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they are not strain'd, even with the Suspicion of Embezlement, or Misapplication.
Let it be frequently and seriousty revolved in our minds, That when our Lord shall appear the Second time, coming in the clouds of heaves and Summon every one of his Servants, to bring in the accounts of his Stewardship; we shall not only be charged with the utmost of our Abilities to do Good Works, but with all Opportunities of doing them. And Blessed will those Servants be, who have faithfully and cheerfully embraced all proper occasions of making to themselves friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness; of converting even their Earthly and Corruptible Treasures, into an inheritance Incorruptible and Undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved for them in Heaven, through the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Chrijl our Lord; To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons and One God, be all Honour and Glory, henceforth and for evermore. Amen.
Before the Sons of the
i COR. Xiii. 13.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three-, but the greatest of these is charity.
THIS Account of Charity was occasioned by anUndueEstimate, which the Corinthians had made of their High Qualifications and Endowments. God had Blessed them with a Variety of Extraordinary Gifts; but so it happen'd, that, according to the common Frailties and Infirmities of Men, they Misapplied, or Overlook'd the Wife purposes of God, and, having too Little 1 regard regard to His honour, They had too Much to their Own.
That they might not therefore finkj from the Spirit of Christ, into a Spirit of Envy or Vainglory, or Intirely devote their Zeal to thofe Eminent Gifts, which were most apt to gain Admiration and Applause, the /Ipostle admonish'd them to measure their Esteem and Desire of every Spiritual Gift, by the Degrees and Measures of the Benefits arising from it* Accordingly he closeth his Account of Spiritual Gifts in the xiith Ch. with aii Exhortation, that they would be Most Zealous of Thofe, which were most Useful, Covet earnestly the befi Gifts; not so much Those, which are most Surprizing and Astonishing, and apt to Adorn YoUr Characters, as Thofe which are most Conducive to Spiritual Edification: And then it follows, and yet shew I unto Tou a • more excellent way, the Great Endowment of Charity, which is more Excellent and Useful, than any Other Endowments or Qualifications, how Glorious soever they may appear amongst You, Or how
Earnestly soever they may be Desired by You.
He proceeds therefore, in the following Ch. to shew Particularlyr, that Charity is Preferable to the Extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit: Which indeed are, in Themselves, neither Effectual to the attainment of Holiness and Eternal Life, because we find, that Thofe who have Prophesied and wrought Miracles in Christ's name, may Possibly be Workers of Iniquity, and therefore finally Condemned; nor yet Necessary to Salvation, because every Sincere Christian, though not endued with thofe Extraordinary Gifts, will certainly be Saved. And, that he might give the Disciples a Still High-x er recommendation of this Divine Grace, and, at the same time, raise their Esteem of those other Graces, which are absolutely Necejsary to Salvation, 'tis added, in the Words of the Text, And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
From which words I shall,
I. Firsts Give some Account of these three Graces, confider'd Severally and Apart.
II. Secondly, I shall enquire, how far, and in what respects, it must be granted, that, notwithstanding the Necessity and Excellency of Faith and Hope, Charity is Preferable unto Both.
HI. Thirdly, I shall conclude with some Application.
I. Firsts I mall give such a Short Account of these three Graces, confider'd Severally and Apart, as the Narrow compass of this Discourse will allow. And in representing the Necessity of Each, God's Preventing and Exciting Grace, as ever concurring with every man's Sincere endeavours, is all along to be Supposed and taken for granted. And,
1. First, In treating of Faith, which, confider'd as a Grace, denotes in General an Assent unto Divine Truth, grounded upon Divine Testimony, 'tis necessary to distinguish betwixt That Faith, which is the Duty of every Christian, and That, which is reckon'd amongst the Extraordinary gifts of the Spirit j whereby some