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to discharge, there is another Sort, whichSERM.

IX.
we are obliged to the Payment of, over
and above what those Laws have made
any Provision for; which is that of Chá-
rity. From the Words of the Text I shall
endeavour to prove,
First, That Charity is a Debt, which we

owe Mankind.
Secondly, I shall bring some Arguments to

perswade you chearfully to discharge it.
First then I am to prove, that Charity is
2 Debt. To do good, and to assist and help
our Fellow-creatures, which I here mean
by Charity, and which I apprehend is im-
plied in the Text, is no more than what
we owe each other; as is plain both from
the Old and New Testament. 'Tis what
the Law teaches, and the Gospel excels
in. To do good and to communicate for-
get not, is a noble Precept of Christianity;
and to do unto all Men, as you would
they should do unto you, is the Law and
the Prophets

, The Jews are commanded in Leviticus to be compassionate towards those that were in Distress. If thy Brother bę waxen poor, and fallen in decay with

thee

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SERM. thee, then thou shalt relieve him ; yea, IX. tho’ he be a Stranger, or a Sojourner, that

he may live with thee. And to take in a still greater compass and extent of Charity, they were to love their Neighbours as themfelves. Now Self-Preservation, and a natural Care and Concern for ourselves, every one knows, is one of the first things we discover any Apprehensions of; and to owe our Neighbour a Love like this, is a Debt of no small Consequence; a Debt it is, which we shall always owė, as long as we have a Being. For though there are some Duties, such as the Relative Duties subfisting between Children and Parents, Ma- . sters and Servants, &c. which

upon

the Death of either do immediately cease and become void, because the Reason of them ceases with them ; yet as long as there are any

Men in the World, that have any Wants to be relieved, so long will Charity be a Debt by the Law of God. St. Paul, teaching the Romans to render

Man his Due, tells them, that they should owe no Man any thing, but to Love one another : So that after we have discharged all

every

other

other Debts, yet Love and Charity is a Serm. Debt we shall still owe. And our Blessed IX. Saviour puts it out of all doubt, in that remarkable Paffage in St. Luke, where having been talking of the unjust Steward, he thus concludes, And if ye have not beeri faithful in that which is another Man's, who Thall give you that which is your own? From which it is evident, that the good things of this Life are not properly our own; and that we are only Stewards, and are accountable for them to our Master, from whom we received them: For though that which is translated another Man's, is rendered by fome, Things foreign, or without us, yet both Interpretations will amount to the fame thing in this case; for it will follow from both, that we are not Proprietors of those good things, buc are only entrusted with the Care of them, to dispose of them to those that want; the Neglect of which is here made a manifest Breach of Trust. And indeed this is the voice of Nature likewise, as well as Scripture: For what can be more reasonable, than that, as every thing we have comes

from

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be profita

Serm. from God (for what have we that we have IX.

not received) we should be always ready
to make a gratefal Return. As we have
freely received, we fhoald also freely give,
Not that we can give any thing to our
Maker, whereby Ire

may
receive

any

Ada vantage; for a Man cannot be profitable to God, as he that is wife

may ble to himself; but we are to give it to the Poor, whom God has taken under his Protection, who are the

proper

Persons appointed ro receive it. But further, it is certain that we were born for the mutual Help of each other, not to moleft and disturb, but to aid and affist one another; and whoever does not do fo, when it is in his Power to do it, acts contrary to Nature : So that it is plain, that Charity, or the aflisting our Fellow-creatures, is a Debt, and that too by the Law of Nature, antecedent to any written Law whatsoever.

Tho it be certainly true that Charity is a Debt, which we owe all Mankind, yet it is true likewise, that this, as well as any other Duty, how universal soever it may Seem to be, is Subject to Limitations and

"Re

and Restrictions: One in particular is men- SERM, tion’d, and another implied, in the Text;

IX. that we have it in our Power' to discharge this Debt, and that it is to be paid only to those to whom it is due. For whenever we are enjoined to do Acts of Charity and Beneficence, if it be not exa press'd, there is always implied an Ability of doing them: It being required of every Man in those Cases, according to what he hath, and not according to what he hath not. And therefore, tho' we are not to withhold Good from them to whom it is due, yet this Precept is so far limited, as to fuppose it to be in the Power of our hand to do it. But there are very few who act besides the Precept, by doing more than their Abilities will permit; the greatest Part will not do so much as they are able, but with poor Excuses and Objections, which are always ready at hand, when we have not a Mind to do our Duty, refuse to do that Good, which it is in the Power of their hand to do.

But God, who knows the Secrets of all Hearts, knows also our Abilities and wants, and Bb

how

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