« السابقةمتابعة »
he reckoneth the bounty, shewed to his members, as done to himself. (Matth. xxv. 35, 40) A sacrifice was offered to God, though eaten by the priest and the people; and our alms are called 'sacrifices.' (Heb. xiii. 16. Phil. iv. 18) The poor only are benefited; but God is honoured by them. And there is a connexion between his mercy and ours; we forfeit his, when we restrain our own. (Matth. v. 7. James ii. 13) And the argument is strong from his to ours; his was to enemies; ours, to brethren;-his, to debtors; ours, to fellow-servants;-his, free grace to me; mine, just debt to my brother;-(Rom. xiii. 8) his, for ever to me; mine, but for a moment to my brother;-his, in talents to me; mine, but in pence to my brother ;-his, in blood to me; mine, but in bread to my brother;-his mercy enricheth me; mine leaves my brother poor still. If then I live by the mercy which I do enjoy, and must be saved by the mercy which I do expect; shall so much mercy shine on me, and none reflect from me upon my poor brother? Shall all the waters of life run from Christ unto me, as those of Jordan into a dead sea, to be lost and buried there? Wherefore doth the sun shine, and the rain fall on the earth, but that it may be fruitful? The mercies of God should be as dew and heat, as manure and culture, to the souls of men; that being thereby enriched, they may empty themselves, and draw out themselves into the bowels of others. Christ is the fountain, rich men the conduit, and poor men the vessels which are there and thence supplied.
Thirdly, From respect to ourselves. 1. Community of nature; we also are in the flesh. We may want mercy from Who would have thought,
others, as others do now from us. that David should have stood in need of the bread of a churl? Good offices between men and men are not duties only, but trade and merchandise. I shew them to him now, and another time he may shew them to me: it is the apostle's argument, 2 Cor. viii. 14. 2. A special honour, when God makes us instruments for doing good; for "it is a more blessed thing to give, than to receive." (Acts xx. 35) Mercy is the seed of honour. (Psalm cxii. 9. Prov. xxi. 21)
Fourthly, From respect to our neighbour, to whom we owe this debt of love. For there is a debt of charity, as well as a debt of justice: a debt, whereby I owe him that
which is truly his; and a debt, whereby I owe him something of that which is mine own. And this I do both unto God's image in him; for, "every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten:" (1 John v. 1) and unto mine own image ;-for "his flesh is as mine own flesh." (Neh. v. 5) "He that made me in the womb, made him," saith Job: (Chap. xxxi. 15) and "when I hide myself from him, I hide from mine own flesh.” (Isa. lviii. 7) sum; humani nihil à me alienum puto."
Fifthly, For the credit of our reformed religion, that the mouths of adversaries may be stopped, who falsely charge us with preaching, and you with professing, a naked, empty, fruitless faith. We preach St. Paul's faith, "a faith which works by love;-remembering your work of faith." We preach St. Peter's faith, a faith which hath virtue, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly kindness, and charity added unto it. we tell you with him, That if these things be lacking, you are blind; and your knowledge is worth nothing, so long as it is barren and unfruitful. We preach St. James's faith, a faith which hath works, which may be shewed, which visiteth the fatherless and widows in their afflictions; -Abraham's faith, that hath a bosom for poor Lazarus ;Rahab's faith, which had a harbour for endangered strangers. We preach St. Jude's faith", "a most holy faith, a faith delivered to the saints;" such a faith, as who indeed hath it, is not a cloud without water, nor a tree without fruit. We preach St. John's faith, to believe on the name of Christ, and to love one another;" and to shew this love by opening our bowels of compassion to our needy brother, and loving him not in word only, but in deed and truth. We tell you, if you trust in the Lord, you must do good: If you believe either the truth, or the terrors, or the promises. of God, you must not withhold the poor from their desire, nor cause the eye of the widow to fail. This is the faith we preach; this is the charge we give. We tell you, without this, your faith is hypocritical, your religion vain, your hope delusion, and all your expectation but as a spider's web.
Sixthly, Let me press upon London, the example of London, an easy argument, one would think, to desire you to be like yourselves. I might make a large recital of great and public works of piety done by this famous city: I might mention multitudes of ample munificences and benefactions, by very many worthy members thereof since the Reformation; whereby they have refuted the calumnies cast upon our religion by papists, as if it made us careless of good works. A large catalogue hath been made of them to mine. hand by a learned writer, Dr. Andrew Willet, to the honour of God, and credit of our religion. I shall content myself to give you a report of the general sum, which, upon computation, he telleth us, doth amount, in the space of sixty years, unto above six hundred thousand pounds. So that, by an equal distribution, through the whole time, this famous city did allow ten thousand pounds per annum, for threescore years together, unto works of piety and charity; (besides all which was done in a private and unobserved way) an example, I believe, hardly to be paralleled in any city under the Roman jurisdiction. More than forty hospitals built, above twenty free-schools, besides granaries, conduits, water-works, loans to poor workmen, exhibitions to poor scholars, churches, munificent gifts to the universities and colleges there :-so that I may say unto you, as Paul to the Thessalonians, touching brotherly love," You need not that I speak unto you; for you have been taught of God;" only I beseech you, "that you abound more and more ;" (1 Thess. iv. 9, 10) that you may receive the same honourable testimony and memorial from Christ, which the church of Thyatira hath received, "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works," (they are twice mentioned) " and the last to be more than the first." (Rev. ii. 19) "Be not weary of well-doing; in due time you shall reap, if you faint not." (Gal. vi. 9) "Lose not the things which ye have wrought, but that ye receive a full reward." (2 John, ver. 8) And this leads me to the last consideration, viz.
Seventhly, The reward which is set before you. It is a sowing of seed;' (2 Cor. ix. 6) a scattering which tendeth to increase. (Prov. xi. 24) There is no duty, which hath more copious promises of reward, than this of mercy and
• Synopsis Papismi, Edit. 5. P. 1223–1232.
good works. -Rewarded with plenty; "thy soul shall be as a watered garden.” (Isa. lviii. 11) "For this thing, the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works." (Deut. xv. 10) Rewarded with honour" he hath dispersed and given to the poor, his horn shall be exalted with honour." (Psalm cxii. 9) Rewarded with the blessings of the poor: "the blessing of him that was ready to perish, came upon me." (Job. xxix. 11, 13) Rewarded with the grace of God: "God is able to make all grace abound towards you." (2 Cor. ix. 8) Rewarded with a pure and comfortable use of what we enjoy ourselves; "give alms of such things as you have; and behold all things are clean unto you." (Luke xi. 41) Rewarded with a lengthening of our present tranquillity. (Dan. iv. 27) Rewarded with God's acceptation; (Heb. xiii. 16) with the mercy of God; (Mat. v. 7) with the mansions of God. (Luke xvi. 9) Good works are bills of exchange, which return our estates into another country.
This laying out is laying up; mercatura est, amittere ut lucreris.' It is like putting a basin of water into a pump, which draws out a great vessel full. It is a sacrifice; and sacrifices were offered for the benefit, not for the damage, of the offerers. A man scatters his seed in the furrow; but he lays up his crop in the barn; it is a scattering which ends in a laying up. The backs of the poor, the bellies of the hungry, are the bank of heaven.
And it is laying up for ourselves. Men lay up usually for others; their children, their heirs, and executors meet with it at the last; but works of mercy are all expended upon a man's self; he hath the comfort here, and the reward hereafter. It is money lent to God; and he will repay it to ourselves. In law, he which sows, must reap; and so says the apostle, "He that soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully."
Quas dederis, solas semper habebis opes.
And it is laying up a foundation; a way to make our uncertain riches sure and stable; that whereas other riches
f Si amicus tuus intraret in domum tuam, et inveniret te in loco humido frumenta posuisse, daret tibi hujusmodi consilium, dicens, Frater, perdis, quod cum
take unto them wings and fly away, those which are thus laid out, are laid up as safe, as unmovable as the stones of a foundation, as the bottom of a rock. A foundation not by way of merit towards God, but by way of evidence in regard of ourselves, as testimonies of our reconciliation and peace with God. A learned writer makes deμédios xaλòs to answer to the Hebrew any which is the bond,' or instrument,' securing to a creditor the money which he hath lent. ̓Αποθησαυρίζειν θεμέλιον καλὸν,is 'Bona nomina facere:' God becomes surety for the poor to repay us there, "where neither rust, nor moth, nor thief can enter."
And it is a foundation, eis rò méλλov, for the time to come, for the life to come, when none of our glory will follow us. Wealth hath wings; it is here to day, it is gone to morrow: but good works are a bank in heaven. When all other men's wealth doth stay behind them, and betake itself to other masters; a good man's, being turned into good works, doth follow him, and enrich him in a life to come.
And this life to come, a life which may be held, a life which can never be lost :-when the last general conflagration shall have consumed and melted all the treasures of the world, our good works will abide that trial. The inheritance unto which they follow us, "is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens for us."
And now, right honourable and beloved, to give you all in a view,—you have heard the charge of the God of heaven, to the rich men of the earth: it is my petition, it is his command: I beseech you, he enjoins you, "not to be highminded;" not to let that which comes from the deep place of the earth, exalt you, and make you forget that you are earth; not to let the thick clay make the thin dust proud. It cannot add a cubit to your stature; let it not add so great a sin to your souls. It is gift, it is not property; God's, not yours. You are the fiduciaries, the depositaries only; why should you glory," as if you had not received it ?"
Let me add this one word more,-let not your riches make
magno labore collegisti : in loco humido posuisti ; paucis diebus ista putrescent.'— * Et quid facio, Frater?' Leva in Superiora.'-Audires amicum suggerentem, ut frumenta levares de inferioribus ad superiora, et non audis Christum monentem ut thesaurum tuum leves de terra ad Cœlum? Aug. in Psalm 148. & Sam.
Petti, Var. Lect. 1. 1. c. 11.