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do not find it. In all reason and equity, if I would have another my friend, I must be a friend to him: hence the law of charity is well expressed in those terms of doing to others whatever we would have them do to us.
IV. Let us consider that charity is a right noble and worthy thing, tending greatly to perfect our nature, and dignify our soul: it is the imitation and copy of that immense love which is the fountain of all being and of all good: whilst therefore charity raises our nature towards that of heavenly beings, uncharitableness on the contrary debases us into an affinity with the meanest things, making us to become like beasts, or fiends.
V. The practice of charity is productive of many great benefits and advantages to us; so that to love our neighbor involves the truest love to ourselves: wherefore not only duty obliges, but interest encourages us in this matter, by a consideration of the manifold comforts and conveniences of life; some of which will be enumerated.
VI. 1. Charity frees our souls from those bad dispositions and passions which vex and disquiet them; banishing anger, envy, rancor, and revenge; stifling fear, suspicion, and jealousy of mischief intended against us; removing discontent or dissatisfaction in our state; curbing ambition and avarice, those impetuous, insatiable, and troublesome dispositions, &c.
VII. 2. It consequently settles the mind in a serene, calm, and cheerful state; in an even temper and harmonious order of soul.
VIII. 3. It preserves us from various external mischiefs and inconveniences to which our life is exposed; for if we have not charity towards men, we shall have enmity with them; and on that wait troops of mischiefs; this point enlarged on.
IX. 4. As charity preserves us from mischiefs, so it procures many sweet comforts and fair accommodations of life, by encompassing a man with friends, with many guards of his safety,
supports of his fortune, patrons of his reputation, succorers of his necessity, and comforters of his affliction.
X. 5. Charity does in every state yield advantages suitable thereto it renders prosperity not only innocent and safe, but useful and fruitful to us: it solaces adversity by the consideration that it does not arise as a punishment for doing ill to others, and that it is not attended with the ill-will of men.
XI. 6. We may consider that, without the exercise of charity, all the goods and advantages we have, our best faculties of nature and best endowments of soul, the gifts of Providence and the fruits of our industry, will become vain and fruitless, or noxious and baneful to us: this point enlarged on.
XII. 7. Charity greatly amplifies and advances a man's state, putting him into the possession or fruition of all good things: a charitable man can never, in a moral account, be poor, or vile, or miserable, except all the world should be cast into penury and distress; for whilst his neighbor hath any thing, he will enjoy it.
XIII. 8. If therefore we love ourselves, we must love others, and do them good; since by this means we enable and dispose them to make grateful returns, and besides all other benefits, we get that of their prayers, which of all prayers have a most favorable audience and efficacy.
XIV. We may consider that charity is a practice specially grateful to God, and a most excellent part of our duty.
XV. Seeing also that God vouchsafes to esteem whatever is done in charity to our neighbors (if done with an honest pious mind, as to his friends) to be done unto himself, we become in a manner benefactors to him, and shall be accordingly requited.
XVI. We may consider that charity is a very feasible and easy duty, requiring no sore pain, no grievous trouble, no great cost for it consists only in good will, and that which naturally springs from thence.
XVII. It is the best, most easy, and most expedite way of performing all other duties towards our neighbor; for love is the fulfilling of the law.
XVIII. Charity gives worth, form, and life to all virtue; so that without it no action is valuable in itself, or acceptable to God: this subject enlarged on.
XIX. So great benefits doth charity yield: yet if it did not yield any of them, it would deserve and claim our observance; for it carries a reward and a heaven in itself, the very same which constitutes God himself infinitely happy, and beatifies every blessed spirit in proportion to its capacity and exercise thereof.
XX. Whereas the great obstacle to charity is self-love, or an extravagant fondness of our own interests, yet uncharitableness destroys that; for how can we love ourselves, if we have not charity? how can we appear lovely to ourselves, if we are destitute of so worthy an endowment?
These are some considerable inducements to the practice of this great virtue: others of a higher nature are reserved for another discourse.
Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.
THAT which is here recommended by the Apostle, as the common duty of Christians toward each other, on emergent occasions, with zeal and care to provoke one another to the practice of charity and beneficence, may well be conceived the special duty of those, whose office it is to instruct and guide others, when opportunity is afforded: with that obligation I shall now comply, by representing divers considerations serving to excite and encourage us to that practice: this (without premising any description or explication of the duty; the nature, special acts, and properties whereof I have already declared) I shall immediately undertake.
I. First then, I desire you to remember and consider that you are men, and as such obliged to this duty, as being very agreeable to human nature; the which, not being corrupted or distempered by ill use, doth incline to it, doth call for it, doth like and approve it, doth find satisfaction and delight therein.
St. Paul chargeth us to be eiς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι, or ‘to have a natural affection one toward another :' that supposeth a σropyn inbred to men, which should be roused up, improved, and exercised. Such an one indeed there is, which, although often raked up and smothered in the common attendances on the
providing for our needs, and prosecuting our affairs, will on occasion more or less break forth and discover itself
That the constitution and frame of our nature disposeth to it, we cannot but feel, when our bowels are touched with a sensible pain at the view of any calamitous object; when our fancies are disturbed at the report of any disaster befalling a man; when the sight of a tragedy wringeth compassion and tears from us : which affections we can hardly quash by any reflexion, that such events, true or feigned, do not concern ourselves.
Hence doth nature so strongly affect society, and abhor solitude; so that a man cannot enjoy himself alone, or find satisfaction in any good without a companion: not only for that he then cannot receive, but also because he cannot impart assistance, consolation, and delight in converse: for men do not affect society only that they may obtain benefits thereby; but as much or more, that they may be enabled to communicate them; nothing being more distasteful than to be always on the taking hand : neither indeed hath any thing a more pleasant and savory relish than to do good; as even Epicurus, the great patron of pleasure, did confess.
The practice of benignity, of courtesy, of clemency, do at first sight, without aid of any discursive reflexion, obtain approbation and applause from men; being acceptable and amiable to their mind, as beauty to their sight, harmony to their hearing, fragrancy to their smell, and sweetness to their taste: and, correspondently, uncharitable dispositions and practices (malignity, harshness, cruelty) do offend the mind with a disgustful resentment of them.
We may appeal to the conscience of each man, if he doth not feel dissatisfaction in that fierceness or frowardness of temper, which produceth uncharitableness; if he have not a complacence in that sweet and calm disposition of soul, whence. charity doth issue; if he do not condemn himself for the one, and approve himself in the other practice.
This is the common judgment of men; and therefore in common language this practice is styled humanity, as best sorting with our nature, and becoming it; and the principle whence it springeth is called good-nature: and the contrary practice is