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SERM. thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be X. reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift, saith our Saviour.
I close up all with this corollary: that if we must live lovingly and peaceably with all men, then much more are we obliged to do so with all Christians : to whom by nearer and firmer bands of holy alliance we are related; by more precious communions in faith and devotion we are endeared; by more peculiar and powerful obligations of divine commands, sacramental vows, and formal professions we are engaged: our spiritual brethren, members of the same mystical body, temples of the same Holy Spirit, servants of the same Lord, subjects of the same Prince, professors of the same truth, partakers of the same hope, heirs of the same promise, and candidates of the same everlasting happiness.
Now Almighty God, the most good and beneficent Maker, gracious Lord, and merciful Preserver of all things, infuse into our hearts those heavenly graces of meekness, patience, and benignity, grant us and his whole church, and all his creation to serve him quietly here, and in a blissful rest to praise and magnify him for ever: to whom, with his blessed Son, the great Mediator and Prince of peace, and with his holy Spirit, the everflowing spring of all love, joy, comfort, and peace, be all honour, glory, and praise. And,
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be among you, and remain with you for ever. Amen.
THE DUTY AND REWARD OF BOUNTY TO
Psalm cxii. 9. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with
honour. As this whole Psalm appears to have a double in- SERM. tent; one to describe the proper actions and affec-> tions of a truly religious or pious man; (of a man who feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in Verse 1. his commandments ;) the other to declare the happiness of such a man's state, consequent upon those his affections and actions, whether in way of natural result, or of gracious recompense from God: so doth this verse particularly contain both a good part of a pious man's character, and some considerable instances of his felicity. The first words (He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor) express part of his character; the latter (his righteousness endureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with honour) assign instances of his felicity. So that our text hath two parts, one affording us good information concerning our duty, the other yielding great
* This Sermon was preached at the Spital upon Wednesday in Easter-week, A. D. 1671.
SERM. encouragement to the performance thereof; for we XXXI. are obliged to follow the pious man's practice, and
so doing we shall assuredly partake of his condition. These parts we shall in order prosecute, endeavouring (by God's assistance) somewhat to illustrate the words themselves, to confirm the truths couched in them, and to inculcate the duties which they imply.
For the first part, He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor ; these words in general do import the liberal bounty and mercy which a pious man is wont to exercise; doing which doth in good part constitute him pious, and signally declareth him such; is a necessary ingredient of his piety, and a conspicuous mark thereof. But particularly they insinuate some things concerning the nature, the matter, the manner, and the object of those acts.
He hath dispersed, he hath given. Those words being put indefinitely, or without determining what is dispersed and given by him, may be supposed to imply a kind of universality in the matter of his beneficence; that he bestoweth whatever he hath
within compass of his possession, or his power; his Luke xii. rà únápxcuta, (the things which he hath,) and his tà 33. xi. 4. , ,
, ..... .... . . évórta, (the things which he may,) according to the prescriptions of our Lord in the Gospel. Every thing, I say, which he hath in substance, or can do by his endeavour, that may conduce to the support of the life, or the health, or the welfare in any kind of his neighbour, to the succour or relief of his indigency, to the removal or easement of his affliction, he may well here be understood to disperse and give. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, entertaining the stranger, ransoming the captive, easing the oppressed, comforting the sorrowful,
assisting the weak, instructing or advising the igno- SERM. rant, together with all such kinds or instances of be. A. neficence, may be conceived either meant directly as the matter of the good man's dispersing and giving, or by just analogy of reason reducible thereto: substantial alms, as the most sensible and obvious matter of bounty, was (it is probable) especially intended, but thence no manner of expressing it is to be excluded; for the same reasons which oblige us, the same affections which dispose us to bestow our money, or deal our bread, will equally bind and move us to contribute our endeavour and advice, for the sustenance and comfort of our poor neighbour. Answerably our discourse will more expressly regard the principal matter, liberal communication of our goods; but it may be referred to all sorts of beneficence.
Further, the word dispersed intimateth the nature of his bounty, in exclusion of practices different from it. He disperseth, and is therefore not tenacious, doth not hoard up his goods, or keep them close to himself, for the gratifying his covetous humour, or nourishing his pride, or pampering his sensuality; but sendeth them abroad for the use and benefit of others. He disperseth his goods, and therefore doth not fling them away altogether, as if he were angry with them, or weary of them, as if he loathed or despised them; but fairly and softly with good consideration he disposeth of them here and there, as reason and need do require. He disperseth them to the poor, not dissipateth them among vain or lewd persons in wanton or wicked profusions, in riotous excesses, in idle divertisements, in expensive curiosities, in hazardous gamings, in any such courses which
SERM. swallow whole all that a man hath, or do so cripple XXXI. L:..
1. him, that he becomes unable to disperse any thing :
our good man is to be understood wisely provident, honestly industrious, and soberly frugal, that he may
have wherewith to be just first, and then liberala. Eph. iv. 28. His dispersing also (or scattering, so the * Hebrew Prov. xi.24. word here used is otherwhere rendered: There is,
saith the Wise Man, that scattereth, and yet increaseth: where we may remark, that this word singly by itself, without any adjunct matter to limit or interpret it, is used to signify this kind of practice. This his dispersing, I say, also) denotes the extent of the pious man's bounty, that it is very large and diffusive, and in a manner unrestrained; that it reacheth to many places, and is withheld from no persons within the verge of his power and opportunity to do good. This practice commonly by
a like phrase (unto which perhaps this word refers) is 2 Cor. ix. termed sowing: He, saith St. Paul, which soweth 6. 10. Gal. vi. 7, sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which Prov. xi.18. Soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Now, Prov. xi.25. he that soweth, having chosen a good soil, and a fit
season, doth not regard one particular spot, but throweth all about so much as his hand can hold, so far as the strength of his arm doth carry. It is likewise called watering ;(He that watereth, saith Solomon, shall be watered himself:) which expression also seemeth to import a plentiful and promiscuous effusion of good, dropping in showers upon dry and parched places; that is, upon persons dry for want, or parched with affliction. So the good man doth not plant his bounty in one small hole, or spout it on
à Où yap olór te xphuat' éxeiv, pin étudenoúperov, omws ex. Arist. Eth. iv. I.