« السابقةمتابعة »
in one hope of our calling: We are all SER M. Members of one body, and members alfo XVII. one of another, Rom. xii. 6. We all profess to be Worshippers of that One Supreme God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. We are all redeemed by the blood of that Saviour, and depend upon his merits, for the hope of Salvation; who voluntarily became poor, that we might be made rich; who went about doing good; who laid down his life for our fakes; and in all this, fet us an example that we should follow his steps; leaving it to his Difciples as his laft Commandment and most earnest Request, that they would love one another as he had loved them; making it the Badge and diftinguishing Mark, whereby all men should know that they were his Difciples, if they bad love one towards another; and declaring it to be the Sum and End of that Religion, which he came to establish in the World, that we fhould love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and our neighbours as ourselves. Thefe confiderations, if we will be Chriftians indeed, cannot but produce in us the greateft Endear
SER M.ments of mutual affection; and thofe, if XVII. they be fincere, muft neceffarily fhow forth themselves in fuitable Effects. We ought, if need were, even to lay down our lives for the brethren, faith St John, 1 Joh. 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 Disciples 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 almoft 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 thefe 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-creatures, 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 meafure 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 fnare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts; 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. means fo advantagious in this very refpect, as a charitable difpenfing them in wife proportions would be. For fuch is the inftability of all temporal things, that, as the wife man elegantly expreffes it, Riches make themselves wings, and fiy away, as an eagle towards Heaven; that is, we cannot with all our Care, fecure them to ourselves for any certain time much less are Riches for ever, or do our poffeffions endure for all generations. We know not how foon they may be fnatch'd from Us, by numberless unforeseen Accidents; or we may as fuddenly be taken from them, and our Soul be required of us this very Night. In this Cafe no other part of them will be really beneficial to us, but that which by works of Charity hath been before lent unto the Lord, who in the Life to come will repay it again. And even in respect of our continuance in this prefent World, That which has been well laid out in doing Good to Mankind, has a greater Probability of turning to our Advantage even bere; (confidering the variety of Acci