The Excellency of Publick Charity.

A SERMON Preach'd before the UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, IN NEW-COLLEGE-CHAPPEL, ON THE Feast of the Annuntiation, 1697.

By H. DOWNES, M. A. and Fellow of the said College.

LONDON: Printed for Charles Harper, at the Flower-de-Luce over against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet. M DC XCVII.

PSALM cxii. Vers. 9, 10.‘He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor, his Righteousness endureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with honour. The Wicked shall see it and be grieved, he shall gnash with his teeth and melt away, the desire of the ungodly shall perish.’

TO Consider the Excellency of Charity in general, and that variety of strong Motives which engage to the Pra­ctice of it; how powerful the Language of Nature is on its behalf, and how much more so the Word of God; To consider, that to re­fresh the Bowels of our Brethren is to give Ease and Comfort to our own, and to shew Compas­sion to others an happy Means of taking Pity on our selves; Nay that our Bounty to the Poor is truly Lending unto the Lord, and relieving those Wants which he is pleas'd to tender as his own; To consider what good Dispositions this Excellent Grace argues, and what good Ef­fects it every where occasions; how great the [Page 2] present Reward of it is, and how much more so its future shall be. This would be of too large a compass for a single Discourse of this Nature, I shall therefore confine my self to the Consideration of the peculiar Excellency of publick Charity, and it may not be improper in this Place, at this Time, and on this Occasion, to attempt to shew the great Charity of public Foundations, particularly of that kind, the Bene­fit of which most that hear me this day enjoy.

He who hath in these respects dispersed abroad and hath given to the Poor, his Righteousness endu­reth for ever, his Horn shall be exalted with Honour, though the Wicked shall see it and be grieved.

From whence I shall take occasion to dis­course,

First, Of the great Charity of publick Foundations, especially of those which are Nurseries of Learning and Religion.

Secondly, Of the peculiar Honours they reflect upon the Founders of them.

Thirdly, I shall enquire into the Reasons why, notwithstanding all this, these Places and the Persons who more immediately enjoy the Benefit of them, have been in all Ages, and still are the Objects [Page 3] of many Peoples Hatred, Envy and Ill-will; of these in their Order.

And First, Of the great Charity of publick Foundations. As God has put strong Principles in every Man to engage him in the great Work of his own Preservation, so, (because in some Cases he may in no sense be able of him­self to help himself) he has both by Instinct and Precept subjoin'd the Care of others to his own; making Men mutual Assistants to one another towards the Support and Well being of the whole.

Now those Persons who to this purpose do most effectually labour for the Publick Good, not only seeking their own but others Welfare, and do the most to repair the Ruines which Sin has made, these are the great Benefactors to Man­kind, the Supporters of Kingdoms and the Pil­lars of the World. Of this sort are they who not content to extend their Beneficence to some few round about them, move in a larger Sphere, and consult the Good of Multitudes not only of the present but of future Generations; who desire and endeavour that the Effects of their Charity may endure as long as the Wants of [Page 4] Men, and that their Miseries may not outlive the Provision which these make against them; Who provide lasting Encouragement to labour, or a sure Refuge to those that cannot work; that contrive the most effectual ways that no Man may be useless, but serviceable, at least not a Burthen to the Commonwealth; Who are (as Holy Job was) eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, and a present help to those whom the Providence of God has thrown upon the Mer­cy of others, and made it both a Duty and Pleasure to administer to their Necessities.

I believe I need not say much to evince the great Charity of Erecting Hospitals, and such public Edifices for their Relief whom God's Providence has disabled from relieving them­selves; their Miseries are apt to make deep Im­pressions upon our Souls, and we easily see and feel the Excellency of that Charity which re­moves such pitiable Objects out of common view, which binds up their sores, pours oyl into their wounds, and prevents their Infirmities from being afflictive to others, and as much as may be from being grievous to those that bear them. Now the yernings within our own bowels do [Page 5] not speak as much on the behalf of other works of publick Charity, as this; yet 'tis certain that the Conveniences and good Effects that at­tend them do. Thus the Charity of employing the Poor, and furnishing them with work, which may redound to their Profit and the Benefit of others, is very advantageous to the Good of Mankind, and this sort of Charity guided with Discretion has a large Influence upon the Hap­piness of any People; for it much increases the Strength, Wealth and Grandeur of a Nation, and upon this it is that the most Civiliz'd Na­tions have been the most flourishing, and the Effects of their Wisdom have been seen in the Prosperity of the People.

How barbarous and sadly miserable are those Nations where the People are ignorant of the ways and means to provide against their own Wants, and are left open without fence to the Miseries of this World; who know not how to employ their Strength to their Advantage or Se­curity, nor for what purposes God made them what they are; certainly in this regard they may be compar'd unto the beasts that perish, and are in other respects more miserable than they.

[Page 6]Again, How remarkably weak and poor are those Kingdoms and even nigh unto Desolation where Sloth and Idleness prevail and Industry hath no place? Who suffer their Faculties to ga­ther Rust for want of Exercise, and take no care to apply their Abilities to the Ends they were given. Sacred History mentions abundance of Idleness as one great Sin, and occasion of the Ruin of Sodom, and Profane History informs us that Idleness, neglect of Tillage, Mechanic Arts and Merchandise, brought swift Destruction upon the great Persian Monarchy, and indeed the same Cause will have the same Effects upon all States and Empires whatsoever; Idle Persons be­ing like dead Branches, which serve neither for Ʋse nor Ornament, but are an heavy burthen to that Body that bears them.

Whereas in those Kingdoms, where every Man is put and kept in a way to be serviceable in his Generation, and the Strength of every Member is apply'd as near as may be to the Su­stenance and Support of the whole Body, what can arise from hence but Beauty and Strength, which is not easily to be shaken by Disorders from within or by Violence from without, but is very [Page 7] much secur'd from the Force of both: A Na­tion thus improv'd is like a stately Fabrick well laid together, wherein every Material is dis­pos'd in its proper Place and Order, whence a­rises the Comeliness (I had almost said the Life) of the whole; but a rude, unpolish'd, unimprov'd People are like the same Materials, rough▪ hewn, unprepar'd for Use, out of which indeed fine things might be wrought, were there but Ar­tificers to put their hands upon them, and the Skill of the Workman to form them into Ʋseful­ness and Beauty.

Now by nothing is this so great and good Design more effectually promoted than by set­ting up Work-houses, Manufactures, and Schools preparatory thereunto; this is the End which they aim at, and they cannot generally fail of Success; herein many Persons have an inge­nuous Education freely bestow'd upon them, which otherwise by reason of the Narrowness of their Circumstances they must have wanted for ever, and are train'd up to be truly useful to others, as well as profitable to themselves; by these means a Spirit of Ingenuity spreads itself throughout a whole Nation, and the Improve­ments [Page 8] Men from thence receive are to the Advantage of many Generations.

It is very certain that Man even in this de­generate State is still capable of a great deal of Perfection, but it must be wrought out, and almost any manner of Wisdom must be digg'd for as for hid Treasure; for 'tis observable, that things of greatest Value are not to be found near the Surface. His Faculties are not utterly lost, but only unwieldy and benum'd for want of Ʋse, he does not so properly want Power, as Management, neither is he deficient in his Ta­lents but in his Improvement; and it is this De­fect which those publick Works I have been men­tioning, do always design to provide against, and do often effect: Which makes such publick Charities well ordered, publick Blessings, and the Authors of them are very deservedly call'd Be­nefactors; Benefactors not only to those who immediately enjoy the Effects of their Charity, but to as many as the wide Influence of it can reach.

But I am more particularly concern'd to in­sist upon the great Charity of those publick Foun­dations which are Nurseries of Learning and Re­ligion. This sort of Charity has that in com­mon [Page 9] with other publick Charities, that it is ve­ry extensive in its Design and Ʋsefulness, reaching to Multitudes not only of this but of future A­ges, making a suitable Provision against those Evils which are likely to last as long as the Sun and Moon endureth; but in other Cases it far exceeds them, they directly aim at the temporal good of Men, this chiefly regards their spiri­tual and eternal Interest, the Improvement of the Mind into the Likeness of God here, and an happy Enjoyment of him hereafter.

In the other Foundations Men are bred up to a regular Ʋse of the Powers of their `Bodies, in these to a due Exercise of the Faculties of their Souls, and that not for their own Benefit a­lone but for the Use of others, that the unspeakable Advantage of their Improvement may re­dound unto all.

Herein those who excel others in the Goods of Fortune are shown the way to do it as much in the Goods of Nature and of Grace, and to adorn their high Stations with such wor­thy Actions as may make them the Glory of their Times: Herein they are instructed how to ma­nage and improve the Time they are so much [Page 10] Masters of, and the other Talents they enjoy, to their own Advantage and the Publick Good, that their Leisure and Wealth may be to them Op­portunities of Vertue and Goodness, which are to many others strong Temptations to Sin, and sad Occasions of Falling.

It is very fit that those Persons who either by the Priviledge of their Birth, or the Choice of the People, are often called to that impor­tant Business of making Laws; at least have a mighty Influence on all that are round about them, should learn betimes for what purposes they are by the Providence of God so high­ly advanced, and be taught to fill up their se­veral Orbs with a suitable Glory, that they may dispence Warmth, Light, and Fruitfulness to the Earth. And how much these Places conduce to these Ends, let those in Gratitude declare who have partaken of the Advantages of them; sure I am, there never was any that truly an­swered the ends of his coming hither, that had ever reason to repent of so easie a Pur­chase of that Education which others graciously enjoy.

[Page 11]For herein also many have the Advanta­ges of a Liberal Education, for want of which, those who have been Men of Renown in the Learned World, might have been forced to sub­mit to more servile Employments, whilst the Necessities of this corruptible Body had pressed down the Soul which museth upon many things; and the finiteness of their Thoughts had gone off in the sweat of their Brows. But to bring those of a lower Condition almost to a Level with those of a higher with respect to the Improve­ment of their Natures, and for the Advance­ment of Learning and Religion in the World, herein even these Persons have from the Cha­rity of others great Opportunities, great Encourage­ment, and great Obligations to those Purposes.

First, in these Foundations they have great Opportunities of Learning and Religion: Indeed, Time and Leisure are valuable Advantages, for to the purposes I am speaking of, Time and Leisure are much required. It is well known how laborious the search after Truth is, and for any one that would make any considerable Progress in any Science, how necessary it is he should attend upon it without Distraction, be free [Page 12] from the necessity of working with his hands, while his head is thus employ'd, and exempt from the Labours of the Body, whilst he would apply himself to those of the Mind. But be­sides, these men from hence receive the best Direction how to improve their Time and Lei­sure to the best purposes, without which, Time and Leisure would be of little value. For Man is so little able of himself, to refuse the evil, and choose the good, that without being brought up at the Feet of some Gamaliel, he might be ever learning, and yet never come to the Knowledge of the Truth: but being well informed by those whose Experience qualifies them for the instruction of others, having Pilots to guide them in these dangerous Waters, they make their Voyage with a great deal more Safety and Pleasure, and much sooner and easier arrive at the Haven where they would be; which without such publick Foundations would necessarily be the Privilege but of a few. Moreover, by such publick Nurseries of Learning and Religion, there is a much more free, open, and manly Spirit communicated from one to another, and what by Emulation and other nobler Motives, [Page 13] they are brought to aspire to greater Heights than a private Education would ordinarily ex­cite them to. Besides, by means of a publick E­ducation, Men become (as Quintilian observes) more meet for the Converse of the World with which they must have to do.

And now whilst I behold the Rivulets from these Fountains, spreading themselves through­out the Land to make glad the City of God; whilst I behold Church and State refreshed with these Waters which from hence plentifully flow; I cannot but bless the Providence of God, who by these means so liberally provideth for the Earth, and admire that Charity which is so diffusive of its Blessings from one end of the World unto the other.

Hence proceed Men who by their Wisdom and Learning, are meet for the People, to turn them from Darkness to Light, from the Power of Satan un­to the Lord, to be Ambassadors for Christ, and to beseech Men in his stead to be reconciled unto God, that they may grow in his Favour, by the Practice of those Vertues, which tho' the Laws and Reason of Men have generally required, yet Christianity alone could sufficiently enforce. Not but that [Page 14] even these Laws have their singular Ʋse, and will be necessary as long as there are others besides the Meek that inherit the Earth, who must have their bounds set which they should not pass. And this is another Advantage of these publick Foundations, that require and encourage the Study of the Laws of Nature, and Nati­ons which ought to be the Foundation of all other, directing a more especial Regard to those Civil and Imperial Laws which have been gene­rally suppos'd to come nearest to the first Prin­ciples, and have long obtained in the World upon that Account: Many of our Pious Bene­factors had a particular Eye to the Advance­ment of this sort of Learning, which enables Men to set an Inclosure round each others Pro­perty, and is the true Basis of Righteousness and Peace.

Hence proceed others also, who searching into the Works of God for those Antidotes which his Wisdom has provided in secret against the Miseries of the World, do mightily sup­port the Health and Welfare of the Body; by the strength of other Beings, they sustain the Weakness of Man, and in great measure stifle [Page 15] the seeds of Corruption which mingle them­selves with, and often choak the seeds of Life which they support, and as long as Man is subject to so many disorders from within, and injuries from without, those that study their Cure, and employ their many Talents to so good an end, will never be esteemed unprofitable Servants, nor those Places that encourage them useless to the World.

I might mention others likewise, who apply­ing their Studies to other purposes, have pro­ved exceeding useful in their Generations: Wit­ness those Mathematical Heads, who by a Mor­ning Thought have sav'd the Labour of so many Ages; and have shewn Men by their profita­ble Inventions, the readiest ways to supply them­selves with the Necessaries and Conveniences of Life with abundantly greater ease, there­by abating much of that part of the Curse on Man In the Sweat of thy `Brows shalt thou eat Bread; whilst these men by examining into the Laws of Motion and Mechanism, do perfect those Arts which are so necessary for the Well-being of Kingdoms, and the Employment of the People, they do more good to any Nation, than if they [Page 16] had sprang a Mine of Gold, or pointed out the Place of Silver where they find it. For as there is great Force in Nature, almost to any purpo­ses; so those that search into this great Depth, and vigorously endeavour to apply it to the Ʋses of Life, may be, and often are very in­strumental to the Good of Mankind, and a more than common Blessing to the Earth.

As for those that apply themselves to the speculative Parts of those Studies, I believe these also meet with a suitable Reward to all their Labours in the delightful Enlargement of their Minds, and more extended Capacity of Thought; which qualifies them the better to launch out into the deep Abyss of Truth, and to maintain a Commerce with the far distant Regions of the Intellectual World. Besides these Studies, which are esteemed by many as Dry and Barren, may be directly exceeding fruitful of good Thoughts in the Soul, whilst in the strange Harmony of Numbers, and the wonderful, but pleasing Proportion of Lines and Figures, it has a clear er View, and more affecting Prospect of his ado­rable Perfections who made all things in Number, Weight, and Measure.

[Page 17]But I am insensibly sliding into a large Field of Matter, when I have not Time to shew the great Ʋsefulness of all the particular Branches of Learning, tho' this would most effectually evince the great Charity of these Foundations which happily promote them; but this is less necessary in this place, where Mens Experi­ence speaks more feelingly upon this Matter than Words can.

Then as for Religion in such Charitable Foun­dations; How are Men brought up, not only under a continual Sense, but Exercise of it; and they must be Proof against very great Means of Grace that are not profited thereby. The pub­lick Duties of a Christian so often and solemnly per­formed, must naturally have a great, Force upon the Soul, and tend to make Religion Habitual by the constant Practice of it: Herein Men have strict Precepts, and frequent Opportu­nities of Practice, good Instructions, and good Examples set before them; the one represent­ing the Reasonableness, the other the Practica­bleness of true Goodness; and it can be no easie matter to rebel against so much Light, and to sti­fle all those good Motions which the happy Cir­cumstances [Page 18] of their Life do force upon them.

But Secondly, That Men may effectually Labour to these great Purposes, they here find an agreeable Encouragement attending upon their Labours; the Conveniences of Life which these Foundations afford, are a great Encourage­ment to make themselves meet to receive them. It is indeed a Reproach to our Natures, that we should stand in need of any additional En­couragement to be Wise and Good; Wisdom and Goodness being themselves a sufficient Reward, and strong Incentives to the Pursuit of them: but yet the general Backwardness of Man to these things, makes it necessary to add the force of other Motives; besides it is very fit for the Cre­dit and Reputation of Learning and Vertue in the World, that as happy Circumstances should at­tend them, as any other Employment: There­fore it is provided, that they who set them­selves to seek after Wisdom, should have their Reward; the Possession of those Advantages, (the hopes of which are a Spur to some) should be a greater Encouragement to others, and strong Motives to Diligence and Industry, which first qualifie them for, and then render them worthy of these Enjoyments▪

[Page 19]But further, the Countenance which is here given to Learning, by that Fellowship in Study, which is the Privilege of these publick Places of Education, may be thought no inconsiderable Encouragement. Company makes any kind of La­bour go down with Chearfulness, and abates much of the fatigue of any Work; this renders that Business a Pleasure, which would be esteemed a Burden and Toil were we alone. Companions in this, as in any other Travel, insen­sibly cheat us of the tediousness of our Journey, and make us less mindful of our Weariness, and more unwilling to complain of it; for there is some aversion in our Natures to being out-done by our Equals, or distanced by those who have only the same Advantages in common with our selves.

What need is there in the Third Place, par­ticularly to mention the great Obligations which these Places lay upon Men to excel in the Know­ledge and Practice of Vertue and Goodness: This has been in some measure hinted at already, for their Opportunities are Obligations; their En­couragements, Obligations, Time and Leisure, and the Priviledges they enjoy, the Ends and De­signs [Page 20] of their Benefactors, and the Necessities of their Country, are all of them Obligations, and loudly call for an Improvement of their Ta­lents. Chorazin and Bethsaida, Cities that had greater Opportunities, and Means of Instruction, according to our Saviour's Argument, have more to answer for, than Tyre and Sidon that wanted those Advantages which the others enjoyed

It is very natural (at least, it is very reasona­ble) for any one to consider why he is plac'd in such or such a station, that remembring the end, he may not do amiss, and whilst he does consi­der what the Design is for which those Privi­leges were given, how much the matter of his Calling requires Diligence and Application, and how great the Necessities which must be ser­ved by it: this Person if he was under no Law, would be a Law unto himself, and endeavour to improve that Time which is so pretious, not only upon the account of himself, but of others too.

Upon the Whole therefore, Since Lear­ning and Religion are so highly advantageous to the World, since the several Branches of them [Page 21] do aim at the reparation of those Mischiefs which were occasioned by the Fall, with re­ference either to our Bodies, or our Souls; and since the Advancement of Knowledge and Piety is much furthered by these publick Foundations, which afford great Opportunities, great Encou­ragements, and great Obligations to these Purpo­ses; this shews the abundant Excellency of that publick Charity, from which such publick Benefits do arise: and surely what is pregnant with such great and good Designs, and produces such blessed Effects, will not ordinarily fail of the Praise of Men, at least not of the Approbation and Praise of God. Which leads me to the next general Head of my Discourse, under which, I am to shew.

Secondly, The peculiar Honour, which such publick Works of Charity reflect upon him that doth them, His righteousness endureth for ever, his Horn shall be exalted with Honour. Every Man is more or less truly Honorable, as he is more or less like unto God, in whose Image he was made; true Worth claims Esteem, and any real Excellency [...]s a Patent for Honour. Now there is no Body that expresses fairer Features [Page 22] of the Divinity, than the Charitable Person I am speaking of, and consequently, no one can stand fairer for the good Opinion of Men, or is more sure to meet with Honour from the Foun­tain of it. Whilst men behold such stately E­difices as these, how naturally are they lead to consider the largeness of his Mind from whence they sprang, and whilst they consider the purposes for which they serve, admire the ex­tensive Goodness of his Design, who for those purposes ordained them; who like his Creator so happily laboured to rescue Man out of the Misery into which he was fallen, and had so great a Desire for, and Pleasure in the Prosperity of his Servants: Certainly, the best way to measure the Excellency of Charity, as well as of Faith, is by the Works of it; most Men will inwardly esteem his Vertues, of which they see such glorious Effects, and out of Justice to his Character, will endeavour to set forth all his Praise.

Lo! this is the Man which trusted not in the multitude of his Riches, but according to Solomon's Precept, honoured the Lord with his Substance, and with more than the First-fruits of his Increase. [Page 23] This is the Man who made to himself Friends of the Mammon of Ʋrighteousness; who when Riches increased, set not his heart upon them, but dispersed them abroad for the Service of Men, and the Glory of God; this is the Man who was Proof against all the Temptations which Riches bring along with them, was neither tempted by them to Luxury, nor Covetousness; neither to the Lusts of the Flesh, nor to the Lusts of the Eyes, nor the Pride of Life; but was a faith­ful Steward of these dangerous Gifts of God. Such inward Veneration must good Men have of so much Worth, and by such Approbations will they express what they inwardly admire. Even in this respect, his Righteousness endureth for ever upon the Hearts and Tongues of these Men, and will be as lasting as the Effects of it, even from Generation to Generation: To this purpose we read in holy Scripture, that the Memory of the Just is blessed; he cannot well be remembred without a kind of Gayety of Thought, and Blessing is upon the Head of him, through whom so many are truly Blessed: Whilst the Memory of the Wicked shall rot, that of the Just shall live for evermore; and as it is writ­ten [Page 24] Two or Three Verses above this of my Text, the Righteous shall be had in everlasting Re­membrance. But then, if in this respect, the Witness of Men is great, the Witness of Angels and of God himself is much greater: If the Ho­nour that cometh from Men is so very valuable, much more that which cometh from God, and from those which are round about him. How may we imagin, will that Heavenly Hierarchy who rejoyce at the Conversion of Sinners, pronounce an Euge upon him who has so much further'd their Conversion! How will they welcome him into the Regions of Glory, who has labou­red with them in the great Design of bringing many unto Righteousness, who has been their Fellow-helper in ministring to the Necessities of the Saints, and in forwarding their Progress to­ward the End of their Hopes who are Heirs of Salvation. How will they embrace such an one in the Arms of Love, and be never better plea­sed, than when they are summoned by their Maker to set a Crown of pure Gold upon his Head.

For whereas God hath expresly declared, that they that honour him, he will honour; how must the Administration of this Service, which is [Page 25] abundant by many Thanksgivings unto God, obtain from him a more than ordinary Recompence of Reward. Such glorious Works are a great Credit to Religion, and a most sensible Demonstration of its Power: Many are hence perswaded to a­dore and reverence God, whilst they observe what others do for his Name; whilst their Light so shines before Men, and they cannot but see their good Works, they are more easily led to glorifie their Father which is in Heaven; and consequently we may be assured, that such Righteous Men, shall not fail of the Righteous Man's Reward. They who are thus Instru­mental in turning many unto Righteousness, shall (according to that in the Prophet) shine as the Stars for ever and ever; and those who by their Means are converted unto the Lord, shall add new Stars to their Crown, and be a continual Ac­cession to their Glory: So that whereas most others can work out their Salvation only while they are here, and then the Night cometh on them when no Man can work: these great and glo­rious Benefactors to Man-kind, leave as it were an increasing Stock behind them, which is still improving by Posterity to their Advantage. [Page 26] In this Sense more especially their Righteousness endureth for ever, their Works of Charity shall follow them into the other World, to the migh­ty Increase of their Reward.

But this kind of Charity (as most other good Designs) hath a dark as well as bright side. This Vertue, and the Subjects and Effects of it, which are of so high a Price in the sight of good Men, of the glorious Angels, and of God the Judge of all, have yet some that cast sour Looks upon them, and can neither afford them a good Thought, Word, or Deed.

But I am in the Third and Last Place to ac­count for the Behaviour of these Men, and to enquire why, notwithstanding what has been said, these Places and the Persons who more immediately enjoy the Benefit of them, have been in all Ages, and still are the Objects of some Peoples Envy, Hatred, and Ill-will. Why the Wicked, when they see them are grieved. Some there are of that unhappy Temper, that they are never well at ease when others are so, and are truly miserable, because those about them are truly happy; they catch Infection from the Health of others, and from the sight of their [Page 27] Prosperity grow sick and pine away: and then it is no wonder if such Places as these, where there is such large Provision made for the Hap­piness of the World, be evil-spoken of, and evil intreated by such Men. This unchristian Tem­per, must necessarily grudge and fret it self at these things; whilst the eldest Son of Wick­edness which ruleth in the Children of Disobedience, observes how much these Foundations contri­bute to the over-throw of his Kingdom, it can­not be strange, if he set his Agents on work in all places, by all means to weaken their Force, and by raising Prejudices, Calumnies, and Jealou­sies against them, lessen their Power.

Some there are, who either over-looking their own Faults, more easily espy those of other Men, and discern a Mote in anothers, sooner than a beam in their own Eye: Or being uncapa­ble of making just allowances for the Corrupti­on of Human Nature, and Heat of Youth, and the Strength which many Temptations receive from it, do from the miscarriage of some few (most of which, perhaps brought the Infection along with them, or caught it else-where) un­reasonably condemn these Places for their De­fects, [Page 28] as the Unhealthiness of the Child, is ve­ry often without Cause thrown upon the Nurse. But such Societies ought not in rea­son to bear the blame, for the Ʋnfruitfulness of some of their Members, any more than Religion it self, for the Barrenness of some of the Profes­sors of it. Do Men judge of the soundness of a Tree from the decay of Two or Three of its Branches? ought not rather the flourishing Con­dition of the other Boughs to shadow lesser De­fects? and also be a sufficient Proof, that the Fault is not in the Stock, but in the particular Indisposition of some Parts which are unapt to receive Nourishment from it. Indeed consider­ing the great unsteadiness of Youth, and the Claim and Right to Liberty they at those Years pre­tend to, and the Dangers which arise from the first Exercise of it; considering how the Tem­ptations they then meet with, are suited to the very briskness of their Blood, and gaiety of their Complexion; it is an Honour to these Foundations, that so many are herein preserved from the Pol­lutions of the World; and that by instilling good Principles, and encouraging good Practices, they are able in so great a measure to ballance the [Page 29] Weight of Corruption and Sin. And if there should be those who so ill requite the Chari­ty and Care of others, as not sensibly to be bet­ter'd thereby, it may be a strong Argument of the wonderful Degeneracy of some Natures, but none at all of the Ʋselesness of those Foun­dations, which endeavour, tho' ineffectually, to restrain them.

Again, others there are, who considering how much the Advancement of Trade and Labour, and such like, is to the advantage of any Nation, having their Heads full of variety of Projects of this Nature, fondly magnifie one Way of Charity to the depression of another; and whilst their Thoughts are warm'd with these Things, they forthwith decry all Persons as useless to the Publick, which are not servicea­ble to it in their way.

There is in most Men a great Partiality to their own Fancies, so great, that they think they cannot do Justice to the things they admire, without doing Injustice to every thing else; and the Reputation of their Designs must be built upon the Ruin of all other. The Reason of this, I suppose may be that having a strong Af­fection [Page 30] toward the Off-spring of their Brain, as well as any other, and turning those things that please them often over in their Thoughts, they see the Length, and Breadth, and Depth, and Height of their Ʋsefulness, whilst other matters which have but a transitory Glance cast upon them, are not so well esteem'd, because not so well understood, and their Beauty for want of a Closer View does not affect them. Yet one would imagine that amongst a Civilized People, it might be a hard matter to find any, that should only value Men as they do their Beasts, meerly from the Strength of their Limbs.

Indeed it will easily be allowed, that where these Publick Foundations which are Nurseries of Learning and Religion, bear no Proportion or Regard to the Necessities of the People; that is, when they are too many in Number, or are as so many Priviledged Places for men to shelter themselves in from the Service of the World; then indeed, as our Neighbouring Countries can sadly testifie, they may become a Burthen to a Land, and a great Grievance instead of Advan­tage to the People. For according to S. Paul's [Page 31] Argument, If the whole Body were an Eye, where were the Hearing? In the Body Politick, as well as Natural, there are different Members; and it is not fit, that every Member should have the same Office, for then how is it possible that the different Necessities of it should be served? But in this Nation, the Number of these Reli­gious Houses can now be no just ground of Of­fence, much less their Disservice to the Publick, as was shewn above. As therefore the Eye can­not say to the Hand, I have no need of thee, so much less can the Hand say to the Eye, I have no need of you; and consequently, they that extol some Works of Charity, to the exclusion of others, plead for a Schism in the Body, which natu­rally tends to its Destruction.

But I fear, the chief Ground of Hatred lies still behind, I am verily perswaded, that no­thing makes these Places, or those that sow or reap the Benefit of them, so much spoken a­gainst by different Parties, as the Opposition their Errors and Superstitions from hence meet with on all Occasions: (It is the Wicked, which when they see them, are grieved, the Enemies of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Practice of Chri­stianity.) [Page 32] As Truth will have its Opposers, so those that defend its Cause, will have Adversa­ries enough, who will be sure to spare nothing which may blacken their Characters, that their Wisdom and Learning, may have less Efficacy up­on the Minds of the People: Whilst from such Places proceed Men who are ever ready to stand in the Gap against those who would either undermine our Faith, or break our Commu­nion; this will open the Mouths of the Gain­sayers, and make them in the Language of the Children of Edom in the Day of Jerusalem, cry, down with them, down with them, even to the Ground.

If the Thoughts of some Men were Visible, we should plainly see, that their Opposition to Ʋniversities, generally proceeds from the Op­position of these to their Errors, and they are on­ly out of Humor with these Constitutions, be­cause they will not favour their Principles. I know something of a more odious Aspect is often pretended, but this is but a Pretence, the other is generally at the bottom. Tis really their En­mity to our Church, that makes them Enemies to the Seminaries of it; and tho' they may [Page 33] urge other grounds to the People, yet they go upon these themselves: But this is so far from being their Reproach, that it is their Honour. For this puts the Ʋsefulness of these Foundations at present, upon the same Issue with the Ʋse­fulness of the Church of England, and I think a fairer need not be desired.

And thus I shall leave them both united in their common Interests, to the Protection of GOD, against all their Enemies round a­bout, that they may both become the Glo­ry and Praise of the Earth, whilst the Wicked shall see it and be grieved, he shall gnash with his Teeth, and melt away; the Desire of the Ʋngodly shall perish.


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