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The Power of Charity to Cover Sin.



Preach'd before the PRESIDENT and GOVERNORS

Of the HOSPITALS of Bridewell and Bethlehem,



August 16. 1694..

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I St. PETER iy. 8.
Charity shall Cover the multitude of Sins,

OD be thanked, the frequent Re-SERM,

turns of such Pious Meetings as these, in this Rich and Charitable City, have made the General Argument of



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SERM. CHARITY, the Nature and Chief Pro-
m perties, the several Grounds and Reasons

of this Duty so well understood, that,
to Entertain You with a Discourse at
large on that Subject, would be a very
needless 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 said, or not
to say That much worse, which They ix

2 Upon This Account; and because, indeed, I take General Discourses, for the most part, to be like Large Prospects, where the Eye is loft by the wide Compass it takes, and fees so 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 i

and even Then, not always well understood: It is That, which the Apostle St. Peter proposeth to Us, in those few Words I have read to You Charity shall Cover the Multitude of Sins.




Few as they are, they will sufficiently un employ our Thoughts at this time, if we consider, in the

First place, the several Explications I. that have been given of them, and satisfy our felves, which of These ought to take place. If,

Secondly, We free That One True II. . 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 Reasons. And if,

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

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

Charity shall Cover the multitude of Sins. Ja

There is scarce any Man, I believe, who hears these Words, that is not ready to frame to himself This Sense of them; “ That the Virtue of Charity D4

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SER M.6 is of so great price in the Sight of

“ God, that Those Persons, who possess
66 and exercise it in any Eminent man-

ner, are peculiarly Entitled to the
“ Divine Favour and Pardon, with re-

gard to numberless Slips and Fail“ings in their Duty, which they

may be Otherwise guilty of: this “ Great Christian Perfection, of which o they are Masters, shall make many “ Little Imperfections to be over-look'd “ and unobserv’d; it shall Cover the multitude of Sins,

This, I say, is the account, which every Man naturally gives himfelf of these Words, at his first hearing them ; and it is for That very Reason probable, that This is the True and Genuine account of them. For , supposing the Original Text to be well and clearly render'd in our Version, it will, I am of opinion, be found, that That Sense of any Passage, 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 Justest and Truest,

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

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


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