THE CHRISTIAN INDEED; Explained, in TWO SERMONS, OF HUMILITY AND CHARITY. Preached at NEW-HAVEN, June 28, 1767. And published at the Desire of Some that heard them.

By SAMUEL JOHNSON, D. D. Late President of King's-College, at New-York, now Missionary from the Society for propagating the Gospel, and Rector of CHRIST'S-CHURCH, at Stratford.

NEW-HAVEN; Printed by Thomas and Samuel Green. M,DCC,LXVIII.


A Premonition to the Two following Discourses.

AS Humility and Charity are con­nected together in their own Na­ture, as well as in Life and Practice; and as they are the Foundation of all other Virtues, and consequently of vast Extent and Influence in the Christian Life, in which they can never be asunder: It is therefore most convenient and ad­vantageous, that they should go Side by Side in the Two following plain Discourses.


A SERMON on the Nature and Exertions of Humility, and Motives thereunto.

Ist. Epistle of St. PETER, v. 5. —And be cloathed with Humility, for GOD resisteth the Proud, but giveth Grace to the Humble.’

ST. Peter having given a strict Charge to the Pres­byters of the Church, to be faithful in the Dis­charge of their great and important Function, exhorts the Younger to submit themselves to the Elder; and adds, yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be cloathed with Humility.—Implying that Humility is a Virtue of such large Extent and vast Importance, that it is not only a Duty incumbent upon the younger and lower Sort, with regard to those that are their Seni­ors and Superiors; but even upon every one with Regard to every one; and should so influence us in [Page 4] all our Deportment, that it should obviously appear in all our Language and Behaviour; so that, by a very apposite and expressive Metaphor, we may be said to be even cloathed with it; and he enforceth his Exhortation with this Reason, that God resisteth the Proud, but giveth Grace to the Humble.—Let us then from these Words consider the Nature and Operations of Humility, and the Reasons that should induce us to the practice of it.

As to the Nature of it, it consists as St. Paul accu­rately defines it, in not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think; but in thinking soberly, accord­ing to what we really are, and what God hath given us to be; according to the Measure of Faith; i. e. in Proportion to the Talent God has committed to our Trust; and this we should do, without Partiality and without Hypocrisy. So that it consists in thinking, af­fecting and acting with Regard to ourselves, and e­very Thing that concerns us, according to the Truth; and is therefore the Ground and Foundation of all other Virtues, and doth, in Effect, comprehend them all. For if we think seriously of ourselves, as being what we really are, we shall be deeply sensible, that we are of ourselves poor, blind, ignorant and un­thinking Creatures, and this will make us earnestly desirous of spiritual Knowledge, especially of what concerns our best Good and Happiness; and this will dispose us to study the Holy Scriptures, which are the Word of God, and give an eager and strong Attenti­on to the Divine Instructions, and embrace the Truth as it is in Jesus in the Love of it; and like new born Babes desire the sincere Milk of the Word, that we may [Page 5] grow thereby.—We shall moreover, be deeply sensible of our great Weakness, and extreme Impotence, and Inability to help ourselves, being exceeding irresolute and unstable, and easily and frequently borne down by Temptations, into sinful Compliances, and this will make us sensible how much we need the con­stant Presence and Assistance of God's Holy Spirit, and be frequently looking up to him, and crying earnestly to him for his Help upon all Occasions.

Furthermore, if we are truly humble, and think rightly of ourselves, as being what we really are, we shall have a mortifying Sense of the Plague of our own Hearts; the Prevalence of Pride and Passion; of our base Lusts and corrupt Affections; and this will make us watch as well as pray that we enter not into Temptation, that they may not have Dominion over us; and whereinsoever we have been misled by them, in­to any wicked Practices; as in many, many Things we offend all; we shall have a deep and sorrowful Sense of the vast Load of Guilt that we have contracted, which will make us walk in deep Abasement every Day, and we shall find no Rest to the Sole of our Foot, 'til we turn about and amend, and obtain some good Hopes of Pardon and Reconciliation with God, on whose Favour (if we have any Sense at all) we must be sensible that all our Happiness, and all our Hopes intirely depend.—But then, alas! if we duly consider, and rightly think of this Affair, what Hopes can we conceive of his Favour to such guilty, po­luted Wretches, merely from the Consideration of his Goodness and Mercy, while at the same Time, we are in the Hands of his Justice, and actually un­der [Page 6] the Sentence of Death for our past Rebellion, and there is nothing we can do for the future, how­ever so penitent and obedient we may propose to be, that can ever attone for what is past, or cancel the Debt we have contracted, or satisfy the divine Jus­tice, whose sacred Laws we have outrageously violat­ed, and whose most high Authority we have trampled under our Feet!

What unspeakable Comfort must it then be, under these abasing Convictions, to hear, that God hath laid Help upon One, who is mighty to save, and that his own blessed Son hath taken upon himself the Iniquities of us all, and made an Attonement for our crying Sins, by the Sacrifice of himself? And with how much Gratitude and Devotion will a truly humble and contrite Sense of our Sinfulness bring us to lie pros­trate at the Foot of Jesus Christ, looking for Pardon and Mercy only thro' his all-sufficient Merits and Mediation?

Thus will true Humility dispose us to give all the Glory to God's free Grace in Jesus Christ, who alone hath redeemed us out of the Hands of Justice, and put us into a Capacity of obtaining Mercy; a deep Sense of which must engage us with the most ardent Love and Gratitude to devote ourselves to be his faithful and obedient Disciples as long as we have a Being.

Moreover, if we rightly think of ourselves, and our Condition in this World, as being what it really is, we shall have, and constantly carry about us, a weigh­ty and humbling Sense of our Mortality and Misery; of the many Sicknesses and Infirmities, and the many [Page 7] Casualties, Losses, Croses, and Disappointments to which we are daily and hourly exposed—the great Uncertainty of our Lives and Health of our dearest Friends and Relatives, and all our Enjoyments, and the Certainty of our Death to which we are every Moment liable.

If we had a piercing Sense of these Things, it would be sufficient to take down all the Pride of our Hearts, all our Conceitedness and Self-sufficiency, and all our towering Thoughts of ourselves, and we should have little Heart to pride ourselves in fine Clothes, and gay Apparel, and running into every foolish extravagant Fashion, that this silly Age is con­tinually inventing, and we should literally be cloathed with Humility▪

How would a humble Sense of these Things wean us from this uncertain World, and these dying Bodies? How would it engage us to redeem the Time, and make the best of every Moment, since we know not what a Day may bring forth?—How would it engage us amidst so much Uncertainty to make sure of some Thing? And since we can be sure of Nothing on this Side the Grave, how would it put us upon se­curing that durable Riches and Righteousness which a­lone will stand us in Stead, when this vain Word, with all its empty Toys shall be at an End with us? We should then consider the Interests of our immor­tal Souls, which are truly Ourselves, and the Cause of Christ, which is Truth and Righteousness, to be of infinitely more Weight and Importance than any of the Gratifications of our bodily Appetites, or any of the little Interests or Concerns of this vain [Page 8] and transitory World, and this would make us meek and patient under all its Frowns.—Such would be the Operations and Effects of true Humility, with Regard to ourselves, if our Hearts were thoroughly seasoned with it.

Let us now go on and consider how this blessed Temper of Humility would operate with Regard to God. If we truly knew ourselves, and had moreover a just and piercing Sense of his infinite Excellency, and inconceivable Greatness, Majesty and Glory, and of our own Nothingness and Vileness; of his in­finite Purity and Holiness, and of our own Polution and Sinfulness, and at the same Time were deeply sen­sible of our intire Dependence upon him, so that we cannot subsist a Moment without him, and have no Sufficiency of ourselves, so much as to think any Thing as of ourselves, and of his infinite Fullness and All suffici­ency to all the Purposes of our Subsistance and Hap­piness. I say, if we rightly considered what God is, and what we are, and how we stand related to him, and dependent upon him, how would it lay us pros­trate before Him, and make us Nothing in our own Eyes, and content and rejoice to acknowledge Him to be all in all? How would it astonish us to think, that ever we should venture to contemn his most high Authority, and violate his most holy, his most righteous & reasonable Laws, and inspire us with true Contrition for our past Offences, and a most filial and dutiful Dis­position and Resolution to be in all Things intirely devoted, to be conformed and obedient to him for the future, as far as possible? How would it fill us with Love and Gratitude to Him as our great Benefactor, [Page 9] and our chief Good, and with Trust and Dependence upon Him as our only Stay and Support? How would it make us contented with all his Allotments, and acquiesce in all his Dispensations, and be all Submis­sion and Resignation to his holy and blessed Will, both in his Commands and Providences, as well as patient under his Chastisements? How careful should we be not to do any Thing displeasing to the pure Eyes of his Glory, or to harbour the least Stubborn­ness or Untowardness of Temper, or any Thing in­consistent with our Duty to Him; but willingly re­sign up every Imagination to be captivated to the O­bedience of the Gospel? we should then take Care above all Things not only, to do justly and love Mercy, but to walk humbly with our God, and in all our Ways to acknowledge him, and confide in Him to direct us in all our Steps, and live in the daily exercise of Prayer and Praise, with the lowest Prostration of Soul, which would properly express and exercise, as well as im­prove and cultivate this blessed Temper of Humility.

And lastly, let us consider how true Humility will operate with Regard to others, as well as to God and ourselves. And as to this, if we truly know our­selves, and do not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, we shall consider all Men, and especi­ally all Christians, as our Brethren, as Children of the same common Parent, however low and mean they may be in outward Circumstances; and this will dispose us to look on every One with a Brother's Tenderness and Benevolence. We shall be so far from Haughtiness and Superciliousness, or despising any One for the Poverty or Meanness of his Con­dition, that we shall rather pity and compassio­nate [Page 10] him, and treat him with the greater Tender­ness and Condescention, considering who it is that made us to differ, and what we have that we did not re­ceive, and do not hold from his distinguishing Bounty and Goodness, and that we have nothing to glory in, as though we received it not. And indeed there is nothing that betrays so much Ignorance both of God and ourselves, nothing that discovers so much Mean­ness, Baseness and Narrowness of Spirit, as Haughti­ness of Carriage towards those that are below us, and Contempt of the Ignorant and Needy, and of the Poor, the Friendless and Forlorn; as on the other Hand, true Humility is true Greatness of Spirit, there being nothing more God-like than a kind, condes­cending Tenderness and Fellow-feeling with our poor Neighbours in all their Difficulties and Distresses, joined with a Readiness to do all that we can for their Comfort and Relief. Hereby we also most resemble Christ, when like him, we tenderly compassionate the most abject Misery, and submit to the lowest Offices for the Sake of doing the greatest Good. Let us therefore take his Yoke upon us, and learn of him to be meek and lowly of Heart as he was; and let the same Mind be in us which was in Christ Jesus, who tho' he was in the Form of God, yet condescended to take up­on him the Form of a Servant, in order to recover a lost and undone World, and so far humbled himself as to become obedient to Death, even the Death of the Cross, that we might be rescued from eternal Death, and live forever.

And lastly, a truly humble Spirit is ever a peace­able and forgiving Spirit. Humility and Charity are truly Sister-Graces, closely connected in the strictest [Page 11] Harmony and Friendship; so that where the one is, you are sure to find the other. For, whence come Wars and Fightings, Quarrels and Contentions, but from our base Lusts and Passions; from Pride and Stubborness, and from an uncondescending Spirit? And did Men with true Humility and Contrition of Heart, consider their own Guilt and Pollution, and duly reflect on their own many, great and heinous Of­fences against God, and in how great Need they stand of his Forgiveness, how ready and glad would they be to forgive and be reconciled one to another. Thus you see how Humility operates, and how many Ways it exerts and discovers itself, and that it is indeed the Ground and Foundation of Charity, and of all other Graces and Virtues, which derive from them both.

And this alone would be Reason sufficient, if there was nothing else, to induce us to cultivate it, which was to be the last Head of my Discourse. For since all our Happiness, and all our Hopes, in Time & to all Eternity depend intirely, next to God, upon the uniform Prac­tice of every Grace and Virtue, it must especially de­pend on Humility as the Ground and Foundation of them all. But let us particularly consider the Mo­tive St. Peter suggests in my Text, that God resisteth the Proud, and giveth Grace to the Humble. The Proud, the Conceited and Self-sufficient, as being the most unreasonable and inconsiderate Set of Men, are God's peculiar Aversion; he beholdeth them afar off, as they do especially bear the Image of the Devil, whose Pride occasioned his Fall. And as Pride begun the Rebelli­on in Heaven, so it is Pride that hath carried it on upon Earth, ever since Man joined with the Devil in his Apostacy. For as Humility is the Root and enters [Page] into the Nature of every Virtue; so Pride is the Root, and its hellish Nature operates in every Vice, and indeed renders all that are tainted with it utterly unqualified for the Grace and Favour of God. Where­as the Humble are his Delight: For thus saith the High and Lofty One who inhabiteth Eternity, whose Name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy Place; with him also who is of a contrite and humble Spirit, to revive the Spirit of the Humble, and to revive the Heart of the contrite Ones. And to this Man will I look, saith he, even to him that is poor, or lowly in his own Eyes; to him that is poor and of a contrite Spirit and who trembleth at my Word. Such a blessed Thing is Humility that so di­rectly qualifieth us for the peculiar Favour and gra­cious Regards of Almighty God! and Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for their's is the Kingdom of Heaven.

And indeed such is the amiable Nature of Humili­ty that there is nothing like it to recommend us to the Favour and Esteem, and the good Will and Friendship of all Men, as well as of God himself. The Man that is cloathed with Humility, discovering it self in all his Words, Actions and Deportment, who can behold him and not love him and confide in him; Whereas the Proud, the Conceited and Vain, are ever contemptible, and despised and hated of all Man­kind; none can endure them, or be easy in their Company, but every One shuns and avoids them. Just in Proportion as they extol or make a vain Shew of themselves, they are despised and derided of others. And no Wonder, for they are considered (which in­deed they are) as poor deluded Wretches. What a contemptible Character is that of Laodicea? Thou sayest I am rich and increased in Goods, and stand in need of Nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; contempti­ble [Page] in the Sight of God, and even so in the Sight of Men; but God knoweth the Heart. So that if Men had no other View than their own Interest and Re­putation, they would abhor, and guard against Pride, and cultivate Humility; how much more if they had with all, any Concern to recommend themselves to the Favor of God?

And lastly, let us consider the different and contrary Fates of them, the one and the other. Solomon, tells us, Pride goeth before Destruction, and a haughty Spirit before a Fall. This is what is often observed in this World, that by how much the more any have indulged this hateful Spirit, and made a vain Show of themselves, by so much the nearer were they to some sad Catastrophe; some fatal Downfal, which proved so much the more disastrous and conspicuous, by how much the higher they had got upon the Pinacle of Pride: But if they never fell before, they will have a most dreadful Downfal indeed, when they go off the Stage; having been lifted up to Heaven, they shall be brought down to Hell. On the other Hand, the same wise Man observes, before Honour is Humility. Humi­lity is the surest Way we can take to advance our­selves, and our Advancement shall be the greater, by how much the more we abased ourselves; for a great­er and wiser than he hath assured us, That every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Let us therefore, my Bre­thren, be advised by St. Peter, every Day that we live, to humble ourselves under the mighty Hand of God, that he may exalt us in due Time: for in this Case, however depressed our Condition may be in this World, to the very last, we may depend upon it, that at length, from the lowest State on Earth, God will exalt us to the transcendant Glories of Heaven.

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A SERMON on the Nature, Im­portance, and Grounds of Charity.

The following Discourse was preached and printed at the Desire of the FREE-MASONS at Stratford, on St. John's Day, June 24, 1767. And introduced with these Words, after the Text,

My Friends and Brethren,

I Observe from your History and Constitutions, that you profess to be a Fraternity of Charity, as your great Aim. I cannot therefore do better than entertain you on that important Subject, which will teach you what it is to be Masons indeed; to build up that glorious and heaven­ly Building, the Christian Church, which is the Body of Christ, (of which Solomon's Temple was the Type) which Church of Christ, St. Paul tells us is built upon the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner Stone.

Ist. Epistle of St. PAUL to TIMOTHY, i. 5. Now the End of the Commandment is Charity, out of a pure Heart, and of a good Conscience, and of Faith un­feigned.

CHARITY is a Thing, in the full Extent of it, of that vast Importance, that it is necessary to con­sider it in every Light, and to give the strongest At­tention to it in every View. I shall now consider it, as the Aim and End of the Gospel, and with Regard [Page 15] to those Principles in the Heart from whence its ge­nuine Fruits and Emanations must flow.

The Apostle here tells Timothy that he had desired him to take up his Residence at Ephesus, i. e. as the Bishop of that Church (as all Antiquity witnesseth) it being a City of large Extent and great Importance, that he might build on the Foundation he had laid; & particularly that he might guard them against the In­sinuations of corrupt Teachers, and charge or denounce to them that they should not teach any other Doctrine, than the pure Doctrine of the Gospel, which he had taught them; that they should not turn aside to endless Ge­nealogies and Fables which were apt to create Dis­putes and Contentions, and so to occasion Divisions, and Separations, and so frustrate the very Intention of the Gospel, which was to promote universal Love and Charity; for, says he, the very End of the Gospel, and consequently of the Charge Timothy was to give them, was Charity out of a pure Heart and a good Conscience and Faith unfeigned.

The Commandment then which the Apostle here means is the whole gospel Dispensation, implying that entire System of Christian Doctrine, which St. Paul had preached during the two Years that he had resided there, and which Timothy was to charge them to adhere to, and the End of this he tells us is Charity, and this is the same as to say, that Charity is the Per­fection of Christianity, for a Thing is then perfected, when its End or Intention is answered. This there­fore teacheth us that Christianity without Charity is but an empty Name, and an unmeaning Thing. Hence it is, that he says in the 13th of the 1st to the Corin­thians, Tho' I have the Tongue of Men and Angels, and [Page 16] have not Charity, I am but as sounding Brass, and a tinkling Cymbal, and though I have all Faith so that I could remove Mountains, and have not Charity, I am Nothing. Nay, says he, tho' I give all my Goods to feed the Poor, and even my Body to be burnt, and have not Charity, it profiteth me nothing. It is therefore of the utmost Importance that we consider carefully what this Charity really is, that he lays so much Stress up­on; for it is plain from these Words, that it would be a miserable Thing indeed to be deceived about it.

Now it is plain from this Text, that the Apostle means something more than giving our Goods to feed the Poor; nay, something of greater Importance than preaching the Gospel ever so eloquently; nay, some­thing of greater Weight and Worth, than even dying in the Cause of it, by giving our Bodies to be burnt; and something that a Man may do all these Things, and yet be destitute of it. What then can it be? — I answer, it means an intire Habit of Benevolence, or good Will exerted, not in some few Instances only, however so splendid, but universally in all its Branches toward God and Man, and attended with all its blessed Fruits. It is not, now and then a few transient Acts, but it is a settled Habit or Frame of the Soul; a Soul that hath no other than an entire well-meaning, and is of such a disinterested and unbiased Love and Good-Will, that it honestly aims at the Truth and Right of the Case in every Thing that it thinks, speaks and does; a Soul that is intirely devoted, as far as human Frail­ty can go, to be governed by that Wisdom which is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of Mercy and good Fruits, without Partiality and without Hypocrisy: so St. James describe [...] [Page 17] it. It is not therefore so properly any particular Vir­tue, as an habitual Temper or Frame of the Soul, from whence as from a Fountain, every Virtue flows; or a steady fixed Principle from whence every Thing that is truly pious, virtuous and amiable in Life per­petually derives; Whatsoever Things are true; what­soever Things are honest, whatsoever Things are just, what­soever Things are pure, whatsoever Things are lovely, whatsoever Things are of good Report, if there be any Virtue, if there be any Praise; all these Things con­tinually flow from it, as their living and never failing Source. Hence St. Paul describes this most amiable Principle of Charity in the following most beautiful Manner; Charity suffereth long and is kind, says he. Charity envieth not; Charity vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own; is not easily provoked; thinketh no Evil; rejoic­eth not in Iniquity, but rejoiceth in the Truth: beareth all Things; believeth all Things; hopeth all Things; endureth all Things, and Charity never faileth. Such are the admirable and most delightful Properties of this divine Principle of Charity!

But alas! if this be Charity, where is she fled? where shall we seek to find her? Time was when she dwelt on Earth, when Christianity was in its greatest Vigour and Purity, and in its primitive Glory and Simplicity. But if we look on the present Condition of Things, one would be apt to think, she is long since fled to Heaven! She is hardly now to be found on Earth, unless in a few humble and holy Men of Heart. Certainly the very best of us are extremely deficient, and fall sadly short of coming up to this amiable Cha­racter, wherein the true Beauty, and Glory of Chris­tianity consists. Were we but animated with this di­vine [Page 18] Principle, as above described, we should abhor e­very Thing that is evil, and cleave to every Thing that is good: we should not only do justly, but love Mercy, and walk humbly with our God. — The least Thing that Chari­ty would put us upon, would be to do no Injury; to be intirely inoffensive in all our Behaviour; to a­void every Thing that might any Way disoblige one another, and much more whatsoever could be any Way hurtful to our Neighbours, whether in Soul, Body or Estate. I say these are the lowest Offices of Charity. So far from all that is wrong, that we should be very careful to say and do always what is right, just and honest, true and faithful. But still Charity in all this would have got but a little Way. It not only does justly, but moreover, it loves Mercy: it delights in every Thing that is tender and friendly, kind and obliging, compassionate and merciful; and is ready to every good Office, whereby we may ren­der ourselves either amiable or useful to our Brethren, especially such as are in Necessity or Distress, and in every Thing that promotes the public Peace and Weal, and the Glory of God. Such are the blessed Fruits of Charity; for it looks on every One with a Brother's Eye, as standing in a very near and tender Relation, as having all one heavenly Father, one bles­sed Redeemer, and one holy Sanctifier. Hence Cha­rity rises higher and embraceth the whole Family in Heaven and Earth, and from the Children it rises yet higher and higher, and loves and delights in the great Father and Lord of all Things, as our chief and sovereign Good, above every Thing in the World beside, whose Interest is one and the same with that of all his Creatures, saying, Whom is there in Heaven but Thee, and there is nothing on Earth that I desire in Comparison [Page 19] of Thee. Thus Charity riseth from Earth to Heaven, from the Creature to the Creator, and devotes itself intirely to Him, who is all in all! And when it hath engaged us to be thus devoted without Reserve to him, we at once fall prostrate before him, and make it the grand Care and Business of our Lives to walk humbly with our God, in a lowly Sense of our intire Dependence upon Him for all our Enjoyments, and all our Hopes; which will engage us to do all our Duties both towards God and Man, from a Sense of Duty to Him, and a solicitous Concern to serve and please him in all that we do.

Thus you see the vast Extent and Influence of this noble Principle of Charity, which St. Paul tells us in my Text, is the End of the Commandment; the End of the whole System of Christianity, for Love, he says, is the fulfilling of the Law; this Law of Grace. For this End, that we may be thus devoted to the Love of God and Man; this divine Religion teach­eth us, both our single and joint entire Dependence upon him our common heavenly Parent, and our Accountableness to him for all our Behaviour, who searcheth the Hearts, and trieth the Reins of the Children of Men. For this End it teacheth us a most wonder­ful and mysterious Scene of Love in the Condescen­sion of the blessed Jesus, to die a bitter Death that we might live forever; to be made Sin for us, who knew no Sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in him: and when he was rich, to become poor, that we thro' his Poverty might be made rich. And for this End it requireth us to rely on the heavenly Assistance of the holy Spirit; the Spirit of Love and Peace, (whose Aid it promiseth to our sincere Prayers and Endeavours) to inspire us with this divine Principle, that we may [Page 20] be followers of God as dear Children, and walk in Love, as Christ also hath loved us and given himself for us; and forgive one another as God for Christ's Sake forgiv­eth us. For this End are we by our Baptism admitted into the Family of God, which is the Family of Love, and made his Children by Adoption and Grace, and thereby obliged to consider all Christians as our Bre­thern and Sisters, and to treat them accordingly, to be pitiful and courteous, kind and obliging in all our Deportment one towards another; to avoid all harsh Constructions, and to put the kindest Constructions we can upon what every One says and does. And for this End are we required once every Week to join together in the same public Worship, in paying our common Homage and Adoration as Children to our one common heavenly Father, lifting up holy Hands, without Wrath & doubting, and to delight in his Worship & Service: and as often as may be, to partake together at his holy Table, the common heavenly Banquet; the holy Feast of Love, where we have set before us a lively Representation of the most astonishing Instance of Love that ever the Sun beheld, in the Death of Christ, who spilt his precious Blood alike for us all; than which surely nothing can be imagined more ef­fectual to unite us to God, and to knit our Hearts together in the holy Bands of universal Love and Cha­rity. Thus you see how every Thing in Christianity drives at this single Point! So that it abundantly ap­pears, that the End of the Commandment is indeed Cha­rity; and that, out of a pure Heart, and a good Consci­ence and Faith unfeigned.

It is Charity out of a pure Heart. From whence it is plain, that Charity must be seated and rooted in the Heart, for it is out of the Abundance of the Heart that [Page 21] the Mouth speaketh, and the Hands act. The Heart is the Fountain, by which is meant, according to the Nature of Scripture Language, a Principle of Since­rity and Integrity, or an entire well-meaning, that aims at nothing but Truth and Right, and abhors all Disguise and double Dealing, and disdains all Deceit and Hypocrisy. My Son, give me thy Heart, is the Command of God to every One of us; for as a Man thinketh in his Heart, so is he: i. e. he is good or bad according to the real Intention and Disposition of his Heart. Charity therefore is not to be estimated by ever so devout an Appearance, or so courteous a Car­riage or fair Professions; it consisteth not in Word and in Tongue only, but in Deed and in Truth: It must proceed out of a pure Heart, if it would be genuine; i. e. a Heart that is pure and free from any corrupt Mixture of Insincerity or Ill-will. But this Phrase, a pure Heart, does also imply a Heart free from all im­pure, unchaste or debauched Tempers or base Lusts. True Charity is a holy Principle that abhors all Fil­thiness and superfluity of Naughtiness. So that if we love our Neighbour ever so heartily, yet if at the same Time we aim at gratifying any base Lust, or suffer any sinful Disposition or Design to harbour in our Breast, this will utterly destroy it, as being inconsist­ent with the very Nature of it. Would we then be possessed of this holy Principle, we must cleanse our selves from all Filthiness both of Flesh and Spirit, per­fecting Holiness in the Fear of God, and beg of God to create in us clean Hearts and renew in us right Spirits, that out of the Abundance of the Heart, devoted to God, and all that is good, our Months may speak, and our Hands act upon all Occasions such Things as are good, and well pleasing in the Sight both of God and Man.

[Page 22]For then would Charity also proceed from a good Conscience; i. e. a Conscience that is well instructed in the Knowledge of our Duty upon all Occasions, and in all its Branches, and has a serious and conscientious Concern to do it. This is the Account St. Paul gives of his own Conduct, which speaks him to be so­licitous above all Things, as we should all be, to think and do always such Things as be rightful. And herein, says he, do I exercise myself to have always a Conscience void of Offence, both towards God and towards Men. And this is our Rejoicing, says he again, the Testimony of our Consci­ences, that in Simplicity, and godly Sincerity, not by fleshly Wisdom, but by the Grace of God, we have our Conversa­tion in the World: than which Words, none can be de­vised more apposite to express what he here means by such a good Conscience as must be the Foundation on which true Charity is built, and the Root from which alone it can spring. Vain therefore are all the Preten­ces to Charity, unless we live in all good Conscience in the whole of our Conduct, unless we study sincerely to know it in all its Branches and Exertions, and the Rules by which it must be regulated; and unless we honestly and diligently endeavour to frame the Temper of our Hearts, and the Conduct of our whole Lives, as exactly conformable to them, as ever we can.

For lastly this true Charity whereof the Apostle speaks, must also spring from a Principle of Faith un­feigned, which is nearly connected with a pure Heart, and a good Conscience; for it is Faith which purifies the Heart and works by Love; the Principles of which, are of so pure and heavenly a Nature, as to be utterly in­consistent with all Impurity and Insincerity; and there­fore if they be unfeignedly believed and embraced, they will not fail to banish every filthy, polluted and [Page 23] ill-designing Imagination out of the Heart, and then the pure Love both of God and Man will of Course take Place. Moreover, these divine Principles of our most holy Faith are the Foundations of all those Rules of Action with which a good Conscience is informed, and the great Motives by which it is governed, in all the Exertions of Charity; so that where our Faith or Belief of the Principles of Christianity is unfeigned, it cannot fail but true Charity will assuredly obtain; every Principle of Christian Belief, implying in it a Rule or a Motive to Charity. Let us then unfeignedly and without any Doubt or Hesitation, and from the very Bottom of our Hearts, believe every Doctrine or Instruction which our blessed Lord hath taught us; for it will ever be found that our Charity will rise or sub­side, improve or abate, in exact Proportion to the Sin­cerity of our Faith. But let it be also remember'd, that Faith many Times signifies an unfeigned Persuasion, concerning the Lawfulness and Goodness of our Acti­ons, as well as the Truth of our Principles. This there­fore must make us always wary and considerate, and careful that we be never warped or biassed by any Pre­judice or Partiality. And lastly, as true saving Faith does always imply in it a practical Faithfulness to God and Christ, and to one another, in all our Deportment, it must therefore ever be our Resolution in all the Ex­ertions of Charity to act the truly faithful, honest, and upright Part, that so neither our Faith nor Charity may ever be reproved.

Thus I have explained to you the amiable Nature and genuine Principles of true Christian Charity, and shewn you how this is the End of the Commandment, & the Perfection of Christianity. Let it therefore be the great Concern of our Lives to prove ourselves Chris­tians [Page 24] indeed, by abounding in all the Fruits of Charity, out of a pure Heart a good Conscience and Faith unfeigned; for this is the blessed Disposition that will in the Na­ture of it directly qualify us for Heaven, and make us meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, where nothing but Truth and Charity will for ever prevail. For now abideth Faith, Hope, and Charity, these Three, but the greatest of these is Charity; because Charity never faileth, but will still remain beyond the Grave, our Duty and Delight, our Perfection and Hap­piness as long as Eternity itself shall endure! In Or­der to which, let us continually mortify and guard ourselves against all those base Lusts and untoward Tem­pers which are so contrary to Charity, that this divine Principle may ever reign and prevail in our Hearts & govern our Lives. And to our Endeavours, let us add our daily and earnest Prayers (in the Words of our ex­cellent Church) to that God who hath taught us that all our Doings without Charity are nothing worth, that he would send his Holy Ghost, and pour into our Hearts this most excellent Gift of Charity, the very Bond of Peace and of all Virtues, without which, whosoever liveth is counted dead before him; that being dead unto Sin, we may be alive unto God, thro' Jesus Christ our Lord; and so be quali­fied for that blessed World before us, where God and Truth and Charity shall forever reign: Which God our heavenly Father, of his infinite Mercy grant, thro' his free Grace and the Merits and Intercession of his blessed Son Jesus Christ, and by the gracious and re­newing Influences of his holy Spirit. To which one eternal God, in Three Persons, be ascribed, as is most due, all Honor and Glory, Dominion and Power, World without End. AMEN.

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