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the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Why, then, a being may be “the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person,” and be destitute !-But alas! all this will not keep numbers from thinking money the summit of all excellency. () money! money can add charms to ugliness: money can transform wrinkles into youth: money can fill brainless heads with wisdom, and render nonsense oracular : money can turn meanness into virtue, and falling, like snow, can cover a dunghill, and give it the appearance of whiteness and innocency!
Behold, secondly, an instance of the divine goodness, which ought to encourage the poor and needy. When one comfort is withdrawn another is furnished. When Jesus is removed, John is raised up. A Christian should never despair. Our heavenly Father has more than one way of providing for his children. His resources are innumerable and inexhaustible. "O fear the Lord, all ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him : the young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Let those who are dying without wealth, and have nothing to leave behind them, hear him saying, “ Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive, and let thy widows trust in me." Let those who fear that by bereavement they shall be reduced and impo. verished, say with David, “ When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up. In him the fatherless findeth mercy.”.
Thirdly, we learn that we should endeavour to be useful not only living, but dying. We see the Saviour attentive to the duty of every season, and every circumstance. Never so occupied even by his sufferings, as to forget others, he dies as he had lived; and not only when going about, but even when nailed to the cross, we behold him doing good.
A Christian, if he has not done it before, should now set his house in order. He should arrange his affairs, and dispose of his effects, and secure guardians for his children-so as not to occasion perplexity and discord after his decease. He should be also attentive to the spiritual improvement of those around him. If able to speak, he should recommend the Saviour and speak well of his ways. Dying words are impressive. This is the last time you can do anything for your generation. “By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die ; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayst prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself.” Mr. Bolton said to his children who stood around his dying bed, “See that none of you meet me in an unconverted state at the day of judgment." Dr. Rivet said in his last illness, " Let all who come to inquire after my welfare be allowed to see me: I ought to be an example in death as well as in life."
Fourthly. A lesson of filial piety is clearly deducible from this subject. Children are under ant obligation to succour and relieve their parents
according to their ability. And this is not to be considered as charity, so much as common justice. The apostle, therefore, calls it a requiting :- Let them requite their parents.” I admire the disposition of David, who when wandering from place to place, seemed regardless of himself, if he could provide a safe and comfortable situation for his father and mother : " He went to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me." I admire still more David's son, and David's Lord, who, even in the agony of crucifixion commends his poor mother to the care of the beloved disciple.
And here you ask-but why did he this? Could he not have provided for her himself?He who turned water into wine, and made a few loaves sufficient to feed a whole multitude ? Could not he have furnished means for the subsistence of a destitute mother ? Behold, in answer to this, another reflection. He does not needlessly work miracles. The manna which followed the Israelites in the wilderness ceased so soon as they could provide themselves with the corn of the land. He generally fulfils his kind designs by common means, and in the established course of things. His care extends to the poor as well as to the rich. Mark this. He has made the rich stewards, but not proprietors : he has given thein an abundance, not to hoard up, but to expend and to administer. And the poor and distressed are as much consigned by Providence to the care of the affluent, as Mary was charged upon John. None of God's benefits terminate wholly on the possessor-they are means as well as mercies, talents as well as endowments. If we are enlightened. we are to“ arise and shine:" if converted, we are to strengthen our brethren;" if comforted, we are to comfort others with those comforts, wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God:” if we have all things richly to enjoy, we are to be ready to communicate, willing to distribute."
· Suppose a master should call into his presence a servant, and say to him, “ Take this money, and go carry it to such a poor family.” And suppose the servant as soon as he had gotten possession of it, should resolve to keep it or lay it out on some finery, or amusement. What would you think! Would you blame the master as wanting in generosity ? No—but you would say, O thou wicked servant. And what would the master himself say ?-Surely he would punish him, and he would well deserve it, for he is at once guilty of unfaithfulness and cruelty. Such a master indeed may never find out this villany. But the rich are going to appear before a God who cannot be mocked, to give an account of the application of the property which he committed to their trust, for certain purposes which his word clearly specifies. It was given them to teach the ignorant, to clothe the naked; to “make the widow's heart to sing for joy."—Wo! wo be to them, if they shall be found to have frustrated the kindness of his designs, either by not using, or by wasting his goods !
Once more. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved : he had a peculiar friendship for him--and how does he express it? Not by diminishing his care, but by enlarging the claims of duty: not by increasing his estate, but by giving him a con
sumer-quartering upon him an old woman for life. You may deem this a strange proof of his affection, a strange way of honouring him! But if you view the matter aright, you will see that there is nothing unaccountable in it. To be employed by him and for him is a dignity and a privilege. If he pleased, he could well dispense with our poor services, but he engages us to improve our graces, and to reward our exertions. And in proportion as we are in a good frame of mind, we shall long to be instruments in the Saviour's hands, and bringing ourselves daily to his footstool, we shall ask, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?”
III. John, therefore, executes the orders of his dying Lord; and “ from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” He does not stand weighing things : “ Can I afford to do it? Shall I not entail upon myself expenses for life? and not only so, but trouble also-yea, and reproach and suspicion, by accommodating the mother of one who was executed as a malefactor—an enemy to Cæsar." He obeys cheerfully, instantly, implicitly.
And let us remember that true obedience is prompt; and will lead us to “ do all things without murmuring and disputing.” This is peculiarly the case with regard to charity. Real benevolence, if I may so express it, is not too longsighted and thoughtful: it will not suffer the fine impulse to cool, by indulging hesitation : when an obligation strikes us, it will not allow of our eluding it, by giving us either inclination or time to bring forward the hardness of the times, the slackness of trade, the increase of family, the multiplicity of cases. While we stop to inves