« ZurückWeiter »
supports of his fortune, patrons of his reputation, succorers of his necessity, and comforters of his affliction.
X. 5. Charity does in every state yield advantages suitable thereto : it renders prosperity not only innocent and safe, but 'useful and fruitful to us : it solaces adversity by the consideration that it does not arise as a punishment for doing ill to others, and that it is not attended with the ill-will of men.
XI. 6. We may consider that, without the exercise of charity, all the goods and advantages we have, our best faculties of nature and best endowments of soul, the gifts of Providence and the fruits of our industry, will become vain and fruitless, or noxious and baneful to us: this point enlarged on.
XII. 7. Charity greatly amplifies and advances a man's state, putting him into the possession or fruition of all good things : a charitable man can never, in a moral account, be poor, or vile, or miserable, except all the world should be cast into penury and distress; for whilst his neighbor hath any thing, he will enjoy it.
XIII. 8. If therefore we love ourselves, we must love others, and do them good; since by this means we enable and dispose them to make grateful returns, and besides all other benefits, we get that of their prayers, which of all prayers have a most favorable audience and efficacy.
XIV. We may consider that charity is a practice specially grateful to God, and a most excellent part of our duty.
XV. Seeing also that God vouchsafes to esteem whatever is done in charity to our neighbors (if done with an honest pious mind, as to his friends) to be done unto himself, we become in a manner benefactors to him, and shall be accordingly requited.
XVI. We may consider that charity is a very feasible and easy duty, requiring no sore pain, no grievous trouble, no great cost : for it consists only in good will, and that which naturally springs from thence.
XVII. It is the best, most easy, and most expedite way of performing all other duties towards our neighbor; for love is the fulfilling of the law.
XVIII. Charity gives worth, form, and life to all virtue; so that without it no action is valuable in itself, or acceptable to God: this subject enlarged on.
XIX. So great benefits doth charity yield : yet if it did not yield any of them, it would deserve and claim our observance; for it carries a reward and a heaven in itself, the very same which constitutes God himself infinitely happy, and beatifies every blessed spirit in proportion to its capacity and exercise thereof.
XX. Whereas the great obstacle to charity is self-love, or an extravagant fondness of our own interests, yet uncharitableness destroys that; for how can we love ourselves, if we have not charity ? how can we appear lovely to ourselves, if we are destitute of so worthy an endowment ?
These are some considerable inducements to the practice of this great virtue: others of a higher nature are reserved for another discourse,
MOTIVES AND ARGUMENTS TO CHARITY..
HEBREWS, CHAP. X.-VERSE 24.
Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good
That which is here recommended by the Apostle, as the common duty of Christians toward each other, on emergent occasions, with zeal and care to provoke one another to the practice of charity and beneficence, may well be conceived the special duty of those, whose office it is to instruct and guide others, when opportunity is afforded : with that obligation I shall now comply, by representing divers considerations serving to excite and encourage us to that practice: this (without premising any description or explication of the duty; the nature, special acts, and properties whereof I have already declared) I shall immediately undertake.
I. First then, I desire you to remember and consider that you are men, and as such obliged to this duty, as being very agreeable to human nature; the which, not being corrupted or distempered by ill use, doth incline to it, doth call for it, doth like and approve it, doth find satisfaction and delight therein.
St. Paul chargeth us to be eis állýdous pilóotupyou, or to have a natural affection one toward another :' that supposeth a otopyn inbred to men, which should be roused up, improved, and exercised. Such an one indeed there is, which, although often raked up and smothered in the common attendances on the providing for our needs, and prosecuting our affairs, will on occasion more or less break forth and discover itself
That the constitution and frame of our nature disposeth to it, we cannot but feel, when our bowels are touched with a sensible pain at the view of any calamitous object; when our fancies are disturbed at the report of any disaster befalling a man; when the sight of a tragedy wringeth compassion and tears from us : which affections we can hardly quash by any reflexion, that such events, true or feigned, do not concern ourselves.
Hence doth nature so strongly affect society, and abhor solitude; so that a man cannot enjoy himself alone, or find satisfaction in any good without a companion : not only for that he then cannot receive, but also because he cannot impart assistance, consolation, and delight in converse : for men do not affect society only that they may obtain benefits thereby; but as much or more, that they may be enabled to communicate them; nothing being more distasteful than to be always on the taking hand : neither indeed hath any thing a more pleasant and savory relish than to do good ; as even Epicurus, the great patron of pleasure, did confess.
The practice of benignity, of courtesy, of clemency, do at first sight, without aid of any discursive reflexion, obtain approbation and applause from men; being acceptable and amiable to their mind, as beauty to their sight, harmony to their bearing, fragrancy to their smell, and sweetness to their taste : and, correspondently, uncharitable dispositions and practices (malignity, harshness, cruelty) do offend the mind with a disgustful resentment of them.
may appeal to the conscience of each man, if he doth not feel dissatisfaction in that fierceness or frowardness of temper, which produceth uncharitableness; if he have not a complacence in that sweet and calm disposition of soul, whence charity doth issue ; if he do not condemn himself for the one, and approve himself in the other practice.
This is the common judgment of men; and therefore in common language this practice is styled humanity, as best sorting with our nature, and becoming it; and the principle whence it springeth is called good-nature: and the contrary practice is
styled inhumanity, as thwarting our natural inclinations, or divesting us of manhood; and its source likewise is termed illnature, or a corruption of our nature.
It is therefore a monstrous paradox, crossing the common sense of men, which in this loose and vain world hath lately got such vogue, that all men naturally are enemies one to another : it pretendeth to be grounded on common observation and experience ; but it is only an observing the worst actions of the worst men; of dissolute ruffians, of villainous cheats, of ravenous oppressurs, of malicious politicians, of such degenerate apostates from humanity; by whose practice (debauched by vain conceits and naughty customs) an ill measure. is taken of mankind. Aristotle himself, who had observed things as well as any of these men, and with as sharp a judgment, afiirmeth the contrary, that all men are friends, and disposed to entertain friendly correspondence with one another : indeed to say the contrary is a blasphemy against the author of our nature; and is spoken no less out of profane enmity against him, than out of venomous malignity against men: out of hatred to God and goodness they would disparage and vilify the noblest work of God's creation ; yet do they, if we sound the bottom of their mind, imply themselves to admire this quality, and by their decrying it do commend it: for it is easy to discern that therefore only they slander mankind as uncapable of goodness, because out of malignity they would not allow it so excellent a quality.
II. Let us consider what our neighbor is; how near in blood, how like in nature, how much in all considerable respects the same with us he is.
Should any one wrong or defame our brother, we should be displeased; should we do it ourselves, or should we omit any office of kindness toward him, we should blame ourselves : every man is such, of one stock, of one blood with us; and as such may challenge and call for real affection from us.
Should any one mar, tear, or deface our picture, or show any kind of disrespect thereto, we should be offended, taking it for an indignity put on ourselves; and as for ourselves, we should never in such a manner affront or despite ourselves : every man is such, our most lively image, representing us most