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presseth, and hateth, and destroyeth, (and slandereth and censureth, that he may not be thought to hate and ruin without cause ;) and when they have done, they wipe their mouths with a few hypocritical prayers or good words, and think they are good Christians, and God will not be avenged on them. One thinks that God will save him because he is of this church, and another because he is of another church. One thinks to be saved because he is of this opinion and party in religion, and another because he is of that. One thinks he is religious because he saith his prayers this way, and another because he prayeth another way. And thus dead hypocrites, whose hearts were never quickened with the powerful love of God, to love his servants, their neighbours, and enemies, do persuade themselves that God will save them for mocking and flattering him with the service of their deceitful lips; while they want the love of God, which is the root of all good, and are possessed with the love of money which is the root of all evild, and are “ lovers of pleasure more than of Gode.” .
They will join themselves forwardly to the cheap and outside actions of religion : but when they hear much less than " One thing thou yet wantest : sell all that thou hast and distribute to the poor, and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven :—they are very sorrowful, because they are very richf.” Such a fruitless love as they had to others 8, such a fruitless religion they have as to themselves. For “ pure religion and undefiled before God, is to visit the fatherless and widows in their adversity, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the world h.” “Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother hath need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" There are three texts that describe the case of sensual, uncharitable gentlemen.
1. Luke xvi. “A rich man clothed in purple and silk, (for so, as Dr. Hammond noteth, it should rather be translated,) and fared sumptuously every day,” you know the end of him.
2. Ezek. xvi. 49. “ Sodom's sin was pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
d 1 Tim. vi. 10.
e 2 Tim. iii. 4.
Luke xviii. 22, 23.
3. James v. 1-7. “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for the miseries that shall come upon you.--Ye have lived in pleasure on earth, and been wanton : ye have nourished your hearts, as in (or for) the day of slaughter.-Ye have condemned and killed the just and he doth not resist you .” And remember Prov. xxi. 13. “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself and shall not be heard." And James ii. 13. “He shall have judgment without mercy that shewed no mercy, and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” Yea, in this life it is oft observable that“ There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth, and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty i.”.
Direct. 1. “Love God, and be renewed to his image;' and then it will be natural to you to do good; and his love will be in you a fountain of good works.
Direct. II. 'Love your neighbours,' and it will be easy to you to do them all the good you can: as it is to do good to yourselves, or children, or dearest friends.
Direct. 111. ' Learn self-denial,' that selfishness may not cause you to be all for yourselves, and be satan's law of nature in you, forbidding you to do good to others.
Direct. iv. · Mortify the flesh, and the vices of sensuality :' Pride and curiosity, gluttony and drunkenness, are insatiable gulfs, and will devour all, and leave but little for the poor: though there be never so many poor families which want bread and clothing, the proud person must first have the other silk gown, or the other ornaments which may set them out with the forwardest in the mode and fashion : and this house must first be more handsomely built, and these rooms must first be more neatly furnished ; and these children must first have finer clothes : let Lazarus lie never so miserable at the door, the sensualist must be clothed in purple and silk, and fare deliciously and sumptuously daily. The glutton must have the dish and cup which pleaseth his appetite, and must keep a full table for the entertainment of his companions that have no need. These insatiable vices are like swine and dogs, that devour all the children's bread. Even vain recreations and gaming shall have more bestowed on them, than church or poor (as to any voluntary gift). Kill your greedy vices once, and then a little will serve your turns, and you may have wherewith to relieve the needy, and do that which will be better to you at your reckoning day.
i Prov. xi. 24.
Direct. v. • Let not selfishness make your children the inordinate objects of your charity and provision, to take up that which should be otherwise employed. Carnal and worldly persons would perpetuate their vice, and when they can live no longer themselves, they seem to be half alive in their posterity, and what they can no longer keep themselves, they think is best laid up for their children, to feed them as full, and make them as sensual and unhappy as themselves. So that just and moderate provisions will not satisfy them; but their children's portions must be as much as they can get, and almost all their estates are sibi et suis,'«for themselves and theirs :' and this pernicious vice is as destructive to good works, as almost any in the world. That God who hath said that he is worse than an infidel who provideth not for his own family, will judge many thousands to be worse than Christians, and than any that will be saved must be, who make their families the devourers of all which should be expended upon other works of charity.
Direct. vi. . Take it as the chiefest extrinsical part of your religion to do good ; and make it the trade or business of your lives, and not as a matter to be done on the by.' “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world k.” “If we are created for good works!:""and redeemed and purified to be zealous of good works m:" and must be judged according to such works: then certainly it should be our chiefest daily care and diligence, to do them with all our hearts and abilities. And as we keep a daily account of our own and our servant's business in our particular callings, so * James i. 27.
| Ephes. ii. 10. m Tit. ji. 14.
n Matt. xxv.
should we much more of our employment of our master's talents in his service : and if a heathen prince could say with lamentation, · Alas, I have lost a day!' if a day had passed in which he had done no one good, how much more should a Christian, who is better instructed to know the comforts and rewards of doing good,
Direct. vii. · Give not only out of your superfluities, when the flesh is glutted with as much as it desireth ; but labour hard in your callings, and be thrifty and saving from all unnecessary expenses, and deny the desires of ease and fulness, and pride and curiosity that you may have the more to do good with.' Thriftiness for works of charity is a great and necessary duty, though covetous thriftiness for the love of riches be a great sin. He that wasteth one half his master's goods through slothfulness or excesses, and then is charitable with the other half, will make but a bad account of his stewardship. Much more he that glutteth his own and his family's and retainer's fleshly desires first, and then giveth to the poor only the leavings of luxury, and so much as their fieshly lusts can spare. It is a dearer, a laborious and a thrifty charity, that God doth expect of faithful stewards.
Direct. VIII. · Delay not any good work which you have present ability and opportunity to perform. Delay signifieth unwillingness or negligence. Love and zeal are active and expeditious: and delay doth frequently frustrate good intentions. The persons may die that you intend to do good to; or you may die, or your ability or opportunities may cease: that may be done to day which cannot be done to-morrow. The devil is not ignorant of your good intentions, and he will do all that possibly he can to make them of no effect: and the more time you give him, the more you enable him to hinder you. You little foresee what abundance of impediments he may cast before you; and so make that impossible which once you might have done with ease. “ Say not to thy neighbour, Go and come again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee.” “ Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth o.” Direct. IX. · Distrust not Gods providence for thy own
• Prov, iji. 28. xxvii. 1.
provision. An unbelieving man will needs be a God to himself, and trust himself only for his provisions, because indeed he cannot trust God. But you will find that your labour and care are vain, or worse than vain without God's blessing. Say not distrustfully, What shall I have myself when I am old ? Though I am not persuading you to make no provision, or to give away all; yet I must tell you, that it is exceeding folly to put off any present duty, upon distrust of God, or expectation of living to be old. He that over-night said, “ I have enough laid up for many years," did quickly hear, “ Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee: and whose then shall the things be which thou hast provided • ?” Rather obey that, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might: for there is no work nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest P.” Do you think there is not an hundred thousand whose estates are now consumed in the flames of London, who could wish that all that had been given to pious or charitable uses? Do but believe from the bottom of your hearts, that “ he that hath pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and that which he layeth out he will pay him again q." And that, “ he that receiveth you, receiveth me, and he that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me: he that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward : and whosoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only (i. e. when he hath no better) in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward "." I say, believe this, and you will make haste to give while you may, lest your opportunity should overslip you.
Direct. x. 'What you cannot do yourselves, provoke others to do who are more able : “ Provoke one another to love and to good works.” Modesty doth not so much forbid you to beg for others as for yourselves. Some want but information to draw them to good works : and some that are unwilling, may be urged to it, to avoid the shame of uncharitableness : and though such giving do little good to
o Luke xii. 20.
p Escles. ix. 10.