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16.

Job XXX 25.

i, 9.

SERM. this the conscience of Job did folace itself, as in a solid XXXI. affurance of his integrity: I delivered the poor that cried, Job xxix. and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. 12, 13, 15, The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me,

and I caused the widow's heart to fing. I was eyes to the blind, and feet I was to the lame; I was a father to the poor. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Was not my soul grieved for the poor ? Hence also did the good

Publican recommend himself to the favour and approbaLuke xix. tion of our Saviour, saying, Behold, Lord, half of my

goods I give to the poor : hence did salvation come to his house : hence he is proclaimed, a son of Abraham. Of Dorcas, that good woman, who was so gracious and pre

cious among the Disciples, this is the commendation and Ads ix. 36. character ; She was full of good works and alms-deeds,

which she did ; such practice made her capable of that favour, so great and extraordinary, the being restored to life; at least in St. Chrysostom's judgment: The force of her alms, faith he, did conquer the tyranny of death f. Cornelius also, that excellent person, who was, though a

Gentile, so acceptable to God, and had so extraordinary AS I. 2. graces conferred on him, is thus represented; He was a

devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house ;

who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God 1 Tim. iii. 2. alway. We may add, that to be hospitable (one branch

of these duties, and inferring the rest) is reckoned a qualification of those who are to be the guides and patterns of goodness unto others. And particularly, one fit to be

promoted to a widow's office in the church is thus de 1 Tim.v. scribed; Well reported of for good works ; if she have

brought up children; if she, have lodged strangers; if she have washed the saints' feet ; if she have relieved the afflicted ; if she have diligently followed every good work.

6. Só near to the heart of piety doth the holy ScripGal. v. 14. ture lay the practice of these duties : and no wonder ;

for it often expressly declares charity to be the fulfilling

Tit. i. 8.

10.

Rom. xiii. 9, 10.

f “Η της ελεημοσύνης δύναμις ενίκησε θανάτου την τυραννίδα. Chry/. in Gen. Orat. 55.

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12.

Matt. v. 7.

Rom. xv. 28.

of God's law, as the best expression of all our duty toward SERM. God, of faith in him, love and reverence of him, and as

XXXI. either formally containing, or naturally producing all our 1 Tim. i. s. duty toward our neighbour. And of charity, works of Matt

. vii, bounty and mercy are both the chief instances, and the plainest signs: for whereas all charity doth confist either in mental desire, or in verbal signification, or in effectual performance of good to our neighbour; this last is the end, the completion, and the assurance of the rest. Goodwill is indeed the root of charity ; but that lies under’Exiracis ground, and out of sight; nor can we conclude its being 1505. "Greg. or life without visible fruits of beneficence. Good words Nvd. in are at best but fair leaves thereof, such as may, and too often do, proceed from a weak and barren disposition of mind. But thefe good works are real fruits, (so St. Paul Tit. iii. 14. calls them; Let ours also, faith he, learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful,) Phil. iv. 17. which declare a true life, and a good strength of charity in the bearer of them: by them to yvýclov tñs dydáns, the 2 Cor. viii. kncerity (or genuineness) of our charity is proved. no man ever doth impress a false stamp on the finest metal; so costly charity is seldom counterfeit. It is to decline spending their goods or their pains, that men forge and feign; pretending to make up in wishing well, the defect of doing so, and paying words instead of things: but he that freely imparts what he hath, or can do for his neighbour's good, needs no other argument to evince that he loves in good earnest, nor can indeed well use any other : for words, if actions are wanting, seem abusive; and if actions are present, they are fuperfluous. Wherefore St. John thus advises; My little children, let us not 1 John iii. love in word, or in tongue, (arx' xpym,) but in work and in truth. To love in work, and to love in truth, he signifies to be the faine thing; and to pretend love in speech, without practising it in deed, he implies not allowable. And St. James in way of comparison says, that as faith without works is dead, fo love without beneficence is useless. For, If a brother or hfter be naked, and destitute James ii. of daily food, and one of you say unto him, Depart in peace,

8.

For as

18.

15, 16, 17.

SERM. le you warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not XXXI. those things which are needful to the body, what doth it

profit? Even so faith without works is dead. Cold wishes of good, working no real benefit to our neighbour, and a faint allent unto truth, producing no constant obedience to God, are things near of kin, and of like value; both of little worth or use. Charity then being the main point of religion, mercy and bounty being the chief parts of charity, well may these duties be placed in fo high a rank, according to the divine heraldry of Scripture.

7. To enforce which observations, and that we may be farther certified about the weight and worth of thefe duties, we may consider, that to the observance of them most ample and excellent rewards are assigned; that, in return for what we bestow on our poor brethren, God

hath promised all sorts of the best mercies and blessings Pr. lxiji. 3. to us.

The best of all good things, (that which in David's opinion was better than life itself,) the fountain of

all blessings, (God's love and favour, or mercy,) is pro2 Cor. ix.7. cured thereby, or is annexed to it. For, God loveth a Matt.v.7. cheerful giver, faith St. Paul; and, The merciful shall obJames ii.13. tain mercy, faith our Saviour: and, Mercy rejoiceth against

judgment, (or boasteth, and triumpheth over it; éneos xalaxauxätai xplorews that is, it appeafeth God's wrath, and prevents our condemnation and punishinent,) faith St. James; God will not continue displeased with him, nor will withhold his mercy from him, who is kind and mera ciful to his neighbour. It is true, if rightly understood,

what the Hebrew Wise Man faith, Water will quench vefias, te- a flaming fire, and alms maketh an atonement for

fins. For ipfum in- this practice hath the nature and name of a sacrifice, and tiam Ambr. is declared as such both in excellency and efficacy to furOffic. i. 11. pafs all other facrifices; to be most acceptable to God, Pfalm. most available for expiation of guilt, most effectual in obcxxxiii.

taining mercy and favour. Other sacrifices performed in Chrys. tom. v. Orat. 55. obedience to God's appointment (on virtue of our Lord's

perfect obedience, and with regard to his pure facrifice of himself) did in their way propitiate God, and atone fin: but this hath an intrinsic worth, and a natural aptitude to

Matt. vi.
14.
Ecclus. iii.
30.
Si nudum

Hier, in

those purposes. Other obligations did fignify a willing. SERM. ness to render a due homage to God : this really and im- XXXI. mediately performs it. They were shadows or images well resembling that duty, (parting with any thing we have for the sake of God, and for purchasing his favour,) whereof this is the body and substance. This is therefore preferred as in itself excelling the rest, and more estimable in God's fight; fo that in comparison or competition therewith, the other seem to be fighted and rejected. I will, faith God, have mercy, and not sacrifice : and, Will Hof. vi. 6.

licah vi.7. the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Will he ? that is, he will not be pleased with such sacrifices, if they be abstracted from the more delightful facrifices of bounty and mercy. God never made an exception against these, or derogated from them in any case: they absolutely and perpetually are, as St. Paul speaketh, odours of a sweet smell, facrifices ac- Phil. iv. 18. ceptable and well-pleasing to God. And the Apostle to the Hebrews seconds him: To do good, saith he, and to Heb. xiii. communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. By these, all other works and all enjoyments are fanctified: for, Give alms, faith our Lord, of Luke xi. 41. what ye have; and, behold, all things are pure unto you. Such charitable persons are therefore frequently pronounced blessed, that is, in effect instated in a confluence of all good things. Blessed is he that confidereth the poor, Pfal. xli. 1. fays the Psalmist; and, He that hath a bountiful eye is Prov. xxii. blessed, faith Solomon; and, He that hath mercy on the %. xiv. 21. poor, happy is he, saith the Wise Man again ; and, Blessed Matt. v. 7. are the merciful, faith our Lord himself. So in gross and generally. Particularly also and in retail, the greatest blessings are expressly allotted to this practice; prosperity in all our affairs is promised thereto. Thou, saith Mofes, Deut. xv. Shalt surely give thy poor brother, and thine heart shall not be grieved that thou givest unto him; because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. Stability in a good condition is ordinarily confequent thereon : fo the prophet Daniel implies, when, advising king Nebuchad

16.

10.

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2, 3.

Isa. Iviii.

SERM. nezzar to these works, he adds, If it may be a lengthening

of thy tranquillity. Deliverance from evil incumbent, Dan. iv. 27. protection in imminent danger, and support in afflictions,

are the fure rewards thereof : so the Psalmist assures us : Pfal. xli. 1, Blessed, faith he, is he that confidereth the poor : the Lord

will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve
him and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon earth;
and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing ;
thou wilt make all his bed in his fickness. Security from

all want is likewise a recompence proper thereto : for, Prov.xxviii

. He that giveth to the poor Mall not lack, saith the Wise

Man. If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy 10, 11, 12. the afflicted soul, then shall thy light arise in obfcurity, &c.

Thriving in wealth and estate is another special reward : Prov.xi. 25. for, The liberal foul shall be made fat; the fame author

gives us his word for it. Even of the good things here

below, to those who for his fake in this or any other way Matt. xix. do let go houses or lands, our Lord promiseth the return

of a hundredfold, either in kind, or in value. So great
encouragements are annexed to this practice even in re-
lation to the concerninents of this transitory life: but to
them beside God hath destinated rewards incomparably
more considerable and precious, spiritual and eternal re-
wards, treasures of heavenly wealth, crowns of endless

glory, the perfection of joy and bliss to be dispensed at .
Luke xiv. the resurrection of the just. He that for my fake hath left
Matt
. xix. houses or lands, shall receive a hundredfold now at this

time, (or in this present life,) and in the world to come fall inherit everlasting life; so infallible truth hath al

sured us. They who perform these duties are said to Luke xii. make themselves bags which was not old, a treasure that 33. xvi. 9. faileth not in the heavens ; to make themselves friends of

the unrighteous mammon, who, when they fail, (when they

depart, and leave their earthly wealth,) will receive them 1 Tim. vi. into everlasting habitations; to lay up in store for them

selves a good foundation against the time to come, that they
may lay hold on eternal life. Such rewards are promised
to the observers.

29.

29.
Mark x. 29,
30.

19.

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