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by their labor : but if he were now to address us, his exhortation would doubtlessly be directed to the rich and prosperous : this point enlarged on: exhortation, founded on St. Paul's advice to the Corinthians, that they should lay by in store, the first day of every week, as God had prospered them.

Second subject of inquiry, viz. who are duly qualified to receive charity.

I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak. By the weak here we must understand such as are not able to labor and work for their own living ; for since all who can labor are placed on one side and made debtors to charity, the weak, who are placed on the other side, and have a right to be supported by charity, must be such as are not able to work or to provide for themselves in any

honest calling. This case is fully determined by the Apostle in 2 Thess. iii. 10-12. The general rule therefore arising from these apostolical precepts, seems to be this : that such only are due objects of charity, who are, through sickness or other infirmity, rendered incapable of labor. Yet this rule, rigorously construed, would be found inconsistent with reason and equity; for the man who is most able and willing to labor, may be the most pitiable and unexceptionable object of charity : this point enlarged on.

But though the rule of charity must not be so restricted as to exclude all who can labor, it may seem reasonable perhaps so to limit it, as that all who can work, should work before they are intitled to assistance from others; yet even to require this in all cases would be cruel and inhuman : for instance, if you saw a man fallen under great calamities, who had relieved thousands in the days of his own prosperity, would you, when the hand of God was thus on him, turn aside from his affliction and say, Go, work for your living ?

Since then there can hardly be any general rule fixed which will be equally applicable to all cases, it may be worth

while to examine the reason and equity from which this duty flows, which may serve to direct us in it.

Charity is a relative duty, and supposes the distinction of rich and poor; since without it there could be no reason assigned why any man should part with what he has to another who is already in as easy a condition as himself : the distinction of rich and poor supposes property, for if all things were in common, one man could hardly be richer than another : but then how unequally soever the good things of the world are divided, the wants and necessities of nature are shared in common; and it cannot be supposed that God sent men into the world with such wants and cravings, merely to starve and perish ander them: yet how shall their wants be supplied, who have nothing to supply them with ? Steal they must not: it remains therefore, that they must obtain the things they want from the proprietors of the world, in exchange for such services as they can perform. But, it may be said, is this a sufficient source for their maintenance? Will the rich so accept the services of the poor? This would be a hard question, were there not an equal necessity on both sides ; had not Providence so ordered it that the rich can no more live without the poor, than the poor without the rich : this topic enlarged on.

It is agreeable then to reason and equity that the poor who have strength and ability to labor, should work for their living. It is next considered, how the duty of the rich stands with respect to this sort of poor.

The right which all men have to maintenance and subsistence is a superior right to that of property; for the great law of self-preservation is antecedent to all private laws and possessions whatever; the consequence of which is, that in the last result the property of the rich is subject to the maintenance of the poor : this point enlarged on. As reasonable as this may seem, yet it is hard to tell every particular rich man what the measure of his duty is in this case, or how many poor

he ought to employ: but the wisdom of Providence has in great measure superseded this difficulty; for a rich man cannot enjoy his estate, or live answerably to his condition, without creating a great deal of work for the support of the poor.

Hence we may judge what real iniquity there is in the temper and practice of the penurious miser : that he denies to himself the comforts and enjoyments of life, is the least part of his crime; for whilst he pinches himself, he starves the poor, and withdraws from the needy and industrious that maintenance which God has provided for them.

Whenever this ordinary method of supporting the poor fails, the providing for them is a debt lying over the possessions of the rich ; for this is a necessary condition of that law which secures them in their property, by making it penal for the poor to dispossess them by violence. The reasonableness of our poor laws shown from hence.

We see then how the duties arising from the distinction of rich and poor, stand on the ground of natural reason and equity.

The gospel, though it has left men in possession of their ancient rights, yet has enlarged the duties of love and compassion ; has taught the rich to look on the poor not only as servants, but as brethren : this point enlarged on.

To speak of the duty strictly, charity must begin where the maintenance of the poor fails; for whenever it becomes impossible for them to provide for themselves, it becomes the duty of others to provide for them. Now work being the maintenance of the poor, it is evident that, whenever this fails, they become objects of charity; and this happens many ways: these enlarged on : the report read. Last thing proposed for consideration, viz, what is the blessing and reward attending on the faithful discharge of this duty: it is more blessed to give than to receive.

First; if we consider the different conditions into which men

are divided, and their several duties; if we consider the obligation of the rich to assist the needy, and that of the poor to toil for a mean livelihood, we shall have reason to bless God, who has placed us on the happier side, and thankfully to comply with the duty of our condition; whence this comfort may be added to it, that it shall not be taken from us.

Secondly; in regard to present pleasure and satisfaction attending on works of charity, the giver has in all respects a better share than the receiver: this point enlarged on.

Thirdly; if we look beyond this present scene, the difference is still wider. There is no virtue in being relieved ; a poor man is not a better man for the charity he receives; it rather brings with it an increase of duty : it may happen that it may be a burden on his future account, and will be so if he misapplies it. But the giver has a better prospect before him : this enlarged on.

DISCOURSE VIII.

Preached before the Lord Mayor, &c. at St. Bride's, April

23, 1717.

ACTS, CHAP. XX.—VERSE 35.

I have showed you all things, how that'so laboring ye ought to

support the weak; and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

These words concluded the moving speech which St. Paul made to the elders of the church of Ephesus, when he took his final leave of them. The time he had to discourse with them was but little, and the occasion was very solemn; which circumstances would determine him to mention nothing to them but what he judged to be of the last consequence and concern; and what they ought always to remember, as the dying words of their great teacher and apostle. At the 25th verse you find him, under the passion of a father, bidding adieu to his children and the world ; ' And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.' But to show that this care of them would outlive himself, he gives them his last advice, the best, the only legacy he had to bestow. Two things he especially recommends to them; the care of the church of God, and the providing for the necessities of the poor and helpless. The former charge you have at the 28th verse; • Take heed, therefore unto yourselves, and to all the fock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.' The latter you

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