By Hugh Binning
Charity by all means will avoid scandal, and live honestly in the sight of all men. The apostle says, “Give no occasions for stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the assembly of God,” (1st Corinthians 10:32) And he adds his own example, “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved,” (verse 33). Charity is not self addicted. It has no selfish will to please. It can displease itself so that others profit. I certainly think there is no point of Christianity less regarded. Others we acknowledge, but we fail in practice. This scarce has the esteem of the mind. Few do conceive an obligation lying on them to it.
But Oh how is Christianity, the most of it, humanity? Christ makes us men as well as Christians. He makes us reasonable men when believers. Sin transformed our nature into a wild, beastly, viperous, selfish thing. Grace restores reason and natural affection in the purest and highest strain. And this is reason and humanity, elevated and purified, to condescend to all men in all things for their profit and edification, to deny itself to save others. Whatsoever is not necessary in itself, we ought not to impose a necessity on it by our imagination and preference, to the prejudice of a greater necessity, another’s edification. Indeed charity will dare not sin to please men. That were to hate God, to hate ourselves, and to hate our brethren, under a base pretended notion of love. But I believe, addiction to our own desires in things not necessary, which have no worth but from our disposition, more often transports us beyond the bounds of charity than the apprehension of duty and conscience of sin.
Some will grant they should be tender of offending the saints. But they do not conceive it is much matter what they do in relation to others, as if it were lawful to murder a Gentile more than a Christian. That is a barbarous imagination, opposite to that innocent Christian, Paul, who says, we should be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,” (Philippians 2:15) among whom we should shine “as lights.” And truly it is humanity elevated by Christianity, or reason purified by Christianity, that is the light that shines most brightly in this dark world. And he says (Colossians. 4:5), “Walk in wisdom toward those who are without,” and (1st Thessalonians 4:12) “walk honestly toward those who are without,” avoiding all things, in our profession and life, which may alienate them from the love of the truth and godliness walking so, as we may insinuate into their hearts some apprehension of the beauty of Christianity.
Many conceive, if they do good, all is well, if it be a duty, it matters nothing. But remember that caution, “Then don’t let your good be slandered,” (Romans 14:16) We would have our eyes on that too, so to carry out all our duties, as they may have least offence in them, and be exposed to least public disrepute of men, “having good behavior among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1st Peter 2:12)
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