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low or mis-becoming it; but reckons, whatever Inconvenience such kind Humiliations may occasion, amply conipensated by the Benefit, which accrues to Others from them. Imitating herein that most perfect Pattern of Charity, the Blessed Son of God, who vouchsafed to wash his Disciples Feet. Nay, who for the common Advantage of Mankind, did not disdain Poverty and AMiction, Reproach and publick Infamy, though They, for whom he stoop'd so low, had deserved no Consideration, except that of Divine Justice and Vengeance at his Hands.
7. Nor can we wonder, that Charity should be so liberal of its Services, so little nice in submitting to them, (without those Distinctions, by which Men are apt to be discouraged from promoting the Advantage of their meaner Brethren) when informed, that another of her Characters is, not to seeek ber own. А Form of Speech made use of by St. Paul, to denote, not that necessary Care and Concern for our private Benefit, which Religion allows and requires, and which Nature persuades in the first place: But such an inordinate pursuit of this, as narrows the Object of our Desires and Endeavours, and confines them to our Selves, exclusive of all Others. Thus he exhorts ( Chap. X. 24.) Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. Thus he propounds his own Practice as their Pattern, In not seeking his own profit, but the profit of many, (Chap. x. 33.) And thus he complains, That all fought their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's, (Phil
. ii. 21.) The Disposition then, which he clears Charity of, in this place, is that vicious and selfish one, which looks no farther than its personal Interest; which never considers one as a Member of Society, but stands perfectly single; and is so far from placing or seeking its Private in the Common Good, that it would stick at no Methods of purchasing the Former, at the Expence and certain Lofs of
the Latter. The contrary Virtue, implied and recommended by this Character, is such a generous and publick Spirit, as expects and endeavours our own, in the General, Good: That largeness of Heart, which is sensibly affected for Human Nature, wishes the Ease and Prosperity of all Mankind, never separates it self from the Body by abstracted Views, but considers each Member as a part of our Selves; Contributes its utmost to serve and profit the Whole; And esteems the Glory of God, and the greater Gain of our Brethren, an ample Reward of our own Labours and Sufferings, and esteems some Loss and Inconvenience, not only tolerable, but even eligible, upon so beneficial an Account.
8. Charity is not easily provoked, so our Translation reading, hath represented this, in meaning much the same with the first Quality of suffering long. But the Word thus rendred, does not so properly import the suddenness, as the sharpness, of a Passion. And the thing intended here seems to be, that this Grace keeps the Mind calm and smooth ; corrects that Heat, which either the Natural Constitution, or the Greatness of a Provocation, kindles in our Breasts; and, even when our Anger is most just, prevents its flaming out with that Rage and Fury, so common in Men, who are not under this Guard.' Nor is it hard to discern a very Natural Connexion, between this and those good Fruits, last taken notice of. For, as nothing does so expose us to the Insults of Passion, as Pride, and Partiality to one's own Interest; so are true Humility and Generosity in no one Instance more conspicuous, than in that of curbing and subduing the wild Beast within
It is this, that must preferve the Decency of Men, and the Moderation of Christians, towards them, who may have deserved the highest of our Resentments, by teaching us, that we are not however released from the Duty of remembring, that They too ftill are Men, and carry, (though perhaps very unworthily) the Title of Christians. And consequently that in both respects they have still a right, to be treated as Fellow-Members with our felves.
9. Charity thinketh no evil: Does not harbour malicious and revengeful Thoughts, (say fome) as many are seen to do, who diffemble their Passion, but are full of lurking Mischief, and only wait an Opportunity of making those pay dear, who have disobliged or injured them. And thus the Greek Word here is often used, for putting any Fault to account, in opposition to discharge and forgiveness. Or, (as Others ) it keeps a Man from suspecting, and thinking the worst of, Others and their Actions. Of the good they do, it allows all just Commendation, and is ready to acknowledge it. But, as it never charges any with doing amiss, except upon undeniable Evidence : so when they plainly appear to have done so, it makes all possible alIowances in their Favour, and is as ready to excuse or extenuate it.
10. The Next of not rejoycing in Iniquity, but rejoycing in the Truth, is likewise capable of different Constructions. If by Iniquity or Injustice we understand the Evil others do, the Charitable Man hath so utter an Abhorrence of Wickedness; fo high an Honour for God, who is disobeyed and affronted; so tender a Regard for the Souls of his Brethren, whose eternal Salvation is brought into apparent Hazard, and their Consciences wounded, by it; that no Consideration can be equivalent to those, or make their Sin occasion of Joy to him. On the other hand, the truest Satisfaction he takes, is in the increase and advancement of Piety and Virtue, the manifestation of God's Glory, the Propagation and Flourishing of Religion, and those Promises and Prospects of his Neighbours being for ever happy, which the pleasing Observation of their good Life fets before him.
If by Iniquity be taken the Evil of Suffering, thus the Charitable Man hath Compassion for all, but Delight in none. But, if applied (as in the Old Testament it is often, and as its Opposition seems to warrant, if not to direct here) to Falshoods or Lies: thus it declares the Persons here described, to take no pleasure in false Reports, and malicious Insinuations, which tend to defame or disparage our Neighbour. (A Pleasure as common as it is barbarous.) But, when such SuggeItions have got Ground, and shed their Venom, to be heartily glad of hearing the injured Sufferers Innocence vindicated, and his Good Name rescued from all the Scandal, which Malice or Mistake had blackned him with.
11. And, since no Man industriously contributes to Events that are disagreeable to him ; a necessary Consequence of the former Quality, is that of Bearing all Things. The putting up many Things, which cannot be called to account, without loss of our Neighbours Credit ; and concealing those very Faults we certainly know, even Multitudes of them. So far is Charity from exposing Mens Failings to the World, or thinking it self at liberty to make them the Subject of publick Discourse, the Jeft or the Diversion of all Companies, even for Matters too foul to be excused, and too notorious to be denied.
12. This, God knows, is a degree of Reserve and Tenderness too rarely to be met with ; and therefore, to keep clear of Blame, by being too easily persuaded to think ill of those, who suffer by them who have it not; Charity believes all Things, that is, it inclines to credit all that can be faid, in favour of them, that are ill spoken of, so far as any reasonable grounds for such Belief offer. For, as this cannot be meant of a forwardness to believe to our Brother's Prejudice ; fo neither are we to imagine, that Charity bereaves Men of Judgment and Common Sense, by disposing us to
believe, believe, to our Brother's Advantage, things, which, though we could wish true, yet are found, upon enquiry, to be supported by no probability or colour of Truth.
13. And yet, when Things are come to this miserable pass, it bopeth all Things. Tho' Men are plainly discovered to have been as bad, as Report (and Report is seldom short on the Reflecting part) hath represented them, the Charitable Man does not give them over so. He does not despair of, he wishes and heartily prays for, and by all proper Methods labours to bring about, their Amendment. Far from that supercilious and severe Disdain, which presently delivers up such for loft, pronounces them Reprobates, and forgets the Powers and the Condescenfions of that Divine Grace, which, in wonderful Mercy, snatches those out of the Snare of the Tempter, who have long been taken Captive by him at his Will.
14. Lastly, Though many Attempts of this kind have been fruitless, and a world of good Offices been paid with very ill Returns ; ftill Charity continues unwearied, and can away with Injuries and Delays grievous to be born, in hopes, that God will at last open the Eyes of the very worst, and give them Repentance to the Acknowledgment of the Truth. And this I conceive intended, when St. Paul describes it, as ens during all Things. By all Things, (in this, as well as in the former Instances) meaning, not simply all, but all fuch, as are agreeable to the Measures and End of Charity. For there are Times and Circumstances, which render the covering, or the suffering Men's Faults, an injury to Themselves, or to Others, or to Both. And therefore these are Terms to be restrained, according to the Exigencies of the Case; And so to be apply'd to the Benefit of the Party concerned, as not to interfere with his own greater, or the publick Good,