as to the business of religion : when we are careful to propose and establish the rules of pietyin our families and among our friends and relations: when our discourse and conversation are edifying: when we recommend it by our own example, and by our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the perseverance of the righteous: when we conceal all things that may offend the weak, and publish whatever may tend to increase the love of virtue : when we take all occasions to praise those that live well, to honour them before the world, and to give them the preference to those favours we are able to confer: when the civilities and liberalities we exercise, and the friendships we contract, aim at the recovering the soul from evil ways, and iinproving it in what is good : when the comfort of relief we give to the poor, the sick and the afflicted, tend to make the design of God's providence towards them effectual for their amendinent, if they are bad; or for their improvement, if they are good, that they may learn to adore the Author of their afflictions, and wisely fix their minds upon a good that is stable and permanent; then shall we be sure that we act like disciples of Christ, and that the Holy Ghost has added zeal to our charity; especially when it is observed to be dealt towards all men without respect of persons. And then this principle of love and charity and good-will to mankind will not only render the mind quiet and easy, calm and composed, but make a man happy in himself, and a blessing and comfort to all about him; and consequently attracts the love and esteem and admiration of all those that see and feei tho kind and benign influences of fo divine a temper..
This will not only cast out envy; for, as the apoitle faith, Charity envieth not; will not suffer us to grudge Tests and repine at another's good: but it also conquers out e..wy,