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who having got mightyPossessions, and filled
his Barns, thought of nothing farther ; but Luke 12. presently faith to himself, Soul, take thy Eale, 16, C.
Eat, Drink, and be Merry, for thou hast Goods laid
any Thing we know, be snatch'd away the next Moment into another World, and so must leave the Joy and Pride of our Hearts, to we know not whom.
But fuppofing we had some Certainty of our Lives, and could promise ourselves, that we should not leave our Wealth for some competent Time, yet we have no Certainty that our Wealth will not leave us.
How prospe. rous foever our prefent Circumstances be, yet i we cannot ensure the Continuance of them; there are a Thousand Accidents may happen every Day, which may strip us as naked as when we came into the World; and we may be reduced to the Extremities of those who are now the greatest Objects of our Compaffion and Charity; and this is that which St. Paul in the Text infinuates, when he calls them uncertain Riches. But what are we then to trust in, if not in these Things? This Sc.
Paúl shews in the Words following, which make
The Third Instance of the Rich Man's Duty, Let them (faith he) trust in the living God, who giveth to all Men richly to enjoy. The Sense of it is this; Let them, from the Bottom of their Hearts, acknowledge God to be the Author and 'Giver of all that they possess : How much soever their Heads projected, or their Hands laboured, or their Parents and Friends were kind to them, yet it is the Providence of the Almighty to which they owe all
. The same Divine Foresight and Contrivance that feeds the Fowls of the Air, and cloaths the Flowers of the Field, doth alfo give them richly all Things to enjoy; and therefore upon that Providence are they entirely to depend, as much exercising Faith in God, and reposing Confidence in Him, as if they had no visible Provisions made for them : And as heartily returning Thanks to their great Benefactor for every Blessing they have, (seem it never so much their own already) as a hungry Man, that knows not where to get a Meal, would to him that should give him a plentiful Entertainment. In a Word, those that have all Things in this World must as devoutly look up to God, both in gratefully ascribing to him every Enjoyment either past or present, and in a full Trust and Reliance upon him for what is to come, as those that live from Hand to Mouth; since it is the same Divine Providence that feeds and maintains both the Poor and the Rich, and of his
Infinite Goodness, gives to all that fear him, even to the Poor as well as the Rich, all Things to enjoy; and though to the one more plentifully, yet to the other, perhaps, with as much Content, though not in so great Abundance.
The Fourth and last part of the Rich Man's Duty here mentioned, concerns the right Use of that Wealth that God hath given him. Now the right Use of Riches
according to the Text, doth consist in these Things: That those that have them do Good with them, that they be rich in good Works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate.
If we suppose every one of these distinct Phrases in the Text, to denote a diftinet Thing, then we are to give this Account of the Passage, That St. Paul,here useth a Gradation in his Speech, begins with the lowest and most general Expression of Charity, and Co goes on to higher Degrees of it; in each following Phrase intending to say fomething more great or particular than what he had faid in the former, which is a most usual and elegant Scheme of Rhetorick. According to this Account (as the words are very capable of it) there are Four Things here prescribed to the Rich Man, in the Use of his? Riches.
1. That he do Good with them, that is the most general Point: that is, That he employ them some way or other for the Benefit of others. He must nor live to himself alone, he must design greater Things than the get
ting an Estate, or the raising a Family; if others be not advantaged by him, he is rich to no purpose. And therefore it will concern him to do Kindnesses and good Offices where he can, to be liberal and hospitable, to oblige his Friends and Relations all ways possible, to assist all about him with his Counsel, to encourage them by his Example; in a Word, to make use of that Interest and Reputation that his Fortune hath given him above others, to do Kindnesses to them.
2. He must not think it sufficient to do this Good now and then, upon particular and more rare Occasions; but he must abound in Aets of Goodness: That is the Meaning of the Apostle's second Expression of being
rich in good Works. He must lo study and improve in the Art of doing Good, that his good Deeds do equal his Riches; nay, the Words import, that his true Riches are only placed in, and to be measured by his good Deeds. He is not to think himself farther rich than he is rich in good Works. The more plentifully God hath blessed him with worldly Wealth, the more diligent, and industrious, and solicitous he must be to do Good with it; otherwise he is poorer than those that perhaps he now and then out of Charity relieves. And,
3. Lest this doing Good, and being rich in good Works, Mould only be interpreted of doing such Kindnesses and good Deeds that cost us nothing but the Expence of our Time, or the Employment of our Pains, or the Use of our Interest with others; the Apostle adds this
farther Thing; that the Rich Man must be ready to distribute ; that is, very free to part with his Money, according to the Proportion God hath blessed him with, upon every Occasion of real and useful Charity : 1. Whether that Charity be of a more publick Nature; as, for Instance, When it is expressed for the advancing Religion, and the Service of God, or for the making standing Provision for the Poor ; or, laftly, Any way for the serving the Necessities, or increasing the Conveniencies of the Place where we live, by any publick useful Benefaction: Or, 2. Whether this Charity be of a more private Nature, extending no farther than to particular Persons that come in our way, whom we are convinced to be real Objects of it; to these likewise we must be ready to distribute; every poor necessitous Person hath a Right to part of what we have, if we can really satisfie ourselves, that our Alms will do him a real Good, and will not be any great Prejudice to us. But,
4. And Lastly, The Apostle adds another Thing to all this; and that is, that the Richi Man must be willing to communicate. If the Sense of this Phrase be different from the fora mer, it will seem to import yet a higher Degree of Liberality. It will import, that Rich Men should be of such publick Spirits, and so little esteem their Wealth their own, that it should in a manner be made a common Thing; wherein all should share as there was Occafion. This is the Notion of xorævíz, or comma