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good things of this life? Why did he make one man rich and another poor, but that the one might be rewarded for his charity, and the other for his patience? And a greater than St. Basil hath told us, that it is far "more blessed to give than to re"ceive." So that it is no solecism to affirm, that loving others is loving ourselves, and that a man should be charitable to the poor even from a regard for himself.
But, though in this, as well as in other instances of our duty, we are allowed* and even encouraged, to have our own true happiness in view, yet must not this be the only, nor the leading principle of «mr benevolence. For, besides a tender concern for our distressed brother, and a view to the consequences which will result to ourselves from " the blessing of him "that was ready to perish;" we must, fee:fore and above all other considerations, be moved and directed by the love of God. A sincere desire to serve and please him, and the warmest gratitude for all his mercies, must excite, pervade and animate every kind intention to Oup
fellow-creatures. We must look upon every act of charity as a sacrifice of love and obedience, of praise and thanksgiving to that God, to whom we owe all our blessings and comforts, even that valuable blessing, which we this day enjoy, of being enabled, by the condition in which he has placed us, to afford relief to others* instead of lying under the sad necessity of asking it for ourselves.
If then your bowels of compassion be. not entirely shut up, and there be any feeling in your hearts; if you have any relish for pleasures of the most exalted kind, or any sense of your own true interest; if there be any ingenuousness in your disposition, or the smallest spark of gratitude in your souls; you will not, you cannot turn away your faces from the fatherless and the widow, who are recommended to your charity by every motive of pity, goodness and generosity; by the extremity of their distress, and the endearing relation they bear to you, by the genuine dictates of your own breasts, by the honour of your church and nation, by
H 2 the the nature and spirit of your holy religion; and, above all, by the pressing solicitation of your best friends; the God who made and feeds you, and the Lord who died on the cross to save you.
Suffer me therefore, finally, in the name and behalf of every distressed widow and fatherless child for whom I am now pleading, to. address you in the tender and affecting language of holy Job: "Have iC pity on me, have pity on me, O ye my "friends: for the hand of God hath "touched me*." And may the same almighty hand so touch your souls with a just sense of their misery and your own duty, that ye may offer unto God willingly, in the uprightness of your hearts, by ministering liberally to their great and crying necessities,!
* Job xix. 21.
Matthew xii. 31.
Hut the blasphemy against the Holy frfiost shall not be forgiven unto men *.
HPHE severity of the sentence here pronounced has been the unhappy occasion of much distress and difficulty to persons of timid or ill-informed understandings; who, whilst they have laboured under the horrors of a mind conscious of having deserved the divine displeasure, have but too readily persuaded themselves, at the same time, that they have been
* Whitby refers these words to the future dispensation of the Holy Ghost: hut, I think, his interpretation is not easily reconcileable with the account given in Mark iii. 30.
H 3 guilty
guilty of that dreadful and atrocious crime, here mentioned, which " shall "not be forgiven, neither in this world, "neither in the world to come." I hope, therefore, that an attempt to set this crime in a clear and intelligible light, (for the benefit of my less instructed hearers) will be received with candour, though it should neither come recommended with the graces of diction, which would ill accord with a subject of this nature, nor Convey, perhaps, any new discovery to those, who want not the means of better information, J mean not, however, to enter into that mass of controversy, which has unhappily been accumulated on this, subject, or to develope the several nrvsterious interpretations, which have been given of the words of the text. We are happy enough to see the time, when religion is equally divested of those meretricious ornaments and unintelligible subtleties which belong not to it; and when the plain and undisguised truth, as it is in Jesus, wants neither the glare of false em-, bellishments to recommend, nor the sophistry and jargon of the schools to support