A SERMON PREACHED Before the Right Honourable, THE Lord Maior OF LONDON, AND THE Court of Aldermen, &c.

On Wednesday in Easter Week, in the Church of St. ANDREW Holborn.

Being One of the Anniversary Spittal SERMONS.

By EDWARD FOWLER, D.D.

LONDON, Printed by T.M. for Brabazon Aylmer at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhil, 1688.

To the Right Honourable Sir John Shorter, Lord Maior of London, AND The COURT of Aldermen.

Right honourable,

THe Sermon which by Your Appointment I Late­ly Preached, and You heard, I have now in Compliance with Your Order made more Pub­lick; hoping that by this means it may be the more Serviceable, through the Blessing of GOD, to the Charitable Design (and that towards the Rich no less than the Poor) which, my Conscience bears me Witness, I sincerely propounded to my self therein. Which that it may, is the earnest Desire and Prayer of,

Right Honourable,
Your most Humble Servant, Edw. Fowler.

A SERMON Preached before the Right Honourable the LORD MAIOR of LONDON, AND THE COURT of ALDERMEN, &c.

Luke 16.9.

And I say unto you, make to your Selves Friends of the Mammon of Vnrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting Habitations.

THat Saying of the Wise-man, Money answers all things, is no doubt in the Opinion of the Children of this World, one of the Wisest of all his Sayings. And whosoever observes how zealous Men are in the pursuit of Money, what Labour and Toyl both of Body and Mind they un­dergo, and what eminent Hazards both of Soul and Body they run themselves into, for the Gaining of it, must needs conclude, that there's scarcely a more Universally-received Maxim than This, that Money an­swers all things. But yet, so silly are the incompara­bly-greater number of poor Mortals, as to take this for granted, in such a sense, as wherein their mani­fold Experience tells them, there can be nothing more False: And least to think of that sense, in which it is [Page 2] especially and most eminently True. They think that the Heaping up of this Worlds Wealth, is the most Effectual Course to have all their Needs supplied, and Desires answered: Whereas a Wiser, as well as Grea­ter Person than King Solomon, even our Blessed Savi­our (and Solomon himself too) hath again and again assured us, That the Well-spending it is the best means we can use for the obtaining of our Withes. And par­ticularly, those words of our Saviour, now read, assure us of This; viz. And I say unto you, make to your selves Friends of the Mammon of Vnrighteousness, &c.

By the Mammon of Vnrighteousness, we are to under­stand this World's Goods: So [...], which is more a Syriac than a Greek Word, signifies. But why they should be called, [...], Mammon of Un­righteousness, there are various Conjectures; of which (perhaps) the truest is, that it may best be rendered, Vain or false and deceitful Riches. For [...] just, and [...] true, are taken in the same sense, and put one for another, in several places, by the Sacred Writers; as also [...] unjust, and [...] deceitful. And in the 11th. Verse of this Chapter, [...], which varies from [...], not in Sense, but only in the Phrase, by an ordinary Hebraism, is opposed to [...], true Riches. If therefore you have been unfaithful in the Vnrighteous Mammon, Who will commit to your trust the True Riches? Which is as much as to say, If you have been unfaithful in those Riches, which deserve not that name, Who will intrust you with real, true, substan­tial Riches?

But in what sense soever we understand this Phrase, we must confess, that the things which are so eagerly pursued, and so vehemently thirsted after, have but lit­tle Credit done them by being thus expressed. Yet, since no less a Person than our Blessed Lord, hath be­stowed [Page 3] this Name upon them, we are certain, that, as ge­nerally-adored an Idol as Wordly Wealth is, it is not given it without just cause, that it hath it not for nought.

Make unto your selves Friends of the Mammon of Vnrighteousness. This Figurative manner of speaking is well suited to the foregoing Parable; the Summ and Substance of which is this: The Steward of a certain Rich man was accused to him of wasting his Goods, and his Lord hereupon requiring him to give Accompt of his Stewardship, and threatning him, that he should be no longer Steward, he immediately resolves upon this Course, for the securing to himself a Livelihood; viz. the draw­ing of his Lords Debtors into the same guilt of Cheating him: Foreseeing, as easily he might, that their fear of his telling Tales would-lay an Obligation upon them, to maintain him among them.

Now my Text is the Moral or Application of this Parable: And therein our Lord adviseth us to be as Wise and Prudent, as this Steward was wickedly Craf­ty; viz. As he made Friends of his Lord's Riches to procure him Houses to live in, when his Lord's House would no longer hold him, so we should make such Friends of our own Riches, as that when we are turn­ed out of this Earthy house of our Tabernacle, we may be received into Everlasting Habitations; or into a Building of God, an House not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens.

Make to your selves Friends of the Mammon of Vnrigh­teousness, that when ye fail, (i.e. when ye die) they may receive you, &c. i.e. you may be received. Like that in Luk. 6.38. where Good measure shall they give into your bosom, signifies, Good measure shall be given, &c. And like that in Ch. 12.20. where They shall require thy soul, is as much as, Thy Soul shall be required of thee. And other instances, of the like forms of Speech, I might pre­sent you with.

[Page 4]So that the sense of this Verse may be thus exprest: Do you so use the things called Riches, with which God in­trusts you as his Stewards in this World, as that when you take your leaves both of them and it, you may have Riches truly so called, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

First, It is, you see, Supposed in these words: That let us stock our selves never so plentifully with this Worlds Wealth, yet there is no help for us, but fail we must; we must die sooner or later, and leave it all behind us. Thou that hast best Feather'd thy Nest, and laid up the richest Treasure on Earth, shalt not be able to redeem thine own life there with any more than thy Bro­thers, nor to give to GOD a ransome for it. It may enable thee to make a great Figure, and to Fluster in the World for a little while, but it cannot secure thy continuance therein,Psal. 37.35. for one day or hour. Thou maist be in great Power, and spread thy self like a green Bay tree, but thou shalt quickly pass away notwithstanding, and be no more here, and he that seeks thee shall not find thee. Eccle. 8.8. The most Wealthy and Powerful have no power over the Spirit, to retain the Spirit, neither have they power in the day of death. This is an Evil among all the things that are done under the sun, Ch. 9.3. that there is one event unto all, unto the Rich and Poor: But this is an into­lerable Evil, and never sufficiently to be lamented, that the hearts of the far greater part of the Children of Men, and especially of Rich men, are full of Evil; and mad­ness is in their Hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. He who hath most improved his time in filling his Chests, and laying House to House, and Field to Field; as he came forth of his Mothers Womb, na­ked shall he return, Ch. 5.15. to go as he came; and shall take nothing of his Labour along with him, which he may carry away in his hand: in all points as he came, so shall he go; and what profit hath he, he hath but laboured for the Wind; that is, [Page 5] supposing he hath not taken the Advice in the Text. This man cometh in with vanity, Ch. 6.4. and departeth in dark­ness, and his name shall be covered with darkness. And though we know nothing more certainly, than that die we must: Yet so inconsiderative are the Generality, that they know not their time;Ch. 9.12. but as the Fishes that are taken in an evil Net, and as the Birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. Though we all know that we must fail, and can't be assured but we may the next moment; and have innumerable Warnings given us to prepare for death, yet most die suddainly, Deut. 32.29. and before they are aware. O that we were wise, that we understood this, so as to lay it well to heart, that we would consider our later end.

So much for that which these words suppose.

Secondly, That which is Expressed in them, is, That the well-imploying, and doing good with the good things of this present Life, shall be rewarded with infinitely-better things in the Life to come.

And of this, we have the fullest Assurance from these two Considerations, and from either of them, viz.

  • I. That one Phrase, whereby our Saviour expres­seth doing Good and being Charitable, with our earthly Enjoyments, is laying up a Treasure in Heaven.
  • II. That He hath intitled the Heavenly Happiness to the sincere performance of this one Duty, by many Promises and Declarations.

First, One Phrase, whereby He expresseth doing Good with our Earthly Enjoyments, is Laying up a Treasure in Heaven. This we find, Matt. 6.20. In the foregoing Verse our Lord saith, Lay not up for your selves Trea­sures on Earth, where Moth and Rust do corrupt, and where Thieves break through and steal. Or, Do not hoard up your Riches, there being no Goodness in [Page 6] them, but what consisteth in the well-using of them; and besides, by hoarding them up, they will be liable to be either spoiled, or stolen from you. It follows, But lay up for your selves Treasures in Heaven, where neither Moth nor Rust doth corrupt, and where Thieves do not break through and steal, &c. Or, according to your Ability, do Good with your Estates; make them ser­viceable to Works of Piety, Mercy, and Charity. And agreeably to this sense, He thus proceeds: The Light of the Body is the Eye;See Dr. Ham­mond's Note on this place. if therefore thine Eye be single ( [...], which may better be rendred Liberal, as [...] signifies Liberality in several places) thy whole Body shall be full of Light: But if thine Eye be evil, ( [...], Envious, or Covetous) thy whole Body shall be full of darkness. And this is plainly the Meaning of this Verse, viz. As the Eye enlighteneth the whole Body, and guides it this way, or that, so a liberal mind hath a like Influence upon all the Actions of a Chri­stian: But where an Vncharitable Spirit is, there's no­thing but Darkness, or the abounding of evil Works. So that it appears by the Context, that this Phrase, Laying up a Treasure in Heaven, was designed by our Lord to signifie, being liberal and bountiful with our Riches: But there could be no reason for his so cal­ling it, were it not to assure us, that by this means we shall undoubtedly obtain a Treasure there. And the like He doth, Luk. 12.33. Sell that ye have, and give Alms, or rather than excuse your not giving Alms by your want of Money, make Money of what you have, that you may give Alms. And to encourage hereto, he in the next words calls it, Providing our selves Bags, which wax not old, a Treasure in the Heavens which faileth not, where no Thief approacheth, neither Rust corrupteth. And in imitation of our B. Saviour, S. Paul calls it, Laying up in store for our selves a good [Page 7] Foundation, against the time to come. 1 Tim. 6.17. Charge them that are Rich in this World, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain Riches, but in the Living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: That they do Good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. O what a Charge is this! How happens it that so few comparatively will Obey it? But What Encouragement is there to it? Surely the greatest imaginable, for it follows; Laying up in store for themselves a good Foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on Eternal Life. Or, Rich mens being Rich in good works, is, Laying up in store for themselves a good Foundation, or Treasure, against the time to come, &c.

Secondly, Our Lord hath intitled the Heavenly Happiness to the sincere performance of this one Duty, by many Promises and Declarations. As we have one of these in the Text, so the time would fail me to re­cite all those which our Lord hath given us out of his own mouth, and by his Apostles. I shall now Content my self with presenting you with two or three of those which he himself delivered. In Mat. 25.34. &c. He expresseth no other reason for the pronouncing of that Ioyful Sentence, Come ye Blessed of my Father, in­herit the Kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the World, to the Sheep on his right hand, but this; 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; Naked, and ye cloathed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me. And on the contrary, there is no reason exprest, why the Goats on the Left Hand should have so Horribbe a Sentence pronounc'd against them, as, Depart from me ye Cur­sed, [Page 8] into everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels, but this; I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat; thirsty, and ye gave me no drink, &c. Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me. Again, see what our Lord saith, Luk. 6.35. Love your Enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again, (or hoping for no Reward from those whose Benefactors you are, and charitable Credi­tors) and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the Children of the Highest, &c. And Mat. 5.7. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Whereas S. Iames hath declared, Ch. 2.13. that He shall have judgment without mercy, that sheweth no mercy.

I am sure you will acknowledge, that there's no need of going farther than these two Considerations, for the Confirmation of the Doctrin raised from the Text.

If it be asked, How this one part of Religion can be said to give a Title to these Everlasting Habitations? I hope none of us do believe, that there is any thing more of proper Merit in these than in other good works; since the Falsity and Dangerousness of the Popish Do­ctrin of Merit hath been sufficiently exposed to us from time to time: As also, the Folly of imagining that Creatures can deserve any Reward at the hands of their Great Creator; and much more, of thinking that Sinners can; and much more, that they can deserve such an immensely Great Reward as the Kingdom of Heaven by the best Works they are in a possibility of performing; these Works not bearing the least proportion with that Reward. Nor need I surely go about to perswade a Congregation of Protestants, That the Righteousness of Christ is the only Meritorious or procuring Cause of whatsoever Good we have received, or can hope to receive. And as to that Saying, that Christ hath merited, that we may merit, 'tis so far from [Page 9] good Doctrine, that 'tis impossible to make any good Sense of it. But,

1. Works of Mercy and Charity are Conditions, to the sincere performance of which, GOD in his infinite Grace and Bounty, and for Christ's sake, (or in and through Christ) hath promised these Everlasting Ha­bitations: And they are such Conditions as our Saviour might well propose, without naming any other with them, because the whole of Religion is virtually con­tained or implyed in them. Who knows not, that Faith, and Love, and Obedience, are words which severally express in Scripture all Religion? But all these are im­plyed in true Christian Charity. Both the Tables are comprized by our Saviour in the Love of God and our Neighbour; and the summ of what is required in the Gospel, is sometimes expressed by Believing, and other times by Obeying. Now, as Charity hath a respect to God's Gracious Promises, or as a Christian is excited thereto by them, so is it an eminent Act and Exertion of Faith: As it hath respect to the many Commandments of GOD and our Saviour, so every act of Charity is an act of Obedience: As it hath respect to our infi­nite Obligations to GOD and our Saviour, and is an Expression of Gratitude towards them, so every act of Charity is an act of Divine Love: As it hath respect to the Necessities of our Brethren, so is it an act of Brotherly Love; and that which hath these several respects, is the truly Christian Charity. Considering this, well might S. Iames say, Ch. 1.27. Pure Religion and unde­filed before God and the Father is this, to visit the Fa­therless and Widows in their Affliction, and to keep ones self unspotted from the World. And therefore good reason had our Saviour here to instance solely in em­ploying our Estates in doing Good, as that which intitles to Everlasting Habitations in the Heavenly [Page 10] Mansions. And this likewise justifies that Advice of the Prophet Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, Ch. 4.27. Break off thy sins by Righteousness, and thine iniquites by shewing mercy to the Poor, &c.

And also this interprets to us those words of S. Pe­ter, 1 Ep. 4.8. Charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Above all things, have servent Charity among your selves, for Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

2. Works of Mercy and Charity give a Title to these Everlasting Habitations, as they are the best Evidence of our being Regenerate, and Christians in Deed as well as in Profession. The Tree, saith our Saviour, is known by its Fruits. But it hath already appeared, and will farther appear, that no Fruit speaks a good Tree like these Fruits. And therefore S. Paul preferreth the Grace of Charity before the Graces of Faith and Hope. And now abideth Faith, Hope, and Charity, but the grea­test of these is Charity, 1 Cor. 13. ult. 'Tis confest, he doth not here mean by Charity the meer giving of Alms, as appears by the third Verse of this Chapter; but, as wheresoever that Charity is, which the Apostle describes in the foregoing Verses, there will be a cheer­ful forwardness to the relieving of our Necessitous Brethren, so this forwardness proceeding from the forementioned Motives, is the best Expression of that Charity. And what single Evidence of a Man's, being a good Christian, can excel, nay can equal this? Who can doubt whether that man doth truly and sincerely Be­lieve in God, and embraceth with his Heart, that Reli­gion which he professeth with his Tongue; or whether he hath a powerful Sense of another Life, and sets his Affe­ctions on the things above, that can freely forego present Pro­fit and Advantage for their sake? What surer Argument can there be of our sincerely loving GOD and our Blessed Saviour, than our readily parting with those things at [Page 11] their Command, which the Generality are so tenaci­ous of, and most unwilling to let go, upon any other account, than the some way or other serving them­selves? I mean promoting their carnal Interests. And I need not say, that this is the best Evidence of a man's loving his Neighbour as himself, since all other Signs thereof, can signifie nothing without this. For 'tis too plain a Case to need proving, that he is a Lyar who pretendeth love to his Neighbour, while he can­not find in his Heart to Relieve him in his Necessity, in some proportion to his Ability. S. Iohn makes this the great distinguishing Character of a sincere Lover of GOD, from an Hypocritical Pretender to the love of Him, in 1 Ep. 3.16. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the Brethren: Or, for the pro­moting of their eternal welfare. But whoso hath this Worlds Goods, and seeth his Brother hath need, and shut­teth up his Bowels of compassion from him, that is so far from venturing his life for him, that he will not so much as open his purse to him, How dwelleth the love of God in him? My little Children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. Or, Let us not only profess Love to our Brethren, but demonstrate the sincerity of that Profession, by Acts of Bounty and Bene­ficence. Then it follows, And hereby we know that we are in the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him, &c. Or, We cannot desire a more certain Evidence, a more infallible Mark, of our being upright-hearted Christians, than such a temper of mind as shall be on all occasions engaging us in such Works as these.

3. By Works of Mercy and Charity we are made more and more Capable of being received into these everlasting Habitations; more and more meet to be partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in light; which [Page 12] principally consists in a Likeness to God, and a Com­plete Enjoyment of Him. There is nothing whereby we can so Resemble GOD, and therefore that can put us into such a Capacity of Enjoying Him, as our being habituated to these Works. The Divine God-like Na­ture must needs most eminently appear in these, since Mercy and Goodness, Benignity and Loving Kindness are the Perfections by which the Best of Beings doth above all other Recommend himself to us; as might be largely shewed from the Holy Scriptures. Therefore the Definition which S. Iohn gives us of God, is, Love. 1 John 4.16. God is Love, saith he, and he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God, and God in Him. The Lord is good to all, saith the Psalmist, and his tender mercies are over all his Works. Nothing is so natural to Him, as Doing Good. The Prophet Isaiah calls his Iudgments and Acts of Severity his Strange Work. Esay 28.21. And the Pro­phet Ieremiah tells us, that He doth not afflict willing­ly, Iam. 3.33. nor grieve the Children of men. The Divine Seve­rity is not an Effect of Choice, but of Necessity, for the maintenance and upholding of God's Government of the World. It proceeds from a Necessity of Sinners making. But He hath thus declared, by the now nam'd Prophet,Jer. 9.24. I am the Lord, which exercise Loving­Kindness and Righteousness in the Earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. [...]. [...]. 'Tis as natu­ral to God to do good, Stromat. Lib. 1 p. 313. as to Fire to warm, and to Light to enlighten, saith S. Clemens of Alexandria. Those therefore who do most good, and are most delighted therein, are most like to God; whereas those who most Resemble Him in Power and Knowledge, if void of Good­ness, (the Devils for instance) are most unlike Him. And those who are most like to God, are best quali­fied for enjoying Him; and capable of enjoying most [Page 13] of Him. And such as by their Likeness to God, are fitted to Enjoy Him, shall not fail so to do; I may truly say cannot. [...]. There cannot be a separation betwixt God and his Like­ness, Hicrocles. said the Philosopher excellently.

The Application.

NOW from what hath been Discoursed, we learn, First, Wherein lieth the Goodness and Desira­bleness of a plentiful Fortune. If we give any Credit to our Blessed Lord, we must believe that it doth not lie in its inabling us to Lay up, but to Lay out the more, and that upon Pious and Charitable Designs, not upon our Selves or Families, (and much less to grati­fie Pride or Luxury) and the better to promote by that means, the Great Business for which we were sent into this World; to make our selves so much the greater Blessings to it, and more to glorifie our Crea­tor and Redeemer by Good Works than we are capa­ble of glorifying them without Plentiful Estates; and to attain to the Higher degrees of Blessedness and Glory in the World to come. I say, we are abun­dantly satisfied from what our Lord hath declared to us, in our Text and other places, and from what hath been discoursed, that herein alone consists the Ad­vantage of being Rich. And he is a Person not suffi­ciently purged from Worldliness and Sensuality, who endeavours or can desire to be Rich for other Ends; [Page 14] or to make his Children so for any other reason, than that by this means they may be the more serviceable to their Fellow-Creatures, may bring the more Glory to GOD, and gain the larger Proportions of Bliss and Hap­piness in the other Life: In Comparison of which this Life is nothing worth; and truly all things conside­red, not worth any thing in it self, nor at all desira­ble, but as 'tis a State of Probation for the fitting and preparing us for an infinitely better. And if we con­sidered how far a large Estate is from making the Owners of them Happy in this life, nay, how it in­volves them in innumerable anxious Cares and di­stracting Troubles, and a World of Misfortunes, which those are secure from, who possess but just so much as not to stand in need of the Charity of others, we should think it the most desireable thing for our selves, and ours, to have no whit more than Agurs with, viz. a Competency, except for the foresaid Purposes. And especially considering the Dreadful Account which those shall be called to, who have not Hearts to imploy their Riches to such purposes, and withal, what our Lord hath said of the extreme difficulty of Rich mens entering into the Kingdom of Heaven (in regard of the difficulty of their not trusting in their Riches, and of their not being made Covetous, or Proud, or Sen­sual by them) one would think that all who have any serious Concern for the Souls of their dear Children, should tremble at the thoughts of venturing them with Great Estates; and be under no Temptation upon their account of not being liberal. And I can­not imagine, but that every truly-Good man must needs dread for his Childrens sake, as well as for other rea­sons, being backward to Works of Charity: Nothing being more commonly observed, than that the Chil­dren of Covetous Close-handed Parents, do either as [Page 15] prodigally fling away what they scraped together for them, or prove mere Mammonists and Muck-worms like them; and so have their Portion, like them too, in this Life. Which no man that really believes the other Life, shall need to be told, is an Evil to be dreaded unspeakably more, than their going a Begging from door to door.

Secondly, We learn from our past Discourse, that 'tis not in the least disbecoming a Christian Spirit, nor at all inconsistent with that Ingenuity which Christianity requires, to have Respect, with Moses, to the Recompence of Reward in the Good we do; or to be excited thereby to Well-doing. Many Charitable and Good Souls have perplex't themselves with doubts, that their Good Works are not of the true Christian kind; because they think they are Conscious to them­selves, of not being principally moved to them by Love to GOD, but by self-Love; being perswaded that the onely spring and principle of Evangelical Obedience is Divine Love and Gratitude; and that neither Hope nor Fear is so. But since so very many Promises and Threats are to be found in the Gospel, 'tis evident they are greatly mistaken, and that they fear where no Fear is. For is it to be thought, that we should be stirred up to Good Works by such Motives as these by Our Blessed Saviour Himself, if their having their designed influence upon us would so spoil them, as to make them not truly Christian? But I will say Two things in refe­rence to this matter.

1. It is true, that self-Love ought not to be our onely Principle in doing Good. We ought to be constrained thereto by the Love of God and our Saviour, and the wonderful Expressions of their Love to us. We are obliged also to do Good Works from a sense of the Goodness of them; and to be Charitable from the Love of Charity as such; as it is a most lovely Thing, an ex­cellent [Page 16] Grace, highly beneficial to the World, and greatly ennobling and beautifying the Soul that's there­with inspired. And we ought likewise to shew pity to our Afflicted Brethren from a principle of Love to them. But still since God and our Saviour have seen it ne­cessary to lay before us the Motives of Promises and Threatnings, 'tis impossible it should be unworthy of Christians to be Acted by them in their Obedience. And God knows, that in this imperfect State, the Best Christians find that they have need enough of these Motives. But,

2d. 'Tis a mighty Mistake to think that to be per­swaded to the Obedience of the Precepts of the Gos­pel by it's Promises or Threats either, is to obey from a meer selfish Principle. For if we have a true Notion of that Happiness our Lord promiseth, and of that Misery He threatneth, we are no less acted by Love to God, in that Obedience which our desire of ob­taining the one and avoiding the other excites us to, than by Love to Ourselves: The Heavenly Happiness (as hath been already observed) principally consist­ing in a perfect Likeness to GOD, and Enjoyment of Him, viz. as Perfect as our Nature is Capable of; and the Hellish Misery being a State of perfect Unlikeness to Him, and Eternal Separation from Him.

Thirdly, We learn from what hath been said, what a Folly it is for men of Estates to hope to be Recei­ved into the Everlasting Habitations in the Text, with­out being Charitable with them; without making to themselves Friends, in our Saviour's sense, of their Mammon of Vnrighteousness. Let me Beg of such not to be offended, if I take leave to be a little Free and Plain with them. Do you really and indeed Hope to be saved? To be sure you will say you do. But, for God's sake, tell me why? Hath GOD promised such [Page 17] as you these Habitations, and will you expect them without a Promise? I pray look into the Bible, I can in the Name of GOD assure you, that you shall not find one Syllable there of any Promise whatever, and much less so exceeding great and precious a Promise as this, made to such as you. But you will there meet with Threatnings good store against you, and such ter­rible ones too, as would make a man even Tremble to read them, though he should know himself to be un­concern'd in them.

You will, no question, say that you hope for Eter­nal Happiness through the alone merits of Iesus Christ. Very well! But hath Christ promised to Save all by his Merits that Rely upon them for Salvation? Hath he proposed no Terms to us, without our Compliance with which, He will not Save us? Nay, Have not He and His Holy Apostles most expresly and frequently told us, that Obedience to His other Precepts is every whit as necessary to our Salvation, as Obedience to that of Relying on his merits can be? And is there any one Precept so often repeated, so much inculcated, as this of Charity? As those of feeding the hungry, and Cloathing the Naked; of being Fathers to the Father­less, and Husbands to the Widows; of being merciful and tender-hearted; of being ready to distribute, and willing to communicate, &c.? Nay, Is any one single Duty oftener made a Condition of Salvation, than this of Charity? There is scarcely any one made so so often. Why then should not those who live in the open Transgression of the Laws of Temperance, Sobriety, and Chastity, or of Iustice and Righteousness, expect as well to be Saved by the Merits of Christ, as you who live in the manifest Breach of those which oblige you to be Charitable? There are many Promises of such Bles­sings as I know you desire with all your hearts, and [Page 18] much more than you ought, made to the Charitable: Now what an unaccountable thing is it, that those who cannot find in their Hearts to Trust in God for the fulfilling of his Promises, by performing the Con­ditions of them, should be able to Trust in Him with­out the Encouragement of any Promise; nay, against many solemn Declarations made by God and His Son Iesus, on purpose to discourage us from expecting the least Favour from them, while we persist in wilful disobedience to any of their Precepts. Your are plain­ly told, that Whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in one point, Jam. 2.10. is guilty of all: Or, if it were possible for a Man to observe all the Laws of God but one, and live in the Breach of that one, this will as certainly make him liable to the Divine Ven­geance, as living in the Breach of all; though not to the same degrees of Punishment. And you are as­sured by Him, on whose Merits you so rely for Sal­vation, and who will be your Iudge, that the Cove­tous and Vncharitable shall be placed on his left hand, at the Day of Judgment, and receive that foresaid fearful Sentence from Him, Depart from me ye Cursed, &c. And yet, I say, in spight of such Declarations as these, those I now address my self to, will hope, not only to escape the Wrath to come, but to be eternally Happy too: At least those of them will that are not secret Infidels (as I must confess 'tis hard to think most of them should not be, profess they what they will): But who can express the Folly, the Madness ra­ther, of such a Hope?

I know many of our Covetous (Christians I can't call them, but) Professors of Christianity do lay no small Weight on their being Iust and Righteous in their Dealings, and taking great Care to do no wrong. But,

[Page 19]1. Suppose you are strictly just, can you expect a Reward for this? Nay, can you expect that the King of Heaven should bestow upon you no less a Reward than the Kingdom of Heaven, merely because you do no wrong; merely because you are pleased not to be Mischievous? In good time in truth. But this is all that a barely just man can commend himself for, viz. that he does no Mischief. And remember, I beseech you, that our Lord hath declared that The Vnprofita­ble (and not only the Injurious) Servant shall be bound hand and foot, Mat. 25.30. and cast into outer Darkness; where shall be weeping and gnashing of Teeth. And that The Tree which bears not Good fruit (and not only that beareth bad) shall be hewn down, Ch. 3.10. and cast into the fire. But,

2. 'Tis more than an even Lay, that those Misers who most boast of their Iustice, are far from being strictly Iust. Nay, I dare warrant them, should their Practices be narrowly lookt into, if they be not found guilty of such gross Injustice as will render them ob­noxious to the Laws of the Land, yet they may be dis­cerned to make no scruple of many such sly Tricks, as will speak them no less Vnjust than Vncharitable in the Court of Heaven; nay, and also in any impartial Court of Equity. That common Saying, Such a one is a very just, but an hard man, is founded upon making mere humane Laws the Measure of Justice; but a man may be a great Villain, and yet be as honest as he can be made to be by the Laws of his Country. And, I say, 'tis many to one, but that those Misers, who most be­pride themselves in their being just and honest in their Dealings, will be found to have much too good an Opinion of themselves, were their Actions measured by either the Laws of the Gospel, or of Natural Equi­ty; even such as are to be seen in Tully's Offices, and [Page 20] many other Writings of the Pagans. But however,

3. Men are Unjust in being Uncharitable. For the Uncharitable are alwaies transgressing that Rule of Justice given by our Saviour, and which is as much a Maxim of the Law of Nature as of the Christian Re­ligion, viz. What you would that men should do unto you, do you even the same to them. There is no man, let him be never so insensible of the Miseries of others, who would not, should himself fall into needy Cir­cumstances, complain of it as a great Cruelty to be de­nied Relief by those who have power to help him. And therefore 'tis the plainest Case, that men as often transgress this Golden Rule, as they refuse to close with Opportunities of being Charitable. Again, every Uncharitable Person is as such Unjust, in that the Poor and Necessitous have a Right and Title to their Charity. God hath by many Laws given them a clea­rer Title to our Charity, than any man can shew for his Estate. And therefore in denying it to them, we withhold a plain Due, and What is this but as plain Injustice?

These things considered, What can be more evi­dent, than that those do put the grossest Cheat upon their own Souls, and are befooling themselves into Eternal Misery, let them be never so great Professors of Christianity, and never so observant of its easie and cheap Duties, who hope to be Saved upon such ac­counts, while there is no prevailing with them by all the Arguments that Almighty GOD hath laid before them, (though they are the greatest imaginable) to employ any considerable proportion of their Mammon of Vnrighteousness in Works of Charity?

Before I proceed farther, I would briefly speak to this Question, What Rules should we go by, what [Page 21] Measures should we take, to satisfie our selves that we are truly Charitable; and therefore have a right to the Promises made to such.

1. In answer hereto, let us take notice that GOD expects our spending more or less in Works of Charity, according to the Estates he hath blest us with. If the H. Scriptures had been silent, as they are not, about this matter, we may be certain from the Equity of the Divine Nature, that according to our Circumstan­ces and Abilities, God looks for more or less from us. If there be a willing mind, 2 Cor. 8.12. it is accepted, according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not. Which words the Apostle spake in reference to Cha­rity. And mens Estates, and therefore their Abili­ties for doing good, are to be measured, not only by their incomes, but also by their necessary layings out. And consequently he who hath a Family to maintain, is far from being obliged to give as much as he who hath no body to take Care of but himself, though the Lands or Stocks of both are equal: And according as a mans Family is greater or less, more or less of his Estate is to go to Charity. This is too plain to need proving.

2. GOD expects more or less of our Charity, ac­cording to the Opportunities His Providence presents us with,Gal. 6.10. of being charitable; As we have opportunity, saith the Apostle, let us do good unto all men, &c. The more or greater the Objects of Charity are, that we hear of within our reach, the more Liberal are we bound to be.

3. We ought to be much less cautious of offending on the Right, than on the Left hand in our Charity. He is like to be but a Sorry Creature at Charity, who is resolved to do no more good than he needs must. [Page 22] In an highly important Affair, the Extreme of Over­doing is far more safe than that of Vnderdoing. The Overdoer in a good Work, supposing his Excess pro­ceeds from a good Principle, shall have his Charity re­warded, and his Imprudence pardoned; but the Wilful Vnderdoer must neither look for a Reward, nor with­out Repentance, (that is Reformation) a Pardon. And whosoever is an Vnderdoer from too great inadver­tency, and a too-little Concern about the Duty of Cha­rity, hath no Title to any greater Promise than this, He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly. 2 Cor. 9.6. And as with respect to our selves, the offending on the Right hand is by much the safer Extreme; so is it also with respect to others. There is more good in giving to one Needy Person, than there is evil in giving to twenty Counterfeits. For, as being liberal to these, proceeds from a better Cause, than doth the with-holding from the really Necessitous; so 'tis more Eligible that some should have more than enough of our Charity, than that any should want bread. And the Extreme of being too charitable (of which fault I doubt but few are guilty) is better for the World in general (which I need not stand to shew) than the other Ex­treme.

In short, Most, I am sure, do exceed in their Ex­pences upon something or other; but he who does so on Objects of Charity, of all Exceeders, exceeds the most safely. That Saying, Too good is stark naught, needs some Wit and Pains to make it a true Proverb. But,

4. Though we should rather chuse offending on the Extreme of Charity, yet we ought to manage our selves with such Prudence, as so to give at one time, that we may give at another, and hold on in giving.

[Page 23]5. This is the best general Rule I am able to pre­scribe, Viz. That we never refuse to part with our Money to Charitable Uses from the love of Money. It is not to be particularly and exactly stated, how much it is each Persons Duty to give; Circumstances in this Case to be considered, being infinitely various: But if this Rule be carefully observed, and we keep alive and cherish in our Breasts the true Christian Principles of Charity (which I need not again re­peat) though 'tis possible we may not alwaies be so very prudent in our Charity, as is desirable, yet we need not fear, but we shall so govern our selves in this weighty point, as to be accepted of GOD, and rewarded by him, as Charitable Christians.

But it is necessary to add, That it becomes us not to be desirous of more for ours, than that they may live comfortably, according to their Education, and the Rank and Quality of Our Children: Nor ought we to covet Great things for them;Prov. 11.24. since by this means we may endanger their being deprived of what is infi­nitely better than any thing we can leave them, viz. God's Blessing. And He hath made Promises enough to put us out of all doubt, that the best Course we can possibly take to have our Children blest in the World, is to be mighty cautious (while we retain enough for their comfortable Subsistence) of making the Poor and Needy fare the worse for them. And now,

Fourthly, and Lastly, Since we have such abundant Evidence of the Absolute necessity of Making to our selves Friends of the Mammon of Vnrighteousness, if we would, when we fail, and are turned out of these moul­dering Cottages, be received into everlasting Habita­tions: Since, if we are not Infidels, we must needs be [Page 24] convinced, that there's no Duty whatsoever, but will as easily be dispensed with as this Duty; and that 'tis every whit as indispensable as Faith in Christ's Merits and Righteousness, for the Remission of our sins: And since we have not the least shadow of Reason to hope, be we never so observant of other Precepts, that Christ's Undertakings for Sinners will in the least avail us, while we live in disobedience to his so often repeated Precepts of Charity, and have none, or but lit­tle fellow-feeling of the Distresses and Calamities of our poor Brethren: Let us, considering these things, be perswaded to make as much Conscience every whit of this, as of any other Duty to which our Religion does oblige us.

And in order to the still more effectually exciting you hereunto, I might present you with as many Promises relating to this Life, as well as the other, as your hearts can wish for. And I might shew particularly, from not a few Texts of Scripture, that to be Rich in good Works is the surest way to encrease your Riches, to add to your Treasures on Earth, as well as to secure and augment your Treasures in Heaven. But as these Pro­mises are forreign to my Text, so you were on Monday minded of many of them. As also had many bright and shining Examples of Charity, the more to quicken you to this great Duty, laid before you. But yet I must not wholly wave this Great Topick, but shall confine my self to those Examples which our own City hath been, and God be thanked, is still Blest with. Examples enough to shame all Miserly People out of their excessive Backwardness to Works of Charity, and more than enough to make our Adversaries asha­med of their Nick-naming Protestants Solisidians, al­though they were wholly unacquainted (as 'tis impos­sible [Page 25] they should be) with our Principles. Which (by the way) are no more reconcileable with Solisi­dianism than is the Doctrine of the Bible. For, The Bible, (as Mr. Chillingworth saith) The Bible is the Religion of Protestants. Which if it were of another sort of Christians, who call us Biblists, it could not be one of their Avowed Doctrines, That Good Works do Vere mereri augmentum Gratiae, aeternam vitam & augmentum Gloriae: Truly or properly merit an En­crease of Grace, Eternal Life, and an Encrease of Glory. Which are the words of the Council of Trent. Nor would their Greatest Motive to Good Works be that which divers of them have frankly acknowledg'd is not in the Bible; and which we are certain is a meer Figment, and the very Dream of a Shadow: And Serves to no better purpose than to spoil Charity, and make it a thing forced and extorted by slavish fear. I need not tell you I mean their Doctrine of Purgatory.

But to proceed, I say we have had many Noble Ex­amples among our selves, and have at this day, to en­courage us to be Charitable. And great instances of the Charity of our Fellow-Citizens (for the most part) are commended to your Imitation in this Paper.

A True Report, &c.

HEre are Five Eminent Hospitals, which you may be satisfied by what hath been now a third time read, are such Treasuries for Charity, as there are no where to be found better: And which withal give us such Patterns of it, as the like to them are not easily to be met with.

[Page 26]As these Hospitals have had of late years far more Liberal Contributions than heretofore, so a very great part of their Revenues being consumed by the late dreadful Fires (and the greatest part of three of them) and the whole Stock of the Hospital of Bethlem exhausted by the Building of a far more Commo­dious House, which cost above 17000l. (besides pay­ing Interest for several great Summs for the fini­shing thereof) they would since have signified nothing to what they now do, without such Con­tributions.

Now certainly those whom God hath blest with Estates, and who want not Hearts to be liberal with them, cannot want Encouragement to Liberality to­wards these Houses of Charity. For as in these they cannot fear depositing their Alms either in Unfaithful or Imprudent hands, their Governours and Treasurers having so great a Reputation for their Excellent ma­naging and improving of Charity, so they cannot be bestowed on People whose Case is more compassio­nable than theirs is, who are received into these Hou­ses: I mean among our own Country-men. I thus li­mit it, because the French Protestants (for whom I must take all opportunities of being an Advocate) must necessarily be acknowledg'd to be the most in­viting Objects of Charity in the World: Both in re­gard of the not to be parallel'd Greatness of their Sufferings, and the Blessed Cause for which they suf­fer. But if God's Stewards (as all that have Estates will one day be convinc't they were, and that GOD never parted with His Propriety in them) would be but as just as He is bountiful to this City and King­dom, neither these distressed Forreigners, nor our own Poor, would have cause to complain of the want of [Page 27] Charity. Our good GOD hath given among us enough and to spare, for the Supply of both, and no one be in ever a jot the worse Circumstan­ces.

But to return to our business; In the Hospital of Christ's-Church, the Receivers of your Charity are poor Orphans, who might have been cast upon the Wide World, had they not here been taken in: And whose begging about our Streets could only have been pre­vented by the hand of Charity. And, Who would not Covet being of their number, whose Hearts are now rejoiced at the Lovely Shew now before us, of Fa­therless Children well Fed (which is seen in their Countenances) and as well Cloathed, by the help and Assistance of their Charity? But they are (next under God) obliged to their Benefactors for a far greater Blessing than mere Food and Rayment, viz. a Liberal Education; which is fitting them for good Callings suited to their several Genius's and Capacities; and to which they are placed as they become fit for them. So that they being as well Taught as Fed, are not only in an Excellent way to be inabled com­fortably to provide for themselves, but also to Relieve others: To be useful in the World, and great Blessings to their Country.

Nay, by your Charity to this Hospital you no less contribute to poor Orphans eternal Happiness, than to their temporal Well-fare: To their Souls no less than to their Bodies; and Charity to the Souls of our Fellow-Creatures, I need not say is incomparably the most Worthy and Excellent in it self; and therefore the most Grateful to God, and the most highly Reward­able. And in the Hospital of Christ's Church (I am well assured) no means are neglected for the well [Page 28] Principling its Children in the True Religion; all Care is taken for the Training of them up in the Way that they should go; in Piety and Devotion, Vertue and Goodness. God Almighty reward those (as most certainly He will) who so faithfully dis­charge this greatest of Trusts: And give the Poor Children His Grace, to be duly affected with, and carefully to improve, so inestimable a Blessing.

In the Hospitals of S. Bartholomew and S. Thomas, you bestow your Charity on the Sick, Lame, and Wound­ed, who must inevitably perish, and while they live lie in great Misery, without the help of Charity. And (as you have now heard from the Paper) there are such great Numbers of these Miserable People re­ceived into these Houses, that they must be very large Contributions that will defray their Char­ges.

And these Objects of Charity you shall not need to be told, are sad Ones indeed. 'Tis a lamentable thing to be destitute of Food, Fire and Cloathing; but over and above these Wants, to want Health too, or the Vse of Limbs, which Wants render unca­pable of supplying the other; and to have excessive Pain added to extreme Poverty: Oh what a pitiable Case is this!

What is given to the Hospital of Bridewell con­tributes to the Maintaining of Poor Youths, and fit­ting them for Trades, and putting them out to them: which are much like Objects of Charity with those in the Hospital of Christs Church. It farther contri­butes towards the Reducing of Vicious People to So­briety; which, whatever the success be, is never the less Acceptable Charity; Endeavour being our Work, and not success. And what is bestowed here, helps [Page 29] also to the Relieving of indigent, miserable People; and to the sending of poor Vagrants to the Places which ought to be their Homes, that are bound by Law to take care of them; and to their Relief and Subsistence in the mean time. And though many I fear of these last do much more need than deserve your Charity, yet this is so far from being a good Objection against giving to them, that it carrieth with it a no small Motive thereto, viz. that this is imita­ting the Charity of our Heavenly Father, who is kind, as our Saviours Words are,Luke 6.35. to the Vnthankful and to the Evil. And if those should want the Charity of Heaven who are far from deserving it, we should all go without it.

But I am not now encouraging you to any great Liberality towards our street - Vagrants; and much less to such of them, as are not by Age, or loss of Eyes or Limbs, disabled from Working. The Truth is, the so swarming, and I doubt daily encreasing, of Common Beggars, is a great temptation to reflect upon our Government.

And Lastly, As to the Hospital of Bethlem: Lord, how deplorable is the Condition of those, for whom your Charity is here desired! Of those who have lost their Reason, and so are rendred as Vnuseful to themselves as to the World; and have left them but little more, to make them distinguishable from Brute Creatures, than the Shapes and Tongues of Men and Women!

But the Case of Lunaticks is too Lamentable to need Aggravation, for the raising of Compassion. Those therefore can be no less void of Sense than these poor Souls, who need to be told, that what is given towards the reducing of such as are desti­tute [Page 30] of other help to their right Minds, is extraordi­nary Charity.

And now let me commend those Words of the Author to the Hebrews, Ch. 13.3. to your very serious consideration: Remember them that are in Bonds, as bound with them, and them which suffer Ad­versity; as being your selves also in the Body. That is, as being liable your selves, whilst you are in this World, to the same Adversities. The Richest man among us hath no Assurance, but that he may be as poor as Iob. The Healthiest and Soundest of us all, cannot promise himself, that he shall not Live to be as full of Sores, as was that Good man and Lazarus in the Parable; or as miserably Disea­sed as the most languishing People in either of our Hospitals. The Ripest Wits and best - Parted in our City do little know, but that they may end their days in Bedlam. And the best Security we can have from such like Calamities, is to Sympathize with, and extend what Relief we are able to, such­like Sufferers.

As on the other hand, 'twill be most just with GOD so to abandon us by His Providence, as to permit our falling into very miserable Circumstan­ces, if we have little Compassion for our Fellow-Christians, or Fellow-Creatures in Misery. And when­soever this may happen, (as God only, knows what a day, or what an hour, may bring forth) How must then our Consciences needs upbraid us, as Ioseph's Brethrens did them, Gen. 42.21. When they said one to another, we are verily Guilty concerning our Brother; in that we saw the Anguish of his Soul, when he be­sought us, and we would not hear: Therefore is this Distress come upon us.

[Page 31]I doubt I have tired your Patience, but I can't however conclude, till I have Addressed my Self, in a few words, to those of you whose Hearts and Souls are in doing Good: Who chiefly value your Riches upon the account of the Good you are inabled by them to do in the World: Who cheerfully Em­brace all Opportunities of expressing a Compassio­nate and Charitable Temper. The Great S. Paul, (who next to our Blessed Saviour, was the most wonderful Example of Charity the World hath known; though he was not in Circumstances to be so of that part of it which consists in Alms-giving): S. Paul, I say, assures such as you, that God is not Vnrighteous, to forget your Work and Labour of Love: And that, You who sow bountifully, shall reap bountifully. And therefore, as it follows, Every man according as he purposeth in his Heart, so let him give not grudgingly, or as of necessity, (or, as being constrained by importunity) for GOD loveth a Cheerful Giver, 2 Cor. 9.6, 7. And give me leave to read what follows to the End of this Chapter. And God is able to make all Grace abound towards you, that ye alwaies having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every Good Work; or may still have plenty for all Charitable Works: As it is Written, he hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the Poor, his Righteousness remaineth for ever. Or, his Charity. And therefore he hath ever wherewith­al to be Charitable. Now he that ministreth Seed to the Sower, both minister Bread for your Food, and multiply your seed sown, and Encrease the Fruit of your Righteousness; or, of your Charity. Being inriched in every good thing to all Bountifulness, (or, having enough to be liberal at all times) which causeth [Page 32] through us Thanksgiving to God. Or, gives us Occa­sion to Bless GOD for all His Blessings bestowed on you. For the Administration of this Service, not only supplieth the want of the Saints, but is abundant also by many Thanksgivings unto God. Or, causeth mighty Thankfulness to God from those that are Relieved by you, and those that are Beholders of your Charity. While by the Experiment of this Ministration they glorifie GOD, for your professed subjection to the Gospel of Christ; and for your liberal distribution to them, and to all men. And by their Prayer for you, which Long after you, (or are in Love with you) for the exceed­ing Grace of GOD in you. Thanks be to God for His Vnspeakable Gift. Or, for this His Great and Un­speakable Gift of Charity.

THE END.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.