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in one hope of our calling: We are all SER M.
SERM.ments of mutual affection; and thofe, if XVII. they be fincere, muft neceffarily fhow forth themfelves in fuitable Effects. We ought, if need were, even to lay down our lives for the brethren, faith St John, 1 Job. iii. 16 But how do we anfwer this character, if, when we fee our Brother in want, we are not willing to part with any of the Superfluities of life, to relieve his Neceffities, for whom Chrift was not unwilling to die? In the Primitive Times the Difciples fold all that they had, and diftribution was made to every one according as he had need: God does not now require, any fuch thing of us, but we are very ungrateful to him, if, when the circumftances of things are fo changed, that far lefs is required of us; we be now more unwilling to contribute our fmall proportion, than they were then to offer up their whole eftates. The leaft we can do, is to give fuch experiment of this miniftration, as St Paul expreffes himself, that men may glorify God for our professed Subjection to the Gospel of Chrift, and for our liberal diftribution to our brethren and to all men; 2 Cor. ix. 13.
3dly; WITH refpect to ourselves, the SER M. Obligations incumbent upon us to be XVII. charitable and beneficent, are very confiderable. Compaffion is, by the Wisdom of our great Creator, implanted in the very frame of our Nature; and men cannot without great and long habits of Wickedness, root out of their minds fo noble and excellent an inclination. 'Tis almost as natural for us to feel an agreeable Satisfaction and unexpreffible Pleafure of mind, upon fatisfying a hungry. Soul with bread, or cloathing the naked with a garment; as 'tis for Them to be pleased with the Sense of their being relieved from these natural wants. And the greater abilities and opportunities God has endued any man with, of enlarging his bowels of compaffion, and doing good to greater numbers of his Fellow-crea→ tures, and diffufing his virtue more widely through the World in acts of bounty and beneficence, in imitation of the great Creator and Preferver of all things; the greater Capacities and Advantages has fuch a one, of obtaining higher degrees of that Satisfaction and Complacency of
SERM.mind, in the perfection of which conXVII. fifts in great measure the Happiness of God himself. On the contrary, what pleasure, what benefit is there in the poffeffion of thofe good things, which after fupplying our own neceffities, and making reasonable provifion for our families; are laid up as ufelefs and unprofitable fuperfluities? Concerning which, What good, faith the wife man, is there in them to the owners thereof, faving the beholding of them with their eyes? Real Good indeed, and any true advantage, there feldom is; but very many times great mischief, and ftrong temptations. There is a fore evil, faith Solomon, which I have feen under the Sun; riches kept for the owners thereof to their burt: And they that will be rich, faith St Paul, fall into temptations and a Snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lufts; which drown men in Deftruction and Perdition. If we intend only to fecure ourselves, against future contingencies; a reasonable provifion of this kind, is neither contrary to religion, nor inconfiftent with charity; but beyond this, an unbounded de
fire of heaping up great riches, is by no SER M.