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SERM. disposal all things are, will take so kindly at our XXVIII. hands!
2 Cor. ix. 7. viii. 12.
XVI. We may consider, that charity is a very feasible and very easy duty; it requireth no sore pain, no grievous trouble, no great cost: for it consisteth only in good-will, and that which naturally Rom. xii. 8. springeth thence; willingness and cheerfulness are necessary ingredients or adjuncts of it; the which imply facility: whence the weakest and poorest man is no less able to perform it than the greatest potentate; his heart may be as charitable, though Luke xxi.2. his hand cannot be so liberal: one of the most noble and most famous charities that ever was, was the Matt. x. 42. giving two mites; and the giving a cup of cold water is the instance of that beneficence, which shall not fail of being rewarded'.
XVII. We may consider that charity is the best, the most assured, the most easy and expedite way or instrument of performing all other duties toward our neighbour: if we would despatch, love, and all is done; if we would be perfect in obedience, love, Rom. xiii. and we shall not fail in any point; for love is the fulfilling of the law; love is the bond of perfectness: would we be secure in the practice of justice, of meekness, of humility toward all men, of constant fidelity toward our friends, of gentle moderation to
Gal. v. 14.
κ Ἡ γὰρ ἀγάπη μετὰ τοῦ κέρδους πολλὴν ἔχει καὶ τὴν ἡδονὴν, καὶ πόνον ovdéva. Chrys. in 1 Cor. Or. xxxii.
Ποῖος πόνος μὴ κακῶς εἰπεῖν οὐδένα; ποία δυσκολία ἀπαλλαγῆναι φθόνου καὶ βασκανίας; ποῖος μόχθος μὴ κακῶς εἰπεῖν μηδένα ; Chrys. ̓Ανδρ. ή.
At nunc cum omnia quæ difficiliora sunt vel modica ex parte faciamus, hoc solum non facimus quod et factu facilius est, et absque quo cassa sunt universa quæ facimus: jejunii corpus sentit injuriam, vigiliæ carnem macerant-hæc omnia sunt qui faciant, sola charitas sine labore est. Hier. in Gal. v. 13.
ward our enemies, of loyalty toward our superiors, of SERM. benignity toward our inferiors; if we would be sure to purify our minds from ill thoughts, to restrain our tongues from ill speaking, to abstain from all bad demeanour and dealing; it is but having charity, and infallibly you will do all this: for love worketh no Rom. xii. ill to its neighbour; love thinketh no evil; love be-5. haveth not itself unseemly.
I Cor. xiii.
Would we discharge all our duties without any reluctancy or regret, with much satisfaction and pleasure? love will certainly dispose us thereto; for it always acteth freely and cheerfully, without It is any compulsion or straining; it is ever accompanied It is fire. with delectation m: if we would know its way and virtue of acting, we may see it represented in the proceeding of Jacob, who being inspired by love did contentedly and without regret endure so long and hard toil, such disappointments and such affronts : And Jacob, saith the text, served seven years for Gen. xxix. Rachel; and they seemed to him but a few days for the love he had to her.
This is the root, from whence voluntary obedience doth naturally grow; if it be planted in our heart, we need not fear but that all kind of good fruit will sprout forth into conversation and practice ".
But without it we shall not ever perform any good work perfectly, steadily, in a kindly manner: no other principle will serve; if we are only moved
m Εἰ γὰρ ἅπαντες ἠγάπων καὶ ἠγαπῶντο, οὐδὲν ἂν ἠδίκησεν οὐδεὶς, &c. Chrys. in Cor. Or. xxxii.
Amor obsequitur sponte, gratis obtemperat, libere reveretur. Bern. ad Eug. Prol. Vid. Bern. Ep. xi. p. 1404.
n Ὁ γὰρ φιλῶν οὐχ οὕτως ἐπιτάττων, ὡς ἐπιταττόμενος χαίρει, &c. Chrys. in 1 Cor. Or. xxxii.
SERM. by whip and spur, driven on by fear, or incited by XXVIII. hope, we shall go forward unwillingly and dully, often halting, ever flagging: those principles which do put slaves and mercenaries on action, as they are not so noble and worthy, so neither are they so effectual and sure; as ambition, vain-glory, self-interest, design of security, of profit, of compliance with the expectation of men, &c.
XVIII. Charity giveth worth, form, and life to all virtue, so that without it no action is valuable in itself, or acceptable to God.
Sever it from courage; and what is that, but the boldness or fierceness of a beast? from meekness; and what is that, but the softness of a woman, or weakness of a child? from courtesy; and what is that, but affectation or artifice? from justice; what is that, but humour or policy? from wisdom; what is that, but craft and subtilty?
What meaneth faith without it, but dry opinion; what hope, but blind presumption; what alms-doing, but ambitious ostentation; what undergoing martyrdom, but stiffness or sturdiness of resolution; what is devotion, but glozing or mocking with God?. what is any practice, how specious soever in appearance, or materially good, but an issue of selfconceit or self-will, of servile fear or mercenary de1 Cor. xiii. sign? Though I have faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing; though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
But charity doth sanctify every action, and impregnate all our practice with a savour of goodness, turning all we do into virtue; it is true fortitude
Chrys. in 1 Cor. Or. XXV.
and gallantry indeed, when a man out of charity SERM. and hearty design to promote his neighbour's good doth encounter dangers and difficulties; it is genuine meekness, when a man out of charity, and unwillingness to hurt his neighbour, doth patiently comport with injuries and discourtesies; it is virtuous courtesy, when cordial affection venteth itself in civil language, in respectful deportment, in obliging performances; it is excellent justice, when a man, regarding his neighbour's case as his own, doth unto him as he would have it done to himself; it is admirable wisdom, which sagaciously contriveth and dexterously manageth things with the best advantage toward its neighbour's good: it is a worthy faith, which being spirited and actuated by charity, Gal. v. 6. doth produce goodly fruits of beneficence; it is a 26. sound and solid hope, which is grounded on that everlasting foundation of charity, which never doth 1Cor. iii. 8. fail, or fall away; it is sincere alms, which not only the hand, but the heart doth reach forth; it is an acceptable sacrifice, which is kindled by the holy fire of fervent affection; it is a pure devotion, which Tim. ii.8. is offered up with a calm and benign mind, resembling the disposition of that goodness which it adoreth.
Matt. v. 23.
If therefore we would do any thing well, if we would not lose all the virtue, and forfeit all the benefit of what we perform, we must follow the rule of St. Paul, to do all our works in charity.
XIX. So great benefits doth charity yield; yet if it did not yield any of them, it would deserve and claim our observance; without regard to its sweet fruits and beneficial consequences, it were to be embraced and cherished; for it carrieth a reward and
I Cor. xvi. 14.
SERM. a heaven in itself; the very same which constituteth XXVIII. God himself infinitely happy, and which beatifieth every blessed spirit, in proportion to its capacity and exercise thereof: a man doth abundantly enjoy himself in that steady composedness, and savoury complacence of mind, which ever doth attend it; and as the present sense, so is the memory of it, or the good conscience of having done good, very delicious and satisfactory.
As it is a rascally delight (tempered with regret, and vanishing into bitterness) which men feel in wreaking spite, or doing mischief; such as they cannot reflect upon without disgust and condemning their base impotency of soul: so is the pleasure which charity doth breed altogether pure, grateful to the mind, and increasing by reflection; never perishing or decaying; a man eternally enjoying the good he hath done, by remembering and ruminating thereon. In fine,
XX. Whereas the great obstacle to charity is selflove, or an extravagant fondness of our own interests, yet uncharitableness destroyeth that: for how can we love ourselves, if we do want charity? how can we appear lovely to ourselves, if we are destitute of so worthy an endowment? or if we can discern those unworthy dispositions, which accompany the defect of it; can we esteem so mean, so vile, so ugly things as we then are? Aristotle saith, that bad men cannot be friends to themselves, beOliy qian cause having in themselves nothing amiable, they τὸν ἔχοντες, οὐθὲν φιλικὸν can feel no affection toward themselves; and certainly, if we are not stark blind, or can but see wrath, spite, envy, revenge in their own black and ugly hue, we must needs (if they do possess our souls)
Arist. Eth. ix. 4.