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more direct application of it to divine subjects, to plead the cause of religion, to defend its truths, to enforce and recommend its practice, to deter men from courses which would be dishonourable to God and fatal to themselves, and to try the utmost efforts of all the solemnity and tenderness with which you can clothe your addresses, to lead them into the paths of virtue and happiness.
§. 7. Ha* God invested you with power, whether it be in a larger or smaller society? Remember that this power was given you, that God might be honoured, and those placed under your government, whether domestic or public, might be made happy. lie concerned therefore, that whether you be intrusted with the rod, or the sword, it may not be borne in vain*. Are you a magistrate? Have you any share in the great and tremendous charge of enacting laws? Reverence the authority of the supreme legislator, the great guardian of society: promote none, consent to none, which you do not in your own conscience esteem, in present circumstances, an intimation of his will; and in the establishment of which you do not tinnly believe you shall be his minister for goodf. Have you the charge of executing laws? Put life into them by a vigorous and strenuous execution, according to the nature of the particular office you bear. Retain not an empty name of authority. Permit not yourself, as it were, to fall asleep on the tribunal. Be active, be wakeful, be observant of what passeth around you. Protect the upright, and the innocent. Break in pieces the power of the oppressor. Unveil every dishonest heart. Disgrace, as well as defeat the wretch, that makes his distinguished abilities the disguise or protection of the wickedness which he ought rather to endeavour to expose, and to drive out of the world with abhorrence.
§. 8. Are you placed only at the head of a private family? Rule it for God. Administer the concerns of that little kingdom with the same views, and on the same principle, which I have been inculcating on the powerful and the great; if by an unexpected accident any of them should suffer their eye to glance upon the passage above. Your children and servants are your natural subjects. Let good order be established among them, and keep them under a regular discipline. Let them be instructed in the principles of religion, that they may know how reasonable such a discipline is; and let them be accustomed to act accordingly. You cannot indeed change their hearts, but you may very much influence their conduct; and by that. means may preserve them from many snares, may do a great deal to make them good members of society, and may set them, as it were, in the way of God's steps*, if peradvcuture passing by he may bless them with the riches of his grace. And fail not to do your utmost to convince them of their need of those blessings; labour to engage them to an high esteem of them, and to an earnest desire of them, as incomparably more valuable than any thing else.
* Rom. xiii. 4. + R«W. xiii. 4.
§. 9. Again, has God been pleased to raise you to esteem among your fellow-creatures, which is not always in proportion to a man's rank or possession in human life? Are your counsels heard with attention? Is your company sought? Does God give you good acceptance in the eyes of men, so that they do not only put the fairest construction on your words, but overlook faults of which you are conscious to yourself, and consider your actions and performances in the most indulgent aud favourable lightJ You ought to regard this, not only as a favour of Providence, and as an encouragement to you cheerfully to pursue your duty, in the several branches of it, for the time to come; but also, as giving you much greater opportunities of usefulness, than in your present station you could otherwise have had. If your character has any weight in the world, throw it into the right scale. Endeavour to keep virtue and goodness in countenance. Affectionately give your hand to' modest worth, where it seems to be depressed or overlooked; though shining, when viewed in its proper light, with a lustre which you may think much superior to your own. Be an advocate for truth, be a counsellor of peace; be an example of candour; and do all you can to reconcile the hearts of men, and especially of good men, to each other, however they may differ in their opinions about matters which it is possible for good men to dispute. And let the caution and humility of your behaviour in circumstances of such superior eminence, and amidst so many tokens of general esteem, silently reprove the rashness and haughtiness of those, who perhaps ar% remarkable for little else; or who, if their abilities were indeed considerable, must be despised, and whose talents must be in a great measure lost to the public, till that rashness and haughtiness of spirit be subdued. Nor suffer yourself to be interrupted in this generous and worthy course, by the little attacks of envy and
* Psal lxxxv. 13. vor„ i. 3 I
calumny, which you may meet with in it. Be still attentive to the general good, and steadily resolute in your efforts to promote it; and leave it to providence, to guard or to rescue your character from the base assaults of malice and falsehood; which will often, without your labour, confute themselves, and heap upon the authors greater shame, or (if they are inaccessible to that,) greater infamy, than your humanity will allow you to wish them. §. 10. Once more, Has God blessed you with riches ; Has he placed you in such circumstances, that you have more than you absolutely need for the subsistence of yourself and your family? Remember your approaching account. Remember what an incumbrance these things often prove to men in the way of their salvation, and how often, according to our Lord's express declaration, they render it as difficult to enter into the Æingdom of God, as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle”. Let it therefore be your immediate, your earnest, and your daily prayer, that riches may not be a snare and a shame to you, as they are to by far the greater part of their possessors. Appropriate, I beseech you, some certain part and proportion of your estate and revenue, to charitable uses; with a provisional increase, as God shall prosper you, in any extraordinary instance. By this means you will always have a fund of charity at hand: and you will probably be more ready to communicate, when you look upon what is so deposited, as not in any sense your own; but as already actually given away to those uses, though not yet affixed to particular objects. It is not for me to say, what that proportion ought to be. To those who have Iarge revenues, and no children, perhaps a third or one half may be too little: to those whose incomes are small, and their charge considerable, though they have something more than is absolutely necessary, it is possible a tenth may be too much. But pray, that God would guide your mind; make a trial for one year, on such terms, as in your conscience you think will be most pleasing to him; and let your observations on that teach you to fix your proportions for the next ; always remembering, that he requires justice in the first place, and alms-deeds only so far as may consist with that. Yet at the same time take heed of that treacherous, delusive, and in many instances destructive imagination, “that justice to your own family requires that you should leave your children very rich " which has perhaps cost some parsimonious parents the lives of those darlings for whom they laid up the portion of the poor; and what fatal consequences of divine displeasure may attend it to those that yet survive, God only knows; and I heartily pray, that you or yours may never learn by experience. S. li. And that your heart may yet be more opened, and that your charity may be directed to the best purposes, let me briefly mention a variety of good uses, which may call for the consideration of those, whom God has in this respect distinguished by an ability to do good. To assist the hints I am to offer, look round on the neighbourhood in which you live. Think how many honest and industrious, perhaps too I might add religious people, are making very hard shifts to struggle through life. Think what a comfort that would be to them, which you might without any inconvenience spare from that abundance which God hath given you.-Hearken also to any extraordinary calls of charity which may happen, especially those of a public nature; and help them forward with your example, and your interest, which perhaps may be of much greater importance than the sum which you contribute, considered in itself. Have a tongue to plead for the necessitous, as well as a hand to relieve them; and endeavour to discountenance those poor shameful excuses, which covetousness often dictates to those, whose art may indeed set some varnish on what they suggest, but so slight a one that the coarse ground will appear through it.—See how many poor children are wandering naked and ignorant about the streets, and in the way to all kinds of vice and misery ; and consider what can be done towards cloathing some of them at least, and instructing them in the principles of religion. Would every thriving family in a town, which is able to afford help on such occasions, cast a pitying eye on one poor family in its neighbourhood, and take it under their patronage, to assist in feeding, and cloathing, and teaching the children, in supporting it in affliction, in defending it from wrongs, and in advising those that have the management of it, as circumstances may require, how great a difference would soon be produced in the appearance of things amongst us?—Observe who are sick, that if there be no public infirmary at hand to which you can introduce them, (where your contribution will yield the largest increase) you may do something towards relieving them at home, and supplying them with advice and medicines, as well as with proper diet and attendance.—Consider also the spiritual necessities of men; in providing for which, I should particularly recommend to you - 3 I 2
* Mat. xix. 24.
the very important and noble charity of assisting young persons of genius and piety, with what is necessary to support the expence of their education for the ministry, in a proper course of grammatical or academical studies. And grudge not some proportion of what God hath given you, to those who, resigning all temporal views to minister to you the gospel of Christ, have surely an equitable claim to be supported by you, in a capacity of rendering you those services, however laborious, to which for your sakes, and that of our common Lord, they have devoted their lives. And while you are so abundantly satisfied with the goodness of God's house, even of his own temple”, have compassion on those that dwell in a desart land; and rejoice to do something towards sending among the distant nations of the heathen world, that glorious gospel which hath so long continued unknown to multitudes, though the knowledge of it, with becoming regard, be life everlasting.—These are a few important charities, which I would point out to those, whom providence has enriched with its peculiar bounties: and it renders gold more precious, than it could appear in any other light, that it is capable of being employed for such purposes. But if you should not have gold to spare for them, contribute your silver : or as a farthing, or a mite, is not overlooked by God, when it is given from a truly generous, and charitable heart+, let that, be cheerfully dropped into the treasury, where richer offerings cannot be afforded. §. 12. And, that amidst so many pressing demands for charity, you may be better furnished to answer them, seriously reflect on your manner of living. I say not, that God requires you should become one of the many poor, relieved out of your income. The support of society, as at present established, will not only permit, but require, that some persons should allow themselves in the elegancies and delights of life; by furnishing which multitudes of poor, families are much more creditably and comfortably subsisted, with greater advantage to themselves, and safety to the public, than they could be, if the price of their labours, or of the commodities in which they deal, were to be given them as an alms: nor can I imagine it grateful to God, that his gifts should be refused, as if they were meant for snares and curses, rather than benefits. This were to frustrate the benevolent purposes of the gracious Father of mankind, and if carried to its rigour, would be a sort of conspiracy against the whole system of nature. Let the bounties