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SERMON XXXI. *

THE DUTY AND REWARD OF BOUNTY TO

THE POOR.

Psal. cxii. 9.

He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor ; his righteous

ness endureth for ever, his horn shall lie exalted with

honour. SERM. As this whole Pfalm appears to have a double intent; XXXI.

one to describe the proper actions and affections of a truly Verse 1.

religious or pious man; (of a man who feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in 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 recompence 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) allign instances of his felicity. So that our text hath two parts, one affording us good information concerning our duty, the other yielding great encouragement to the performance thereof; for we are obliged to follow the pious man's practice, and so doing we shall affuredly partake of his condition. These parts we shall in order prosecute, endeavouring (by God's af

This Sermon was preached at the Spital upon Wednesday in Eafter Week, A. D. 1671.

Giftance) fomewhat to illustrate the words themselves, to SERM. confirm the truths couched in them, and to inculcate the XXXI. 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 fignally 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 td útápxovta, (the things which Luke xii. he hath,) and his tà {vóVTA, (the things which he may,) 33. xi. 41. 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 affli&tion, 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, affifting the weak, instructing or advising the ignorant, together with all such kinds or instances of beneficence, 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 expreffing 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 fuftenance and comfort of our

SERM. poor neighbour. Answerably our discourse will more exXXXI. pressly regard the principal matter, liberal communication

of our goods; but it may be referred to all sorts of beneficence.

Farther, 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 confideration 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 swallow whole all that a man hath, or do so cripple 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

liberal a. Eph. iv. 28. His disperfing also (or scattering, so the * Hebrew

MID * word here used is otherwhere rendered: There is, faith the Prov.xi. 24.

Wise Man, that scattereth, and yet increaseth: where we may remark, that this word fingly by itself, without any adjunct matter to limit or interpret it, is used to signify this kind of practice. This his disperhng, 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 termed fowing : He,

• Ου γαρ οίόν τε χρήματέχειν, μή επιμελύμενον, όπως έχη. Αrit. Eth. iv. 1.

Prov, xi. 18.

faith St. Paul, which foweth Sparingly, Mall also reap SERM. Sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall also XXXI. Teap bountifully. Now, he that soweth, having chosen a 2 Cor. ix. good foil, and a fit season, doth not regard one particular 6; 10

Gal. vi. 7, spot, but throweth all about so much as his hand can 8. hold, so far as the strength of his arm doth carry. It is likewise called watering ; (He that watereth, faith Solo- Prov. xi. mon, shall be watered himself :) which expression also 25. seemeth to import a plentiful and promiscuous effufion of good, dropping in showers upon dry and parched places; that is, upon persons dry for want, or parched with affli&tion. So the good man doth not plant his bounty in one small hole, or spout it on one narrow spot, but with an open hand disseminates it, with an impartial regard diftils it all about. He stints it not to his own family or relations; to his neighbours, or friends, or benefactors; to those of his own sect and opinion, or of his humour and disposition; to such as serve him, or oblige him, or please him; whom some private interest ties, or some particular affection endears him to; but scatters it indifferently and unconfinedly toward all men that need it; toward mere strangers, yea, toward known enemies; toward such who never did him any good, or can ever be able to do any; yea, even toward them who have done evil to him, and may be presumed ready to do more b. Nothing in his neighbour but absence of need, nothing in himself but defect of ability, doth curb or limit his beneficence. In that apo Jupía, (that proclivity and promp-2 Cor. viii. titude of mind) which St. Paul speaketh of, he doth good Ubicunque every where: wherever a man is, there is a room for his homo eft, wishing well, and doing good, if he can: he observes that cio locus rule of the Apostle, As we have opportunity, let us do eft, Sen.de

Vit. B. cap. good unto all men. So the pious man hath dispersed. It 24. follows,

He hath given to the poor. These words denote the 13.

ibi benefi

Gal. vi. 10.

2 Cor. ix.

• Εάν ήδης τινά κακώς πάσχοντα, μηδέν περιεργάζε λοιπόν έχει το δικαίωμα της βοηθείας, το κακώς παθείν αυτόν-τύ Θεξ εσι, καν “Ελλην, κήν Ιεδαίζ. Chryf. in Heb. Orat, 10.

26.

to want. Prov. xxii. 16.

34.

SERM. freeness of his bounty, and determine the principal object

XXXI. thereof: he not only lendeth (though he also doth that Pfal.cxii. s. upon reasonable occasion ; for, A good man, as it is said

before in this Psalm, Meweth mercy, and lendeth; and Pfal. xxxvii, otherwhere, The righteous is ever merciful, and lendeth;

he, I say, not only sometimes willingly lendeth) to those who in time may repay, or requite him ; but he freely

giveth to the poor, that is, to those from whom he can Qui diviti expect no retribution back. He doth not (as good and donat, petit. pious, he doth not) present the rich : to do so is but a eth to the cleanly way of begging, or a subtile kind of trade; it is rich shall surely come

hardly courtesy; it is surely no bounty; for such persons (if they are not very sordid or very careless, and such men are not usually much troubled with presents) will, it is likely, overdo him, or at least will be even with him in

kindness. In doing this, there is little virtue; for it there Luke vi. 33, will be finall reward. For, If you do good to them who do

good to you, (or whom you conceive able and disposed to requite you,) wola xápis, what thanks are due to you? For that, faith our Saviour, even finners (even men notoriously bad) do the same: And if you lend to them from whom you hope to receive, what thanks have you ? For finners even lend to finners, to receive as much again. All men commonly, the bad no less than the good, are apt to be fuperfluously kind in heaping favours on those whom fortune befriends, and whose condition requires not their courtesy; every one almost is ready to adopt himself into the kindred, or to screw himself into the friendship of the wealthy and prosperous c: but where kindred is of use, there it is feldom found; it is commonly so deaf, as not

to hear when it is called ; so blind, as not to discern its Prov. xvii. proper object and natural season, (the time of adversity, a Prov, sir for which a brother is born.) Men disclaiın alliance with 7, 4.

the needy, and shun his acquaintance; fo the Wife Man time to observed, d All the brethren of the poor do hate him ; how vdiv, jv ros dusuxh. Eurip. Οταν δ' ο δαίμων ευ διδα, τι χρή φίλων και 'Αρκεί γαρ αυτός ο Θεός ωφελείν 9

2w9. Eurip. in Oreft.

Τών ευτυχούντων πάντες εισί συγγενείς.

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