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12, &c.

SERM. stles, the primitive saints. This illustrious doctor of Christian religion, St. Paul, did not fail to second this his doctrine with his own example: for, Give none offence, saith he, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God; even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Please all men in all things: what could St. 1 Cor. ix. Paul say, or what do more? And again, For though, saith he, I be free from all men, yet have I made myself a servant unto all, that I might gain the more. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that by all means I might save some. See how far this charitable design of doing good to others transported him he parted with his own freedom, that he might redeem them from the slavery of a wicked life; he denied his own present satisfaction, that he might procure them a lasting content; he despised his own profit, that he might promote their spiritual advantage; he prostituted his own reputation, that he might advance them to a condition of true glory. He underwent grievous afflictions for their comfort, sustained restless pains for their ease, and hazarded his own safety for their salvation. He condescended to their infirmities, suited his demeanour to their tempers, complied with their various humours, and contrary customs: he differed from himself, that he might agree with them, and transformed himself into all shapes, that he might convert them into what they should be, reform their manners, and translate them into a happy estate. But above all is the practice of our Lord himself most remarkable to this purpose; and

1 Cor. x. 32, 33.


discovers plainly to him that observes an univer-SERM. sally large and unrestrained philanthropy. For having from a wonderful conspiracy of kindness and good-will (between him and his eternal Father) toward the world of men, descended willingly from the throne of his celestial majesty, and enveloped his divine glory in a cloud of mortal frailty, and that, as the apostle saith, he might reconcile all things Coloss.i.20. in heaven and earth, conjoin God and man by a nearer alliance, and unite men together by the more sacred bands of common relation to himself: having assumed not only the outward shape and corporeal resemblance of man, but the inward frame, and real passions of human souls; he disdained not accordingly to obey the laws, to follow the inclinations, to observe the duties of the best and most perfect humanity; with an equal and impartial bounty imparting free admittance, familiar converse, friendly aid and succour unto all, even the worst of men in all appearance, (and that so far, that some rigorous censurers thence presumed to tax him as a glutton, Matt. xi. and a good-fellow, a friend to publicans and sinners,) distributing liberally to all the incomparable benefits of his heavenly doctrine, of his holy example, of his miraculous power; instructing the ignorances, detecting the errors, dispossessing the devils; sustaining the weaknesses, overlooking the injuries, comforting the afflictions, supplying the necessities, healing the diseases, and remedying all the miseries of all, that did not wilfully reject their own welfare: He went about, saith St. Peter in the Acts, doing Acts x. 38. good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: and, He went about all the cities and vil- Matt. ix. lages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching


SERM. the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickXXX. ness and every disease among the people, saith St.



Matthew's Gospel. He despised not the meanest, either in outward estate, or spiritual improvement. He invited all unto him, repelled or discouraged none; nor refused to any that came unto him his counsel or his help. He was averse from no man's Luke xviii. society, (and if in any degree from any, chiefly from those, who confidently pretended to extraordinary sanctity, and proudly contemned others.) Meek and gentle he was, mild and patient; courteous and benign; lowly and condescensive; tender and compassionate in his conversation unto all. And for a complement of his transcendent charity, and for an Rom. viii. enforcement unto ours, he laid down his life for us all, as a common price to purchase remission of sins; a general ransom to redeem the human creation from the captivity of hell and slavery of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God; demolishing by his pacific death all partition-walls, and laying open all enclosures of the divine favour; reconciling God to man, and combining man to himself by the fresh cement of his precious blood : so that now not only as fellow creatures, but (which is exceedingly more) as partakers of the same common redemption, as objects of the same mercy, as obliged in the same common debt, and as capable of the same eternal happiness, by new and firmer engagements we are bound to all mutual kindness and Rom. xiv. benevolence toward all. For, Destroy not, saith St.


Paul, (and by like reason I may say, harm not, vex not, be not unkind to) him, for whom Christ died.

Nay, further, we have the example of Almighty God himself directing, and by our Saviour's express


Psal. cxlv.

admonition obliging us to this universal beneficence, SERM. compassion, and patience towards all who by express testimony of sacred writ, and by palpable signs of continual experience, declareth himself to be a lover of mankind; to be good to all, and tenderly Tit. iii. 4. merciful over all his works; not to afflict willingly, 9. nor grieve the children of men; to compassionate the miseries, and supply the needs, and relieve the distresses, to desire the salvation, and to delight in the happiness of men who with an indifferent, unlimited munificence dispenses his blessings, extends his watchful providence, and imparts his loving care unto all; causing his sun with comfortable beams to shine, and the refreshing showers to descend, the earth to yield her pleasant fruits, the temperate seasons to recur, and all the elements to minister succour, joy, and satisfaction even to the most im- Vid. Clepious and ungrateful toward him: who with im- ad Cor. pag. mense clemency and long-sufferance overlooks the 27. sacrilegious affronts offered daily to his majesty, the outrageous violations of his laws, and the contemptuous neglects of his unexpressible goodness: who patiently waits for the repentance, and incessantly solicits the reconcilement, courts the amity, and in a manner begs the good-will of his most deadly enemies; whom he hath always in his hand, and can crush to nothing at his pleasure. For, We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God by us did entreat you: we beseech you in Christ's behalf; be reconciled to God, saith St. Paul, 2 Cor. v. 20.

Since therefore upon account of natural consanguinity, of our best inclinations, of common equity, and general advantage, and an implicit compact between men; of securing our, and promoting others'


SERM. virtue and piety; from the exhortations of scripture mentioned, and many more tending to the same purpose; from the example of the ancient Christians, the leaders and champions of our religion, of the apostles, the masters and patriarchs thereof, of our blessed Redeemer, and of Almighty God himself, we are obliged to this universal benevolence and beneficence toward all; no misapprehensions of judgment, no miscarriages in practice, no ill dispositions of soul, no demerits in himself, no discourtesies toward us, ought wholly to alienate our affections from, or to avert us from doing good, or to incline us to render evil for evil unto any person: especially considering, that the omissions of others cannot excuse us from the performance of our duty; that no man is to be presumed incorrigible, nor (like the lapsed angels) concluded in desperate impenitence; and that our loving and gentle demeanour toward them may be instrumental to their amendment, and the contrary may contribute to their progress and continuance in offences; that God hath promised to us a reward of our patience, and hath reserved to them a season of judgment and punishment, if they persist obstinate in their disorderly courses; that to avenge their trespasses belongs not to us, but to Almighty God, who is more nearly concerned in, and more injured by them, and is yet content to endure them, to prolong their lives, to continue his benefits to them, and to expect their conversion: that our differing from them is not to be attributed to ourselves, but wholly, or chiefly, to the goodness of God; that we always were, are, and shall be liable to the same errors, vices, and misdemeanours: that, lastly, the faults and follies of others, like the maims

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