תמונות בעמוד

by a vain sear of what may happen to thyself or to others, after thou hast done it. "It is not "sor thee to know the times and the seasons, *. which the Father hath put in his power," Ac"te

. t! 7. This only thou knowest, that the present season, whatever it be, is a season of benesicence. Do thy duty in it, and leave the event to providence: For whether thy work prosper, or not, Thou thyself shalt surely prosper for the fake of it, and not mils of thy reward. The blessed Jesus went about doing good, under all the discouraging circumstances imaginable. Let us imitate his example, and repress our curiosity as to the issues of things, by carrying ever in our ears the reproof he gave to the over-inquisitive disciple, What is that t* thee? fallow thou me, John xxi. 2 I. If we will not impart the good things of lise to others, till we are satissied that we shall never want them ourselves; we must wholly shut up <n1r hands and harden our hearts towards the poor: For no man, not even the most wealthy, and great, and powersul among the sons of men, is exempt from the chances of human lise, and

, the viciffitudes of fortune. If we will not encourage public works of benesicence, till we are secure, that no storm shall overturn what we help to build; there is no room for any exhortations to ch irity, since there is no guarding against such hazards and accidents. However (blessed be God!) those charities which we now meet to promote, ..do, of all others, the least lie open to such exceptions and surmises. For they are not newfangled devices of yesterday, whereof we have had ao knowledge, no experience; but are.(most / os of them) as old as the reformation itseif, and have flourished together with it, and by it: so that, after above an age and a half's trial of them, we can judge surely of their useful nature and tendency, and fafely prophesy their continuance. They have stood the test of all times and revolutions; even of such as scarce spared any thing that was truly facred and venerable. When faoilegious and rebellious hands had razed the church, even to the foundation thereof, and laid the hononr of the crown low in the dust; yet still, struck with a reverence for these awful charities,-they suffered them to stand undiminimed, untouched, amidst the common ruins: and what the malice and frenzy of that time spared, we have reason to hope, may continue for ever: But

III. There are many men sensible enough of their obligations to charity, and resolved, some time or other, to discharge them: but they desire to be excused from that duty for the present, and put it off, perhaps, to a will and a death-bed, and think it sufficient, if they begin to do good in the world, any time before they l;ave it. A veiy fatal error! and very fruitful of ill consequences/ For a death-bed charity is no better, in 'its kind, than a death-bed repentance; which ought not indeed to be neglected (because it is the best thing we can do in those circumstances), but yet it cannot be relied on. Seldom do either of these proceed from a principle of goodness; nor are they owing to a love of virtue, but to a fear of punishment. However, God forbid that I should condemn, demn, or discourage cither of them, any further than is requisite to awaken us into an earlier fense ©f our duty, and of the dangers with which such delays are attended! Indeed, when a man has lived in the practice of charity, he may also die in it with comfort. But of what great worth can that facrisice be, which we never had the heart to offer, till it was going to be snatched out of our hands? If we part with that only which we can, keep no longer, -what thanks have -we? Whatsoever we employ in charitable uses, during our lives, is given away from ourselves; what we bequeth at our deaths, is given from others only, our nearest relations and friends, who else would enjoy it. Besides, how many testamentary charities have been defeated by the negligence or fraud of executors? by the suppression of a will? the subornation of wimesses, or the corrupt sentence os a Judge? How preposterous is it, never to set about works of charity, whilst we ourselves can see them performed i and then only to intend the doing them, when it will be in the power of another to frustrate this good intention? Nay, but be thoii thy own'executor, in such casts, as much as is posl sible. Inure thyself betimes to the love and practice of good deeds: for the longer thou deferrest to be acquainted with them, the less every day thou wilt sind thyself disposed to them. Age itself, that weakens all other passions and desires, adds to our unnatural love of money; and makes us then most fondly hug and retain the good things of life, when we have the least prospect, ourselves, of enjoying them. He only, who hatli had an early relish of the pleasures of beneficence,

•win Will then be persuaded to abound in it; will be ready ti give, g'.ni to fti ihute. Wherefore teach thyself this lesson, while it is to be taught i and begin this very day to practise it, by setting apart something out of thy stock, for the use of some one os these excellent charities, which require supplies from Hay to day: and why then, if thoti art not unable, and dost ever, intend, shouklfl thou at all defer, to bestow them? Againi

IV. It is alledged, that the increase of charity sends often to the increasing and multiplying the poor; and by that means, proves a mischief to the commonwealth, instead of a support and benesit.. And it must be allowed, that, with regard to out* private distributions of charity, there may be some truth in the observation. The proness of good inen to commiserate want, in whatsoever shape it appears, and from whatever cause it may spring; their easiness to relieve cheats and vagabonds, and to be wrought upon by the importunities of clamorous beggars, are doubtless one reason why our poor are so numerou9; and encourage many (o depend upon the merciful for their support, who might otherwise seek it from their own industry and labour. And therefore, of the charity which we this way bestow, much I fear is mifapplyed; and I would far rather be an advocate for the retrenchment, than the increase of it. But in our public charities (such particularly as adorn this great city, and beautify this solemnity) there is no danger of excess; no room to fear, lest, by the overflowing bounty of benefactors, they lhould ever swell beyond the necessities of those,

who who have a real occasion for them. For they are hot like the charitable foundations in the church, of Rome, whose number, wealth, and daziing splendor, exceeds all the demands and the design 'of charity, and raises envy rather than companion, 5n the breasts of beholders. These are indeed superfluous charities; conveniences to private persons, but of no real advantage u the public: instead of being receptacles for the truly poor, they tempt men to pretend poverty, in order to share ftdvaritages of them. The charitable institutions, for which 1 plead, are Of another nature and ten

• Mency ', caleulated not for ostentation, but use; to answer the chies ends of human,lise, and the Iiecessaiy wants of human nature: and the more therefore they are enlarged, the more usesul still

• "will 'hey be; nor can the liberal hand ever be too liberal m supplying them. At least, that cannot happen, till fume ages hence; when, therefore, h will be time enough to enter on such a consideration. THe'

Vth and last thing (1 shall mention) by whicH Xtt are apt tb excuse our backwardness to good ivories, is, the ill success that hath been observe4 to Stte'nd well designed charities; with relation, both to the obiects on which they are placed, and the hands through which they are conveyed. The sirst do often prove unworthy of ourbounty, and the latter may sometimes divert and misapply it. But what then ? Shall we be discouraged from, any attempt os doing good by the posliblity of our failing in it? How many of the best things, that were ever done for tKe world, would, at this rate,

Vol. II. V have

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