« AnteriorContinuar »
the Good of all bis Labour's that he taketh under the Sun of all the Days of his Life, which God giveth him, for it is his Portion. And in Chap.
6. ver. 1, 2. he represents it as a great Evil that are y he hath seen under the Sun, and yet such an Evil
as is common among Men, that a Man to whom God hath given Riches, and Wealth, and Honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his Scul, of aú that he desireth, yet God giveth him not Power to eat thereof, but à Stranger eateth it; this (faith he) is Vanity and arz evil Disease.
And there is certainly great Reason in what he faith; for to have a plentiful Portion of the good Things of this Life, and not to have the Heart to make use of them for the Enjoyment of Ourselves and Friends; for the refreshing us under the Toil that this Life doth 'expofe us to for the pronioting Acquaintance and Society, and the rendring our Condition as easy as may be; is as unaccountable a Folly as we can be guilty of, and makes us really as poor and Necessitous as those that want Bread, but only not so pityable.
Taking now this to be the Sense of Reof joycing in the Text, (as I believe it is) we I have from hence a good Warrant for this
Day's Meeting; for we come together to Rejoice in Solomon's Sense, that is, to eat and
drink, and to enjoy the Good of our Labours, it - being the Gift of God fo to do." - And this Practice of ours is not only rea
sonable in itself, but is commended to us by * 01 the Example of God's People, both under
See Deut. the Law and the Gospel. The Jews, by the 16.
Appointment of God himself, were to meet every Year Three times at Yerusalem, the Capital City of the Nation, toi Feast and to Rejoyce before the Lord, as we have it in the express Words of Molés. And the Christians, for near Two hundred Years after our Saviour, had their Agapæ, their Feasts of Charity wherein they met together, both Poor and Rich, to Enjoy and make Merry, one with another. It is true, these Feafts: were at length left off by common Consent, because there grew Abuses in them; they became Occan fions of Luxury and Excess; and fo Matters of Scandal to our Religion. But this was not an ill Reflection upon the Thing itself, which was Innocent and Commendable, but upon the Abuse of the Thing : A good and laudable Institution was perverted to evil Purposes. However, this very Confideration ought to make us very careful of our Carriage and Behaviour in thefe our Meetings, left we fall under the same Inconveniencies: Which that we may prevent, Two Things are especially needful, to be taken care of by us. i
nos.. Firft, That we do not exceed the Bounds of Rejoycing, prescribed to Chriftians; that iş, that we avoid all Excess, and use the Creatures of God. soberly and temperately, so as to give Offence to none, nor to make Provision for the Flesh, to fulfil thé Leifts thereof. ' mor! !,
wi fi: fizinin ni Tiia tw ., And
And Secondly, That we take care to per-, form and make good the Ends and Designs of these Feafts of Rejoicings; which Ends, if we will take our Measures from those Laws, that God gave to his own. People in the Old Testament, and which the moderni . Fews themselves, in their Commentaries take notice of; and which are. so reasonable in themselves, that without any Authority, they do recommend themselves to us, are these Four following: :: First, That we e before the Lord, that is, that we make our humble. Acknowledgments, and return our due Praises and Thanks to him, for all the good Things he hath blessed us with in our Lives; confeffing that all we have, “is from his free Bounty and Goodness, and that our Meeting together, is to pra ile his Name upon that Account. And this was the Thing that was meant by those folemn Sacrifices, that the Jews were bound to offer at Jerusalem, at their annual Feasts.. yang : The Second End of these Feafts, is to take Occasion from hence to learn our Duty, to be instructed in all the Branches of that Obedience we owe unto God. For as Maimonides observes, that was one of the principal Reasons of God's calling together all the People of the Fews, to appear at the Feast of Tabernacles, to wit, that they might hear the Law read unto theni; and this Design is, I suppose, pursued by us in our chusing this Place to assemble in. . .j '. · H 3
· A Third End of these Feafts (as the same Maimonides tells us ) and is manifest from Scripture, is to promote Acquaintance and Friendship, and Brotherly-Love, one with another. . And this is a very noble End, and ferves many excellent Purposes, and nothing can be beyond it, except,
The Fourth and laft End of these Meetings, which is to do Good; to exercise our Charity
towards our poor indigent Brethren. No Man, Exod. 23. at the Solemn Feasts of the Jews, was to Is.
appear before the Lord empty ; He was to bring his Offering, not only to God by way of Recognition and Acknowledgment to him ; but for the Poor also, that they might Rejoice as well as he. This is well observed by Maimonides, from Deut. 16. 14. where it is thus faid, Thou shalt rejoice in thy Feast, thou and thy Son, and thy Daughter, thy Man-fervant, and thy Maid-servant, the Levite and the Stranger, the Fatherless and the Widow, that are within thy Gates."
This then is the great End of our Afsem. bly, that not only we, but the Fatherless, and the Widow, all of our Country, that need our Charity, may Rejoice with us and for us. And this is that which Solomon joins with Rejoicing in the Text, There is no Good in them, but for a Man to Rejoice and to do Good: And what that man, who by the Sentence of God, was declared the wisest of all Men, hath thus joined together, let none of us presume to put asunder. These are the Rules, and these are the Ends that we are to ob
serve in this our Feaft; and let us all for [ the Honour of Christ's Religion, and for
the Credit of our particular Country, charge the Observation of them upon ourselves : Which if we can all resolve to do, I can fafely apply to every one of you, that Saying of Solomon in the Ninth Chapter of this Book of Eccleßaftes, and the Seventh Verse, with which I shall conclude; Go thy way, bat thy Bread with Joy, and drink thy Wine with a merry Heart; for God. now accepteth thy Work.