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they are not strain'd, even with the Sufpicion of Embezlement, or Misapplicati
Let it be frequently and seriously revolved in our minds, That when our Lord fhall appear the Second time, coming in the clouds of heaven, and Summon every one of his Servants, to bring in the accounts of his Stewardship; we shall not only be charged with the utmost of our Abilities to do Good Works, but with all Opportunities of doing them. And Bleffed will thofe Servants be, who have faithfully and cheerfully embraced all proper occafions of making to themselves friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness; of converting even their Earthly and Corruptible Treafures, into an inheritance Incorruptible and Undefiled, and that fadeth not away, referved for them in Heaven, through the Merits and Mediation of Jefus Christ our Lord; To whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghoft, Three Perfons and One God, be all Honour and Glory, henceforth and for evermore.
Before the Sons of the
I COR. XIII. 13.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of thefe is charity.
HIS Account of Charity was occafion'd by anUndue Estimate, which the Corinthians had made of their High Qualifications and EndowGod had Bleffed them with a Variety of Extraordinary Gifts; but fo it happen'd, that, according to the common Frailties and Infirmities of Men, they Mifapplied, or Overlook'd the Wife purposes of God, and, having too Little
regard to His honour, They had too Much to their Own.
That they might not therefore fink, from the Spirit of Chrift, into a Spirit of Envy or Vainglory, or Intirely devote their Zeal to thofe Eminent Gifts, which were most apt to gain Admiration and Applaufe, the Apostle admonifh'd them to measure their Efteem and Defire of every Spiritual Gift, by the Degrees and Measures of the Benefits arifing from it. Accordingly he closeth his Account of Spiritual Gifts in the xiith Ch. with an Exhortation, that they would be Most Zealous of Thofe, which were most Useful, Covet earnestly the best Gifts; nôt sơ much Thofe, which are moft Surprizing and Astonishing, and apt to Adorn Your Characters, as Those which are moft Conducive to Spiritual Edification: And then it follows, and yet fhew I unto You a more excellent way, the Great Endowment of Charity, which is more Excellent and Useful, than any Other Endowments or Qualifications, how Glorious foever they may appear amongst You, or how Earneftly
Earneftly foever they may be Defired by
He proceeds therefore, in the following Ch. to fhew Particularly, that Charity is Preferable to the Extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit: Which indeed are, in Themselves, neither Effectual to the attainment of Holiness and Eternal Life, because we find, that Those who have Prophefied and wrought Miracles in Chrift's name, may Poffibly be Workers of Iniquity, and therefore finally Condemned; nor yet Necessary to Salvation, because every Sincere Chriftian, though not endued with thofe Extraordinary Gifts, will certainly be Saved. And, that he might give the Disciples a Still High-, er recommendation of this Divine Grace, and, at the fame time, raise their Esteem of those other Graces, which are abfolutely Necessary to Salvation, 'tis added, in the Words of the Text, And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of thefe is charity. From which words I fhall,
I. First, Give fome Account of thefe three Graces, confider'd Severally and Apart.
II. Secondly, I fhall enquire, how far, and in what refpects, it must be granted, that, notwithstanding the Neceffity and Excellency of Faith and Hope, Charity is Preferable unto Both.
III. Thirdly, I fhall conclude with fome Application.
I. First, I fhall give fuch a Short Account of thefe three Graces, confider'd Severally and Apart, as the Narrow compass of this Difcourfe will allow. And in representing the Neceffity of Each, God's Preventing and Exciting Grace, as ever concurring with every man's Sincere endeavours, is all along to be Suppofed and taken for granted. And,
1. First, In treating of Faith, which, confider'd as a Grace, denotes in General an Affent unto Divine Truth, grounded upon Divine Teftimony, 'tis neceffary to diftinguish betwixt That Faith, which is the Duty of every Christian, and That, which is reckon'd amongst the Extraordinary gifts of the Spirit; whereby fome