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in other places, may, or ought to, find benefactors there; and because of another reason, that if we neglect those who are, properly speaking, our own poor, they will in all probability receive no relief. This description of persons will serve, in ordinary cases, for those who may be considered as the proper and peculiar objects of Christian charity ; and we shall understand this part of the subject better as we proceed to consider,
III. The manner in which this duty ought to be performed..
The mode of administering relief should be adapted to the various sufferings and wants of the poor ; and it should be administered in that way which is found most effectual to this end. If a poor person be suffering from sickness, charity requires that he should have medical assistance and advice. If he suffer for want of the common necessaries of life, these should be afforded with a liberal hand. If he be in want of employment, that want should be supplied, and he should receive the just wages of his labour. If he has a large family, and is unable both to feed and clothe his children, he should be helped by the bounty of the affluent and rich to accomplish these necessary objects. It is not enough to say, we feel for our poorer brethren in these respects, or merely to express the sentiments of benevolence; but we must take an active part in relieving these wants, as the Apostle has well taught us. If a brother or sister be naked, or destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit ? * Nothing is more contrary to reason and religion, than that charity which consists in good words and good wishes only, without effectually endeavouring to do good works; nothing more contemptible than professions of kindness, and leaving the poor and needy to starve and perish without making any efforts to relieve their distress. Perhaps I may be told by some of the theorists of the present time, that all this is now changed and done away, and that in these liberal and enlightened days there is no necessity for charity under the new system of political economy which has become law : but the answer to this objection is plain and undeniable, that the law of charity is the law of God, which changes not and cannot be abolished. There is nothing more important at this time, both in a civil and religious sense, than to convince the poor and distressed that the rich are not their enemies, and to remove the unfavourable impression from their minds, that both justice and charity are denied them. We cannot do this more effectually than by observing the apostolic admonition, to do good and to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. We are bound by the most sacred and solemn obligations to make this a part, and a principal part, of our religion, for if we fail in the conscientious performance of this duty, our profession of the Christian faith will be
found no more than the sounding brass or the tinkling cymbal.
The laws of every Christian country should be founded upon the law of God, and administered in a manner consistent with charity. It is the express command of God, which is repeated no less than three times, that those who have power shall not rule with rigour ; and the meaning is well explained by a refèrence to the Israelites in Egypt, where it is recorded that the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour ; and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field : all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.* This is a rule for our rulers to observe, as they will one day have to answer for it at the tribunal of Divine justice, when, if they have not been merciful, mercy will not be shown to them. We come now to consider, in the last place,
IV. The motives which the Apostle has stated for the performance of this duty.
The approbation of God and of our own consciences are alone sufficient motives for the exercise of charity. It is the character of God that he is good, and that he doeth good, and that his tender mercies are over all his works. He hath also declared in his word, Blessed is he that considereth the poor : the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble ; the Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; the
* Levit. xxv. 43, 46, 53.
Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing. He hath dispersed; he hath given to the poor ; his righteousness endureth for ever.
Is not this a powerful motive and serious conside. ration ? Was not this the character of our blessed Saviour and Redeemer, who was (saith the Apostle) a man who went about doing good? And shall we not go and do likewise, by imitating the example of the Good Samaritan ? Without insisting here on the divine doctrines which he taught, I would call your attention to the miracles which he performed, and which were all directed to this single end of doing good
to the souls and bodies of men. For this very purpose ühe healed the sick; he fed the hungry; he comforted
the afflicted; he cleansed the lepers ; he cast out devils ; he restored soundness to the lame, sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and life to the dead. I know very well, and I need not be told, that in this infidel and apostate age these things are very little regarded; but, nevertheless, all true Christians will be found to follow the precepts and example of Christ, looking for his mercy unto eternal life.
It is a remarkable part of the doctrine in the text, that the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to charge the rich to do good by the distribution of their riches, and the communication of their good things to others, from
the motive of receiving a future and eternal reward, i laying up in store for themselves a good foundation
against the time to come, that they may lay hold on
eternal life. These words are to be understood in that sense which is most consistent with other passages of Scripture on the same subject, and we cannot explain them away without a violation of their true meaning. It is clear that they do not teach us that we are justified by the works of the moral law, any more than that they do not teach us that we are justified by faith without works.
The Apostle has taught us elsewhere the meaning of his words, where he says, God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love (or charity), which love (or charity) ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.* And again he says, in the same Epistle, To do good and to distribute, forget not ; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. We see, therefore, that this doctrine is consistent with itself, and must be taken in connexion with the other points of doctrine with which it agrees. But in conclusion of the subject, I will place the whole truth of this doctrine upon the words of our Lord himself, and rest the truth upon his authority alone. It is certain, that in the account which he has given of the final judgment, he has expressed his approbation of the conduct of his faithful followers, and held out to them an eternal reward for their performance of the duties of charity. He makes this the sole criterion of their characters, and of the sincerity of their faith in him. Come, ye blessed
* Heb. vi. 10.