Ford Mayor.

Martis secundo die Maii 1671. Anno (que) Domini Regis CAROLI Secundi Angliae, etc. vicesimo tertio.

This Court doth desire Dr. Barrow to Print his Sermon Preached at the Spittal on Wednesday in Easter Week last, with what farther he had prepared to deliver at that time.

THE DUTY and REWARD OF BOUNTY TO THE POOR: IN A SERMON Preached at the SPITTAL Upon Wednesday in Easter Week, Anno Dom. MDCLXXI.

BY ISAAC BARROW, Fellow of Trinity-College, and Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty.

LONDON, Printed by Andrew Clark, for Brabazon Aylmer at the Three Pigeons in Cornhil, MDCLXXI.

To the Right Honourable Sir RICHARD FORD Lord Mayor of London, AND The Court of Aldermen.

Right Honble,

AS out of Grate­ful Respect, I did (although otherwise indisposed for such Employments) en­deavour to discharge that Service, which You vouchsafed to call me unto, in conceiving and [Page] uttering these Medita­tions; so now in publish­ing them, I do purely submit to Your Com­mands, meaning therein to approve my self,

Right Honble, Your most Obedient Servant, Isaac Barrow.


Sam. Parker, Rmo in Christo Patri ac Domino Dno Gilberto Archiep. Cantuar. à Sac. Dom.

A SERMON PREACHED at the SPITTAL, UPON Wednesday in EASTER-WEEK, Anno Domini 1671.

Psalm cxii. 9.‘He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness en­dureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with honour.’

AS this whole Psalm ap­pears to have a double intent; one to describe the proper affections and acti­ons [Page 2] of a truly religious or pi­ous man,Vers. 1. (of a man who fear­eth the Lord, and delighteth great­ly in his commandments) the o­ther to declare the happiness of such a mans state, consequent upon those his affections and actions, whether in way of na­tural result, or of gracious re­compence from God: so doth this Verse particularly contain both a good part of a pious mans character, and some con­siderable instances of his felici­ty. The first words, (He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor) express part of his chara­cter; the latter, (His righteous­ness endureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with honour) assign instances of his felicity. So that [Page 3] our Text hath two parts, one affording us good information concerning our Duty, the other yielding great encouragement to the performance thereof; for we are obliged to follow the pious mans practice, and so doing we shall assuredly par­take of his condition. These parts we shall in order prose­cute, endeavouring (by Gods assistance) somewhat to illu­strate the words themselves, to confirm the truths couched in them, and to inculcate the Du­ties which they imply.

For the first part, He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; these words in general do im­port the liberal bounty and mercy, which a pious man is [Page 4] wont to exercise; doing which, doth in good part constitute him pious, and signally decla­reth him such; is a necessary ingredient of his piety, and a conspicuous mark thereof: but particularly they insinuate some things concerning the na­ture, the matter, the manner, and the object of those acts.

He hath dispersed, he hath gi­ven; Those words being put indefinitely, or without deter­mining what is dispersed and given by him, may be supposed to imply a kind of universality in the matter of his Benefi­cence; that he bestoweth what­ever he hath within compass of his possession, or his power; his [...],Luk. 12. 33. (the things which [Page 5] he hath) and his [...],Luk. 11. 41. (the things which he may) accor­ding to the prescriptions of our Lord in the Gospel. Every thing▪ (I say) which he hath in substance, or can do by his endeavour, that may conduce to the support of the life, or the health, or the welfare in any kind of his Neighbour, to the succour or relief of his indigen­cy, to the removal or easement of his affliction; he may well here be understood to disperse and give: feeding the hungry, cloathing the naked, visiting the sick, entertaining the stranger, ransoming the captive, easing the oppressed, comforting the sorrowful, assisting the weak, instructing or advising the ig­norant, [Page 6] together with all such kinds or instances of Benefi­cence, may be conceived either meant directly as the matter of the good mans dispersing and giving, or by just analogy of reason reducible thereto: sub­stantial alms, as the most sen­sible and obvious matter of bounty, was ('tis probable) especially intended, but thence no manner of expressing it is to be excluded; for the same reasons which oblige us, the same affections which dispose us to bestow our money, or deal our bread, will equally bind and move us to contri­bute our endeavour and advice for the sustenance and comfort of our poor Neighbour. An­swerably, [Page 7] our discourse will more expresly regard the prin­cipal matter, liberal communi­cation of our goods; but it may be referred to all sorts of Beneficence.

Farther, the word dispersed intimateth the nature of his bounty, in exclusion of practi­ses different from it. He dis­perseth, and is therefore not te­nacious; doth not hoard up his goods, or keep them close to himself for the gratifying his covetous humour, or nourish­ing his pride, or pampering his sensuality, but sendeth them a­broad for the use and benefit of others. He disperseth his goods, and therefore also doth not fling them away altogether, [Page 8] as if he were angry with them, or weary of them, as if he loath­ed or despised them; but fairly and softly, with good conside­ration he disposeth of them here and there, as reason and need do require. He disperseth them to the poor, not dissipa­teth them among vain or lewd persons in wanton or wicked profusions, in riotous excesses, in idle divertisements, in expen­sive curiosities, in hazardous gamings; in any such courses, which swallow whole all that a man hath, or do so cripple him, that he becomes unable to disperse any thing: Our good man is to be understood wisely provident, [...]. Arist. Eth. 4. 1. honestly in­dustrious, and soberly frugal, [Page 9] that he may have wherewith to be just first, and then liberal.

His dispersing also (or scat­tering, so the [...] Hebrew word here used is other where ren­dred:Prov. 11. 24. There is (saith the Wise­man) that scattereth, and yet in­creaseth: where we may re­mark, that this word singly by it self, without any adjunct matter to limit or interpret it, is used to signifie this kind of pra­ctise; this his dispersing, I say also) denotes the extent of the pious mans bounty, that it is very large and diffusive, and in a manner unrestrained; that it reacheth to many places, and is with-held from no persons within the verge of his power, and opportunity to do good. [Page 10] This practise commonly by a like phrase (unto which per­haps this word refers) is termed sowing: 2 Cor. 9. 6, 10. He (saith St. Paul) which soweth sparingly, Gal 6. 7, 8. shall also reap sparingly; Prov. 11. 18. and he which sow­eth bountifully, shall also reap boun­tifully: Now, he that soweth, having chosen a good soil, and a fit season, doth not regard one particular spot, but throw­eth all about so much as his hand can hold, so far as the strength of his arm doth carry. It is likewise called watering, (He that watereth, Prov. 11. 25. saith Solo­mon, shall be watered himself;) which expression also seemeth to import a plentiful and pro­miscuous effusion of good, dropping in showres upon dry [Page 11] and parched places; that is, upon persons dry for want, or parched with affliction: So the good man doth not plant his bounty in one small hole, or spout it on one narrow spot, but with an open hand dissemi­nates it, with an impartial re­gard distils it all about: he stints it not to his own family or re­lations; to his neighbours, or friends, or benefactours; to those of his own sect and opi­nion, or of his humour and disposition; to such as serve him, or oblige him, or please him; whom some private inte­rest tyes, or some particular af­fection endears him to; but scatters it indifferently and un­confinedly toward all men that [Page 12] need it; toward meer strangers, yea toward known enemies; toward such who never did him any good, or can ever be able to do any; yea even to­ward them who have done e­vil to him, and may be presu­med ready to do more. No­thing in his Neighbour but ab­sence of need, nothing in him­self but defect of ability, doth curb or limit his Beneficence; in that [...] (that proclivity and promptitude of mind) which St. Paul speaketh of,2 Cor. 8. 12. he doth good every where;Ubicu [...] que ho­mo est, ibi be­neficio lo [...]us est. Sen. de Vit. B. cap 24. where­ever a man is, there is a room for his wishing well, and doing good, if he can; he observes that rule of the Apostle,Gal. 6. 10. As we have opportunity, 2 Cor. 9 13. let us do good [Page 13] unto all men: So the pious man hath dispersed. It follows,

He hath given to the poor: These words denote the free­ness of his bounty, and de­termine the principal object thereof: He not only lendeth (though he also doth that upon reasonable occasion;Psalm 112. 5. for, A good man, as it is said before in this Psalm, sheweth mercy and lendeth; Psalm 37. 26. and other where, The righteous is ever merciful and lendeth; he, I say, not only sometimes willingly lendeth) to those who in time may re­pay, or requite him; but he freely giveth to the poor, that is, to those from whom he can expect no retribution back. He doth not (as good and pious, [Page 14] he doth not) present the Rich; to do so,Qui diviti do­nat, petit. is but a cleanly way of begging, or a subtle kind of trade; 'tis hardly courtesie, 'tis surely no bounty; for such per­sons (if they are not very sor­did or very careless, and such men are not usually much trou­bled with presents) will it is likely over-do him, or at least will be even with him in kind­ness; in doing this, there is little virtue; for it, there will be small reward:Luk. 6. 33, 34. for, If you do good to them who do good to you▪ (or whom you conceive able and disposed to requite you) [...]; what thanks are due to you? for that (saith our Saviour) even sinners (even men notoriously bad) do the same: And if you [Page 15] lend to them, from whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners even lend to sinners, to receive as much again. [...]. Eurip▪ in Orest. All men commonly, the bad no less than the good, are apt to be super­fluously kind in heaping fa­vours on those, whom Fortune befriends, and whose condition requires not their courtesie; every one almost is ready to a­dopt himself into the kinred, [...]. or to scrue himself into the friendship of the wealthy and prosperous; but where kind­ness is of use, there it is seldom found; it is commonly so deaf, as not to hear when it is call'd; so blind, as not to discern its proper object, and natural sea­son;Prov. 17. 17. (The time of adversity for [Page 16] which a brother is born:) men disclaim alliance with the nee­dy, and shun his acquaintance; so the Wise-man observed,Prov. 19. 7, 4 [...] [...]. Eurip. All the brethren of the poor do hate him, how much more do his friends go far from him? Thus it is in vulgar practise; but the pi­ous man is more judicious, more just, and more generous in the placing of his favours; he is courteous to purpose, he is good to those who need: He, as such, doth not make large entertainments for his friends, Luk. 14 12, 13. his brethren, bis kinred, his rich neigh­bours, but observes that precept of our Lord, When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recom­pence [Page 17] thee; thou shalt be recompen­ced at the resurrection of the just. Thus the pious man giveth, that is, with a free heart and pure intention bestoweth his goods on the indigent, without designing any benefit, or ho­ping for any requital to him­self; except from God, in Con­science, respect and love to whom he doth it.

It may be also material to observe the form of speech here used, in reference to the time: He hath dispersed, and he hath gi­ven; or, he doth disperse, he doth give, (for in the Hebrew Lan­guage the past and present times are not distinguished:) which manner of speaking may seem to intimate the reality, or the [Page 18] certainty, and the constancy of his practise in this kind; for what is past or present, we are infallibly secure of; and in Morals, what one is said to have done, or to do, is always under­stood according to habit, or custom. It is not, He will disperse, he will give; that were no fit description of a good man; to pretend, would be no argument of piety; those words might import uncertainty, and delay in his practice: He that saith, I will give, may be falla­cious in his professions, may be inconsistent with his resoluti­ons; may wilfully or negli­gently let slip the due season of performing it. Our good man is not a Doson or Will-give, [Page 19] (like that King of Macedon, who got that name from often signifying an intention of gi­ving, but never giving in ef­fect;) he not only purposes well, and promises fairly for the future, but he hath effectu­ally done it, and perseveres do­ing it upon every fit occasi­on. He puts not his neigh­bour into tedious expectati­ons, nor puts him off with fri­volous excuses, saying to him, (as it is in the Proverbs) Go and come again, Prov. 3. 28. and the morrow I will give, when he hath it by him: He bids him not have patience,Jam. 2. 16. or says unto him, De­part in peace, when his need is urgent, and his pain impatient; when hunger or cold do then [Page 20] pinch him, when sickness in­cessantly vexeth him, when present streights and burthens oppress him; but he affordeth a ready, quick, and seasonable relief.

He hath dispersed and given, while he lives, not reserving the disposal of all at once, upon his death, or by his last Will; that unwilling Will, whereby men would seem to give somewhat, when they can keep nothing; drawing to themselves those commendations and thanks, which are only due to their Mortality; when as were they immortal, they would never be liberal: No; it is he hath freely dispersed, not an inevitable ne­cessity will extort it from him; [Page 21] it cannot be said of him,Av [...]r [...]s, nisi cùm moritur, nil re [...]tè facit. Laber. that he never does well, but when he dies: so he hath done it really and surely.

He also doth it constantly, through all the course of his life, whenever good opportunity presents it self: he doth it not by fits, or by accident, accor­ding to unstable causes or cir­cumstances moving him, (when bodily temper or hu­mour inclineth him, when a sad object makes vehement impression on him; when shame obligeth him to com­ply with the practice of others; when he may thereby promote some design, or procure some glory to himself) but his pra­ctice is constant and uniform, [Page 22] being drawn from steady prin­ciples, and guided by certain rules; proceeding from reve­rence to God, and good will toward man; following the clear dictates, and the immuta­ble Laws of Conscience. Thus hath the pious man dispersed, and given to the poor; and let thus much suffice for explica­tory reflection upon the first words.

The main drift and purport of which, is to represent the li­beral exercising of bounty and mercy, to be the necessary duty, the ordinary practise, and the proper character of a truly pi­ous man; so that performing such acts, is a good sign of true piety; and omitting them, is a [Page 23] certain argument of ungodli­ness: for the demonstration of which points, and for exciting us to a practice answerable, I shall propound several Consi­derations, whereby the plain reasonableness, the great weight, the high worth and excellency of this duty, together with its strict connexion with other principal duties of piety, will appear. And first, I will shew with what advantage the Holy Scripture represents it to us, or presses it upon us.

1. We may consider,I. Head of discourse. that there is no sort of duties, which God hath more expresly com­manded, or more earnestly in­culcated, than these of bounty and mercy toward our bre­thren; [Page 24] whence evidently the great moment of them, and their high value in Gods esteem may be inferred. Even in the ancient Law, we may observe very careful provisions made for engaging men to works of this kind, and the performance of them is with huge life and urgency prescribed: Thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. Deut 15 7, 10.Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, unto thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land: so did Moses, in Gods Name, with lan­guage very significant and em­phatical, enjoin to the children of Israel. The holy Prophets also do commonly with an especial heat and vigour press these du­ties, [Page 25] most smartly reproving the transgression or neglect of them; especially when they reclaim men from their wicked courses, urging them seriously to return unto God and good­ness, they propose this practise as a singular instance most ex­pressive of their conversi­on, most apt to appease Gods wrath, most effectual to the re­covery of his favour.Esay 1. 16, 17, 18. Wash you, saith God in Esay, Jer. 7. 5, 6. make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well: so in ge­neral he exhorts to repentance; then immediately he subjoins these choice instances thereof: Seek judgment, relieve the oppres­sed, judge the fatherless, plead for [Page 26] the widow.—Come now, (then he adds) let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. When Daniel would prescribe to King Nebuchadnez­zar the best way of amend­ment, and the surest means of averting Gods judgments im­pendent on him, he thus speaks: Wherefore, Dan. 4. 27. O King, let my coun­sel be acceptable unto thee, [...]; so the LXX render those words, reading, i [...] seems▪ [...] for [...]. A­than. ad Anti­och. Quaest. 87. break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mer­cy to the poor: this he cull'd out as of all pious acts chiefly grateful to God, and clearly te­stifying repentance; and, so ve­ry impious a person was alms able to justifie, says the Father there­upon. [Page 27] So also when God him­self would declare what those acts are, which render peniten­tial devotions most agreeable to him, and most effectual, he thus expresseth his mind:Isai. 58. 6, 7. Is not this the fast, which I have chosen? to loose the bands of wick­edness, to undo the heavy burthens, to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoak? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thine house; when thou seest the naked, that thou co­ver him, and that thou hide not thy self from thine own flesh? Of so great consideration and mo­ment was this sort of duties, even under that old dispensati­on of weakness, servility and [Page 28] fear; so much tenderness of compassion and benignity did God exact even from that hard-hearted and worldly people, who were so little capable of the best rules, and had encou­ragements, in comparison so mean, toward performances of this nature. The same we may well conceive, under the more perfect discipline of universal amity, of ingenuity, of spiri­tual grace and goodness, in a higher strein, with more force and greater obligation to be imposed on us, who have so much stronger engagements, and immensly greater encou­ragements to them; and so indeed it is; for those precepts delivered by our Lord,Luk. 12▪ 33. 6. 3 [...]. 11. 41. Sell all [Page 29] that you have, and give alms; If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor; Give to every man that asketh thee; Mat. 19. 21. 6. 19. Treasure not up to your selves treasures upon the earth, do indeed sound high, but are not insignificant, or impertinent; they cannot signifie or design less, than that we should be al­ways in affection, and disposi­tion of mind, ready to part with any thing we have for the suc­cour of our poor brethren; that to the utmost of our ability, (according to moral estimation prudently rated) upon all oc­casions we should really express that disposition in our practise; that we are exceedingly obli­ged to the continual exercise of [Page 30] these duties in a very eminent degree: These indeed were the duties which our Lord, as he did frequently in his discourse commend and prescribe, so he did most signally exemplifie in his practise; his whole life be­ing in effect but one continual act of most liberal bounty and mercy toward mankind; in charity to whom, he outdid his own severest rules, being con­tent never to possess any wealth, never to enjoy any ease in this world: and therein (both as to doctrine and practise) did the holy Apostles closely follow their Master;2 Cor. 6 20. As poor, yet en­riching many; as having nothing, yet possessing all things; so they thoroughly in deeds practised [Page 31] these duties, which in words they taught, and earnestly pres­sed; admonishing their con­verts toRom. 12. 13. distribute to the ne­cessities of the saints, toGal. 6. 10. do good to all men, Heb. 13. 16. to do good, and to communicate not to forget, to shew mercy with cheerfulness, to Colos. 3. 12. put on bowels of mercy, to Ephes. 4 32. be kind, and tender-hearted one toward another; 2 Cor. 8 7. to abound in the grace of liberality: Such are their Directions and Injuncti­ons to all Christian people; so did they preach themselves, and so they enjoined others to preach:1 Tim. 6. 7, 8. Charge the rich in this world, (saith St. Paul to his Scholar Timothy) that they do good; that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing [Page 32] to communicate: Tit. 3. 8. and, These things (saith he likewise advising Bi­shop Titus) I will that thou af­firm constantly, that they which believe in God may be careful to maintain good works; what good works he meaneth, the reason adjoined doth shew; for these things, saith he, are good and profitable unto men.

2. It is indeed observable, that as in every kind that which is most excellent doth com­monly assume to it self the name of the whole kind; so among the parts of righteous­ness, (which word is used to comprehend all vertue and goodness) this of exercising bounty and mercy is peculiarly called righteousness; so that righ­teousness [Page 33] and mercifulness, (or alms-deeds) the righteous and bountiful person are in Scrip­ture-expression ordinarily con­founded, as it were, or undistin­guishably put one for the other; it being often, when commen­dations are given to righteous­ness, and rewards promised to righteous persons, hard to discern, whether the general observance of Gods Law, or the special practise of these du­ties are concerned in them. Likewise works of this nature are in way of peculiar excellen­cy termed good works, and to perform them is usually stiled to do good, and to do well, (a) [...], (b) [...],Act. 9. 36. 1 Tim. 5. 10. 1 Tim. 6. 18. Tit. 3. 8, 14. 2 Cor. 9 8. Gal. 6. b 9, a 10. [...], Luk. 6. 35. [...],Heb. 13. 16. [...],Act. 10. 38. [...], [Page 34] are words applyed to this pur­pose) which manners of ex­pression do argue the eminent dignity of these performances.

3. We may also consequent­ly mark, that in those places of Scripture, where the Divine Law is abridged, and Religion summ'd up into a few particu­lars of main importance, these duties constantly make a part: so when the Prophet Micah briefly reckons up those things, which are best in the Law, and chiefly required by God, the whole Catalogue of them con­sisting but of three particulars, Mercy comes in for one:Micah 6. 8. He hath shewed thee, O man, (saith he) what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to [Page 35] do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Likewise of those ( [...], those) more substantial and weighty things of Gods Law, the neglect of which our Saviour objecteth as an argument of impiety, and a cause of wo, to those pretending Zealots, this is one:Mat. 23. 23. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites; for ye pay tythe of Mint and Cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, Iudgment, Mercy, and Faith. The sum of St. John the Baptist his instruction of the people is by St. Luke redu­ced to this point:Luk. 3. 11. The people asked him, saying, What shall we do? He answering, saith unto them, He that hath two Coats, let [Page 36] him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. St. James his Systeme of Religion is this:Jam. 1. 27. Pure and undefiled Religion before God and the Father is this; to visit the fa­therless and widow in their afflicti­ction, (that is, to comfort and relieve all distressed and help­less persons) and to keep himself unspotted from the world. St Paul seems to be yet more compen­dious and close:Gal. 6. 2. Bear ye (saith he) one anothers burthens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ. Yea, God himself comprizeth all the substantial part of Religion herein, when comparing it with the circumstantial part, he saith, I will have mercy, Hos. 6. 6. and not sacri­fice.

[Page 37] 4. It is in like manner con­siderable, that in the general descriptions of piety and good­ness, the practise of these du­ties is specified, as a grand in­gredient of them. In this Psalm, where such a description is in­tended, it is almost the only particular instance; and it is not only mentioned, but reite­rated in divers forms of ex­pression. In the 37 Psalm it is affirmed, and repeated, that The righteous sheweth mercy; Psal 37. 21, 26. he sheweth mercy, and giveth; he sheweth mercy, and lendeth. In the Proverbs, 'tis a commenda­tion of the vertuous woman, whose price is far above rubies, that,Prov. 31. 20. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor, yea, stretcheth forth [Page 38] both her hands to the needy. And in Ezekiel (which is especially remarkable) the 18 Chapter, where the principal things con­stituting a pious man are, more than once, professedly enume­rated, this among a very few other particulars is expressed, and taketh up much room in the accompt; of such a person (who shall surely live and not die; Ez [...]k. 18. 7, 16. that is, who certainly shall a­bide in Gods favour, and enjoy the happy consequences there­of) it is supposed, that he— neither hath oppressed any, nor hath withholden the pledge, nor hath spoi­led by violence; but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath co­vered the naked with a garment; and hath taken off his hand from the poor.

[Page 39] 5. Also in the particular Hi­stories of good men, this sort of practise is specially taken notice of, and expressed in their characters. In the story of our Father Abraham, Heb. 13. 2. his benignity to strangers, and hospitable­ness is remarkable among all his deeds of goodness, being propounded to us as a pattern and encouragement to the like practice. In this the Consci­ence of Job did solace it self,Job 29. 11, &c. as in a solid assurance of his inte­grity: I delivered the poor that cryed, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him: The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widows heart to sing: Job 30 25. I was eyes to the blind, and feet I was to [Page 40] the lame; I was a father to the poor. Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? Hence also did the good Publican re­commend himself to the favour and approbation of our Savi­our, saying,Luk. 19. 8, 9. Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor; hence did salvation come to his house; hence he is proclaimed, a son of Abraham. Of Dor­cas, that good woman, who was so gracious and precious a­mong the Disciples, this is the commendation and character; She was full of good works, Act. 9. 36. and alms-deeds which she did; such practise made her capable of that favour, so great and extra­ordinary, the being restored to [Page 41] life; [...]. Chrys. in Gem. Orat. 55. at least in St. Chrysostome's judgment: The force of her alms, saith he, did conquer the tyranny of death. Cornelius also, that ex­cellent person, who was, though a Gentile, so acceptable to God, and had so extraordinary graces conferred on him, is thus re­presented:Act. 10. 2. He was a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house, who gave much alms to the people; and prayed to God alway. We may add, that to be hospitable (one branch of these duties, and inferring the rest) is reckoned a qualification of those,1 Tim 3. 2. who are to be the Guides and Patterns of good­ness unto others:Tit. 1. 6. And parti­cularly one fit to be promoted to a widows office in the Church, [Page 42] is thus described:1 Tim. 5. 10. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers; if she have wash­ed the saints feet; if she have relieved the afflicted; if she have diligently followed every good work.

6. So near to the heart of Piety doth the holy Scripture lay the practise of these duties; and no wonder; for it often expresly declares Charity to be the fulfilling of Gods Law,Gal. 5. 14. as the best expression of all our duty toward God,Rom. 13 9, 10. (of faith in him,1 Tim. 1. 5. love and reverence of him) and as either formally containing,Mat. 7. 12. or naturally pro­ducing all our duty toward our Neighbour. And of charity, [Page 43] works of bounty and mercy are both the chief instances, and the plainest signs: for where­as all charity doth consist either in mental desire, or in verbal signification, or in effectual performance of good to our Neighbour, this last is the end, the completion, [...]. Greg. Nyss. in Mat. 5. 7. and the assu­rance of the rest. Good will is indeed the root of charity; but that lies under-ground, and out of sight; nor can we conclude its being or life without visible fruits of beneficence: Good words are at best but fair leaves thereof, such as may (and too often do) proceed from a weak and barren disposition of mind; but these good works are real fruits, (so St. Pauls calls them; [Page 44] Let ours also, Tit. 3. 14. saith he,Rom. 15. 28. learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, Phil. 4. 17. that they be not unfruitful) which declare a true life, and a good strength of charity in the bearer of them: by them [...],2 Cor. 8. 8. the sincerity (or genuineness) of our charity is proved; for as no man ever doth impress a false stamp on the finest metal, so costly cha­rity is seldom counterfeit: it is to decline spending their goods, or their pains, that men forge and feign; pretending to make up in wishing well, the defect of doing so; and paying words in stead of things: but he that freely imparts what he hath, or can do for his Neigh­bours good, needs no other [Page 45] argument to evince that he loves in good earnest, nor can indeed well use any other: for words, if actions are wanting, seem a­busive; and if actions are pre­sent, they are superfluous; where­fore St. John thus advises:1 Joh. 3. 18. My little children, let us not love in word, or in tongue, ( [...]) but in work and in truth; to love in work, and to love in truth, he signifies to be the same thing; and to pretend love in speech, without practising it in deed, he implies not allowable. And St. James in way of comparison says, That as faith without works is dead, so love without beneficence is useless:Jam. 2. 16. for, If a brother or sister be naked, and de­stitute of daily food, and one of you [Page 46] say unto him, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled, notwith­standing ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit? even so faith without works is dead. Cold wishes of good, working no real benefit to our Neighbour, and a faint assent unto truth, producing no constant obedi­ence to God, are things near of kin, and of like value; both of little worth or use. Chari­ty then being the main point of Religion, mercy and bounty being the chief parts of charity, well may these duties be placed in so high a rank, according to the divine Heraldry of Scrip­ture.

7. To enforce which Obser­vations, [Page 47] and that we may be farther certified about the weight and worth of these du­ties, we may consider, that to the observance of them most ample and excellent rewards are assigned; that in return for what we bestow on our poor brethren,Psal. 63. 3. God hath promised all sorts of the best mercies and blessings to us. The best of all good things (that which in Da­vids opinion was better than life it self) the fountain of all blessings (Gods love, and favour or mercy) is procured thereby, or is annexed to it:2 Cor. 9. 7. for God lo­veth a chearful giver, saith S. Paul; and,Mat. 5. 7. The merciful shall obtain mercy, Jam. 2. 13. saith our Saviour; and, Mercy rejoyceth against judgment [Page 48] (or boasteth, and triumpheth over it; [...]; that is, it appeaseth Gods wrath, and prevents our condemna­tion and punishment) saith St. James; Mat. 6. 14. God will not conti­nue displeased with him, nor will withhold his mercy from him, who is kind and merciful to his Neighbour. 'Tis true, if rightly understood, what the Hebrew Wise-man saith,Ecclus. 3. [...] Water will quench a flaming fire, and alms maketh an atonement of sins: for this practice hath the nature and name of a Sacrifice, and is declared, as such, both in ex­cellency and efficacy to surpass all other Sacrifices; to be most acceptable to God, most avail­able for expiation of guilt; most [Page 49] effectual in obtaining mercy and favour. Other Sacrifices performed in obedience to Gods appointment, (on vertue of our Lords perfect obedience, and with regard to his pure sacrifice of himself) did in their way propitiate God, and atone sin; but this hath an intrinsick worth, and a natural aptitude to those purposes; other ob­lations did signifie a willing­ness to render a due homage to God, this really, and immedi­ately performs it; they were shadows or images well resem­bling that duty, (parting with any thing we have for the sake of God, and for purchasing his favour) whereof this is the bo­dy and substance: this is there­fore [Page 50] preferr'd as in it self excel­ling the rest,Hos 6. 6. and more estima­ble in Gods sight; so that in comparison or competition therewith, the other seem to be slighted and rejected.Mic. 6 7. I will (saith God) have mercy and not sacrifice; and, Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oyl? Will he? that is, he will not be pleased with such sacri­fices, if they be abstracted from the more delightful sacrifices of bounty and mercy. God ne­ver made an exception against these, or derogated from them in any case; they absolutely and perpetually are (as St. Paul speaketh) Odours of a sweet smell, P [...]il. 4. 18. sacrifices acceptable and well-pleasing [Page 51] to God; and the Apostle to the Hebrews seconds him: To do good, Heb. 13 8. saith he, and to com­municate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased; by these, all other works, and all enjoyments are sanctified; for,Luke 11. 41. Give alms (saith our Lord) of what you have, and behold all things are pure unto you. Such charitable persons are therefore frequently pronounced blessed, that is in effect enstated in a confluence of all good things: Blessed is he that considereth the poor, Psal. 41. 1. says the Psalmist; and, He that hath a bountiful eye, Prov. 22. 9. is blessed, 14 21. saith Salomon; and, He that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he, saith the Wise man again; and,Mat. 5. 7. Blessed are the merciful, saith [Page 52] our Lord himself; so in gross and generally; particularly al­so, and in retail the greatest blessings are expresly allotted to this practise: prosperity in all our affairs is promised thereto; Thou (saith Moses) shalt surely give thy poor brother, Deut▪ 15. 10. and thine heart shall not be grieved, that thou givest unto him, because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand un­to. Stability in a good condi­tion is ordinarily consequent thereon; so the Prophet Daniel implies, when advising King Nebuchadnezzar to these works, he adds,Dan 4 17. If it may be a lengthning of thy tranquillity: deliverance from evil incumbent, protecti­on [Page 53] in imminent danger, and support in afflictions, are the sure rewards thereof; so the Psalmist assures us:Psal. 41. 1, &c. Blessed (saith he) 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 earth; and thou wilt not deliver him into the will of his enemies; the Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing, thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness. Security from all want, is likewise a recom­pence proper thereto:P [...]ov. 28. 27. for, He that giveth to the poor, shall not lack, saith the Wise-man: thri­ving in Wealth and Estate, is another special reward; for, The liberal soul shall be made fat; Prov. 11 25. [Page 54] the same Author gives us his word for it: even of the good things here below to those, who for his sake in this, or any other way,Mat. 19 29. do let go houses or lands, our Lord promiseth the return of a hundred fold, either in kind, or in value. So great encourage­ments are annexed to this pra­ctise even in relation to the concernments of this transitory life; but to them beside God hath destinated rewards in­comparably more considerable and pretious; spiritual and e­ternal rewards, treasures of heavenly wealth, crowns of endless glory,Luke 14 13. the perfection of joy and bliss to be dispensed at the resurrection of the just. M [...]. 19. 29. He that for my sake hath left houses Mark 10. 30. [Page 55] or lands, shall receive a hundred fold now at this time, (or in this present life) and in the world to come shall inherit everlasting life; so infallible Truth hath assu­red us. They who perform these duties,Luke 12. 33. are said to make themselves bags, which wax not old; a treasure that faileth not in the heavens; Luke 16. 9. to make themselves friends of the unrighteous mam­mon, who, when they fail, (when they depart, and leave their earthly wealth) will receive them into everlasting habitations; to lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, 1 Tim. 6. 19. that they may lay hold on eternal life; such rewards are promised to the observers.

8 And correspondently grie­vous [Page 56] punishments are designed, and denounced to the transgres­sours of these duties; the worst of miseries is their portion and doom; they for being such do forfeit Gods love and fa­vour; they lose his blessing and protection; they can have no sure possession of, nor any com­fortable enjoyment of their E­state,Jam. 2. 13. for, He (saith St. James) shall have judgment without mer­cy, who sheweth no mercy: and of such a person it is said in Job, That which he laboureth for he shall restore, Job 20. 18. and shall not swallow it down; according to his substance shall the restitution be, and he shall not rejoice therein; because he hath oppressed, and forsaken the poor; (not only because he hath un­justly [Page 57] oppressed, but because he hath uncharitably forsaken the poor:) If by the Divine for­bearance such persons do seem to enjoy a fair portion in this life, Psal. 17. 14. (prospering in the world, Psal. 73. 12. and in­creasing in riches) they will find a sad reckoning behind in the other world; this will be the result of that Audit:Luk. 6. 24. Wo be unto you rich men, for you have recei­ved your consolation, (such rich men are meant, who have got, or kept, or used their wealth basely; who have detained all the consolation it yields to themselves, and imparted none to others;)Luk. 16. 25. and, Remember, son, thou didst receive thy good things in this life; (so didst receive them, as to swallow them, and [Page 58] spend them here; without any provision or regard for the fu­ture in the use of them;) and, Cast that unprofitable servant (who made no good use of his Talent) into utter darkness: Mat. 25. 30. such will be the fate of every one, Luk 12 21. that treasures up to himself, and is not rich unto God; not rich in piety and charity, not rich in performing for Gods sake works of bounty and mercy.

9. It is indeed most consi­derable, that at the final rec­koning, when all mens actions shall be strictly scann'd, and justly sentenced according to their true desert, a special re­gard will be had to the dis­charge or neglect of these du­ties. [Page 59] It is the bountiful and merciful persons, who have re­lieved Christ in his poor mem­bers and brethren, who in that day will appear to be the sheep at the right hand; and shall hear the good Shepherds voice uttering those joyful words, Come ye blessed of my Father, Mat. 25. 34. en­ter into the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thir­sty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; I was naked, and ye cloathed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me: He doth not say, because ye have made goodly professions, because you have been Ortho­dox [Page 60] in your opinions, because you have frequented religious Exercises, (have prayed often and long, have kept many Fasts, and heard many Sermons) be­cause you have been staunch in your conversations, because you have been punctual in your dealings; because you have maintained a specious guise of piety, sobriety, and justice, (al­though indeed he that will come off well at that great Tri­al, must be responsible, and able to yield a good accompt in re­spect to all those particulars) but because you have been cha­ritably benign and helpful to persons in need and distress; therefore blessed are you, there­fore enter into the Kingdom of [Page 61] glorious bliss prepared for such persons: this proceeding more than intimates, that in the judgment of our Lord no sort of vertue or good practise is to be preferred before that of cha­ritable bounty, or rather that in his esteem none is equal thereto; so that if the Question were put to him, which is one of them to Antiochus, Athan. Tom. 2. (in Atha­nasius his works) Which is the most eminent Vertue? Our Lord would resolve it no other­wise, than is done by that Fa­ther, affirming, That Merciful­ness is the Queen of Vertues; for that at the final accompt, the examination chiefly pro­ceeds upon that; it is made the special Touchstone of Piety, [Page 62] and the peculiar ground of hap­piness. On the other side, those who have been deficient in these performances, (unchari­table and unmerciful persons) will at the last Trial appear to be the wretched Goats on the left hand, unto whom this un­comfortable speech shall by the great Judge be pronoun­ced:Mat. 25. 41. Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels: for I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye cloathed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not: It is not, we may see, for having done that, which in this world [Page 63] is called rapine or wrong; [...]. Greg. Naz. Ora [...]. 16. for having pillaged, or cozened their Neighbour; for having committed Adultery or Mur­ther, or any other thing prohi­bited, that these unhappy men are said to be formally im­peached, and finally condemn­ed to that miserable doom, but for having been unkind and unmerciful to their poor bre­thren: this at that high Tribu­nal will pass for a most enor­mous crime, for the capital of­fence; for this it is, that they shall be cursed, and cast down into a wretched consortship with those malicious and mer­ciless Fiends, unto whose dis­position they did so nearly ap­proach.

[Page 64] Thus it appears how mighty a stress God in the holy Scrip­ture doth lay upon these duties, so peremptorily commanding them, so vehemently pressing them, so highly commending them, so graciously by promises alluring us to the performance, so dreadfully by threatnings de­terring us from the neglect of them: what an affront then will it be to Gods Authority, what a distrust to his Word, what a contempt of his Pow­er, his Justice, his Wisdom, what a despight to his Good­ness and Mercy, if notwith­standing all these Declarations of his will and purposes, we shall presume to be uncharita­ble in this kind? There are [Page 65] also Considerations (very ma­ny, very clear, and very strong) which discover the great rea­sonableness and equity of these Laws, with our indispensable obligation to obey them; the which indeed with greater force do exact these duties from us, and do more earnestly plead in the poor mans behalf, than he can beg or cry. If we either look up unto God, or down upon our poor Neighbour; if we reflect upon our selves, or consider our wealth it self, eve­ry where we may discern vari­ous reasons obliging us, and various motives inducing us to the practise of these du­ties.

[Page 66] In regard to God,

1. We may consider,II. Head of Discourse. that by exercising of bounty and mercy, we are kind and cour­teous to God himself; by neg­lecting those duties, we are un­kind and rude to him: for that what of good or evil is by us done to the poor, God inter­prets and accepts as done to himself. The poor have a pe­culiar relation to God; he open­ly and frequently professeth himself their especial Friend, Patron and Protector; he is much concerned in, and parti­cularly chargeth his Providence with their support: in effect therefore they shall surely be provided for one way or other, [Page 67] (The poor shall eat and be satis­fied; Psal. 22. 26. God will save the afflicted people; 18. 27. The Lord preserveth the strangers, 146. 9. he relieveth the father­less and widow) but out of good­ness to us, he chuseth (if it may be, we freely concurring therein) and best liketh, that it should be done by our hands; this conducing no less to our benefit, than to theirs; we there­by having opportunity to shew our respect to himself, and to lay an engagement on him to do us good. God therefore lendeth the poor man his own Name, and alloweth him to crave our succour for his sake; (when the poor man asketh us in Gods Name, or for Gods sake, he doth not usurp or forge, [Page 68] he hath good authority, and a true ground for doing so) God gives him credit from himself unto us for what he wants, and bids us charge what he receiv­eth on his own accompt; per­mitting us to reckon him obli­ged thereby, and to write him our debtor; engaging his own word and reputation duly to repay,Prov. 19. 17. fully to satisfie us: He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth to the Lord, and that which he hath given, will he pay him again, saith the Wise-man;Mat 25. 40, 45. and, In as much as ye have done it to the least of my brethren, ye have done it unto me, saith our Saviour: and, God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, Heb. [...] 10. which ye have shewed toward his [Page 69] Name, in that ye have ministred to the saints, and do minister, saith the Apostle. What there­fore we give to the poor, God accepteth as an expression of kindness to himself, being gi­ven to one of his friends and clients, in respect to him; he regards it as a testimony of friendly confidence in him, sig­nifying that we have a good opinion of him, that we take him for able and willing to re­quite a good turn, that we dare take his word, and think our goods safe enough in his custo­dy. But if we stop our ears, or shut our hands from the poor, God interprets it as a harsh repulse, and a heinous affront put upon himself; we [Page 70] doing it to one, who bears his Name, and wears his Livery, (for the poor mans rags are badges of his relation unto God) He thereby judges, that we have little good will, little respect, little compassion to­ward himself, since we vouch­safe not to grant him so mean a favour, since we refuse at his request, and (as it were) in his need, to accommodate him with a small sum, he justly re­putes it as an argument of un­kindly diffidence in him, that we have sorry thoughts of him, deeming him no good Corre­spondent, little valuing his word, suspecting his goodness, his truth, or his sufficiency.

2. We by practising those [Page 71] duties are just, by omitting them are very unjust toward God. For our goods, our wealth, and our estate, are in­deed none of them simply or properly our own, so that we have an absolute property in them, or an entire disposal of them: no, we are utterly inca­pable of such a right unto them, or power over them; God ne­cessarily is the true and abso­lute Proprietary of them. They are called the gifts of God,Eccles 5. 19. 6. 2. but we must not understand that God by giving them to us, hath parted with his own right to them; they are deposited with us in trust, not alienated from him; they are committed to us as Stewards, not transferred upon [Page 72] us as Masters: they are so ours, that we have no authority to use them according to our will or fancy, but are obliged to ma­nage them according to Gods direction and order. He by right immutable is Lord Para­mount of all his Creation; e­very thing unalienably belongs to him, upon many accompts: He out of nothing made all things at first, and to every Creature through each moment a new being is conferr'd by his preservative influence; origi­nally therefore he is Lord of all things, and continually a new Title of Dominion over every thing springeth up unto him: it is his always, because he al­ways maketh it. We our selves [Page 73] are naturally meer Slaves and Vassals to him: as we can ne­ver be our own, (Masters of our selves, of our lives, of our liberties) so cannot we ever properly be owners of any thing; there are no possible means by which we can acquire any absolute Title to the least mite; the principal right to what we seem to get, according to all Law and Reason, accru­eth to our Master. All things about us, by which we live, with which we work and trade; the Earth which supports and feeds us, and furnisheth us with all commodities;Psal. 24. 1. the Air we breathe,50. 12. the Sun and Stars which cherish our life,89. 11. are all of them his,95. 5. his Productions, [Page 74] and his Possessions, subsisting by his pleasure, subject to his disposal: how then can any thing be ours? how can we say with the foolish Churl Na­bal, 1 Sam. 25. 11. Shall I take my bread, and my water, and my flesh, and give it? Thine? O inconsiderate man! How cam'st thou by it? how dost thou hold it? didst thou make it,Sed ais; Quid in justum est, si cùm aliena non invadam, pro­pria diligentiùs servem? O im­pudens dictum! propria dicis? quae? ex qui­bus recond it is in hunc mur­dum detulisti? Ambros. or dost thou preserve it? Canst thou claim any thing by Nature? No, thou broughtest nothing with thee into the world, thou didst not bring thy self hither: Canst thou challenge any thing to thy self from Chance? No, for there is no such thing as Chance, all things being guid­ed and governed by Gods Pro­vidence. [Page 75] Dost thou conceive thy Industry can entitle thee to any thing? Thou art mi­staken, for all the wit and strength thou appliest, the head thou contrivest with, and the hands thou workest with, are Gods; all the success thou find­est did wholly depend on him, was altogether derived from him; all thy projects were vain, all thy labours would be fruitless, did not he assist and bless thee: Thou dost vainly and falsly lift up thine heart, D [...]ut. 8. 13, 14, 17▪ 18. and forget the Lord thy God, whenas thy heards and flocks multiply, and thy silver and gold is multiplyed, and all that thou hast is multiplied; if thou sayest in thy heart, My power and the might of my [Page 76] hand hath gotten me this wealth: But thou must remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth. Since then upon all scores every thing we have doth appertain to God, he may without any injury re­cal or resume whatever he plea­seth;Aliena rapere convincitur, qui ultra necessaria sibi retinere probatur. Hieron. and while he letteth any thing abide with us, we cannot justly use it otherwise than he hath appointed, we cannot du­ly apply it otherwise than to his interest and service.Quicquid Deus plusquam opus est dederit, non nobis special [...] ­ter dedit, sed per nos aliis erogandum transmisit▪ quòd si non dederi­mus, res ali [...]nas invasimus. God then having injoined, that after we have satisfied our necessities, and supplied our reasonable occasi­ons, we should imploy the rest to the relief of our poor Neigh­bours;Aug. Serm. 219. de Temp. that if we have two coats, Luk. 3. 11. (one more than we need) we [Page 77] should impart one to him that hath none; if we have meat abundant, that we likewise communicate to him that wants it:Proprium nemo dicat quod commune; plusquam suffi­ceret sumptui violenter ob­tentum est. Ambros. God by the poor mans voice (or by his need and misery) demanding his own from us, we are very unjust if we presume to withhold it; doubly unjust we are, both toward God, and toward our Neighbour: [...]; [...]as. M. we are unfaith­ful Stewards, misapplying the goods of our Master, and cros­sing his order: we are wrong­ful Usurpers, detaining from our Neighbour that which God hath allotted him: we are in the Court of Conscience, we shall appear at the Bar of Gods Judgment no better than Rob­bers, (under vizards of legal [Page 78] right and possession) spoiling our poor Brother of his goods; his, I say, by the very same title as any thing can be ours, by the free donation of God, fully and frequently expressed, as we have seen, in his holy Word: (he cannot take it a­way by violence or surreption against our will, but we are bound willingly to yield it up to him; to do that, were disor­der in him; to refuse this, is wrong in us:)Nostrum est pauperes cla­mant quod effunditis; no­bis crudelite [...] subtrahitur, quod inanite [...] expenditur. Bern. 'tis the hungry mans bread, which we hoard up in our barns; 'tis his meat, on which we glut; and his drink, which we guzzle: 'tis the naked mans apparel, which we shut up in our presses, or which we exorbitantly ruffle [Page 79] and flaunt in: 'tis the needy persons gold and silver which we closely hide in our chests, or spend idly, or put out to use­less use: we are in thus hold­ing, or thus spending, truly [...], not only covetous, but wrongful, or havers of more than our own, against the will of the right owners; plainly violating that precept of Sa­lomon, Prov. 3. 27. Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it. If we are ambitious of having a property in somewhat,Omne quod malè possidetur alienum est; male autem possidet, qui malè [...]titur. August. or af­fect to call any thing our own, 'tis only by nobly giving that we can accomplish our desire, that will certainly appropriate our goods to our use and bene­fit: [Page 80] but from basely keeping, or vainly embezilling them, they become not our possession and enjoyment, but our theft and our bane. (These things, spoken after the holy Fathers, wise Instructors in matters of piety, are to be understood with reasonable temperament, and practised with honest pru­dence. I cannot stand to dis­discuss cases, and remove scru­ples; a pious Charity will ea­sily discern its due limits and measures, both declining per­plexity, and not evading duty: the sum is, that justice towards God and man obligeth us, not to suffer our poor Brother to pe­rish, or pine away for want, when we surfeit and swim in [Page 81] plenty; or not to see him lack necessaries, when we are well able to relieve him)

3. Shewing bounty and mercy are the most proper and the principal expressions of our gratitude unto God; so that in omitting them, we are not only very unjust, but highly ingrateful. Innumerable are the benefits, favours and mer­cies, (both common and pri­vate) which God hath bestow­ed on us, and doth continually bestow; he incessantly showres down blessings on our heads; he daily loadeth us with his bene­fits; Psal. 68. 19. he perpetually crown­eth us with loving kindness and tender mercies: Psal. 103. 4. all that we are, all that we have, all that we can [Page 82] hope for of good, is alone from his free bounty; our beings and lives, with all the conveniencies and comforts of them, we en­tirely owe to him as to our Ma­ker, our Preserver, our constant Benefactor: all the excellent priviledges we enjoy, and all the glorious hopes we have as Christians, we also stand en­debted for purely to his unde­served mercy and grace; and, What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward us? Psal. 116. 12. Shall we render him no­thing? shall we refuse him any thing? shall we boggle at ma­king returns so inconsiderable, in regard to what he hath done for us? What is a little Gold, or Silver, or Brass perhaps, which [Page 83] our poor Neighbour craveth of us, in comparison to our life, our health, our reason, to all accommodations of our body, and all endowments of our mind? What are all the goods in the world to the love and fa­vour of God, to the pardon of our sins, to the gifts of Gods Spirit, to the dignity of being the children of God, and heirs of salvation; to the being freed from extream miseries, and made capable of eternal felicity? And doth not this unexpressible goodness, do not all these in­estimable benefits require some correspondent thankfulness? Are we not obliged, shall we not be willing to exhibit some real testimony thereof? And [Page 84] what other can we exhibit be­side this? We cannot directly or immediately requite God, for he cannot so receive any thing from us; he is not capa­ble of being himself enriched or exalted, of being any wise pleasured or bettered by us, who is in himself infinitely suf­ficient, glorious, joyful and happy:Psal. 16. 2. Our goodness extends not to him; Job 22. 2. A man cannot be profita­ble to his Maker: All that we can do in this kind, is thus in­directly, in the persons of his poor relations, to gratifie him, imparting at his desire and for his sake somewhat of what he hath bestowed on us, upon them. Such a thankful return we owe unto God, not only for [Page 85] what he hath given us, [...]. Naz. but even for the capacity of giving to o­thers; for that we are in the number of those who can af­ford relief, and who need not to demand it. Our very wealth and prosperous state should not seem to us so contemptible things, that we should be unwil­ling to render somewhat back in grateful resentment for them: the very act of giving is it self no mean benefit,Nec enim he­ [...]o Deo pra [...] ­stat benficium in his, quae de­derit; sed De­us his homini, quae acceperit. Salvian. (having so much of honor in it, so much of pleasure going with it, so much of reward following it) we re­ceive far more than we return in giving; for which therefore it is fit, that we should return our gratitude, and consequent­ly that we should perform these [Page 86] duties: for indeed without this practise, no other expression of gratitude can be true in it self, or can be acceptable unto God: We may seem abundantly to thank him in words, but a sparing hand gives the lye to the fullest mouth; we may spare our breath, if we keep back our substance; for all our praising God for his goodness, and bles­sing him with our lips, if we will do nothing for him, if we will not part with any thing for his sake, appears meer com­plement, is in truth plain moc­kery, and vile hypocrisie.

4. Yea, which we may far­ther consider, all our devotion severed from a disposition of practising these duties, is no less [Page 87] such; cannot have any true worth in it, shall not yield any good effect from it. Our pray­ers, if we are uncharitably dis­posed, what are they other than demonstrations of egregious impudence and folly? For how can we with any face presume to ask any thing from God, when we deny him requesting a small matter from us? How can we with any reason expect any mercy from him, when we vouchsafe not to shew any mer­cy for his sake? Can we ima­gine, that God will hearken unto, or mind our petitions, when we are deaf to his entrea­ties, and regardless of his de­sires? No; 'tis his declarati­on to such bold and unreason­able [Page 88] petitioners,Isai. 1. 15. When you spread forth your hands, I will not hear you; when you make many pray­ers, I will not hear: No im­portunity, no frequency of prayers will move God in such a case; the needy mans cries and complaints will drown their noise; his sighs and groans will obstruct their passage,Jam. 5. 4. and stop the ears of God against them. Likewise all our sem­blances of repentance, all our corporal abstinencies & auste­rities, if a kind and merciful dis­position are wanting, what are they truly but presumptuous dallyings, or impertinent tri­flings with God? For do we not grosly collude with sin, when we restrain the sensual [Page 89] appetites of the body, but fo­ment the souls more unreason­able desires? when we curb our wanton flesh, and give li­cense to a base spirit? Do we not palpably baffle, when in respect to God, we pretend to deny our selves, yet upon ur­gent occasion allow him no­thing? Do we not strangely prevaricate, when we would seem to appease Gods anger, and purchase his favour by our submissions, yet refuse to do that, which he declares most pleasing to him, and most ne­cessary to those purposes? It is an ordinary thing for men thus to serve God, and thus to delude themselves: [...]. Bas. M. in Luk 12. 8. I have known many, (saith St. Basil) who have [Page 90] fasted, and prayed, and groaned, and expressed all kind of costless piety, who yet would not part with one doit to the afflicted: such a cheap and easie piety, which costs us little or nothing, can surely not be worth much; and we must not conceit that the All-wise God,1 Sam. 2. 3. (the God of know­ledge, by whom actions are weigh­ed, as Anna sang; and, who weigheth the spirits also,Prov 16. 2. as the Wise-man saith) will be cheat­ed therewith, or take it for more than its just value. No, he hath expresly signified, that he hath not chosen such services,2 Sam. 24. 24. nor doth take any pleasure in them;Isai. 58. 5. 1. 13, 14. he hath called them vain and im­pertinent oblations; Mic. 6. 7. not sweet or acceptable, Jer. 6. 13, 20. but abominable and [Page 91] troublesome to him, such as he cannot away with, and is weary to bear. 'Tis religious liberality that doth prove us to be serious and earnest in other religious performances; which assures that we value matters of piety at a considerable rate; which gives a substance and solidity to our devotions; which san­ctifies our fasts, and verifies our penances; which renders our praises real, and our prayers ef­fectual; so that these being combined, we may reasonably expect acceptance and recom­pence; and in effect to hear that from God, which by him was returned to good Cornelius, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Act. 10. 4.

[Page 92] 5. The conscionable practise of these duties, doth plainly spring from those good disposi­tions of mind, regarding God, which are the original grounds and fountains of all true piety; and the neglect of them issueth from those vitious dispositions, which have a peculiar incon­sistency with piety, being de­structive thereof in the very foundation and root. Faith in God is the Fundamental Grace, upon which Piety is grounded; Love and fear of God, are the Radical Princi­ples, from which it grows; all which as the charitable man discovers in his practise, so they are apparently banished from the heart of the illiberal and un­merciful person.

[Page 93] As for Faith, the good man in shewing bounty, exerciseth the chief acts thereof; he free­ly parteth with his goods, be­cause he trusteth on Gods Pro­vidence more than them; and believeth God more ready to help him, than any Creature can do, in his need; because he is perswaded, that God is most good and benign, so as never to suffer him to be oppres­sed with want; because he ta­keth God to be just and faith­ful, who having charged him to care for nothing, Mat. 6. 25. but to cast his care and burthen upon the Lord, Phil. 4. 6. having promised to care for him, 1 Pet. 5. 7. to sustain him, Psal. 55. 23. never to leave or forsake him; Heb. 13▪ 5. having also enga­ged himself to repay and re­compence [Page 94] him for what he giveth to his poor Neighbour, will not fail to make good his word; because he thinks God abundantly solvent, and him­self never the poorer for laying out in his behalf; because, in short, he is content to live in a dependence upon God, and at his disposal. It is mention­ed by the Apostle to the He­brews, Heb. 10. 34. as a special instance of a resolute and constant faith in the first Christians, that they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves, that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance: he that not forcibly by the violent rapacity of others, but voluntarily by his own free resignation for the [Page 95] service of God, delivereth them up with the same alacrity, opi­nion and hope, thereby demon­strates the same faith. But the Gripple Wretch, who will bestow nothing on his poor Brother for Gods sake, is evidently an Infidel, having none at all, or very heathenish conceits of God: He must be either a meer Atheist, disbelieving the exi­stence of God; or an Epicu­rean, in his heart denying Gods Providence over humane af­fairs: (for did he conceive God to have any regard unto, or any influence over what passes here, how could he be afraid of wanting upon this score? how could he repose any confi­dence in these possessions? how [Page 96] could he think himself secure in such a neglect or defiance of God?) Or he must be exceed­ingly profane, entertaining most dishonourable and injurious apprehensions of God: He cannot but imagine God very unkind, not only in neglecting men that want his help, but in making them to suffer for spending upon his accompt; very unjust, in not repaying what he borrows; very un­faithful, in breaking his word; very deceitful, in gulling us of our things by fair promises of restitution and requital: Or he must apprehend God forget­ful of what we do, and himself says; or that he is needy and impotent, not having where­with [Page 97] to make satisfaction, not being able to make good what he pretends. He must in his conceit debase God even be­neath the vilest Creatures, thinking a senseless lump of clay more apt in his need to help him, than God can be with all his power and care; suppo­sing his money safer in his own Coffers, than in Gods hands; and that Iron Bars will guard it more surely, than divine pro­tection; esteeming his Neigh­bours Bond for much better security than Gods Word; and that a mortal man is far more able or more true, than the E­ternal Lord. He certainly can­not think one word true, that God says, being loath to trust [Page 98] him for a peny, for a piece of bread, or for an old garment; all Gods promises of recom­pence, and threatnings of pu­nishment, he takes for idle fi­ctions; Heaven and Hell are but Vtopia's in his conceit; the joys of one, offered to the cha­ritable person, are but pleasant fancies; the torments of the o­ther, denounced to the uncha­ritable, but fearful dreams: all other things are but names, money and lands are the only real things unto him: all the happiness he can conceive or wish, is contained in bags and barns; these are the sole points of his Faith, and objects of his confidence.Habac. 2. 9. He makes gold his hope, and saith to the fine gold, [Page 99] Thou art my confidence: he re­joyces because his wealth is great, and because his hand hath gotten much, Job 31. 34. (as Job speaketh, disclaim­ing that practise in himself, and tacitly charging it on the per­sons we speak of.) He doth in fine affect a total independency upon God, and cares to have no dealing with him; he would trust to himself, and live on his own estate: so gross infidelity, and horrible profaneness of mind, lie couched under this sort of vices.

As for the love of God, the liberal man declares it, in that for Gods sake he is willing to part with any thing; that he values Gods love and favour a­bove all other goods; that he [Page 100] deems himself rich and happy enough in the enjoyment of God.1 Joh 3. 17. But, Who hath this worlds goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? saith St. John; that is, it is impossible he should love God; 'tis a vain conceit to think he does; 'tis a frivolous thing for him to pretend it; for how possibly can he bear in his heart any affection to God, who will not for his sake, and at his instance, part with a little worthless trash, and dirty pelf? who prizes so inconsiderable matters beyond Gods favour and friendship? who prefers the keeping of his wealth, before the enjoyment of God; and [Page 101] chuses rather certainly to quit his whole interest in God, than to adventure a small parcel of his estate with God? His pra­ctise indeed sufficiently disco­vers, that his hard and stupid heart is uncapable of any love, except of a corrupt, inordinate and fond love, or dotage to­ward himself, since so present & sensible objects cannot affect him:1 Joh. 4▪ 20. He that loveth not his bro­ther whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And as to the fear and reve­rence of God, the liberal man expresses it in submission to Gods commands, although with his own present seeming diminution and loss; in pre­ferring the discharging of his [Page 102] Conscience before the retain­ing his Money; in casting o­ver-board his temporal goods, that he may secure his spiritual and eternal concernments: He can say (his practise attesting to his profession) with David, I love thy commandments above gold; Psal. 119 127, [...]2. and, The law of thy mouth is dearer to me than thousands of gold and silver; he shews, that he is a man of truth, Exod. 18. 21. fearing God, and hating covetousness; which dispositions, as having much affinity and connexion, are well joined together by Jethro. But the uncharitable man can have little fear of God before his eyes; since the commands of God have no efficacy on his Conscience; since he dreads not [Page 103] the effects of divine power and justice, provoked by his diso­bedience; since he deems an imaginary danger of want from giving, worse than a certain commission of sin in withhold­ing; and is more afraid of pe­nury here, than of damnation hereafter.

The truth is, the covetous or illiberal man is therefore unca­pable of being truly pious, be­cause his heart is possessed with vain devotion toward some­what beside God, which in ef­fect is his sole Divinity:Col. 3. 5. he is justly stiled an Idolater,Ephes. 5. 5. for that he directs and employs the chief affections of his mind upon an Idol of Clay, which he loves with all his heart and all his [Page 104] soul, which he entirely confides in, which he esteems and wor­ships above all things. It is Mammon, which of all the Competitors and Antagonists of God, invading Gods right, and usurping his place,Mat. 6. 24. is (as our Lord intimates) the most dangerous, and desperately re­pugnant: where he becomes predominant, true Religion is quite excluded, Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Other vi­tious inclinations combat rea­son, and often baffle it, but sel­dom so vanquish it, as that a man doth approve or applaud himself in his miscarriages; but the covetous humour seizeth on our reason it self, and seateth it self therein; inducing it to fa­vour [Page 105] and countenance what is done amiss: the voluptuous man is swayed by the violence of his appetite, but the cove­tous is seduced by the dictate of his judgment; he therefore scrapes and hoards, and lets go nothing, because he esteems wealth the best thing in the world, and then judges himself most wise, when he is most base:Prov. 23. 4. Labour not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom, saith Salomon; intimating the judg­ment such persons are wont to make of their riches: whence of all dispositions opposite to piety, this is the most pernici­ous. But farther,

6. Let us consider; That no­thing is more conformable to [Page 106] Gods nature, or renders us more like to him, than beneficence and mercy; and that conse­quently nothing can be more grateful to him; that nothing is more disagreeable and con­trary to the essential disposition of God, than illiberality and un­mercifulness, and therefore that nothing can be more distastful to him. What is any being in the world, but an efflux of his bounty, and an argument of his liberality? Look every where about Nature, consider the whole tenour of Provi­dence; survey all the works, and scan all the actions of God, you will find them all conspi­ring in attestation to those sweet Characters and Elogies, [Page 107] which the holy Scripture ascri­beth to God, representing him to be Merciful and gracious, Exod. 34▪ 6. long­suffering, and abundant in good­ness; Joel▪ 2. 13. to be sorry for evil, (in­cident or inflicted upon any Creature) to delight in mercy, Mic. 7. 18. to wait that he may be gracious; Isai. 30. 18. stiling him the God of love, Rom. 5. 33. 13. 5. of peace, Ephes. 2. 4. of hope, of patience, of all grace, 2 Cor. 13. 11. 1. 3. and of all consolation; the Father of pities, Jam. 5. 11. rich in mercy, and full of bowels; 1 Pet. 5. 10. affirming of him, and by manifold evident evi­dences demonstrating, that he is benign even unto the ingrateful and evil; Luk▪ 6. 35. that He is good to all, Psal. 145. 9. and his tender mercies are over all his works. Nature, (I say) Providence and Revelation, do all concur in testifying this, that [Page 108] there is nothing in God so pe­culiarly admirable, [...]. Naz. Orat. 26. nothing (as it were) so God-like; that is, so highly venerable and ami­able, as to do good and shew mercy. We therefore by libe­ral communication to the nee­dy,Deus est mor­tall juvare mortalem. Plin. Nat. H. lib. 2. do most approach to the nature of God, and most ex­actly imitate his practise; ac­quiring to our selves thereby somewhat of Divinity, and be­coming little Gods to our Neighbour: [...]. Chrys. in Mat. Orat. 35. Nothing (saith St. Chrysostome) maketh us so near equal to God, as beneficence; and, [...] Naz. Orat. 16. Be (saith St. Gregory Na­zianzen) a God to the unfortu­nate, imitating the mercy of God; for a man hath nothing of God so much as to do good. That such [Page 109] hath always been the common apprehension of men, the pra­ctise of all times sheweth, in that men have been ever apt to place their Benefactors among their Gods, deferring that love and veneration unto them in degree, which in perfection do appertain to the supreme Bene­factor.Luk. 6. 35, 36. Be merciful, as your heavenly Father is merciful; so our Saviour proposeth Gods mercy to us, both as a pattern directing, and as an argument inducing us to mercifulness; implying it also to be a good sign declaring us the children of God; the genuine off-spring of the all-good and all-merciful Father; yea, that it even ren­ders and constitutes us such, (we [Page 110] thereby coming most truly to represent, and most nearly to resemble him.) Our Lord farther teaches us,Mat. 5. 44, 45. saying, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to those that hate you—that you may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven. And they who thus are Gods children, must conse­quently be very dear to him, and most gracious in his sight; he cannot but greatly like and love himself (the best of him­self) in them; he cannot but cherish and treat them well, who are the fairest and truest images of himself; no specta­cle can be so pleasant to him, as to see us in our practise to act himself, doing good to one [Page 111] another;Colos. 3. 12. as the elect of God, holy and beloved, putting on bow­els of mercies and kindness, hum­bleness of mind, meekness, long­suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave us, Ephes. 5. 1, 2. being follow­ers of God as dear children, and walking in love, even as Christ al­so loved us. But on the other side, there is not in Nature any thing so remotely distant from God, or so extreamly opposite to him, as a greedy and griping Niggard; Hell is scarce so con­trary to Heaven, as such a mans disposition to the nature of God; for 'tis goodness which sits gloriously triumphant at the top of Heaven; and uncha­ritableness lieth miserably gro­velling [Page 112] under the bottom of Hell: Heaven descends from the one, as its principal cause; Hell is built on the other, as its main foundation: as the one approximates the blessed An­gels to God, and beatifies them; so the other removeth the cur­sed Fiends to such a distance from God and happiness: not to wish, not to do any good, is that which renders them both so bad, and so wretched; and whoever in his conditions is so like to them, and in his practise so agrees with them, cannot but also be very odious to God, and extreamly unhappy; God cannot but abhor so base a de­generation from his likeness in those, who by nature are his [Page 113] children, and should be farther such according to his gracious design; neither can any thing more offend his eyes, than see­ing them to use one another unkindly: so that if obtaining the certain favour of the great God, with all the benefits at­tending it, seem considerable to us; or if we think it adviseable to shun his displeasure, with its sad effects; it concerns us to practise these duties. So I con­clude that sort of Considerati­ons, enforcing these duties, which more immediately re­gard God.

Farther,III. Head of Discourse. before we deny our relief to our poor Neighbour, let us with the eyes of our mind [Page 114] look on him, and attentively consider who he is; what he is in himself, and what he is in relation unto us.

1. He whose need craves our bounty, whose misery de­mands our mercy, what is he? He is not truly so mean and sorry a thing, as the disguise of misfortune, under which he appears, doth represent him. He who looks so deformedly and dismally, who to outward sight is so ill bestead, and so pi­tifully accoustred, hath latent in him much of admirable beauty and glory; he within himself containeth a nature ve­ry excellent; an immortal soul, and an intelligent mind, by which he nearly resembleth [Page 115] God himself, and is compara­ble to Angels; he invisibly is owner of endowments, ren­dring him capable of the great­est and best things: What are Money and Lands? what are Silk and fine Linen? what are Horses and Hounds in compa­rison to Reason, to Wisdom, to Vertue, to Religion, which he hath, or (in despight of all mis­fortune) he may have, if he please? He whom you behold so dejectedly sneaking, in so de­spicable a garb, so destitute of all convenience and comfort, (ly­ing in the dust, naked or clad with rags, meagre with hunger or pain) he comes of a most high and heavenly extraction; he was born a Prince, the Son [Page 116] of the greatest King Eternal; he can truly call the Sovereign Lord of all the World his Fa­ther; having derived his soul from the mouth, having had his body formed by the hands of God himself:Prov. 22. 2. (in this, The rich and poor, as the Wise-man saith, do meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all.) That same forlorn Wretch, whom we are so apt to despise and trample upon,Gen. 1. 28. was framed and constitu­ted Lord of the visible World; had all the goodly brightnesses of Heaven, and all the costly fur­nitures of Earth created to serve him:Psal. 8▪ 6. (Thou madest him, saith the Psalmist of man) to have dominion over the works of thine hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:) [Page 117] Yea, he was made an inhabi­tant of Paradise, and Possessour of felicities superlative; had immortal life, and endless joy in his hand; did enjoy the en­tire favour and friendship of the most High: such in worth of Nature, and nobleness of Birth he is, as a man; and high­ly more considerable he is, as a Christian: for as vile and con­temptible as he looks, God hath so regarded and prized him, as for his sake to descend from Heaven, to cloath himself with flesh, to assume the form of a servant; for his good to under­take and undergo the greatest inconveniencies, infirmities, wants and disgraces; the most grievous troubles, and most [Page 118] sharp pains incident to mortal nature; God hath adopted him to be his Child; the Son of God hath deigned to call him Brother; he is a Member of Christ, a Temple of the Holy Ghost, a free Denizon of the heavenly City; an Heir of Sal­vation, and Candidate of eter­nal Glory; the greatest and richest Personage is not capable of better priviledges, than God hath granted him, or of higher preferments, than God hath designed him to: He equally with the mightiest Prince is the object of Gods especial Provi­dence and Grace, of his conti­nual regard and care, of his fatherly love and affection; who, as good Elihu saith,Job 34. 19. accepteth not [Page 119] the persons of Princes, nor regard­eth the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of his hands. In fine, this poor Crea­ture whom thou seest, is a man, and a Christian, thine equal, whoever thou art, in nature, and thy peer in condition; I say not in the uncertain and unstable gifts of fortune, not in this worldly state, which is very inconsiderable; but in gifts vastly more pretious, in ti­tle to an estate infinitely more rich and excellent: yea, if thou art vain and proud, he sober and humble, he is thy better, in true dignity much to be prefer­red before thee, far in real wealth surpassing thee:Prov. 28. 6. for, Bet­ter is the poor that walketh in his [Page 120] uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

2. That distinction, which thou standest upon, and which seemeth so vast between thy poor Neighbour and thee, what is it? whence did it come? whither tends it? It is not any wise natural, or according to primitive design: for as all men are in faculties and en­dowments of nature equal, so were they all originally equal in condition, all wealthy and happy, all constituted in a most prosperous and plentiful estate; all things at first were promis­cuously exposed to the use and enjoyment of all; every one from the common stock assu­ming as his own what he need­ed. [Page 121] Inequality and private in­terest in things, [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 16. (together with sicknesses and pains, together with all other infelicities and inconveniencies) were the by-blows of our fall; sin intro­duced these degrees and distan­ces; it devised the names of rich and poor; it begot these ingrossings and enclosures of things; it forged those two small pestilent words, meum and tuum, which have engendred so much strife among men, and created so much mischief in the world: these preternatural di­stinctions were (I say) brood­ed by our fault, and are in great part fostered and maintained thereby; for were we generally so good, so just, so charitable [Page 122] as we should be, they could hardly subsist, especially in that measure they do. God indeed (for promoting some good ends, and for prevention of some mischiefs, apt to spring from our ill nature in this our lapsed state; particularly to prevent the strife and disorder which scrambling would cause among men, presuming on equal right, and parity of force) doth suffer them in some man­ner to continue, [...]. Basil. M. and enjoins us a contented submission to them; but we mistake, if we think that natural equality and community are in effect quite taken away; or that all the world is so cantonized among some few, that the rest have no [Page 123] share therein; No, every man hath still a competent patri­mony due to him, and a suf­ficient provision made for his tolerable subsistence; God hath brought no man hither to be necessarily starved, or pinched with extream want; but hath assigned to every one a Childs portion,Incas [...]ùm se innocentes putant, qui commune Dei munus sibi privatum vin­dicant. Greg. M. in some fair way to be obtained by him, either by le­gal right, or by humble request, which according to Conscience ought to have effect. No man therefore is allowed to detain, or to destroy superfluously what another man apparently wants, but is obliged to impart it to him: so that rich men are indeed but the Treasurers, the Stewards,Mat. 24. 45. the Caterers of [Page 124] God for the rest of men, having a strict charge to dispense unto every one his meat in due season, Luk. 12. 42. and no just priviledge to with­hold it from any: the honour of distribution is conferred on them, as a reward of their fide­lity and care; the right of en­joyment is reserved to the poor, as a provision for their necessi­ty. Thus hath God wisely pro­jected, that all his Children should both effectually and quietly be provided for; and that none of them should be oppressed with penury; so that (as St. Paul hath it) One mans 2 Cor. 8▪ 14. abundance should supply another mans want, that there may be an equality: for since no man can enjoy more than he needs, and [Page 125] every man should have so much as he needs, there can be really no great inequality a­mong men; the distinction will scarce remain other where than in fancy. What the Philoso­pher said of himself,Ego mea sic ha [...]eo, ut omnium sint. Demetrius apud Sen. de Benef. VII. 10. [...]. Basil. M. What I have, is so mine, that it is every mans, is according to the pra­ctise of each man, who is truly and in due measure charitable; whereby that seemingly enor­mous discrimination among men is well moderated, and the equity of Divine Providence is vindicated: But he that ra­venously grasps far more than he can well use, and gripes it fast in his clutches, so that the needy in their distress cannot come by it, doth pervert that [Page 126] equity which God hath establi­shed in things, defeats his good intention, (so far as he can) and brings a scandal on his Provi­dence; and so doing is highly both injurious and impious.

3. It was also (which we should consider) even one main end of this difference a­mong us, permitted and order­ed by Gods Providence, that as some mens industry and pa­tience might be exercised by their poverty, so other men by their wealth should have abili­ty of practising justice and cha­rity; that so both rich and poor might thence become capable of recompences, suitable to the worth of such vertuous perfor­mances. Why art thou rich, [Page 127] (saith St. Basil) and he poor? [...]. Bas. M. Surely for this; That thou mayst attain the reward of benignity, and faithful dispensation; and that he may be honoured with the great prize of patience. God in ma­king thee rich, would have thee to be a double Benefactor, not only to thy poor Neighbour, but also to thy self; whilst thou bestowest relief on him, pur­chasing a reward to thy self. God also by this order of things designs, that a charitable en­tercourse should be maintained among men, mutually pleasant and beneficial; the rich kindly obliging the poor, and the poor gratefully serving the rich. Wherefore by neglecting these duties, we unadvisedly cross [Page 128] the good purpose of God to­ward us, depriving our selves of the chief advantages our wealth may afford.

4. We should also do well to consider, that a poor man, even as such, is not to be dis­regarded, and that poverty it self is no such contemptible thing as we may be prone to imagine: there are Conside­rations, which may qualifie Poverty even to dispute the place with Wealth, and to claim precedence to it: If the world vulgarly doth account, and call the rich man happy, a better Author hath pronounced the poor man such:Luk. 6▪ 20. Blessed are the poor, doth march in the van of the Beatitudes, and a reason go­eth [Page 129] along therewith, which asserteth its right to the place; for theirs is the Kingdom of Hea­ven; for that they are not only in an equal capacity as men, but in a nearer disposition as poor to the acquisition of that blissful state; for that poverty (the Mistriss of Sobriety and honest Industry, the Mother of Humility and Patience, the Nurse of all Vertue) renders men more willing to go, and more expedite in the way to­ward Heaven: by it also we conform unto the Son of God himself, the Heir of Eternal Majesty, the Saviour of the World,2 Cor 8. 9. who for our sake became poor, ( [...], for our sake became a beggar) that we [Page 130] through his poverty (or beggery) might become rich: he willingly chose, he especially dignified and sanctified that depth of poverty, which we so proudly slight and loath. The greatest Princes and Potentates in the World, the most wealthy and haughty of us all, but for one poor Beggar had been irrecove­rably miserable: to Poverty it is, that every one of us doth owe all the possibility there is, all the hopes we can have of our Salvation; and shall we then ingratefully require it with scorn, or with pitiless neglect? shall we presume in the person of any poor man, to abhor or contemn the very poor, but most holy and most happy [Page 131] JESUS, our Lord and Re­deemer? No; if we will do Poverty right, we must rather for his dear sake and memory defer an especial respect and ve­neration thereto.

5. Thus a due reflection on the poor man himself,Nemo est in genere huma­no, cui non di­lectio, et si non pro mutua cha­ritate, pro ipsa tamen commu­nis naturae so­cietate debe­tur. Aug Epist. 125. his na­ture and state, will induce us to succour; but let us also con­sider him as related unto our selves: Every such person is our near Kinsman, is our Bro­ther, is by indissoluble bands of cognation in blood, and agree­ment in Nature knit and uni­ted to us. We are all but seve­ral streams issuing from one source, several twigs sprouting from one stock;Act. 17. 26. One blood, de­rived through several channels; [Page 132] one substance, [...]. Arist. by miraculous efficacy of the Divine Benedi­ction, multiplied or dilated un­to several times and places. We are all fashioned according to the same original Idea, resem­bling God our common Father; we are all endewed with the same faculties, [...]. Greg. N [...]z. inclinations and affections; we all conspire in the same essential ingredients of our constitution, and in the more notable adjuncts thereof; it is only some inconsiderable accidents, (such as age, place, figure, stature, colour, garb) which diversifie and distinguish us; in which, according to successions of time and chance, we commonly no less differ from our selves, than we do at [Page 133] present from them: so that in effect, and reasonable esteem, every man is not only our Bro­ther,Nih [...]l est unum uni tam simile, tam par, quàm omnes inter nosmetipsos s [...]m [...]s. Cic de Leg. 1. but (as Aristotle saith of a Friend) [...], another ones self; is not only our most live­ly image, but in a manner our very substance; another our self under a small variation of present circumstances: the most of distinction between us and our poor Neighbour, consists in exteriour shew, in moveable attire, in casual appendages to the nature of man; so that re­ally when we use him well, we are kind to our selves, when we yield him courteous regard, we bear respect to our own na­ture; when we feed and com­fort him, we do sustain and [Page 134] cherish a member of our own body: but when we are cruel or harsh to him, we abuse our selves; when we scorn him, we lay disparagement and disgrace on mankind it self; when we withhold succour or sustenance from him, we do (as the Pro­phet speaketh) hide our selves from our own flesh; Isai. 58. 7. we starve a part of our own body, and wi­ther a branch of our stock: immoderate selfishness so blindeth us, that we oversee and forget our selves: it is in this, it is in other good senses true what the Wise-man saith, The merciful man doth good to his own soul; Prov. 11. 17. but he that is cruel, troubleth his own flesh.

6. Farther, as the poor man [Page 135] is so nearly allied to us by soci­ety of common nature, so is he more strictly joined to us by the bands of spiritual Consan­guinity. All Christians (high and low, rich and poor) are children of the same heavenly Father, spring from the same incorruptible seed, are rege­nerated to the same lively hope, are Co-heirs of the same hea­venly inheritance; are all mem­bers of one body, (members, saith St. Paul, one of another) and animated by one holy Spi­rit; which relation, as it is the most noble, and the most close that can be, so it should breed the greatest endearments, and should express it self in corre­spondent effects; it should ren­der [Page 136] us full of affection and sym­pathy one toward another; it should make us to tender the needs, and feel the sufferings of any Christian as our own; it should dispose us freely to com­municate whatever we have, [...]. Eu [...]ip. Androm. how pretious soever, to any of our brethren: this holy friend­ship should establish a charita­ble equality and community a­mong us, both in point of ho­nour and of estate: for since all things considerable are common unto us, since we are all purchased and purified by the same precious blood, since we all partake of the same pre­cious faith, of the same high calling, of the same honourable priviledges, of the same glorious [Page 137] promises and hopes; since we all have the same Lord and Sa­viour; why should these secu­lar trifles be so private and par­ticular among us? Why should not so huge a parity in those only valuable things not whol­ly (I say not in worldly state, or outward appearance, such as the preservation of order in secular affairs requireth,Colos. 3. 11. but) in our opinion and affection ex­tinguish that slight distinction of rich and poor, in concern­ments temporal? How can we slight so noble, so great a Personage as a Christian, for wanting a little dross? How can we deem our selves much his superiour,Heb. 2. 11. upon so petty an advantage,Mat. 25. 40. for having that,Joh. 15▪ 14. [Page 138] which is not worth speaking or thinking of, in comparison to what he enjoyeth? Our Lord himself is not ashamed to call the least among us his Brother, and his Friend; and shall we then disdain to yield to such an one the regard, and treatment suitable to such a Quality? Shall we not honour any Brother of our Lord? shall we not be ci­vil and kind to any Friend of his? If we do not, how can we pretend to bear any true re­spect or affection unto himself? It is his express precept, that the greatest among us should,Mat. 20. 26. in imitation of his most humble and charitable Self, be ready to serve the meanest;Rom. 12. 10. and,Phil. 2. 3. that we should in honour prefer one ano­ther, [Page 139] and in lowliness of mind esteem others better than our selves, are Apostolical Rules, extend­ing indifferently to rich and poor, which are plainly viola­ted by disregarding the poor. Yea, this relation should, ac­cording to St. Johns Doctrine, dispose us not only freely to impart these temporal goods, but even, if occasion be, wil­lingly to expose our very lives for our brethren:1 Joh. 3. 16. Hereby, saith he, we perceive the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren. How greatly then are they deficient from their duty, how little in truth are they Christians, who are unwilling to part with the [Page 140] very superfluities and excre­ments of their fortune for the relief of a poor Christian? Thus considering our Brother may breed in us charitable disposi­tions toward him, and induce us to the practise of these du­ties.

Moreover,IV. Head of Discourse. if we reflect upon our selves, and consider either our nature, or our state here, we cannot but observe many strong engagements to the same practise.

1. The very constitution, frame and temper of our na­ture, directeth and inclineth us thereto; whence by obser­ving those duties, we observe our own nature, we improve it, [Page 141] we advance it to the best per­fection it is capable of; by neg­lecting them, we thwart, we impair, we debase the same— haec nostri pars optima sensûs; Juven. Sat. 15. The best of our natural incli­nations (those sacred reliques of Gods image originally stam­ped on our minds) do sensibly prompt,—Mutuus ut nos Affectus petere auxili­um, & praestare juberat. and vehemently urge us to mercy and pity: the ve­ry same bowels,Iuven. 16. which in our own want do by a lively sense of pain inform us thereof, and instigate us to provide for its relief, do also grievously resent the distresses of another, admo­nishing us thereby, and provo­king us to yield him succour. Such is the natural sympathy between men, (discernable in [Page 142] all, but appearing most vigo­rous in the best natures) that we cannot see, cannot hear of, yea can hardly imagine the ca­lamities of other men, without being somewhat disturbed, and afflicted our selves. As also nature to the acts requisite to­ward preservation of our life, hath annexed a sensible plea­sure, forcibly enticing us to the performance of them: so hath she made the communication of benefits to others, to be ac­companied with a very delici­ous relish upon the mind of him that practises it; nothing indeed carrying with it a more pure and savoury delight than beneficence. A man may be vertuously voluptuous, and a [Page 143] laudable Epicure by doing much good; [...]. Plut. de Philos. conv. cum Princ. for to receive good, even in the judgment of Epicurus himself, (the great Patron of Pleasure) is no wise so pleasant as to do it: God and Nature therefore within us do sollicite the poor mans case; even our own ease and satisfa­ction demand from us compas­sion and kindness toward him; by exercising them, we hearken to Natures wise Disciplines, and comply with her kindly Instincts; we cherish good hu­mour, and sweeten our com­plexion; so ennobling our minds, we become not only more like to God, but more perfectly men; by the contrary practise we rebel against the [Page 144] Laws, and pervert the due course of our Nature; we do weaken, corrupt and stifle that which is best in us; we harden and stupifie our souls; so mon­strously degenerating from the perfection of our kind, and becoming rather like savage beasts, than sociable men; yea, somewhat worse perhaps than many beasts; for commonly bruits will combine to the suc­cour of one another; they will defend and help those of the same kind.

2. And if the sensitive part within us doth suggest so much, the rational dictates more unto us; that heavenly faculty, ha­ving capacities so wide, and so mighty energies; was surely not [Page 145] created to serve mean or nar­row designs; it was not given us to scrape eternally in earth, or to amass heaps of clay for private enjoyment; for the ser­vice of one puny creature, for the sustenance or satisfaction of a single carcase: 'tis much be­low an intelligent person to weary himself with servile toils, to distract his mind with igno­ble cares for concernments so low and scanty; but to regard and pursue the common good of men; to dispense advise and aid, where needs requires; to diffuse its vertue all about in beneficial effects; these are O­perations worthy of Reason, these are Imployments con­gruous to the native excellency [Page 146] of that Divine Power implant­ed in us; such performances declare indeed what a man is, whence he sprang, and whither he tends.

3. Farther, examining our selves, we may also observe, that we are in reality, what our poor Neighbour appears to be, in many respects no less indi­gent and impotent than he: we no less, yea far more, for our subsistance depend upon the ar­bitrary bounty of another, than he seemeth to relie upon ours. We as desectible creatures do continually want support; we as grievous sinners do always need mercy; every moment we are contracting huge debts, far beyond our ability to discharge; [Page 147] debts of gratitude for benefits received, debts of guilt for of­fences committed; we there­fore perpetually stand obliged to be craving for mercy and re­lief at the Gates of Heaven. We all, from Prince to Peasant, live meerly upon alms, and are most really in condition Beggars: to to pray always, is a duty incum­bent on us from the condition of our nature, as well as by the command of God. Such a likeness in state should there­fore dispose us to succour our fellows,Greg. Naz. and [...], to lend mercy to God, who need mercy from him, as the good Father speaketh.Heb. 13. 3. We should (as the Apostle advises and ar­gues) Remember them that are [Page 148] in bounds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being our selves also in the body; as being companions in neces­sity, or subject to the like di­distress. If we daily receive mercy and relief, yet unmind­ful of our obligation to God, refuse them to others, shall we not deserve to hear that dread­ful exprobration,Mat. 18. 32, 33. O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou desiredst me; shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?

4. The great incertainty, [...]. S [...]ph [...]n. T [...]chin. and instability of our condi­tion, doth also require our con­sideration We that now flou­rish in a fair and full estate, may [Page 149] soon be in the case of that poor creature, who now sues for our relief; we that to this day enjoy the wealth of Job, may the morrow need his patience; there are Sabeans, which may come and drive away our cat­tel; there are tempests, which may arise, and smite down our houses; there is a fire of God, which may fall from Heaven, and consume our substance; a messenger of all these mischiefs may, for all we know, be pre­sently at our doors; it happen­ed so to a better man than we, as unexpectedly and with as small ground to fear it, as it can arrive to us: all our wealth is surrounded with dangers, and exposed to casualties innu­merable; [Page 150] Violence may snatch it from us, Treachery may cheat us of it; Mischance may seize thereon, a secret Moth may de­vour it; the wisdom of Provi­dence for our trial, or its justice for our punishment, may be­reave us thereof; its own light and fluid nature (if no other accomptable causes were appa­rent) might easily serve to waft it from us;Prov. 23. 5. for, Riches (saith the Wise-man) make themselves wings, (they it seems do need no help for that) and fly away like as an Eagle toward Heaven; that is, of their own accord they do swiftly convey them­selves away, out of our sight, and beyond our reach: they are but wind,Eccles. 5. 21. What profit (says [Page 151] the Preacher) hath he that la­boureth for the wind? for wind, that is, for a thing which can no wise be fixed or setled in one corner; which therefore 'tis a vanity to conceive, that we can surely appropriate, or long re­tain. How then can we think to stand firm upon a place so slippery? How can we build any confidence on a bottom so loose and brittle? How can we suffer our minds to be swell'd up, like bubbles, with vain conceit, by the breath of such things, more fleeting and vertiginous than any Air? a­gainst the precepts of the wisest and best men:Psal. 62. 10. If riches increase, saith the Psalmist, set not your heart on them:Prov. 23. 5. Wilt thou set [Page 152] thine eyes upon that which is not? saith the Wise man: (that is, wilt thou regard that which is so transitory and evanid, that it hardly may be deemed real; which we can scarce look on, before it is gone?) and, Charge them (saith St. Paul) that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches: ( [...], in the obscurity, or inevidence of ri­ches; things which we can ne­ver plainly discern how long we shall keep them, how much we can enjoy them) what should make us unwilling with certain advantage to our selves, freely to let that go, which pre­sently without our leave may forsake us? How can we rea­sonably [Page 153] judge our case much different from that of the poor­est body, whenas in a trice we may perhaps change places and persons; when the scene turn­ing, he may be advanced unto our wealth, we may be depres­sed into his want? since every Age yieldeth instances of some Croesus, some Polycrates, some Pompey, some Job, some Nebu­chodonosor, who within a small compass of time doth appear to all men the object both of admiration and pity, is to the less wise the mark both of envy and scorn; seeing every day presenteth unexpected vicissi­tudes, the Sea of Humane Af­fairs continually ebbing and flowing, now rolling on this, [Page 154] now on the other shore its rest­less waves of profit and cre­dit; since especially there is a God, who arbitrarily disposeth things, and with a turn of his hand changeth the state of men; who, as the Scripture saith, Ma­keth rich and poor, 1 Sam. 2. 7. bringeth low and lifteth up; Job 12. 21. poureth contempt upon Princes; Psal. 107. 41. 113. 7. raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the beggar from the dunghil, to set them among Princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: seeing, I say, apparently such is the condition of things here, that we may soon need his pity and help, who now requesteth ours, why should we not be very ready to afford them to him? why should we not gladly [Page 155] embrace our opportunity, and use our turn well; becoming aforehand with others, and preventing their reciprocal con­tempt or neglect of us hereaf­ter?Eccles. 11. 1. Cast thy bread upon the wa­ters, for thou shalt find it after many days; give a portion to se­ven, and also unto eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth: that is, considering the inconstancy & uncertainty of affairs here, and what adver­sity may befal thee, be liberal upon all occasions, and thou shalt (even a good while after) find returns of thy liberality up­on thee: so the Wise-man ad­vises, and so Wisdom certainly dictates that we should do;

5. And equity doth exact [Page 156] no less: for were any of us in the needy mans plight, (as ea­sily we may be reduced thereto) we should believe our case de­served commiseration; we should importunately demand relief, we should be grievously displeased at a repulse; we should apprehend our selves very hardly dealt with, and sad­ly we should complain of in­humanity and cruelty, if suc­cour were refused to us. In all equity therefore we should be apt to minister the same to others;Benefic 'um qui dare nescit, injustè petit. La [...]er. Mim. for nothing can be more unreasonable or unjust, than to require or expect that from a­nother, which in a like case we are unwilling to render un­to him; it is a plain deviation [Page 157] from that Fundamental Rule, which is the Base of all Justice; and virtually the sum (as our Saviour telleth us) of what­ever is prescribed us:Mat. 7. 12. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets. I add, that up­on these Considerations, by un­merciful dealing, we put our selves into a very bad and tick­lish condition; wholly depen­ding upon the constancy of that which is most inconstant; so that if our fortune do fail, we can neither reasonably hope for, nor justly pretend to any relief or comfort from others.

6. We should also remem­ber concerning our selves, that [Page 158] we are mortal and frail. Were we immortal, or could we pro­bably retain our Possessions for ever in our hands; yea, could we foresee some definite space of time, considerably long, in which we might assuredly en­joy our stores, it might seem somewhat excusable to scrape hard, and to hold fast; to do so might look like rational Pro­vidence:Prov. 27. 24. but since Riches are not for ever, nor doth the Crown endure to all generations, (as the Wise-man speaketh) since they must infallibly be soon left, and there is no certainty of keeping them for any time; 'tis very unaccomptable why we should so greedily seek them, and hug them so fondly.Jam. 1. 10, 11. The rich man, [Page 159] saith St. James, as the flower of the grass shall pass away: it is his special doom to fade away suddenly; it is obvious why in many respects he is somewhat more than others obnoxious to the fatal stroke, and upon spe­cial accompts of justice he may be farther more exposed there­to; considering the case of the rich fool in the Gospel,Luk. 12. 20. we may easily discern them; we should reckon, that it may happen to us, as it did there to him; that after we have reared great Barns, and stored up much goods for many years, our soul this very night may be required of us; however, if it be uncertain when, it is most certain, that after a very short time our [Page 160] thred will be spun out;1 Tim. 6. 7. then shall we be rifled,Eccles. 5. 15. and quite stript of all;Job. 1. 21. becoming stark naked, as when we came into the world: we shall not carry with us one grain of our gli­stering Metals, or one rag of our gaudy Stuff; our stately Houses, our fine Gardens, and our spatious Walks, must all be exchanged for a close Hole un­der ground;Isai. 14. 11. we must for ever bid farewel to our Pomps and Magnificences, to our Feasts and Jollities, to our Sports and Pastimes; not one of all our numerous and splendid reti­nue; no Companion of our Pleasure, no Admirer of our Fortune, no Flatterer of our Vices can wait upon us; deso­late [Page 161] and unattended we must go down into the Chambers of Darkness; then shall we find, that to die rich (as men are wont improperly to speak) is really to die most poor; that to have carefully kept our Mo­ney, is to have lost it utterly; that by leaving much, we do indeed leave worse than no­thing: To have been wealthy, if we have been illiberal and unmerciful, will be no advan­tage or satisfaction to us after we are gone hence; yea, it will be the cause of huge damage, and bitter regret unto us: All our Treasures will not procure us any favour, or purchase one Advocate for us in that impar­tial World; yea, it shall be they [Page 162] which will there prosecute us with clamorous accusations, will bear sore testimony against us, (The rust of them, saith St. James, Jam. 5. 3. shall be a witness a­gainst us, signifying our unjust or uncharitable detention of them) will obtain a most hea­vy sentence upon us;Luk. 16. 25. 6. 24. 12. 21. they will render our audit more difficult,Matth. 25. 30. and enflame our reckoning;Jam. 5. 5. they will aggravate the guilt of our sins with imputations of unfaithfulness and ingratitude; so with their load they will press us deeper into perdition;1 Tim. 6. 9. to omit, that having so ill mana­ged them, we shall leave them behind us as marks of obloquy, and monuments of infamy up­on our memories; for ordina­rily [Page 163] of such a rich person it is true,Job 27. 19, 23. that Job says of him, Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place; like one, who departs from off this stage, after having very ill acted his part. Is it not there­fore infinitely better to prevent this being necessarily and un­profitably deprived of our goods, by seasonably disposing them so, as may conduce to our benefit, and our comfort, and our honour; being very indif­ferent and unconcerned in our affection toward them; modest and humble in our conceits a­bout them; moderate and so­ber in our enjoyments of them; contented upon any reasonable occasion to loose or leave them; [Page 164] and especially most ready to dispense them in that best way; which God hath prescribed, ac­cording to the exigencies of Humanity and Charity? By thus ordering our Riches, we shall render them benefits and blessings to us;Luk. 16 9. we shall by them procure sure friendship and favour, great worship and respect in the other world; ha­ving so lived (in the exercise of bounty and mercy) we shall truly die rich, and in effect car­ry all our goods along with us, or rather we have thereby sent them before us; having, like wise Merchants, transmitted and drawn them by a most safe conveyance into our Country and Home; where infallibly [Page 165] we shall find them, and with everlasting content enjoy them. So considering our selves, and and our state will dispose us to the practise of these duties.

Furthermore,V. Head of Discourse. if we contem­plate our Wealth it self, we may therein descry great mo­tives to bounty.

1. Thus to employ our Ri­ches, is really the best use they are capable of; not only the most innocent, most worthy, most plausible; but the most safe, most pleasant, most ad­vantagious, and consequently in all respects most prudent way of disposing them. To keep them close without using or enjoying them at all, is a most [Page 166] sottish extravagance, or a strange kind of madness; [...]. Basil. M. Tam deest ava­ro quod habe [...], q [...]àm quod non habet. a man thence affecting to be rich, quite impo­verisheth himself, dispossesseth himself of all, & alienateth from himself his Estate: his Gold is no more his, than when it was in the Indies, or lay hid in the Mines; his Corn is no more his, than if it stood growing in Arabia or China; he is no more owner of his Lands, than he is Master of Jerusalem, or Grand-Cairo; for what difference is there, whether distance of place or baseness of mind sever things from him? whether his own heart, or another mans hand detain them from his use? whether he hath them not at all, or hath them to no purpose? [Page 167] whether one is a beggar out of necessity, or by choice? is pres­sed to want, or a Volunteer thereto? Such an one may fancy himself rich, and others, wise as himself, may repute him so; but so distracted persons to themselves and to one ano­ther do seem great Princes, and stile themselves such; with as much reason almost he might pretend to be wise, or to be good. Riches are [...], things whose nature consists in useful­ness; abstract that, they become nothing, things of no conside­ration or value; he that hath them, is no more concerned in them, than he that hath them not: it is the heart and skill to use affluence of things wise­ly [Page 168] and nobly, which makes it Wealth,Desunt inopi multa, avaro omnia. Scn. Ep 108. and constitutes him rich that hath it; otherwise the Chests may be cramm'd, and the Barns stuffed full, while the man is miserably poor and beggarly; 'tis in this sense true, which the Wise-man says, There is that maketh himself rich, Prov. 13. 7. yet hath nothing. But the very having Riches (will such a man say) is matter of Reputation; men do esteem and honour him that hath them; true, if he knows how, and hath the mind to use them well, otherwise all the credit they yield consists in ma­king their Master ridiculous to wise men, and infamous a­mong all men: but, putting [...]ase that any should be so fool­ish [Page 169] as to respect us meerly for seeming rich, why should we accommodate our practise to their vain opinion, or be base our selves because others are not wise? But however, (may he say again) it is a pleasant thing to see them; a heap of Gold is the most lovely specta­cle that one can behold; it does a mans heart good to view an abundance of good things about him; for this plea in­deed he hath a good Author; this it should seem was all the benefit the Wise-man observed in them, accruing to such per­sons:Eccles. 5 11. What good, saith he, is there to the owners thereof, sa­ving the beholding of them with their eyes? But if this be all [Page 170] they are good for, it is, one would think, a very slim bene­fit they afford, little able to ba­lance the pain and care requi­site to the acquist and custody of them; a benefit indeed not proper to the possessour, for any one may look on them as well as he, or on the like; any one at pleasure may enjoy bet­ter sights; all the Riches and Ornaments of Nature, the glo­rious splendours of Heaven, and the sweet beauties of the Field, are exposed to common view; the choicest Magnificencies and Gallantries of the World, do studiously present themselves to every mans eye; these in part every man truly may appropri­ate to himself; and by imagi­nation [Page 171] any man can as well take all that he sees for his own, as the tenacious Miser doth fancy his dear pelf to be his.

But mine Heir (perhaps he will farther say) will thank me, will praise me, will bless me for my great care and pro­vidence: If he doth, what is that to thee? Nothing of that will concern thee, or can reach thee; thou shalt not hear what he says, or feel any good from what he does: And most pro­bably thou art mistaken in thy opinion concerning him; as thou knowest not who he shall be,Psal. 39. 6. that shall gather all thou heapest up, or shall rule over all thy labour, (whither he shall be a wise man or a fool, Eccles. 2. 19. a kinsman or a stranger, [Page 172] a friend or a foe) so thou canst as little guess what he will think or say: If he hath wit, he may sweetly laugh at thee for thy fond wisdom; if he hath none, his commendations will little adorn thy memory; he will to thy disgrace spend what thou leavest, as vainly, as thou didst get or keep it. But (this to be sure he will in the end say for himself) Money is a good reserve against necessary occasi­ons, or bad times, that may come; against the time of old age, of sickness, of adversity; 'tis the surest friend a man can have in such cases, which, when all fails, will be ready to help him:Prov. 10. 15. The rich mans Wealth is his strong City, the Wise-man [Page 173] he thinks never spake more wisely; he therefore will not dismantle this fortress, but will keep it well stored, letting there­fore his wealth lie dead and useless by him: but (to let pass now the prophane infidelity of this plea, excluding all hope in God, and substituting our Pro­vidence in the room of his) what a folly is it, thus to anti­cipate evil, and to create to our selves a present adversity from a suspicion of one future; to pinch our selves now, lest we should suffer hereafter; to pine to day, because we can ima­gine it possible that we may starve to morrow; to forego certain occasions of enjoying our goods, for that perchance [Page 174] the like occasions may happen one day, we know not when; not to use things now, when reason bids us, because they may be useful at another time? Not considering also, that many intervenient accidents, more probably than a moderate and handsom use of our Wealth, may crop the excrescencies thereof.

2. But setting aside these ab­surd excuses of penuriousness, we may consider, that seclu­ding the good use of them in beneficence, Riches are very impertinent, very cumbersom, very dangerous, very mischie­vous things; either superfluous toys, or troublesome clogs, or treacherous snares, or rather all [Page 175] these in combination, produ­ctive of trouble, sorrow, and sin. A small pittance will, and must suffice to all reasonable purposes, to satisfie our neces­sities, to procure conveniencies, to yield innocent delight and ease: our nature doth not re­quire, nor cannot bear much: (Take heed and beware of cove­tousness, Luk. 12. 15. saith our Lord, for a mans life consisteth not in the a­bundance of the things which he possesseth: 1 Tim 6 8. that is, a man may live well without it) all the rest, setting beneficence apart, can only serve vanity or vice, will make us really fools or slaves.1 Tim. 6. 9. (They that will be rich, (saith the Apostle) fall into temptation, and a snare, and into [Page 176] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men into destruction and perdition.) They puff up our minds with vain and false conceits; making us, as if we were in a dream or frenzy, to take our selves for other per­sons, more great, more wise, more good, more happy than we are: for constantly, as the Wise-man observed,Prov. 28. 11. The rich man is wise in his own conceit; and Agur thus intimates in his prayer,Prov. 3 [...]. 8. Remove far from me va­nity and lyes, give me neither po­verty nor riches. They render us insensible and forgetful of God, of our selves, of piety and vertue, of all that is good and worthy of us:Prov 30. 9. (Lest I be full, said that good man again, assign­ing [Page 177] a reason why he deprecated being rich, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord?) they swal­low up our thoughts, our affe­ctions, our endeavours, our time and leisure; possessing our hearts with a doting love unto them,Mat. 6. 2 [...]. (excluding other good affections) distracting our minds with anxious cares about them,Mat. 13. 22. (choaking other good thoughts) encumbring all our life with business about them,Luk. 10. 41. (inconsistent with due attention to our other more weighty and necessary concern­ments) filling our heads with suspicions,2 Tim. 2. 4. and fears,1 Tim. 6. 10. piercing our hearts with troubles and sorrows; they immerse our souls in all the follies of pride, [Page 178] in all the filths of luxury,Jam. 5. 5. in all the mischiefs emergent from sloth and stupidity;Luk. 16. 19 they are the root of all evils unto us,1 Tim. 6. 10. and the greatest obstructions of our true happiness,Mat. 19. 23, 24. rendring Salva­tion almost impossible, and Heaven in a manner inaccessi­ble to us: so that to be rich, (if severed from a sober mind, and a free heart) is a great dis­ease, and the source of many grievous distempers both of body and mind; from which we cannot otherwise, well otherwise, secure or rescue our selves, than by liberally spend­ing them in works of bounty and mercy: so shall we ease our selves of the burthens, so shall we elude the temptations, [Page 179] so shall we abandon the vices, and so shall we escape all the sad mischiefs incident to them: Thus to use wealth, shall turn it into a convenience, and an ornament of our lives, into a considerable blessing, and a ground of much comfort to us. Excluding this use of wealth, or abstracting a capacity of do­ing good therewith, nothing is more pitiful and despicable than it; it is but like the load, or the trappings of an Ass; a wise man on that condition would not chuse it, or endure to be pestered with it; but would serve it, as those Philosophers did, who flung it away, that it might not disturb their con­templations: 'tis the power it [Page 180] affords of benefiting men, which only can season, and in­gratiate it to the relish of such a person; otherwise it is evident­ly true, which the Wise-man affirms,Prov. 15. 16. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith.

3. Again, we may consider, that to dispense our Wealth libe­rally, is the best way to preserve it, and to continue Masters thereof; what we give, is not thrown away, but saved from danger; while we detain it at home, (as it seems to us) it really is abroad, and at adven­tures; it is out at Sea, sailing perilously in storms, near rocks and shelves, among Pirates; nor can it ever be safe, till it is [Page 181] brought into this port, or ensu­red this way; when we have bestowed it on the poor, then have we lodged it in unquesti­onable safety; in a place where no rapine, no deceit, no mishap, no corruption can ever by any means come at it. All our Doors and Bars, all our Forces and Guards, all the circumspe­ction and vigilancy we can use, are no defence or security at all in comparison to this di­sposal thereof: The poor man's stomach is a Granary for our Corn, which never can be ex­hausted; the poor man's back is a Wardrobe for our Clothes, which never can be pillaged; the poor man's Pocket is a Bank for our Money, which [Page 182] never can disappoint or deceive us; all the rich Traders in the World may decay and break, but the Poor can never fail, ex­cept God himself turn Bank­rupt; for what we give to the poor, we deliver and entrust in his hands, out of which no force can wring it, no craft can filch it; it is laid up in Heaven, whither no thief can climb, where no moth or rust do a­bide. In despite of all the for­tune, of all the might, of all the malice in the world, the liberal man will ever be rich; for God's Providence is his E­state; God's Wisdom and Pow­er are his Defence; God's Love and Favour are his Reward; God's Word is his Assurance; [Page 183] who hath said it,Prov. 28 27▪ that He which giveth to the poor, shall not lack: no vicissitude therefore of things can surprize him, or find him unfurnished; no disaster can impoverish him, no adversity can overwhelm him; he hath a certain reserve against all times and occasions: He that deviseth liberal things, Isa. 32. 8. by liberal things shall be stand, (saith the Prophet.) But on the other hand, being niggardly is the likeliest course we can take to lose our Wealth and Estate; we thereby expose them to danger, and leave them defenceless; we subject them to the envious eye, to the slanderous tongue, to the ravenous and insidious hand; we deprive them of Divine pro­tection, [Page 184] which if it be away, The watch-man waketh but in vain: Psal. 127. 1. We provoke God irre­coverably to take it from us, as he did the Talent from that unprofitable servant, who did not use it well. We do indeed thereby yield God just cause of war, and enmity against us; which being, Omnia dat qui ju­sta negat; we do forfeit all to Divine Justice, by denying that portion which belongs to him, and which he claims. Can we hope to live in quiet possession of any thing, if we refuse to pay our due Tributes and Ta­xes imposed upon us by our Almighty Sovereign; if we live in such rebellion against his Au­thority, such violation of his [Page 185] right, such diffidence to his Word?Prov. 11. 28. No: He that trusteth in his riches, shall fall, but the righteous shall flourish as a branch: such is the difference between the covetous and the liberal in point of security and success concerning their Estate.

Even according to the hu­mane and ordinary way of e­steeming things, (abstracting from the special Providence of God) the liberal person hath in consequence of his bounty, more real security for his Wealth, than this world hath any other: He thereby gets an interest in the gratitude and af­fection of those, whom he o­bligeth, together with the good will and respect of all men, [Page 186] who are spectators of his vertu­ous and generous dealing: the hearts and memories of men are repositories to him of a treasure, which nothing can extort from him, or defraud him of. If any mischance should arrive, or any want come near him, all men would be ready to commiserate him, every man would hasten to his succour. As when a haughty, a greedy, or a gripple man do fall into calamity or disgrace, scarce any one regardeth or pi­tieth him; Fortune deserting such a person, carries all with it, few or none stick to him, his most zealous flatterers are com­monly the first that forsake him, contempt and neglect are [Page 187] the only adherents to his con­dition; that of the Wise-man appears verified,Prov. 28. 27. He that hideth his eyes from the poor, shall have many a curse: so the courteous and bountiful person, when Fortune seems to frown on him, hath a sure refuge in the good will and esteem of men; all men, upon accompts of ho­nour and honesty, take them­selves to be concerned in his case, and engaged to favour him; even those, who before were strangers, become then his friends, and in effect disco­ver their affection to him: it, in the common judgement of people, appears an indignity and a disgrace to mankind, that such a man should want or suffer.

[Page 188] 4. Nay farther we may con­sider, that exercising bounty is the most advantagious method of improving and increasing an Estate; but that being te­nacious and illiberal, doth tend to the diminution and decay thereof. The way to obtain a great encrease, is to sow much: he that sows little, how can he expect a good Crop? It is as true in spiritual Husban­dry, as in the other, that what a man soweth, Gal. 6. 7, 8. that he shall reap, both in kind, and according to proportion; so that great Husband-man St. Paul assureth us,2 Cor. 9. 6, 10. He that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly; but he that sow­eth bountifully, shall also reap bountifully: and Salomon means [Page 189] the same, when he saith, To him that soweth righteousness, Prov. 11. 18. shall be a sure reward. The way to gain abundantly is, you know well, to trade boldly; he that will not adventure any thing consi­derable, how can he think of a large return? 'Tis so likewise in the Evangelical Negotiati­ons; if we put out much upon score of Conscience or Charity, we shall be sure to profit much. Liberality is the most benefi­cial Traffick that can be; it is bringing our Wares to the best Market; it is letting out our Money into the best hands; we thereby lend our Money to God, who repays with vast U­sury; an hundred to one is the rate he allows at present, and [Page 190] above a hundred millions to one he will render hereafter; so that if you will be Merchants this way, you shall be sure to thrive, you cannot fail to grow rich most easily and speedily: The liberal soul shall be made fat, Prov. 11. 24. and he that watereth shall be wa­tered himself: This is that which S. Paul again argues upon, when commending the Philippians free kindness toward him, he says,Phil. 4. 17. Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to your accompt. Bounty yields [...], a fruit that mul­tiplies and abundantly turns to good accompt; it indeed pro­curing Gods benediction, the fountain of all desirable plenty and prosperity, for, The blessing [Page 191] of the Lord it maketh rich, Prov. 10. 12. and he addeth no sorrow with it. It is therefore the greatest want of policy, the worst ill-husbandry and unthriftiness that can be, to be sparing this way; he that uses it, cannot be thriving; he must spend upon the main stock, and may be sure to get nothing considerable. God or­dinarily so proceeds, as to re­compence, and retaliate men in the same kind, wherein they endeavour to please him, or presume to offend him; so that for them who freely offer him their goods, he in regard there­to will prosper their dealings, and bless their estates: (For this very thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, Deut. 15. 10. [Page 192] and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto, says Moses) but they who will not lay out any thing for him, he will not concern himself in their success other­wise than to cross it, or (which is worse) to curse it: for if he seem to favour them for a time with some prosperity in their affairs,Psal. 73. 17. their condition is much worse thereby, their accompt will be more grievous, and their fate more disastrous in the end.

5. Farther, the contributing part of our goods to the poor, will qualifie us to enjoy the rest with satisfaction and comfort: The Oblation of these First-fruits, as it will sanctifie the whole lump of our Estate, so it will sweeten it; having offered [Page 193] this well-pleasing sacrifice of piety, having discharged this debt of justice, having paid this tribute of gratitude, our hearts being at rest, and our consci­ence well satisfied, we shall, like those good people in the Acts,Act. 2. 46. eat our meat with gladness, and singleness of heart; to see the poor man by our means ac­commodated, eased, and re­freshed, will give a delicious relish to all our enjoyments. But withholding his portion from the poor, as it will pol­lute and profane all our Estate, so it will render the fruition thereof sowre or unsavoury to us: for, can we with any con­tent taste our dainties, or view our plenties, while the poor [Page 194] man stands in sight pining with hunger? Can we with­out regret see our Walls cloath­ed with Tapestry, our Horses deckt with Golden Trappings, our Attendants strutting in wanton Gaiety, while our ho­nest poor Brother appears half naked, and trembling with cold? Can we carry on one finger enough to furnish ten poor people with necessaries, and have the heart within us, without shame and displeasure, to see them want? No; the sense of our impiety and ingra­titude toward God, of our in­humanity and unworthiness toward our Neighbour, will not fail (if ever we conside­rately reflect on our behaviour) [Page 195] to sting us with cruel remorse and self-condemnation; the cla­mours of want and misery sur­rounding us, will pierce our ears, and wound our hearts; the frequent objects of pity and mercy, do what we can to ba­nish them from our prospect or regard, will so assail, and so pursue us, as to disturb the free­dom of our enjoyments, to quash the briskness of our mirth, to allay the sweetness of our pleasure; yea rather, if stu­pidity and obduration have not seized on us, to imbitter all un­to us; we shall feel that true, which Zophar speaks of the cruel and covetous Oppessour,J [...] 10. 18, 20 22. Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly—he shall not rejoice [Page 196] in his substance—in the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits.

6. I shall touch but one con­sideration more, perswasive of this practise; it is this: The pe­culiar nature of our Religion specially requires it, and the honour thereof exacts it from us; nothing better suits Chri­stianity, nothing more graces it, than liberality; nothing is more inconsistent therewith, or more disparageth it, than being miserable and sordid. A Chri­stian Niggard is the veriest non­sense that can be; for, What is is a Christian? What, but a man, who adores God alone, who loves God above all things, who reposes all his trust [Page 197] and confidence in God? What is he, but one who undertaketh to imitate the most good and bountiful God, to follow, as the best pattern of his practise, the most benign and charitable JESUS, the Son of God; to obey the Laws of God, and his Christ, the sum and substance of which is Charity; half whose Religion doth consist in loving his Neighbor as himself? What is he farther, but one who hath renounced this world, with all the vain pomps and pleasures of it; who professes himself in di­sposition and affection of mind to forsake all things for Christs sake; who pretends little to va­lue, affect, or care for any thing under Heaven; having all his [Page 198] main concernments and trea­sures, his heart, his hopes, and his happiness in another world? Such is a Christian; and what is a Niggard? All things quite contrary: One whose practise manifestly shews him to wor­ship another thing beside, and before God; to love Mammon above God, and more to con­fide in it, than in him; One, who bears small good will, kindness or pity toward his Brother; who is little affected or concerned with things future or celestial; whose mind and heart are riveted to this world; whose hopes and happinesses are setled here below; whose soul is deeply immersed and buried in earth: One who, ac­cording [Page 199] to constant habit, no­toriously breaketh the two great heads of Christian duty, Loving God with all his heart, and his Neighbour as himself: It is therefore, by comparing those things, very plain, that we pre­tend to reconcile gross contra­dictions and inconsistencies, if we profess our selves to be Christians, and are illiberal. It is indeed the special grace and glory of our Religion, that it consisteth not in barren specu­lations, or empty formalities, or forward professions; not in fancying curiously, or speaking zealously, or looking demure­ly; but in really producing sen­sible fruits of goodness;Tit. 3. 8. in do­ing (as St. Paul signifies) things [Page 200] good and profitable unto men, such as those chiefly are, of which we speak. The most gracious wisdom of God hath so model­led our Religion, that according to it Piety and Charity are the same thing; that we can never express our selves more dutiful toward him, or better please him, or more truly glorifie him, than when we are kind and good to our poor Brother. We grosly mistake, if we take gi­ving of Alms to be a Jewish or Popish practise, suitable to Children and Dullards in Re­ligion, beneath so refined, so improved, so loftily spiritual Gallants as we: No, 'tis a du­ty most properly, and most highly Christian, as none more, [Page 201] a most goodly fruit of grace, and a most faithful mark thereof: By the experiment of this ministra­tion, 2 Cor. 9. 13. we (as St. Paul saith) glo­rifie God for our professed subje­ction unto the Gospel of Christ, and for our liberal distribution unto our brethren, and unto all men: without it our faith is dead and senseless; our high attainments are fond presum­ptions; our fine notions and delicate spiritualities are in truth but silly dreams, the issues of a proud and ignorant fancy: he that appears hard-hearted and close fisted toward his needy Brother, let him think or call himself what he pleaseth, he plainly is no Christian, but a blemish, a reproach, and a [Page 202] scandal to that honourable Name.

7. To all these Considerati­ons and Reasons inducing to the practise of this kind of Charity, I might subjoin ex­amples, and set before you the fairest Copies that can be ima­gined thereof. We have for it the pattern of God himself, who is infinitely munificent and merciful;Jam. 1. 5, 17. from whom every good and perfect gift descendeth; Act. 17. 25. who giveth life, and breath, and all things unto all; who giveth libe­rally and upbraideth not. We have the example of the Son of God,2 Cor. 8. 9. who out of pure charity did freely part with the riches and glories of Eternity, voluntarily embracing extream poverty and [Page 203] want for our sake, that we who were poor, might be enriched; we that were miserable, might become happy;Act. 10. 38. who went a­bout doing good; spent all his life in painful dispensation of beneficence, and relieving the needs of men in every kind. We have the blessed Patriarchs to follow, who at Gods pleasure and call did readily leave their Country, their Friends, their Goods, and all they had. We have the practise of the holy Apostles,Mat. 19. 27. who freely let go all to follow their Lord; who chear­fully sustained all sorts of losses, disgraces, and pains for promo­ting the honour of God, and procuring good unto men; we have to move and encourage us [Page 204] hereto the first and best Chri­stians, most full of grace and holy zeal,Act. 4. 34, 35. who so many as were possessours of lands and houses, did sell them, and did impart the price of them to the commu­nity, so that there was none poor among them, and that distributi­on was made to every one as he had need. We have all the saints and eminent servants of God in all times, who have been high and wonderful in the per­formance of these duties, (I could tell you of the blessed Martyr St. Cyprian, Pentius in vit. Cypr. who was liberal by whole sale, bestow­ing all at once, a fair Estate, on God and the poor; of the re­nowned Bishop St. Basil, Greg. Naz. O­rat. 40. who constantly waited on the sick, [Page 205] and kissed their sores; of the most pious Confessour St. Mar­tin, Sulp. Severus. who having but one Coat left, and seeing a poor man that wanted cloaths, tore it in two pieces, and gave one to that poor man; and many like instan­ces out of authentick History might be produced, apt to pro­voke our imitation: I might also, to beget emulation and shame in us, represent exem­plary practises of Humanity and Charity even in Jews, Ma­hometans and Pagans, such as in these cold days might pass for more than ordinary among us) but I shall only propound one present and sensible example, that of this Noble City, whose publick bounty and charity in [Page 206] all kinds, (in education of Or­phans, in curing the Diseased, both in body and mind, in pro­vision for the poor, in relieving all sorts of necessities and mi­series) let me earnestly intreat, and exhort us all for Gods sake, as we are able, by our private charity to imitate, to encou­rage, and to assist; let us do this so much the more willingly and freely, as the sad circum­stances of things, by Gods judg­ments brought upon us, do plainly require, that the Publick Charity it self (lying under so great impediments, discourage­ments and distresses) should be supported, supplied, and re­lieved by particular liberality. No words that I can devise will [Page 207] be so apt to affect and move you, as the case it self, if you please to consider it: hear it therefore speaking, and, I pray, with a pious and charitable dis­position of mind attend there­to:

A true Report, &c.

For this excellent Pattern of pious bounty and mercy, let us heartily thank Almighty God; let us humbly implore Gods blessing on the future manage­ment of it; let us pay due re­spect to the worthy Promoters thereof, and pray for rewards upon them answerable to their charitable care and industry employed therein; let us also [Page 208] according to our ability per­form our duty in following and furthering it: for encourage­ment to which practise, give me leave briefly to reflect upon the latter part of my Text; which represents some instances of the felicity proper to a boun­tiful person, or some rewards peculiar to the exercising the duties of bounty and mercy.

The first is, His righteousness endureth for ever. These words are capable of various senses, or of divers respects; they may import that the fame and re­membrance of his bounty is very durable, or that the effects thereof do lastingly continue, or that eternal rewards are de­signed thereto; they may re­spect [Page 209] the bountiful man him­self, or his posterity here; they may simply relate to an en­durance in Gods regard and care; or they may with that also comprehend a continu­ance in the good memory, and honourable mention of men. Now in truth accor­ding to all these interpretati­ons, the bountiful mans righ­teousness doth endure for ever, that is, very lastingly (or so long as the special nature of the case doth bear) in any sense; or for an absolute per­petuity, in some sense: the words in their plenitude do na­turally and without straining involve so many truths, none which therefore we think fit to [Page 210] exclude, but shall briefly touch them all.

1. As for future reputati­on and fame, (which that it in part is intended here, that which precedes, The righteous shall be had in everlasting remem­brance, doth argue) it is evi­dent, that it peculiarly attends upon this practise: the boun­tiful person is especially that just man,Prov. 10. 7. whose memory is bles­sed, (is [...], as the Greek renders it; that is, is prosecu­ted▪ with commendations and praises.) No Spices can so embalm a man, no Monu­ment can so preserve his Name and Memory, as works of beneficence; no other same is comparably so precious, o [...] [Page 211] truly glorious, as that which grows from thence: The Re­nown of Power and Prowess, of Wit or Learning, of any Wisdom or Skill, may dwell in the fancies of men with some admiration; but the re­membrance of Bounty reigns in their hearts with cordial esteem and affection; there erecting immoveable Trophies over Death and Oblivion, and it thence spreading it self through the tongues of men with sincere and sprightly Commendations. The boun­tiful mans very Dust is fra­grant, and his Grave venera­ble; his Name is never men­tioned without respect; his Actions have always these best [Page 212] Ecchoes, with innumerable iterations resounding after them: This was a true Friend to Mankind; This was a re­al Benefactour to the World; This was a Man good in earnest, and pious to good purpose.

2. The effects of his righ­teousness are likewise very du­rable: When he is departed hence, and in person is no more seen, he remains visible and sensible in the footsteps and fruits of his goodness; the Poor still beholds him present in the subsistence of himself, and his Family; the Sick-man feels him in the refreshment, which he yet enjoys by his provision; he supervives in [Page 213] the heart of the Afflicted, which still resents the com­fort, and rejoices in the ease which he procured him; all the World percieves benefit from him by the edification it receiveth from his example; Religion obtaineth profit and ornament, God himself enjoy­eth glory and praise from his righteousness.

3. His righteousness also en­dureth in respect to his poste­rity. It is an usual plea for tenacity and parsimony, that care must be had of posterity, that enough must be provided and laid up for the Family: But in truth this is a very ab­surd excuse, and doing accor­ding thereto, is a very prepo­sterous [Page 214] method of proceeding toward that end; it is really the greatest improvidence in that respect, and the truest neglect that can be of our Children: for so doing, to­gether with a seeming Estate, we entail a real Curse upon them; we devest them of Gods protection and benediction, (the only sure preservatives of an Estate) we leave them Heirs of nothing so much as of punishments due to our in­gratitude, our infidelity, our impiety and injustice both to­ward God and man: where­as by liberally bestowing on the poor, we demise unto them Gods blessing, which is the best inheritance; we recommend [Page 215] them to Gods especial care, which is the best tuition; we leave them Gods protection and providence, which are a Wealth indefectible and inex­haustible; we constitute God their Guardian, who will most faithfully manage, and most wisely improve their substance, both that which we leave to them, and that whith we gave for them to the poor; we thereby in good part entitle them unto the rewards appro­priate to our pious Charity, our Faith, our Gratitude, our Self-denial, our Justice, to whatever of good is virtually contained in our acts of boun­ty; to omit the honour and the good will of men, which [Page 216] constantly adhere to the boun­tiful mans House and Fami­ly. It is therefore expresly mentioned in Scripture as a recompence peculiar to this vertue, that security from want, and all happiness do at­tend the posterity of the boun­tiful person:Psal. 37. 25, 26. He is ever mer­ciful and lendeth, and his seed is blessed, saith David of him ge­nerally; and David also par­ticularly observed, that in all the course of his long life, he could find no exception to the Rule:Psal. 112. 2, 3. I have been young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread.

4. His righteousness also en­dureth for ever in the perpetual [Page 217] favour of God, and in the e­ternal rewards which God will confer upon him, who out of Conscience and reverence to­ward God, out of good will and kindness toward his Bro­ther hath dispersed, and given to the poor.Heb. 6. 10. God will not (as the Apostle saith) be unjust to forget his labour of charity in mi­nistring to his poor Brother: from the seed, which he hath sown to the Spirit, Gal. 6. 8. he shall assu­redly reap a most plentiful Crop of blessings spiritual; he shall effectually enjoy the good foun­dation that he hath stored up: 1 Tim. 6. 19. for the goods he hath sold and delivered, he shall bonâ fide receive his Bargain,Mat. 13. 46. the hidden treasure, and precious pearl of [Page 218] eternal life; for this best im­provement of his Talent of worldly Riches, he shall hear the Euge bone serve, Mat. 25. 21, 26. Well done good and faithful servant, enter into thy Masters joy: he shall at last find God infinitely more bountiful to him, than he hath been unto the poor.

Thus when all the flashes of sensual pleasure are quite extinct; when all the flowers of secular glory are withered a­way; when all earthly glories are buried in darkness; when this world, and all the fashion of it, are utterly vanished and gone, the bountiful mans state will be still firm and flourish­ing, and His righteousness shall endure for ever.

[Page 219] It follows, His horn shall be exalted with honour: A Horn is an Emblem of Power; for in it the Beasts strength, offensive and defensive, doth consist; and of Plenty, for it hath within it a capacity apt to contain what is put into it; and of Sanctity, for that in it was put the holy Oyl,1 Sam. 16. 13. with which Kings were Consecra­ted;1 King 1. 39. and of Dignity, both in consequence upon the Rea­sons mentioned, (as deno­ting might, and affluence, and sacredness accompanying So­veraign Dignity) and because also it is an especial beauty and ornament to the Creature which hath it; so that this ex­pression (His Horn shall be [Page 220] exalted with honour) may be supposed to import, that an abundance of high, and ho­ly, of firm and solid honour shall attend upon the bounti­ful person. And that so it truly shall, may from many Considerations appear.

1. Honour is inseparably an­nexed thereto as its natural Companion and shadow. God hath impressed upon all Ver­tue a Majesty and a Beauty, which do command respect, and with a kindly violence extort Veneration from men; such is the natural Constitu­tion of our Souls, that as our sense necessarily liketh what is fair and sweet, so our mind unavoidably will esteem what [Page 221] is vertuous and worthy; all good Actions as such are ho­nourable, but of all Vertues Beneficence doth with most unquestionable right claim ho­nour, and with irresistible force procures it; [...]. A [...]ist. as it is in­deed the most divine of Ver­tues, so men are most apt to venerate them, whom they ob­serve eminently to practise it. Other Vertues men see, and approve as goodly to the sight, but this they taste and feel; this by most sensible ex­perience they find to be plea­sant and profitable, and can­not therefore but highly prize it.Mat. 6. 1. They, who do their alms before men, although out of unworthy vain glorious de­sign, [Page 222] have yet, as our Savi­our intimates, their reward; they fail not to get Honour thereby; and even so have no bad penny-worth; for, in the Wise-mans judgment,Prov. 21. 21. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, they receive at least fine air for gross earth; and things very spiritual, for things most material; they obtain that which every man doth naturally desire and prize, for that which only fashion in some places endeareth, and commandeth: they get the end for the means, for scarce any man seeketh wealth for it self, but either for Honour, or for Vertues sake, that he may live creditably, or may do [Page 223] good therewith: [...]. Arist. Necessity is served with a little, Pleasure may be satisfied with a com­petence, Abundance is requi­red only to support Honour, or promote good; and Ho­nour by a natural connexion adhereth to Bounty.

2. But farther, an accessi­on of Honour according to gracious promise, (grounded upon somewhat of special rea­son, of equity, and decency in the thing it self) is due from God unto the bountiful per­son, and is by special Provi­dence surely conferred on him. There is no kind of piety, or instance of obedience, where­by God himself is more sig­nally honoured, than by this. [Page 224] These are chiefly those good works, Mat. 5. 16. the which men seeing, are apt to glorifie our Father which is in Heaven; to these fruits that is most applicable, which our Lord saith, Here­by is my Father glorified, Joh. 15. 8. if you bear much fruit: for, as, He that oppresseth the poor, Prov. 14. 31. reproach­eth his Maker; so he honoureth him, that hath mercy on the poor. The comfortable experience of good in this sort of actions, will most readily dispose men to admire and commend the excellency, the wisdom, the goodness of the Divine Laws, will therefore procure God hearty praise, and thanks for them: For, as St. Paul teach­eth us,2 Cor. 9. 11, 12, 13. The administration of [Page 225] this service not only supplyeth the want of the Saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whilst by experiment of this ministra­tion, they glorifie God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men. Since then God is so peculiarly honour­ed by this practise, it is but equal and fit, that God should remunerate it with honour; Gods noble good­ness will not let him seem defective in any sort of be­neficial correspondence to­ward us, we shall never be able to yield him any kind of good thing in duty, which [Page 226] he will not be more apt to render us in Grace; they who (as Salomon speaketh) honour God with their sub­stance, Prov. 3. 9. shall by God certainly be honoured with his bles­sing: Reason intimates so much, and we beside have Gods express Word for it; Them (saith he) who honour me, 1 Sam. 2. 30. I will honour. He that absolutely and independent­ly is the Fountain of all Ho­nour;1 Chro. 29. 12. from whom (as good King David saith) riches and honour cometh, for that he reigneth over all, he will as­suredly prefer and dignifie those, who have been at special care and cost to ad­vance his Honour. He that [Page 227] hath the hearts of all men in his hands, Prov. 21. 1. and fashioneth them as he pleaseth,Psal. 33. 15. will raise the bountiful man in the judg­ments and affections of men. He that ordereth all the events of things, and disposeth success as he thinks fit, will cause the bountiful persons Enterprizes to pro­sper, and come off with cre­dit. He will not suffer the reputation of so real an Ho­nourer of himself to be ex­treamly slurr'd by disaster, to be blasted by slander, to be supplanted by envy or malice;Psal. 37. 6▪ but will bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his judgment as the noon­day.

[Page 228] 3. God will thus exalt the bountiful Man's Horn even here in this World, and to an infinitely higher pitch he will advance it in the fu­ture state: He shall there be set at the right hand, in a most honourable place and rank; among the chief Friends and Favourites of the Heavenly King; in hap­py Consortship with the ho­ly Angels, and blessed Saints; where, in recompence of his pious Bounty, he shall from the bountiful hands of his most gracious Lord re­ceive an incorruptible Crown of Righteousness, and an un­fading Crown of Glory: The which God of his infinite [Page 229] mercy grant unto us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom for ever be all praise.


Now the God of peace,Heb. 13. 20. that brought a­gain from the dead our Lord Iesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the Blood of the Everlasting Cove­nant, make us perfect in every good Work to do his Will, working in us that which is well-pleasing [Page 230] in his sight, through Iesus Christ: to whom be Glory for ever and ever. Amen.


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