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MAXIMS OF CHARITY, WITH ANECDOTES OF THE AUTHOR, MR. PETER STERRY.
TR. PETER STERRY was one MR. of Oliver Cromwell's chaplains, and attended the Protector in his laft hours, who, as the fatyrical author of Hudibras fays,
-Was detain'd in Stygian ferry Until he was reliev'd by Sterry. This eminent preacher was a particular friend and affociate of the celebrated Sir Harry Vane. The luxuriancy of his imagination led him to adopt fome vifionary notions in religion, and to exprefs himself in a ftyle fo highly metaphorical as to approach too near the bombaft. Mr. Richard Baxter, quoting an expreffion of Sir Benjamin Rudyard's, whofe curiofity would fometimes lead him to attend at Mr. Sterry's church, faid of his preaching, that "it was too high for this world, and too low for the next." The remark had more ill-nature than wit in it: and favoured more of petulance than Chritian wisdom or candour. Mr. Baxter was too full of controverfy to liften to the milder leffons of a meek and lowly mind: and befides he must have felt Mr. Sterry's preaching to be the moft poignant of all reproofs to dogmatifts of all fects, and polemics of every defcription.
my idea there are paffages wonderfully ftriking and beautiful in a preface to a pofthumous work of his, known perhaps to few, if any of your readers, entitled, A Difcourfe on the Freedom of the Will. (1675.) I have extracted from it the following Maxims of Charity (I cannot give them a better title, as they do not confift of a chain of logical argument) and though I have taken fome liberty with the language, by lopping off fome of its more luxuriant hoots, yet I have fcrupulously preferved the author's fentiments and allufions; and the general tone of expreffion and caft of ftyle; convinced that any alteration in thefe refpects would have been injurious to the original.
The writer was a strict neceffitarian, and believed in the reftitution of all things, like his colleague Jeremy White.
The reader will perceive in thefe extracts the fublimity of a platonic mind, foftened by the gentler breathings of Chriftian humility and love. They foothe while they elevate; and in raising the imagination to the firft good, first perfect, and first fair,' they dilate the heart in ftreams of mercy to mankind.
MAXIMS OF CHARITY.
IF "God is love," his attributes are the attributes of love-the purity and fimplicity-the fovereignty and wifdom-the unchangeablenefs and in
finity of Divine love. If "God is love," his work is the work of love→→ a love unmixed and unconfined-infinite and fupreme in wisdom and pow
er, not limited in its workings by any pre-exiftent matter, but bringing forth freely and entirely from itfelf its whole work, both in matter and form according to its own inclination and complacency in itself.
Leo Hebræus enflamed with the beauty of the heavenly Sophia-the Divine wifdom which is the first and fairest of all beauties in one form, immortal and ever-flourishing, is inftructed to charm her to his embraces by inquiring into the nature of love. Purfuing his enquiries by the bright conduct of her illuftrious beams he is led through the whole nature of things, above and below, with all their changes and varieties as manifold streams of Divine love, in divers breadths and depths, with innumerable sportful windings and turnings, owing forth from its own ocean of eternal goodnefs, and through all its channels haftening thither again. Campanella teaches us that all fecond caufes are fo many modifications of the firft caufe-fo many forms and appearances under which it acts.-There is a diverfity of manifeftations”there are" diverfities of operations" which compofe and fettle the whole frame of the creation, which are like various perfons acting various parts on a ftage; but there is" one fpirit which worketh all in all."
If, my reader, thou wouldst be led to that fea which is the confluence of all the waters of life and truth, follow the ftream of divine love as it holdeth on its courfe from its fpringhead in eternity, through every work and in every creature of God. Thus thou shalt be not only happy in thine end but in thy way; whilft this ftream fhall not be thy guide only, but fhall carry thee along in its foft, delicious bofom, bearing thee up by its divine power, and in its own pure floods wafhing thee white as fnow.
Plato faith, that three forts of perfons are led to God:- "the mufician by the power of harmony, the philofopher by the beam of truth, and the lover by the light of beauty." All thefe conductors to the Supreme Being
Let no differences in principle or practice divide thee in thy affections from any one. He who feems to me like a Samaritan to a Jew, moft worthy of contempt and hatred, most prepared to wound or kill me, may hide under the shape of a Samaritan a generous, affectionate neighbour, brother, and friend. When I lie wounded and dying, neglected by those who are dearest to me and most esteemed by me, this perfon may pour wine and oif into my wounds with tender and conftant care, and at his own expence bring me back to life and joy. How evident hath it been in the hiftories of all times that in parties most remote from one another, and moft oppofed to each other, perfons have been found of equal excellencies in all times, and of equal integrity and goodness. Our moft orthodox divines who have been moft heated and heightened with the zeal of oppofition to the Pope as the Anti-Chrift, yet have believed that a Pope hath afcended from a papal chair to a throne in heaven.
Had my education, my acquaintance, my circumftances been the fame to me as to this perfon from whom I now moft of all diffent, that which is now his fenfe and ftate might have been mine. Have therefore the fame just and tender refpect, with the fame allowances of another that thou requireft from him for thy felf. Two oppofing parties or perfons by reafon of their oppofition, for the moft part look through the fame difturbed and coloured medium, and behold each other under the fame uncomely form. But hath there not been frequent experience of thofe who by being of different parties, alienated from and exafperated against one another, having their fancies filled with ftrange images of each other, yet when they have
been brought together, by fome intervening providence, have difcovered fuch amiableness and excellence, fuch an harmonious agreement in the effential and radical principles of divine truth, that they have converfed with the higheft fatisfaction, have departed with a higher efteem of each other; and thus by " entertaining strangers, have entertained angels unawares." Do thou believe, my Christian reader, that in every encounter thou mayest meet with a brother and a friend under the difguife of an enemy, who, when his helmet shall be taken off, may difclose a beautiful and well-known face, which shall charm thy oppofition into love and peace. Often-I may fay, for the most part, two oppofite fects have fomething on each fide excellently good, and fomething exorbitantly evil-although perhaps in unequal degrees. Both mutually fet before their eyes, in the moft partial light, their own good, and oppofite to it the evil of another party. Thus they blind their minds to all perception or belief of any good there: and thus they lift up themselves above all fenfe of their own evil. Thus they heighten themselves by felf-juftification and mutual condemnation to the extinguishing of every beam of good,
and the increase of thofe evils which end in the blacknefs of darkness." How much better would it be for us to obey that precept, which offereth itfelf to us like an olive-branch in the mouth of the facred dove-" to look not every man at his own things, but every man also at the things of others." I am ready
defective in the other, to a perfection of good in both: fo fhall the good on one fide be a proper antidote to expel the evil on the other. Thus while the evil is the privation, and the good the better part of yourselves, you will by this mutual interchange of charitable fentiments and friendly wishes meet to fill up the circle of each other's being, beauty, and felicity, and be complete in one.
How inexpreffibly delightful would the fruits of fuch a union be? How would it heighten us in that in which our conformity to God-yea, and our immortality itself is placed? How would fuch a union ftrengthen our outward interests and sweeten our natural enjoyments-thofe interefts and enjoyments to which you now facrifice ingenuity and integrity; till by them you make way to the heartblood of one another, and there drown thofe darling interefts and enjoyments together with yourfelves-your country-and the world. Ah! when will mankind be wife to understand their own good? or be good that they may be wife?-We wait for thy falvation, O Lord!
It is neceffary for my purpofe to divide thofe principles and practices that diftinguish mankind into three
Some appear to be of a nature perfectly indifferent-neither good nor evil, but according to the intention and fpirit of the agent.
Some differ in the degrees, mixtures, or varieties of good and evil. 3. Others differ in the whole kind of good and evil.
In this laft ftate of things it is the part of every good man to maintain the free and unreftrained fpirit of divine love, like the fun in the firmament encircling the whole earth from pole to pole, fhining upon good and bad on the parched and howling defert, the favage haunts of beafts and ferpents, fierce and venomous, as well as on the cultivated garden, flourishing with wholefome herbs, beauteous flowers, and delicious fruits.- -On this unreftrained plan of benevolence, God is propofed to us as a pattern, by his
own fon, who was the brightnefs of his glory and the exprefs image of his perfon"Be thou perfect as thy Father which is in Heaven is perfect." Diftinguish between good and evil: -oppofe the one and advance the other; but remember every where to diftinguifh carefully with all tendernefs of fpirit between the perfon and the evil that unhappily adheres to him. "Be wife as ferpents and harm
lefs as doves." Difcern the evil with a quick and curious eye: but be a dove to the perfon without gall or venom-without any thing to injure or offend; but moan tenderly over him as a difeafed companion, till he is recovered from the evil that opprefferh him, and captivated into a refined fellowship with you in the purity and love of the divine nature. (To be continued.)
TO THE EDITOR OF THE LONDON MAGAZINE. LETTERS FROM LISLE.
T is now almoft a fortnight fince I arrived in this town; the handfomeft I have seen in France, and by far the neateft. I have fpent my time chiefly in examining the curiofities it contains, of which I intend to give you fome account. It is the capital of French Flanders, and the fuppofed refidence of the military governourgeneral of the province: I fay the fuppofed refidence; for though he has a grand hotel here, which tears his name, the prefent governour has been here but twice fince he was appointed to the fupreme military command of the country; the first time in 1751; and the fecond in 1767: he is a man of great family, and has intereft enough at court to get leave to draw annually an immenfe revenue from his government, without having paffed fix months in it thefe thirty-three years. You fee by this, that it is not in England alone that great finecure places exift, or that great men have vaft emoluments for doing nothing. The prefent governour is the Prince de Soubife, of the family of Rohan, marfhal of France, and duke and peer of the realm. For his great military honours he is indebted to his high birth, and not to his knowledge in tactics: you may remember the battle of Rofbach, in the late German war: it was this very Prince de Soubife who commanded the French army that day; and who made fuch ungeneral-like difpofitions for battle, that the King of Pruffia, with
Lifle, Feb. 28, 1784.
a handful of recruits, put Soubife's vaft army to the route, after having made a dreadful havock of the French. Should his Most Christian Majesty engage in a war with the Emperour, which is greatly apprehended here at prefent, the Prince will no doubt be fuffered ftill to remain an absentee from his government, as an abler man will be neceffary to watch over and protect this frontier province. But from the governour let us return to the town. Lifle is diftant only 45 miles from the fea; is a rich and populous place: it is fuppofed to contain about 80,000 inhabitants, who are perhaps as induftrious as any people on the face of the earth: the children are generally made to work from the age of five years; fo that very few eat the bread of idlenefs; hence it is that the people live very comfortably, and no beggars are to be feen in the ftreets, to difgrace the police, and reproach the inhabitants with want of humanity. The principal manufactures of Lifle are thread lace, which in England is called minionet, in imitation of Point and Valenciennes, to which it is greatly inferiour in beauty, though fuperiour in ftrength and durability; camlets, ratteens, gold and filver stuffs, and thread. The camlets are excellent, particularly thofe manufactured at a large and handsome village, called Roubaix, at the distance of about five miles from this town, within the jurifdiction of which it lies: they are
equal if not, fuperiour to the English camlets; and at a foreign market are fold much cheaper, on account of the cheapnefs of labour in this country. The people in the genteel line of life here (the men I mean) wear them in fummer, on account of their lightness; and when lined with filk, and laced, they appear, to a perfon who does not look very minutely at them, as handfome as Irish poplins. With thefe camlets I am informed the Lillians have beat the English out of the markets in Holland and the Auftrian Netherlands. Their gold and filver ftuffs are very handfome; but are far from being equal to thofe of Lyons: but their thread is excellent; and they export vaft quantities of it to England, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy: the ports from which they ufually fhip their manufactures are Calais, Dunkirk, and Oftend, with all of which they have a very cheap communication, by means of the finest navigable canals I ever beheld. I found one thing peculiar in the way of business in Lifle, which may be thought by fome an argument of its poverty; and that is, that bills of exchange have fix day's grace here; nay, fo have drafts payable at fight, unless the drawer specifies that the money fhall be paid at fight, without any allowance of grace: but to me this appears to be an argument of the riches of the place, where men in trade are able to give longer credit than elsewhere: at all events, it does not arife from any want or deficiency of circulating medium, for there is a vaft quantity of filver coin in this town, gold being scarce here, as it is in every part of France. Every thing concurs to make the town rich: the garrifon alone spend in it at least 100,000l. fterling a-year: the balance of trade with England is greatly in its favour; for as most of the English manufactures are prohibited in France, the Lillians can take nothing in return but cafh: formerly, indeed, they used great quantities of English coal; but they are now supplied cheaper, and in great plenty, from the Prince of Condé's pits, near Condé, in Picardé. Anoher circumftance greatly in their fa
vour, and which is very detrimental to England, is, that for their threads and laces they are generally paid in hard guineas; for as the lace trade to England is principally in the hands of fmugglers, who, in order to fave the expence of infurance, go over to Lifle themselves, to bring home what they purchase, inftead of having it fent to them, they carry with them to Lifle a great number of guineas, by which means they fecure themselves againft the lofs by exchange on bills drawn upon England, and gain at least fixpence fterling on every guinea, which coin is eagerly bought up at the Mint, or by the goldfmiths. This traffic in guineas, for in fact it is become a regular traffic, whilst it drains England, brings an immenfe quantity of fpecie into this town, which is foon circulated, after the officers of the Mint have new christened it, by making the guineas take the names of Louis d'or, doubloons, &c. If the British legiflature was made acquainted with the extent of the evil, poffibly means might be devised to keep the fpecie at home, by lowering the ftandard of gold, if that could be done without injury to trade and to public credit; or by fome other means: certain it is, that the evil is of a magnitude to call for a remedy, and a fpeedy one too. In enumerating the manufactures of Lifle, I forgot the article of cambrick which is carried on here in great perfection: large quantities of it find their way into England every year, notwithstanding the heavy penalties that the importer expofes himself to, exclufive of the lofs of the goods. I have heard intelligent merchants in this town fay that its export trade (confifting of its own manufactures) amounts annually to ten millions five hundred livres tournois, or about 402,0831. 6s. 8d. fterling. Before I leave this town, where I intend to pafs a few weeks more, I fhall give you fome account of its public buildings, the ftrength of the garrifon, with a pretty minute account of its fortifications, particularly of the citadel, which is deemed the ftrongeft in Europe, and the chef d'œuvre of the great Vauban, the