« PreviousContinue »
may all be content to obey on the same Terms, on which his Majesty has assured us he is disposed to govern.
But above all, let us take Care to justify ourselves in our Concern for our holy Religion, which is our best Plea, and surest Pledge of divine Favour, by adorning in our Lives and Conversations the Doctrine which we profess. We have with commendable Zeal, on many Occasions, stood in Defence of our Religion, at the Expence of the Blood and Treasure of the Nation : let it not be observed by our Enemies, that the Religion of England is a mere Watch-word for an Army, never valued but when it is to be fought for ; and in Times of Peace laid by, condemned to ruít, with other the useless Arms and Instruments of War. Our Religion has domestic, as well as foreign Enemies; we have seen with what an uncoinmon Zeal it has been attacked by Infidels ; professing not to introduce any religious Persuasion, but to throw out all. These Men, who deride all Religion, will be found in the End to be the best Agents for them who labour to bring in the worst: and the Interest of our Country being so united to the Cause of Religion, such profane Liberty
is destructive of our Security, fince every Heart, that is alienated from a Sense of God and Religion, carries off with it a Pair of Hands from the Defence of the Public.
To a Zeal for true Religion let us add Charity, the Crown of all Virtues; and let us fanctify this Day of our Deliverance, by laying aside all Hatred, Malice, and Desire of Revenge; that we may with one Heart, and one Mind, glorify God for his Mercies, and implore his Protection for ourselves, our King, and our Country; that he would give us the Blessings of Truth and Peace ; that he would long preserve our Sovereign ; and that there may never want a Protestant Prince descended from him, to go in and out before his Peaple.
Acts XX. 35. I have thewed you all Things, how that fo
labouring ye ought to support the Weak; and to remember the Words of the Lord Jefus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
THESE Words concluded the moving
1 Speech which St. Paul made to the Elders of the Church of Ephesus, when he took his final Leave of them. The Time he had to discourse with them was but little, and the Occasion was very folemn ; which Circumstances would determine him to mention nothing to them, but what he
judged to be of the last Consequence and · Concern ; and what they ought always to remember, as the dying Words of their great
Teacher and Apostle. At the 25th Verse, you find him under the Passion of a Father bidding adieu to his Children and the World; And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the Kingdom of God, mall see my Face no more. But to thew that this Care of them would outlive himself, he gives them-his last Advice, the best, the only Legacy he had to bestow. Two Things he especially recommends to them, the Care of the Church of God, and the providing for the Necessities of the Poor and Helpless. The former Charge you have at the 28th Verse; Take Heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the Flock, over which the Holy Ghost bath made you Overseers to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own Blood. The latter you read in the Words of the Text: I have bewed you all Things, bow that Jo labouring ye ought to support the Weak; and to remember the Words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
There are some Duties so eflential to Religion, so necessary to form the Character of a good Man, much more of a good Chriftian, that they always have been, and I hope will always continue to be the Preacher's common Topic. Yet this, I know, is in fome Respects a Disadvantage, and that Exhortations of this kind are esteemed to be so much Things of Course, that they are often used with more Effect by others, from whom they are less expected. I have need therefore to bespeak your Favour, that I may be heard on this Subject, without incurring the Censure of being thought a common Beggar. And yet not to diffemble my Intention, beg I would ; partly indeed for your Sakes, whose Neceflities can no otherwise be relieved but by Charity ; but much more for your Sakes, whose ample Fortunes, if rightly administered, entitle you to the choicest Blessings of the Gospel: For it is more blessed to give than to receive.
In speaking of the Duty and Obligations of Charity, in this restrained Sense of the Word; in which it regards only the temporal Wants and Necessities of our Brethren ; there are three Things proper to be considered.
First, How far the Obligations of this Duiy extend; for that they do not extend equally to all, is evident, because such as are qualified to receive, are in all ordinary Cases exempted from giving,