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ift. Plentifull. The Word in the Text, Caft thy Bread, implying a Liberality even to Profuseness, a scattering our Benefits freely without measure or reserve, as it is express'd by the Pfalmift, He has dispersid abroad, he has given to the Poor, his Righteousnefs endareth for ever, or as God himself by his Servant Mofes, Deuter. 15.11. I command Thee, Thou shalt Open thy Hand wide unto thy Brother, to thy poor and to thy Needy in the Land. It is indeed impossible to determin precisely the Proportion of our Charity, nor can any general Rule be laid down how müth we ought to allot to this Use; Men's circumstances being so different that That may be a very noble gift from One, that would be scandalously mean from Another, as the Widowes two mites were by the Judgement of Our Saviour himself esteem'd a greater Offering than all the Rich Men had cast into the Treasury, tho they Caft in Mach. Every Man therefore is left to his Owh Discretion and the Direction of his Own Conscience, as to the Measure of his Alms, tho' when he comes to deliberate upon this point, it will be ever more adviseable and more safe to Err on the Liberal and Bountifull fide, if there can be an Error in that, than on the Other ; left by a Judgement like that which fell on Ananias and Sapphira, by being partially Charitable
and doing his good Deeds by halves, he gain nothing by, all that he niggardly gives, and perish for that which he unjustly detains.
2dly. Our Charity ought to be Willing and Chearfull. We should be Ready to Give and Glad to Distribute as St Paul speaks to Timothy, and as elsewhere he exhorts the Corinthians, that Every Man give, not grudgingly and of Necesity, for God loveth a Chearfull Giver. He would not of old accept an Offering towards his Tabernacle, Exod.25.2. but of every Man that gave it willingly with his Heart; and again, Exod. 35.5. But whosoever is of a Willing Heart, let Him bring it, an Offering of the Lord. And the same temper of Mind He requires in all that for his fake we bestowe upon his Living Temples, his poor Servants. It was commanded to the israelites, Deut. 15. 10. Thou shalt surely give Him, thy Poor Brother, and thy Heart shall not be griev'd when Thou givest Him. The Ready Complyance of the Will, and the Promptness and Alacrity of the Affections are so Necessary and Essential to the Right Exercising of Every Religious Duty, that it is no wonder that they should be the Very Life and Soul, of This, the most Excellent of all Other Duties of a Chriftian. Nay it is impoflible to be truly Charitable, without being Pleas'd with being so, for tho'it might be Enough for a few that His Heart should not be Griev'd, the utmost that Mofes. commanded ; yet it comes not up to the Dignity of the Chriftian, if his Heart is not Delighted too when He gives.
3dly. Our Charity' ought to be Univerfal and without Exception. 'Tis St Paul's advice, As We have opportunity Let us do good to Al Men. He adds indeed Especially to the Houshold of Faith. Which is highly Reasonable, and if a Chriftian and an Heathen, a Member of our Own and One of another Communion, or a Good and Less Good or Vitious Man stand at the same time in Equal Need of our Charity, and our Abilities will not reach to the Relief of both, there is no place for doubt to which the preference ought to be given. But This still does not take off our Obligation of extending our Bounty as far as our Power, and if That could stretch it self out to all Mankind our Beneficence ought to do so too. There is None fo Bad but if he is in Real and Prefsing Necessity, is a true and fit Object of our Compassion. Let 'the Person be what he will, his Wants give him a Title to part of our Abundance, and tho' here, as was before faid, we may and ought to make Use of our Chriftian Prudence and Discretion, yet it will be a good and fafe Rule to avoid being over Prudent and over Discreet in
Doing these Necessary Works of Mercy. 'Tis dangerous to Use Ourselves to be too Nice and Scrupulous in these Cases, for he that will not part with any thing to the Relief of the Distress'd, 'till he is satisfy'd of his Desert as well as his Poverty-will never want Reasons to be Excus'd, by. Distinguishing too narrowly, who is more and who less and who not at all fitting to be Reliev'd; he may in time by degrees diftin. guish quite away all his Charity. And the moft Covetous and Tenacious Wretch in the World will always have ready a softer Name for his Sin, and call his Want of Mercy. Abundance of Discretion. But we can have no greater Example, no, pobler Pattern in doing Good, than the Eternal Fountain of All Goodness, even God himself Whale. Mercy is. Over All his Warks. And as far as it is possible, Dur Love should be Like His Unbounded and Universal, Matt, 1:45. That We may be the Children of Our Father which is in Heaven, for. He maketh His Sun. to. rise on the Evil and the Good, and sendetb Rain on the Fust and the Unjust. Be we therefore, in this particular Perfe&, as Our Saviour Lubjoins, as Our Father, in Heaven is Perfect
4hly. Caffing Our Bread upon the-Waters, implies a generous Diftribution of our Goods without any Prospect of Advantage or Requital. So selfish a Principle as that. Profpect can never lodge in the fame Breast with True Charity, it being One of the Di. ftinguishing marks of that Grace, Charity forketh not its Owna Whenever we give with so mean a' design and fo igpoble hopes as to Receive, we are no longer acting the Chriftian but the Merchant, nor exercising Religion but driving a Trade; and That of all Trades the most sordid and base, it not being to be carry'd on without Dissimula tion and Deceit. For he that deals in this paltry Traffic, while he pretends nothing but free Love and generous Friendship, yet at the same time whatever he beftows, his Gifts have fill a Hook under them, nor are they Presents
, to enrich his Friend, but Baites to take hin. This poor and contemptible Artifice of making gain of them to whom we pretend to do good is wholly inconsistent with that largness and openness of Spirit; that freedom from Hypocrisy and Design that becomes a Profeffor of Chriftianity. Therefore that we may be sure that we have no such by-Ends, no such little Delignes lurking onperceiv'd within Us, Let Our Bread be Caft upon the Waters, Qur Gifts scatter'd among the Poor, and fuch from whom it would be as absurd to hope for any Advantage or Return, as it would be to expect a Harveft from Seed cast into