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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.
1. By fhowing how
2dly. WHAT great Benefits and Advan-
3dly. In what particular Methods and
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
fhould imitate him.
Our Saviour in the SER M.
Text, and in all his Difcourfes, pro- XVII..
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
innocent and finless Creatures; But now S ER M.