Page images
PDF
EPUB

19.

in loc.

ther the Word should be taken, to signify the Bond or the Evidence, that God hath given us for the Performance of his. Part of the Covenant; as it is used by this Apoftle

else-where, where he tells us, that the Foun2 Tim. 3. dation of God ftandeth fure, having this Seal ;

that is to say, that Covenant or Indenture,
that God hath made with Mankind, ftandeth
fure, and hath this Seal put to it; for Men
do not put Seals to Foundations, but to
Covenants : Or, lastly, whether the Word

should be rendered a Treasure, so as to read Vid. Di, the Text thus, Lrying up to themselves a good Hammond Treasure against the Time to come, that they may

l'ay hold on Eternal Life. The Original Word
(say the Learned) is capable of being tran-
lated all these Ways, and the last seems as
natural as any; for to lay up Treasure to
ourselves against the Time to come, is a pro-
per way of speaking, and that which our Sa.
viour frequently ufeth in that very Thing we
are here treating of. But it matters not
much which of them to pitch upon ; for they
all come to one Sense, and that is this, That
to be very Charitable in this World, is a good
Means to secure to ourselves a Title to Eternal
Happiness in the next.

But to prevent all mis-understanding, that
may happen of this point, I desire, before
I speak directly to it, to premise these Two
Things.

First, Though we do maintain with the
Ancient Church, the Efficacy of Charity. and
good Works, for the furthering a Man's Salva-

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tion, yet we utterly reject those Doctrines which the Modern Romanists have advanced in this Matter. The Popish Doctrines about good Works, are these Three following; That good Works are Meritorious; do deserve the Favour and the Reward of God Almighty. Again, That the Surplusage of a Man's good Works, that is to say, the Merits of so many of his good Deeds, as are over and above what is sufficient to save his own Soul, may by the Church be dispensed out to the Benefit of others, they being part of the Church's Treasure; and upon this Foundation they ground their Indulgence. And, laftly, That good Works, i. e, the Alms of dying Persons, that are given to the Church or Clergy, will, by the Means of the Masses and Dirges that they purchase to be said for them, be effectual for the freeing

their Souls out of the Torments of Purgatory. These are the Popish Doctrines concerning good Works, which we all juftly reject, as having no Foundation in Scripture, or good Antiquity; and being apparently contrived for the promoting their secular Gain and Advantage. But then as for the Ņecessity, or the Conduciveness of good Works to a Man's Salvation, which is all we here plead for, I know no good Protestant, but doth as earnestly contend for it, as any of that Communion.

Secondly, Whatever Efficacy we attribute to Works of Charity, as a Means for the obtaining Eternal Life, we would not be underfood hçręby, to exclude the necessary Con

K 3

currence

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

currence of other Vertues and Graces to that End. It doth not from hence follow, that it is an indifferent matter what Religion a Man is of, or what kind of Life he leads, if he be but mighty Bountiful to the Poor, and do a great deal of Good in his Life. No, how acceptable to God foever the Sacrifice of Alms and Charity be, yet we are not to expect it shall be available to our Salvation, unless it proceed from a pure Heart, and be offered with a lively Faith in Jesus Christ, and accompanied with a fincere Endeavour to obey all God's Commandments. Eternal Happiness is not proposed in the Gospel as a Reward of any one lir:gle Vertue, no, not of the greatest, but of all of them together; if indeed there can be any true Vertue where there is not a. Conjunction of all; I say, if

there can be, for St. James seems to affirm, Jam. 2.10: that there cannot; Whosoever (faith he) Mall

keep the whole Laiv, and yet offend in one Point,
he is guilty of all.

But now having said this, by way of Cau:
tion, to prevent all Occasion that any may
take from our so earnestly pressing Charity,
to undervalue and neglect other Duties : It
cannot be denied on the other side, that very
great Effects are by bur Saviour and his A.
postles, ascribed to this Vertue, with respect
to Mens Salvation in the other World.

In the Sixth of St. Luke, our Lord thus
Luke6.30, adviseth, Love (faith he) your Enemies, give

to him that asketh, do good, and lend, hoping
for nothing again for all your Reward be great,

and

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

14

and je sball be the Children of the most Highest. Now sure to be intitled to great Rewards, and to be the Children of the most High, doth look farther than this prefent World. Our Saviour without doubt means the same thing here, that he expresses upon the same Occasion in another Place, viz. They (those that you do good to) cannot recompense you, but you shall Luke 14. be recompensed at the Resurrection of the Juft.

Again, The Parable of the unjust Steward, Luke 16. that provided fo well for himself against à bad Time out of his Master's Goods, is wholly designed to this Purpose; and that the Application of it sufficiently shews ; for our Saviour having said, that the Lord of this Steward commended him for his Providence and Care of himself, he thus applies it to. all his Disciples. Wherefore I say unto you, Yerse 9. Make

you Friends to yourselves of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, (i. e. of these false deceitful Riches) that when you fail, you may be received into everlasting

. Habitations ; plainly declaring, that the best Provision that rich Men can make for themselves against the Time of their Death, in order to their Reception into the other World, must be the Charitable Actions they do with their Wealth while they live here.

Lastly, In another Place our Saviour faith the very fame Thing in effect, that is said in the Text; for this is his Counsel to all that mean to be happy in the next Life, viz. that they Sell that they have (that is, Luke 13 when the Times are such, that it is rea- 33.

K 4

sonable

fonable so to do) that they give Alms; for there. by they provide to themselves Bags which was not old, a Treasure in the Heavens, where no Thief approacheth, nor Moth corrupteth.

To these Three Texts of our Saviour's, I shall add Three others, of Three of his Apoftles, which speak just to the fame Effe&t, and with them I shall conclude. The Firft is that of St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews ; where having spoken most severe

Things, and denounced no less than Hellfire against the False Brethren among them,

yet thus he comforts the Church, to whom Heb. 6.6. he writes. But; Beloved, (faith he) we are pero

suaded better Things of you, and Things that do accompany Salvation, though we thus spake.

And what, I pray, is the reason he is thus Verse 11. persuaded ? Verily this, For God (faith he)

is not Unrighteous to forget your Work, and Lás bour of Love, which you have sbewed to his Name, in that ye have ministred to the Saints, and get do minister. It was purely their Charity to the Brethren, 'that made him have these good Hopes of them, that they were in a State of Salvation. Though that Church, as to other Things, was in a very degenerate Condition, yet considering they had been laborious and diligent in the Exercise of Charity, and still continued so to be, God would not forget them ; nay, he was not so Una righteous as to forget them. And then, that

which follows in the next Verse; is very Verle iz. observable ; And we desire, that every one of you, do flew the same Diligence (to wit, in the

Practice

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »