Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

guard him from the finger of scorn and the derision of fools. And whilst we keep these ideas in view, we shall neither be disposed to think haughtily of ourselves, nor contemptuously of others; we shall be sensible, that " pride was not made 56 for man, nor lofty thoughts for him

that is born of a woman.”'o: 1199

Nor 2dly, Will this spirit of charity, which arises from a sense of our own dependence upon the living God, be less serviceable in removing that false confidence, which men are ever too apt to place in their riches. For he, who is once taught by a spirit of benevolence the true nature and end of his riches; that they are only lent him by Providence for the benefit of the poor and necessitous; and that the same power which gavė, can also take away; nay, that, as 'the royal Psalmist expresses it, riches often make themselves wings and fly away, and what is still worse, often fly from the generous and deserving to the most worthless and sordid of mankind : such a man will never be led to trust in uncertain

riches, riches, but will rather place his hopes in the living God, from whom he received them, and to whom he stands accountable for the use he has made of them, ..

And therefore it is we find holy Job expressly declaring, that he thought himself bound to practise the duties of charity and humility, lest he should seem to deny the God, who was the absolute giver and disposer of all he enjoyed.

“ If,” says he, “ I have withheld the 146 poor from their desire, or caused the “ eyes of the widow to fail ; if I have “ eaten my morsel alone, and the father« less hath not eaten thereof; if I have 16 seen any, perish for want of cloathing, :“ or any poor without covering, and his

loins have not blessed me, and he were " not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; “ if I have made gold my hope, or said “ to the fine gold, thou art my confir “ dence; this were an iniquity to be pu“ nished by the judge; for I should have " denied, that God is above." .

Such

Such is the remedy, which the Apostle points out against the vices of highmindedness, and confidence in uncertain riches. And to make this remedy the more efficacious, he points out, 2dly, The particular duties, to which we are obliged by a spirit of charity and benevolence.

The first of these is to do good.

And here what a noble field is open for the display of our humanity, including no less than the whole race of human kind! The heathen thought it sufficient to return the obligations of gratitude, and to do good to those, from whom he had received good: And the narrowminded Jew confined his acts of beneficence to those, who were of his own country and religion: and was therefore ever ready to cry out in the churlish language of Nabal, “ Who is David, and " who is the son of Jesse ? Shall. I take so my bread and my water, and my flesh " that I have killed, and give it unto 6 men, whom I know not whence they

* be ?"

6. be?” But the Christian is taught to act upon a more generous and enlarged plan: To him the partition-wall between Jew and Gentile is broken down : He is to do good, as opportunity offers, to all men, without distinction of age or country, friend or foe, sect or party : His example is to be fetched down from Heaven: He is to copy the universal benevolence of his Creator, who is good to all, and makes his sun to shine alike upon the just and the unjust: He is to follow the steps of his Redeemer, who died for his enemies, as well as for his friends. Whoever therefore labours under the common infirmities or calamities of human nature, be his condition, opinion, interest, country, or denomination, what it will; he is the Christian's friend, brother, and equal: He is the object of his compassion, of bis prayers, his advice, his bounty, and his assistance.

· 2dly. As we are required to do good to all men, without distinction, so are we also required to do good at all times.

It is painful to' condemn even the faintest dawnings of so amiable a virtue as humanity, let them proceed from what cause they will : And happy it is for the distressed, that there are so many motives to lead men to the exercise of it: But the sacredness of truth compels me to say, that a partial, or irregular charity, is not the charity of the Gospel. We may be liberal in a pleasant humour; the feelings of pity and the importunity of distress, the dread of shame or the vanity of ostentation, may extort from us an accidental alms to a poor member of Christ : but such sudden and fortuitous starts of benevolence reach not the duty of the true Christian. He is not only to da good, sometimes and by chance, but, in the language of the text, he is to be “ rich in good works :" His charity is to be a steady principle, operating at all times ; not dazzling the eye with uncer: tain flashes, but irradiating and reviving the heart of the distressed with a steady and unremitting warmth. Every year therefore, every month, nay, every rising sun, will recall some such reflection as ','3

this

« ElőzőTovább »