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recommend to your charity at this time. The advantages of forwarding it will be very many; the number of evil examples will every day be lessened; a great many families, knowing and fearing God, will in His good time be established. A great many of these, remembering the hand that raised them, and the way in which this was done, will be ready to continue this kind of charity to future generations. In the mean time we shall be no losers by what we give. They that have children will entail a blessing upon their own posterity; and they that have none are better able to help those who have more than they can well bring up after a Christian manner.
In one word : it is by the good blessing of God that so many of us want nothing that is needful either for our souls or bodies. Whatever we are able to give, cometh of God, and of His own do we give Him. Let us then beseech Him to pardon all our vain expenses ; to make us so careful of His blessings, as that we may always be able to offer some testimony of our gratitude to God for the many favours we have received from Him, to be given where His providence shall direct us to give.
And the good Lord give a blessing to all our charities, and especially to this, that it may continue and answer the ends proposed by it!
A CHARITY SERMON, PREACHED at ST. DUNSTAN's, Feb. 16, 1723.
CONTINUANCE IY WELL-DOING RECOMMENDED AND ENFORCED.
Gal. vi. 9.
Let us not be weary in well-doing : for in due season we
shall reap, if we faint not. These words suppose two things : first, that there is an essential difference betwixt good and evil ; between well-doing and evil-doing ; which every body is capable of seeing, if it is not plainly their own fault. And,
Secondly, that Christians, through the corruption of nature, and the wiles of Satan and his instruments, are subject to be weary of well-doing; and had need to be often put in mind of their duty in this particular, and guarded against the temptations which may otherwise shake their faith and constancy, and deprive them of their reward.
These things are supposed. That which is expressly affirmed is, that if Christians, notwithstanding the discouragements they meet with, faint not, grow not weary of well-doing, they shall certainly receive a reward that will sufficiently recompense their perseverance.
I. To apply these things to your present improvement, I would first observe to you, that there are several truths so very plain, that to go about to prove them would be to weaken the faith, and puzzle the understanding, of the hearers, rather than be any real advantage to them; and therefore the Spirit of God, in His holy Word, is not solicitous to prove such things as every body endued with reason is supposed to know. For instance: every man is supposed to know there is a God, who made the world, and all things in it. Moses therefore begins the Bible with these words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth ;” (Gen. 1. 1.] supposing most justly, that he who will not, from the greatness and beauty of the creatures, acknowledge the Maker of them, all the arguments in the world will not convince him. And the Apostle saith expressly, “that all such are without (Rom. 1.
20. excuse;" let them pretend want of capacity, want of proof, or what else they please.
The difference betwixt good and evil is another of those things which require no arguments to make it plainer than it is at first sight. The Apostle tells us, "that the Gentiles, (Rom. 2. which had not the law” to direct them particularly what 14, 15.] to do, and what to avoid, “had yet the work of the law written in their hearts," and knew very well when they did amiss, and when they did otherwise ; "their conscience witnessing with them." And therefore the Prophet makes no scruple to pronounce a severe woe to all that “call evil good, (Is. 5. 20.] and good evil.”
And they that make it a question, or would make it indifferent, which a man chooses, are either such as are not willing to see the truth, because they will not obey it; or such as take a pleasure in confounding men’s notions, that they may have more partners in their infidelity; or lastly, such whose consciences are seared, who are given up to a re- (1 Tim. 4. probate mind, who seeing, see not, as our Lord expresses it ; 28 ; Matt. who, being under the conduct of Satan, are by him com- 13. 13.) pelled to do all the mischief that is in their power.
And indeed no other account can be given why some men are so indefatigably industrious to set up and promote the kingdom of darkness, by publishing the most blasphemous books ; by confounding the distinction betwixt vice and virtue; and by undermining the very foundations of the Christian religion. They have rejected the Lord that bought them; the master they serve will have it so; they are led captive by him at his will.
But although good and evil, virtue and vice, are so easily distinguished, that the “wayfaring men, though fools,” (Is. 35. 8.) as the Prophet speaks, "need not err," need not be mistaken : yet, because the nice bounds which separate good
SERM. and evil are so easily perceived, that a man can say,
I can go without sin ; this is made a matter of complaint, when in truth it is so ordered for our good, that we may be obliged to keep at the greatest distance from sin, which we shall certainly do, if we truly fear God; and that we may not content ourselves with the lowest degrees of virtue, which we shall never do, if we sincerely love God. The very best we can do, considering the talents we have received, the circumstances we are placed in by Providence, the temptations we meet with, and the weakness of our nature; these things, I say, considered, the very best we can do is the MEASURE OF OUR DUTY.
And therefore God has commanded unlimited holiness : (Luke 10. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and 27.]
soul, and strength;" that as our endeavours are, so may our reward be. He has also forbidden every the least degree of sin, that such as truly fear Him may not be tempted to come near the borders of it, lest by little and little they fall into destruction.
Now, this plain distinction between good and evil, betwixt well-doing and evil-doing, as it leaves all men whatever without excuse, who act against reason and against conscience, and makes them liable to an account and judgment to come, and consequently to rewards and punishments, as their works shall deserve; it must sure be one of the greatest acts of piety and charity, to hinder people from ruining themselves eternally ; which all most certainly do, who die in their sins unrepented of.
And though God has made it the duty of parents to train up their children in virtue and piety; though He has appointed an order of men, who stand charged for the souls committed to their care; though he has given us the holy Scriptures, in which we have the words of eternal life, and which are, or may be, in every body's hands; yet there is still room enough for well-disposed Christians to exercise their charity by endeavouring to instruct the ignorant, to secure those that are in the way of life, to convert sinners from the error of their ways, and as much as may be, to better the generations to come. As, therefore, there will always be objects of this kind, so, I doubt not, they will
never want advocates to plead for them, nor hearts disposed to assist in this good work, notwithstanding the attempts of evil minds to discourage both.
For this is not to be concealed, that you will, and you ought to expect to meet with discouragements.
Corrupt nature is apt to be weary of well-doing; wickedness, instead of losing ground, may seem to increase and abound; many, who have had the benefit of your care and pains, may afterwards have been corrupted by the multitude of evil examples; some may have abused your charity, and, instead of being humble and thankful for the blessing of a Christian education, may have grown proud, and conceited, and set themselves above those that have helped to raise them. And lastly, there are not wanting instruments of Satan, who have set themselves to depreciate, to ridicule, to cry down, this excellent charity.
These are some of the discouragements you meet with : both you that contribute towards this great work, and you that have undertaken the management of it.
But are you therefore to give it up? God forbid! It is your duty, and it is your interest, to persevere, notwithstanding the difficulties you have to struggle with. It is your duty, as it is a work of well-doing; and it is your interest, as it may most probably avert the judgments of God from falling upon us.
It is certainly a work of well-doing, notwithstanding the many cavils that have been made against it. The design is the very same with that of the Gospel, “ To [Acts 26.
18.] bring men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”
The way of doing this is, and has been, to take care of such who have either no parents, or none able or capable of giving them a Christian education. These are taught to read the Scriptures, which are able to make them wise unto salvation. And that they may see with their own eyes, that we teach them nothing but what God has commanded us to teach them, that they may see the judgments of God upon sinners ever since the world began, and that His promises are sure to the righteous, and to all that fear and serve Him in sincerity and truth; in one word, that they may learn the way