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“ giveth us richly all things to enjoy." He then concludes his exhortation with explaining the proper uses, to which their riches ought to be applied ; “ that they $ should do good, that they should be 5 rich in good works, ready to distribute,
willing to communicate ;": not perhaps exactly according to the original sense of the word, when, in the infancy of Christianity, the disciples “ had all things 46 common, but at least by communicating a share of their good things to the distressed, as every man had need ; at the same time encouraging them to a faithful discharge of these great duties of charity and benevolence, by setting before them the noble rewards with which they will one day, be attended : “ laying
up in store for themselves a good foun$ dation against the time to come, that ** they may lay hold on eternal life,”.
And indeed there cannot be a more effectual remedy against those corruptions, with which riches are apt to poison and infect the mind, than that generous and diffusive spirit of charity, which arises
from a sense of our dependence upon the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy. i li
For 1st. With regard to pridė; which consists in entertaining too high an opinion of ourselves, and too low and contemptuous à one of others: What can be a greater check upon this foolish conceit of our own importance, than that mild and gentle temper of charity, which knowing itself dependent on the bounty of heaven, “ vaunteth not itself, is not easily puffed up?" This will teach us a just estimate of ourselves and of others : it will teach us, that all men are formed by the same almighty hand, wear the same divine image, are all heirs of the same hopes; it will teach us that every man's situation in life is the appointment of divine Providence, and that no station therefore is contemptible; it will farther teach us, that the blessings of Heaven are distributed with so equal a hand, that even the lowest have some advantages, which the highest want; and that no man is without a sufficient share of them to
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 thoughủs for him
that is born of a woman.”
Nor 2dly, Will this spirit of charity, which arises from a sense of our own de pendence 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 gave, 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, 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.
" eaten my
“ If,” says he, “ I have withheld the poor
from their desire, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail ; if I have
morsel alone, and the father« less hath not eaten thereof; if I have
6 seen any, perish for want of cloathing, ;“ or any poor without covering, and his $ loins have not blessed me, and he were 56 not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; “ if I have made gold my hope, or said
to the fine gold, thou art my confi“ dence; this were an iniquity to be pu“ nished by the judge; for I should have “ denied, that God is above.”
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 doʻgood.
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 «i who is the son of Jesse? Shall. I take
my bread and my water, and my flesh " that I have killed, and give it unto
men, whom I know not whence they
56 be ?"