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Charity covers the sins or evils practised against her. self, by forgiving them; knowing that she herself has sins to be forgiven; and conceals the errors of others instead of publishing them to the world, knowing how it would grieve her should her own errors be proclaimed aloud to fame, or whispered to cruel scandal ; she also “ covers a multitude of sins,” by effecting the reformation of others, through her setting them a good example, and praying for them. “ The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,”—(Ep. St. Jus. c.5, v. 16.) for God will hear the prayers of the righteous, put up for others, as well as those which they put up for themselves; and the happiness of all being the continual concern of Charity, her petitions to heaven for herself are always accompanied by petitions for others. Charity also covers her own sins ; for the “ labour of love,” in which she exercises herself, proves her faith in Christ; through which faith, the sins of mankind are covered, and they obtain salvation.
I shall conclude with remarks on the common proverb,
“ Charity begins at home.” Which means, that we must first take care of ourselves ; not only for the purpose of self support, but also that we may be thereby enabled to do good to others. Our next care must be the preservation of those of our own household, or connections; and those “ of the household of faith;" then the relief of all other members of society who may fall in our way must occupy our consideration and excite our practice. In all cases we must remember another pro
verb-"Be just before you are generous ;" and not give away that which is justly due to another. But there are people who confine their charity to home, benefiting none but themselves and their families. This uncovereth the sins of those who practice it, by making them “exceeding sinful.” This proverb means also that the first exercise of Charity must be towards ourselves, in ensuring the hope of our own salvation, without which all our practice is vain.
“ After this manner* therefore pray ye:
“ Our Father who art in heaven,
*“ After this manner, i. e. in such a manner as includes the sense of these words ; which sense must be the foundation of our prayers.”
+ To induce us to serve God with love and holy reverence, we are commanded to call him “our Father," an appellation so endearing, and so calculated to inspire us with the happy hope of receiving from him protection and support, that it should elevate our hearts to him, and fix our affections and desires upon him ; especially, as we know (for Christ has told us so) that he will act as a father towards us, if we act like children towards him; and he will give us every thing that is good for us, if we ask it through Christ, in whose name alone we can obtain any thing) and that it is in his power to give any thing he pleases, because he made every thing, and every thing is his; and to convince us that this our Father will give us that which is good for us, our Saviour says—
“ If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father will he give him a stone ? or, if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent ? or, if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye, then, being
hallowed be thy name ;* thy kingdom
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit unto them that ask him ?”—St. Luke, c. 11, v. 11, 12, 13.
We are, therefore, (to encourage us to pray) told to call God our Father, in order to remove from our minds that dread which we might otherwise experience from considering God only in his character of divine majesty, which would overawe and render us incapable of addressing him, lest we should utter words, or desires, by which we might offend him: therefore, in order to produce hope and trust in him, he is represented to us by the son (who alone knows him) as a father, who would no more mock us, nor give us that which would harm us, than a mortal father would to his children; but on the contrary that which is for our good; and who will not only give us all that is necessary for the support of our bodies, but also (which no earthly father can do) his Holy Spirit to support, enlighten, and guide our souls. When thus encouraged to pray to God, and when we can obtain nothing that is good for us without praying, surely it is madness not to pray. Moreover, this our Father being in heaven, reminds us that our thoughts when we address him must not be worldly, but heavenward; that he may, consistently with his love of sincerity and hatred of hypocrisy, accept our prayer and the heart offered to him, as a Morning or Evening sacrifice. Then, our considering him as our father, speaks our faith in his goodness.
* Be thy name worshipped by all, as that which is
come; * thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.f Give us this day our daily bread; * and forgive us our debts (or
alone truly holy; may all stand in awe of it, and love it and praise it, and thee, and glorify thee for ever!
* Let thy kingdom come to my heart, and to all hearts; or, do thou, O Lord ! vouchsafe to reign in mine and all hearts; so that we may obey none other God but thee. Also, let the Gospel, or kingdom of Christ, (which is God's kingdom—“My kingdom is not of this world,” saith our Saviour) be encreased upon the earth till it be acknowledged throughout the world ; and his name be glorified with one consent throughout all creation; or, so as “to hasten the revelation of the kingdom of glory," when, in thy name,“ all nations shall be blessed.”
+ Grant that I and all upon earth may do thy will, or that which thou hast commanded, as freely, and as cheerfully, as thy ministers and angels do it in heaven. If we do not obey God's will cheerfully and freely, we do not obey it at all; since it is not alone our doing that which he commands, but the readiness with which · we do it, that makes our service acceptable.
Ii.e. Grant me and others this day all that is necessary for our support and comfort, to enable us to perform our several duties in the several stations which thou hast been pleased to assign to us; as well as those things which are necessary for the support and good of our souls, that we may thereby be the better enabled to glorify thee.