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same time pointing to the heavens and opening the treasures of immortality to our view—should he promise to repay there, with infinite increase, our kindness, who of us would shut his hand or harden his heart against his Saviour? No one : a universal emulation would prevail among us ; even avarice would unlock its horded treasures, and oppression bring its illgotten gain, and lay it at the feet of Jesus.
But the Saviour chooses not this method.-Gifts thus extorted would be doubtful evidences of our love. The splendor of such an appearance might corrupt the motives of friends, and dazzle even enemies into momentary liberality. That he may provę your charity and test the sincerity of your love therefore, forlorn and wretched, emaciated with sickness, palsied with age, and covered with rags.... he comes forth from cottages and cabins, in the person of the poor, and stretching forth his trembling hand to you, his desciples, asks alms. Christians ! deny him if you
You cannot deny him. But to those who can, I add, that the days of his humiliation, even in this sense, will not last for ever.
Presently, he, who now friendless and wretched, to the eye of our mercy, u nol ds his miseries, will appear in a different form--appear, having laid aside the rags of beggary, and put on robes of royalty, in tremendous majesty, and send forth judgment unto victory.
Then the poor in whose behalf he now asks charitý, congregated before his throne, shall stand in judg
ment together with their benefactors. To whom, in the presence of God, of angels and ɔf men, he shall say,
“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdo.n prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stran. ger, and ye took me in : naked, and ye clothed me : I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." And when the righteous shall ask, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and ministered unto thee? Pointing to the poor who stand be. fore him, he shall answer, “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my disciples, ye have done it unto me." Infinite condescension ! And can the callous heart of man be insensible to such a moving, persuasive and glorious motive ? ALMIGHTY God! kindle in our bosoms genuine pity for the poor now, that on that august day, we may recieve thine eternal benediction.
From the promises and benedictions of the gospel, turn your attention to
THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS.
The conduct of Job, memorable for his charities, has already been noticed. In addition to this need I remind you of the widow of Zarepta ? who, having only a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruise, for herself and her son; though in the midst of famine, divided, nobly divided, this, her last morsel, with the famished prophet. And need I also remind
you how her liberality was rewarded ? For her barrel of meal did not waste, nor did her cruise of oil fail, till the Lord sent rain, and removed famine from the earth.
Need I remind you of the poor widow who cast , two mites into the treasury? singular magrianimity! for it was all her living! Or, of her who poured the box of ointment upon the feet of Jesus, and pouring it on them perfumed her own memory, and erecte to her own praise, a monument more lasting than the pyramids of Egypt. For these, impaired by time, have crumbled down, and buried in their ruins the names and the achievements of those who founded them: But wherever the gospel is preached, or shall be preached, till the heavens be no more, her act of kindness unto Jesus shall be published as a memorial of her.
Need I remind you of the conduct of Martha, who again and again, received the Savior into her house, and freely entertained him and all who accompanied him ? Do you deem the conduct of Martha laudable, in opening her doors to the Son of David ? Do you feel as though you would emulate her hospitality had you an opportunity ? And why have you not ? True, your Lord in person needs not your kindnesses. The days of his humiliation and poverty are ended, and the heavens have received him into glory. But the poor remain on the earth. These, if they be pious, are his friends; and he respects a kindness done unto them as done unto himself.
To mention no more instances from the scriptures, examples to our purpose are not wanting in the his, tories of primitive times.
In the better days of Christianity, a noble emulation prevailed both among individuals and churches in their attention to the
poor and to the sick. To minister to the latter, more than six hundred persons were employed by the Christians of Alexandria at one time, as appears from a law in the Theodosian code. When the plague ravaged Egypt, says Eusebius, " Many of our brethren negIccting their own healths have brought upon themselves the misfortunes and maladies of others. Who after having held in their arms the dying saints, after having closed their eyes, washed and adorned them, and carried them on their shoulders to their graves, have been glad themselves to receive the same kind offices from others imitatirg their zeal and their charity.”
Was the kindness of primitive Christians to their sick great ? Their bounty to the poor was no less
" Among how many widows and orphans," says Chrysostom, “ does this church distribute charity. The number on the catalogue is three thousand, not to mention extraordinary assistances given to people sick in hospitals, strangers, leprous persons, servants of the church, and many other persons, whose necessities oblige them to ask and who every day receive both food and raiment."
Nor were these expenses, enormous as they were, incurred with reluctance. On the contrary they exulted in their charities. Witness the conduct of the
venerable man, representing the whole church at Rome, who, when Decius imperiously demanded of them their treasures, collecting the poor, the maimed, the blind and the sick, who received daily the means of subsistence from that church, and pointing to this group of wretched sufferers, said, “ These are our riches, these our revenue and treasure.” Witness the conduct.....but I forbear to add. Time would fail me to do justice to this article ; and the instances already mentioned are enough and more than enough, to convince us that we are far behind the primitive saints in practical charity.
Lastly-consider the sensible pleasure which accompanies, or which may result from ACTS OF CHRIST
Virtue carries with it its own reward : and the felicities which accompany a holy, operative love, are known to all who cherish it. A secret joy diffuses itself through that bosom which expands with sympathetic charity ; which sighs for the relief of human misery. Never does man feel a nobler elevation, or experience a more sublime or refined pleasure, than when wiping the falling tear from the *cheek of sorrow, binding up the broken hearted, and bearing with godlike arın the cup of consolation to the sons of woe.
But if there be so much pleasure in acts of charity now, what pleasure shall they not occasion to you, O believer! when, entering the world of spirits, and opening your eyes upon the family of the