« PrécédentContinuer »
6 be?” But the Christian is taught to act upon a more generous and enlarged plan: To him the partition-wall between Jew and Gentile is broken down : He is to do good, as opportunity offers, to all men, without distinction of age or country, friend or foe, sect or party : His example is to be fetched down from Heaven: He is to copy the universal benevolence of his Creator, who is good to all, and makes his sun to shine alike upon the just and the unjust: He is to follow the steps of his Redeemer, who died for his enemies, as well as for his friends. Whoever therefore labours under the common infirmities or calamities of human nature, be his condition, opinion, interest, country, or denomination, what it will; he is the Christian's friend, brother, and equal : He is the object of his compassion, of his prayers, his advice, his bounty, and his assistance.
2dly. As we are required to do good to all men, without distinction, so are we also required to do good at all times.“
It is painful to' condemn even the faintest dawnings of so amiable a virtue as humanity, let them proceed from what cause they will : And happy it is for the distressed, that there are so many motives to lead men to the exercise of it: But the sacredness of truth compels me to say, that a partial, or irregular charity, is not the charity of the Gospel. 'We may be liberal in a pleasant humour; the feelings of pity and the importunity of distress, the dread of shame or the vanity of ostentation, may extort from us an accidental alms to a poor member of Christ : but such sudden and fortuitous starts of benevolence reach not the duty of the true Christian. He is not only to do good, sometimes and by chance, but, in the language of the text, he is to be “ rich in good works :" His charity is to be a steady principle, operating at all times ;í not dazzling the eye with uncer: tain flashes, but irradiating and reviving the heart of the distressed with a steady and unremitting warmth. Every year therefore, every month, nay, every rising sun, will recall some such reflection as
this to his mind: The chearful beams of day now begin to shine forth upon the world, and recall to me those pleasing varieties of nature, which God hath every where scattered with an unsparing hand through the works of his creation. But, whilst to me they thus bring new life and pleasure, alas for thousands of
fellowcreatures! they shine forth, only to awake the children of affliction to a painful recollection of their various distresses; to recall the
of sorrow, to throw an unwelcome light on the dungeon of the fettered captive, to make the wretchedness of the poor mansions of poverty, only more visible and conspicuous. These various evils, I well know, are necessary in the confused order of a world like this, where pain and sorrow are the native birth-right and lot of man. Yet Providence, by putting the means of doing it into my hands, has allotted to me the pleasing task of alleviating these miseries, and of administering to the necessities of my fellow-creatures. I will remember therefore that this risiog sun recalls me to the discharge of this god-like task. I will
labour to remove poverty and sickness from off the face of the earth, as far as my abilities extend, by scattering the beams of benevolence around me, so long as heaven permits me to be the steward of its blessings. And, though I cannot hope to wipe away all tears from all faces, for that belongeth to God alone, yet I may make the journey of some of my fellow-travellers through life happy; I may save a few perhaps from sinking under their heavy burdens; and be the happy instrument, under God, to save their souls alive hereafter, as well as to alleviate their bodily distresses here. At least of this I am fully assured, whatever may be the event of my endeavours, that I shall have discharged my own duty ; that I shall have acted in conformity to the great dictates of nature and religion ; and that therefore the prayers of the fatherless and widow will plead for me at the throne of mercy, in that great and awful day of account, when I shall most stand in need of mercy.
Thirdly, Thirdly, as the charity of the Christian must not be partial nor irregular, so neither must it be cold or grudging. It must not be extorted by argument or persuasion: it must not flow reluctantly or grudgingly, but freely and chearfully; it must arise from a love and obedience of God who commands it; from a regard to the poor, made in the image of God, who want it; from a respect to ourselves, who may one day stand in need of the bounty of others. Our charity therefore must not drop with the niggard reluctance of the miser, but flow with the unbounded liberality of heaven. The true Christian will be ready to distribute, willing to communicate: And instead of studying frivolous objections to colour over his want of charity, which is too often the case of narrow-minded wretches, whose minds are impervious to the warm beams of benevolence, he will lend a willing ear to the cries of the necessitous : He will search out the poor and needy: He will plead for the misery that cannot plead for itself: He will anticipate the wishes of modest: want: He will have a pleasure in