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as a faith that will not prevail for the works of charity, is dead and ineffectual, and the image or carcase of faith indeed, and such as God will not accept“
8. We have received so much ourselves from God, as doubleth our obligation to do good to others : obedience and gratitude do both require it.
9. We are not sufficient for ourselves, but need others as well as they need us: and therefore as we expect to receive from others, we must accordingly do to them. If the eye will not see for the body, nor the hand work for the body, nor the feet go for it, the body will not afford them nutriment, and they shall receive as they do.
10. Good works are much to the honour of religion, and consequently of God; and much tend to men's conviction, conversion, and salvation. Most men will judge of the doctrine by the fruits. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven b.”
11. Consider how abundantly they are commanded and commended in the Word of God. Christ himself hath given us the pattern of his own life, which from his first moral actions to his last, was nothing but doing good and bearing evil. He made love the fulfilling of the law, and the works of love the genuine fruits of Christianity, and an acceptable sacrifice to God. “As we have opportunity let us do good to all men, especially to them of the household of faith.– To do good and communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.-This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou constantly affirm, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works; these things are good and profitable to men.-For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.—To purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.—So labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. - Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that
may have to give to him that needetho.” You see poor labourers are not excepted from the command of helping others : insomuch that the first church sold all their possessions, and had all things common; not to teach levelling and condemn propriety, but to shew all after them that Christian love should use all to relieve their brethren as themselves.
12. Consider that God will in a special manner judge us at the last day according to our works, and especially our works of charity : as in Matt. xxv. Christ hath purposely and plainly shewed; and so doth many another text of Scripture. These are the motives to works of love.
Quest. 11. What is a good work, even such as God hath promised to reward ?'
Answ, 1. The matter must be lawful, and not a sin. 2. It must tend to a good effect, for the benefit of man, and the honour of God. 3. It must have a good end; even the pleasing and glory of God, and the good of ourselves and others. 4. It must come from a right principle, even from the love of God, and of man for his sake. 5. It must be pure and unmixed: if any sin be mixed with it, it is sinful 80 as to need a pardon: and if sin be predominant in it, it is so far sinful as to be unacceptable to God, in respect to the person, and is turned into sin itself. 6. It must be in season; or else it may sometimes be mixed with sin, and sometimes be evil itself and no good work. 7. It must be comparatively good as well as simply. It must not be a lesser good instead of a greater, or to put off a greater. As to be praying when we should be quenching a fire, or saving a man's life. 8. It must be good in a convenient degree. Some degrees are necessary to the moral being of a good work, and some to the well-being. God must be loved and worshipped as God, and heaven sought as heaven, and men's souls and lives must be highly prized and seriously preserved : some sluggish doing of good is but undoing it. 9. It must be done in confidence of the merits of Christ, and presented to God as by his hands, who is our Mediator and Intercessor with the Father.
Quest, I11. “What works of charity should one choose
c Gal. vi. 20. Heb. xiii. 16. Tit. üü. 8. Ephes. ii. 10. Tit. ii. 14. Acts xx. 35. Ephes. iv. 8.
in these times, who would improve bis master's talents to his most comfortable account?'
Answ. The diversity of men's abilities and opportunities nake that to be best for one man which is impossible to another d. But I shall name some that are in themselves most beneficial to mankind, that every man may choose the best which he can reach to.
1. The most eminent work of charity, is the promoting the conversion of the heathen and infidel parts of the world ; to this princes and men of power and wealth might contribute much if they were willing ; especially in those countries in which they have commerce and send ambassadors : they might procure the choicest scholars, to go over with their ambassadors and learn the languages, and set themselves to this service according to opportunity: or they might erect a college for the training of students purposely for that work, in which they might maintain some natives procured from the several infidel countries (as two or three Persians, as many Indians of Indostan, as many Tartarians, Chinese, Siamites, &c.) which might possibly be obtained : and these should teach students their country languages. But till the Christian world be so happy as to have such princes, something may be done by volunteers of lower place and power; as Mr. Wheelock did in translating the New Testament, and Mr. Pococke by the Honourable Mr. Boyle's procurement and charge, in translating “Grotius de Verit. Christ. Relig.” into Arabic, and sending it to Indostan and Persia. And what excellent labour hath good Mr. John Elliot (with some few assistants) bestowed these twenty years and more in New England; where now he hath translated and printed the whole Scriptures in their American tongue, (with a Catechism and Call to the Unconverted, by the help of a press maintained from hence.
2. The attempt of restoring the Christian churches to their primitive purity and unity, according to men’s several opportunities, is a most excellent and desirable work; which though the ignorance and wickedness of many; and the implacableness and bloodiness of the carnal, proud, domineering part, and the too great alienation of some others from them, do make it so difficult as to be next to despe
See the Preface to my book, called, “The Crucifying of the World,"
rate, at the present, yet is not to be cast off as desperate indeed; for great things have been done by wise and valiant attempts. Princes might do very much in this, if they were both wise and willing. And who knoweth but an age may come that
may be so happy? The means and methods I would willingly describe, but that this is no fit place or time.
3. The planting of a learned, able, holy, concordant ministry in a particular kingdom, and settling the primitive discipline thereby, is a work also which those princes may very much promote, whose hearts are set upon it, and who set up no contrary interest against it; but because these lines are never like to be known to princes (unless by way of accusation), it is private men's works which we must speak to.
4. It is a very good work to procure and maintain a worthy minister in any of the most ignorant parishes in these kingdoms, (of which, alas, how many are there) where the skilful preaching of the Gospel is now wanting : or to maintain an assistant in populous parishes, where one is not able to do the work; or by other just means to promote this service.
5. It is a very good work to set up free-schools in populous and in ignorant places, especially in Wales; that all may be taught to read, and some may be prepared for the Universities.
6. It is an excellent work to cull out some of the choicest wits, among the poorer sort in the country schools, who otherwise would wither for want of culture ; and to maintain them for learning in order to the ministry, with some able, godly tutor in the University, or some country minister who is fit and vacant enough thereunto.
7. It is an excellent work to give among poor, ignorant people, Bibles and Catechisms, and some plain and godly books which are most fitted to their use. But it were more excellent to leave a settled revenue for this use (naming the books, and choosing meet trustees) that so the rent might every year furnish a several parish, which would in a short time be a very extensive benefit, and go through many countries.
8. It is a very good work to set poor men's children ap
prentices to honest, religious masters, where they may at once get the blessing to their souls of a godly education, and to their bodies, of an honest way of maintenance.
9. It will not be unacceptable to God, to relieve some of the persons, or poor children, of those very many hundred faithful ministers of Christ, who are now silenced and destitute of maintenance, many having nothing at all, but what charity sendeth them, to maintain
themselves and desolate families, who were wont to exercise charity to the bodies and souls of others. Read Matt. xxv. Gal. vi. 5-8.
10. It is a good work of them who give stocks of money, or yearly rents, to be lent for five, or six, or seven years to young tradesmen at their setting up, upon good security, choosing good trustees, who may choose the fittest persons ; and if it be a rent, it will still increase the stock, and if any should break, the loss of it may be borne.
11. It would be a very good work for landlords to improve their interest with their tenants, to further at once their bodily comfort, and salvation, to hire them by some abatement at their rent-days, to learn catechisms, and read the Scripture and good books in their families, and give the pastor an accouut of their proficience. Whether the law will enable them to bind them to any such thing in their leases, I cannot tell.
12. And the present work of charity for every one, is to relieve the most needy which are next at hand. To know what poor families are in greatest want, and to help them as we are able : and to provoke the rich to do that which we cannot do ourselves, and to beg for others; and still to make use of bodily relief, to further the good of their souls, by seconding all with spiritual advice and help.
Quest. IV. `In what order are works of charity to be done ? And whom must we prefer when we are unable to accommodate all ?'
Answ. 1. The most public works must be preferred before private. 2. Works for the soul 'cæteris paribus' before works for the body; and yet bodily benefits in order of time, must oft go first as preparations to the other. 3. Greatest necessities 'cæteris paribus' must be supplied before lesser : the saving of another's life must be preferred before your own less necessary comforts. 4. Your own