« PreviousContinue »
do both themselves and others, if they have a Heart to do it? What an honour God hath done them, in making them Stewards of so great a Portion of his Goods? And will they, who seem to be proud of an Estate, or of a Title of Honour, debase themselves; and rather chuse to be defpicable Swine berds, than God's Stewards? Will they delight in ferding Swine, more than in ministering to the Painily of the great King of all the World ? Is it a greater honour to feed their brutish Lufts, which war against their Souls, than to relieve the poor, who daily pray for God's Blessing on them and theirs ? If God would
endure a hard-hearted and unmerciful Few, but fent him to Hell; What Plagues hath he in store for a churlish and inhumane Christian? Mofes charged the Jews liberally to relieve their Brethren, and our blessed Saviour by St. Paul hath commanded Christians, ?f their Enemy hunger to feed bim; if he thirft to give him drink, Rom. 12. 10. He hath caught us by shewing mercy unto all Men, to shew our felves truly honourable, the Children of our Father which is in Heaven ; who maketh bis Sun to rise on the evil, and on the good ; and sendeth Rain on the just, and on the unjust, Mat. 5. 45. St. Paul commanded Bishop Timothy, that he should charge rich Men, that they do good, that they be rich in good Works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate: And to let them know that in so doing they were not wasting, but encreasing their riches, he bids him tell them, that th y were thus, Laying up in store for themseves a good Foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal Life, 1 Tim. 6. 18, 19. This is the way, a sure way for a rich Man to improve his Estate. Thys he may be sure
to board up for himself an everlasting Treasure. Thus hath our Saviour himself taught us to be provident Husbands for the future. I say unto you, make to your selves Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness; that when ye fail, they may receive gou into everlasting Habitations, Luke 16. 9. Sell all ye bave, and give Alms; provide your selves Bags which wax not old, a treasure in the Heavens that failetb not, Luke 12. 33. Indeed it concerns us to take this course, not only for the improvement of our Happiness; but for the
preventing of eternal, Misery. Our blessed Saviour, who will one Day come to judge the quick and the dead, hath given us a fair warning to do good with our riches, telling us how he will then reckon with us for them. Mat. 25-35,&c. To the charitable, he will then say, Come ye blessed Children of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the Foundation of the World: For I was an bungred, and ye gave me meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked,and ye cloatbed me; I was sick,and ge visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto
For inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me. But, v. 45. to the unmerciful he will say, Inafmuch as ye have not done it, unto one of the least of these, ye bave not done it unto me. Therefore, depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and bis Angels.
Let the huffing Gentleman fwagger it our as he will now, he will be strangely daunted, and his proud Spirit will droop, when he shall hear this. The Man of honour, that will needs have his baseft Sins to be bonourable too, because they are his, and cannot think himself great enough, if he trample not his Tenants under his Feet, and make them both
drudge and fast at once to feed his Lusts, will then be glad to change Places with the meaneft of them all. Do they, who despise andoppress the poor, ever think how they shall then be defpis d of God? Do they ever confider, that it is Chrift, their Saviour, (that would be) and wheir Judge, (that shall be) towards whom they are now thus barbarous and inbuman ?
Alas, such Perfons as thefe, how ill soever they take it not to be accounted Christians, shew by their behaviour to all the World, that they have no fear of God before their Eyes, no love of Cbrist ruling in their Heart, no Sersekither of Religion or true Honour. They as little believe Christ and his Apostles, as the rich Man did Moses and the Prophets. They are resolved, whatever comes on't hereafter, to eat, drink, and be merry now. And if they afford succour and relief to any others, or do any good Uffices for them, it shall not be to any of those whom the blessed JESUS calls his Brethren; but for their own Brethren in iniquity, of which they never want great Store. They love not to disturb their Consciences, nor interrupt their pleasures with any Thoughts of an after reckoning, when Christ thall judge the World in kighteousnefs. Their business is to fere sumptuously every Day, whatever others may want or pay for it now; or whosoever must pay for all in the end.
Pass we now from the rich Man to the Beggar, and let us consider what it was that commend ed him to God. We have already faid, that it was not his Poverty that made him good, and therefore it was not that which made him happy in the end. Some rich Men may poflibly imagine, that they are good, and that God hath a
special Kindness to them, because he prospereth them in their Estates, and they thrive, and grow richer daily. This is a very dangerous Error, and posibly some few may be guilty of it. But I think thar most rich Men are noe- so, most of them seeming never at all to concern them. selves, whether they are good or bad, whether they be in God's Favour or no. All they think of is, how to be rich, and to enjoy as much pleasure as they can in the World; goodness with them is but an empty Notion, an unprofitable Word, that lignityeth n.thing ; nor can they believe there is any Sins in those words of St. Paul. Sense 1 Tim. 6.6. Godline's with contentment is great gain. Call bur the rich Man Lord and Master, and let him be to you what you call him; and he'll be constant to call you good Man, because he takes you for a Fool for baing so. But now on the other side poor Mer, being in a Condition chat adnits of no other Commendation, but that which goodness causeth, are apt to have a higher esteem for goodness; and though they bave it not, yet would fain have it thought they have, even for this reason, because they are poor, and have nothing else.
God hath proclaimed himself to be the poor Man's Patron and Protector. He hath left a very strict charge and command, that the poor be taken care of, and well provided for. He hath promised to take the Cause of the poor and needy in his own Hand, and to revenge them, on them thar oppress them. And hence they are too hastý to conclude, that if they be poor, they are good too and God's Favourites. Indeed if poor Men be good, they are no worse for their Poverty; that there
is many a poor Rogue in the World is too well known.
Let no Man therefore think the better of himself, because he is poor; nor the worse of another, because he is rich. But let him that is poot fee to it, that he behave himself piously, patiently, contentedly, humbly, Soberly and righteously, and so he will prove himself to be a good Man. Such an one we must suppose Lazarus to be, and this it was, and not his poverty, that commended him to God.
Nay, because poverty is often caused by Sin, and is both the natural Effect, and juft Punishment of it ; it so ill becomes a poor Man to vaÍue himself upon the account of his poverty; that it behoves him to be very diligent in enquiring into himself, to see if it be not his own Sin and Folly which have brought him into that Condition. The pious poor have many promises from God, and may comfort themselves therein
; but they, who by their Sins and Vanities bring themselves into poverty, make too bold with God in laying claim to his Favour, before they have truly repented them of their Sins.
Let them therefore, who are poor consider, if they be not, or have not been as idle as they arepoor, and if their idleness either hath not made,or doth not keep them pocr. It was the Apostle’scommand to the Thesalonians, That if any would not work,neither Mould be eat, 2 Theff. 3. 10. That with quietness they work, and eat their own Bread, v. 12. It is every one's Duty to be industrious in an honest Calling, to do some good in the World as long as he is able, and not as the barren Fig-tree to ferve for no good Ufe, but to cumber the Ground he stands on. Such an one deserves not to be