double sacrifice of piety and charity? Shall we receive such inestimable benefits by the ministry of this venerable order of men, and shall we shew no pity, nor make the smallest return to their dearest remains ? Shall we, by their hands, partake of the bread of life, and shall we refuse to those, who were once the desire of their eyes, and the joy and pride of their hearts, even the crumbs which fall from our tables, of the bread that perisheth?

But indeed, even setting aside these peculiar circumstances, there is no man, who is a friend to common morality, or a sincere well-wisher to the happiness of mankind, who has not an interest in promoting the charity of the present day. For even those, who have the least regard for religion itself, will readily acknowledge that the principles of good order and decency, especially among the lower ranks of the people, cannot well be maintained in society, without such an order of men as the clergy. If therefore the love of God can be supposed to have no influence in the breast of any man, yet the love of 2010om;


his country, which was never wanting in the breast of any good man, and which, in fact, includes the love of himself, should induce him heartily to concur in every design for the support and encouragement of the sacred order, And how shall this be done but by holding forth to their view the comfortable prospect that, when they fall, their name and memorial shall not perish with them, but that a grateful and generous public will cheerfully adopt the language of God himself: “ Leave thy fatherless children ; I will

preserve them alive: and let thy widows “ trust in me.” Such was the practice of the wisest națion of antiquity; such is the practice of our own nation, towards the widows and orphans of those, who have fought her battles and died in her service. And surely the widows and orphans of the clergy are not less deserving of her regard and support. The husbands and parents of both were engaged, though in different ways, in the same glorious cause, in maintaining and securing the happiness and welfare of their country: the one, in defending it against its foreign enemies, the other, in preserving its interior peace and prosperity, by preaching and promoting universal truth and righiteousness, unity and brotherly love.

enemies, men,

- A lover of Christianity must be a still warmer friend to the present institution ; because it is a work of charity, the distinguishing and favourite virtue of the Gospel; and especially, because it is a work of charity to those who have the strongest claims to our most grateful and liberal regards, by being in a more particular manner of the houshold of faith ; such as were once, dearest to, and are now all that remains of those, who were the ministers and ambassadors of Christ, the stewards, and dispensers of the mysteries of God. And sure I am, that every true Protestant will find a peculiar pleasure, by paying this tribute of affection to the memory of the ministers by “ whom he believed,” in asserting the natural rights and Gospel-liberty of the clergy, against papal tyranny,and usurpation, which have impudently dared to declare marriage unlawful in one order of

men, which St. Paul has pronounced to be honorable among all' men, without exception or distinction. . . ..

And though the duty I am now recommending to you is of all the most reasonable, the most delightful, and carries its own reward along with it, yet it is, at the same time, one of the most easy to be practised. For here is no cutting off a right hand, or plucking out an eye: Here is no rigid mortification, or austere selfdenial, required. Ye are not commanded to sell all that ye have, and give it to the poor. We only solicit for the crumbs which fall from your tables, the overflowings of your abundance, which can never be felt or regretted by yourselves. Do not then suffer thyself to be bribed by such a paltry consideration to violate one of the most sacred laws of humanity. Refuse not thy gracious God, for the sake of such vile trash, a sacrifice so wellpleasing in his sight. Defraud not thyself of such a boundless fund of happiness for so 'poor' a trifle. In a word, be ..420


at the same time merciful to thy brother, and true and just to thy own soul. .

Indeed, if we rightly consider the matter as we ought, we shall find that every one of us, who hath this world's good, is much more interested in the charitable work of this day, than even the unfortunate persons who are the immediate objects of it. For, if we sordidly shut up our bowels of compassion from them, the only effect of it upon them will be, that they will sink the sooner under the pressure of their affliction, and so the sooner be delivered out of all their troubles ; whilst their patience will entitle them to the greater happiness hereafter. But we, who cruelly suffer them to fall a prey to distress and dereliction, shall lose both the present and the future blessings, which God has annexed to the practice of mercy and loving-kindness. For, as a venerable father of the church well argues *, Why did the just and merciful God make so unequal a division of the

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


« ElőzőTovább »