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shall endeavour to do all these and the like kind offices. If we are unwilling to do them, it is because we are destitute of charity. 7. We are bound to make this communication of beneficence a part of our System of life. When once it is determined by us, that the performance of this duty is one great end for which we live, and that a considerable part of our time, our labours, and our substance, is to be employed in this manner, much of our native reluctance to it may be regarded as being overcome. Whatever we do habitually, however irksome it may be at first, will in the end be willingly done. At first we think of little beside the difficulties, which will attend the rformance. As we proceed, the employment itself gradually p. pleasant; .."we also realize more and more the various pleasures by which it is attended. At the same time, whenever any conduct becomes part of our system of action, as we regularly expect to adopt it, we make a regular and constant preparation %. the performance. In the present case, for example, when it has become an habitual object to bestow upon the poor pecuniary bounty; we shall so regulate our expenses as continually to be in possession of the means of this bounty, and shall not be unprovided, when the occasions for charity occur. If personal assistance is the beneficence demanded; we shall so adjust our business, as to be able, without serious inconvenience, to perform the kind of. fices which this duty may require. Universally, of whatever nature the good to be done may be, we shall in this case be prepared to do it, and that as a part of the business of life. On the contrary, he who performs acts of charity only in a desultory and occasional manner, will find himself unready to fulfil such of its demands as he will acknowledge to be real and obligatory, will halt between the duty and the sacrifice which it will cost, and will often persuade himself in opposition to the first dictates of his conscience, that in the existing case he may be lawfully excused. In addition to what has been said, it ought to be diligently remembered, that we are not made for ourselves, that we were made for the glory of our Creator and the good of our fellow-creatures, and that it is our supreme interest, as well as our indispensable duty, to fulfil this exalted end of our being. We are ever to keep before our eyes, that it is always unnecessary and usually undesirable for us to be rich; that when in the course of honest o we become rich, we are peculiarly obligated to do good, to be ric in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; and that, in this manner, we shall lay up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come. Still further, we are bound to realize that our property belongs to God, that to us it is a mere gift of his bounty, that there is no good in it, unless we gratefully rejoice in the o, of the Giver, and do good in our life, and that then only we are entitled to enjoy the good of all our labour. Finally, we are to realize that God is especially glorified when good is done to mankind. If these interesting considerations are continually kept in view and brought home to the heart, it seems hardly possible that we should not be well prepared to perform all those actions, which are included under the comprehensive name of Charity. IV. Among the numerous motives to the performance of this duty, I shall select the following. 1. We shall preserve ourselves from the deplorable passion of avafruce, Cast back your eyes for a moment on the exhibition made of this attribute in the preceding discourse, and tell me, Which of you is willing to subject himself to the miserable bondage of its domination? W. of you is willing to sustain the character, which of you to perform the actions, which to receive the reward? Can any character be more unfit for a rational being, more odious or more contemptible in itself, or, in proportion to its means, more mischievous to mankind? How emphatically true is it, that the love of money is the root of all evil; that those who love it, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts. which drown men in destruction and perdition; that they are seduced from the faith, and pierce themselves through, or, as in the original, all around, with many sorrows ' Let every one of you who is a child of God, let every one of you who intends to become a child of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, and love. But nothing seems better fitted to prevent, or to root out, this wretched passion, than an habitual performance of the duties of charity. He, who accustoms himself to #. freely and to act kindly to others, especially to the poor and suffering from whom he can rationally hope for o; again, can scarcely fail in the end of being willing to give, and to give liberally. For a truly charitable man to be covetous, is impossible. Let me add, that in this manner also we shall be secured from the imputation of avarice. Nothing will sooner or more perfectly destroy a good name, than this imputation, nothing more certainly awaken the hatred and the scorn of our fellow-men, nothing more certainly preclude us from any rational or desirable influence over them. 2. By a faithful performance of these duties, we shall secure to eurselves the Esteem of our fellow-men. - A good name, says Solomon, is better than great riches. Among all the things which are done by man, nothing more certainly assures us of the best reputation, than a o ar and cheerful performance of charitable offices. Not only do the wise and good, but men of all inferior descriptions, also, readily acknowledge the worth of beneficence, peculiarly when administered to such as are in distress. Excellence in other forms is often doubted, denied, Vol. III. 69
disrelished, and calumniated. In this, it seems always to be respeeted. The character acknowledged is not merely good: it is i. best. The hardest heart acknowledges its worth; and the most niggardly, tongue vibrates in its praise. How often, when the eye is wandering over published accounts, even fictitious ones, of beneficence administered to the poor and friendless, does the tear of tenderness and sympathy start, and the bosom warm with leasure at this display of evangelical excellence! Whose voice §. not delight to sound the praises of Howard; and how little do nobles, heroes, and princes appear at his side : In the possession of such a character, we of course acquire a happy influence over our fellow-men; and this influence is the chief means of our usefulness. An indvidual acting alone can do little towards promoting the well-being of his fellow-men; while the same individual, by means of extensive influence, may become an important public o Although, therefore, reputation, considered merely as a gratification of our pride, is of little consequence; its value, as the means of usefulness, is inestimable. In this view, a good name is indeed rather to be chosen than great riches, and o than silver and gold. 3. In the performance of these duties, we insure to ourselves the approbation of our own Consciences. This is always the consequence of performing our duty; yet there are some duties, from which it springs in a peculiar degree. Among these, the administration of charity obviously holds a high station. As there is something eminently lovely in to: to the eyes of those who look on, so it is seen to be thus lovely by the eye of the benefactor. It is a glorious character of God that he is ood, that he doeth good, and that his tender mercies are over all is works. This character we never so directly and peculiarly resemble, as when we do good with the spirit of the Gospel. Of this resemblance, and the beauty of it, the mind is conscious of course; and surveying the Divine image instamped upon itself, beholds its lustre and loveliness with a delight which is independent, serene, and incomparably superior to every thing which the world is able to give or to take away. 4. It secures the approbation of God. Concerning this truth there can be no debate. Multitudes indeed oil." nothing else to be necessary for this purpose; and seem willing to consider it as supplying all deficiencies of repentance, faith, and love to God, even when their beneficence is that of the hands, and not that of the heart. This undoubtedly is an error, and a very dangerous one. Still it is certain, that Evangelical beneficence will secure to us the Divine approbation; for he, in whom it is found, will certainly possess every other evangelical attribute. In an eminent degree, is it obedience to very numerous commands of the Gospel; and, in a degree no less eminent, is it an object of Scriptural promises. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble; the Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth: the Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing. He hath dispersed; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever. 5. It is a striking resemblance to the character of the Redeemer. Jesus Christ, saith St. Peter, a man who went about doing good. How exact a description is this of our Saviour's life! #. ass by the divine doctrines which he taught, how entirely were all his miracles directed to this single end He healed the sick; he fed the hungry; he comforted the sorrowful; cleansed the leprous, cast out devils, and restored soundness to the lame, sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and life to the dead : and still more wonderful were his sufferings. All the contradiction which he endured from sinners, all the agonies of the garden and the cross, and all the humiliation of the grave, he endured solely for the purpose of rescuing wretched apastates, condemned and ruined, from final perdition. How lovely, how glorious a character! Mine elect, saith God the Father, in whom my soul delighteth; my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. What Angel would not §: ht to make such a character his pattern' What Christian would not follow his example ! 6. It will secure a Divine reward. It is a most remarkable fact, that, in our Saviour's agcount of his administrations at the final day, he has founded his approbation of good men and their everlasting reward, upon their performance of É. duties of charity. Come, ye blessed of my Father, will the Judge of the quick and the dead say to them on his right hand, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me 5, I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink P When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ; naked, and clothed thee; or when saw we thee sick, and in prison, and came unto thee & And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. On the other hand, the cause, expressly assigned for the condemnation of the wicked at the same awful day, is their omission of these very duties. How delightful, then, will it be, to go from this world with a consciousness that the duties of charity have been all performed by ourselves' How melancholy, how dreadful, to stand before the Judge with a conviction that they have all been neglected ' .
1 Timothy vi. 9, 10–They, that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For, the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coreted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many
IN the two preceding discourses, I examined the Nature, and Benefits of Contentment; the immediate object of Injunction in the Tenth Command: and of Charity; a duty which it obviously implies. The subject, which next offers itself to consideration, is the Covetousness, which is the immediate object of Prohibition in this precept. This I shall discuss under the two general heads of Avatrice and Ambition.
The former of these shall occupy the present discourse.
The spirit of Covetousness extends, indeed, both its views, and desires, to the objects of Sensuality, as well as to Wealth, and Distinction. But, beside that these are not commonly considered as the proper objects of covetousness, I have already discoursed so extensively concerning several sensual gratifications, as to render it unnecessary again to bring them into a particular examination.
In the present discussion, it is my design to consider,
I. The Folly;
II. The Guilt; and,
III. The Mischiefs; of Avarice.
All these subjects are directly mentioned in the Text. Of those, who will be rich, it is said, that they fall into many foolish lusts. These lusts are also said to be hurtful, and to drown men in destruc. tion and perdition. It is further said, that the love of money is the root of all evil. Some, who had coveted after it, in, or before, the days of St. Paul, he declares, erred, or were seduced, from the faith; and pierced themselves through; asselsteigw, pierced themselves all around; with many sorrows. Here, we find the Folly, Guilt, and Mischiefs, of Avarice asserted in the strongest, as well as the most explicit, terms. What is thus testified by St. Paul, the common sense of mankind has, in every age and country, attested in the most ample manner. All nations, wherever wealth has existed, have declared Covetousness to be eminently foolish, sinful, and mischievous. A stronger specimen of this testimony can