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to ftir them up to the Practice of this Virtue, by the most powerful Motives, that he could pro pose: And what are these? Why firft, that be, who converteth a Sinner from the Error of bis Ways, fhould first confider, that he faved a Soul from Death; and then fecondly, and chiefly, that he fall alfo cover a Multitude of Sins: But whofe Sins? Thofe of the converted Perfon? No. That was already faid, and much more than that, in the foregoing Motive, be fhall fave a Soul from Death; for furely the faving a Soul from Death neceffarily includes and prefuppofes the Remiffion of its Sins. So that the Paffage must be meant of his Sins, who makes, and not of his, who becomes the Convert; and thus, indeed, the last Claufe carries a new Motive in it, diftinct from that of the former, and fuch an one, as rifes higher, and more fenfibly touches thofe, to whom it is addreffed. "Let fuch "an one know, (for this may be a proper Para"phrafe upon the Apoftle's Words) that he fhall, "by this Means, not only fave a Soul from Death, though this itself be a very great and desirable "Thing, but what more nearly concerns him, "fhall alfo fecure to himself, on this Account, the "Pardon of many Sins ;" not grofs and heinous: Sins (the Words of the Apostle do not imply that, neither can a Chriftian, zealous for the Converfion of others, be fuppofed to be guilty of fuch): but only many leffer Neglects and Failings in his Duty; many Sins of Infirmity, Surprise, and daily! Incurfion, which, God knows,, in the best of Men are too frequent, and therefore properly enough. ftiled a Multitude of Sins.
After this, I need not urge the Practice of our Saviour and his Apoftles, and what mighty Pains and Hazards the primitive Chriftians underwent, that they might bring Mankind to the Knowledge of the Truth, and rescue their Souls from the Snares of the
the Devil. If there be Joy in Heaven, over one Sinner, that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine juft Perfons, which need no Repentance; think, O think, with what Joy and holy Triumph must that Man appear, at the Day of Judgment, when, in the full Affembly of Saints and Angels, it shall be reported and proclaimed aloud, that his Teaching and Inftruction, his Counsel and Advice, his Admonition and Reproofs gave the firft Turn to fuch an one's Converfion and Amendment, and was, under God, inftrumental to the Salvation of his Soul, and the Joy and Rejoicing, which thereupon appeared in Heaven! How muft his Countenance fhine, and his Heart chear him, when, after fuch Commendation, the Eyes of Men and Angels fhall be turned upon him in full Applause and Admiration!
This one Confideration, I think, is enough to excite us all, by every proper Means, to endeavour the Inftruction and Reformation of the most Ignorant and Mistaken, the most Profligate and Perverse. But if, after all, as it too often happens, the one will not receive our Inftruction, nor the other endure our Reproof; yet, even then, pitying and praying for them becomes our Duty, and the worse we find their Condition, and the more intractable their Difpofitions, the more vehemently must we ftrive with God in their Behalf, that he would foften their Hearts, and fhew them their Errors, and bring them, firft, to a teachable Temper, and, then, into the Ways of Holiness and Truth.
Of Mercy to Mens Bodies.
HE Miseries, which affect Mens Bodies, are either natural Blemishes and Defects, accidental Sickness and Diseases, outward Force and Violence, or Want and Scarcity of the common Neceffaries of Life, about which the Offices of Mercy and Compaffion are differently converfant.
1. All natural Blemishes and Defects, fuch as Lameness, Crookedness, Want of Senfes, or Difproportion of Parts, are real Infelicities, that render our Bodies either lefs useful to ourselves, or lefs graceful and amiable to others: And, therefore, in this Cafe, the Law of Mercy requires us," not to contemn or undervalue Men, not to upbraid or reproach them upon that Score; but to overlook these Blemishes as inconfiderable, which they could not prevent, and which they cannot rectify : To remember, that the Body is not the Man, but the immortal Mind, that inhabits it; that the richest Diamonds wear, many Times, the rougheft Coats; and that, fince it was not in their Power to order Nature in their own Composition, to deride or expose them for any Mishap or Deformity therein, is like flinging Salt into their Wounds, and turning that into a Triumph of Mirth and Drollery, which is properly an Object of Pity and Compaffion.
2. Sickness and Diseases are fore Miferies, fuch as waste the Strength of Nature, rebate the Vigour of the Spirits, and make the whole Body, through inceffant Pains and Weaknefs, not only ufelefs, but burthenfome to the Soul: In which Cafe the Laws of Mercy require us (provided our Company will be acceptable) to vifit the Afflicted
very frequently, in order to chear their drooping Spirits with the Livelinefs of our Converfation, and to adminifter to their wearied Thoughts the Supports and Comforts of Religion: To contribute what we can to their bodily Eafe and Refreshment; to be ready to ferve them in all their Neceffities; to compaffionate their Griefs; to bear with their Peevifhneffes; and, if they are poor and indigent, to fupply them with all fuch Remedies, as are neceffary to their Health and Recovery. But, above all, to take all fair Opportunities to awaken in their Minds ferious Thoughts and Purposes; to prepare their Souls for an happy Death, and a glorious Eternity; and, to this End, to become their Advocates at the Throne of Grace, that the God of all Power and Goodnefs, in whofe Hands are the Illues of Life and Death, would commiferate their Sorrows, and refresh their Weariness, and either remove their Sickness, or fanctify it to their eternal Health.
3. Outward Force and Violence, fuch as Captivity and Imprisonment, are great and comprehensive Miferies, which draw a long and heavy Chain of Calamities after them. When Mens Perfons are exposed to the Will and Tyranny of their Enemies, and especially, when they are exasperated against them upon the Account of Religion, what can be expected but cruel and barbarous Ufage; but to be worn out with Stripes, and Hunger, and intolerable Labour; and to be forced to pine away their wretched Lives in unpitied Anguish and Vexation of Soul? In which Cafe Mercy obliges us, when any fair Opportunity is propofed to us, to contribute to their Ranfom proportionably to our Ability, and to follicit their Caufe both with God and Men; to befeech him to fupport and preferve them, and to perfuade all thofe, with whom we have an Intereft, to extend their Liberality to
wards their Redemption. And fo, in the Cafe of Imprisonment, which, indeed, is but another Sort of Captivity, if they are our Friends and Acquaintance, Mercy requires us to vifit them in their fad Solitude and Confinement, in order to divert their Sorrows, and raise and strengthen their Hopes by our Conversation; to endeavour to mollify their Adverfaries; if they are infolvent, to compound their Debts; and, if it be juft and feasible, to contribute, according to our Power, to their Releafe and Enlargement; for this is fulfilling the Christian Precept, of remembering them, that are in Bonds, as being bound with them, and those which fuffer Adverfity, as being ourselves alfo in the Body.
4. Want of the outward Neceffaries of Life is a very fore Mifery, and what Mercy requires us, not only to commiferate, but to relieve; and relieve in Proportion to our Abilities, and the Neceflities of the Perfons that are in Want. But because Mercy and Bounty to the Poor is a Duty of great Moment, and general Concern, we fhall confider it a little more diftinctly: 1. As to the Reasonablenefs and Excellence: 2. The Manner and Measure: And, 3. The Motives and Inducements of our performing it.
I. That God has implanted in our Nature, and woven, as it were, into the very Frame of our Being, an Inclination to Acts of Tenderness and Compaffion, infomuch, that a Man muft diveft himfelf of Humanity, before he can refift fuch Calls and Importunities, is what we were led to obferve in our general Confideration of the Duty of Mercy. Now the true Reafon, why this Paffion of Pity was born with us, and made a Part of our Constitution, is, that thereby we might be excited and stirred up to help and fuccour all, that are in Neceffity and Diftrefs. Our Bowels do therefore naturally yearn at all miferable Objects,