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called from Quarrels, Contentions, and Strifes; to stand before the Judgment=seat of God?
Secondly, There may be Reasons for ex- : pounding the Text of the Judgment of God, and yet the Apostle's Affertion may still relate to the Sins of others, and not to the Sins of the charitable Person: But what, you will say, may one Man's Sins be covered in the Sight of God by another Man's Charity? Yes, they may; and in this Sense the very Expression of the Text is made use of by St. James: Brethren, if any of you from the Truth, and one convert him; let hini know, that he which converteth the Sinner from the Error of his Way, mall save a Soul from Death, and shall bide a Multitude of Sins. Where it is evident, that the Sins to be covered are the Sins of the Soul to be saved from Death; that is, the Sins of the Perfon converted from the Error of his Ways, and not the Sins of the Converter: And the doing so great a Good to a Brother, as the saving his Soul, and hiding the Multitude of his Sins, is proposed as an Incitement to every charitable Person to labour the Converfion of a Sinner. Join other Cases : It is very plain, how much Sin and Folly proceed from the mutual Passions of Men labourVOL. III.
ing ing despitefully to vex and provoke each other; and how much might be prevented on both Sides, had one of them only Reason and Discretion enough to put an end to Strife. This Part the charitable Man is ever ready to act; and when he does, his pafsionate Adversary owes it to his Goodness, that in his Anger he did not fin against God. This the Prophet David saw and acknowledged in his own Case, and blessed the happy Instrument which prevented his Hands from shedding Blood : He had sworn in his Wrath to destroy Nabal, and all his Family with him ; but the Wife of Nabal with gentle Intreaties put a Stop to his Revenge, and saved him from committing the great Crime. David no sooner recovered himself from his Passion, but he saw how much he was indebted to his Petitioner; and cried out, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which fent thee this Day to meet me; and blessed be thy Advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this Day from coming to Med Blood, and from avenging myself with mine own Hand. This Speech every passionate Man may
have Reason to make to his charitable Neighbour, who gives way to his Wrath, and by gentle and kind Treatment saves him from the Ex
travagances, which a warm Opposition would hurry him into. And is it not a great Encouragement to put on Meekness and Chatity, since by bearing with the light Offences of our Brethren against ourselves, we may possibly save them from much greater Offences against God, and be instrumental in delivering them from that Judgment, which, by their own Bitterness of Spirit and Thirst after Revenge, they would certainly draw upon themselves ?
Were we to go through the several Works of Charity, and confider it instructing the Ignorant, encouraging the Weak, rebuking the Presumptuous, in a word, giving an helping Hand to every good Work; it would appear,
in many Instances, how instrumental Charity is in covering the Sins of others. But I hasten to the
Third and last Inquiry, What Encouragement we have from Reason and Scripture to expect, that by Charity we may cover our own Sins.
In the Verse before the Text the Apostle gives us this Warning—The End of all Things is at band. To this folemn Notice he subjoins a proper Exhortation : Be ye therefore Sober, and watch unto Prayer; and above all
Things have fervent Charity among yourselves. The Reason of the latter Part of this Exhortation he gives in the Words now under our Consideration, For Charity shall cover the Multitude of Sins. These Things laid together create a Presumption, that the Apostle might ean to instruct each Man how to cover his own Sins, and to prevent the ill Effects naturally to be feared from them, when the End of all Things should come. When we think of Judgment, of whose Sins do we think, or for whose Offences do we tremble, but our own? When the Preachers of the Gospel warn us of the great Day of the Lord, it is a strong Call to Repentance, and for whose Sins but our own? Since therefore the Apostle calls on us to use the best Means to cover the Multitude of Sins, in Expectation of the great Change that is at hand, whose Sins can we more naturally think on than our own! And if this be indeed the Case, then is Charity recommended to us, as a proper Means to cover or excuse our own Sins in the Sight of God.
Besides, the Exhortation to mutual Charity being subjoined immediately to the Mention of Prayer, may be a farther Argument of St. Peter's Intention to instruct us how to hide our own Offences. He well knew upon what Condition our Lord had taught us to ask Forgiveness of our Sins: Forgive us our Trespases, as we forgive them that trespass against us. This being the Condition upon which the Pardon of God is promised, what have we to cover our Sins in the Sight of God without Charity ? that Charity which beareth all Things, endureth all Things, which hideth the Trespasses of our Brother from our Eyes, and for that Reason will cover our own Offences, when the Lord shall come to judge the Earth.
But farther : The Nature and Extent of Charity considered, there arises a farther Argument to confirm the charitable Man in the Hopes of Pardon for his own Transgressions : For Charity is the fulfilling of the Law; it is the Royal Law, as St. James calls it, which whosoever fulfills fall do well. And in this View, St. Peter's Advice, to bave fervent Charity, that it may cover the Multitude of Sins, is equivalent to Daniel's Advice to Nebuchadnezzar: 0 King, let my Counsel be acceptable unto tbee, and break off thy Sins by Righteousness, and thine Iniquities by Shewing Mercy to the Poor. Charity is indeed the breaking of of Sin; it is Righteousness and