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uncertain Riches. But what are we therrto trust in, if not in these Things? This I St. <Pdtd shews in the Words following, which make i The Third Instance of the Rich Man's Duty, Let them (faith he) trust in the living God, who giveth to all Men richly to enjoy. The Sense of it is this; Let them, from the Bottom of their Hearts, acknowledge God to be the Author and Giver of all that they possess: How much soever their Heads projected, or their Hands laboured, or their Parents and Friends were kind to them, yet it is the Providence as the Almighty to which they owe all. The fame Divine Foresight and Contrivance that feeds';ihe Fowls of the Air, and cloaths the Flowers, of the. Field, doth also give them richly all things to enjoy; and therefore upon that Providence are they entirely to depend, as much exercising Faith in God, and reposing* Confidence in him, as if they had no visible Provisions made, for them: And as heartily: returning Thanks to their great! Benefactor for every Blessing they have, (seem it never so much their own already) as a hungry Man, that knows not where to get a Meal, would to him that should give him a plentiful Entertain-ment. In a Word, those that have all Things in this World must as devoutly look up to. God, both in gratefully ascribing to him every Enjoyment either pastor present, and in a.full Trust and Reliance upon him, for what is tct' come, as those that live from Hand to Mouth j since it is the fame Divine Providence. that feeds and maintains both the Poof and the :s.. Rich,
Rich, and of his Infinite Goodness, gives to all that fear him, even to the Poor as -well as the Rich, all Things to enjoy; and though to the one more plentifully, yet to the other perhaps with as much Content, though not in so great Abundance.
The Fourth and last Part of the Rich Man's Duty here mentioned, concerns the right Use of that Wealth that God hath given him. Now the right Use of Riches, according to the Text, doth consist in these Things; That those that have them do Good with them, that they be rich in good fforks, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate.
If we suppose every one of these distinct Phrases in the Text, to denote a distinct Thing, then we are to give this Account of the Passage, That St. 'Paul here useth a Gradation in his Speech, begins with the lowest and most general Expressions of Charity, and so goes on to higher Degrees of it; in each following Phrase intending to say something more great or particular than What he had laid in the former, which is a most usual and elegant Scheme of Rhetorick. According to this Account, (a9 the Words are very capable of it) there are Four Things here prescribed to the Rich Man, in the Use of his Riches.
i. That he do Good with them, that is the most general Point; that is, that he employ them some way or other for the Benefit of others. He must not live to himself alone, he must design greater Things than the get-'
ting an Estate, or the raising a Family; if others be not advantaged by him, he is rich to no Purpose. And therefore it will con* cern him to do Kindnesses and good Offices where he can, to be liberal and hospitable, to oblige his Friends and Relations all ways possible, to assist all about him with his Counsel, to encourage them by his Example; in a Word, to make use of that Interest and Reputation that his Fortune hath given him above others, to do Kindnesses to them.
2. He must not think it iufficient to do this Good.now and then, upon particular and more rare Occasions; but he must abound in Acts of Goodness: That is the Meaning of the Apostle's second Expression of being rich in good Works. He must so study and improve in the Art of doing Good, that his good Deeds do equal his Riches; nay, the Words import that his true Riches are only placed in, and to be measured by his good Deeds. He is not to think himself farther rich than he is rich in good Works. The more plentifully God hath blessed him with worldly Wealth, the more diligent and industrious and solicitous he must be to do Good with it; otherwise he is poorer than those that perhaps he now and then out of Charity relieves. And,
3. Lest this doing Good, and htingrich in good Works, should only be interpreted of doing such Kindnesses and good Deeds that cost us nothing but the Expence of our Time, or the Employment of our Pains, or the Use of our Interest with others; the Apostle adds this
farther farther Thing; that the Rich Man must he ready to distribute; that is, very fixe to part with his Money,, according ta the Propor* tion God hath blessed him with, upon every Occasion of real and useful Charity: i. Who ther that Charity be of a more Publick Na+ ture; as for Instance, when it is expressed.for the advancing Religion and the Service, iof God, or for the making standing Provision for the Poor; or finally, any way for the serving the Necessities, or increasing the Conveniencies of, the Place where we live, by any publick useful Benefaction: Or, 2. Whether this Charity be of a more private Nature, extending no farther than to particular Persons that come in our way, whom we arc convinced to be real Objects of it; to these likewise we must be ready to distribute j every poor necessitous Person hath a Right to Part of what we have, if we can really satisfy ourselves, that our Alms will do him a real Good, and.wiU not be any great Prejudice to us. But, ..i
:.: 4. And Lastly, The Apostle: adds another Thing to all this; and that is, that the Rich Man must be willing to communicate. If the Sense of this Phrase be different from the former, it will seem to import yet a higher Dc* gree of Liberality. It will import, that Rich Men should be of such publick Spirits, and. so little esteem their Wealth their own, that it should in a manner be made a common Thing, wherein all should share as there was Occar sion. This is. the Notion of Kwwta^ or comVjl :.: municating,
vtiunicating, as it was used in the Beginning of Christianity. St. Luke in A&s a. having told us that the first Christians continued in the Apostles Doctrine, and in communicating, presently explains what he meant by that Communion. All (faith he, v. 44.) that believed •were together, and had all 'Things common^ and fold their QojJeJJions and Goods, and parted them to all Men, as every Man had need.
God be thanked, the Church of Christ is not now in such Circumstances, that it is either needful or reasonable, precisely, to observe the Practice of those Times as to this Matter. We are not only not obliged to part with the Propriety of our Estate, and to live in common, as the first persecuted Christians did, but we should be highly indiscreet, not to say injurious, both to ourselves and the Publick, if we did. But this, notwithstanding their Practice, and the Charge here laid upon us, to be communicative, will thus far oblige us, viz. that we Christians should always retain that publick generous Spirit that they in the first Times were acted with. We should sit so loose from the World, and so unconcerned in the Distinction of meum and tuum, that we should make it our Business to do good with what we have, thinking our Wealth best employed, wtfen it is put to that Use. And when the Cause of God, and the common Interest of our Christian Brethren do require it, we should then as freely past with all we have, as our Predecessors in Christianity did j following herein the Precept of