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by a vain fear of what may happen to thyself or to others, after thou hast done it. “ It is not «for thee to know the times and the seasons, 5. which the Father hath put in his power,” Acts 1.7. This only thou knowest, that the present season, whatever it be, is a season of beneficence. Do thy duty in it, and leave the event to providence: For whether thy work prosper, or not, Thou thyself-fhalt surely profper for the fake of it, and not miss of thy reward. The blessed fem fus went about doing good, under all the discouraging circumstances imaginable. Let us imitate his example, and repress our curiosity as to the issues of things, by carrying ever in our ears the reproof he gave to the over-inquisitive disciple, What is that to thee? follow thou me, John xxi. 22. If we will not impart the good things of life to others, till we are satisfied that we shall never want them ourselves; we must wholly shut up our hands and harden our hearts towards the poor: For no man, not even the most wealthy, and great, and powerful among the sons of inen, is exempt from the chances of human life, and the vicissitudes of fortune. If we will not encourage public works of beneficence, till we are fecure, that no storin shall overturn what we help to build ; there is no room for any exhortations to charity, since there is no guarding against such hazards and accidents. However (bleiled be God!) those charities which we now meet to promote, ,,do, of all others, the least lie open to such exceptions and surmises. For they are not new. fangled devices of yesterday, whereof we have had no knowledge, no experience; but are.(most

of

of them) as old as the reformation itseif, and have flourished together with it, and by it: so that, after above an age and a half's trial of them, we can judge surely of their useful nature and tende ency, and safely prophefy their continuance. They have stood the test of all times and revolu. tions ; even of such as scarce spared any thing that was truly sacred and venerable. When facı ilegious and rebellious hands had razed the church, even to the foundation thereof, and laid the hononr of the crown low in the duft ; yet still, struck with a reverence for these awful cha. rities, they suffered them to stand undiminished, untouched, amidst the common ruins : and what the malice and frenzy of that time spared, we have reason to hope, may continue for ever: But

III. There are many men sensible enough of their obligations to charity, and resolved, fome time or other, to discharge them: but they desire to be excused from that duty for the present, and put it off, perhaps, to a will and a death-bed, and think it fufficient, if they begin to do good in the world, any time before they leave it. A very fatal error! and very fruitful of ill consequences! For a death-bed charity is no better, in its kind, than a death-bed repentance; which ought not indeed to be neglected (because it is the best thing we can do in those circumstances), but yet it can not be relied on. Seldom do either of these proceed from a principle of goodness ; nor are they owing to a love of virtue, but to a fear of punishment. However, God forbid that I should con

demn,

demn, or discourage either of them, any further than is requisite to awaken us into an earlier sense of our duty, and of the dangers with which such delays are attended ! Indeed, when a man has lived in the practice of charity, he may also die in it with comfort. But of what great worth can that sacrifice be, which we never had the heart to offer, till it was going to be snatched out of our hands? If we part with that only which we can keep no longer, what thanks have we? Whatsoever we employ in charitable uses, during our lives, is given away from ourselves; what we bequeth at our deaths, is given from others only, our nearest relations and friends, who else would enjoy it. Besides, how many testamentary charities have been defeated by the negligence or fraud of executors? by the suppreflion of a will? the subor. nation of witnesses, or the corrupt fentence of a Judge? How preposterous is it, never to set about works of chariry, whilst we ourselves can see them performed; and then only to intend the doing them, when it will be in the power of another to frustrate this good intention ? Nay, but be thou thy own'executor, in such cases, as much as is porn fible. Inure thyself betimes to the love and practice of good deeds : for the longer thou deferrest to be acquainted with them, the less every day thou wilt find thyself disposed to them. Age it. self, that weakens all other passions and desires, adds to our unnatural love of money; and makes us then most fondly hug and retain the good things of life, when we have the least prospect, ourselves, of enjoying them. He only, who hatha had an early relish of the pleasures of beneficence,

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Will then be perfuaded to abound in it; will be ready to give glad to ftribute. Wherefore teach thyself this lesson, while it is to be taught ; and begin this very day to practise it, by setting apart fomething out of thy stock, for the ufe of some one of these excellent charities, which require fupplies from day to day: and why then, if thou art not unable, and dost ever intend, fhouloft thou at all defer, to bestow them? Again,

IV. It is alledged, that the increase of charity tends often to the increafing and multiplying the poor; and by that means, proves a mischief to the commonwealth, instead of a support and benefit. And it must be allowed, that, with regard to our private distributions of charity, there may be fome truth in the observation. The pronefs of good men to commiserate want, in whatsoever shape it appears, and from whatever cause it may spring; their easiness to relieve cheats and vagabonds, and to be wrought upon by the importunities of clamorous beggars, are doubtlefs one reason why our poor are so numerous; and encourage many fo depend upon the merciful for their support, who might otherwise seek it from their own industry and labour. And therefore, of the charity which we this way beftow, much I fear is misapplyed; and I would far rather be an advocate for the retrenchment, than the increase of it. But in our public charities (such particularly as adorn this great city, and beautify this folemnity) there is no danger of excess; no room to fear, lest, by the overflowing bounty of benefactors, they fhould ever swell-beyond the necessities of those;

who

who have a real occasion for them. For they are hot like the charitable foundations in the church of Rome, whose number, wealth, and dazling splendor, exceeds all the demands and the design *öf charity, and raises envy rather than compassion,

in the breálts of beholders. These are indeed fuperfluous charities; conveniences to private perfons, but of no real advantage to the public: instead of being recepracles for the truly poor, they tempt men to pretend poverty, in order to share advantages of thiem. The charitable institutions,

for which I plead, are of another nature and tena . dency, calculated not for ostentation, but use; to answer the chief ends of human, life, and the neceffáry wants of human nature : and the more therefore they are ènlarged, the more useful still will they be ; for can the liberal hand ever be too liberal in supplying them. At least, that cannot happen, till fome ages hence; when, therefore, it will be time enough to enter on such a conside fation. The

veň and last thing (I shall mention) by which we are apt to excuse our backwardness to good works. is, the ill success that hath been observed to attend well defigned charities; with relation both to the objects on which they are placed, and the hands through which they are conveyed. The first do often prove unworthy of our bounty, and The latter may sometimes divert and misapply it. But what then? Shall we be discouraged froin ány attempt of doing good by the posliblity of our failing in it? How many of the best things, that were ever done for the world, would, at this rate, VOL. II.

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