THE Surest & Safest WAY of THRIVING.

OR, A Conviction of that Grand Mistake in many, That what is given to the Poor, is a loss to their estate; which is directly contrary as to the experiences of the Cha­ritable; so to the testimony of God's Spirit in divers places of Scripture: As, Prov. 11. 24. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; There is that with holdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.’ Prov. 19. 17. He that hath pitty on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given will he pay him again.’ Luke 6. 38. Give, and it shall be given to you again, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.’ Psalm 37. 26. He is ever merciful and lendeth, and his seed is blessed.’

Deus bis solvit hoc foenus, scilicet semel in terra, secundo in coelo. In terra enim eleemosynariis multiplicat opes, in coelo autem lon­ge plura, & majora rependit. Cornelius a Lapide, in Prov. 19. 17.

BY THOMAS GOVGE, Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON, Printed for William Rawlins at the Hand and Pen over against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. 1673.

THE Surest and Safest WAY OF THRIVING.

Math. 10. 41, 42,

He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophets reward: and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall re­ceive a righteous mans reward.

And whosoever shall give unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water onely, in the name of a Disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

THE troubles whereunto God bringeth his Ministers and People, though they be many and Great, yet are they not more, and greater, then the comforts which He affordeth unto them, to support and encourage them in their troubles. In­stance this Chapter, and the Sermon of Christ therein recorded, concerning those sore Trials whereunto his Church and Children should be brought. As any kind of affliction is foretold, a proper and peculiar consolation is usually annexed. Therefore to establish the hearts of his suffering Servants, and to encourage their Suc­courers, [Page 2] He closes up His Sermon with the words of the text, wherein He declareth not only that high account which he had of His Ministers, and People themselves, but also of them who should yield any relief, of upon His account shew kindness to them, assuring them; That he who receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Pro­phet, should receive a Prophets reward. And he that receiveth a righte­ous man in the name of a righteous man, should receive a righteous mans reward.

The words in brief contain, A Declaration of that great benefit, which they bring to themselves, who afford any relief, and succour to Ministers, or other Saints; teaching, That there is no such way to fill our Treasures, as by emptying them for God.

For, the clearing of the words, I shall breifly shew you,

  • 1. Who is here meant by a Prophet. And who by a Righteous man.
  • 2. What is meant by receiving them.
  • 3. What is the Reward which followeth thereupon.

I. For the first, who is here meant by a Prophet; and who by a Righteous man.

By a Prophet our Saviour here meaneth not onely extraordinary Ministers, such as were immediatly and extraordinarily inspired by the Holy Ghost; or who had extraordinary revelations to fore­tell things to come: but also ordinary Ministers of the word, and interpreters of the Scriptures, as Ioh. 4. 44. Rev. 11. 18.

By Righteous men he meaneth his Saints, or such as testifie their justification thorow faith in Christ, by their sanctification, and fruits of a good conscience, whom commonly the Scripture stileth Saints.

II. For the Second, what is meant by receiving these?

For Answer thereunto, you must know, There are two things whereunto this receiving may have a respect.

1. To the word and message of a Minister, and so it signifies, the hearkning to, and embracing their holy Counsel and Doctrine.

2. To the Person of a Minister, and so it signifies the harbouring, or shewing kindness to Him, as is evident from the instance of cold water, given unto a Prophet, or Righteous man, expressed in the following verse. Both these are implyed under this phrase of re­ceiving a Prophet, viz. His Doctrine, by embracing, and submit­ting to it: and his Person, by harbouring, succouring, and reliev­ing him according to his need.

[Page 3] By the receiving a Prophet, in the name of a Prophet, is meant a a succouring and relieving him for his particular calling sake, eo no­mine, because he is a Prophet. So by receiving a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, intendeth the same thing; namely, the relieving him, for his General callings sake, because he is a Christian a child of God, and a member of Christ.

III. For the third particular, what is here meant by the reward of a Prophet, and of a righteous man? I Answer, These phrases of receiving a Prophets, and of a Righteous mans reward, may be taken Actively, or Passively. Actively, for that reward which a Prophet or a righteous man giveth. Passively, for that which is by God given to the one, and to the other. The reward which a Prophet giveth, is ministerially to preach the word of Reconciliation to such as re­ceive them, as Peter did to Cornelius, Act. 10. 34. &c. To pray for them, as Abraham for Abimeleck, Gen. 20. 7, 17, And to bless them, as Melchisedec blessed Abraham, Gen. 17. 19.

The reward which a righteous man giveth is privately to in­struct, and edifie, to pray for, and to be a good pattern, and ex­ample of righteousness, to such as entertain or otherwise relieve him.

The reward which is given by God, to either of these, for that kindness which any shew unto them, is such a surpassing, and ex­cellent weight of glory, as cannot be expressed by the tongue of men, or Angels, yet different in degrees, as is evident, Dan. 12. 3.

Some take these phrases, Of receiving a Prophet, and a righteous mans reward, in the former sense, Actively; and others, Passively. I conceive it may be taken in both.

The words thus explained do afford unto us several points of Doctrine.

From the duty here expressed of receiving, and relieving Pro­phets, and righteous men, with the manner of setting it down, we may observe.

1. Doct. That all needful succour, and good entertainment is to be afforded to Ministers of the Gospel. This is the main and principal point intended.

2. Doct. Christian kindness is to be shewed not only to Ministers, but also to all the members of Christ. For our blessed Saviour contents not himself to have mentioned a Prophet, but also ad­deth a righteous man.

[Page 4] These two sorts make up The household of Faith; to whom the Apostle exhorteth Christians especially to doe good, Gal. 6. 10.

Q. Is our Charity to extend no farther?

A. Yes, even to all that are in want, but especially to such as have a particular relation to Christ, as being his members, or Mini­sters; because Christ in them is after an especial manner succour­ed, and relieved. It will be therefore our wisdom to take notice of the extent of this duty, and in all we doe, either for Christians or others, to see to it, that what we doe, is done for the Lords, and for conscience-sake, to the one in compassion to his members, to the other in obedience to his will.

4. Doct. According to the kindness which we shew, shall our re­ward be. He that receiveth, and relieveth a Prophet, shall receive a Prophets reward. And he that receiveth and relieveth a righteous man, shall receive the reward of a righteous man.

Verse 42.

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water onely in the name of a Disciple, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

These words are added by our Saviour to the former to antici­pate some Objections, which might be made thereupon, as also more fully to explain the forementioned points.

1. Obj. May be thus made, These Preachers and Professors of the Gospel are but mean persons, and little in esteem, what great re­ward can be expected for entertaining them?

A. As little as they be, be they as inconsiderable and contemptible as the proud world make them, yet are they not so little in the eyes of Lord, but that he will reward all such as are friendly to them.

2. Obj. I my self am but poor, and can doe but little for them.

A. Though thy kindness be never so small, as small as a cup of water, and that cold, taken out of the River, without any pains or cost to heat it, yea but ONE cup full thereof, and no more, (supposing that to be the most thou canst doe for them) yet it shall be rewarded by him, who more respecteth the willingness of the Giver, then the greatness of the Gift.

[Page 5] The greatest difficulty in the words is who are here meant by little ones, for whose sake the reward is promised.

By little ones, our Saviour meaneth no other than such in the foregoing verse, he had stiled Prophets and righteous ones.

They are called Little ones in two respects.

  • 1. In regard of the worlds esteem of them.
  • 2. In regard of their own account of themselves.

First, They are little in the worlds eye. The world which judgeth not according to inward worth, have them in low esteem. It fares with the servants, as it fared with their Master, they are despised, and rejected, and troden under foot of men. Of old they were accounted Desolate, and forsaken, Isa. 62. 4. In the Apostles time, the filth of the world, the of scouring of all things, 1 Cor. 4. 13. Ex­perience of all ages verifieth as much. And among other ages ours giveth not the least evidence.

That comfort and contentment which God's people find in the Lord, and the light of his countenance, yea that hope they have of finding grace in his eyes, make them the less to mind, and seek after the honour, wealth, and promotions of the world, and com­monly they have but little of it. Now the world judgeth accord­ing to outward, earthly, worldly glory, it discerneth not the spiri­tual glory of the Saints, 1 Ioh. 3. 1.

Judg not of men according to the worlds judgment: think not ever the more meanly of Saints, because the world thinks so of them. They are highly favoured of the most High: they are such of whom the world is not worthy, they are the excellent ones, Psal. 16. 3: but what ever they be in deed, in the eye of the world they are but little ones.

Secondly, They are little in their owne eyes, Gen. 18. 27. we read how Abraham in speaking to God, stiles himself no better than Dust and ashes. And Gen. 32. 10. Iacob acknowledgeth himself unworthy, or, less than the least of Gods Mercies.

The ground thereof may be because the Saints best know them­selves, since they more thorowly, than other men, Search their hearts, and observe their ways, and compare themselves with the pure and perfect law of God, and take notice of their inward, Se­cret corruptions, as well as of their outward and visible transgressi­ons: [Page 6] and thus come they to know more of themselves, then any o­ther can, or may suspect of them. And this clearer sight of them­selves brings them down, and lays them low. This made Saint Paul to cry out, Rom. 7. 24. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? This is a note of true grace, and of a sanctified heart. They are the poor in spirit, not the proud in Spirit, that are Christs blessed ones, Math. 5. 3. The false disciple thinketh highly of himself, and would be accounted not [...] a little one, like a true disciple of Christ; but [...] Some great one, like to Simon Magus, Act 8. 8, 9. This Spirit is a Satanical Spirit. Try thy Spirit by this note, whether it be of God, or no.

But though all the Servants of God are on the the forementioned account little ones, yet there are some among them less than others, as in regard of their offices, and stations in the Church, some are in higher, others in lower Offices, some are in office, others not; So also in regard of their parts and gifts, and graces, some are strong, and others are weak; some the chief, others the least of Saints: some as the head, and others but as the finger, or the foot: and 'tis proba­ble the text hath the most special respect (and the Emphasis of it is the greater) to the least of all these little ones, and so the expression is Math. 25. 40. In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.

This I the rather take notice of it to give an hint to Christians in their Charitable distributions to have an eye to such Ministers or Christians as are more obscure, and less considerable in the World. Possibly when those of greater worth and remark may tast deeply of their bounty, every one almost hath a kindness for them: in the mean time there may be some poor hidden ones, whose worth is less, but their wants are greater, who being low in those gifs or graces which would commend them to the more publick notice, are almost buried in forgetfulness. Its true that by how much the more eminent the person is that is relieved (caeteris paribus) by so much the more excellent the work: yet special care should be taken that the more obscure and least deserving among all that belong to God be not forgotten.

The words thus explained, afford unto us two special poins of Doctrine.

[Page 7] 1. Doct. God taketh notice of every of his Saints, even of the least of them, and of kindness shewed to them.

Though Ioseph was but a lad, and sold as a slave, yet being one of the Church, one of the little ones, yea minimorum minimus; yet in AEgypt God takes notice of him, and of that kindness which was shewed to him, Gen. 32. 5. Many other like examples are noted in the Scripture; but none more fit for our purpose, than the exam­ple of Lazarus, Luk. 16. 20. though he were a very poor beg­gar, and full of sores, and despised of Dives, and all his househo [...]d, yet God took such notice of him, as he made his Angels attend him. Yea God took notice of the kindness which the Dogs shewed him, for their licking of his sores is recorded to all ages. Note those ex­pressions of the Psalmist, Psal. 40. 12. But I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me. And again Psal. 34. 6. This poor man cryed, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

Qu. If you ask, why the Lord taketh notice of every of his Saints.

Ans. 1. They are all his Children, and of his household; therefore as a tender, and carefull father, and Master, he careth for every one. Yea they are all members of the body of Christ. Now the head taketh care of every member, even the least, and taketh notice of every kindness done to any of them.

2. They are all by reason of grace in them, as Iewels and precious stones; therefore as a provident Ieweller he will look to every one of them. Yea that which often appeareth least may be of greater worth; as a little Diamond is of more Value than a far greater pebble.

This affordeth a singular ground of comfort to such as in this world are desolate, and forsaken: though they be left alone (as Elijah was 1 King 19. 10.) And as a Pelican in the wilderness: Or an Owl of the Desert, Or as a sparrow alone upon the house top, as the Psalmist expresseh, Psal. 102. 6, 7. yet is the Lord with them, and takes care of them. Now if the Lord be with us, and taketh care of us, What need me fear?] How should this encourage us to extend our charity to any one of the Saints, and members of Christ, though mean and little in the world, and not able to recompence us: and though none take notice thereof, to consider that the Lord taketh notice, and will abundantly recompence every good work, yea the least kindness we do unto them. Heb. 6. 10. God is not unrighteous [Page 8] to forget your work, and labour of love, which ye have shewed towards his name, in that ye have ministred to the Saints, and do minister, Where, Gods not forgetting their labour of love in ministring to the Saints, doth imply, that as God taketh notice of their beneficence, So he is, and will be ever mindfull of such and such persons to support and succour, and every way do them good.

And if God will thus remember those that remember the least of his, how will he take it that they are neglected? Beloved, how is it with Gods little ones at this day? Is it not very low with ma­ny, of them? God takes notice how very low it is; and whether you will or no, God will not forsake them; but (that I may use the words of Mordecai to Ester, with some variation, Ester. 4. 14.) If you altogether hold your hand at this time, relief shall arise to them some other way, but you and your house (take heed that word be not verified upon you) shall be destroyed. But who knows whe­ther you are come to your estates for such a time as this!

And thus I come to the Second and main point of Doctrine, which riseth from the reward promised to such as shew the least kindness to a minister, or righteous man, though it be but a cup of cold water they shall in no wise lose their reward. Whence we may observe.

2. Doct. That the least work of charity shewed to a Minister or righteous man, shall be abundantly recompensed, and that not only here­after, but likewise here on earth.

Though our beneficence ought to extend unto all who are in want and come within the verge of our knowledge, and power, as Gal. 6. 10. According as we have opportunity, let us do good unto ALL men; yet I confine my discourse here to Ministers, and righteous ones, because they only are implyed under those little ones menti­oned in my text.

That mercifull men shall be abundantly recompenced hereafter in heaven for their works of charity, there is no doubt, being so clear­ly expressed in the word of God, Luk. 16. 9. Make your selves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations And 1 Tim. 6. 17. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.

[Page 9] But the great question is concerning temporal reward, Whether Christian charity, rightly performed, shall be recompenced here in this life with temporal blessings: So that what men give in a way of cha­rity, there is ground to expect, it shall be here returned into their bosomes again with increase.

I deny not but a charitable man may become poor, and be reduc­ed into some straights, through Suretiship, negligence in his Calling, or in respect of some secret sin, wherein he liveth, which may justly bring a temporal curse upon him: So that his liberality in such cases may not be a sufficient fence against want and penury. But this I say, That as penuriousness towards the poor is the readiest way to po­verty: So Christian charity, rightly performed, is the surest way to plenty and abundance, it being usually rewarded with temporal blessings here, as well as with eternal hereafter. Where is the man to be found, that is the poorer by what he hath given to the poor? How many are the instances of such which have met with some signal blessings from God in this life, as the reward of their li­berality?

This may seem a paradox to many uncharitable men, that Giv­ing should be the surest way of getting, and that the more liberal any man is, the more likely he is to thrive and prosper in the world. Yet nothing more clearly laid down in the Scripture, and found to be true by the experience of multitudes of Gods people in all ages. And I am verily perswaded, that there is seldome any man, that mak­eth conscience of this duty, who giveth out to the poor proportionably to what God hath bestowed on him, and with an honest, upright heart, but if he do observe the passages of Gods providence towards him, he shall find the same doubled, and redoubled upon him in temporal blessings, I dare challenge all the world to give one instance, or at least any con­siderable number of instances of any truly mercifull men, whose charity hath undone them. But as living wells the more they are drawn, the more freely they spring, and flow; So the substance of charitable men doth oftentimes, if not ordinarily, multiply in the very distribution; Even as the five loaves, and few fishes did mul­tiply in their breaking, and distributing. And the widdows Oyl in­creased by the pouring it out.

But these bare assertions being no full convictions: For the better clearing the truth of this doctrine, I shall prove it by Scriptures, Examples, and Reasons.

[Page 10] 1. For Scripture proofes, there are very many both in the old, and New-Testament. What the Apostle saith of Godliness, 1 Tim. 4. 8. It is profitable unto all things, having the promise of this life, and of that which is to come. The like I may say of Charity, It is profita­ble unto all things, having promises of temporal blessings, as well as of Spiritual, and eternal.

Deut. 15. 10. Thou shalt surely give unto thy brother, and thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy workes, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. It is not thine own labour, or care, but the divine blessing that maketh rich, and of that blessing behold here's a Scripture-entail upon the liberal. And the like we have Pro. [...]. 9, 10. Honour the Lord with thy substance, by giving out a portion thereof for the relief of the poor, So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and as thy Barnes, so thy Shop, thy Cellers, warehouses, where thou be­stowest thy goods, shall be filled with abundance: and thy presses shall burst out with new wine, this seemeth to be an hyperbolical ex­pression, yet it signifieth no less then this, that Gods usuall way is to make good returns of all we lay out upon him and his; and that our wisest way both for ensuring, and improving what we have is to make our selves Creditors to his wanting Saints.

A compassionate heart, and an helping hand will gather by ex­pending; such giving is getting, such bounty is the most compen­dious way to plenty. Whereupon the wiseman addeth, Pro. 11. 24. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; there is that withholdeth more then is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. Who is he, here, that scat­tereth? not he that wastes his estate upon his throat, his back and his belly, or with the Prodigal upon Harlots; but he that casteth his bread upon the waters, as the expression is Eccl. 11. 1. He that dispers­eth and giveth to the poor, as Psal. 112. 9. this is the scatterer in that text. And what of him? is he wasted? is he impoverished? Be­hold the quite contrary: the man is grown rich, he is encreased by scattering. Let him look to it, that withholdeth more than is meet: this is the more likely man of the two to be found shortly on the dunghil. If thou wilt secure thy self from beggery, keep not Gods beggers from thy door, nor send them away empty whose needs, though not their tongues, cry in thine ears, Give for the Lords sake. Fear not to loose by laying out. Thy laying up what thou shouldst [Page 11] lay out hath the most danger in it. The divine curse may wither that in thine hand which thou holdest fast against the divine com­mand.

In the following verse we read further, The liberal soul shall be made fat. The Soul is often in Scripture taken to signifie the Man, and so it is here, and is the same, as the liberal man. To be made fat, signifies to prosper, to be full, and abound, or to grow rich in this worlds goods; and thus it shall be, if this Scripture may be credited.

The liberal Soul] It is in the Hebrew, as you may find it noted in the Margin, the Soul of blessing, the merciful man is a blessing, and hath a blessing for such as need him: and he that is a blessing, shall be blessed; the Lord God shall bless him with an increase of his substance, who hath most emptied himself for him, and his. Its true that the SOUL of the liberal properly taken, shall be a gainer by his liberality: no more thriving Christians, then the merciful Christians, what they expend in temporals is abundantly returned in spirituals. But because there is so much of carnal, even in too many Christians, and have need of encouragements suited to our tempers, therefore to our spiritual advantages, which are the great­est these outward encouragements are added as often most taking with our too carnal hearts. So that this is the sense of the place. The liberal man, as the reward and encouragement of his liberality, shall prosper in the world. And as it follows, He that watereth, the soul of the needy, his waters shall not fail, but he shall be watered also himself. God will give in to him, according as he hath given out to others.

And for their farther encouragement, saith the wiseman, Pro. 19. 17. He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given, shall he pay him again. If that which thou giv­est be repaid thee again, how can it be said to be lost? Indeed the poor, unto whom thou givest, are not able to repay thee again, yet having such an alsufficient Surety, as God himself, who hath under­taken the repayment, thou need'st not doubt thereof. Oh hap­py is that man that becomes a Creditor to his Creatour, and makes God his debtor! whose is the earth, and the fulness thereof. Hea­ven and earth shall be emptied before he shall want a royal pay­ment.

Fear not to be an Vsurer, so thou lendest unto God, make him [Page 12] thy debtor, and he will surely pay thee Principal and Interest. Al­low him his time (for that he will have) and he will not only pay the debt, but allow thee for the forbearance. The ungodly borrow­eth, and payeth not again: but this shall never be said of the righte­ous God: He is just, and will make good payment of whatsoever is lent unto him.

It is true, the Lord loves to deal upon trust, and uses to make pay­ment by way of Returns. He will be trusted, and those that will not give him Credit, let them if they can, put their estates into surer hands. And he uses to pay by the way of Returus, it may be neither in the same kind, nor in the same Country. Sometimes tis so that he pays not in the same kind, bread for bread, or clothes for clothes, or money or money, Nor possibly may he make his payment in this forreign land, where thou art a Merchant adventurer, but may give thee his bill of exchange to receive it in thine own country, that better Country, which is thy home, and inheritance, which shall be the reward of thy works, and labour of love, which thou shewest to his name. And if he do thus, does he thee any wrong? Is it not best for thee that thou receive thy goods at thy home? Is it any harm to thee to receive Silver for thy Brass, Gold for thy Sil­ver, Rubies for thy Gold, a treasure in Heaven, for thy treasure on Earth? Doubt not that he will be behind hand with thee: yet stick not if thou shouldst be put to it, to wait for payment in full till hereafter: and for the present this thou may'st depend upon from Pro. 28. 27. He that giveth to the poor shall not lack, he shall have in hand whats needful at least. He shall not lack and there may be more in this word, then if he had said, I will presently pay thee all: For all that thou hast, if thou shouldst hold it never so close, can­not secure thee from ever coming to want; as great as thy abun­dance is, thou maist come to want before thou diest. But what thy abundance cannot do, this promise of God can and doth for thee even give thee security that thou shalt never lack.

Again Eccl. 11. 1. Cast thy bread vpon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days. By bread is here meant all things necessa­ry for the support of mens lives. And by casting their bread upon the waters, is meant their giving freely of that which they have for the relief of the poor, whose watry eyes bewray their great necessi­ty. And though that which thou bestowest on them, may seem to [Page 13] be as clearly lost and cast away, as that which is thrown down the River, or cast into the Sea, where ther is no like [...]ihood of receiving it again, because given to those who can no way recompence thee; whence arose that Greek Proverb [...] Thou sowest upon the water, which is usually applyed to such as bestow kindnesses where they are utterly lost.

Yet thou shalt find it after many days, Lavater in locum saith, that here is implyed a promise of long life to the charitable, that God will lengthen out his days to a good old age. Though this falls out true in many, yet I conceive it not to be here intended, nor to be the meaning of the words, but rather, this, that though thy reward doth not presently appear, yet if thou bestowest thine alms with a sincere heart, it shall not be lost, but certainly be returned into thy bosome with increase.

Yet further saith the Lord by the Prophet Isa. 58. 7, 8. &c. If thou deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor that are cast out, to thy house, and when thou seest the naked, if thou cover him, and that thou hide not thy self from thine own flesh, by tnrning thy sace from him; Then (see what a gracious promise of signal blessings follow hereupon) shall thy light break forth as the Morning, that is, then shall the night of thine adversity be dispelled, and the day spring of thy prosperity break forth as the Morning-light: and thy righteous­ness shall go before thee, that is, the fruit and reward of thy charity shall be visible to all: the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward, that is, the God of glory shall by his power and providence both go be­fore thee, and follow thee with his blessing. And verse 10. If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and Satisfie the afflicted soul, that is, af­ford that hearty relief unto him, which shall satisfie his necessity, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, thy adversity shall be turned into prosperity, And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfie thy soul in drought, as thou didst satisfie the poor mans soul by supply­ing his wants, so the Lord will supply thee with a sufficiency in the greatest dearth and famine; and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be as a watered garden, and a little spring of water, whose waters fail not; an emblem of a flourishing, and prosperous estate, which doth usually follow, and accompany merciful men.

Yea our blessed Saviour, Math. 19. 29. promiseth, that such as for his sake shall this or any other way part with their estates, or [Page 14] any part or portions of them, shall receive an hundred fold here, and inherit eternal life hereafter: here in this life he shall have the return of an hundred fold, which many Christians have found true in their own experience, and with thankfulness to God have acknowledged as much.

And what variety of expressions doth our Saviour use in Luke 6. 38. to assure us of a large reward here of all our labour of love shew­ed to his Ministers, and members? Give, saith he, and it shall be gi­en to you again, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. For your encouragement unto this duty of giving to the poor, Our Saviour first annexeth a general promise of return, Give, and it shall be given to you again, where he giveth you a Bill of his hand, that you shall be no looser by what you give to his poor, but shall be repay'd, and that with advantage, as the following words declare, you shall have good measure, pressed down, shaken to­gether, and running over, we account it good measure, when it is heaped up, but when it is not only heaped up, but pressed down, that is more; but when it is heaped up, pressed down; and then heaped up, and running over again, who can but say, that this is good mea­sure indeed? Yet thus God deales with merciful men, they shall have mercies and blessings heaped up, pressed down, and running over. How truely then may I take up the words of the Psalmist, Blessed is he that considereth the poor; He shall not only be blessed, but he shall have blessings heaped up, and running over! which the Apostle St. Paul expresseth very Emphatically by the similitude of reaping and sowing, 2 Cor. 9. 6. He that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly, but he which soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully. As men sow, so shall they reap, the more liberally they give to good uses, the more bountifully they shall receive from God: they shall find a plentifull harvest, as the fruit of all their cost and pains. Dr. Ham­mond in his practical Catechism, quoting these words of the Apostle He that soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully, addeth this gloss, ‘By reaping bountifully, I conceive is meant, not onely Gods abun­dant retributions of glory in another world, but even his payments of temporal plenty, and blessings here to those who have been willing to make that Christian Vse of that earthly talent commited to their Ste­warding.

Thus you see there are so many promises both in the old and new [Page 15] Testament of temporal, as well as of spiritual and eternal blessings to the mercifull, that there can be no question made of the truth of the doctrine. And to use the expression of the forementioned Doctor: By all those testimonies from the word of God, both in the new and old Testament, I conceive this Doctrine as clear as any in the Scripture; That the promise of temporal plenty to the liberal is so distinct and infallible, that is can be no less than.

  • 1. A very gross ignorance of plain Scripture not to observe it, and
  • 2. An act of arrant infidelity, not to believe it.

Though these proofes of Scripture are sufficient to convince any Christian of the truth of the Doctrine, yet for your farther Satis­faction, I shall briefly give you the Judgment both of some ancient Fathers, and modern Divines concerning the same.

Non qui habet et Servat, sed qui impertit est Dives, et impertitio, non autem possessio divites facit. Clemens Alexand. Paedag. lib. 3. Not he that possesseth wealth, and keeps it by him, but he that di­stributeth it, is rich: neither is it the having, but the laying out of riches, that makes men rich.

Terrena omnia Servando amittimus, largiendo Servamus. Isiodo­rus. We loose all earthly things by keeping them, and by giving them away we keep them.

Lucrum est egenis dare, saith St. Basil. Its the best way of thriv­ing to give to them that are in want.

Faecundus est ager pauperum, cito reddit donantibus fructum. Aug. Serm. de Divite. The field of the poor is very fruitfull, and quickly yieldeth an increase to the charitable.

The fame Father in his 25 Sermon de verbis Domini, brings in Christ speaking thus, Da mihi ex eo quod dedi tibi, habuisti me largi­torem, fac me debitorem &c. Give to me of that which I have given to thee; I have been thy benefactor, make me thy debtor, become an Vsurer to me, and I will pay thee with advantage. And in one of his Epistles, Da modicum ut recipias centuplum. Give a little, and thou shalt receive an hundred fold.

Da pauperi ut detur tibi, quicquid pauperi dederis tu habebis, quod non dederis, habebit alter. Give to the poor, and it shall be given to thee. Whatsoever thou givest to the poor, thou securest to thy self▪ what thou withholdest, another shall possess. Pet. Ra­ven Serm. quodam.

[Page 16] Deus his solvit hoc faenus, scilicet semel in terra, Secundo in caelo. In terra a enim elecmosynariis multiplicat opes, in caelo autem longe plura, et major a rependit. God twice pays what's lent to him, once in this world, by multiplying the wealth of alms-givers; and then in heaven he pays it over and over. Cornelius a lapid. in Pro. 19. 17.

Dr. Hammond in his Sermon on Deut. 26. 12, 13. layeth down this proposition. ‘That alms-giving or mercifulness was never the wasting or lessening of any mans estate, to himself or his posteritie, but rather the encreasing of it. And thereupon addeth, If I have delivered a new Doctrine, which will not presently be believed, Such as every Auditour will not consent to, I doubt not but there be plain texts of Scripture, more than one, which will assure every Christian of the truth of it. Consider them at your leisure, Psal. 41. 1, 2. Psal. 112. all to this purpose. Pro. 11. 25. & 12. 9. & 19. 17. & 28. 27. Add to these the words of Christ, Mark 10. 30. which though more generally delivered of any kind of parting with possessions for Christ sake, are applyed by St. Hierom: to the words of Solomon. Pro. 11. 24. There is that Scattereth, and yet increaseth, quia contuplum accipiunt in hoc tempore, because, saith he they receive an hundred fold in this world.’

‘All these being put together, must, saith he, (to my understand­ing) make it as clear to any that acknowledge these for Scripture, as if God should call to a man out of heaven by name, and bid him releive that poor man, and he should never be the poorer for it &c.’

Afterwards in pressing upon his Auditors the duty of Alms-giv­ing, ‘This, saith he, I am resolved on, 'tis want of belief, and no­thing else, that keepes men from the practice of this duty. Could this one Mountain be removed, the lessening of our wealth, that alms giving is accused of; could that one Scandal to flesh and blood be kicked out of the way, there is no other Devil would take the unmercifull mans part, no other temptation molest the alms-giver.’

‘And let me tell you, that you have no more evidence for the truth of Christs comming, for all the fundamentals of your faith, on which you are content your Salvation should depend, then such as I have given you for your Security in this point.’

[Page 17] Dr. Ieremy Taylor in his Rules of holy-living, treating of Alms, Sect. 8. among other Motives therunto, hath this. ‘That portion of our estate, out of which a tenth or a fifth, or a twentieth, or some offering to God for Religion, and the poor goes forth, Certainly returns with a great blessing upon all the rest.’ It is like the effusi­on of oyl by the Sidonian woman, as long as she poures into empty vessels, it could never cease running: Or like the widdows barrel of meal, it consumes not as long as she fed the prophet.

Mr. Hildersham in his 22th. Lecture on Psal. 51. speaking of alms-giving, saith, It is a Duty that God hath made greater promises unto, than to any other almost that a Christian can perform. And three sorts of promises there be that are made unto it. First, That it shall never hinder, nor beggar a man; That that is thus given shall not be lost, yea it will return again with advantage and increase: Yea that that is thus given will bring Gods blessing upon all that we have besides, Deut. 15. 10.

Dr. Thomas Iacomb, in his Sermon on Math. 5. 7. preached at the spittle 1657. saith, God w [...]ll return to the Mercifull man what he gives to the poor, he will reward him in kind; that look what ever it is that he bestows, it shall be in the very kind made up to him a­gain; many have found this to be true: in the Morning they have given, may be, five shillings, & before night God hath brought them in unexpectedly twenty for it. The best way for a man to encrease his estate is charity: Money here like the widdows oyl, the more 'tis poured out, the more it doth increase, &c. And p. 26, No man shall be the poorer at the years end for what he lays out upon the poor; you shall have your money again, and improvment for it too.

‘The Author of the whole Duty of man, treating of Alms in Parti­tion 17. saith, There is but one Objection to be made against a cheerful giving of Alms, and that is, The danger of impoverishing ones self by what one gives. To which he answers in these words; that this is sure a vain supposition, God having particularly pro­mised the contrary to the charitable: That it shall bring blessings on them, even in these outward things. The liberal soul shall be made fat, & he that watereth, shall be watered also himself, Pro. 11. 25. He that giveth to the poor, shall not lack, Pro. 28. 27. And many the like texts ther are, so that one may truly say, This Objection is groun­ded in direct unbelief. The short of it is, we dare not trust God, [Page 18] for this giving to the poor, is directly The putting our wealth into his hands: He that giveth to the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, Pro. 19. 17. and that too, on solemn promise of repayment, as it follows in that verse, That which he hath given will he pay him again. It is a­mongst men thought a great disparagment, when we refuse to trust them: it shews, we either think them not sufficient or not honest. How vile an affront is it then to God, thus to distrust him? Nay in­deed, how horrid blasphemy, to doubt the security of that, for which he has thus expresly past his word, who is the Lord of all, and there­fore cannot be insufficient: and who is the God of truth, and there­fore will not fail to make good his promise?’ ‘Let not then that in­fidel-fear of future-want contract and shut up thy bowels from thy poor brother: for though he be never like to pay, yet God becomes his Surety, and enters bond with him, and will most assuredly pay thee with increase.’

‘Therefore it is so far from being damage to thee, Thus to give, that it is thy great advantage. Any man would rather chuse to put his money in some sure hand, where he may both improve, and be certain of it at his need, than to let it lye unprofitable by him, e­specially if he be in danger of thieves, or other accidents, by which he may probably lose it: Now alass! all that we possess is in em­minent-danger of losing: innumerable accidents there are, which may in an instant bring a rich man to beggery; he that doubts this, let him but read the story of Iob, and he will there find an example of it. And therefore what so prudent course can we take for our wealth, as to put it out of the reach of those accidents, by thus lending it to God, where we may be sure to find it ready at our greatest need, and that too with improvment and increase? In which respect it is, that the Apostle compares almes to Seed 2 Cor. 9. 10. We know it is the nature of Seed that is sowen, to multiply and increase; and so do all our acts of Mercy, they return not sin­gle, and naked to us, but bring in their sheaves with them, a most plenteous and bountiful harvest. God deales not with our almes, as we too often do with his graces, wrap them up in a napkin, so that they shall never bring in any advantage to us, but makes us most rich Returns. And therefore we have all reason, most cheer­fully, yea-joyfully, to set to this duty, which we have such invitati­ons to, as well in respect of our own Interest, as our Neighbors needs.’

[Page 19] Thus have you the truth of the point proved both by divine, and humane testimonies. I should now proceed to give you some in­stances for the farther confirmation thereof. But I must beseech you first to take these two Cautions.

1. Not to ascribe the reward to any merit of your good works, but only to the free grace, and rich mercy of God. It is his rich mercy, that we have wherewithall to give, and his free grace, that we have an heart to give, and his abundant goodness, that he accepteth our works of charity, and rewardeth them with all sorts of blessings, both temporal, Spiritual and eternal; but we cannot merit any thing at his hand; by giving him that which is his own.

2. Though our Alms-deeds are sacrifices acceptable and welpleasing unto God through Christ; and though he hath bound himself by ma­ny gracious promises to reward the same both here, and hereafter: yet far be it from us to perform them meerly out of hope of reward, but rather for conscience-sake, in obedience to the command of God, (who hath required them at our hands,) and in testimony of our thankfulness unto him, for what he hath graciously bestowed on us. As we are commanded to obey the Magistrate, not so much for fear of punishment, and hope of reward, as for conscience-sake, in obedi­ence to the command of God, Rom. 13. 5. So ought we to distribute our Alms not so much for the reward-sake, as out of conscience, for the Lords-sake.

I deny not but Christians in their well-doing may for their en­couragement have respect to the recompence of reward, but not onely, and chiefly. The chief and principal Ends we should aim at in all our good works, are, The glory of God, And Obedience to his com­mand. Our respect to the recompence of reward ought to be sub­ordinate unto these. The truth is, This temporal reward should not so much be looked on, as an argument to perswade us to give, but as an answer of an Objection against Giving. Thou wilt be ready to say, I may want it my self, or mine may want it. But do but be­lieve, that God will repay thee, and with overplus; and then that doubt willbe taken out of the way.

These two Cautions premised, I shall proceed in the confirmati­on of the point from the examples of many charitable persons, who have in temporal mercies been abundantly recompensed for the kindness they have shewed to the Ministers and Members of Christ.

[Page 20] The widdow of Sareptah nourished the Prophet Elijah in her house during the whole time of famine: and how did the Lord abundantly recompense this her charity, by his miraculous preserving and en­creasing her meal and oyl, whereby her family was nourished. As also by restor [...]ng her Son to life again, after his Soul was departed? 1 King 17. 22. And by causing the Prophet to continue with her many Moneths, to feed her soul with spiritual, as she had his body, with carnal food.

How abundantly was the Shunamite's kindness to the Prophet E­lisha, recompensed?

  • 1. By the gift of a Son after long barrenness.
  • 2. By restoring her Son to life again when he was dead. 2 King. 16.
  • 3. By forewarning her of a famine approaching, 2 King. 8. 1, 4.
  • 4. By the restoring of her house and land, lost in her long absence; by reason of the famine, 2 King. 4. 28.

Notable is the instance of Iob. What a merciful man he was, we may read chap. 29. 12, 13, 15. 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 wid­dows heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet I was to the lame, I was a father to the poor. And chap. 31. 16, & 22▪ If I have withheld the poor from their desire or have caused the eyes of the widdow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; If I have seen any perish for want of cloathing, or any poor without covering; If his loyns have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep: Then let mine arms fall from my shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone. I have transcribed his own words thus at large, that I might set this wor­thy pattern before the readers eyes.

But you will say, what became of this merciful man? did he prosper? did he flourish, and grow great? who so poor as poor Iob after all these acts of mercy? How long after was it, that we find this merciful man a miserable man, strip'd naked of all that ever he had? But, First, It was not his own mercy, but Sathans malice that brought him down: It was the Devil that set the Sabeans, and Chaldeans, upon him, to plunder, and carry away all that he had. And Secondly, what became of Iob afterwards, after Sathan had done his worst? you may read, chap. 42. 10. &c. That the Lord turned [Page 21] the Captivity of Job and gave him twice so much as he had before, and blessed his latter end more than his beginning, so he had fourteen thousand sheep, and Six thousand Camels: a thousand yoke of Oxen, and a thousand shee asses: He had also seven Sons, and three daugh­ters.

Act. 28. 7. We read how Publius the chief man of the Island of Melita (into which St. Paul, & many others with him were cast by Shipwrack) received and lodged them three days courteously: and in the next verse we read how the father of Publius, when he lay desperately sick of a feaver, and bloody-flux, was recovered by St. Paul, and restored to his former health. So likewise the kindness which the barbarous people of that Island shewed unto Paul and his his fellow-Travellers, was recompensed with the cure of many of their sick bodies.

To these Examples, recorded in Scripture, I shall add a few more out of ancient, and modern writings.

St. A ban (whom Mr. Fox in his first To me mentioneth amongst the Martyrs who suffered for the name and cause of Christ) having received a poor persecuted Minister into his house, was by his god­ly life, and gracious exhortations so wrought upon, that he turned from Heathenism to Christianity, and at last suffered as a Martyr for the truth of Jesus Christ, as Beda, and others write of him. His kindness to a poor persecuted Minister was recompensed not only with his conversion to the true religion, but likewise with the hon­our of Martyrdome.

St. Austin, having set forth the mercifulness and liberality of Con­stantine the great, saith, Bonus Deus, Constantinum Magnum tantis terrenis implevit muneribus, &c. God gave Constantine, that Merci­full Prince, more wealth than heart could with, for his bounty to the poor, Aug. de Civitate. Dei. l. 5.

‘Dr. Hammond in his forementioned Treatise mentioneth an an­cient Story out of Cedrenus, of a Iew, who upon reading those words of Salomon, Pro. 19. 17. He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given will he pay him again, resolved to try, whether God would be as good as his word: therupon gave all that he had but two pieces of silver to the poor and then waited and expected to see it come again. But being not presently answered in that expectation, grew angry, and went up [Page 22] to Ierusalem to expostulate with God for not performing his pro­mise. And going on his way, found two men a striving, engaged in an unreconcileable quarrel, about a Stone, that both walking together had found in the way, and so had both equal right to it; but (being but one and not capable of being divided) they could not both enjoy: and therefore, to make them friends, he having two pieces of Silver, doth upon contract divide them betwixt the Contenders, and hath the Stone in exchange for them. Having It, he goes on his journey, and comming to Ierusalem, shews it the Goldsmith who tels him, that it was a Jewell of great Value, be­ing a Stone faln, and lost out of the high-Priests Ephod, to whom if he carried it, he should certainly receive a great reward. He did so, and accordingly it proved. The high Priest took it of him, gave him a great reward, and withall sharply reproved him for questioning the truth of Gods promises, bidding him trust God the next time.’

The story of Tiberius the second is pertinent to this purpose, which take in the words of that Reverend person before-mentioned in his Sermon at the Spittle. This Tiberius was very famous for his bounty to the poor, insomuch that his wife was wont to blame him for it, and speaking to him once, how he wasted his treasure that way, he told her. He should never want money, so long as in Obedience to Christs Command he did supply the necessities of the poor. And presently see how providence ordered it! Immediately after he had given much this way, under a marble table which was taken up, he found a great treasure, and news was brought him too of the death of one Narses, a very rich man, who had given his whole E­state unto him.

Famous is the story of that charitable Bishop of Millain, who as he was travelling with his Servant, overtook some poor people who begged an alms of him: wherupon he asked his man what mo­ney he had about him, who answered Three crowns, which he com­manded him to give unto them: but the servant thinking himself wiser than his Master, gave them but two crowns, not knowing what occasions they might have for money before that got home. Not long after Some Noblemen meeting the Bishop, and knowing him to be a very charitable man, appointed two hundred Crowns to be paid to the Bishops Servant for his Masters use. The Ser­vant [Page 23] having received the money, presently with great joy acquain­ted his Master therewith, whereupon said the Bishop, Thou mayst now see how in wronging the poor of their due, by keeping back the third crown which I intended them, thou hast likewise wrong­ed me, Si enimtres dedisses, trecentos accepisses &c. If thou hadst gi­ven those three Crowns I commanded thee to give, thou hadst re­ceived three hundred Crowns whereas now I have but two. Melanc. apud Ioh. Manlium in Loc. Com.

It is recorded of Mary the wife of Alexander F [...]rnese, Prince of Parma, that being childless, she conceived an hope, that if she would take into her house some Orphan, or poor mans child, and there train him up, God would bestow a Son upon her. Whereupon she took a poor mans Son into her care, and gave order for his education and according to her expectation, at nine Moneths end she was de­livered of a Son.

Suitable likewise to this point is the story of one Iohn Stewart Provost of Aire in Scotland, who was eminent for piety & charity. He had a considerable estate left him by his Father, of which he gave a great part to the poor and other charitable uses. To pass by many, I shall mention only one. His heart on a time being much affected with the wants and necessities of many of Gods people, who wer in a suffering condition, he sendeth for divers of them to Edinburgh, where being met, and some time spent in prayer, he made them pro­mise not to reveal what he was about to do, so long as he lived: and then told them he was not ignorant in what a low condition many of them were, and therefore he had brought some money with him to lend each of them, yet so as they should never offer to repay it till he required the same; Soon after this, such aplague brake forth in Air, the place of his abode, that trade much decayed, and he himself with others were reduced to straits. Wherupon Some of the Prophane in that place derided him, saying, that Religion had made him poor, & his giving so much to others, like a fool, had brought him to want, But mark what followed. Having borrowed a little money, he de­parts from Aire to Rochel in France, where Salt and other com­modities being exceeding cheap for want of trading, he adventured to fraught a ship, and loaded her upon Credit; and then went back again through England unto Air in Scotland, having ordered the ship to come thither. But after long expectation he was informed [Page 24] for certain, that his ship was taken by a Turkish man of war, the report whereof did exceedingly afflict him, not because he knew not how to be abased, as well as how to abound, but out of fear, that the mouths of wicked men would be the more opened to the reproaching of his profession and charity. But Soon after, tidings was brought him that his ship was safely arrived in the Road, & up­on his going forth saw it was a truth. And through Gods good Providence, as a reward of his charity, he made so much of the Commodities in the ship, that after the payment of his debts, he had twenty thousand marks left for himself. Though his bread was cast upon the waters, and to appearance lost, yet after many days it returned to him with great advantage. This Story I lately read in a book, called, The fulfilling of the Scriptures.

The point being thus proved by Scriptures and Examples, Come we now to the Reasons for the farther confirmation thereof.

1. Reason, May be taken from the goodness and bounty of God which is such, that he will not suffer any work of charity, shewed to any of his Ministers, or Children, to pass away unrewarded, without a full recompence. Whereupon saith David, Psal. 62. 12. Vnto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, for thou rendrest to Every man according to his work, Though God doth not render a reward to any man for his work done, yet doth he render to every man according to his work. So that whosoever hath done a good work, shall be sure to receive a royal reward from God for the same. Yea God doth allways ex­ceed in his remunerations, to give Evidence of his grace and boun­ty. So that not onely no man shall sit down a loser, but shall be a great gainer in the end. God will not be in any mans debt long, but what he hath dis-bursed upon his account, he will speedily return into his bosome with advantage. Not that the liberality of the rich doth merit any thing at the hand of God, (as is before said) but in regard of the promises of God, made to all them who in faith apply themselves to the practice of good works.

2. Reason. May be taken from the faithfulness and righteousness of God, who having in his word graciously promised abundantly to recompense, and reward our beneficence, his faithfulness and righteousness ingageth him to make good what he hath promised; So that he cannot but be as good as his word. Men may be forward

[Page 25] Daniel Waldow Esquire, Citizen and Mercer, who was chosen Alderman of London, is a further proof of this Doctrine before laid down. I could from mine own experience speak much of his bounty and charity; as also of that plentiful estate wherewith God bles­sed him therupon. But I shall rather give it you in the words of that holy man, and blessed servant of Christ in the work of the Ministry, Mr. Iames Nalton, now with God, who was more intimately ac­quainted with Mr. Waldow, and therefore the more fit to preach his Funeral Sermon, and to set forth his life for our Imitation. His words are these, He was a man eminent, and exemplary in the grace of Charity; as appeared by his great bounty manifested on every occasion. Never any good man, Minister or other, came to propound any work of Charity, publick or private, that needed to do any more than to propound it: For his heart was so set upon works of mercy, that he prevented im­portunity, by his Christian and Heroick liberality. He made no more of giving ten pounds to a work of Charity, than many other rich men make of giving ten shillings. His Charity had two singular concomitants, which made it the more remarkable and praise-worthy.

1. He did good while he lived: He carryed his Lanthorn before him: He made his own hands his Executors, and his own eyes his Overseers. Some will part with their riches when they can keep them no longer: This is like a Cut-purse, that being espyed or pursued, will drop a purse of gold, because he can keep it no longer. But to be doing good in our life­time, while we have opportunity; this is an act of Faith, and an evi­dence that we can trust God with our estate, and our children, that he will provide for them, when our heads are laid in the grave.

2. He dispensed his Charity so secretly, without any self-seeking, or pharisaical vain-glory, that his left hand did not know what his right hand did. Therefore did he often go with an hundred pounds under his cloak to some godly friends, desiring them to distribute it amongst such honest poor people as stood in most need of relief.

In brief, He did so much good while he lived, as if he meant to have nothing to do when he died: And yet he gave so largely when he came to dye, as if he had done no good when he lived.

Many, I know, are apt to say, they have many children, and therefore cannot give. So had Mr. Waldow; He had nine children alive at his death, but the providing for them was no obstruction to his Charity, nor prejudice to his Children, but did rather entail a blessing upon them.

[Page 26] Mr. Iohn Walter, Citizen and Draper of London, was signally charitable, not only at his death, but in the whole course of his life, even from his younger years. For the avoiding of vain-glory, his manner was, to send considerable summs of mony to several poor families, by the hands of others, in whose faithfulness he could confide. Whereupon God did not only bless him with a large estate, but likewise gave him such contentedness therein, that he sate down abundantly satisfied; and made a solemn vow and promise unto God, that he would give the surplusage of his estate, whatever it was that for the future should accrew unto him from his calling and employments, to charitable uses. That you may be assured of the truth thereof, I have here given you his own ex­pressions transcribed out of his last Will and Testament, which are as follow.

I thought fit to declare, that about twenty years past, when the Lord had entrusted me with a convenient estate, sufficient to maintain my charge, and afford fit portions for my wife and children after my decease; I resolved that what further estate the Lord should be pleased to entrust me with, to bestow the same on charitable uses.

After this vow finding his estate wonderfully encreased, he began to build Alms-houses; one in the Parish of St. George in Southwork; another in St. Mary Newington; because in those Parishes he ob­served, there were many blind, lame, distressed poor people, and never an Alms-house in them. He likewise built a Chapel neat one of his Alms-houses for the poor people to serve God in daily. Ha­ving built his Alms-houses, with the poors stock, he bought Lands, and Houses of Inheritance, which he settled upon the Company of Drapers, as for the relief and support of his Alms-people, after his decease; so for the performing other charitable gifts mentioned in his last Will and Testament. While he lived, he was wont to go himself once a month to his Alms-houses in his worst clothes (that he might not be suspected to be the Founder of them) and gave unto the poor people their promised allowance. Doubtless, that is the best Charity, which Nilus like, hath the several streams thereof seen, but the fountain concealed. Having built his Alms houses, and en­dowed them with a good revenew; then with the remainder of his poor's stock, (which daily encreased through God's blessing upon his [Page 27] pains and endeavours in his calling) he relieved poor people, and fa­milies with considerable summs of mony; and gave much bread weekly to the poor of several Out-Parishes. All this he did whilest yet living; besides what he gave upon the like account at his death, which was also very considerable, as further appears by his Will. Nothwithstanding all which, he gave and left to his Wife and his two Daughters about ten thousand pounds. This questionless is the surest way to have our WILLS performed, to see them per­formed in our life-time; in regard that many Executors prove Exe­cutioners of WILLS.

William Pennoyer Esquire, Citizen and Merchant of London, a per­son wholly composed of Mercy and goodness, bounty and liberality, which he expressed in the whole course of his life, even from his first setting up in the world. Many years before his death, he turned great part of the stock wherewith he traded, into Lands of Inheri­tance, to the value of four hundred pounds per annum; and being emi­nently charitable, he lived as frugally as he could, spending about two hundred pounds a year upon himself, wife and family; and the remaining part of his incomes, he wholly bestowed on charitable uses; as I have been informed by those who lived long with him, and were nearly related to him.

To give you a clear demonstration of his Christian Charity, and of God's recompencing the same unto him here in this life with tem­poral blessings; I shall recite some of his Legacies bequeathed in his last Will and Testament, to charitable uses, passing by such as he gave to his rich kindred and acquaintance.

To poor Ministers, Widdows, and others in distress, about 150 l.

To four of his poor Tenants 20 l.

Likewise 800 l. to be laid out here in Wollen Cloath, or other com­modities, to be sent to New-England, for the use of his poor kindred there.

He gave to certain Trustees Lands to the value of twenty pounds per annum, to pay for the teaching of forty Boys at School.

To Bristol 54 l. per annum towards the maintenance of a School-master, and Lecturer, to preach a week-day Lecture there; and to other charitable uses.

He likewise settled 20 l. per annum on Trustees, for the teaching of [Page 28] forty poor children in or near White-Chappel: And 40 s. yearly to buy Bibles for some of the children.

He gave 12 l. per annum for the maintaining a School at the Hay in Brecknockshire: And 40 s. more yearly to buy Books for the Scholars.

As also 10 l. per annum for the maintenance of poor distressed people in the Hospital of Bethlehem in London.

And 10 l. per annum to ten of the blindest, oldest and poorest Cloath-workers, at the discretion of the Masters, Wardens and Assistants of the said Company for the time being.

He gave 40 l. per annum to Christ-Church Hospital, for the placing out four children yearly: And 40 s. more yearly to buy each of the chil­dren a Bible.

Besides these, he gave to his poor kindred above two thousand pounds by his Will.

And by a Codizel annexed thereunto, he bequeathed to certain Trustees a thousand pounds to be given to honest poor people; as also 300 l. for releasing poor prisoners; which summs have been paid into the hands of the Trustees by Mr. Richard Loton, and Michael Davison Esq who to their honour approved themselves faithful Executors to this cha­ritable Will.

Thomas Arnold, Citizen and Haberdasher of London: At his first setting up for himself, his stock was not great; but being charitably disposed, and ready to every good work, his estate, through God's blessing, very much encreased.

His Charity in his life-time appeared not only by his forwardness to communicate to the relief of such, whom he saw in want; but likewise by his frequent enquiring of others, after such poor people as were over-burthened with children, or otherwise distressed. Yea, he hired men with money, to make it their business to find out ho­nest poor people, on whom he might bestow his Charity; and like­wise did entrust others with considerable summs of money, to di­stribute amonst the poorest sort, charging them to have special re­spect to the honest poor, such whom they conceived did truly fear God. That he was no loser, but a gainer by his liberality, appear­eth, in that God so blessed him in his Calling, that he attained to an Alderman's estate, and was chosen to that Office. Yea, he gave over his Calling in the City, and withdrew himself into the Country, [Page 29] that he might the better mind God, and the concernments of his soul more, and the world with its concerns less.

Iohn Clark, Doctor of Physick, one of great repute for his Learn­ing, Piety and Charity: Some while President of the Colledge of Phy­sicians. His custom was, to lay by all his Lord's-Day fees, as a sacred stock for charitable uses; devoting that entirely to God, which he received on his day; acconting it a piece of sacriledge to appropri­ate it to himself, or any common use: whereupon the Lord was pleased so to prosper him in his Calling, that though at first his pra­ctice was little, and his estate not very great, yet afterwards his pra­ctice so encreased, and the world so flowed in upon him, that he lived plentifully & comfortably, & gave to his children liberal portions.

The like also was practised by Iohn Bathurst, Doctor of Physick, with whom I was very well acquainted: His Lord's-Days fees were constantly kept as a bank for the poor, and wholly devoted to, and im­ployed for their use; which was so far from lessening his incomes, that by the blessing of God upon his practice, they were greatly in few years augmented by it. For though at his first coming to Lon­don, he brought little estate with him, and here had small acquain­tance, Yorkshire being his native Country, where he had spent his former daies; yet the Lord was pleased so to prosper him in his Cal­ling, that in twenty years time he purchased Lands of Inheritance, to the value of a thousand pounds per annum, to speak what I know to be certain; For in the repute of some, his estate at his death was no less than two thousand pounds of yearly value.

Dr. Edmond Trench likewise observed the same course, as his wife, and divers other friends of his do testifie. And certain it is, that this was no damage, but a great advantage to him: For he had as many Patients as his weak body would permit him to visit. And, though he lived at a full and plentiful rate, frequently and cheer­fully entertaining Ministers and Scholars at his Table; yet did he gain a very considerable estate, which he left to his wife and chil­dren; in whom not only his memory, but his Piety still survives.

I have good ground to believe, that many other Physicians do make conscience of this duty; but oh that all would do the like! certainly they would be no losers thereby at the years end, but find God's blessing upon their Calling and Estates prospering them in both.

[Page 30] And here to me occurs a Case of Conscience worthy to be enqui­red into, viz. Whether Physicians may lawfully appropriate unto their own private use their Lord's-Dayes fees; I mean, those fees which they receive from their Patients on the Sabbath day?

I deny not but works of mercy may, and ought to be done on that day; for, saith the Lord, Matth. 9. 13. I will have mercy, and not sacrifice; that is, mercy rather than sacrifice. And I deny not, but, of the richer sort especially, they may receive their fees for their pains. But I much question whether they may appropriate those fees to themselves: In regard the Lord hath afforded us six daies of seven, wherein we may and ought to follow our Callings, for our own live­lihood, and of those who belong unto us; but hath sanctified and set apart the Christian Sabbath for his own honour and service: And therefore it seemeth but reasonable that what accrews unto us on that day, should be set apart and imployed for his more immediate use and service. But I will not impose this as a necessary duty, at least upon all, in regard that circumstance may vary; but leave it at present to the determination of their own consciences who are most concerned therein.

Samuel Dunche of Pusey, in the County of Berks, Esquire, a person that according to the Apostle's rule, did good to all, but especially to those of the houshold of Faith. His custom was to send monys yearly to several Towns, as to Stow upon the Woolds in Glocester shire, to Norliche, to Lamburn, and others not here mentioned, for the relief of their poor. And upon the last here named, he settled Lands of Inheritance for ever for the same use. And to Rumsey in Hampshire he gave by Deed upon the like account a Lease of 99 years to com­mence after his descease. The poor also of the said Town, whom he call'd his Alms-people, had, during his life, weekly relief from him, and many other Towns together with them, were large sharers in the like bounty.

Several poor children of the said Town, and likewise of those be­longing to Farriugdon he set to School, and did not only pay for their teaching, but also furnished them with all such books as were fit and convenient for them. He also caused several good books to be printed at his own charge, which he freely gave to the poor, that they might the better be encouraged to mad, and to acquaint them­selves with the concerns of another and better life.

[Page 31] He further gave considerable summs of money yearly for the con­stant supply of such godly Ministers as he knew to be in want: And upon several of them he settled considerable Animities, 10 l. 20 l. per annum for their lives, besides such Legacies which were not small, that he gave to some of them at his death.

Besides all this, his hand was ever open and ready to distribute when ever any fit occasion was offered to him; yea, such was the en­largement of his heart, and tenderness of his bowels, that he could hardly pass by any whom he judged due objects of his Charity, but he freely and bountifully contributed to their relief.

Thus did this pious Gentleman honour God with his substance, and adventure upon the royal Prophet's words, to cast his bread upon the waters; which though the unbelieving world accounts but folly, and usually reckon it amongst their losses; yet he to his advantage, according to the promise thereto annexrd, found it again not after many daies: This bread, like the loaves with which Christ fed the multitude, was multiplyed in his hands, and his oyle encreased by pouring out. He was but a younger Brother, and the Estate settled upon him was but 800 l. per annum, or thereabouts: And yet not­withstanding, I had almost said, this excess of Charity, his Estate was so far from being ruined, or in the least impaired, as that not only the same bare measure he received, but much greater, pressed down, and running over, was meeted out to him and his posterity. So signally did God in this life reward his Charity, wisely ordering by his good pro­vidence, that one way or other large handfuls, as over-measure, were from several hands thrown into his bushel. There is now left to his Heirs an Estate of more than the double value of what he received from his Father, besides the portions which he gave to all his Daugh­ters, five in number, which were very considerable, to some of them more than 2000 l.

And here I hope I may, without offence, or vain glory, take liberty to mention, amongst others, the Charity and Liberality of my dear and hononred Father Dr. William Gouge, late Pastor of Black fryers, London, who was eminent as in other graces, so in that of Charity; From him I first heard, The tenth part of a rich mans estate to be a fit proportion to be devoted and dedicated to God for charitable uses. But though he commended that to others; yet by what I find in some pa­pers written with his own hand, I may truly say, He gave the seventh [Page 32] part of all his yearly comings in, towards the maintaining poor Scholars at the University, and the relieving poor families, and di­stressed persons. And how wonderfully God blessed, as his Ministry, so his outward Estate, is so well known to all who lived in his daies, that I suppose it needless for me to say any thing thereof; only I may truly apply unto him the words of the Psalmist, He was ever merciful and lending, and his seed is blessed

Many more instances of the like nature might here be added; some of persons who are now with joy reaping in the other world the blessed fruit of that seed which they had so plentifully sown in this: Others of persons yet living amongst us, some of which have acknowledged to me, That God hath already rewarded them an hun­dred-fold for what they have lent to him, by giving it to his poor. But these already mentioned, may be abundantly sufficent to evidence the truth in hand, and to encourage and provoke us in imitation of those Worthies, to a more ready and conscientious practice of this great duty, so essential to Christianity, so well pleasing to God, so creditable to our profession, so beneficial, not only in order to our eternal happiness, but our present gain, comfort and prosperity here on earth.

The Point being thus proved by Scriptures and Examples, Come we now to the Reasons for the further confirmation thereof

1. Reason. May be taken from the goodness and bounty of God, which is such, that he will not suffer any work of Charity, shewed to any of his Ministers, or Children, to pass away unrewarded, without a full recompence. Whereupon saith David, Psal. 62. 12. Vnto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy, for thou rendrest to every man according his work. Though God doth not render a reward to any man for his work done, yet doth he render to every man according to his work. Yea God doth alwaies exceed in his remunerations, to give evidence of his grace and bounty. God will not be in any mans debt long, but what he hath dis-bursed upon his account, he will speedily return in­to his bosome with advantage.

2. Reason 2. May be taken from the faithfulness and righteousness of God, who having in his word graciously promised abundantly to recompence and reward our beneficence, his faithfulness and righteousness ingageth him to make good what he hath promised; So that he cannot but be as good as his word. Men may be forward [Page 25] in promising, but slow in performing: but with God, who is the true and faithful one, dictum et factum, saying and doing, are both alike, All his promises are Yea and Amen in Christ Iesus. Heb. 6. 10. saith the Apostle, God is not unrighteous to forget your work, and labour of love, which ye have shewed towards his name, in that ye have Ministred to the Saints, and do Minister. Here the Apostle argueth a certainty of reward to those who minister any thing to the Saints, from the righteousness of God, even because he is righteous, and therefore will not fail to do what he hath promised. He is not unrighteous to FORGET, that is, he will righteously remem­ber; and Gods remembring, signifies the same as recompencing: as he will remember sinners by recompencing their evil ways upon their own heads, so he will remember his Saints by returning the good that they have done into their own bosomes.

The more to assure us of such kind of remembrance from God, the holy Ghost mentioneth certain books, or roles of remembrance written before God, wherein the merciful deeds of his servants are recorded. So that it is no more possible that such as are charitably benign, and helpful to the poor Ministers, and people of God should lose their reward, than that God himself should cease to be righte­ous, or be forgetful of his word.

3. Reason. May be taken from several metaphorical expressions used in Scripture, by which Alms-giving is represented to us; all which imply not onely a certain return, but that with increase, as SOW­ING, and LENDING, and that upon Usury.

1. We find it set forth in Scripture by SOWING, 2 Cor 9. 6. He which soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly: and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully. This proverbiall speech the Apostle applyeth to the dispersing of almes. Now as Husbandmen, who sow their corn with a liberal hand, do usually reap a crop answerably thereunto: In like manner, such Christi­ans as shall sow their feed of charity with an open, plentifull hand, shall reap accordingly a plentiful crop, they shall find their seed so­wen come up with increase, yielding thirty, if not sixty, or an hun­dred fold here, besides eternal life hereafter. It may be, thou mayst not presently reap the fruit of thy seed, and what wonder? Who is there that sowes, who expects to reap the same day? The Hus­bandman waiteth for his harvest; wait thou on the Lord, and doubt [Page 26] not but an harvest will come, that will pay thee both for thy sowing, and thy waiting.

2. The second Metaphor, whereby alms-giving is set-forth in Scripture is LENDING, and that upon use, Pro. 19. 17. He that hath pitty on the poor lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given, will he pay him again. Men that lend to men receive their own with increase: what they lay up lies dead, and possibly the Thief may break in, and steal it away; but what they lend if to sure hands, comes in with advantage. How rich do some Usur­ers grow by this trade of lending? And though it be a Paradox, that GIVING is a richer trade than Lending, even upon use: yet 'tis a certain truth: for this giving is lending: and he that lends to the Lord will find a greater income at the years end, then he that lends to the best of men. Therefore as one well saith, Eleemosyna non est divitiarum dispendium, sed dite scendi potius compendium, quaest­us (que); omnium uberrimus; Giving to the poor is not the way to wast our wealth, but the art of thriving, and the most compendious course to attain unto riches. Though our alms-deeds seem (as the seed sown) to perish, and rot; yet believing what we see not, we shall assuredly see, what we believe, and find (even here) such a fruit­ful increase, as we shall conclude, that Giving to charitable uses is the surest and safest way of getting, and thriving in the world.

Thus have you the truth of the point confirmed by Scriptures, Examples, and Reasons. Come we now to the application.

1. Vse of Reproof of all unmerciful men, who notwithstanding the many charges God hath laid upon us, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, to draw forth our souls to the hun­gry, to open our bowels to the needy; and the manifold encouragements he hath given us in his word hereto, yet do shut up their bowels of com­passion from them, refusing to afford them any succour or relief. Surely such have no love to Christ: for who can say he loves the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity, when he suffers his Ministers & mem­bers to want necessaries, even food and rayment? Is this thy love to Christ to suffer him to starve? It is evident thou lovest thy mo­ney more than Christ, and so commest under that fearful Anathe­ma, 1 Cor. 16. 22. If any love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha: These two words though both deno­ing [Page 27] a curse, are of two several languages. The former word Ana­thema, is a Greek word signifying accursed; So it is used Rom. 9. 3. Gal. 1. 8. The latter is a Syriack word, as Beza observeth in his An­notations on 1 Cor. 16. 22. yet frequently used by the Iews: it signifieth, Our Lord cometh. Maran is Our Lord, and atha cometh; intimating that such as were under this curse, were to expect no mercy, but to look for the dreadful coming of Christ to take ven­geance of them. So that, as St. Iames speaketh, chap. 2. 13. Such shall have Iudgment without Mercy, that shewed no mercy. How do they think to find mercy from Christ who never shewed mercy to him, and his!

I will not condemn all for unmercifulness (God forbid I should) many there are (and I would to God they were more) who do con­tribute bountifully to the necessities both of Ministers, and other poor Saints of God. But yet I have too great cause to say, that the greatest part of rich men amongst us have their hearts hardened and their bowels shut up, that they cannot compassionate their wants; and their hands withered, like his in the Gospel, that they cannot reach them out to any good use.

Oh that such would consider, that unmercifulness is a greater sin than they do imagine. It was one of Sodoms sins which fetched down fire and brimstone from heaven upon them, and all their chil­dren, Ezek. 16. 49. Uncharitable men are cursed as in their life so at their death: but most cursed will they be at the day of Judgment. Being barren fruitless trees in Gods Orchard, they shall with the barren fig-tree be surely cut down, and cast into unquenchable fire.

More particularly to shew you the miseries of uncharitable per­sons.

1. They are accursed here in every thing: all they have is cursed: So much is implyed in that expression of our Saviour, Luke 11. 41. Give alms of such things as you have, and all things are clean unto you, but without alms-giving nothing is clean unto you, that is, no­thing is blessed, and sanctified unto you, but all things are defiled and cursed. Not only your crosses are curses, but your blessings are curses unto you. So God threatneth, to curse their very blessings, Mal. 2. 2. Though thou enjoyest abundance of this worlds goods, yet so long as thou art hard-hearted to the poor and needy, the [Page 28] curse of God cleaves to thy store, and abundance. Oh how sad and lamentable must thy condition needs be, when those things which are not only blessings in themselves, but likewise blessed unto others, should be cursed unto thee! Surely, To be thus accursed is misery enough.

2. As the unmerciful are cursed here, so shall they be cursed here­after. Jam. 2. 13. He shall have Iudgment without mercy, that hath shewed no Mercy. Such as have shut up their bowels of com­passion against the necessities of the poor, God will shut up his bo­wels of compassion against them, and let forth his fury upon them, they shall have their portion in his plagues, and indignation, with­out the least drop of pitty or Mercy. And at the day of judgment Christ will say unto them, Math. 25. 41. Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels; There's their doom, and why? For I was an hungry, and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink. Oh dreadful sentence! every word whereof carieth much terrour in it, and breatheth no­thing but fire, and brimstone. What! must they depart from Christ the fountain of bliss and happiness? and into everlasting fire? Ah wretches! cursed indeed. For as the Prophet speaketh Isa. 33. 14. Who can dwell with devouring fires? who can dwell with everlasting burnings? An everlasting feaver, or an but an everlasting tooth-ach, were a misery unspeakable. But what are these to the lying in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone to all eternity? Oh me­thinks, the name of everlasting fire, and everlasting burnings should awaken all uncharitable men out of their security, and stir them up without any farther delay to bewail their former unmercifulness, to beg the pardon thereof, and unfeignedly to resolve, willingly to give out of their store towards the relief of the poor, proportionably to what God hath graciously bestowed on them. It may be, thou hast a plentiful portion of this worlds goods; but oh, what will it profit thee to live plentifully here, and to be eternally miserable hereafter? Seriously I cannot but stand amazed to consider, how men who do believe the words of Christ to be true, That all un­charitable men shall by him at the last day be sentenced into ever­lasting burning for their not feeding the hungry, nor cloathing the naked; and yet can be so hard-hearted, as not to hearken to the cry of the poor.

[Page 29] 3. The misery of uncharitable persons appeareth in this, That the wants and necessities of the poor cry loud to heaven against them. God hath dealt bountifully with thee, loading thee with his henefits, (as the Psalmist speaketh, Psal. 68. 19.) and hath given thee not only food and raiment, things needful, and necessary, but an abundance, an affuency of outward things, even all things richly to enjoy: but how many of Christs Ministers and members are in great want, not having wherewithall to satisfie their own and childrens hunger? whose miseries like the blood of Abel cry unto God for vengeance against thee, saying, Lord, there are not a few who have enough and to spare, a liberal portion of this worlds goods, with Dives they fare sumptuously every day: but what are we thy wanting servants the better for them? who of us are warmed with their fires, or clothed with their rayment, or so much as partake of the crums or their table? we are ready to perish for want, when they are surfeited with their abun­dance. Is the blessing of them that are ready to perish like to come up­on them? wilt not thou judge them O Lord? Certainly, these bitter and lamentable complaints cry loud in the eares of the Almighty against such unchristian and inhumane misers. Beware of the cry of the poor against you: If thou wilt not hear their cries unto thee, God will hear their cries against thee.

4. Thy unmercifulness to the poor will provoke God to reject thy most religious exercises; Pro. 21. 13. Whoso stoppeth his eares at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. In which words Solomon hinteth to us two things.

1. That unmerciful men, such as turn away their ears from the cry of the poor, shall fall into such miseries as will bring them to their knees, & make them cry sooner or latter. Here in this world world­ly men sometimes make many prayers, and their religion they hope will make amends, for their inhumanity at least. And in the world to come they shall follow their fellow Dives in his infer­nal devotion.

2. Though they cry, yet they shall not be heard: whether they cry here upon their death-beds for mercy, or hereafter in Hel for ease, they shall not be heard. A notable instance hereof we have in Dives, who though he cryed not here, yet he cryed in, hell, saying, Father Abraham have Mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the top of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in [Page 30] this flame, Luk. 16. 24. But was he heard? was his request grant­ed? 'twas but a smal request, but yet it is denyed. Because he de­nied crumbs of bread here in this life to the poor, he was denied a drop of water in Hel.

And as thy prayers are rejected by God, so likewise will it be in vain for thee to hear the word, or come to the table of the Lord. All thy religion will be in vain, shall I say? Nay it will be an abomi­nation to the Lord, whilst that accursed thing thy covetous, and cruel heart, which the Lord abhoreth, (Psal. 10. 3.) remaines with­in thee. Think not that one duty will excuse the neglect of another, that thy praying may serve instead of thine alms, that religion shall excuse thee mercy, or thy confession of thine unmercifulness will make up the matter. The Lord abhorreth thee and all thy Sa­crifices, whilst the Sacrifice of a compassionate heart is want­ing.

Oh that all uncharitable persons would steep their thoughts in a serious meditation of these things: and as they desire to prevent those judgments which accompany all merciless men, they would put in for a share in the mercies of the merciful, and to that end, would put on bowels of pitty and compassion towards the wants and miseries of Gods distressed ones, and stretch forth an helping hand towards their relief, which leadeth me to a Second Use, namely

2. Use of Exhortation, to stir up every one who have given up their names unto Christ, to make conscience, as of every duty comanded by him, so of this especially, which he hath so vehemently pressed upon us in his word, and encouraged us unto by many sweet and precious pro­mises. This work of charity is wages, and like Samson's Lyon it carrieth honey in the belly of it. He who out of a principle of love, in obedience to Gods command, shall open his heart and hand wide to the poor, shall find God blessing his stock and store, and prosper­ing all his undertakings. As there is a Secret curse goes out from God upon the uncharitable mans estate, which blasteth all his pro­jects, and undertakings whereby they prove altogether fruitless: So there is a Secret blessing goeth out from God upon the charitable mans estate, whereby he thrives and prospers in the world, even to his own and neighbours admiration.

It is observed that they are the richest Merchants, and Citizens [Page 31] who trade boldly: whereas they who are fearful to adventure their goods, have but small returnes. In like manner it is found by ex­perience, that such Christians as are most forward to supply the wants of the poor, boldly adventuring their goods upon the wa­ters, do most of all thrive, and prosper in the world. Why then will any man be so unwise, as to lose his riches for fear of losing them? And not rather seem to lose them that he may in truth find them? These earthly things are assuredly lost by keeping, and kept by well bestowing them.

What now remaineth but that you look about you, where you may lay out your money to your best advantage? Make diligent enquiry after the poor Ministers and members of Christ: Seek more after them than they do after you. For most certain it is, that you get more by giving unto them, than they do by re­ceiving from you. And you are more beholding unto them for re­ceiving your charity, than they are unto you for giving it. Where­as you only relieve their bodies, they feed your souls, as Pro. 11. 17. The merciful man doth good to his own soul, which is refreshed with the mercy which he sheweth to others. And whereas they partake of a small quantity of your outward good things, you shall have the same in kind here returned seven-fold into your bosomes, and at last shall be received into the Kingdom of heaven, prepared for all those who have fed the hungry, cloathed the naked, and performed such like works of charity to the poor members of Christ, Math. 25. 35. So that you pleasure not the poor so much by giving, as you profit your selves by receiving.

Riches are a meer uncertainty, like unto a flock of birds in a mans field, who cannot say they are his because they sit there, for they take unto themselves wings, and fly away. Now in dealing with things un­certain, it will be your wisdome,

  • 1. To make them as sure as you can.
  • 2. To make the best use of them that you can.

1. What greater wisdome than to make sure? And what better way imaginable to make sure your estate, than by putting it into good hands? And what safer hands than the hands of the Lord? Put them into the hands of Gods poor, and you thereby put them into Gods hands.

As in a State Politick, the Lieger Ambassadors that are sent a­broad [Page 32] to lye in forreign Kingdoms secure our peaceable state at home. So what we disperse and send abroad to the poor, secureth the rest at home. For as the poor beg of thee, so they beg of God for thee, that he would preserve, and bless thy store: their devoti­ons are sent up to heaven for thy Security.

2. And what better use can you make of your riches, than by bestow­ing a part of them upon the poor and needy? It being the chief end of Giving more of this worlds goods to some than to others, that they who have the greater store should give out thereof to them who are in want. Which was typically signified by the Israelites gathering of Manna, which though it were rained down from heaven, yet the Lord would not allow, that they who had gathered more than was needful for themselves, and their household, should hoard up their superfluity, but enjoyned them to communicate of their abun­dance to such as had not enough, that so he that had the most, should have nothing over; and he that had the least, should have no lack. The which the Apostle applyeth to the giving of almes out of our abundance to those who want, 2 Cor. 8. 14.

By communicating of our riches to the poor, we shall make them our friends, both to give evidence for us of the truth of our faith and charity, and to beg a plentiful return upon us: This is the advice of our Saviour, Luke 16. 9. Make to your selves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. Where, by Mammon, our Saviour in­tendeth the abundance of this worlds-goods, which he called Mam­mon of unrighteousness, because ordinarily by worldly men it is un­righteously gotten, unrighteously reserved, and unrighteously used. This he hinteth, that his Disciples might be the more wary about it, and the more careful of making themselves friends thereof, that is, so to use their riches by relieving the poor, as the good works done by them may give testimony of their Faith and Charity, which is the part of Friends. Friends are ready to give good testimony of one another. The coats & garments which Dorcas made for poor wid­ows Acts 9. 39. were such friends. But mark what follows, Make to your selves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. When ye fail, that is, when ye depart out of this world, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. This particle THEY, some refer [Page 33] being relieved call upon God to recompense their benefactors,) but most refer it to the Riches which they bestow upon the poor, which, by vertue of the evidence that they give of the faith and charity of the giver, are said to receive them into everlasting habita­tions.

Surely, rich men have a price in their hands, wherewith to pur­chase to themselves a good inheritance, had they but hearts to make use of it. Though charity pretend not to any merit ex congruo, or condigno, yet will it be plentifully recompensed by God both here and hereafter.

I hope you will pardon my zeal in pressing this duty of charity so much upon you: I do assure you, it is not out of any design to take any thing from your selves, and children, but only to shew you the surest and safest way of thriving in the world; and how you may en­tail Gods blessing upon your children, and so secure unto them the portion which you leave them. I am willing to do you a kindness, and I shall do you a great kindness, If I can but effectually perswade you to this duty: Whatever kindness I may herein do to those who need, I shall do a greater kindness to you that will be perswa­ded to help them in their need; in as much as it is a more blessed thing to give, than to receive. And therfore bear with me, if I do not only offer you a kindness, but use such importunity to press you to accept it.

The Apostle, knowing how backward rich men especially were to all works of charity, adviseth Timothy (1 Tim. 6. 17.) not only to commend unto them the duty, but to command it. The expressi­on of the Apostle is very observable, He doth not say [...] de­clare unto them, but [...] charge them that are rich in this world, as they love their lives, and would save their souls, To be rich in good works. As one wittily glosseth upon those words of the Apostle. ‘If God should charge the Rocks, they would send forth water: If the Stones, they would become bread: If the Ra­vens, they would feed Elijah: If the Quails, they would victual the Camp: If the Clouds, they would rain down food from hea­ven upon his poor people; will you then be more rocky than rocks? more stony then stones? more ravenous than ravens? more senseless than birds? more empty than clouds?’

If you be rich in this worlds goods, and be not rich in good works, [Page 34] talke not of your faith, for there can be no true faith without good-works, Jam. 2. 17. Neither tell me of your religion: for there can be no true religion in you, so long as you make no conscience of this duty. Pure religion; saith the Apostle Iames, chap. 1. 27. (is this) To visit the Fatherless and widdows in their afflictions, and you never learned other Religion of us.

The Lord indeed giveth us leave to eat and to drink, and to chear up our hearts by partaking, in some measure, of that portion he hath bestowed on us: but he never allowed us to keep all unto our selves, or to spend it in the gratifying our sinfull lusts, but com­mands us to set apart some portion of our estate for the relief of those for whom nothing is provided, Pro. 3. 9. Saith the wise-man, Honour the Lord with thy substance. He doth not say, Honour thy self with thy riches, but honour the Lord with them; as they come from his grace, so they should be used to his glory. Now then we use our riches to Gods glory, when in obedience to his command, we therewith supply the want, of his children, who will thereby be stirred up to bless and praise the name of God for his Fatherly care and providence over them.

Shall I yet again need to tell thee, that thy liberality to the poor cannot bring any loss to thine estate, seeing, The more thou givest, the more thou shalt receive? It is fabled of Midas, that whatsoever he touched was turned into gold. But it is no fable, nor fancy, That the hand of charity can do it; can extract grace out of your goods, righteousness out of riches, and heaven out of earth. The impart­ing of goods to such good uses, whilest it seems to impaire, doth mightily improve what you have, to your most singular advantage. The more liberal any man is, the more likely he is to be a rich man: the mercy of God will crown his beneficence with such a blessing of store, that he shall find, He will never be behind hand with him. Its nothing which the poor receive from him, in comparison of that blessing which he shall receive from the Lord. It may be, thou dost not find thy store thereupon presently increased, yet if thou dili­gently observest the passages of Gods providence towards thee, thou wilt sooner or latter find thy self abundantly re-imbursed of all thy disbursments.

I told you before that I am willing to do you a kindness: and that it may be a kindness indeed, I must farther tell you, not only [Page 35] what you should do, but How you must do it, that you may not loose your reward. And if you would make sure to be gainers by whatever you thus lay out, observe the following DIRECTI­ONS.

I. Give your selves to the Lord, and with your selves, all that ever you have, to be so laid out, whether upon your selves or others, as He doth appoint and require.

2 Cor. 8. 2. The Apostle boasting of the Macedonian Christians, and of the riches of their liberality, tells us, ver. 5. That they first gave themselves to the Lord. He that will not give himself to the Lord, is like to give but little else. And if he should give all that he had, and only withhold himself, God will not accept, nor re­ward it. God will have nothing of thee, if he may not have thy Heart.

Give your selves for Servants to the Lord, to serve him with your Spirits first, and then with all that you have. Make over your selves to God in Christ to be his Covenant Servants, & thence-forth count and say of your selves, as the Apostle teacheth you, 1 Cor. 6. 20. I am not mine own, but must henceforth glorifie God with my body and my spirit, yea and with all that I have, which are his.

He knowes not what he says, that says I serve the Lord, who hath not first given himself to him for a servant; God will not be served by Aliens. And he hath but lyed unto God, who says, I give my self un­to the Lord for a servant, and doth not actually serve him with all that he hath. He that hath given himself to the Lord, will with­hold nothing from him that God will have.

He that will serve the Lord with his spirit, will as readily serve him with all that he hath. God that hath given us his Son, how will he not with him freely give us all things, Rom. 1. 32? And that Man that hath given God his soul, will keep back nothing from Him.

Friend, thou sayst thou art the Lords, and hast devoted thy self to him; thou hopest that thou art Christs, and hast joyned thy self in covenant unto him, resolving to be his disciple: but, which way runs thine estate? whose house is this, these lands, and this mony which thou hast, are these the Lords too? How is it then that thy lusts have so much of them at their service? That thy pride hath so much, and thine appetite so much, or that they are all impropria­ted [Page 36] and kept by thee to feed thy covetousness? Is all thou hast the Lords? How is it then that thou begrutchest, or thinkest-so-much of every little that he calls for from thee? Thou who wilt not in every case part with so much as God calls for, art either a Lyar, or a Robber. Either thou didst not give all to God, when thou saydst thou didst, and then thou art a Lyar: or if thou didst give all, and yet will not let him have what he calls for, but bestowest it else­where, then thou art a Robber.

Obj. But some will say, Must I give all I have to the poor, and so leave my self, and my farily to be beggars? Or, what else is your mean­ing, when you say, I must give all to the Lord?

My meaning is, that you so give all to the Lord, as to resolve to dispose of your whole estate to such persons and purposes, as God orders and appoints you. The Lord would have you live, and maintain your self, and provide for you family soberly, according to your rank and degree (some extraordinary cases being excepted.) But still you must allow no more to your self, nor no less to those in need, then is according to the will, and good-pleasure of the Lord.

Some other will here put in and say: But I am free and bountiful, and give great alas; I cast my bread upon the waters; I give a por­tion to six, and also to seven: I devise liberal things, I delight to shew Mercy.

Dost thou so? 'Tis well thou dost, Gods blessing on thine heart for it: 'tis great pitty that any liberal man in the world should lose his reward; and that thou maist not lose thine, take this Counsel of a friend that loves thee, See that thou hast sincerely gi­ven up thy self to God as his covenant-servant, and art a devoted Disciple of Jesus Christ, and that these thy workes of Mercy are done in pursuance of thy Covenant, as a part of that service which thou owest and hast vowed to thy Lord, whose thou art, and whose talents thou reckonest all thou hast. And look to this the rather, because its possible that men of great good works may be, as of lit­tle charity, so of little faith also, which is that grace which entitles God to us, and all we do, and obtains our acceptance with Him. First, by faith give thy self to him, and then by charity serve Him with what thou hast, and then doubt not of a plentiful return.

II. Offer up your gift upon the Altar. Give your selves, and [Page 37] with your selves, all that you have, through Christ, unto God. Let him be your Altar that sanctifies your gift: 'tis through him alone you will be accept­ed, Eph. 1. 6. He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. Let your Souls be sprinkled with his blood, and thereby washed from your blood, from your na­tural and contracted guilt, and pollution, and then they will be a gift accep­table to the Lord. Do not think you have no more to do, but to give your selves as you are to the Lord: you have given your selves to sin, and now, it may be you think, you will give yourselves back to the Lord: but know there is more in it than so. Thou art in thy self a guilty, and defiled soul, and God will have none of thee in this case: Go to Christ first, and get him to cover thine unrighteousness, and to cleanse thee from thy filthines, put thy wretched soul into his hands, and let him present it unto the Father.

And what ever thou givest with thy self, thine alms, thy bread, or thy flesh, or thy money, that thou hast for his poor; put it all into the same hand, and let him present this also to the Father for the use of his Servants.

Friends, though I would have you givers yet I would not have you los­ers. I would not have you losers, either by Saving, or by unprofitable Giving.

1. Be not losers by Saving. That's the next way to lose all, by thinking to save, and k [...]ep all to your selves. He that will save his life, that is, by not laying it down when God calls for it, he shall loose it. And so he that will save his estate, that is, by refusing to lay it out where God would have him, he is the more like to loose all that he hath.

2. Lose not by unprofitable Bestowing. All that is bestowed unprofitably, as to thee, to whomsoever thou givest it, which is not given first through Christ unto God, and to his servants for the Lords sake. It may be profit however to them, who receive it, but no profit to thee who givest. 'Tis onely whats given to God, and to men for Gods sake, for which God be­comes debtour.

III. Fetch all your alms out of your hearts. Draw forth thy soul to the hungry, Isa. 58. 10. Give what thou givest, 1, Out of a willing heart. 2, Out of a compassionate heart. 3. Out of a thank [...]fu [...] heart:

1. Out of a willing heart; Give willingly, 2 Cor. 9 6. Every man as he pur­poseth in his heart so let him give, not grudgingly, or of neccessity, for God lov­eth a cheerful giver. An alms-deed in Scripture is called a Sacrifice, such a Sacrifice as is well-pleasing unto God, Heb. 13. 16: To do good, and to com­municate forget not, for with such Sacrifices God is well pleased. Now all our Christian Sacrifices are to be free-will Oblations. An alms without a will, is a Sacrifice without an heart, and will be rejected of God.

[Page 38] 2. Out of a compassionate heart. Get a compassionate heart, and fetch all thine alms out of thine own bowels. 'Tis the hard-hearts of men that shut up their purses: thou say'st, Thou hast not to spare, thou wantest it thy self, or those about thee may want it: No, thou wantest an heart, and that is the reason that those that need, must want thine alms. A compassionat heart would find something, or other, for those that are in distress.

Get a compassionate heart. God is a God of compassion, and his chil­dren are compassionate children, Col. 3. 12. Put on, (as the elect of God) bow­els of Mercy. 1 Iohn 3. 17. Whoso hath this worlds goods, and seeth his bro­ther in need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, (or is a man of no bowels,) how dwelleth the love of God in him? What ever thy profession, or thy religion be, or thy hopes be concerning it, thou hast nothing of God in thee, thou art none of His, who hast no bowels. God is a God of mercy, His children are all merciful children.

Worldling, wilt thou prove thy self to be no child of God? wouldst thou prove that the faith thou hast is vain, thy religion vain, and that thou art but a pretender to the love of God, and hast not the love of God within thee? This unmercifulness of thine will put it out of question. If thou hast no bowels of compassion, the love of God is not in thee.

O get a compassionate, and merciful heart. Hast thou received Mercy, and wilt thou not be merciful? Dost thou hope for mercy, and wilt thou not shew Mercy? Put thy self into thy poor brother's case a while, think how hard tis with him, think of his hunger and nakedness, of his pressing straits and miseries, let thy soul go into his house, and see his naked walls, his cold chimney, his empty cup-board, his starveling children: and then think again O how if it were thus with me! Ah poor distressed creatures: how are they pinch'd and pin'd whilst I have enough and abound? O my bowels how can you but yern? O mine heart, how canst thou but bleed over such di­stressed ones? Hast thou nothing to help them? Ther's enough in my house ther's enough in my purse to yield them relief, but is there no alms for them in my heart? Can I have the heart to see them pine and perish, and do no­thing to h [...]lp them? Where are ye, O my bowels? Where are my com­passions? O my soul help, and send portions to them for whom nothing is provided.

3. Out of a thankeful heart. Remember what God hath done for thee; Hast thou any sense or experience of his special love to thee, in Christ? What should that produce? The sense of divine Goodness in a way of Common Providence calls for all due acknowledgment from us: But a taste of his pa­ternal love in pardoning our sins, and justifying our persons, and enstating us [Page 39] in eternal life and happiness, upon the account of his Son's-suffering, and dying for us, this is, as the strongest Motive to, so the most commanding reason of our charity, or beneficence to our fellow-creatures, who stand in need of it.

In Christ, the beams of Gods mercy are concentred, as the beams of the Sun are in a burning-glass, which falling upon our hearts, they are, or should be hereby inflamed, and made to burn with greater heat of love and kind­ness to all in want, especially to all who bear his image. The right spring of Mercy to our neighbour, is the sense of God's Mercy towards us.

IV. Let all your streams of love flow into the Ocean. My meaning is, Let all be done to the glory of God. This must be your last end to which all must be directed, as the Apostle charges, 1 Cor. 10. 31. Whether you eat or drink, I may add, or whether you give to eat, or to drink, or Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Let this be chiefly in your eye, and your heart, that God may be glorified. Other subordinate ends there are, As the refreshing of the needy, the adorning our holy profession, the edification of others by our good example, but all at last must end here, that God may be glorified.

Take heed your end be not to glorifie your selves. As worms breed in the fairest fruit; so pride, and vain-glory are apt to creep-up out of the best duties.

V. Let your works of charity be done in humility, giving unto God the hon­our of them, by acknowledging that as what you have bestowed on the poor, you first received from him: So it was his goodness to give you an heart to give any thing out of your abundance towards their relief. Yea, you ought to be ever jealous over your-selvs, lest there hath been some hypocrisie, and self-seeking in your works of charity; acknowledging that you are so far from merit­ing heaven, and Salvation by your good works, that, if God should deal with you according to the rigour of his justice, he might cast you into hell, for that pride and hypocrisie which cleaves to your best works.

VI. Let your workes of charity to men be accompanied with prayers, and thanksgivings unto God. Thank God, that he hath put you amongst the givers, and not amongst the receivers, it being a more blessed thing to give then to receive: that he hath put you among the givers, and not the withhol­ders: that he hath given you an estate to give, and an heart to give. Thank God, that he will accept a gift at your hands; that He, whose is all you have, and to whom it is owing, will count that a gift, which is but the payment of so small a part of your debt: say with David, in 1 Chro. 29. 11, 13. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness: both riches and honour come from thee; Now there­fore, Our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But what am I, [Page 40] and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

VII. Give out proportionably to what God hath given unto you, 1 Cor. 16. 2. The Apostle adviseth the Corinthians to give, as God had pr [...]spered them.

Rich men therefore ought to be rich in good wor [...]s, for God expecteth fruit answerable to the seed which he soweth. Hath he abounded to you in this worlds goods? you ought thereupon to be abundant in good works towards others: your Pounds are expected, where the Widdows mites are accepted.

Having given you some Directions for the manner of bestowing your Almes, I shall briefly shew you the means how to attain to this grace of Christian Charity.

Now the means I shall prescribe, shall be,

  • 1. Such as tend to the bringing your hearts to be willing to this Duty.
  • 2. Such as shall tend to the helping of you for the better managing of it.

First, for means to bring your hearts to be willing to set upon this duty, take These,

Oft call to mind, and imprint in your memories the manifold precepts in the Scriptures, re­quiring this Duty at your hands. As also the many gracious promises God hath there made for the encouragement of his people thereunto; and thereupon reason thus with thy self, what? Hath God commanded me, (Deut. 15. 10.) to give unto my Brother according to his neces­sity? to cast my bread upon the waters? Eccl. 11. 1. And hath our blessed Saviour com­manded me, Luk. 6. 38. to give unto the poor?

And hath the Lord for my encouragement thereunto promised, that he will bless me in all my works, and in all that I put my hand unto, prosper me in my Trade and Calling? That my Barnes shall be filled with plenty? That what we shall give or lend unto the poor, he will pay us again with Interest? That though I cast my bread upon the waters where it may seem to be lost. yet I shall find it after many days, it shall certainly be returned into my bosome with increase? And hath my Saviour for my encouragement promised, Luk. 6. 36. That if I give unto the poor, it shall be given to me again, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, running over? Then certainly, there is no such compendious way to thrive and prosper in the world, as by my liberality to the poor.

2. Prefer Heaven and the things thereof before this earth, and earthly things. Though the temporal reward which I have so much insisted on, be a great encouragement, yet the greatest encouragement is the spiritual and eternal reward that the Lord hath promi­sed. And that this may be the more prevailing encouragement, learn to esteem and prize things spiritual and eternal above all things that are but temporal. Suppose it should so fall out, that you should never receive in kind what you bestow, yet count those temporal things put off at the best rate, which you receive in things spiritual and eternal. Value grace and glory above all the treasures of the earth, and count your selves to grow rich men, according to your abounding in grace, and your evidences for glory. And esteem it an unthristy Saving, and holding in, where you have an opportunity to improve in your in­ner man by expending of your outward substance.

Till Heaven be valued above earth, this great Argument encouraging to Acts of boun­ty and mercy will lose its efficacy. When God says, Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it again after many dayes; the Worldling will be ready to demand. But how shall I find it? in what way shall it be returned me? Shall I have bread for bread, or money for my bread. or houses or Lands for my money? probably thou may'st. But suppose not so, yet it shall be better than so, thou shalt have in grace what thou partest with in bread or money; thou shalt reap in Heaven, what thou sowest on the waters.

[Page 41] I but the worlding will reply; I do not mean to part with my bread, or my money so. No, I know thou dost not; but the reason is, be­cause thou lovest this earth more than Heaven. Thou sayest, Will Grace feed me? Will Grace cloath me? Can I keep my self, and my Family? Can we live and be maintained, and preserved from poverty and beggery here, by hopes of glory hereafter?

Go fool, and learn better what God is, and what his everlasting mercy is; let the lasting treasures, the durable riches be more priz'd and valued by thee, and this will stop thy mouth, and silence thine heart from such vain reasonings. Thou wilt never again say, I can­not spare my bread, or my money, when by spending it for God thou seest thou makest him thy debter, who will pay it thee again in spiritual and eternal good things, if once thou account these to be better than thy bread, or thy money.

But till thou art come to be settled in this Judgement, and be­lief, both that the good things of God are infinitely better than the good things of this earth; and that what thou sowest in the earth, thou shalt certainly reap in Heaven; till thou comest in good earnest to be of this mind, God's poor are like to be but little the better for thee.

'Tis this, beloved, that will effectually do it, will open your hearts, and open your hands in bounty and liberality for God, when you come to be rooted in the practical belief of this principle, upon which the practice of all Religion stands, and is upheld in the world; That Heaven is better than Earth: if this other be added to it, That what is sincerely laid out for God in the Earth, shall certainly be repayed in Heaven; besides that return which the Lord here in this world oftentimes makes to the charitable.

2. For the Means tending to help you for the better managing of it; take these following.

1. Either follow the Example of the Primitive Saints, in setting apart something every Lords Day out of the former weeks gettings.

Or, 2. Devote unto God a certain portion of thy yearly incomes for charitable uses.

That the former way of setting apart something every Lords Day for the relief of the poor, was the practice of the Primitive Christians, is clear from that of the Apostle to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 16. 1, 2. Now concerning the Collection for the Saints, as I have given order to the Churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Vpon the first [Page 42] day of the week (which is the Lords Day) let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. This way and course concerns such in special who live upon their daily labours.

But to such Gentlemen, and others who live upon their Rents and Offices; and to such Merchants and Citizens who once a year cast up their accounts, I would commend the latter way of devoting unto God a certain portion of their yearly income by Rent or other­wise, and then separating it from the rest, to account it a sacred stock for the poor, not to be imployed to any other use.

All men naturally (through the corruption that is in them) are hard-hearted, and close-handed, very unwilling to part with any thing considerable upon sudden occasions for charitable uses. But having aforehand set apart something, their ears, hearts and hands, are open to every charitable motion, and very ready and forward are they the more liberally to contribute thereunto of what is laid by; rejoycing that they have met with so good an object of Cha­rity.

As for the quota pars, what proportion every one ought to set apart out of his yearly income for good uses, I do not find it par­ticularly set down in the Word of God, and therefore dare not po­sitively determine the same: and the rather, because there are so many circumstances which alter the case, that no certain rule can be given, but shall leave it to the discretion and ingenuity of the pru­dent Christian.

But though the Scripture doth not determine the exact propor­tion to be set apart for good works, yet doth it command us, to give out proportionably to what God hath given unto us; to open our hands wide to the necessities of the poor; to be rich in good works, and the like. Yea the Scripture doth commend unto us the examples of very bountiful Christians, as of Dorcas, who is said to be full of good works, and alms-deeds which she did, Act. 9. 36. And of Corne­lius, who is said to give much alms, Act. 10. 2. And of the Mace­donians, who are said, to give to their power, yea and beyond their power, 2 Cor. 8. 3. It likewse commendeth unto us the example of Iacob, who in testimony of his thankfulness unto God for what he should bestow upon him, vowed the tenth thereof unto God, for pious and charitable uses; as Gen. 28. 20, 22. And Jacob vowed a vow un­to God, saying, Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

[Page 43] These examples are left upon record for our imitation; for as the Apostle speaketh, Rom. 15. 4. Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, and for our admonition. The most that I have heard or read of, who have taken this course, to con [...]ecrate unto God a certain portion of their estate to charitable uses, have followed the example of Iacob, in giving a tenth part un­to God. And as God did exceedingly bless Iacob after his vow; so hath he likewise blessed very many others, after their like vow unto God.

Mr. Stock in his funeral Sermon at the burial of the Lord Har­rington, speaking of his Charity, declared that in his life time, he gave the tenth part of his yearly revenue to the poor. Mr. Gataker in his funeral Sermon at the burial of Mr. Iohn Parker Merchant, and Citizen of London, speaking of his Charity, saith, That at his first effectual Call, among other things he then resolved upon, this was one, to set apart every year a tenth of his gain for the relief of the poor and needy; and that God from that time abundantly advanced his estate. And questionless, if such Merchants, who usually ensure their goods upon their apprehension of danger at Sea, would sincerely promise unto God, in testimony of their thankfulness unto him, the tenth of what should come safe into their hands, they might receive far grea­ter returns than they do.

In the Life of Dr. Hammond, written by Dr. Fell, I find this ex­pression, The rate and summ of what the Doctor devoted, was the tenth of all his income, wherein he was so strictly punctual, that com­monly the first thing he did was to compute, and separate the poor mans share. And how his stock increased notwithstanding his abundant giving out to the relief of others, the history at large declareth. The like I read in the Life of Mr. William Wheatly, Minister of Banbury, how for many years he set apart the tenth of his yearly comings in, both out of his Temporal and Ecclesiastical Means, and that his Estate prospered the better after he took that course. To these I could add many more out of the Lives of good and charitable men, and out of several funeral Sermons, which are printed and published. And could name multitudes of men now living, who have devoted the like, and greater portion out of their estates for charitable uses, and are ready to attest the truth of this discourse, That they are no losers, but great gainers in Temporals by what they have given to the poor.

[Page 44] Mr. Richard Baxter in his Learned and Usefull Piece, called A Christian Directory, Part the 4th. fol. 195. of the quotapars, what proportion is meet for most men to devote for charitable uses, whe­ther the tenth part of their increase be not ordinarily a fit propor­tion? hath this expression,

‘Though the proportion of the tenth part is too much for some, and much too little for others, yet for the most part, I think it as likely a propor­tion as it is fit for another to prescribe in particular.’

Yet I would not be thought to impose this as a proportion to be observed by all; for all mens hearts are not alike inlarged with love and bounty: and some there are who have no more than is ne­cessary for the comfortable support of themselves and family; from whom less is required for the relief of others. But I would advise such whom the Lord hath blessed with a plentiful estate, so that their necessary expences are, or might be, far less than their incomes, to devote a tenth part of their whole yearly income to charitable uses: I say, of their whole yearly income, without first deducting any part thereof for diet, cloaths, or other necessary expences; for the tenth of the remainder will be a very inconsiderable proportion for a rich man to devote to Charity, and far short of that which the Scripture seemeth to call for.

And know assuredly, that this course is so far from being a means of diminishing your stock and store, that if it be managed as it ought, according to the forementioned rules and directions, it is the surest and safest means, the most compendious course of increasing it, through the secret blessing of God, which accompanieth the same; which hath been sufficiently demonstrated in the foregoing discourse.

2. Be careful on whom thou bestowest thine alms; for by giving to such common beggars who are able to work, and yet are so lazy, that they will not work, but would live by the sweat of other mens brows; I say, by relieving such, we shall both maintain them in their idle and wicked life; and they who are truly poor, and ought to be looked upon as the proper objects of our Charity, will be neglect­ed, or at least scanted of that, which of right belongeth to them.

I am not against the relieving of all beggars; some of them I know are blind, others lame, aged, and past their work; these impotent poor, in regard of their present condition, are objects of Charity, but not the impudent poor, who have strength enough to work, and will not, those canting vagrants, who are the burthen of the earth, [Page 45] and shame of the Kingdom, for these I have no charity: Neither had the Apostle St. Paul, who towards God's poor was full of com­passion; but for the Devil's poor, he gave this command, 2 Thes. 3. 10. That if any would not work, neither should he eat; that hunger and necessity might drive them to labour. Erasmus mentions a kind of mercy meetest for such, 'tis misericordia puniens: Surely the Whip is more their due, than food: Bridewell to entertain them, than an Alms-house.

III. Another Means for the attaining this grace of Christian Charity, is this, Be earnest with God in prayer, that he would be plea­sed to bestow upon thee that adorning and enriching grace of Charity, and accept thy offering. This Sacrifice, as it must be offered up to Heaven; so it must be fetched from Heaven. The gift of a mer­ciful and charitable heart, is one of those gifts that come down from above, even the Father of Lights, Iam. 1. 17. If thou receivest not this gift from God, thy poor Brother is like to have no gift from thee. Now it must be thy prayer that must fetch down this gift from God. Lift up thine heart to the Lord, and beg a merciful and compassionate soul; beg of God that he would make thee ready to every good work, willing to communicate to the poor members of Christ, according to thine ability, and their necessity, that there­by thou mayest lay up in store for thy self a good foundation against the time to come, and so lay hold on eternal life: pray for a willing heart, and pray for acceptance of thy gift, that thine alms may be such a sacrifice, and so offered up, that therewith the Lord may be well pleased.

Having thus shewed you the Means on our part to be perform­ed for attaining and exercising this grace of Charity: I shall close this discourse with answering two or three Objections.

Object. 1. Some object the greatness of their charge, the num­ber of their children, who must be cared for, and thereupon have little to give to the poor.

Answ. 1. Hast thou many children, thou oughtest the rather to be charitable, that thereby thou mayest entail God's blessing upon them, which is the best portion, and surest inheritance thou canst leave them; that will secure their stock, and improve their store; whereas un­mercifulness to the poor will intail a curse instead of a blessing upon the persons and estates of thy children.

2. Thou who objectest the number of thy children as a plea for thy [Page 46] parsimony, how justly may God then lessen the number, and so take away this excuse, by taking thy children from thee.

3. Suppose thou hast many children, it may be half a score, reckon God for one more; give unto him a childs portion; I mean, bestow upon the poor, for his sake, as much every year, as one child stands thee in; give unto them a childs portion, and I dare boldly say, thou wilt not be the poorer, but rather a great gainer. For thereby wilt thou procure God's blessing upon thy self and children, which in truth is all in all; and without which, all is like to come to nothing, as wee see by daily experience; which made St. Austin say, Haeredi praestabis, quicquid misericordiae causa de ejus portione detraxeris, Aug. de Tempore, Serm. 76. That which thou givest out of thine estate to charitable uses, will be no loss to thy children, but rather a great ad­vantage. Yea the Spirit of God in setting forth the happiness of a merciful man, saith, His children shall fare the better for his goodness and bounty, as Psal. 37. 16. He is ever merciful, and lendeth, and his seed is blessed; that is, God will bless his children, not only with spi­ritual, but also with temporal blessings.

2. Obj. Many Professors in these daies are very barren in good works.

Answ. Fruitless and uncharitable Christians may make a profession of Religion, but questionless they are no sound Christians, nor sincere Professors. For most certain it is, that the Elect of God do put on bowels of mercy and compassion, as the Apostle speaketh, Col. 3. 12. And therefore an uncharitable Christian is a meer contradiction. For who is a Christian but he who conforms himself to the Law and Life of Christ? The substance of whose Law is Charity, and whose Life was spent in going about doing good, some way or other, to the soul and bodies of men and women.

Whosoever therefore having this worlds goods, seeth his Bro­ther in need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, and will not communicate any thing considerable towards his necessities; let his profession be never so specious and glorious in the eyes of men, yet certainly he is but a rotten Professor, and dis­sembling Hypocrite in the sight of God. In Matth. 25. 23. We find that liberality to the members of Christ is made the special touch­stone of true Faith and Godliness. For they are the charitable per­sons, who at the great day of Judgment will appear to be the Sheep at Christs right hand, and shall hear that joyful sentence of absolu­tion, [Page 47] Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit 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.

And on the other side, all unmerciful men, who have not relieved Christ in his members, whatsoever profession of Religion they have made here in this world; yet at the last day will appear to be the Goats set on Christs left hand, and shall hear that dreadful sentence of condemnation, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels: For I was an hungred, 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. Hence it appeareth, that as mercy and bounty to the poor members of Christ, is a conspicuous evi­dence of true Faith, and sincere godliness in a Christian, and signal­ly declare him pious: so illiberality, and unmercifulness to them, is a clear mark of infidelity, and ungodliness, and signally declare him as an unbeliever; so a wicked and prophane person: Therefore I should much question the sincerity of their faith and piety, who making a profession of Religion, shew little or no charity to the poor members of Christ. For as the Apostle Iames speaketh, c. 1. v. 21. Pure Religion and undefield before God, and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless and widdows in their affliction: Implying, that works of mercy and charity rightly performed, are clear evidences of the truth of our Religion, and of the sincerity of our Profession. And if you look into the Scriptures, you shall scarce read of a man truly godly, but you may read also, that he was merciful and cha­ritable, forward to every good work.

So much shall suffice for this Point of Doctrine.

[Page 48] A word or two for my Brethrens sake of the first Doctrine raised from the foregoing verse, which is the principal Point there intend­ed by our Saviour, which was this.

17. That all needfull succour, and good entertainment ought to be af­forded in special to the Ministers of the Gospel.

Our Saviour in commending objects to our Charity, in the first place mentioneth Prophets, and the Righteous ones, saying, He that receiveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophet's reward; and then addeth, He that receiveth a Righteous man in the name of a Righteous man, &c.

Indeed, so general must be the extent and emanation of our Cha­rity, that it must not exclude any who are in want and distress. For though we may, and ought to put a difference between men upon whom we bestow our Charity; yet ought we not to restrain it from any men who are in want; but must act the grace of Charity to­wards them who have not the grace of Faith. Yea, we ought to do good unto all, as the Apostle exhorteth, Gal. 6. 13. But especially un­to them who are of the houshold of Faith. And among them chiefly to the Ministers of Christ. So as this object of Charity, Prophet, is not here to be taken exclusively, but by way of eminency and prefer­ment: Ministers are before, and above others, with more readiness and chearfulness to be ministred unto.

The people of Israel we read were commanded once and again not to leave nor forsake their Levites, especially when they were reduced into any streights and exegencies, as Deut. 12. 19. and 14. 27. Then much less should the Ministers of the Gospel be left and forsaken by the people of God, when they lye under any want or distress.

The examples of God's people that have gone before us in the performance of this duty are many, both in the Old and New Te­stament. It is recorded to the perpetual praise and commendation of Obadiah, that he hid the Prophets of God by fifty in a cave from the cruelty of Iezabel, and sustained them with food, and mi­nistred all things necessary unto them, 1 King. 18. 13. We read likewise how the widdow of Sarephath nourished the Prophet Elijah in her house for many dayes and years, even so long as the famin continued, 1 King. 17. 15, 16. The kindness of the good Shunamite to the Prophet Elisha, is largely reproved, 2 King. 4. 8, &c. It fell [Page 49] on a day that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman, and she constrained him to eat bread; that is, to refresh himself with food. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. Having found good entertainment, and hearty welcome, he did the oftner visit the family. And she said unto her Husband, Behold now I perceive, that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually, let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall, and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candle­stick. Under these, other necessary accommodations are com­prized. The good woman desired of her Husband, that a chamber might be made for the Prophet on the wall; perhaps not that she want­ed room in her house to lodge him in, but because she considered, that the noise of a great family might be some disturbance to the Prophet's study and devotion; therefore thought it convenient to provide such a chamber for him, where he might be more retired, and have the free ingress and egress; that by those accommoda­tions he might be encouraged the oftner to take up his lodging there.

Rom. 16. 2. It is set down as the height and crown of Phebe's good works, that she had been a succourer of the Apostle Paul in his wants and straits. And in 2 Tim. 1. 16. we read how Onesiphorus refreshed and relieved the Apostle in his suffering condition, and was not ashamed of his chain; that is, though he were a prisoner, and under restraint for the Gospels sake, yet Onesiphorus owned him, shewed him all respect, succoured and relieved him in that his low condition. Gaius likewise, a godly, wealthy Citizen of Corinth, is famous for that kind entertainment and succour which he gave to the Apostle, and the Church with him, Rom. 16. 23.

It is recorded to the commendation of King Edward the sixth, that he afforded all needful succour, and good entertainment to Bu­cer, Fagius, and other Divines, when they fled into this Kingdom by reason of the troubles in their own Nation. And Beza in his Epistle ad Regem Iacobum, maketh an honourable mention of a li­beral collection of the Church of Scotland sent to the French-Ministers, who were banished Religionis causa.

Here are fair Copies for us to write after. And indeed why are these things written, and left upon record to posterity, but for our learning? Not so much for our admiration, as for our imitation, that we might follow their steps, and write after their copy; which [Page 50] St. Paul testifies of the Macedonians, 2 Cor. 9. 2. How that very many of them were stirred up and provoked to a liberal contribution to the poor Saints at Jerusalem by the forwardness and zeal of the Corinthians. And St. Austin (Confes. lib. 9. cap. 2.) confesseth, that the examples of God's servants, did burn and consume his own lukewarmness; and their fervent zeal set an edge on his Devotion.

To these Examples I shall add a few REASONS for the better enforcing this duty upon you.

Reas. I. Because Ministers being supported, are like to be most ser­viceable to the Church of God. They are Spiritual Fathers, to beget men unto Christ. They are his Anbassado [...]rs, and stand in his stead to reveal the Mysteries of the Kingdom, sent forth to be reconcilers betwixt God and this sinful world; to pray and beseech them to be reconciled unto God, 2 Cor. 5 20. Their work is to bear the Name of God, to publish the salvation of God before the world; to open the eyes of the blind, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may re­ceive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified: In which respect Ministers of the Gospel are more useful and serviceable in their generation, than either Lawyers, Physicians or Tradesmen, which yet are useful enough.

1. Lawyers indeed may be a means of settling your Right in your Goods and Lands: But Ministers of settling your Right to your heavenly Inheritance.

2. Physicians may cure the maladies of your bodies: But Mini­sters are sent to cure the diseases of your souls.

3. Merchants, and all sorts of Tradesmen may replenish a Land with all manner of Commodities necessary for this life: But Mini­sters only bring in such heavenly and spiritual treasures as spring up into the everlasting treasure.

So that by supplying their bodily wants, you do comfort and re­fresh the souls of many. And what better Charity imaginable, than by relieving the temporal wants of some few, to further the ever­lasting salvation of many? Oh what cause will their souls have to bless God to all eternity for your Charity, who have been convert­ed by the Ministry of those whom you have refreshed and support­ed in their work!

Reas. II▪ Another Reason may be taken from the consideration of the quality of the persons for whom I am pleading: They are not so mean [Page 51] as outwardly they appear. They whom you behold so poorly clad, walking so djectedly, being destitute of many outward comforts, are men endowed with many singular prerogatives and priviledges, not only above the rest of God's people; but likewise above the most glorious Angels.

Compare them first with the people of God; they are called the Lord's Sheep; These the Shepheards of the flock, Ezek. 34. 2. They Chil­dren in God's family; These Spiritual Fathers, who by the seed of the word beget men unto God, 1 Cor. 4. 15. Therefore the Spirit of God vouchsafeth them this dignity, to be called [...], fellow-labourers with God.

Concerning Angels; true it is that they and Ministers are fellow-servants, Rev. 22. 9. But yet Ministers have sundry prerogatives above them.

1. Angels rejoyce at the conversion of a sinner, Luke 15. 10. But by the Ministery of Prophets sinners are converted unto God, Act. 26. 18.

2. An Angel was sent to Cornelius, to advise him whither to go to be instructed: but a Minister instructed him in the way of life, Act. 10. 6. 34.

3. Was the word of Reconciliation ever committed to Angels? to Ministers it is committed, 2 Cor. 5. 18. It is observable, that the Embassage of Ministers is not simply [...], Message, but [...], the Gospel, the gladsome tydings of salvation by Jesus Christ, into which the Angels themselves do desire to look and prie, as the Apostle Peter expresseth, 1 Pet. 1. 12. The Lord hath also committed to his Ministers the administration of the Sacraments, which are the seals of his covenant, whereby all his precious pro­mises are ratified, and confirmed unto us. So that as in respect of the rich treasures of God's Word committed to their dispensing, they are the Lord's Treasurers: So in respect of the Sacraments, they are the Keepers of his great Seal. If these Officers be great under mortal Princes, what are they under the King of Kings?

I have taken the liberty in a few words to set forth some of the priviledges of the Ministers of the Gospel; partly for the comfort and consolation of many of them under the present misery and po­verty which they suffer, rather than to sin against their consciences: and partly for the incitation of others to afford them that double ho­nour, which the Apostle calls for, 1 Tim. 5. 17. Namely, the honour of respect, and the honour of maintenance, that they suffer them not [Page 52] to sink under their burthen, but afford them some seasonable succour and relief, suitable to their present wants and neces­sities.

Reas. III. Because Ministers are oftenest exposed to sufferings and distresses, and so have most need of relief. The Bow of the Ad­versaries of Religion is bent most against the Teachers and Leaders of the people. That word, 1 King. 22. 31. Fight neither with small or great, save only with the King of Israel, is often changed into, Fight neither with small or great, but only against the Prophets of the Lord. Smite the Shepheards, and the Sheep will be scatter­ed. Experience enough tells the world who they are that are set in the Front of the Battel, and who are the first that fall by the power of the Adversaries. And who should be most in the eye of Charity, but those that are most in the eye of malice?

Besides, For whose sakes is it that Ministers are so often brought so low? Is it not for your sakes, whose souls are dearer to them than their own substance? Is it not often upon this ac­count, because they will be faithful to you, and will not keep si­lence, nor cease to watch over you, and to warn, and to instruct you from day to day?

Might they not save themselves more whole, if they would hold their peace, and let the Devil alone to have his will of you? For your sakes no doubt it is, that much of their sufferings come upon them; and shall they be forsaken by you? The truth is, it is upon this account a piece of Iustice, as well as a piece of Cha­rity, to relieve and succour them; and so you may do two good works in one; the same alms may be both a work of righteousness, and a work of mercy.

Reas. IV. Your gratitude to God requireth a cheerful perfor­mance of this duty from you. For wherein can you otherwise make a suitable return to God, for what he hath plentifully con­ferred on you, than by contributing some of your Temporals to them, from whom ye reap so much in Spirituals? The Lord of his free grace and rich mercy hath abounded to you in these out­ward things; He hath given you richly all things to enjoy. Yea, as the Psalmist speaketh, He hath loaded you with his benefits. Now, not to return some part of your estate to him, who hath given you all that you do enjoy, were ingratitude in the highest de­gree: And therefore how doth it concern you often to put the [Page 53] Psalmist's question to your selves, What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? Psalm 116. 12. Surely one kindness deserveth another; as God hath been bountiful to you, sure you are very unworthy, if you be not bountiful to his. And how do you think he will take it at your hands? Will he ever say to you, Well done good and faithful Servant, thou hast been faithful, a good Steward of my many gifts? Or, is it all one to you whether he say, Well done, or not?

And in regard you cannot directly and immediately requite him who is uncapable of being enriched by us; My goodness extendeth not to thee, Psalm 16. 2. It will be your wisdom to expresse your thankfulness to God by being kind to his poor relations. Now, who are nearer to God than his Ministers? whom he hath ap­pointed to stand in his room, to declare his mind unto his people; who are as the mouth of the people unto God; so God's mouth unto the people; who are the Messengers of the Lord of Hosts, by whose Ministry there is peace concluded, and reconciliation pro­claimed between God and man. Surely what kindness you shew to these, he takes as done unto himself, Matth. 25. 40.

Reas. V. Your relieving the faithful Ministers of Christ, may in a sense be said tò have something more in it, than if you should shew your Charity to himself, in his own person, as being a sign of greater love. It is but an ordinary thing to return kindness to our dearests friends; but to extend our good will to their relations, or ser­vants for their sakes, is an evidence of much greater love. For if upon their account only we do good unto these; how much more would it be judged we should be ready to do it unto them­selves, if they stood in need of our help? And so will Christ look upon it: Our bounty expressed to his Ministers he will receive as an evidence of our more abundant love unto him, which he will in no wise forget, nor suffer to go unrewarded.

Reas. VI. Such as relieve the poor Ministers of Christ, shall have their blessing, the benefit of their prayers unto God. They will blesse you however, though you have no blessing for them. Though you have not an alms for them, yet they will have a prayer for you. But their bowels being refreshed by you, you may expect that their heart will be the more enlarged for you; and this will be a far greater kindness than you can bestow on them. Your gift cannot be worth their fervent prayers. In this [Page 54] respect it is much better to give, than to receive; because he that receives hath but a perishing alms; he that gives, receives an abid­ing blessing, the blessing of prayers.

Herein did the Apostle St. Paul, make a large requital to Onesi­phorus for the kindness he shewed to him in his imprisonment; as you may read, 2 Tim. 1. 16. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus, for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain. As if he had said, I received much comfort and refresh­ment from Onesiphorus, when I was in prison, for the which I be­seech the Father of all mercies, to shew mercy unto him, and his, by blessing him, and his whole family, with all blessings, both tem­poral, spiritual and eternal. And indeed what blessing can that man want, who hath a share in many Ministers prayers? which are available for the obtaining of all good things at the hand of God, as for themselves, so for others. Yea the very work of Charity doth bespeak a blessing from God. As the blood of Abel is said to cry to the Lord for a curse or vengeance upon Cain: so every act of Charity cryeth to God for a blessing upon the Cha­ritable. Our very acts of Charity in relieving the wants of the poor, and refreshing their bowels, do pray and cry to God for his blessing upon us and ours.

Reas. VI. Your Charity to them will be hereafter rewarded with everlasting glory and happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven. This rea­son our Saviour himselfe giveth in these words; He that recieveth a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophets reward; whereby is meant that surpassing and excellent weight of glory, which cannot be expressed by the tongue of men or Angels. Yea, by the reward of a Prophet seemeth to be implyed the highest de­gree of heavenly glory. For Daniel 12: 3. It is said, That they that be wise, that is, the righteous, who are endowed with true spi­ritual wisdom, being lightned by the Spirit of God, shall shine as the brightness of the Firmament; but they that turn many to righteousness, which is the work of Prophets, shall shine as the Stars for ever and ever.

Now by your bounty to the Prophets of God, you may come to partake of their reward. So that it is your own concernment to contribute liberally towards their relief. Not that your Charity to them doth merit that glorious reward; but in regard of the pro­mise of God made to all those, who do exercisethe same to­wards [Page 55] his Ministers, it shall be truly given unto them.

For a word of Application.

Oh how should the consideration of these things stir up the hearts of all, especially such as have a blessing in their hand, an estate to give, to draw forth their souls, and reach forth their hands to the supply of these wanting servants of God. Surely this is a time wherein Christ is trying your love to him, by your Charity to them. Are you not concerned to make proof of your love to Christ? Have you not an opportunity before you, and a loud call from Heaven to prove it in this way? Can you not hear him, that said once to Peter, John 21. 16. Lovest thou me? Feed my Sheep. Can you not hear the same voice calling to you, Lovest thou me? Feed my Shepheards. Sure thou art very deaf to the voice of the Providences of this day, if thou do not hear this Call. And will you prove that you have no love to Christ? What do you else if you suffer his to starve, when you have wherewith to feed them?

Beloved, it is through God's free grace, and rich bounty, that you enjoy such plenty of outward good things, when many of his Ministers are in great want. What you have, you have recieved from him. Is it not then most just and reasonable, that you should return back some part of your estates unto God, by relieving his Ministers, in testimony of your love and thankfulness unto him for what you have? Hath God given you hundreds and thousands? and will not you part with a few pounds or shillings when he calls aloud unto you for the same, as now he doth in these dayes? Though the earth be his, and the fulness thereof, yet (in a sense) he hath sometimes need of your estates. Matth. 25. 35. Christ telleth you of his wants, and sheweth you how, and when he is relieved.

If you have any spiritual wisdom to discern times and seasons. you may know, that now Christ stands in need of your helping hand, now that so many of his Ministers are in want, for the testi­mony of a good conscience: And should you now deny him in his Ministers, I do verily believe, that if Christ were now upon earth, as when he first took our nature upon him, and in his own person should crave your relief, you would turn a deaf ear unto him.

Though for the present you enjoy manifold blessings; yet how easily can he pluck them out of your mouths, and if you will not perform your duty, thrust you down from among the givers, to take your place among the receivers! Certainly the communi­cating [Page 56] a part is your best way to secure the remainder, and to sea­son and sanctifie it to your more comfortable use.

Luke 11. 41. Saith our Saviour, Give alms of such things as you have, and behold all things are clean unto you; that is, lawful to be used. The metaphor is taken from the Law, whereby many things were counted unclean, and so unlawful for use; they might not be touched or meddled with. Yea by the inference of the Apostle; Give alms of such things as you have, and behold all things are clean unto you: He seemeth to allude to another Rite of the Law about First-fruits, Tithes, and Free offerings, by giving which to the Lord, all the rest which they had were secured, sanctified and made clean. So that charitable men are they, who may with the more freedom, quietness and comfort use what they have. Who that hath any desire to be accepted and appoved of God, would not have his person, and the actions which he doth, and things which he possesseth to be clean? Whatsoever is unclean is odious and abo­minable in God's sight: unclean persons might not approach to God's Sanctuary, nor meddle with sacred matters. If they were not cleansed, they were to be cut off from God's People, Numb. 19 20. Levit. 7. 20. and every unclean thing was an abomination.

This thereforé must needs be a strong perswasive to put in pra­ctise the counsel of our Saviour, in Giving alms of such things as we have, that so all things may be clean, and sanctified unto us. What's clean you may use with God's good leave and allowance: (clean things might be eaten) and where you have God's good leave, you may expect his blessing. It's sin to eat where God's portion is among it.

The truth is, it is the great mistake of many, to think that all their goods are their own, and that they are absolute Lords and Owners of all which they possess: Whereas indeed they are ra­ther Stewards, than Lords and Owners of this worlds goods; all is the Lords. God of his infinite wisdom hath committed to some a greater portion of them, than to others, yet not to be impropria­ted to themselves, but they must give him his special part, to which his have as good a right as themselves unto the rest, saving only that they may not lay hands on it themselves, until you put it into their hands. But as they may not take it out of yours; so you may not keep it out of their hands. Therefore Solomon speak­ing of the right which the poor have to a part of rich mens estates, [Page 57] saith, Prov. 3. 27. Withold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it. So that relieving the poor is not only an act of Mercy, left to our choice to do, or leave undone; but also, as I said before, an act of Iustice, to the performance whereof we stand bound. Hence to give alms, and to do Righteous­ness and Iustice, are oft in Scripture put the one for the other, both signifying the same thing. Therefore the Septuagint have rendred the Hebrew word signifying Righteousness, in Deut. 24. 14. [...], alms deeds. And in Psalm. 112. 9. It is said, His Righteous­ness endureth for ever; that is, his alms, or his mercifulness; as is clear from the foregoing words; He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his Righteousness endureth for ever: Whereby is implyed, that giving of alms is one special branch of that Righteousness and Iu­stice we owe to our poor neighbours.

And darest thou yet hold it in thy hand? Wilt thou wrong the Almighty of his right, and rob his poor of their due? If it be nothing with thee to be unmerciful, is it nothing neither to be a robber? a robber of God? Will a man rob God? Mal. 3. 8. Dares any man be so wicked? How canst thou but expect that he will make a forcible entry upon thee, and take what is his own, and seal a Writ of Eject­ment against thee, and turn thee out of all that ever thou hast? Look not to be long in quiet possession of what thou hast; but fear lest either God should take thine estate from thee, or thee from thine estate, and give thee thy portion with Dives, who because he denyed his crumbs to satisfie poor Lazarus his hunger, was himself denyed a drop of cold water to quench his own heat and thirst, Luke 16. 23. Upon which words St. Austin thus glosseth, Ideo rogans Dives non exauditur in tormentis, quia rogantem pauperem non exau­divit. Therefore was not Dives heard when he prayed in tor­ments because he hearkened not to the poor that begged of him, when he was upon the Earth. Aug. Serm. de Divite.

Let me add a few quickning words to set home what hath been spoken, by these following Questions.

Quest. 1. Now at length, What dost thou think of mercy and boun­ty to the poor?

1. Is there not an excellency in it? Oh how much of God is there in it! There is faith in it; He that will cast his bread upon the wa­ters, is it not a sure sign that he believes God, who hath said, that it shall be returned again? There's the love of God in it: He that [Page 58] sees his Brother in need, and shutteth up the bowels of his compassions from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? And he that openeth his bowels, and draws forth his soul to God's hungry ones, who can deny but the love of God dwelleth in that man? It is the Image of God's goodness. God is a merciful God, and his mercy is his glory; and this glory of God shineth forth in his merciful ser­vants. There is self-denyal in it. Self would keep all; flesh would hold back; it cannot spare for God; 'tis a sign that self is laid low, that the flesh is kept under, that the interest of God is the sway­ing interest, when whatever God will have, this self is not suffered to keep back. Is there so much of God in mercifulness, and is there not an excellency in it?

2. Is there not a necessity of it? Shall the merciless ever obtain mercy? Canst thou hope for mercy who wilt shew no mercy.

Qu. 2. What dost thou think of thy self? Art thou merciful, or merciless? How dost thou find it? Is thine heart open? are thy bowels open? or are they still shut? Dost thou feel that heart of thine inclined and resolved to open thy hands, and to disperse, and that liberally the good things thou hast received, as a good Steward of the manifold gifts of God? Or dost thou yet feel that the door is shut, thine heart is hardned against shewing kindness to the Lord? Give thy plain judgment, what thinkest thou? Art thou a merci­ful man, or merciless? and if merciless, How dost thou hope to obtain mercy?

Qu. 3. What dost thou think of thy worldly goods?

1. Are they not thy Talents, committed to thee for thy Lord's use? Must thou not be accountable to him, how they have been laid out? Will it be a comfortable account when thou must bring in thy Bill; so much for thy pride, so much for thine appetite, or all hoarded up for thy covetousness, and nothing or but little for God?

2. Are they more worth than Treasures in Heaven? Is it more to thine advantage to be rich in this worlds goods, than to be rich in good works? Dost thou in good earnest judge, that thy laying up treasures on earth is better husbandry, than thy laying up in store for thy self a good foundation against the time to come?

Qu. 4. What dost thou think of the state of many of the servants of God in this age? Are there no wanting ones? no distressed ones? What neither amongst Ministers, nor Christians? Are they all pro­vided for? Do not many of them eat the bread, and drink the wa­ters [Page 59] of affliction? Is it not very strait and very short with them? Do but enquire after their condition, and thou wilt find it so. Art thou one of those that carest not how it fares with the poor friends of Christ? Are they not worth the enquiring, and looking after? or at least, Is not he worthy, whose they are, and whom they serve? Is not Christ worthy, for whose sake thou should'st shew kindness to his? How will he take thy neglect of them? Remember that word, Matth. 25. 45. Inasmuch as ye did it not to these, ye did it not to me.

Qu. 5. What wilt thou do for the future? What shall be the suc­cess of these few words that are written for thy learning? What art thou resolved upon? for mercy, or for cruelty? Consult thine own heart; lay not by this little Book, till thou art come to a reso­lution one way or other, either to accept, or reject this counsel, which in the name of the Lord is offered thee for thy good. Oh shew thy self a man in whose soul Christ hath an interest, and so great an interest, that thou wilt do any thing at his word; pity at his word, relieve at his word, give, lend, feed, cloathe, refresh the bowels of his needy ones: Let thy soul say, Lord, at thy word I will do it: here's my bread, and my flesh, and my money, command what thou wilt of it, I will not say thee nay. Thou hast given me a large portion, and every one of thy servants that thou appointest to receive it, shall have their part; for thy sake, Lord, they shall have it. Thine I am, and thine is all that I have; shew me thy pleasure, how much, and how often, and where, and to whom I shall bestow it, and through the grace of God there it shall go.

Friend, Wilt thou say thus? Wilt thou in the presence of the Lord come to this gracious resolution? or canst thou yet find in thine heart to deny thy Lord, and continue to be as hard-hearted, and close-handed as thou wer't wont to be? Dare not to say, Lord, my goods are mine own, I owe thee nothing: Dread such thoughts, that how much soever thou hast, the servants of Christ shall be no­thing the better for it.

Once again consider, thou art put to this choice, either to accept of the counsel of Christ, or to reject it; which of the two wilt thou do? If thou resolvest not on mercy, and liberality, thou rejectest the word of the Lord; and if thou rejectest his word, thou rejectest the Lord, and therein sayest, He shall be no Lord for me. But if thou acceptest, then go, and do accordingly: Let the hunger, and the thirst, and the nakedness; the wants and distresses of his servants [Page 60] feel in that relief they shall receive from thee, that thou art a man to whom the Lord hath not spoken in vain. Let them feel it pre­sently, and let them feel it constantly; this year, and the next year, and the next, even whilst they have need to receive, and thou hast it by thee to give. This do, and the Lord accept thee; remember all thy offering, and accept all thy sacrifices; the Lord hear thee in the day of thy trouble; the name of the God of Iacob defend thee: The Lord grant thee according to thine own heart, and ful­fill all thy counsel: The Lord remember thee with the favour he beareth unto his children, and visit thee with his salvation.


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