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it the special badge and cognisance of his followers; . By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.'
It being therefore a duty of so grand importance, it is most requisite that we should well understand it, and faithfully observe it; to which purposes I shall, by God's assistance, endeavor to confer somewhat, first by explaining its nature, then by pressing the observance of it by several inducements.
The nature of it will, as I conceive, be best understood by representing the several chief acts, which it compriseth or implieth as necessary prerequisites, or essential ingredients, or inseparable adherents to it; some internally resident in the soul, others discharged in external performance; together with some special properties of it. And such are those which follow.
I. 'Loving our neighbor' doth imply that we should value and esteem him : this is necessary, for affection doth follow opinion ; so that we cannot like any thing which we do not esteem, or wherein we do not apprehend some considerable good, attractive of affection ; that is not amiable, which is wholly contemptible; or so far as it is such.
But in right judgment no man is such ; for the wise man telleth us that he that despiseth his neighbor, sinneth ;' and, • He is void of understanding that despiseth his neighbor :' but no man is guilty of sin or folly for despising that which is wholly despicable.
It is indeed true that every man is subject to defects, and to mischances, apt to breed contempt, especially in the minds of vulgar and weak people; but no man is really despicable. For,
Every man living hath stamped on him the venerable image of his glorious Maker, which nothing incident to him can utterly deface.
Every man is of a divine extraction, and allied to heaven by nature and by grace; as the son of God, and brother of God incarnate. If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or of my maid-servant, when they contended with me; what then shall I do when God riseth up ? and when he visiteth, what
shall I answer him? Did not he that made me in the womb make him ? and did not one fashion us in the womb ?
Every man is endued with that celestial faculty of reason, inspired by the Almighty,' (for, There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding,') and hath an immortal spirit residing in bim; or rather is himself an angelical spirit dwelling in a visible tabernacle.
Every man was originally designed and framed for a fruition of eternal happiness.
Every man hath an interest in the common redemption, purchased by the blood of the Son of God, who tasted death for every one.'
Every man is capable of sovereign bliss, and hath a crown of endless glory offered to him.
In fine, every man, and all men alike, antecedently to their own will and choice, are the objects of his love, of his care, of his mercy; who is · loving unto every man,
and whose mercy is over all his works;' who hath made the small and the great, and careth for all alike;' who is rich,' in bounty and mercy, ‘toward all that call on him.'
How then can any man be deemed contemptible, having so noble relations, capacities, and privileges ? How a man standeth in esteem with God Elihu telleth us; God,' saith he, ‘is mighty, and despiseth not any: although he be so mighty, so excellent in perfection, so infinitely in state exalted above all, yet doth not he slight any; and how can we contemn those, whom the certain voucher and infallible judge of worth deigneth to value ? Indeed God so valued every man as to take great care, to be at great cost and trouble, to stoop down from heaven, to assume mortal flesh, to endure pinching wants and sore distresses, to taste death for every one.'
We may ask with St. Paul, 'Why dost thou set at nought thy brother?
Is it for the lowness of his condition, or for any misfortune that hath befallen him? But are not the best men, are not all men, art not thou thyself obnoxious to the like? Hath not God declared that he hath a special regard to such ? And are
not such things commonly disposed by his hand with a gracious intent?
Is it for meanness of parts, or abilities, or endowments ? But are not these the gifts of God, absolutely at his disposal, and arbitrarily distributed or preserved; so that thou who art so wise in thy own conceit to-day, mayest, by a disease, or from a judgment, deserved by thy pride, become an idiot to-morrow? Have not many good, and therefore many happy men, wanted those things?
Is it for moral imperfections or blemishes ; for vicious habits, or actual misdemeanors ? These indeed are the only debasements and disparagements of a man; yet do they not expunge the characters of Divinity impressed on his nature; and he may by God's mercy recover from them. And are not we ourselves, if grace do not uphold us, liable to the same ? Yea, may we not, if without partiality or flattery we examine ourselves, discern the same within us, or other defects equivalent ? And, however, is not pity rather due to them than contempt? Whose character was it, that they trusted they were righteous, and despised others ? That the most palpable offender should not be quite despised, God had a special care in his law, for that end moderating punishment, and restraining the number of stripes ; · If,' saith the law, 'the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed : lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.'
We may consider that the common things, both good and bad, wherein men agree, are far more considerable than the peculiar things wherein they differ; to be a man is much beyond being a lord, or a wit, or a philosopher; to be a Christian doth infinitely surpass being an emperor, or a learned clerk; to be a sinner is much worse than to be a beggar, or an idiot. The agreement of men is in the substance and body of things; the difference is in a circumstance, a fringe, or a shadow about them ; so that we cannot despise another man, without reflecting contempt on ourselves, who are so very like him, and not
considerably better than he, or hardly can without arrogance, pretend to be so.
We may therefore, and reason doth require that we should value our neighbor ; and it is no impossible or unreasonable precept which St. Peter giveth us, to honor all men ;' and with it a charitable mind will easily comply: it ever will descry something valuable, something honorable, something amiable in our neighbor; it will find somewhat of dignity in the meanest, somewhat of worth in the basest, somewhat hopeful in the most degenerate of men; it therefore will not absolutely slight or scorn any man whatever, looking on him as an abject or forlorn wretch, unworthy of consideration.
It is indeed a point of charity to see more things estimable in others than in ourselves; or to be apprehensive of more defects meriting disesteem in ourselves than in others; and consequently in our opinion to prefer others before us, according to those apostolical precepts, . Be kindly affected one toward another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.' • In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.' • Be subject one to another.'
II. Loving our neighbor doth imply a sincere and earnest desire of his welfare, and good of all kinds, in due proportion : for it is a property of love, that it would have its object most worthy of itself, and consequently that it should attain the best state whereof it is capable, and persist firm therein; to be fair and plump, to florish and thrive without diminution or decay; this is plain to experience in respect to any other thing (a horse, a flower, a building, or any such thing) which we pretend to love: wberefore charity should dispose us to be thus affected to our neighbor; so that we do not look on his condition or affairs with an indifferent eye or cold heart, but are much concerned for him, and put forth hearty wishes for his interests: we should wish him adorned with all virtue, and accomplished with all worthy endowments of soul; we should wish him prosperous success in all his designs, and a comfortable satisfaction of his desires; we should wish him with alacrity of mind to reap the fruits of his industry, and to enjoy the best accommodations of his life. Not formally and
in compliment, as the mode is, but really and with a cordial sense, on his undertaking any enterprise, we should wish him good speed; on any prosperous success of his endeavors, we should bid him joy; wherever he is going, whatever he is doing, we should wish him peace and the presence of God with him: we should tender bis health, his safety, his quiet, his reputation, his wealth, his prosperity in all respects ; but especially with peculiar ardency we should desire his final welfare, and the happiness of his soul, that being incomparably his chief concern. Hence readily should
forth our prayers,
which are the truest expressions of good desire, for the welfare of our neighbor, to him who is able to work and bestow it.
Such was the charity of St. Paul for his countrymen, signified in those words, 'brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved ;' such was his love to the Philippians, God is my record, how greatly I long after you all, in the bowels of Jesus Christ:' "and this I pray,
may abound more and more in knowlege, and in all judgment.'
Such was St. John's charity to his friend Gaius, to whom he said, · Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayst prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.'
Such is the charity, which we are enjoined to express toward all men, by praying for all men,' in conformity to the charity of God, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowlege of the truth.'
Such is the charity we are commanded to use toward our enemies, .blessing those who curse us, and praying for those who despitefully use us and persecute us; the which was exemplified by our Lord, by St. Stephen, by all the holy Apostles.
III. Charity doth imply a complacence or delightful satisfaction in the good of our neighbor; this is consequent on the former property, for that joy naturally doth result from events agreeable to our desire : charity hath a good eye, which is not offended or dazzled with the lustre of its neighbor's virtue, or with the splendor of his fortune, but vieweth either of them steadily with pleasure, as a very delightful