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1 of our Saviour; inftead of thefe words SER M. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father XVII. which is in Heaven is perfect, he expreffes M it thus; Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father alfo is merciful; Luk. vi. 36. And St Paul, fpeaking of the fame excellent Duty of Charity, calls it the bond of Perfection; Col. iii. 14; And above all these things put on Charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

IN this latter Senfe therefore, I shall take leave to understand the words at this time; and fhall accordingly endeavour in the following Discourse, to recommend to you this excellent Duty of Charity, in the following Method.

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1. By fhowing how
many and great
Obligations we are continually un
der, to practise this Duty.

2dly. WHAT great Benefits and Advan-
tages accrue to ourselves, by the Prac-
tice of it. And

3dly. In what particular Methods and
Instances, it may best and most use-
fully be performed.

SERM. I. How many and great Obligations XVII. we are continually under, to practise this Duty. And because they are great and numerous, it may be useful to distinguish them into their proper Heads, as they arife from the confideration either of God, our Neighbour, or our felves. And

If. lviii. 6,


It, WITH respect to God. Is it not the thing that he has chofen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry; and that thou bring the poor that are caft out to thy house? when thou feeft the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyfelf from thine own flesh? Nothing is more agreeable to the Nature of God, and renders us more conformable to the Excellencies of that most perfect pattern; than the exercife of Beneficence and Goodnefs. The Divine Nature is Goodness itfelf; and his bountiful Kindness extends itfelf perpetually over all his works. This is the Attribute which he principally delights to exercise; and in which, of all others, he most expects and requires we fhould

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fhould imitate him.

Our Saviour in the SER M.

Text, and in all his Difcourfes, pro- XVII..
pofes this example to us to follow; and
frequently repeats it, that hereby only we
can truly become the children of our
Father which is in Heaven. This Imi-
tation of God, is the Foundation of all
Religion, and the true Spring, the inward
and natural Principle and Ground of Hap-
piness: Wherefore we are equally obliged
both in Duty and Intereft, as we hope to
be made Partakers of that Happiness,
which is the Perfection of our Nature,
and for which God ultimately defigned
us; to prepare and fit ourselves for it, by
acquiring that divine frame and temper
of mind, that beneficent and good Difpc-
fition, which alone can qualify us and
make us capable to enjoy it. This Ar-
gument would be equally ftrong, even
though we had an abfolute and fupreme
Right to the things we poffefs; as God
has over the whole Creation. But we are
further to confider, that this is not our
Cafe. We are not abfolute Lords of the
things we poffefs, but enjoy them merely
by the divine permiffion and good plea-
D d

SER M. fure. We are Stewards intrufted with our

XVII. portion of good things, under the Supreme Householder the Governour of the Uni-verfe; and we are to give a strict account, in what manner we dispose of them. We may employ them to all the neceffary ufes, and all the reasonable conveniences, nay and even to the innocent diverfions alfo of Life; but we must not confume them upon Lufts and Follies, and withhold good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of our hand to do it, Prov. iii. 27. Some portions at leaft of what we enjoy, are due to God, as an: acknowledgment of our dependance upon him for the whole; and instead of coftly Sacrifices and Burnt-offerings to himself, he requires only that we be willing to relieve the neceffities of Men like ourfelves; And he feems in the Wisdom of his Providence to have made a very unequal diftribution of the Bleffings of this Life on purpofe, that we might have continual opportunities of paying this reafonable homage to him, according to our refpective Abilities. Thus much were evidently due to him, even tho' we had been innocent


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innocent and finless Creatures; But now S ER M.
how greatly is this motive inforced, when XVII.
we reflect how all the Bleffings with which
he daily crowns us, were not only origi-
nally undeferved, but in their continuance
are perpetual inftances of mercy and
compaffion towards us! When by Sin we
had forfeited all title to his Love and
Favour, yet still he caufes his Sun to rife
on the Evil and on the Good, and fendeth
rain on the just and on the unjust. And
not only continues to us these temporal .
Bleffings; but moreover,
but moreover, when we by
Sin had ruined ourselves and must have
been miferable for ever, fent his Son into
the World, to reftore us to a capacity of
recovering that Happiness, which is eter-
nal. And now, What fhall we render
unto the Lord; for all these inftances of
his Mercy towards us? Can our Goodness
extend to Him? or can a Man ̧ be profi-
table to his Maker? No; The only way
we have of expreffing our Gratitude to-
wards him, is by exercifing fome little
Similitude of that mercy and compaffion
towards our Brethren, in relieving their
temporal wants; which he has extended
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