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SERM.any One: by which we turn our Eyes always towards the Beft fide of a Man, and chufe rather to look on his Virtures, than his Failures; and by which we conftantly interpofe our Good Offices, where-ever, we think, they may be Serviceable, either to the compofing Old Differences, or preventing New ones.
And This Senfe is grounded upon a fuppos'd Relation there is between These Words in St. Peter, and Those in the Proverbs; Hate Stirreth up Strifes, but Love covereth all Sins. Now, tho' indeed, in Our Tranflation, there is some Similitude between the Words of the Text, and this Passage in the Proverbs ; yet, as it lies in the Septuagint-Verfion (which the Apostles made use of), it bears no fuch Refemblance to the Text as may make it probable that the One ought to be Expounded by the Other.
On the Contrary it deserves observation, * Kanur- that, where-ever the Greek Phrafe * Taas which is here tranflated by Covering Sin,
See Pf. occurs in Scripture, it constantly † figPf.xxxii. nifies that Pardon of Sin which proceeds 1.and Ne- from God, not any Inftances of Good hem.iv.5.
Nature and Forgiveness exercised by SERM.
We may farther observe, that This Senfe of the Words is by no means full enough to bear the Weight of that emphatic and folemn Preface with which the Apostle introduces them: but above all things (fays He, in the Words immediately before the Text) have fervent Charity among your felves: for Charity shall Cover the multitude of Sins. 'Extevõ ayar, intense, or fervent Charity must ἀγάπω, fignify fomewhat more than the bare Acts and Offices of Good-Nature. If they, to whom the Apostle wrote, were above all things to have fervent Charity among themselves, it could not be for This Reason, because Charity would render them inoffenfive towards Others, and not easy to be offended Themselves. For though This be a commendable Degree of Virtue, and very fit to be enjoined, because not frequently practis'd; yet can it not deserve that peculiar Emphasis and Stress which is here laid upon it. Efpecially, if we confider it as fucceeding the mention of those more important
SERM. and neceffary Duties, to which the Apoftle exhorts them in the preceeding Verfe, the being fober, and watching unto Prayer: Above all which, it cannot be fuppos'd, that the Duty of converfing with one another according to the Rules of Good-Nature and Gentleness should be enjoin'd.
The Words, therefore, have, in the Second place, been thus also interpreted. Charity shall Cover the multitude of Sins, that is, fays the excellent Grotius, it will have a mighty Influence towards reclaiming Sinners from the Errour of their Ways; the Confequence of which is, That the Sins of Men thus reclaim'd, are pardon'd, or cover'd. Charity, which is an exalted Love of God and our Neighbour, will make us industrous in procuring Glory to the One, by the Salvation of the Other. It will create a mighty Zeal for the Interests of Virtue, and the Honour of the Gospel, and the Good of our Souls; and it will run through all the Difficulties that lie in the way towards fo good an End, with Readiness and Pleasure. It
will not be frightned from making At- SER M. tempts even on Those of the first Rank w in Wickedness, the Worft and most Hardned of Men; because it knows, that Their Revolt from Sin to Virtue (if it can be compafs'd) will be of mighty Confequence to Religion, and will probably draw whole Troops of Common Sinners along with it: The Sense they have of their Own Sins being cover'd, will make Them alfo eager, in their turn, to cover those of Other Men.
This is a very Good and Pious Sense of the Words, but (I believe, it will be allow'd me) no very Eafy and Natural One: they must be rack'd e'er they can be brought to confefs This Meaning. However, it was what that Learned Perfon was led into by a former Explication he had made of a Parallel place in St. James; which I fhall crave leave to produce at length, and to comment upon, because I take it to be the Key of the Text, which easily and readily lets us into the True fenfe of it. Brethren (fays St. James, at the Conclufion of his Epiftle) if any One of 19, 20.
SERM. You do Err from the Truth, and One Convert him, let him know, that he which converteth a Sinner from the Errour of his Ways, shall fave a Soul from Death, and shall hide a Multitude of Sins. He intended to fhut up his Epistle with recommending to them One of the most important and useful Virtues, That of endeavouring the Converfion and Reformation of Men. And he intended alfo to stir them up to the Exercise of this Virtue by the most powerful Motives he could propose: What are they? Why, firft, That He who converteth a Sinner from the Errour of his ways, fhould confider, that he faveth a Soul from Death; and then, fecondly, and chiefly, That he shall [alfo] cover a multitude of Sins. Whofe Sins? Thofe of the Converted Perfon? Nay, but That was already faid, and much more than that in the foregoing Motive, He shall fave a Soul from Death: for furely the faving a Soul from Death, neceffarily includes and prefuppofes the Remiffion of its Sins. It muft then be meant of His Sins who makes, and not of His who becomes, the