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A DISCOURSE, &c.
PSALM IX. 18.
The needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expec
tation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
IN consequence of transgression against the Almighty, miseries of every conceivable description are entailed upon all mankind; and thus it is that man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Had it not been for the intervention of Jesus, the Son of God, who satisfied divine justice, our miseries in this life would have introduced us to the black regions of endless despair! Through the sufferings and death of this adorable Saviour, hope springs to a guilty world, and Providence bears a smiling aspect over the varieties of human · sorrows.
The text which I have selected is an epitome of the promises; and is admirably calculated to afford encouragement both to the sensible sinner
and the agonizing sufferer. The poor, needy, sen-, sible sinner, who, with a penitential eye looks to the throne of his offended God for pardon, and who, at the same time, is disposed to draw an unfavourable conclusion from the magnitude of his guilt, that mercy will never create peace in his throbbing breast-is here encouraged to wait with an assurance that his depressed soul shall not always be forgotten, neither shall his expectation of peace and joy perish for ever. It equally administers a cheering hope to the poor and the needy under their most severe misfortunes and accumulated miseries. Though lover and friend be put far from them, and their acquaintance into darkness, God assures them, by this promise, that they shall not always be forgotten; though long and severe their calamities, their expectation shall not finally become abortive. In this promise there is more implied than expressed. While it assures the penitent, and the sufferer, of the gracious attention of their Lord, they may confidently expect that every necessary blessing shall be conferred upon them by his beneficent. hand.
It will be most appropriate to the present occasion that I elucidate the text as an expression of Divine Benevolence to the necessitous poor. In:
order to this, I shall inquire-WHAT ARE THOSE WAYS WHICH GOD, IN HIS WORD, AND BY HIS PROVIDENCE, ACCOMPLISHES THIS PROMISE IN FAVOUR OF THE POOR AND NEEDY, IN THE DIFFERENT PERIODS OF TIME?
Recur to the ancient laws of Moses, and you will instantly perceive the provision which God required in favour of the poor in the land. One section you will find in Leviticus xix. 9, 10. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard; neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the Lord your God. As if Moses had said: “This is enough; the God of heaven and earth is the Lord your God; he crowns your fields with his bounties, therefore exercise benevolence and compassion to the poor and the stranger which are within thy borders." This benevolent law was afterwards revised, and became a Statute in Israel. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the works of thine hands. When
thou beatest thinė olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again : it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterwards : it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. (Deut. xxiv. 19, 20, 21.) From this humane law, it is apparent, it was the divine intention, that while some enjoyed the comforts and the luxuries of life, they should evidence their dependence and their gratitude to God by relieving the poor and the indigent.
Whenever this benevolent requisition was either neglected or violated by the Hebrews, God failed not to give them the necessary reprehension. In the days of Isaiah, when that people held their fast, he thus reproved them by his prophet: Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness : ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen ? a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush; and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this, a fast, and an acceptable day of the Lord ? All these external mortifying services were without avail. The Prophet therefore informed them, what were the necessary accompaniments to fasting. Is not this the fast