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and resignation of the poor ; and that the rich, on the other hand, may be furnished with constant opportunities of acknowledging their obligations to God, and their dependence upon him for all they poffefs, by distributing what they can spare from their own necessary uses, for the relief and comfort of their needy brethren. That this is the proper improvement of wealth, and the purpose for which it is bestowed, appears from Paul's direction to Timothy, (1 Tim. vi. 17.), “ Charge them that are “ rich in this world, that they be not high“ minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, “ but in the living God, who giveth us all " things richly to enjoy: that they do 1 cs good, that they be rich in good works, “ ready to distribute, willing to communi« cate ; laying up in store for themselves a “ good foundation against the time to come, " that they may lay hold on eternal life.” And how provoking it is to God, when men abuse the gifts of his providence, we learn from that complaint and threatening, (Hof. ii. 8, 9), “ She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and
“ multiplied her silver and gold, which " they prepared for Baal. Therefore will “ I return, and take away my corn in the “ time thereof, and my wine in the season “ thereof, and will recover my wool and my “ flax given to cover her nakedness.”
The application of these truths to the purpose for which we are at present affembled, is so obvious, that I am confident it must already have occurred to the most inattentive of my hearers. Were we to consider the good things we possess, merely as gifts freely bestowed, and left entirely to our own disposal; yet gratitude should prompt us to employ them in such a way as might be most acceptable to our kind and generous Benefactor. But I am furnilhed, you now fee, with a more persuafive argument: the plea of gratitude comes enforced with the claiin of justice, while regard to our own interglt folicits our compliance with their united demands : “ For “ we must all appear before the judgement- seat of Christ, that every one may receive “ the deeds done in his body, according to Śs that he hath done, whether it be good or
“ bad.” In that day, “ unto whomfoever “ much hath been given, of him also much “ will be required :” and the unprofitable fervant, who did not improve the talent committed to him, but buried it under ground, or wrapt it in a napkin, shall be cast “ into outer darkness: there shall be " weeping, and gnashing of teeth.”
Seeing, then, these things are so, ought we not to reckon it an additional ground of thankfulness to God, when, besides the favours conferred upon us, he is at any time pleased to afford us an opportunity of employing the fruits of his liberality in such a manner as contributes most effectually to answer the highest and most important purposes for which they were bestowed? An opportunity of this kind is just now presented to you by the much to be respected Managers of the Orphan Hospital, at whose desire I address you this day. The objects of their care are there placed in your view: and surely to provide for the Christian education of so many helpless children, and for their clecent clothing and maintenance, till they be trained up to earn a subsistence
for themselves, as it is an exercise of the truest mercy to them, so it cannot fail to be highly acceptable to that God who difdains not to style himself the Father of the fatherless. · The peculiar excellencies of this species of charity were fully illustrated, on a former occasion of this kind, from that prayer of the Pfalmift in behalf of the Jewish nation, (Psal. cxliv. 12.), “ That our fons may “ be as plants grown up in their youth; " that our daughters may be as corner« ftones, polished after the fimilitude of a “ palace *" Then it was shown, That a permanent provision for the Christian education of destitute children, is a charity which tends to prevent misery; and must therefore be preferable to that which only alleviates present distress, or procures it à short and uncertain relief. This is charity to the souls of our fellow-creatures, and the noblest imitation of Him who came from heaven to earth, to seek and to fave
* Dr Erskine’s Sermon, preached before the Managers of the Orphan Hospital at Edinburgh, May 18. 1774.
. that which was loft. Besides, it is a charity which, of all others, is in least danger of being misapplied or defeated. This renders the prospect of doing good by it in the highest degree probable. And then its influence is of the largest extent; for while it ferves to advance the glory of God, and the interests of pure and undefiled religion in the world, it promotes at the same time, in the most effectual manner, the fpiritual improvement and happiness of individuals, and even the temporal prosperity of the nation to which we belong.
To fuch powerful recommendations any addition would be fuperfluous. And they who, influenced by these motives, contribute according to their ability for the fupport of an institution fo pious and falutary, may be assured, that what they give is, in the most proper sense of Solomon's words, “ lent to the Lord, and that which they give “ will he pay them again." ;
Upon the whole, then, let it be our first care, to have our own hearts filled with love to God, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father in Christ; for un