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ment I give unto you, that ye love one another: and SERM. maketh the observance of it the special cognizance of his followers, By this shall all men know that ye John xiii. are my disciples, if ye love one another.
These indeed are lofty commendations thereof, yet all of them may worthily veil to this; all of them seem verified in virtue of this, because God hath vouchsafed to place this command in so near adjacency to the first great law, conjoining the two tables; making charity contiguous, and, as it were, commensurate to piety.
Matt. v. 45.
It is true, that in many respects charity doth resemble piety; for it is the most genuine daughter of piety, thence in complexion, in features, in humour much favouring its sweet mother: it doth consist in like dispositions and motions of soul: it doth grow from the same roots and principles of benignity, ingenuity, equity, gratitude, planted in our original constitution by the breath of God, and improved in our hearts by the divine Spirit of love; it produceth 1 John iv. the like fruits of beneficence toward others, and of Matt comfort in ourselves; it in like manner doth assimi+ late us to God, rendering us conformable to his nature, followers of his practice, and partakers of his felicity it is of like use and consequence toward the regulation of our practice, and due management of our whole life in such respects, I say, this law is like to the other; but it is however chiefly so for that God hath pleased to lay so great stress thereon, as to make it the other half of our religion and duty; or because, as St. John saith, This commandment Matt. xxii. have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his 1 John iv. brother also; which is to his praise a most pregnant demonstration of his immense goodness toward us.
But no less in the very substance of this duty will the benignity of him that prescribeth it shine forth, displaying itself in the rare beauty and sweetness of it; together with the vast benefit and utility, which it, being observed, will yield to mankind; which will appear by what we may discourse for pressing its observance. But first let us explain it, as it lieth before us expressed in the words of the text, wherein we shall consider two particulars observable: first, the object of the duty; secondly, the qualification annexed to it the object of it, our neighbour; the qualification, as ourselves.
I. The object of charity is our neighbour; that is, (it being understood, as the precept now concerneth us, according to our Lord's exposition, or according to his intent and the tenor of his doctrine,) every man, with whom we have to do, or who is capable of our love, especially every Christian.
The Law, as it was given to God's ancient people, did openly regard only those among them who were linked together in a holy neighbourhood or society, from which all other men being excluded were deemEph. ii. 12. ed strangers and foreigners; (aliens, as St. Paul speaketh, from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise.) For thus Levit. xix. the Law runneth in Leviticus, Thou shalt not bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; where plainly Jews and neighbours are terms equivalent; Levit. xx. other men being supposed to stand at distance without the fold or politic enclosure, which God by sevexxxiii. 16. ral ordinances had fenced, to keep that nation unmixt and separate nor can it be excepted against this Levit. xix. notion, that in the same chapter it is enjoined, But
26, 24. Exod.
Deut. vii. 6. xiv. 2.
the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto SERM. you as one born among you, and thou shalt love XXV. him as thyself; for by that stranger (as the Jewish masters will interpret it) is meant a proselyte of righteousness; or one who, although a stranger by birth, was yet a brother in religion, having voluntarily submitted to their law, being engaged in the same covenant, and thence admitted to the same privileges, as an adopted child of that holy family.
Gal. iii. 28.
John iii. 16.
But now, such distinctions of men being voided, Eph. ii. 14. and that wall of partition demolished, all the world Acts x. 36. is become one people; subject to the laws of one common Lord; and capable of the mercies purchased by one Redeemer. God's love to mankind did move Tit. iii. 4. him to send our Lord into the world, to assume human nature, and therein to become a mediator be- 1 Tim. ii. 5. tween God and men. Our Lord's kindness to all his brethren disposed him to undertake their salvation, and to expiate their sins, and to taste death for 1 John ii. 2, every man; the effect whereof is an universal recon- 2 Cor. v. ciliation of God to the world, and an union of men col. i. 20. Eph. i. 10. together. ii. 13.
Heb. ii. 9.
Now the blood of Christ hath cemented mankind; the favour of God embracing all hath approximated and combined all together; so that now every man is our brother, not only by nature, as derived from the same stock, but by grace, as partaker of the common redemption; now God desiring the salvation of all 1 Tim. ii. 4. men, and inviting all men to mercy, our duty must Col. i. 23. be coextended with God's grace, and our charity must follow that of our Saviour.
Tit. ii. 11.
We are therefore now to all men, that which one Jew was to another; yea more than such, our Christianity having induced much higher obligations,
SERM. stricter alliances, and stronger endearments, than XXV. were those, whereby Judaism did engage its followers to mutual amity. The duties of common humanity (to which our natural frame and sense do incline us, which philosophy recommendeth and natural religion doth prescribe, being grounded upon our community of nature and cognation of blood, upon apparent equity, upon general convenience and utility) our religion doth not only enforce and confirm, but enhance and improve; superadding higher instances and faster ties of spiritual relation, reaching in a sort to all men, (as being in duty, in design, in remote capacity our spiritual brethren;) but in especial manner to all Christians, who actually are fellow members of the same holy fraternity, contracted by spiritual regeneration from one heavenly seed, supported by a common faith and hope, 1Pet. i. 23. strengthened by communion in acts of devotion and
Hereon therefore are grounded those evangelical commands, explicatory of this law as it now standGal. vi. 10. eth in force; that as we have opportunity we should do good unto all men, especially unto them who are Thess. iii. of the household of faith; that we should abound 2 Cor. ix. in love one towards another, and towards all men ; that we should glorify God in our professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, by liberally distributing to the saints, and to all men; that we
Heb.xii. 24. should follow peace with all men, should be patient Tit. iii. 2. toward all men; and gentle toward all men, and Thes.v.15. shew all meekness toward all men; and ever follow
Ts Tav- that which is good both among ourselves, and to all
2Tim. ii. 24. men; that we should make supplications, interces
1 Tim. ii. 1.
Eph. vi. 18, sions, and thanksgivings for all men, especially for
all saints, or all our fellow Christians; and express SERM. moderation, or ingenuity, to all men.
Luke x. 29.
Such is the object of our charity; and thus did our Phil. iv. 5. Lord himself expound it, when by a Jewish lawyer manie ἀνθρώπου οὐbeing put to resolve this question, And who is my divano ioτὶν ἢ τὸ δneighbour? he did propound a case, or history, whereby he did extort from that Rabbi this confes-xa oyixov ζῶον, &c. sion, that even a Samaritan, discharging a notable Just. Mart. office of humanity and mercy to a Jew, did thereby Tryph. p. most truly approve himself a good neighbour to him; and consequently that reciprocal performances of such offices were due from a Jew to a Samaritan; whence it might appear, that this relation of neighbourhood is universal and unlimited. So much for the object.
II. As for the qualification annexed and couched in those words, as thyself; that, as I conceive, may import both a rule declaring the nature, and a measure determining the quantity, of that love which is due from us to our neighbour; the comparative term as implying both conformity or similitude, and commensuration or equality.
τῆς φιλίας τῇ Qis πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ὁμοιοῦται. Arist. Eth.
1. Loving our neighbour as ourselves doth import ix. 4. a rule, directing what kind of love we should bear and exercise toward him; or informing us that our charity doth consist in having the same affections of soul, and in performing the same acts of beneficence toward him, as we are ready by inclination, as we are wont in practice to have or to perform toward ourselves, with full approbation of our judgment and conscience, apprehending it just and reasonable so to do.
We cannot indeed better understand the nature of this duty, than by reflecting on the motions of our