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tells us, Luke xvi. 9. I say unto you, 1 ake to youre felves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye shall fail (that is, when you shall leave this world, and the enjoyments of it) they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
At the great day of judgement, when we shall appear before God, and according to our Saviour's representation of the proceedings of that day, shall hear him thus expoftulating with men, I was hungry, and pe gave ine no ineat ; thirsty, and ye gave nie no drink ; naked, and ye clothed nie net : fick and in prison, and. je visited me not; what would we then give, how much of our ellates, if we had them then at our command; would we not be willing to part with all, to hare that comfortable sentence passed upon us, Come je blesed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for jou before the foundation of the world ? But if we le found among those who would spare nothing out of their abundance to any charitable use and purpose, I liave not the heart to tell you how miserable the condition of such persons will be, and how dreadful a doom will be passed upon them.
It is a fad confideration, that there are some persøns in the world, who seem to be only defective in this duty ; like the young man in the gospel, who lacked but this one thing to make him perfect : be had kept the commandments from his youth, and pre.. served himself from those gross fins which the law did plainly forbid ; and yet for want of this one thing, he parted from his Saviour, and, for any thing we know, fell short of eternal life. There are many who are very devout and religious, much in prayer and fasting, and all the other frugal exercises of piety,. which cost them no money ; but yet are very defective in alms and charity, which in fcripture are fo frequently joined with the fastings and prayers of good men; and by this means, all their devotion and diligence in the other parts of religion is lost, and will not bring them to heaven. And is it not great pity, that they who are not far from the kingdom of God, fould fall short of it? that they who in most
o her things bid fo fair for heaven, flould break with God upon this fingle point ?
I know me:have leveral ways to deceive their own hearts, and to defend thernfelves against all these. assaults.
Firsi, They say, they are injurious to no man in not being charitable, Ànd it is true, that in human. courts the poor can have no action against the rich for want of charity to them ; but yet. for all that, they do injuriously detain that which doth not of right. belong to them. They are cruel and hard-hearted, and they are guilty of high breach of trust, in respect of God, whole stewards they are, and who hath dealt. so liberally with them in the things of this life, on purpose. to oblige them to be so to others. That. which thcu-storeit up, without regard to the necesa fities of others, is unlawfully detained by thee, since God intended it ihould have been for lhead to the hungry, and cloaths to the nak_d, and for help and relief of tóose who are ready to perish. For why, art thou: rich, and anoiier poor ; but that thou mightest exercite thy charity upon those fitting objects which the providence of God presents to thee? It had been easy for God (Once the earth is his, and the fulness thereof). fo to have contrived things, that every inan: should have had a iußiciency, and have been in a mon. derate condition ; but then a great maay virtues ; would have been shut out of the world, and loft, for: want of opportunity to exercise them. Where then: liad been the poor man's patience, and the rich man's: pity, and the contentedness of men of moderate forstune ?
Secondly, Men fiy, that they have children to proavide for. And do so in God's naine, for he allows: us to do it liberally; but unless their condition and! wealth let them above an ordinary calling, do not, chuse. 10 to provide for thein, as to take them off** from all employment, left you put them in the ready, way to be undone. Have a care of leaving them no other business, but to spend what you have left them ;; if you do fo, they will in all probability do that. work.very effectually, and make as much halte to be:
poor, as you did to make them rich. If men could be but contented to do that which is best for their children, they might do a great deal better for themfelves, by dispoting what they have to spare in charity.
Thirdly, Others would fain excuse themselves from this duty at present, by telling what they intend to : do when they coine to die, that is, when they can keep what they have no longer. It seems then thou. wilt leave it to thy executor to do good in thy stead, This fhews thou hast no great heart to the business, when thou deferreft it as long as ever thou canst. But Why wilt thou trust another with the disposal of thy: charity, rather than thy felf? This is hardly to offer either a reasonable or a living facrifice to God, to do good only when we are dead. It is well that God hath made all men mortal, and that it is appointed: for all men once, to die ; otherwise some men would never do good at all.
Wherefore setting aside these, and all other excu. fes, which will not be admitted, nor will any. have the face to plead them at the day of judgement; I say, tetting aside all excuses whatsoever, let us refolve to do good with what we have, whilst we can; and to that end let us lay afide some portion of what God haih blessed us withal, for the ules of piety and charity, and let it bear. fome decent proportion to. what God hath given us..
There is never want of proper objects for our largest charity; and now, less than ever. Besides those: at home, which present themselves to us in great. numbers every day, God hath fent us many from a. broad, who call loud upon us for our pity and help, both as they are reduced to the greatest extremity,. and are sufferers in the best cause, that of our com.. mon religion, which ought now. to be dearer tous than ever. Let us thow mercy now, as we expect mercy from others, in any day of our distress in this world, and as ever we hope, whenever we come to appear before the judgement-feat of Christ, to find inercy with the Lord in that day. Consider what I have faid upon this argument,
and let this extraordinary kind of caution, which our Şaviour here gives, inake a deep iinpression upon your minds : Take heed, and bewure of covetoufness; for a man's life confifteth not in the abundance of the things which he pollefleth.
SER R MO
Religion our first and great concernment:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteouf
nef; and all these things shall be added unto you..
in a long discourse caution his disciples against an inordinate care about the things of this life, which he concludes with a strict charge to make religion their first and great concernment, and above all things to take care to secure to theinfelves the happiness of another life: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, &c. In the handling of which words, I İhall do these four things.
First, I shall explain what is here meant by, the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.
Secondly, What by seeking of these.
Thirdly, I thall lay down fome necessary and plain directions, which if we observe, we cannot miscarry in this matter,
Fourthly, I shall fet before you some of the most proper and powerful motives and encouragements to the minding of this great interest and concernment ; among which I shall particularly consider the argument or encouragement here used in the text : And all these things shall be added unto you.
First, I shall explain to you what is here meant by the kingdom of God, and his righteousnefs.
1. What is meant by the kingdom of God. And there are two famous acceptations of this plirafe, and both of them very frequent in the New Teltament. Sometimes it is used to signify the state of the gospel, or the Christian religion, which by the Jews was call.. ed, the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of the Mefias : As, Mark i. 15. The kingdom of God is at kand; that is, the Itate or difpenfation of the gospel is now approaching, and ready to take place, Luke xvii. 20. The Pharisees demanding of our Saviour, Hhen the kingdom of God jould come ? that is, when the reign. of the Meffias should commence ; he answers thein, The kingdom of God cometh riot with creation ; that is, not with any temporal romp ad plendor, to as io draw the eyes of people after it, as ihe Jews did vainly imagine ; but the kingdom of Good ivris ykävisiv, is ainong you ; not within you, as our transition hatli improperly rendered it: the kingdoin of God (he tells them) is already come unto you ; the Nieflias is among you, and ye are not aware of him. In the like iense this phrafe is nfed, Matth. xxi. 43. The kingdom of God (that is, the gospel) shall be taken from jull, and. given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And. to likewise the phrase of the kingilom of beaten is u.ed, Matth. xi. 11. where fpeaking of John the Baptist, our Saviour faith, that among them that were born of women, there hath not arisen a greater than John the. Baptist ; that is, there was no greaier per on than he. under the Jewish dispensation; and yet be tkat i: leaft in the kingdom of heaven, that is, under the difpenfa- . tion of the gospel, is greater than he.
Now though this sense of the kingdom of God be not wholly excluded in the text, yet there is anot}rer. sense of this phrase very usual likewise in the scripture, and which is more agreeable to the fcope of. our Saviour's argument and discourse ; and so it fignifies, that future state of happiness and glory which good men shall be advanced to in another world, in. opposition to this life, and the enjoyments of it,, which our Saviour had before forbidden his disciples. to be so solicitous about:. Take ye. no thought, say.