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Observation, which Voffius * produceth
This Remark, concerning St. Cyprian's Words, may be still carried a little farther: For in the Place refer’d to, it does not only appear, that he hath actually Translated the Apostle's Words different
ly from the other Versions, and from the 1. Apostle's meaning, which possibly might
have been thought a Mistake; but ’tis
* Thes. Theol. & Histor. Disp. 4.
likewise likewise evident, that He himself, by Meriting mercy, did not so much as Intend any thing more than the Attainment of mercy; for having observed, * that those who offend, out of Simplicity, or pure Ignorance, may be Forgiven, he immediately urgeth St. Paul's Words, as a Proof of that Observation. And therefore 'tis plain, that in his own Intention, to be actually forgiven, and to merit forgiveness, are here used as Terms of the fame Signification.
After these Observations, and especially concerning St. Cyprian, who is so very full in expressing the Purifying Power, and (in his Sense of Merit) the Merit of Alms-deeds; it seems Rational to conclude, that the Strict acceptation of the Word Merit, when applied to Charitable Works, did not prevail in the Early Ages of the Church. But, though Works of Charity are not Meritorious, yet may we depend assuredly upon their Accep
* Ignofci enim poteft fimpliciter erranti, ficut de se ipso dicit Apostolus Paulus : Qui primò, inquit, fui blasphemus, & persecutor, & injuriosus; fed misericordiam merui quia ignorans feci. S. Cypr. Epift. ad Jubaianum. : ..
tance and Reward. For our hopes of their Acceptance is raised upon an immoveable Foundation, God's * Faithfulness and Truth: Though they are not properly the Causes of Salvation; yet they are a Principal Condition, to which God's Promise hath annexed Eternal Life. And after all the Umbrage which St. Cyprian himself, in his many Warm expressions concerning Works of Mercy, seemingly gives to the Merit of them; 'tis manifest, that he did not imagine them to be Meritorious of a Reward, as of a Debt, in respect of God's Justice: For he fixeth the hopes of Charitable Men in the Promise t of God, as the Encouragement to their Duty. After these Necessary Cautions, the present Enquiry may easily
Promifit enimatoribus Juftif tadignis promilin Psal. 509.
* Fidelis Dominus, qui fe nobis debitorem fecit, non aliquid a nobis accipiendo sed tanta nobis promittendoPromifit enim hominibus Divinitatem, mortalibus Immortalitatem, peccatoribus Justificationem, abjectis Glorificationem. Quicquid promifit, Indignis promisit, ut non quasi operibus merces promitteretur S. Aug. in Pfal. 109.' t o In miserationibus pauperum Deum cogitat. Operatur enim ideo quia credit, quia fcit vera elle quæ Prædicta sunt verbis Dei, nec Scripturam Sanctam posle mentiri: arbores infructuosas, id est, Steriles homines excidi, & in ignem mitti, misericordes autem ad regnum vocari. S. Cypr, de Op. & Eleem.
be answer'd. For, though Charitable Works cannot reconcile Impenitent Sinners unto God, and though they are not, in any case, the Meritorious Causes of Salvation, yet are they Necessary, and seem to be, in concurrence with Repentance, through the Merits of Christ, highly Conducive towards preventing the Imputation and Punishment of such Known Sins as are repented of; highly Conducive to the rendring God Gracious and Indulgent in excusing Sins of Weakness and Inadvertency; to the reducing us to a State of perfect Favour with God, and to advancement unto Eminent Degrees of Future Glory. And indeed, under the Limitations already assigned, we cannot easily rise too high in our Notions, concerning the Efficacy of Works of Mercy; which will be Regarded and Approved, in so peculiar a Manner, by our Blessed Lord, when he comes to Judgę the World, that, in his account of the General Judgment, * he mentions Them Alone, as the Matter of that Laft, De
* Matt. xxv. 35: Sca
cisive Enquiry; as if the Process of that Great Day shall chiefly turn upon this one Particular.
Since then Charitable Works are so Necessary, fo Excellent, and so Effectual to Salvation; Undoubtedly they cannot be neglected by any Sincere Christian; Especially, upon fuch Remarkable and Engaging occasions of Charity, as are now to be laid before you in the following Reports. Here were read the several Reports of
the present state of Christ's, St. Bartholomew's, St., Thomas's, Bridewell and Bethelem Hospitals: As also a true Account of the Work
house in Bishopsgate-Street. These are Representations of Things, in their own nature so apt to Move, that, in passing through the several parts of them, I could not easily avoid reflecting, That the Kindly fire of Divine Love did now begin to spread in your Breasts; That you now begun to feel, what the Scripture means by Bowels of mercies; That your Charitable Purposes did every moment rise Higher, and that, in the Con