Imágenes de página

and Particularly, the New Commandment, as it is styled by our Saviour, wherein the second Branch of Charity is enjoyned; for this Commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also. And under This are contained all the

Other commandments, which concern

our Regards and Behaviour to One another. For so the Aposile expressly declares, and on this account adds, * that love is the fulfilling of the law, that is, if Love it self be Fulfilled and Perfeót; for then 'tis the Model, upon which all our Duties to our Brethren are Formed and Finished. But if This be either totally Wanting, or Confined and Imperfeót, then the very Fountain fails, from whence all our Sentiments and Dispositions, as well as Aétions, relating to our Brethren should be Derived, and Diffused through the Whole course of our Condućt towards

[merged small][ocr errors]

* Rom. xiii. 9, 10.


Good Works, betwixt the entire Love of our neighbour and proper Aćts of Beneficence towards him, is in many Other places of Scripture fully represented, and hath been very often, and very Accurately treated of, upon this Occasion. But the Aposile's Design in this place, is, not so much to enforce the Necessity of Good Works, as to lay the proper Foumdation, upon which they should be built. 7hough I besłow all my Goods to feed the poor, and have not Charity, it profiteth me mothing, x. 3. Charity, as the Principle of all our Thoughts and Deportment, is what he is labouring to Fix and Establish. All our Behaviour towards our Brethren, be it ever so Specious in it Self, or ever so Beneficial unto Them, will be to our Selves Unprofitable, if it does not proceed from an Inward Principle of Charity. It should therefore be our Chief Care and Study, to attain and keep up Charitable Thoughts of our Neighbour, and Charitable Affections towards him. And yet it cannot be denied, that men. may possibly be found in such Circumstances, that a perfeót Good Opinion of them can neither be Required by the Law of Charity, nor Consistent with 1t. Indeed a Mutual Good Opinion amongst men is so Agreeable, and Lovely, and Desirable, and, in Most cases so Necessary, that we should be exceeding Cautious of failing in it, or Diminution of it; that we should be to the Utmost Careful of Preserving and Defending it, as long as ever there is the least Foundation for it to stand on, and, that we should be heartily Grieved and Afflićted, when, in any Instance, it must of Necessity be excluded. Many other branches of Charity are Necessary duties, even towards the Worst of men, whether in respect of Faith or Mammers. We are Indispensably bound, most Sincerely and Affectionately to Commiserate their Condition; to weep and mourn for the manifest Danger they are in, though they Themselves are not sen

* * them

[ocr errors]

prayers to God, for their Conversion, and, to contribute towards that Converfion, according to our Capacities and Op

- portu

portunities. But still we May, and Ought to be thus Affected to them, without running into an Approbation of them. Habitual and Notorious Sinners have no more Right to our Intire Good Opinion, than to our Imitation of them. For Charity does not Oblige us to Abandon Com

[ocr errors]

Perfeót Pattern of Charity hath taught
us, that the tree is known by his fruit.
Nor can it ever Consist with Charity,
which ever Implies an Intire Love of God,
Throughly to Approve of His Open Ene-
And the case is much the same, in re-
spect of Those who Offend against the
Rules of Belief, as of Those who break
in upon the Rules of Aëtion. But of some
have Compassion, making a Difference.
Charity will not suffer any one to throw
off a Good Opinion of Those, who,
though they be Attempted, and Shaken,
and become Weak in Faith, by the In-
finuations and Artifice of Deceivers, have
not yet cast off their First faith, but ap-
pear Modest, and Humble, and Tračta-
ble, and Desirous to come unto the know-


[ocr errors]

ledge of the Truth. But if any man takes up Heretical opinions, in Opposition to the Mysteries plainly proposed to our Belief in the Scripture, and remains Obstimate and Perverse, and Incorrigible in the Profession and Vindication of such his Opinions, and in the Disbelief and Disavowance of those Mysteries, which God hath required us to Believe; we are no more obliged, by the Law of Charity, to entertain an Intire Good Opinion of . him, than we are by the Rule of Faith,

to become Unbelievers with him. We cannot Avoid thinking, though we cannot be Easy under the Thought, that men are Infidels, when they Profess themselves to be so: And Charity, which always supposeth a Stedfast Faith, and an Inviolable Love of God, and of the Truth, can never Consist with a Perfect Approbation of Those, who do Resolutely and Notoriously Disobey and Dishonour God, by Disbelieving, and Rejetting, and Opposing the Truths, which he Expressly Requires them to Believe. And This, which is so Clear in it Self, appears under as Full a Light, in the Scriptures,

« AnteriorContinuar »