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The POWER of Charity to Cover Sin.'

A

SERMON

Preach'd before the

PRESIDENT and GOVERNORS

Of the HOSPITALS of

Bridewell and Bethlehem,

IN

BRIDEWELL CHAPEL,

August 16. 1694..

I St. PETER iv. 8.

Charity fhall Cover the multitude of Sins,

37

Go

~

OD be thanked, the frequent Re-SERM, turns of fuch Pious Meetings as thefe, in this Rich and Charitable CITY, have made the General Argument of

II.

SERM. CHARITY, the Nature and Chief Properties, the several Grounds and Reasons of this Duty fo well understood, that, to Entertain You with a Discourse at large on that Subject, would be a very needlefs and useless Attempt. So many Eminent Pens have gone before, in This Way, as have left it very difficult for those who come after, either to say any thing, which They have not faid, or not to say That much worfe, which They bave.

Upon This Account; and because, indeed, I take General Difcourfes, for the most part, to be like Large Prospects, where the Eye is loft by the wide Compass it takes, and fees fo many things at once, that it sees nothing distinctly; I have chosen at present to point Your Thoughts only on One Particular Property of this Great Virtue, which hath been not often handled, I think; and even Then, not always well understood: It is That, which the Apostle St. Peter propofeth to Us, in thofe few Words I have read to You Charity shall Cover the Multitude of Sins.

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SERM,

II.

S Few as they are, they will fufficiently
employ our Thoughts at this time, if we
confider, in the

First place, the feveral Explications I.
that have been given of them, and satis-
fy our felves, which of These ought to
take place. If,

Secondly, We free That One True
Genuine Meaning of the Words from the
Exceptions which lie against it. If,

Thirdly, We establish the Truth laid III.
down upon its Proper Grounds and Rea-
fons. And if,

II..

Fourthly, We make fome few useful IV. Deductions from it.

After this is done, the little Time that is left, will properly be spent in Applying what hath been said more immediately to the Occafion of This Present Affembly.

Charity shall Cover the multitude of Sins.
There is scarce any Man, I believe,
who hears thefe Words, that is not rea-
dy to frame to himself This Sense of
them;
"That the Virtue of Charity
D 4

" is

V.

I

II.

"6

SERM." is of fo great price in the Sight of "God, that Thofe Perfons, who possess "and exercise it in any Eminent man(6 ner, are peculiarly Entitled to the "Divine Favour and Pardon, with regard to numberlefs Slips and Fail"ings in their Duty, which they may be Otherwife guilty of: this "Great Chriftian Perfection, of which "they are Masters, fhall make many "Little Imperfections to be over-look'd "and unobferv'd; it fhall Cover the "multitude of Sins.

66

This, I fay, is the account, which every Man naturally gives himself of these Words, at his firft hearing them; and it is for That very Reafon probable, that This is the True and Genuine account of them. For, fuppofing the Original Text to be well and clearly render'd in our Verfion, it will, I am of opinion, be found, that That Senfe of any Paffage, which, after attending to the Force of the Words, and to their Coherence with what goes before, and what follows, First occurs to the Mind, is generally the Jufteft and Trueft.

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II.

This hath not however been always SER M thought a Good Rule in the present Cafe. For feveral Pious, and fome Judicious Men, finding the Words, in their plain and familiar meaning, to carry somewhat of a fufpicious found with them, and to border a little (as They Thought) on the Papal Doctrine of Works Meritorious, have, therefore, taken fome Pains to give a Different Interpretation of them. I fhall offer, first, to your view fome of these mistaken Senfes, e'er I come to confider That which, I think, was intended by St. Peter; because Each of these doth certainly propose a Clear and Appofite Truth to us, tho' perhaps not truly drawn from the Paffage now before us.

First, then, the Words have been understood to contain an account of that particular Inftance of Charity, which we call Good-Nature: by which we pass by little Slights and Injuries, interpret things in the Beft fenfe, are not apt to take, or return an Affront, not forward to publish, or believe an ill Report of

any

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