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Flattering, unclouded prospect ! But ah ! how soon was it overspread with darkness! In an hour this seeming glory perished ; and he who arose in the morning, in so much affluence, the greatest of all the men of the East-plundered of his property-bereav. ed of his children, sat down at night in wretchedness, to bewail his untimely loss, and weep over the ruins of recollected greatness.
“ Then Job arose,and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither ; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Resigned as Job was to personal humiliation, he could not refrain from lamentation at the remem. brance of his former charities-charities which it was now no longer possible for him to bestow. Casting an eye over the suffering poor, who had heretofore been fed from his table, and whose loins had been warmed by the fleece of his flock, and affected at their present pitiable condition, left without a friend to solace or a benefactor to relieve them, he exclaimed, “O that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me ; and when the eye saw me, it
gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. Then the blessing of him that was ready to perish
came upon me; and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy."
The conduct of Job during the season of his prosperity furnishes a noble example of liberal and efficacious charity-a duty which we shall now attempt to unfold and enforce:
Charity is an exalted virtue, or rather it is the stock from which every other virtue germinates. Charity, strictly speaking, is benevolence, the love of God and man; and as such, comprehends the whole of practical religion. Its basis, in depraved creatures, is regeneration ; its object, happiness-public, universal happiness.—Charity secketh not her own. Charity is not confined or regulated by degrees of affinity or consanguinity ; but, overleaping all these partial boundaries, encircles in her embrace the universe of God.
So far as charity respects the relief of human misery, it will cease with time; but the temper which prompts to this, holy and immortal, like the God from whom it came, will survive the ruins of the universe, and unfold and display itself for ever.
66 Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail ; whether there be tongues, they shall cease ; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away—but charity never faileth.”
As charity is more permanent, so it is more excellent than any other gift or grace.
This is the one thing needful, for without it there can be no union to the Savior, and consequently no true religion. The faith which is saving works by love,
Says the Prophet, “O man ! what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?” Says the Apostle, “ Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels : though I give my body to be burned ; though I have all knowledge, and understand all mysteries ; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains ; yet, if I have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Thus you see, that without charity, even faith itself is nugatory. I say
faith itself, for that faith which iş not efficient, is dead, being alone.
“Ifa brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, , be ye warmed and filled : notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit ? Even so faith without works is. dead.” Hence said the Apostle,“ Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by sny works.” Living in a world filled with human misery, unless we commisserate that misery and endeavor to relieve it, pretensions to godliness are vain.
“ Pure religion and undefiled, before God and the FATHER, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their amiction, and to keep thy self unspotted from tie world. Not that even acts of charity are meritorious. The truly charitable man, after the utmost he has done or can do, disclaiming all merit, brings his honors and lays them at the feet of Jesus; and looking up, through the great sacrifice which he hath
presented to the Father, cherishes on account of it, and it only, the holy raptures of immortal hope. But though acts of charity are not meritorious, they are inseparable from a life of piety. These evince the si ncerity of our professions here, and these will attest the reality of our title to the rewards of grace hereafter.
“And I heard,” says John,“ a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors ; and their works do follow them.” And whither do they follow them ? To the throne of God. There every act of genuine benevolence which we have performed, shall appear and testify in our behalf. With reference to whichi, and for the sake of him in whose dear name tlrey have been performed, the Dispenser of life and death, in the view of an assembled universe, shall say to each, accordingly as he has distinguished himself in practical charity, “ Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things ; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy LORD.” After which the measure of their felicity shall be full : for as there will remain in others no more miseries to relieve, so neither will there i remain in themselves any to be relieved.
Such briefly is the charity of the gospel :
The practice of which, particularly with respect to almsgiving, we come now to enforce. The arguments on which we shall insist will be
drawn from-The character,of the Deity-the precepts of his law—the promises and benedictions of his gospel—the example of his saints--and the sensible pleasure which accompanies or which may result from acts of Christian charity. And O! may HE who has the hearts of all men in his hand, soften ours by his grace, and induce us, after the example of the Patriarch_" to deliver the poor that crieth, the fath: erless, and him that hath none to help him.”
THE CHARACTER OF THE Deitr.
In an imitation of the Supreme Being consists alike the glory and the happiness of man. Lend me your attention therefore while I endeavor to place before you, enrobed in mercy, HIM whose being fills the heavens, and whose benignity the heaven of heavens cannot contain.
Entering on this article, I pause..........I hesi. tate............ Not because I know not what to say, but because I know not where to begin or where to end, when attempting to display the CREATOR's glories. On every side an immeasurable scene opens—and widens--and brightens in my sight. Heaven-earth -worlds and systems, without number and without end, present themselves, cach filled with the bounty and radiant with the splendors of the Deity.
From all these, on which the inspired writers dwelt with transport, I shall select one only, and that a small one too, for your present meditation. I mean the