« AnteriorContinuar »
Observation, which Vojsws * produceth out ofCaJsander: "To Merit does in "Ecclesiastical Authors, commonly sigtc niiy to Attain^ or be disposed and qua"lified for Attaining. And this may *' appear, amongst other Instances, from a Passage in St. Cyprian: For, when St. Paul says, i Tim. i. I obtained Mercy, according to the Vulgar Translati"on ,. St. Cyprian thus Translates that "Expression, / Merited mercy. And "there are many other Places in Ecclesi*' astical Offices and Prayers, where this "Word is used in the same Sense. And "this Observation may soften some, o"therwile, Harm Expressions, andren"der them agreeable.
This Remark, concerning St. Cyprians Words, may be still carried a little farther: For in the Place reser'd to, it does not only appear, that he hath actually Translated the Apostle'sWords differently from the other Versions, and from the Apostle's meaning, which possibly might have been thought a Mistake; but 'tis
* Thes. Theol. & Histor. Disp. 4.
K i 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 theresore 'tis plain, that in his own Intention, to be aBually 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 StriB 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
* Ignofii enim potest simpliciter erranti, ficut de fe ipso dicit Apostolus Paulus: Qui primo, inquit, fui blasphemus, & persecutor, & injuriosus; fed misericordiam merui quia ignorans feci. S. Cyj>r. Epijt. ad Jubaianum.
tance 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 flxeth the hopes of Charitable Men in the Promise f of God, as the Encouragement to their Duty. After these Necessary Cautions, the present Enquiry may easily
* Fidelis Dominus, qui fe nobis debitorem fecit, non aliquid a nobis accipiendo fed tanta nobis promittendo.-—— Promisit enim hominibusBivinitatem, mortalibus Immortalitatem, peccatoribus Justificationem, abjectis Glorisicationem. Quicquid promisit, Indignis promisit, ut non quasi operibus merces promitteretur S. Aug. in P/al. 109.'
t ■ In miserationibus pauperum Deum cogitat.
Operatur enim ideo quia credit, quia scit vera efle quæ Prædicta sunt verbis Dei, nee Scripturam Sanctam post'e mentiri: arbores infructuosas, id est, Steriles homines excidi, & in ignem mitti, misericordes autem ad regnum vocari. S. Cypr. de Op. Us Eleem.
be ariswer'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 rife 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 Judge the World, that, in his account of the General Judgment, * he mentions Them Aloney as the Matter of that Last, Decisive Enquiry; as if the Process of that Great Day shall chiefly turn upon this one Particular.
* Matt. xxv. 35. i$c,
Since then Charitable Works are so Necessary, so Excellent, and so Effectual to Salvation; Undoubtedly they cannot be neglected by any Sincere Christian; Especially, upon such 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 fiate oj'Christ'j, St. Bartholomew's, St., Thomas's, Bridewell and Bethelem Hospitals: As also a true Account os the Workhouse in Bishopsgate-Street. These are Representations of Things, in their own nature so apt to Move, that, in pafling 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
K 4 elusion,