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SER M. to us, in an infinitely greater degree, in our XVII. neceffities both temporal and eternal. This he has exprefly commanded us by our Saviour and his Apoftles, and it fills almost every page both of the Old and New Testament, that it is the return he principally expects from us for all the benefits that he has done unto us. This he declares he will accept as the best expreffion of our Love towards him, and as if the benefit of it had accrued immediately to himfelf: He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord: and look, what he layeth out, it fall be paid him again, Prov. xix. 17. and inafmuch as ye have done it to the leaft of thefe my Brethren, faith our Saviour, ye have done it unto me, St. Matt. xxv. 45. Concerning This, the great Enquiry will be made at the day of Judgment; and according to our behaviour in this particular, will the final Sentence, as our Saviour himself has defcribed to us the Solemnity of that great day, be principally determined: I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a franger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye cloathed me: I was fick, and ye vifited
me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. SER M. Not as if any other good or evil Action XVII. fhould then be over-looked by the eye of the All-seeing Judge; but to intimate to us, that a charitable or uncharitable difposition, is a principal and ruling part of a man's character; the moft confiderable Teft of the whole frame and temper of his Mind; with which all other Virtues or Vices refpectively, will almoft neceffarily be connected. To the performance of This Duty, God has in Scripture annexed the promise of more and greater rewards, than are fpecified in the ExhorE tations to any other fingle Virtue; and to the Neglect of it are made proportionably, the greatest of Threatnings; that be shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy, and that whofo ftoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he alfo fhall cry himself, but shall not be beard. In the Characters given of good men in Scripture, their exercise of this Duty of Charity, always makes a principal part of their commendation: I delivered the poor that cried, fays Job, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help
SERM.him: The blessing of him that was reaXVII. dy to perifh came upon me, and I cau fed the Widows heart to fing, ch. xxix. ver. 12. and in the New Teftament, the Character of Cornelius; to whom God vouchfafed to fend an Apostle on purpose with a fingular Commiffion; and on whom the Holy Ghoft fell, even before his Baptifm; was, that he was a devout man, and one that feared God, and gave much ́alms to the people. To conclude this Head; As in all forts of things, the whole kind ufually receives its denomination from that part which is most excellent; fo the word Righteoufnefs in general, is frequently used in Scripture to fignify Mercy and Charity in particular; and Charity is af firmed by St Paul to be the End of the Commandment; and that he that loveth his Brother, bath fulfilled the whole Law.
2dly; WITH refpect to our Neighbour, the Obligations we are under to practife this excellent Duty, are likewife great and many. We are all partakers of the fame common nature, and are therefore under the fame ties of common humanity. God has made of one blood, as St Paul expreffes
it, all nations of men, for to dwell on all SER M.
SER M. all; but by performing with like chearXVII. fulness our refpective duty towards all, according to their feveral Circumstances fhowing with equal readiness compaffion to the Poor, as we do refpect to the Rich, and Honour to those in Power and Authority. God has in the whole an equal regard to all his Creatures; but in the present State has made an unequal diftribution of temporal Bleffings, that one man's abundance fhould fupply another man's want, that there might be an equality, 2 Cor. viii. 14. By an Equality the Apostle does not mean, that Chriftians are obliged to bring themselves all to a Level; (though the firft Converts indeed did fo, for reasons particular to thofe times;) but He means that there ought to be among them fuch mutual affiftance and relief, as that the wants and neceffities of all, may be proportionably fupplied.
THE Chriftian Religion has fuper-added particular Arguments to the general ones drawn from nature and reafon, to inforce our Obligation to this Duty. We have one Lord, one Faith, one Baptifm, one Body, and one Spirit, even as we are called