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indigent Families, when they themselves, their only present Support, shall be taken from them. And this carries me to the second Thing I proposed, to observe to you,
II. How truly Christian, and excellent in its Kind, that Charity is, which is the End and Design of this annual Solemnity.
The Objects of this Charity, are the Widows and Orphans of those who spent their Lives in the Service of the Altar, and were found faithful in the Sight of God. Considered in themselves, they are not, I trust, the meanest of Christ's Disciples: the Example of their Husbands and Fathers ; the pious Instruction under which they have lived; the regular Devotions to which they have been always accustomed ; and their constant Communion with the Church ; are sure Pledges to us, of their Faith and Holiness. But to their own, they add the Prophet's Claim to your Charity, who has left them nothing else to maintain them. The Age and Infirmities of the one, the Youth and Inexperience of the other; and the near Relation they bear to Christ, by his Servant now at Rest with him ; contain all the Motives and Arguments that can be used to excite the Charity of a Christian.
· Were this Poverty the Effect of Luxury or Idleness, we might well be ashamed to plead its Cause in public: but the Reasons of it are too well known ; and it is so far from being our Reproach, that in some Measure it is our Glory: for notwithstanding the meanest of our parochial Cures, and the Difcouragements of Want and Poverty, yet the Service of God has not been neglected, nor his Altar forsaken : and the numerous Oba jects of Charity, that are to be found among the Descendants of the English Clergy, are an Evidence on their Behalf, that they fed the Flock of God which was among them, taking the Overhght thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filtby. Lucre Sake, but of a ready Mind. And let no Man grudge us this our Boasting ; that we can in this Church shew more Labourers worthy of their Hire, who, without Gold or Silver in their Purses, or Scrip for their Journey, preach the Gospel of Christ, than any other Church in the Christian World can do.
Some who sublift upon the Charity of this Corporation, are living Testimonies of the Faith and Constancy of the English Clergy, to God, and to their King. I shall easily be understood to mean the Widows of
the the fequestered Clergy ; who still labour under that Poverty, which their Husbands willingly chose to submit to, rather than to facrifice their Faith and their Allegiance to the Wickedness of the Age they lived in. And is this a disgraceful Poverty to the Ministers of the Gospel, which so evidently bears the Marks of the Lord Jesus ?
Never does Christ more truly suffer in his Members, than when his Members fuffer for him : nor can our Acts of Mercy ever more nearly approach him, than when we relieve those who endure Afflictions for his and the Gospel's Sake. Here then, iny Brethren, is Christ Jefus evidently set forth before your Eyes, suffering among you; suffering in these Members, who inherit the Poverty of his Prophets; which they, for his, and the Gospel's Sake, embraced.
Had the Parents of these Children been turned to the more advantageous Employments of the World ; had they, with the Substance which was spent in their Education, and in fitting them for the Ministry, bought any Knowledge but the Knowledge of the Gospel ; it would have made an anfwerable Return to them and their Families; for every Workman receives his Hire,
and a due Recompence for his Labour, except the poor Ministers of Christ, who have this only for their Comfort, that they are worthy of it. • It is this Poverty of the Prophet, which was the undeferved Lot of his holy Office, that now claims our Charity: and have not the Children a Right to ask in the Pro phet's Name, since it is the Prophet's Poi verty that afflicts them? Is it not just that they should plead their Father's Relation to Christ, for a Support under their present Wants ; since their Father's Relation to Christ has entailed these Wants upon them? · If therefore there be any Arguments for · Pity, in Age and Infirmities, oppressed with
Poverty; or if Youth and Innocence, expored to Want, have any Charms to move Compassion ; if the Poverty of the Gospel has any Right to a Christian's Charity ;. or if the Christian Priesthood has for its Work's Sake, and its near Relation to Christ, any Title to Love or Honour; Behold! how all these Motives unite to plead the Cause that is now before you.
If the least Charity, bestowed on one of Christ's little Ones, shall draw down the Blessings of Heaven upon us; if to receive
a Righta Righteous Man, shall entitle us to a Righteous Man's Reward ; and if by shewing Mercy to a Prophet, we shall receive a Prophet's Reward; what Rewards may we not expect to reap from this Charity ; where the little Ones and the Righteous are united into one Object, by suffering under the same common Calamity; and where both have the Prophet's Name, and the Prophet's Poverty to plead ?
To these Motives what further can we add, but only our Prayers; that God would regard this poor Family of his Prophets, and raise them up Friends for their Comfort; that he would open the Hearts of the People towards them, for his Servants the Prophets Sake.
And may the Charity bestowed on these poor Orphans, be ever had in Remembrance before the Lord. May he whom their Fa. thers served in the Gospel, and with whom they now rest from their Labours, be ever mindful of the Kindness shewn to his Household of Faith.