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SERM.dents all human Affairs are fubject to;) XVII. than that which may have been covetoufly treasured up. For, as Solomon excellently expreffes this matter, Caft thy bread upon the Waters, and thou shalt find it after many days; Give a portion to fersen, and also to eight, for thou knoweft not what evil fhall be upon the earth, Eccles. xi. 1. and iii. 31. He that doth good turns, is mindful of that which may come hereafter; and when he falleth, he shall find a ftay. But this leads me to the
IId THING I proposed to speak to, namely, What great Benefits and Advantages accrue to ourselves, by the Practice of this excellent Duty. And these I have but time barely to mention. And
ift; As has already been hinted; the Charitable man in the natural and ordinary course of things, lays up for himfelf a truer Security against the Accidents of the World, in the Love and Favour, the Affection, and Good-Will of Men; than he could do by hoarding up the largest treasures. For these he may be robbed of by many Accidents; but he which giveth to the poor, fhall not lack,
faith Solomon; and he that devifeth libe- SER M. ral things, faith the Prophet, by liberal XVII. things shall be ftand.
2dly; He leaves behind him an honourable memory, which will be a benefit to his Children and Pofterity after him. He has difperfed abroad, he has given to the poor, his righteousness endureth for ever, his born fhall be exalted with bonour: His feed fhall be mighty upon earth, the generation of the upright shall be blefed, Pf. cxii. 9, 2, And this, humanly speaking, even in the natural confequence and tendency of things. But
3dly; SUCH a perfon has moreover fpecial Promises of the particular Bleffing and Protection of Providence to himfelf and his posterity. The liberal Soul shall be made fat, and he that waterethshall be watered alfo himself, Prov. xi. 25. If thou draw out thy Soul to the hungry, and fatisfy the afflicted Soul; then shall thỷ light rife in obfcurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and fatisfy thy Soul in drought, and make fat thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and
SER M. like a spring of water, whose waters fail XVII. not, If. lviii. 10. Be as a Father unto the Fatherless, and instead of a Husband unto their Mother; fo shalt thou be as the Son of the most High, and he will love thee more than thy Mother doth, Ecclus. iv. 10. But because now under the Gospel, temporal Bleffings are not difpenfed with the fame certainty and regularity, as in the time of the Jews; therefore
4thly; THE Duty of Charity has likewife the largest promises of the Life to come. He that foweth bountifully, faith St Paul, fhall reap bountifully: And our Saviour affirms of them that abound in this grace, that they make to themselves bags which wax not old; and lay up a treasure that faileth not, in the heavens, where neither moth nor ruft doth confume, and where thieves do not break through and feal. And, as was before obferved, in his defcription of the process at the great Judgment, he reprefents our Behaviour in this one refpect, as that which neval will principally determine the final and irreversible Sentence at that dreadful Greet Day.
Laftly; THE Scripture frequently in-SER M. timates, that Charity is one of the beft XVII. Inftruments of Repentance, and of affu! ring to us the pardon of past Sins. Break off thy Sins by Repentance, faid Daniel to O the King of Babylon, and thine iniquities by fhewing mercy to the poor. Water will quench a flaming fire, fays the wife Son of Sirach, and alms maketh an atonement for Sins, Eccluf. iii. 39. Bleffed are the merciful, faith our Saviour himself, for they shall obtain mercy. And Charity, faith St Peter, fhall cover the multitude of Sins. The meaning is not, that Charity will excufe any man's continuance in Sin; but that it is an excellent mark and evidence of the Truth and Sincerity of our Repentance, and will afford us greater comfort and affurance in the expectation of the full pardon of Sins paft and forfaken. And in this Senfe we are to understand 3 thofe Words of the Author of the Book of Ecclefiafticus, ch. xxix. ver. 9. Help the poor for the commandments fake, and turn him not away because of his Poverty. Lay up thy treasure according to the commandment of the most high, and it fhall bring thee VOL. VI.
SER M, more profit than gold. Shut up alms in thy XVII. ftore-boufes, and it shall deliver thee from all affliction. It shall fight for thee against thine enemies, better than a mighty field and ftrong fpear. It remains in the
IIId and last place, THAT we confider briefly, in what particular Methods and Inftances, this Duty may best and most usefully be performed. And here, the feveral Manners of performing this Duty, are as various as the neceffities of thofe who want to be relieved. We are to vifit the fick, to relieve the needy, to feed the hungry, to cloath the naked, to comfort the afflicted, to inftruct the ignorant, to reprove the wicked; in a word, to do every thing that we can obferve will be beneficial to the Body or to the Soul of our Brother; as the Providence of God fhall offer us opportunities, or as every man's Prudence fhall direct him in the choice of objects on which to difpofe his Charity. Concerning which there are no cerrain rules to be given; but every man has his Liberty to employ his bounty in fuch manner, as to himself fhall feem beft, and