« הקודםהמשך »
St. Bridgets Church,
Before the right honourable the
LORD M A Y O R, &c.
On E aster-Tuesday, April 7, 1707.
St. M ATTH. xxv. 40.
Verily Isiy unto you; inasmuch as ye have dtni it ■unto one of the least of my brethren, ye havt done it unto me.
ST. Paul being brought unto the Areopagus, ov highest court in Athens, to give and account of the doctrine he had preached concerning Jesus, and the resurreclion, sitly took that occasion to imprint on the minds of those magistrates, before whom he stood, the belief of a future judgment, and to shew, what connexion there was between the rising of J'sus from the grave, and his coming to judge the world. "God," faid he, "hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the
world \vorld in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance Unto all men, in that hehath raised him from the dead," Acts xvii. 31. The rising of Jelus from the dead, was ati irresistible evidence of the truth of his doctrine; and one part of his doctrine was, that he would judge the world. By rising from the dead, he took poffcffion 'of his kingdom (all sower being xhcn given unto him both in heaven and in earth J Matth. xxviii. 18. and was to reifrn, til all his enemies ■were put under his feet, 1 Cor. xv. 25. that is, till evil me*, .and evil -spirits were judged; which was the last and most illustrious instance, wherein his kingly power was to be .exercised: And then (and not till then) he was to deliver vp his kingdoms to the Father. 1 Cor. xv. 24. On these (but more especially on the former of these) accounts, did Cod give assurance unto ail men, that he wouldjudge the -worldin righteous; ess t by that man •whxn he had ordained, in that he raised him from the dead.
The festival of our Lord's resurrection we have already celebrated; and may now therefore turn our thoughts not improperly to consider the chief consequence of his resurrection, a judgment to come: that branch of it especially, which relates to the enquiries that our Judge will then make concerning our obedience to his great commandment ot charity; the enforcing of which, is th« pious and peculiar design of these annual aflemblies.
In the account of that solemnity, which ouf Messed Saviour himself hath given us, we are told, that he will "then soy to them on hi* right-hand;
Come, Come, ye bTeitc'd of my father, inherit the king* 'dom prepared for you from the foundation of the World. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat J I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in j naked, and ye cloathed me; I was sick, and ye visited me ; I waa in prison and you came unto me." Amazed at this ~mercisul sentence, and no ways conscious of any such deserts, these good and humble persons are Taid to reply; "Lord, when saw we thee an hun•gred, and sed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? when saw we thee a sti anger, and took 'thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? or, when 'saw M.e thee sick, or in prison, and came unto "thlee?" To which our Saviour makes this memorable and gracious return; sit to be engraven in the hearts, and to be for ever sounding in the ears, of all industrious promoters of charity: " Verily .1 fay unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto Wnc of the least of these my brethren, ye have 'done It unto me." True it is, Me in person ye never relieved, supported, comforted; but, since ye 'performed these kind offices to others (who belonged to me) at my command, and for my fake; I take what you did to them seven to one of the least of them] as done to myself, and shall, under that notion, now give you an exceeding rccorhpence for it. Come, therefore, ye h/effid of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared/or you from the soundation of the •world!
I do not think, this account is to be understood literally, but with such allowances as are usually made in th^ explication of our Saviour's parables; which hold, not in every particular circumstance, Vol. U. N Ut fmt only as to the main scope and drift of them. Now the general design of this relation manifestly it, to propose to us two considerations, which arc powerful inducements to the practice of charity: One, "That upon this head we shall chiefly be "examined and tried, at the great day of ao"countThe other, " That acts of mercy done "to the poor shall then be accepted, and rewarded, as done to our Saviour himself."
Of thesetwo points, me formeris sufficiently implied throughout the tenor of our Lord's discourse, wherein all theinstances mentionedrelateto the single head of charity: The latter is directly asfirmed in very emphatical words, and whh.a solemn preface, never used by our Saviour but to give us warning of some remarkable truth that is to follow. "Verily I fay unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
The words therefore afford proper matter for Our devout reflexion, under the two following heads of enquiry:
I. First, Why, in the account gsven of the prc*. ceedings at the day of judgment, acts of mercy alone arc mentioned?
H. Se. onts/v, In what sense, and for what reasons it may be presumed, that our Saviour will then accept the acts of mercy we now do to his poor brethren (such he vouchfafes to call them) as done to himself.
I. As to the sirst of these enquiries, it is to be