« AnteriorContinuar »
SE R M 0 N XIK
Motives to Charity and
Heb. x. 24.
Let us consider one another, to provoke to Love and to good Works.
IF it be at all needful to make a Dis- ~ tinction between Love and good vjvr"
Works, let it only be observed, That by v—
Love is to be understood that Affection or Disposition of Mind, which inclines and prompts Men to Works of Kindness and Charity; and by good Works are signified those Acts of Beneficence which flow from Love. So that the Love and the good Works here spoken of,
—' differ from one another no otherwise than
STMTM- as a Cauie and its natural Effect; as a
PrincipleT and that which isderiv'd from
it j as a Fountain and its Streams, or as a Tree and its Fruits.
I T hath been doubted by some, whether Works of Charity done out of Love to our Neighbour, and Commiseration of his Cafe, be acceptable to Almighty God. The Reason alledg'd for this Doubt is, That in order to render any Work acceptable to God, it is necessary that it be done in Obedience to his express Will and Command. But that this is a needless Scruple is evident from hence, That brotherly Love and Affection are themselves strictly commanded by God, and perfectly agreeable to his Will; wherefore also those Acts of Mercy, to which we arc regularly excited by Love and Compassion, must be agreeable to his Will, and deem'd as perform'd in Obedience to Him, and consequently must be acceptable to Him. He hath planted in us those tender Affections of Love and Pity, on purpose that they might move
and stir us up to Acts of Benevolence —'
and Mercy; and He cannot but be well „ * pleas'd wheU those Passions, which He_^. himself hath rooted in our Nature, are effectual to those useful Purposes for which He defign'd them. The Voice of Nature, of pure and uncorrupt Nature, is the Voice of God; and to obey that, is to obey God himself. When the same Things are enjoynd by the written Law of Revelation, and by the unwritten Law of Nature, which is the Cafe in numberless Instances, Scripture and Reason are then only different Ways of conveying to us the Knowledge of the Divine Will; and if we conscientiously and honestly fulfil the Divine Command, surely we obey God, and yield an acceptable Service to Him, whether we fulfil it as notified to us by the inspired Penmen of the Holy Scripturet or as discovered to us by the Light of Nature.
In setting forth the puty of Christian Love and Beneficence, I shall have a. principal Regard to that Part of it which consists in distributing to the Necessities
of the Poor; tho' many Things which t
?!TM?- shall deliver will be applicable to the
other numerous Branches of Christian
•—"v— . .
The Subject is so very copious, and comprehends under it such Variety of Arguments, that it is almost impossible to exhaust it. My Discourse at this Time shall be confin'd to the Reasonableness and Equity of this Duty.
In order to convince ourselves of this, let us, First, consider who, and what kind of Creature he is, whose Distresses call for our Compassion and charitable Assistance. Why truly, no proper Object of Contempt; not one of the lowest Rank or Dignity in the Creation; but a Partaker of the fame Nature with our selves; and every one of human Race is of right noble Extraction, and born to great Things. The Hands of God have formed him, and his Life is a Particle of the Divine Breath. His Body, a curious and admirable Structure, is the Habitation of a Soul endued with wonderful Properties and Powers, and adorn'd with
exquisite Beauties and Perfections, indis- —=—— soluble and immortal, next in degree to ^iv*"
the Angelic Natures, near of Kin to the
Eternal Being, and stamp'd with his Character and Likeness. How 'meaa and vile soever the Disguise may be in which he.appears, he isa Person of Heavenly Extraction; his Rags cover the Image of the Deity. He is of that; Species of Creatures which God hath crown'd with Glory and Honour above the rest in this visible World; for whose Benefit and Use the World was made, and under whose Feet the Earth and every living Thing in it are put by Divine Appointment. If our Compassion be due to Brutes, as it certainly isron many Occasions; if Beasts and Birds are allow'd to have a Share in our Regards; Can it be imagined that he, for whom Beasts and Birds were created, hath no Claim to our Favour?
: T H E Court of Heaven does not account him beneath their Notice; Angels disdain not to minister to him. He is thp Care of Providence; God himself