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Being, they are ready to tremble with the holy David, and to say, If thou, O Lord, shouldst be extreme to mark what is done amiss, who, O Lord, Jhall be able to abide it? Thus by abasing themselves, they are exalted in the sight of God: they account themselves most vile, and by their gracious Maker are received as pure and clean. They condemn themselves, and are justified by their Lord and Savior. They judge themselves unworthy to live on earth ; and through God's mercy (the mercy which they strive to imitate) they are esteemed prepared for heaven. It is thus God's word doth truly teach us to think correctly of all good works, and that it is through his tender love alone that we are made partakers of the fruits his word hath promised. Let us then never sacken in our imitation of such great and good examples, but chearfully perform such acts of mercy, as we are commanded. Let us preserve that just opinion of them that we are taught, and then, like those that are gone before us, we shall experience the rewards that follow all good works, and know by proof of endless happiness; what profit is derived from exercising charity, upon a christian principle. That we may all find grace to possess and cultivate this heavenly virtue, God of his infinite mercy grant, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ. To whom, &c.
The Third Part of the Homily on Charity."
Psalm xxxvii. 25.
I bave been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen
the righteous forsaken, nor his feed begging bread.
HE two first heads proposed to be explained
to you, in this Homily of Charity, or Alms-giving, have been very fully discussed. In the first, you were shewn that all acts of mercy are truly acceptable to God; for how can it be otherwise, but thắt 'a God of mercy should be pleased with the imitátion of his own perfection. The second division of the subject, declared to you no less 'expressly, how much it concerns us to practise this virtue; and how very advantageous it is to our best interests to be uniform and earnest, in our discharge of it. The mirtakes that have been made, respecting the genuine
character of charity, were likewise pointed out, and all objections answered, that seemed to leflen its essential value, by setting forth the principle by
which alone it can be qualified and made a christian : virtue. The third, and last particular, promised to be established, was the removal of all discouragements to this duty, from worldly and selfish confi
derations, which might interfere to sacken generous exertions, and deaden the ear to the voice of necessitude, by shewing, from Holy Scripture, that the charitable person need never be in fear of want himself, in consequence of eniploying religious liberality.
Many persons, when they hear how pleasing a merciful disposition is declared to be in the light of God; and how profitable, at the same time, the practice of it is likely to prove to themselves, in that it is capable of conciliating the favor of the Almighty; when, I say, people consider the great advantages flowing from this attainment, it is but natural that they should earnestly desire to be made partakers of such benefits; but still, in too many, who would gladly partake of the end, there wants a heart and resolution to employ the means of rendering them the objects of God's favor. For numbers, through the depravity of human nature, acting upon the particular complexion or constitution of their frame and habit of mind, discover such a sordid and greedy turn, and are so controuted by covetous affections, that they grudge the present penny, for the prospect of a pound in future. They have no idea but of an immediate return for any thing they lay out. They have no faith to trust the gospel declaration, that he who giveth to the poor, lendetb unto the Lord; or that a morsel of bread and cup cf drink, to them who want it, is capable of increasing to a beavenly treasure. In short, they cannot relish this method of procuring the divine favor. Characters like these, have ever a favorite faying that upholds them in hard hearted conduct, that charity begins at home; and they are continually afraid, and anxious, left by being often bountiful, however small the gift, they may so diminish their own stock, that perhaps at last, they may stand in need of public charity themselves. Is it not evident, that hereby they declare themselves void of faith and gratitude, that they have no dependance on God's goodness, and are, besides, deluded by the greatest folly, and self-sufficiency ? For who can prevent them from misfortune, if God refuses to bless their industry? To what are they indebted for the very property they now enjoy, but to God's kind permission that it should be so ? How unreasonable then is it (1hould such persous do otherwife than well) for them to expect relief or pity, who, to a proverb, have been unmerciful ?. In short, if they would but weigh the encouraging declaration in the text, they would be soon inclined (even on their own principles) to strive at a reform of habits, which supply excuses to continue graceless, and rather to yield to the dictates of an avaritious spirit, which does the devil's work upon their minds, than by cultivating the rich grace of mercy, to imitate the pattern Christ hath set them, and thereby effect the purifying of their nature. There is no disorder of the soul, that more requires prayer to cure it, than this of covetoufness. Happy they who apply, and find the benefit of this remedy for so infectious and stubborn a disease. It is not like to bodily complaints,, the very want of which, must end with our mortality; but this evil temper so corrupts the mind, as to endanger both foul and body with eternal punishment. But, blessed be God, we have a Friend who is able to remove this inveterate malady also. All, therefore, who feel a tendency to such a disposition, let them betake themselves, in time, to the Great Physician of fouls, who is willing to relieve all who come unto him for help, without money and without price. Let them diligently seek Him, and earnestly beg that, of his mercy, he would inftrućt them how to subdue so powerful an enemy to their everlasting peace.
Further, as for such who falsely suppose that by being merciful to the needy, they will endanger
their own comforts, let them only attend to the admonitions of Holy Writ upon this subiect. Depend upon it, that whatever is spared from your own substance to promote the service of universal charity; whatever is employed in obedience to Christ's precepts, can never be wanted, or turn to bad account. All who possess a particle of christian faith, must be assured, that what is delivered by the spirit of God, and hath the authority of his holy word, may be relied upon as the lefejt rule to walk by." Solomon informs us, that whoso giveth to the poor (provided it be done freely, and upon true religious principles); ball never want. Men often please themselves with the fancy; that by all manner of care and misery, and continually hoarding up, they shall grow rich at last ; and what doth such a practice profit them, when this Tentence goeth forth against them : Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee, and then whose Jhall all these things be? Many may idly think, that God will pardon all the covetous, pinching, and unfeeling actions of their lives, because when they cannot keep their wretched gain any longer, they are willing to leave it to the poor; but the latter part of the other admonition intimates, that this may not be in their power; Then whole shall these things be? that is, when cut off suddenly, and consequently without a change of disposition. The commandment is, to do good while we live, and confequently, to take special care, if we do leave any thing behind us, thats it be well secured to the appointed and godly purposes we intended. But this is what few covetous-minded persons have grace to do; the love of the pelf itself engrofles their whole affection; it becomes the chief of their cares, their idol, their God. - In short, avarice is the most hateful cf all vices in the sight of God, and the most unprofitable and injurious to man, in that it deprives the poleffor of doing good, and the world