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dust, it curls itself into a drop, and so stands equally armed in every point of the circle, so dividing the forces of the enemy, that by that little union it may stand as long as it can; but if it be dissolved into flatness, it is changed into the nature and possession of the dust. War is one of God's greatest plagues; and, therefore, when God, in this holy sacrament, pours forth the greatest effusion of his love, peace in all capacities, and in all dimensions, and to all purposes, he will not endure that they should come to these lovefeasts who are unkind to their brethren, quarrelsome with their neighbours, implacable to their enemies, apt to contentions, hard to be reconciled, soon angry, scarcely appeased. These are dogs,' and must not come within the holy place, where God, who is the 'congregating Father, and Christ the great Minister of peace, and the Holy Spirit of love, are present in mysterious symbols and most gracious communications.
For although it be true, that God loves us first, yet he will not continue to love us, or proceed in the methods of his kindness, unless we become like unto him in love. For by our love and charity he will pardon us, and he will comfort us, and he will judge us, and he will save us; and it can never be well with us, till love, that governs heaven itself, be the prince of all our actions and our passions. By this we know we are translated from death to life, by our love unto our brethren :' that is the testimonial of our comfort. -'I was hungry, and ye fed me: I was hungry, and ye fed me not:' these are the tables of our final judgment. - If ye love me, keep my commandments :' that is the measure of our obedience. In that
have done kindness to one of these little ones, yé have done it unto me:' that is the installing of the saints in their thrones of glory.--' If thou bringest a gift to the altar, leave it there; go and be re
e Scelera dissident.- Seneca.
Facinus sævum et atrox inter pocula atque epulas, ubi libare diis dapes, ubi bene precari mos esset, ad spectaculum scorti procacis, in sinu consulis recubantis, mactatam humanam victimam esse, et cruore mensam respersam. Sic Valerius Antias apud Livium, lib. xxxix. cap. 43. Rupert. yol, iii. p. 564. 8 Συναγωγός πατής, Dionys. Areop.
h Cum nostros animos amor,
Quo coelum regitur, regit.— Boeth. Consol. Philos.
conciled to thy brother:' that is the great instrument of our being accepted. - No man can love God, and hate his brother:' that is the rule of our examination in this particular.—. This is a new commandment, that ye love one another:' there is the great precept of the Gospel.—. This is an old commandment, that ye love one another :' there is the very law of nature. – And to sum up all, “ Love is the fulfilling of the law:' that is the excellency and perfection of a man ;- and there is the expectation of all reward, and the doing all our duty, and the sanctification of every action, and the spirit of life: it is the heart, and the fire, and the salt of every sacrifice; it is the crown of every communion. And all this mysterious excellency is perfectly represented by that divine exhortation made by St. Paul', “ Purge out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
· Now, concerning this grace, if we will inquire after it, in order to a worthy receiving the holy communion, we must inquire after the effects and offices of charity; and, by the good we do, or are ready to do, take an account of ourselves in this particular. The offices and general duties are three: 1. Doing good ; 2. Speaking good; and, 3. Forgiving evil.
Of doing Good to our Neighbours. He that loves me, does me good; for until love be beneficial, it is not my good, but his fancy and pleasure that delights in me. I do not examine this duty by our alms alone; for although they are an excellent instrument of life, [“ for alms 'deliver from death,” said the angel * to old Tobit,] yet there are some who are bountiful to the poor, and yet not charitable
to their neighbour. You can best tell whether you have charity to your brother, by your willingness to oblige him, and do him real benefit, and keeping him from all harm we can. Do you do good to all you can? Will you willingly give friendly counsel? Do you readily excuse your neighbour's faults? Do you rejoice, when he is made glad? Do you delight in his hònour and prosperity? Do you stop his entry into folly and shame? Do not you laugh at his miscarriages? Do you stand ready in mind to do all good offices to all you can converse with ? For nothing makes society so fair and lasting, as the mutual endearment of each other by good offices; and never any man did a good turn to his brother, but, one time or other, himself did eat the fruit of it. The good man in the Greek epigram, that found a dead man's skull unburied, in kindness digging a grave for it, opened the inclosures of a treasure. And we read in the annals of France, that when Gontran, king of Burgundy, was sleeping by the murmurs of a little brook, his servant espied a lizard coming from his master's head, and assayed to pass the water ; but seeming troubled because it could not, he laid his sword over the brook, and made an iron-bridge for the little beast, who, passing, entered into the earth, and speedily returned back to the king, and disturbed him, as it is supposed, into a dream, in which he saw an iron-bridge, which landed him at the foot of the mountain, where if he digged, he should find a great heap of gold. The servant expounded his master's dream, and showed him the iron bridge; and they digged where the lizard had entered, where they found indeed a treasure; and thus the servant's piety was rewarded upon his lord's head, and procured wealth to one, and honour to the other. There is, in human nature, a strange kind of nobleness and love to return and exchange good offices; but because there are some dogs who bite
your hand, when you reach them bread, — God, by the ministry of his little creatures, tells, that if we will not, yet he will certainly recompense every act of piety and charity we do one to another. This the Egyptians did well signify, in one of the new names of their constellations : for when the wife of Ptolemy Euergetes had vowed her hair to the temple, upon condition her husband might return in safety; and she did consecrate the beauty of her head to the ornaments of religion, Conon, the astronomer, told her, that the gods had placed her hair among the stars :' and to this day they call one knot of stars by the name of ' Berenice's hair.' For every such worthiness like this, will have an immortal name in some record, and it shall be written above the stars, and set by the names of the sons of God, who, by doing worthy things, have endeared communions and societies of mankind.
In all the sacrifices of the ancients, they were hugely kind to one another; they invited their friends to partake the sacrifice, and called them to a portion of pardon, that they might eat of that mercy and that forgiveness, which they expected from their god. Then they sent portions to the absent; then they renewed leagues, and re-established peace, and made marriages, and joined families, and united hearts, and knitted interests by a thread and chain of mutual acts of kindness and endearment. And so should we, when we come to this holy sacrifice; we must keep our hearts entire to God, and divide them amongst our brethren, and heartily love all them who feed upon the same Christ, who live by the same faith, who are entertained by the same hope, and are confederate by the laws, and the events, and the causes, by the acts and emanation of the same charity. But this thing is plain, no discourse here is useful but an exhortation : all that can be said is this; that it is decent, and it is useful, and it is necessary, that we be very kind, and very charitable to all the members of Christ, with whom we are joined by the ligatures of the same body, and supported by the strength of the same nourishment, and blessed by influences from the same divine Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Of Speaking good of our Neighbours. If it be not in our hands to do well, it must be in our hearts; and the contrary must never be upon our tongues: we are sure we can speak well, or we can abstain from speaking ill. If it be otherwise with us, we cannot be welcome here, we shall not worthily communicate. God opens his mouth, and his heart, and his bowels, his bosom, and his treasures to us in this holy sacrament, and calls to us to draw water as from a rivera, and can we come to drink of the pleasant streams, that we may have only moisture enough, to talk much and long against the honour of our brother or our sister? Can it be imagined that Christ, who never spake an ill word, should take thee into his arms, and feast thee at his table, and dwell in thy heart, and lodge thee in his bosom, who makest thyself all one with the devil; whose office and work it is to be an accuser of the brethren? No: Christ never will feast serpents at his table b; persons who have stings, instead of tongues, and venom in all the moisture of their mouth, and reproach is all their language.
We should easily consent, that he that killed a man yesterday, and is like to kill another to-morrow, were not this day worthy to communicate: now some persons had rather lose their lives than lose their honour: what then think we of their preparation to the holy communion, that make nothing of murdering their brother's or their sister's fame? that either invent evil stories falsely and maliciously, or believing them easily, report them quickly, and aggravate them spitefully, and scatter them diligently? He that delights to report evil things of me, that will not endure so much as
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gravior terras infestat Echidna,