Charity composed of all three Kinds, Pleasant, Profitable, Honest

Charity composed of all three Kinds, Pleasant, Profitable, Honest

Besides this love that comes from profit, pleasant, honest (for one good turn asks another in equity) , that which proceeds from the law of nature, or from discipline and philosophy, there is yet another love compounded of all these three, which is charity, and includes piety, dilection, benevolence, friendship, even all those virtuous habits; for love is the circle equant of all other affections, of which Aristotle dilates at large in his Ethics, and is commanded by God, which no man can well perform, but he that is a Christian, and a true regenerate man; this is, "To love God above all, and our neighbour as ourself;" for this love is lychnus accendens et accensus, a communicating light, apt to illuminate itself as well as others. All other objects are fair, and very beautiful, I confess; kindred, alliance, friendship, the love that we owe to our country, nature, wealth, pleasure, honour, and such moral respects, &c., of which read copious Aristotle in his morals; a man is beloved of a man, in that he is a man; but all these are far more eminent and great, when they shall proceed from a sanctified spirit, that hath a true touch of religion, and a reference to God. Nature binds all creatures to love their young ones; a hen to preserve her brood will run upon a lion, a hind will fight with a bull, a sow with a bear, a silly sheep with a fox. So the same nature urgeth a man to love his parents, ( dii me pater omnes oderint, ni te magis quam oculos amem meos!) and this love cannot be dissolved, as Tully holds, "without detestable offence:" but much more God's commandment, which enjoins a filial love, and an obedience in this kind. "The love of brethren is great, and like an arch of stones, where if one be displaced, all comes down," no love so forcible and strong, honest, to the combination of which, nature, fortune, virtue, happily concur; yet this love comes short of it. Dulce et decorum pro patria mori, ("It is sweet to die for one's country.") it cannot be expressed, what a deal of charity that one name of country contains. Amor laudis et patriæ pro stipendio est; the Decii did se devovere, Horatii, Curii, Scævola, Regulus, Codrus, sacrifice themselves for their country's peace and good.

"Una dies Fabios ad bellum miserat omnes,
Ad bellum missos perdidit una dies."

"One day the Fabii stoutly warred,
One day the Fabii were destroyed."

Fifty thousand Englishmen lost their lives willingly near Battle Abbey, in defence of their country. P. Æmilius l. 6. speaks of six senators of Calais, that came with halters in their hands to the king of England, to die for the rest. This love makes so many writers take such pains, so many historiographers, physicians, &c., or at least, as they pretend, for common safety, and their country's benefit. Sanctum nomen amiciticæ, sociorum communio sacra; friendship is a holy name, and a sacred communion of friends. "As the sun is in the firmament, so is friendship in the world," a most divine and heavenly band. As nuptial love makes, this perfects mankind, and is to be preferred (if you will stand to the judgment of Cornelius Nepos) before affinity or consanguinity; plus in amiciticia valet similitudo morum, quam affinitas, &c., the cords of love bind faster than any other wreath whatsoever. Take this away, and take all pleasure, joy, comfort, happiness, and true content out of the world; 'tis the greatest tie, the surest indenture, strongest band, and, as our modern Maro decides it, is much to be preferred before the rest.

"Hard is the doubt, and difficult to deem,
When all three kinds of love together meet;
And do dispart the heart with power extreme,
Whether shall weigh the balance down; to wit,
The dear affection unto kindred sweet,
Or raging fire of love to women kind,
Or zeal of friends, combin'd by virtues meet;
But of them all the band of virtuous mind,
Methinks the gentle heart should most assured bind.

For natural affection soon doth cease,
And quenched is with Cupid's greater flame;
But faithful friendship doth them both suppress,
And them with mastering discipline doth tame,
Through thoughts aspiring to eternal fame.
For as the soul doth rule the earthly mass,
And all the service of the body frame,
So love of soul doth love of body pass,
No less than perfect gold surmounts the meanest brass."

A faithful friend is better than gold, a medicine of misery, an only possession; yet this love of friends, nuptial, heroical, profitable, pleasant, honest, all three loves put together, are little worth, if they proceed not from a true Christian illuminated soul, if it be not done in ordine ad Deum for God's sake. "Though I had the gift of prophecy, spake with tongues of men and angels, though I feed the poor with all my goods, give my body to be burned, and have not this love, it profiteth me nothing," 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 3. 'tis splendidum peccatum, without charity. This is an all-apprehending love, a deifying love, a refined, pure, divine love, the quintessence of all love, the true philosopher's stone, Non potest enim, as Austin infers, veraciter amicus esse hominis, nisi fuerit ipsius primitus veritatis, He is no true friend that loves not God's truth. And therefore this is true love indeed, the cause of all good to mortal men, that reconciles all creatures, and glues them together in perpetual amity and firm league; and can no more abide bitterness, hate, malice, than fair and foul weather, light and darkness, sterility and plenty may be together; as the sun in the firmament (I say) , so is love in the world; and for this cause 'tis love without an addition, love χατ εξοχην (chat exochen) , love of God, and love of men. "The love of God begets the love of man; and by this love of our neighbour, the love of God is nourished and increased." By this happy union of love, "all well-governed families and cities are combined, the heavens annexed, and divine souls complicated, the world itself composed, and all that is in it conjoined in God, and reduced to one." "This love causeth true and absolute virtues, the life, spirit, and root of every virtuous action, it finisheth prosperity, easeth adversity, corrects all natural encumbrances," inconveniences, sustained by faith and hope, which with this our love make an indissoluble twist, a Gordian knot, an equilateral triangle, "and yet the greatest of them is love," 1 Cor. xiii. 13, "which inflames our souls with a divine heat, and being so inflamed, purged, and so purgeth, elevates to God, makes an atonement, and reconciles us unto him." "That other love infects the soul of man, this cleanseth; that depresses, this rears; that causeth cares and troubles, this quietness of mind; this informs, that deforms our life; that leads to repentance, this to heaven." For if once we be truly linked and touched with this charity, we shall love God above all, our neighbour as ourself, as we are enjoined, Mark xii. 31. Matt. xix. 19. perform those duties and exercises, even all the operations of a good Christian.

"This love suffereth long, it is bountiful, envieth not, boasteth not itself, is not puffed up, it deceiveth not, it seeketh not his own things, is not provoked to anger, it thinketh not evil, it rejoiceth not in iniquity, but in truth. It suffereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things," 1 Cor. xiii. 4, 5, 6, 7; "it covereth all trespasses," Prov, x. 12; "a multitude of sins," 1 Pet. 4, as our Saviour told the woman in the Gospel, that washed his feet, "many sins were forgiven her, for she loved much," Luke vii. 47; "it will defend the fatherless and the widow," Isa. i. 17; "will seek no revenge, or be mindful of wrong," Levit. xix. 18; "will bring home his brother's ox if he go astray, as it is commanded," Deut. xxii. 1; "will resist evil, give to him that asketh, and not turn from him that borroweth, bless them that curse him, love his enemy," Matt. v; "bear his brother's burthen," Gal. vi. 7. He that so loves will be hospitable, and distribute to the necessities of the saints; he will, if it be possible, have peace with all men, "feed his enemy if he be hungry, if he be athirst give him drink;" he will perform those seven works of mercy, "he will make himself equal to them of the lower sort, rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep," Rom. xii; he will speak truth to his neighbour, be courteous and tender-hearted, "forgiving others for Christ's sake, as God forgave him," Eph. iv. 32; "he will be like minded," Phil. ii. 2. "Of one judgment; be humble, meek, long-suffering," Colos. iii. "Forbear, forget and forgive," xii. 13. 23. and what he doth shall be heartily done to God, and not to men. "Be pitiful and courteous," 1 Pet. iii. "Seek peace and follow it." He will love his brother, not in word and tongue, but in deed and truth, John iii. 18. "and he that loves God, Christ will love him that is begotten of him," John v. 1, &c. Thus should we willingly do, if we had a true touch of this charity, of this divine love, if we could perform this which we are enjoined, forget and forgive, and compose ourselves to those Christian laws of love.

"O felix hominum genus,
Si vestros animos amor
Quo coelum regitur regat!"

"Angelical souls, how blessed, how happy should we be, so loving, how might we triumph over the devil, and have another heaven upon earth!"

But this we cannot do; and which is the cause of all our woes, miseries, discontent, melancholy, want of this charity. We do invicem angariare, contemn, consult, vex, torture, molest, and hold one another's noses to the grindstone hard, provoke, rail, scoff, calumniate, challenge, hate, abuse (hard-hearted, implacable, malicious, peevish, inexorable as we are) , to satisfy our lust or private spleen, for toys, trifles, and impertinent occasions, spend ourselves, goods, friends, fortunes, to be revenged on our adversary, to ruin him and his. 'Tis all our study, practice, and business how to plot mischief, mine, countermine, defend and offend, ward ourselves, injure others, hurt all; as if we were born to do mischief, and that with such eagerness and bitterness, with such rancour, malice, rage, and fury, we prosecute our intended designs, that neither affinity or consanguinity, love or fear of God or men can contain us: no satisfaction, no composition will be accepted, no offices will serve, no submission; though he shall upon his knees, as Sarpedon did to Glaucus in Homer, acknowledging his error, yield himself with tears in his eyes, beg his pardon, we will not relent, forgive, or forget, till we have confounded him and his, "made dice of his bones," as they say, see him rot in prison, banish his friends, followers, et omne invisum genus, rooted him out and all his posterity. Monsters of men as we are, dogs, wolves, tigers, fiends, incarnate devils, we do not only contend, oppress, and tyrannise ourselves, but as so many firebrands, we set on, and animate others: our whole life is a perpetual combat, a conflict, a set battle, a snarling fit. Eris dea is settled in our tents, Omnia de lite, opposing wit to wit, wealth to wealth, strength to strength, fortunes to fortunes, friends to friends, as at a sea-fight, we turn our broadsides, or two millstones with continual attrition, we fire ourselves, or break another's backs, and both are ruined and consumed in the end. Miserable wretches, to fat and enrich ourselves, we care not how we get it, Quocunque modo rem; how many thousands we undo, whom we oppress, by whose ruin and downfall we arise, whom we injure, fatherless children, widows, common societies, to satisfy our own private lust. Though we have myriads, abundance of wealth and treasure, (pitiless, merciless, remorseless, and uncharitable in the highest degree) , and our poor brother in need, sickness, in great extremity, and now ready to be starved for want of food, we had rather, as the fox told the ape, his tail should sweep the ground still, than cover his buttocks; rather spend it idly, consume it with dogs, hawks, hounds, unnecessary buildings, in riotous apparel, ingurgitate, or let it be lost, than he should have part of it; rather take from him that little which he hath, than relieve him.

Like the dog in the manger, we neither use it ourselves, let others make use of or enjoy it; part with nothing while we live: for want of disposing our household, and setting things in order, set all the world together by the ears after our death. Poor Lazarus lies howling at his gates for a few crumbs, he only seeks chippings, offals; let him roar and howl, famish, and eat his own flesh, he respects him not. A poor decayed kinsman of his sets upon him by the way in all his jollity, and runs begging bareheaded by him, conjuring by those former bonds of friendship, alliance, consanguinity, &c., uncle, cousin, brother, father,

-- "Per ego has lachrymas, dextramque tuam te,
Si quidquam de te merui, fuit aut tibi quidquam
Dulce meum, misere mei."

"Show some pity for Christ's sake, pity a sick man, an old man," &c., he cares not, ride on: pretend sickness, inevitable loss of limbs, goods, plead suretyship, or shipwreck, fires, common calamities, show thy wants and imperfections,

"Et si per sanctum juratus dicat Osyrim,
Credite, non ludo, crudeles tollite claudum."

Swear, protest, take God and all his angels to witness, quære peregrinum, thou art a counterfeit crank, a cheater, he is not touched with it, pauper ubique jacet, ride on, he takes no notice of it. Put up a supplication to him in the name of a thousand orphans, a hospital, a spittel, a prison, as he goes by, they cry out to him for aid, ride on, surdo narras, he cares not, let them eat stones, devour themselves with vermin, rot in their own dung, he cares not. Show him a decayed haven, a bridge, a school, a fortification, etc., or some public work, ride on; good your worship, your honour, for God's sake, your country's sake, ride on. But show him a roll wherein his name shall be registered in golden letters, and commended to all posterity, his arms set up, with his devices to be seen, then peradventure he will stay and contribute; or if thou canst thunder upon him, as Papists do, with satisfactory and meritorious works, or persuade him by this means he shall save his soul out of hell, and free it from purgatory (if he be of any religion) , then in all likelihood he will listen and stay; or that he have no children, no near kinsman, heir, he cares for, at least, or cannot well tell otherwise how or where to bestow his possessions (for carry them with him he cannot) , it may be then he will build some school or hospital in his life, or be induced to give liberally to pious uses after his death. For I dare boldly say, vainglory, that opinion of merit, and this enforced necessity, when they know not otherwise how to leave, or what better to do with them, is the main cause of most of our good works. I will not urge this to derogate from any man's charitable devotion, or bounty in this kind, to censure any good work; no doubt there be many sanctified, heroical, and worthy-minded men, that in true zeal, and for virtue's sake (divine spirits) , that out of commiseration and pity extend their liberality, and as much as in them lies do good to all men, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the sick and needy, relieve all, forget and forgive injuries, as true charity requires; yet most part there is simulatum quid, a deal of hypocrisy in this kind, much default and defect. Cosmo de Medici, that rich citizen of Florence, ingeniously confessed to a near friend of his, that would know of him why he built so many public and magnificent palaces, and bestowed so liberally on scholars, not that he loved learning more than others, "but to eternise his own name, to be immortal by the benefit of scholars; for when his friends were dead, walls decayed, and all inscriptions gone, books would remain to the world's end." The lantern in Athens was built by Zenocles, the theatre by Pericles, the famous port Pyræum by Musicles, Pallas Palladium by Phidias, the Pantheon by Callicratidas; but these brave monuments are decayed all, and ruined long since, their builders' names alone flourish by meditation of writers. And as he said of that Marian oak, now cut down and dead, nullius Agricolæ manu vulta stirps tam diuturna, quam quæ p?tæ, versu seminari potest, no plant can grow so long as that which is ingenio sata, set and manured by those ever-living wits. Allon Backuth, that weeping oak, under which Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, died, and was buried, may not survive the memory of such everlasting monuments. Vainglory and emulation (as to most men) was the cause efficient, and to be a trumpeter of his own fame, Cosmo's sole intent so to do good, that all the world might take notice of it. Such for the most part is the charity of our times, such our benefactors, Mecænates and patrons. Show me amongst so many myriads, a truly devout, a right, honest, upright, meek, humble, a patient, innocuous, innocent, a merciful, a loving, a charitable man! Probus quis nobiscum vivit? Show me a Caleb or a Joshua! Dic mihi Musa virum -- show a virtuous woman, a constant wife, a good neighbour, a trusty servant, an obedient child, a true friend, &c. Crows in Africa are not so scant. He that shall examine this iron age wherein we live, where love is cold, et jam terras Astrea reliquit, justice fled with her assistants, virtue expelled,

--"Justitiæ soror,
Incorrupta fides, nudaque veritas," --

"The sister of justice, honour inviolate, and naked truth."

all goodness gone, where vice abounds, the devil is loose, and see one man vilify and insult over his brother, as if he were an innocent, or a block, oppress, tyrannise, prey upon, torture him, vex, gall, torment and crucify him, starve him, where is charity? He that shall see men swear and forswear, lie and bear false witness, to advantage themselves, prejudice others, hazard goods, lives, fortunes, credit, all, to be revenged on their enemies, men so unspeakable in their lusts, unnatural in malice, such bloody designments, Italian blaspheming, Spanish renouncing, &c., may well ask where is charity? He that shall observe so many lawsuits, such endless contentions, such plotting, undermining, so much money spent with such eagerness and fury, every man for himself, his own ends, the devil for all: so many distressed souls, such lamentable complaints, so many factions, conspiracies, seditions, oppressions, abuses, injuries, such grudging, repining, discontent, so much emulation, envy, so many brawls, quarrels, monomachies, &c., may well require what is become of charity? when we see and read of such cruel wars, tumults, uproars, bloody battles, so many men slain, so many cities ruinated, &c. (for what else is the subject of all our stones almost, but bills, bows, and guns!) so many murders and massacres, &c., where is charity? Or see men wholly devote to God, churchmen, professed divines, holy men, "to make the trumpet of the gospel the trumpet of war," a company of hell-born Jesuits, and fiery-spirited friars, facem præferre to all seditions: as so many firebrands set all the world by the ears (I say nothing of their contentious and railing books, whole ages spent in writing one against another, and that with such virulency and bitterness, Bionæis sermonibus et sale nigro) , and by their bloody inquisitions, that in thirty years, Bale saith, consumed 39 princes, 148 earls, 235 barons, 14,755 commons; worse than those ten persecutions, may justly doubt where is charity? Obsecro vos quales hi demum Christiani! Are these Christians? I beseech you tell me: he that shall observe and see these things, may say to them as Cato to Cæsar, credo quæ de inferis dicuntur falsa existimas, "sure I think thou art of opinion there is neither heaven nor hell." Let them pretend religion, zeal, make what shows they will, give alms, peace-makers, frequent sermons, if we may guess at the tree by the fruit, they are no better than hypocrites, epicures, atheists, with the "fool in their hearts they say there is no God." 'Tis no marvel then if being so uncharitable, hard-hearted as we are, we have so frequent and so many discontents, such melancholy fits, so many bitter pangs, mutual discords, all in a combustion, often complaints, so common grievances, general mischiefs, si tantæ in terris trag?diæ, quibus labefactatur et misere laceratur humanum genus, so many pestilences, wars, uproars, losses, deluges, fires, inundations, God's vengeance and all the plagues of Egypt, come upon us, since we are so currish one towards another, so respectless of God, and our neighbours, and by our crying sins pull these miseries upon our own heads. Nay more, 'tis justly to be feared, which Josephus once said of his countrymen Jews, "if the Romans had not come when they did to sack their city, surely it had been swallowed up with some earthquake, deluge, or fired from heaven as Sodom and Gomorrah: their desperate malice, wickedness and peevishness was such." 'Tis to be suspected, if we continue these wretched ways, we may look for the like heavy visitations to come upon us. If we had any sense or feeling of these things, surely we should not go on as we do, in such irregular courses, practise all manner of impieties; our whole carriage would not be so averse from God. If a man would but consider, when he is in the midst and full career of such prodigious and uncharitable actions, how displeasing they are in God's sight, how noxious to himself, as Solomon told Joab, 1 Kings, ii. "The Lord shall bring this blood upon their heads." Prov. i. 27, "sudden desolation and destruction shall come like a whirlwind upon them: affliction, anguish, the reward of his hand shall be given him," Isa. iii. 11, &c., "they shall fall into the pit they have digged for others," and when they are scraping, tyrannising, getting, wallowing in their wealth, "this night, O fool, I will take away thy soul," what a severe account they must make; and how gracious on the other side a charitable man is in God's eyes, haurit sibi gratiam. Matt. v. 7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy: he that lendeth to the poor, gives to God," and how it shall be restored to them again; "how by their patience and long-suffering they shall heap coals on their enemies' heads," Rom. xii. "and he that followeth after righteousness and mercy, shall find righteousness and glory;" surely they would check their desires, curb in their unnatural, inordinate affections, agree amongst themselves, abstain from doing evil, amend their lives, and learn to do well. "Behold how comely and good a thing it is for brethren to live together in union: it is like the precious ointment, &c. How odious to contend one with the other!" Miseriquid luctatiunculis hisce volumus? ecce mors supra caput est, et supremum illud tribunal, ubi et dicta et facta nostra examinanda sunt: Sapiamus! "Why do we contend and vex one another? behold death is over our heads, and we must shortly give an account of all our uncharitable words and actions: think upon it: and be wise."


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