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pass a right Judgment on any Part. .
For then he
SERM. III, Justice ; but of others, with all the Soft
enings of Humanity.
From charitable and benevolent Thoughts, the Transition is unavoidable to charitable Actions. For wherever there is an inexhaustible Fund of Goodness at the Heart, it will, under all the Disadvantages of Circumstances, exert itself in Acts of substantial Kindness. He, that is substantially good will be doing good. The Man, that has a hearty determinate Will to be charitable, will seldom put Men off with the mere Will for the Deed. For a sincere Desire to do Good implies fome Uneafiness, till the Thing be done : And Uneafiness sets the Mind at work, and puts
the Stretch to find out a thousand Ways and Means of obliging, which will ever escape the Unconcerned, the Indifferent, and the Unfeeling. The most proper Objects of your
Bounty are the Necessitous. Give the same Sum of Money, which
bestow on a Person in tolerable Circumstances, to one in extreme Poverty; and observe, what a wide Disproportion of Happiness is produced. In the latter Case it is like giving a Cordial to a fainting Person ; in the former it is like
giving Wine to him, who has already Serm.III. quenched his Thirst. Mercy is seasonable
in Time of Afliktion, like Clouds of Rain so in the Time of Drought.
And among the Variety of necessitous Objects, none have a better Title to our Compassion, than those, who, after having tasted the Sweets of Plenty, are, by some undeserved Calamity, obliged, without some charitable Relief, to drag out the Remainder of Life in Misery and Woe; who little Thought they should ask their daily Bread of any but of God; who, after a Life led in Affluence, cannot dig, and are ashamed to beg. And they are to be relieved in such an endearing Manner, with such a Beauty of Holiness, that, at the same Time that their Wants are supplied, their Confusion of Face may be prevented.
There is not an Instance of this kind in History so affecting, as that beautiful one of Boaz to Rutb. He knew her Family, and how she was reduced to the lowest Ebb: When therefore she begged Leave to glean in his Fields, he ordered his Reapers to let fall several.Handfuls with a seeming Carelessness, but really with a set Design, that she might gather them up without being
Serm. III ashamed.
Thus did he form an artful Scheme, that he might give, without the Vanity and Ostentatian of giving; and she receive, without the Shame and Confusion of making Acknowledgments. Take the History in the Words of Scripture, as it is recorded in the Book of Ruth. And when me was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded bis young Men, saying; Let her glean even among the Sheaves, and rebuke ber not : and let fall also some of the Handfuls of Purpose, and leave them that she may glean them, and reproach ber not. This was not only doing a good Action; it was doing it likewise with a good Grace.
It is not enough we do no Harm that we be negatively good ; we must do Good, positive Good, if we would enter into Lifé. When it would have been as good for the World, if such a Man had never lived; it would perhaps have been better for him, if he had never been born. A scanty Fortune may limit your Beneficence, and confine it chiefly to the Circle of your
Domestics, Relations and Neighbours ; but let your Benevolence extend as far as Thought can travel, to the utmost Bounds of the World : Just as it may be only in your
Power to beautify the Spot of Ground that Serm. III. lyes near and close to you ;
could wish, that, as far as your Eye can reach, the whole Prospect before you was chearful, that every Thing disagreeable was removed, and every Thing beautiful made more fo.
I have dwelt so long upon this last Virtue, that I have not Time to discourse
upon the rest. One Duty, however, I shall just touch upon, which will engage us to Performance of all the Rest; and that is, frequent Self-Examination, or Self-Reflection.
We need not look far to meet with Perfons who, though they have a competent Knowledge of the World, know not what manner of Spirit they are of ; condemning the Want of Charity in others, with all the Acrimony, Fierceness and Uncharitableness imaginable ; censuring People for the Defect of Candour and a Sweetness of Disposition, with that merciless Keenness and Eagerness of Spirit, which thews them to be, whatever others are, in the very Gall of Bitterness: Now the Use of such an Observation, is not so much to arraign them, as to sufpect yourself. For he never knew himself rightly, who never suspected him