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and faithful highTpriiJi; who could be toticM wish) the sitting os our Jnnrmitiet, Heb ii. 17. because he viat in all points tempted like at vie are, Heb. iv, |j. and himsels alsi compnjf d with infirmity^ Heb. v. 2. If then, by taking upon himself humaa mature at large, he hath a compassionate and ten4er stnle ot the Annuities of mankind in generalj he must needs, in a peculiar manner, seel, and commiserate the insirmities of the poor, in which he himself was so eminent a fh.irer. To the reft of mankind he was allied indeed by his humanity; but to the poor, even by the humble and suffering circumstances of it: He was made " in the likeness of men j" but most like the meanest among the sons of men. "Wherefore he is not ashamed to call them brethren," by way of distinction ; to publish their near relation to him ; to recommend their case particularly to us; to espouse all their interests; to take part in all their afflictions; and even to acknowledge the good offices we do them,
as done to himself "I say unto you, inasmuch
»S ye have done it unto one of the least of these mji brethren ye have done it unto me."
I have dispatehed the argument in both its branches, which I undertook to consider. The use we are to make of it, is obvious and easy; so obvious, that I question not but you have prevented me in this respect, and have all along, as I passed from point to point, applied it to yourselves, to the enforcing os the great duty of charity, to the enflaming your fouls with an ardent love of it, and a resolution of prosiling it in such an exalted decree, as becomes the true disciples (nay the friends and brethren) of J'sui. M my
excellent excellent things are fpsken of this divine grace, in Scripture; many high encomiums are there given of it; many encouraging promises are made to it: But I question, whether all of them taken together carry more life, and force, and warmth in them, than the two affecting considerations I have explained to you. The wit of man cannot contrive (for even the wisdom of God hath not suggested) any more pressing motives, more powerful incentives to the exercise os charity, than these; That we shall be judged by it at the last dreadful day-, and that then, all the acts of mercy we have done to the poor, shall by our merciful Judge be owned and rewarded as personal kindnesses done to himself.
What can awaken us to do good, if the found of the last trumpet cannot? If a lively fense and anticipation of the great scene of iudgment which shall then be unfolded, of the process which shall be formed, of the scrutiny which shall be made, of the sentence which shall be pronounced; if, I fay, the bright ideas of these solemnities, which the Scripture hath taken care to imprint upon our minds, do not excite us to abound in the labour if love, v>hi!ft it is yet day, ere the night co~ meth, -when no man can -work; John xi. 4. Vain will be the attempt of rousing us into the love and practice of goodness, by any less astonishing methods; all other applications and motives whatsoever will be lost upon us; and we must even be susfered to Jleep on in our security, und take our rest, till our judgment, which lingeretb not, overtakes us, and our damnation, whishJlumhreth not, lays hold of us, 2 Pet. ii. 3.
Do we, in good earnest, believe the account of that day's transaction which our Lord hath given us; Let us shew dur faith by our works and pass the time of our sojourning here (as h will then be well for us we had pasted it) in the unwearied exercise of benesicence and charity. Can we believe that God hath appomted a day .wherein he willjudge the world by the Man Christ Jesus; without believing also, that he will judge it in that very manner, and with those very circumstances, which the Judge himself hath revealed to us? And if so, how can we ever think of appearing at that awsul Tribunal, without being able to give a ready answer to the questions which he shall then put to us, about the poor and the afflicted, the hungry and the naked, the sick and the imprisoned? What consusion of face shall we be under, when that grand inquest begins; "When an account of our wealth and our opportunities of doing good is displayed, on the one side, and a particular of our use, or misuse of ihem is given in, on the other? And it shall appear, That the good things we have done, are sew, and little, in comparison of those we have received? How shall we then wish (to no purpose wish) that it might be allowed us to live over our lives again, in order to sill every minute of them with charitable ofsices, which, we sind, will at that time be of so great importance to us? 'In vain shall we then plead (though we could truly plead) that we have been frequent and devout worshippers of God, temperate and sober in our enjoyments, just and conscientious in our dealings; in vain shall we attempt to justify ourselves, selves as fhfi rich yourtg man in thtf gospel did
saying, " All these have I kept from my youth "up Matt. xlx. 20. unless we can fay also somewhat more for ourselves, than he could; even that we have been liberal in our diftributionst to the poor, and well discharged that important Stewardship with which God hath entrusted Us« One single instance of relief afforded to the asflicted and the miserable, one "cup of cold water "given to a disciple," that is, the smallest act of tharity, done out of a sincere principle of goodness, shall then stand us in greater stead, and recommend us more effectually to the favour of our Judge, than all our pretended zeal for the divinjs honour and the advancement of religion, thatt *U the ffights and fervours of devotion, than all the rigors and severities of the mortisied state, nay, than whatever Christian graces and virtues we can suppose it possible to attain, without attaining true Christian charity, i e. such an ardent love of God, as manifests itself in a proportionable love of our neighbour, and particularly in those genuine fruits of love, with which Christian mercy and tenderness will be sure tar inspire us.
This is a truth, which cannot be too often, or too earnestly inculcated, because (important as i< is) we are apt, extremely apt, to overlook it, and to persuade ourselves, that, if we do but observe the rules of moral honesty in all our trans-' actions; if we wrong no man, or make restitution to those we have wronged; such a righteoua and fauldess conduct will secure our tide to hap
duties of the law, an
piness. We own, indeed, that extraordinary acts of charity are commendable, and shall have their reward: But we think, we can escape hell, without performing them; and are humble enough to be contented with the lowest station in heaven. Human judicatorjes, we observe, give sentence only on matters of right and wrong, but enquire not into acts of bounty and benesicence j and we easily transser this known method of proceeding from earthly tribunals to that of heaven. To rectify a mistake of so great consequence as this, it was requisite to assure us, that, though the forms and solemnities of the last judgment, as they are described in the gospel, may bear some resemblance to those we are acquainted with here below, yet the rule of proceeding shall be very different: That we shall be tried at that bar, not merely by our righteousness, but moreover and chiefly by our chanty; That it wiil not avail us then to fay, We have done no evil, if we have done no good; That however v irtues of omission (if I may so speak) will not save us, yet, that sins of omission will certainly damn us. Tis because we have not given the nungty, meat; and the thirsty, drink; because we have not taken in the stranger, and cloathed the naked; because we have not visited the, sick, and those that are in prison; that we shall be then included in that terrible sentence, " Depart from me, ye cursed, "into everlasting sire, prepared for the devil and "his angels!" The ignorance of those, who are strangers to the covenant of Christ, may be winked at, and their suture happiness secured to them upon lower terms : But it is madness in Christians,