THE TRUE CHARACTER tending to LOVE. OR, A short Treatise wherein is shewed how Christians ought to love their Christian Brethren, in their affections, words and deeds.

By a lover of charity, B. N.

Very usefull and necessary for Christians that are willing to live in love, unity, and peace in these distracted times, wherein so many divisions abound.

Viewed and approved by divers worthy men of the City of LONDON.

HEB. 13. 1.

Let brotherly love continue.

Printed for R. Wodenothe, at the Star under Peters Church in Cornhill, 1647.

THE TRUE CHARACTER tending to LOVE.

COnsidering with my selfe of the benefit of love, together with the difficulty of it, which hath almost worne it out of use amongst Christi­ans, I thought fit to afford some help to lead carefull Christians up this mount of love. Love is a communicated goodnesse, without which man is no better then a beast, praying for himselfe alone, also it is a commandement which the Lords own finger hath written, therefore in obedience to him we must love our neighbour in these five particulars.

  • 1 We must love them in their persons.
  • 2 In their Bodies.
  • 3 In their souls.
  • 4 In their goods.
  • 5 In their good names, and in every thing that belongs un­to them.

1 In their persons, these 3 wayes.

  • 1 In our affections.
  • 2 In our words.
  • 3 In our deeds, even as in 1 John 3. 18. where he teaches [Page 2] us not only to love in word and in tongue, but in deed and in trueth.

1 In our affections we must expresse our love in ordering them after such a sort that we cannot rashly be angry with them, but moderately reprove them, in which consider these three things.

1 That the cause be just, and earnest, even as Saint Matthew holds it forth in Mat 5. 22.

2 That our anger be not furious, breaking forth in immoderate heat, into cursing, banning, reviling and the like, for Paul the Apostle advises us to this, that we should put away with all ma­lice, all bitternesse, wrath, and anger, &c. in Ephes. 4. 31.

3 That it hold not long, for both should seek reconciliation, as that example of the father that ran to meet the sonne, and the sonne ran to meet his father; so that this doth plainly re­prove those that when they are once fallen out, will never be re­conciled again, or straine courtesie, who shall begin, and this doth bewray their want of love, Ephes. 4. 16. Now true love suffereth long, it will put up many injuries, and passe by many wrongs, for what saith Solomon, Cant: 8. 7. Many waters cannot quench love, &c.

2 There is a secondarie point of inward love that is not to envie any others good: It should not be a grief to us, to see o­thers wiser, wealthier, or better thought of then our selves: we should be as glad of their welfare; as of our own, and rejoyce as much to heare them praysed, as we would doe if our selves were commended, even as Paul advises us, in Rom: 12. 15. Rejoyce with them that rejoyce, &c.

3 We must not in no wise take that in evill part, that may be well meant, we must not be to jealous, and too suspitious, of our bretheren, upon every conceit, thinking hardly of them, for what saith Saint Matthew, Judg not lest ye be judged.

4 We must not disdaine them nor set up our selves against them, for though in some one gift they come behind us yet hap­pily in some other they come before us, and though they doe not, yet happily they have not had such helps, means, so many [Page 3] sweet motions, to bring them on as we have had, Phil: 2. 3. Where Saint Paul exhorteth us all, to let nothing be done through strife or vaineglory, but in lowlines of mind, let each esteeme other better then himselfe, &c. Thus let our affections be toward our neighbours, and let us shew our love to them in our words.

1 Not speaking bitterly, scoffingly, nor crossely to them if we wronged, yet we must deale coldly, gently, and mildly with them, for Saint James saith, speak not evill one of another, &c. James 4. 11. Also in Gen: 21. 9, 10. Also Solomon saith, that a soft answer turneth away wrath, and therefore let us be advised in no wise to speake evill one of an other.

But yet in Gods cause we may be some what sharpe in our speech rather then in our own but in neither unles we see gentle means will not work, even as Physicians use strong medicines when they see that the weaker will not helpe.

2 We must not speake evill of them behind their backs, but by love conceale those infirmities that are in them, unlesse Gods glory or their good require the opening of their faults, for Saint Peter exhorteth us above all things to have fervent charity a­mong our selves, the reason is, because, saith he, Charity shall co­ver a multitude of sins, 1 Peter 4. 8. Also Saint Paul saith, that the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without man, but we are all one in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor: 11. 11.

3 We must not brawle, and wrangle contentiously about questions that arise amongst us, even as Saint Peter exhorteth us, in 1 Peter 3. 15, 16.

We must shew our love to our neighbours in our deeds, in not withdrawing our selves from them in their needs, but to our power and ability, seeke to make their lives sweet and comfor­table to them, we must not be altogether our own men, shut up within our own profit and pleasures, and wholy taken up of them: but by love we must goe out of our selves to the good and profit of our brethren, for the Lord hath commanded by Moses, that we should open our hands wide unto our brethren, [Page 4] and to the poore and needy of the land, in Dent. 15. from 7. to 13.

From whence we may learne that they who are so far off from helping their needy brethren, that they make even a spoyle, and prey of them, most unchirstianly increasing their miseries, and by usury and hard bargaines, putting of them fur­ther into debt and danger; they have no drop of humanity much lest any sound ground of Christianity in them, for thus to doe is absolutely forbidden in Levit. 25. 36. where it is writ­ten expresly that we should take no usury, nor increase of our poor brethren, but that we should feare God, that our brother may live with us, &c.

Furthermore, we must doe no violence to their person, wee must neither smite nor hurt them in life nor limb, as appeareth, Levit. 24. 19, 20. where it is sayd, that if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour, for as he hath done, so shall it be done to him again, &c.

Objection. But here some may say, this love is of none ef­fect now.

Answer Is that though the ceremony of the Law be now abrogated, yet the equity of it stands still in strength. So again, we must declare our love to their persons, by not procuring any hurt to their persons by any means, so tenderly the Lord would have us regard our brethren, that we should not be any occasion whereby hurt or dammage may grow unto them, for thus did David, 1 Chron. 11. 19. from whence we may observe thus much, that them that delay suits in Law, or blow tales into [...]uens heads, and so give occasion of bloud, or them that rashly venture mens lives for their profit or pleasure, are highly guilty of the want of love.

Thus far of our love to their bodies, declared in our affecti­ons, words and deeds, but yet we must not thinke our selves dis­charged towards our brethrens persons, when we have perfor­med this, for the chiefest thing is yet behinde, which is, love to their souls, which is the very life of Christian love, even as [Page 5] Saint Paul expresses his desire for Israel, through the love he did bear to their souls, was, that they might be saved, Rom. 10. 1.

1 We must expresse our love to their souls, in our mourning and sorrowing for their sins, even as Christ wept over Jerusa­lem, so must we weepe over the souls of our brethren, even as the Prophet Jeremiah sayth, with a heavie heart to the people, If you will not beare it, my soule shall weep in secret places, &c. Jer. 13. 17.

2 We must expresse our love to our brethren, in praying for them that the Lord would forgive them, and fill their hearts with the riches of his grace, even as Saint James advises us to pray one for another, Jam. 5. 16. But now, it may be doubted, whether one mans prayer can get pardon for another mans sin, truly it may, as plainly appears, 1 John 5. 16. where it is sayd, If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, hee shall aske, and he shall give them life, for them that sin not unto death, &c.

From whence we may cleerly observe, that they that see o­ther men drowned in sin, and yet are not oft upon their knees, to intreat the Lord heartily and earnestly for them, as highly guilty of the neglect of this duty of love towards them: But yet not withstanding we shall not obtein a blessing without the saith of him whom we pray for, for it is impossible to please God without faith, Heb. 11. 6.

3 We must expresse our love to them in labouring to draw them to Christ, even as one candle lights another, so one man must bring another to God, as Peter being converted must con­vert his brethren, so we being turned, must turn others to the faith, even as Zach. 8. 21. Where it is written, that the inhabi­tants of one City shall goe to another and say, come, let us goe spee­dily and pray before the Lord, and seeke the Lord of Hosts, &c.

4 We must expresse our love to the souls of our bretheren in incouraging them, and lead them forward in the wayes of God: [Page 6] even as a man plyes a lampe with oyle: so we must nourish and feed good things in them, that they goe not out, as in Heb. 10. 24, 25. Where he saith, let us consider to provoke unto love and to good workes not forsaking our course, &c. As some doe but exhorting one another, &c. This is further declared by a simili­tude, for as in a great family, where are many children the elder help to carry and tend the younger, so in the family and house­hold of God, the ancienter and elder Christians must help sup­port, and bring forward those that are the weaker, and come lately to the saith, as Acts 18. 27. where it is said, that hee helped them much which had beleeved through grace.

5 And lastly, we must expresse our love to their soules in ad­monishing them of their faults, for he that rebuketh not his bro­ther of his sinnes hateth him in his heart, and therefore the Lord hath commanded, saying, thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, but he saith withall, thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him, and truely this not rebuking appeares to be a deadly hatred, because we know the Lord will punish his sins and bring it to light: and there­fore if we dissemble and admonish him not to leave it, what doe we else but desire the Lord to blaze him, and to shame him for it.

Object. But yet here one may object and say, O but men will be angry with us if we tell them their faults.

Ans. God will be angry if wee tell them not, and therefore, I say it is better to lose mens favour then Gods favour, and to have our neighbours displeasure then Gods displeasure: and yet often times that fals out, that Solomon speaks of, Prov. 23. 23. When he saith, that he that rebuketh a man, afterwards shall find more favour then he that slatereth with the tongus.

These three things are to be regarded in reproving.

1. That we doe it mildly and lovingly, that we set not too eagerly and too hardly on them, for Saint Paul moveth us to deale mildly with a brother that hath slipped, in Gal. 6. 1. Where he saith, Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye [Page 7] that are spirituall, restore such a one in the spirit of meeknesse &c.

2 That we doe it mildly and with power, not only making them see their sin, but even all the shame of it, to bring them to a further hatred and lothing of it, as the Prophet Micah de­clareth, that he was full of power by the spirit of the Lord to shew unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel it is sinne, Micah. 3. 8.

3 That we doe it discreetly, not casting of precious seed upon every ground, but having some hope of the party, that it shall doe good, for what saith Solomon, reprove not ascorner least he hate thee, but rebuke a wiseman and he will love thee, Prov. 9. 8. as also, in Mat. 7. 6. where Christ for bids to cast holy things before dogs.

But again, every profane man is not to be given over in his sin, for we must have great care that we judge not men past physick till their disease be very desperate the [...], for though a man have been a scorner before, yet we known nor whether now he may leave it, and though he have been very impatient of re­proofe at other mens hands, yet wek [...] [...] not how he may take it at ours, and therefore as long as there is any sparke of hope, we must not cease mildly to admonish them of their faults, as in that parable of the Vineyard that we let out to unthankfull husbandmen, in Mar. 12, 3, 4, 5, 6. And thus [...] of our leve to their persons, the second point, is to [...] in their goods, for love not only regards the person of our neighbour, but also dealeth tenderly and lovingly with all those things that belong unto them, so that if any thing of his [...] all not finde honest and trusty dealing at our hands, there shall be just cause to arrest and indict us of the want of love, for the Lord requires that our love should be without dissimulation, Rom. 12. 9.

We must shew our love to neighbours in doing these three things.

  • 1 In preserving them as much as we ran.
  • 2 In keeping nothing from them that is their due.
  • [Page 8]3 In not taking anything from them by force or fraud.

From the first of these we may learn, that their errour is great, who when they see their neighbours house, or cattell, or corne indangered, will not lend their helping hand to preserve them safe, if our neighbours house be on fire, every one should run with his bucket to quench it, so if our neighbour be oppressed in law, every man must help to defend his right, if by sicknesse he be cast behind, we must further him and help him the best we can, as Exod. 23. 4. 5. where the Lord commands us that if we should see our enemies Oxe or his Alse going astray, wee should surely bring it back to him again, &c.

1 They offend in this duty of love, who suffer their cattell through negligence to breake into other mens grounds, and when they have trespassed him, are not willing and ready to recompence for their hurts, even as the Lord hath ordered it by Moses to be, Exod 22. 5.

2 They who hurt or lug their neighbours cattell excessively, for what conscience is this? or equity is this? that a man for halfe a penny worth of grasse, should doe his neighbours beast a shillings worth of charme, also in Exod. 22. 5. 6.

3 They that turn their own dangers upon their neighbours necks, as they that turn the overshot of their water upon their neighbours lands, or by any means draw him into perill that themselves may scape, for what sayth Saint Duke, Luke 6. 31. As you would that [...] should doe unto you, doe you also to them.

4 They that can give evidence in a matter, and yet by their silence suffer their neighbour to be defeated of his sight, for it is written, that he sinneth that concealeth his knowledge, as it appears, Levit. 5. 1.

5 They that will run to Law for every injury and for every wrong, for though a man have done us sorne harme, yet that is no reason that we should waste them in the Law, and so turn him out of all that he hath, but we must seeke as neere as may be, that his punishment may be answerable and equall to his [Page 9] offence, for Saint Paul sayth, There is a fault amongst you, be­cause you goe to law one with another? sayth he, why doe not you rather take wrong? 1 Cor 6. 6. 7.

3 The second whereby we must shew love to our neigh­bours goods, is that we withhold or keepe back any thing that is his, but rest are with conscience and care, whatsoever in any right or equity belongs unto them; for Solomon exhorts us in no wise to withhold any good from them to whom it is due, &c. Prov. 3. 27. Yet truly there are many that fail in this which is in these foure particulars.

1 They that keepe back the labourers hire, not only they that defeat him of his wages, but even they also that keepe it in their hands when it should doe them good, for Moses sayth, at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sin go down upon it, for he is poore and setteth his heart upon it, &c. Deut. 24. 15.

2 They that are not carefull to discharge their own debts, for David shewing the different estate of the godly and the wicked, in Psal. 37. speaks to this purpose in ver. 21. where he sayth that the wicked borroweth and payeth not again, so that we see that it a wickednesse, to burrow and not to restore again.

3 They that finde any thing that was lost, and are not care­full to restore so the best way, as I conceive, to bring us to restore what we have found that its not ours, is to thinke that the Lord hath done thus but only is try our honestly, which we will possesse with an evill conscient one penny worth of our neighbours goods or two.

4. They that have hired; or borrowed, or taken any thing to keepe, and are not carefull, as much as lies in them to restore it as good as it came, even as Moses sayth, If a man borrow ought of his neighbour; and the hurt or die, the owner not being with it, he shall surely make it good, Exod. 22. 14.

3 The third thing whereby we must shew love to our neigh­bours goods, is not to get away any thing by force or fraud that [Page 8] [...] [Page 9] [...] [Page 10] is his: we must suffer him to rest in a peaceable possession of those things which the Lord in mercie for the comfort of his life hath cast upon him, for the Apostle Paul exhorteth all to live holily and trustily, forbidding us to defraud our brethren, 1 Thes. 4. 6. from whence we may learn in bargaining always to give a penny worth for a penny, for covetousnesse and gree­dinesse of gain must not rate our commodity, but we must look as neer as may be, that the goodnesse of the commodity wee sell, even in truth and good conscience, be equall to that money the buyer payes for it, as Moses fayth, L [...]it. 25. [...]. &c. where it is written whether ye buy or sell yee shall not opp [...]sse ou [...] [...].

1. Now this condemneth all uttering of deceitfull and [...] ­ty wa [...]. Amos 8. 6. 7.

2 It condemneth those that over sell their [...] and labour to raise the price as high as they can in that, [...].

3 It condemneth those, that use false measures and fasse weights, or cunningly make [...] come sh [...]t of his due, Deut. 25. 15. 16.

4 It condemneth those that [...] i [...] the [...] upon a [...] that must [...] his [...] for [...] get them [...]or [...] brethren in bargaining i [...] this [...], we are also charged with this [...]. That we take [...] of [...] [...]g [...]bour for all [...]sury [...] themselves [...] the print of the u [...] [...]eeth to [...]heir [...]. Where the [...] saith, that we sould not [...] for use, &c.

Quest. Some may ask what usury is?

Ans. It is a certaine gaine exacted by [...] the principall, only in recompence of lending of it, and it is [...] condemned by the Lord, De [...]. 23. 19.

Object. Againe, some may say, doth [...] he [...] law allow of it for eight in the hundred.

Ans. No the Prin [...] Law res [...]aineth, and he would have you le [...] to your bret [...] freely, but [...] your [...]eart [...] are [Page 11] hardned he doth allow eight in the hundred, lest you should take twenty in the hundred.

Object. Againe some may thinke that it is lawfull because it is not forbiden in the new Testament.

Ans. first because it is condemned sufficiently in the old, and the morall Law standeth in strength, and is never repealed, and Christ came to fulfill the Law, not to destroy it, in Mat. 5. 17.

Lastly, we are charged with this duty that we neither filch nor pilfer the lest pinne or point from our neighbour, for it is not the value but the honest manner of comming by a thing that maketh it theft, Ephes. 4. 28. Let him that hath stolne steal no more, &c.

Now (in a word) the root and ground of all hard dealing with our bretheren if covetousnesse and greedy desire of gaine, for why doe men racke the price of then wares? Why doe they sca [...]t their measures? Why doe they sell they care not what? Why are they u [...]ets, oppressours, [...] and the like, but because their hearts run after cover [...], and they are mightily overtaken with greedinesse [...] game; and this the Apostle Paul [...], is the root of all evill 1 Tim. 6. 10.

And there are two causes of this covetousnesse.

1 Di [...] [...] with our present state, not rusting in it at in our portion with great thankfulnesse to God for it. For when we are once fallen into love with a better state and grow discontented with the present blessi [...]s of God that are upon: then we fall to scraping, and sett [...]ing in we care not how, even as Saint Paul saith, they that will be rich fall into many temptations, and snares, and many foolish and hurtfull lusts, [...] Tim 6. 9.

2 Infidelity and distrust in God, mistrusting the Lords care, that he will leave [...] in the [...], and not provide sufficiently for us; we thinke [...] make shift for our se [...]ves, and to be furnished for a rainy day, though the Lord should leave us, but Paul [...] the [...], that is, that our conversation should [Page 12] be without covetousnesse, and (he saith) be content with such things as ye have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee, in Heb. 13. 5.

Also there are two remedies.

1 To rest contented with our present estate, as in the por­tion which the Lord in wisdome knows to be fittest for us, even as Paul Phil. 4. 11. He had learnt to be content in any state or condition.

2 To be strongly perswaded that the Lord will not leave us not forsake us in our need, but graciously will supply us with the riches of his power, whatsoever is wanting in us, even as Saint Peter exhorteth us, for to cast all our care upon God, for he careth for us, 1 Pet. 5. 7.

3 The last thing that wee must shew our love in to our neighbour is to take care for their credit and estimation, that we bring not any blot or blemish upon them, but by love mayn­tain and uphold their good report, even as Paul directeth us to speak evill of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meeknesse to all men, Titus 3. 2.

1 The first duty wee are charged with herein, is that wee when occasion serves, should be willing to make report of those graces and good things that be in them, and to bestow their just and deserved commendations on them: wee must not be given to smother and conceal our brethrens prayse, to bury and rake up their commendations in the dust, but be forward in remembring those things, whereby credit and estimation may grow unto them, even [...] in his third Epistle 12, where hee commends Demetrius, &c.

2 The second duty we are charged with is that, when wee heare them falsly charged with any crime, wee must stand out in their defence, being content to hazard and adventure some part of our own credit and welfare for them, even as Jonathan answered Saul in defence of David, 1 Sam 20. 32.

3 We must not raise any slander or flying tale against them, it is a soul sin to gad up and down from house to house whis­pering [Page 13] in this bodies eare and that bodies eare, this tale and that tale to the discredit of our brethren, Levit. 19. 17.

4 We must not open our eares to give entertainment to them that carry tales, for the law of God not only condemneth those that set them on foot, but even those also, that by reproving them, and lending an eare unto them, do as it were underprop and uphold the same. And therefore it shall be no excuse to say, that wee were not the authors and first brochers of them: but if we be hasty to to flying tales, or giving countenance to every busie body that will fill our eares; there shall be just cause to condemne us in this behalfe: for whatsayth Moses, Thou shalt not raise a false report, put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witnesse, Exod. 23. 1. Also as Solo­men sayth, even as the Northwind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance, a backby [...]ing tongue, Prov. 25. 23.

5 We must not blaze abroad the infirmities and offences of our brethren, if by any private dealing they may be reformed, Prov. 11. 13. A tale-bearer revealeth secrets, but he that is of a faithfull spirit concealeth the matter.

6 We must not amplifie and aggrivate mens faults, though they be bad, yet we must not make them worse than they be: for this shall make even our enemies [...]y wee love them, when they see we do not rack and tenter the saints, but speak so ten­derly and so sparingly of them, as pos [...]ibly we can, Acts 16. 22.

Now (good Reader) if thou approvest of this advertisement in thy judgment, I pray thee giveth diligence to bring it by degrees but unto a daily practice (for thou shalt have [...]ed of it daily) and by good experience, thou shalt in the end finde, I hope that the gain will countervail the pain.

FINIS.

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