Abbildungen der Seite

example, how to make the familiar intercourses of the table turn to a valuable account. But of this we may have occasion to speak hereafter.-I shall only add, that the acknowledging the bounty of Heaven, in the presence of our guests, with all becoming seriousness and gratitude, is a duty intimately connected with the rites of hospitality. The neglect of this is not only an affront to God, our great benefactor, but an injury to our friends and ourselves. We shall not however enlarge here, as this subject has been fully discussed elsewhere a.-Let us go

on now,

FOURTHLY, and lastly, To consider our Obligations to this duty of Hospitality.—And here we shall begin,

1. With the fitness and reasonableness of the duty.

Man was made for society. Domestic connections are the first to which nature directs us. But as individuals cannot subsist of themselves, so neither can families. The members of which different houses are composed, will have frequent occasion to meet together in places common to them all; such as at market, in courts of justice, and in houses devoted to the worship of God. But these associations are not sufficient to answer all the purposes of society. Their mutual protection, assistance, and comfort make it necessary for particular families at certain seasons to meet together at one another's houses. Many if not the principal offices of humanity, friendship, and religion must be foregone, if the doors of each separate habitation are to be opened to none but those who reside in it. As therefore intercourse between families is necessary, hospitality to strangers, that is, to those who are not of our own house, is, upon the general grounds of convenience and benevolence, most fit and reasonable. If business brings a person to my house with whom I have no particular friendship or acquaintance, he certainly ought to be treated civilly and kindly: common decency teaches this. If distress brings strangers to my house, and it be more necessary for them and more convenient for me to admit them under my roof, than to dismiss them with alms; the reception I give them should surely be humane and hospitable. And the thing plainly speaks for itself, that where kindred and friendship have united families, the houses of such families should be open to




each other, and their mutual entertainments free, cordial, and


2. Hospitality brings with it its own Reward.

Our Saviour tells us, It is more blessed to give than to receive a and I appeal to the feelings of every humane and generous breast whether it is not so. If Providence has put it in our power to do good, a ready compliance with the will of Providence is the direct means to procure happiness to ourselves. While we are giving pleasure to others, we are adding to our own stock of pleasure. There is indeed a kind of hospitality, falsely so called, which is not the effect of pure love and benevolence, but of a passion for splendour and ostentation: and it must be owned, the pleasure resulting from such hospitality is at best mean, trifling, and precarious. But true hospitality, which is the fruit of genuine humanity and friendship, cannot fail of exciting most agreeable sensations in his breast who is accustomed to it. How happy must I feel myself, while relieving the anxieties and mitigating the sorrows of those to whom I bear a cordial good will! And how happy, too, while cheerfully sharing the comforts of life with those whom I highly esteem and dearly love! This joy, as it is rational and manly, so is far greater and more enlivening than that of the wretch who eats his morsel alone, pleasing himself with the miserable idea that the wealth he possesses has accumulated from parsimony, and that he hath grown rich on the spoils of humanity. Would you then sink into contempt among all around you, give existence to a thousand occasions of anxiety and distress, and suffer your miserable mansion to be haunted with the most horrid spectres imagination can create?-then, drive the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger from your gates, shut your door against every relation and acquaintance you have, bid defiance to friendship, sacrifice at the shrine of Mammon all the feelings of humanity, and beneath your treasures bury your wretched self. On the contrary, would you secure to yourself the esteem of good men, the prayers of the poor, and the affections of your relations and acquaintance? Would you gratify the noblest passion of the human breast, diffuse cheerfulness through your dwelling, draw down the blessing of God upon you, and lay up

a Acts xx. 35.

treasure for yourself in heaven?—then, Use hospitality one to another, without grudging.

3. This duty is expressly commanded by God.

Numerous are the passages both in the Old and New Testament, wherein hospitality is strictly enjoined upon us, and enforced by a great variety of motives. We cannot recite them all here. Moses again and again with great earnestness admonishes the Israelites to be benevolent to the poor, the widow, the fatherless, the stranger, and the Levite; to receive them into their houses, to eat and drink with them, and to rejoice in all the good that God had bestowed on them. He exhorts them to be free, cheerful, and cordial in the discharge of this duty; beseeching them to beware lest an avaricious, grudging, hard-hearted thought should at any time arise in their breasts. He reminds them to this end of the deplorable condition they were themselves once in, when strangers and bond-slaves in Egypt; and makes the Levites' having no inheritance among them a reason why they should be particularly hospitable to them. He insists that this duty was peremptorily required of them by God, that an attention to it would be highly pleasing to him, and that so doing, they might be assured the Lord their God would bless them in all the works of their hands a. The prophets too in numberless instances urge this duty upon the Jews, and for their failure therein denounce the judgments of God upon them.

In the New Testament, besides the many passages wherein benevolence is enjoined, which includes in it hospitality, there are not a few directly to our purpose. Our Saviour frequently inculcates it in his parables, as particularly in that of Dives and Lazarus, and that of the good Samaritan b. When thou makest a feast, says he in another place, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just c. When he sends his apostles to preach the gospel, unprovided with money for their journey, he assures them there would be those who would hospitably receive them into their houses; and on such houses he pronounces a blessing,

[ocr errors]

a See Lev. xxv. 35-38.-Deut. xiv. 26-29. xv. 7-11, &c. &c.

b Luke xvi. 19-ult. x. 30-37.

c Luke xiv. 13, 14.

saying, 'He that receiveth a prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man, in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward a.' And in his striking description of the last judgment, the hospitality of the righteous to strangers is particularly mentioned to their honour; while the wicked are upbraided with the contrary conduct to their eternal confusion b. Exhortations to this duty frequently occur in the epistles. To the Romans the apostle says, Distribute to the necessities of the saints, and be given to hospitality c. To the Hebrews, 'Let brotherly love continue, and be not forgetful to entertain strangers d' This he mentions as a qualification of a Christian bishop, telling us that he should be given to hospitality e,' and a lover of hospitality and of good men f.' And the widows, whom he would have particularly honoured and regarded by the church, he describes as having lodged strangers, washed the saints' feet, relieved the afflicted, and diligently followed every good work g. In fine, the will of God in this matter could not be more fully and strongly expressed than in our text, Use hospitality one to another, without grudging.-From these commands. of God let us proceed,




4. To consider some striking examples of hospitality on divine record.

This virtue, so friendly to society, prevailed much in the patriarchal age. Nor could a more perfect and pleasing idea be given us of the plain, hearty, unsuspicious benevolence of those days than that we meet with in the stories of Abraham, Lot, Job, and others. To those men of God the apostle refers, when he tells us, that some by entertaining strangers, have entertained angels unawares h.' Abraham, seeing three persons at a distance whom he took to be men, ran to meet them; and according to his usual manner most respectfully saluted them, and with the greatest cordiality besought them to accept some re

a Matt. x. 7-15. v. 41, 42.

e Rom. xii. 13.

f Tit. i. 8.

d Heb. xiii. 1, 2.
1 Tim. v. 10.

b Matt. xxv.
35, 43.
el Tim. iii. 2.
h Heb. xiii. 2.

"I pray

freshment at his tent as they passed on their way. you, says he, not to go on your journey without making me happy by a visit. Let a little water be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree." So he hastens into the tent to Sarah, and desires her to get ready the best cakes she could make; while he ran to the herd and got a calf tender and good, which he delivered to the servant to dress it. The dinner, served up with butter and milk, he sets before his guests; and giving them a most hearty welcome, stands by them under the tree while they ate a. Such was the manner of those days of simplicity and good-nature. And what ample reward the generous old patriarch met with for his hospitality, you need not be told. The like entertainment two angels received from his kinsman Lot, who were sent to rescue him from the tremendous judgments, which the brutality of his incestuous neighbours drew down upon their guilty heads b. What pleasure the patriarch Job also took in rendering such offices of kindness not only to his friends and relatives, but to the poor and helpless, may be easily imagined from the appeal he makes to God upon this matter in the time of his adversity. If I have eaten,' says he, my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof: if I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering: if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep: if I have lift up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: then let my arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone c.' And however his faith was tried, by being deprived for a time of the means of gratifying this his hospitable disposition, he was quickly restored to a state of affluence, which enabled him to be more kind to the poor, and more generous to his friends than ever d.



a Gen. xviii. 1-8.

b Gen. xix. 1-3.

c Job xxxi. 17-22.

d The character Homer gives Axylus, who was slain by Diomede, very well agrees with what is related in Scripture of the ancient patriarchs, and their sitting at their gates to invite strangers into their houses.

Αξυλον δ ας επεφνε βοην αγαθος Διομήδης,
Τευθρανιδην, ος εναιεν ευκίμενη εν Αρισβη,

Αφνειος βιοτοιο, φιλος δ ην ανθρωποισι·
Παν]ας γαρ φιλέεσκεν, οδω επι οικία ναίων. IA. Z.

« ZurückWeiter »