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ry of others, from which nothing can extricate us, but that Providence which ruleth over all, and worketh by ways which are secret and unexpected. And by some such way shall he be delivered, who hath considered others in their necessity.
There is another trouble, by which the mind is subject to be agitated; and which is more afflicting than worldly sorrow : I mean a remorse of conscience under a sense of guilt. Some men, when they have fallen into sin, seem to'be as easy as they were before. This is a dreadful symptom. When a limb feels no pain from incision, we know it is in a state of mortification: and ease in such a case, is the forerunner of death. But ajmind more tender, and of a godly frame, is often reduced to a fearful sense of past sins. Sorrow, and shame, and terror seize upon it like fiends, and threaten to tear it in pieces. Where can it look for deliverance at such a time, but to the grace of God, who hath promised forgiveness of sin? Neither the power of man, nor the comforts of the world, can reach this case. Spiritual griefs must have a spiritual remedy; and that remedy is with the great Physician of the soul, who alone can heal our sins, and help our infirmities. If he is sought at such a time of trouble, and not found, nothing remains but despair, which is the extremity of trouble. Manypassages in the Psalms are written for the use and support of contrite minds, labouring under the burthen of their sins; and by the charitable they shall not be uttered in vain. They that have shewed mercy shall find mercy, and be restored to peace of conscience.
Another time of trouble is the time of sickness. The help of God, under this trial, is particularly^promised to the merciful, in the words which follow jhe text. The Lord shall comfort him when he lieth sick upon his bed: thou shalt make, all his bed in his sickness. The Scripture expresses all things in figure and metaphor, with great force and signification. The making of his bed is a relief to the sick, and sometimes the only relief they are capable of. How easy then must he lie, whose bodily sorrows are made lighter by a communication of ease and comfort from above! for an easy mind, which is the gift of God, will sustain all the infirmities of the body. How frequently and unexpectedly doth the blessing of God raise up the sick, whose life hath been despaired of; as it is here said, The Lord shall preserve him and keep him alive, that he may be blessed upon the earth. But some sickness must.end in death ; and when that time of trouble is approaching; when this world is vanishing from our sight, and we are departing into the world of spirits; how inestimable is one ray of light from above, to cheer us in that hour of darkness! Who, that duly considers this in the days of health, would not sell all that he hath, and give to the poor, to purchase it?
But there is still another occasion of trouble, and that the greatest of all : when we shall besummoned by the trump of judgment to appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Then must the rich and the poor, the weak and the powerful, stand naked and helpless before a Judge, who is no respecter of persons, but will demand an account of every man; of me that speak, and of you that hear; and reward them all according to their works. Who are they that shall be able to stand in that fearful day of reckoning? who, but they that have distributed of their abundance to the poor members of Jesus Christ? What is now done to them, will then be placed by him to his own account, as if it were done to himself. 1 was naked, saith he, and ye clothed me; sick and in prison, and ye. visited me. To the rest who bestowed their possessions upon themselves, and were unmindful of him, and of his poor brethren, he saith, Depart J rom me, I know you not.
Think then, all ye that have ability: think what a serious trust is committed to you, and what great things depend upon a faithful discharge of it. We count the rich happy; we labour for wealth; we court popularity ; we are proud of honours and titles; but all these things will fail us in the time of trouble. No man can be accounted happy, but he who shall find deliverance from God. This deliverance is promised to the charitable man; and the promise of God shall never disappoint him. In all the cares and vexations of life; in. the temptations of prosperity, and in the sorrows of adversity ; in health and in sickness ; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment; blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy; the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble.
NOW CONCERNING THE COLLECTION FOR THE SAINTS, AS I HAVE GIVEN ORDEH TO THE CHURCHES OF CALAT1A EVEN SO DO YE:
"UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, LET EVERr ONE OF YOU LAY BY HIM IN STORE, AS GOD HATH PROSPERED HIM. I COR. XVI. 1, 2.
XXENCE we learn, that the custom of providing for the wants of necessitous Christians by a voluntary contribution, is as ancient as Christianity itself. The method ordained by the apostle in the churches of Galatia, and, by this precept of the text, in the church of Corinth also, was to lay by something in store weekly, according to the abilities of each, and the blessing of God upon their affairs; and at stated times, what was so raised, was collected by the governors of the church, and distribution was made as every man had need; so that in the first ages, though there would of course be many poor in the church, because there were people of all orders converted to the faith, yet there were none without relief. If they were sick, or under persecution, or any other misfortune, they were the pensioners of the church, and their wants were supplied, as the charity and prudence of their rulers directed.
The text seems to call upon me to take a review of the modes of making collections for the poor, which have prevailed among Christians in different ages of the church. The subject is edifying in itself, and veryinteresting at the time when the poor are supported at so enormous an expence; which shews that they are strangely multiplied, and the causes of this deserve to be enquired into.
So great was the zeal of those who first embraced the Gospel, that if they were wealthy they sold their possessions, and a common fund w'as raised, out of which the ministers of the church were maintained, and the poor relieved at their discretion.
Though this practice of selling all was really and readily observed by many, we do not find it was absolutely commanded. But this other custom of laying apart something every week was established by a standing order of the church, which extended to every member of it, according to their several abilities: let every one of you, says the apostle, lay by him in store.
When the church was farther spread, and better established, then the ancient rule took place amongst the Christians, of giving the tenth part of all their increase; which rule had been observed long before the law of Moses, and lasted, though with many abuses and interruptions, till the times of the Gospel, when we hear the Pharisee boasting that he gave tithes of all he possessed. When Christianity was admitted into this country, the same practice came with it, which prevailed, as we learn from the writings of the first ages, in all other nations of the world. Christians gave a tenth part of the increase