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PRO v. iii. 27 : Withhold not Good from them to
whom it is due, when it is in the Power of thine Hand to do it.
HOEVER considers the IX.
true State and Condition of
Man, how subject he is to an infinite Variety of Accidents in Life, and how liable to the Frowns as well as the Smiles of Providence, will not wonder at the Precept of the Wife Man in the Text, nor be at all furprized to find, that it is a Duty incumbent upon all Men to do all the Good they can, according to their Circumstances and Abilities in the World. For besides that kind of Debt, which by the Laws of our Country we are obliged
to discharge, there is another Sort, whichSERM. we are obliged to the Payment of, over
IX. and above what those Laws have made any Provision for; which is that of Chárity. From the Words of the Text I shall endeavour to prove, First, That Charity is a Debt, which we
owe Mankind. Secondly, I shall bring fome Arguments to
perswade you chearfully to discharge it. First then I am to prove, that Charity is a Debt. To do good, and to assist and help our Fellow-creatures, which I here mean by Charity, and which I apprehend is implied in the Text, is no more than what we owe each other; as is plain both from the Old and New Testament. 'Tis what the Law teaches, and the Gospel excels in. To do good and to communicate forgạt not, is a noble Precept of Christianity; and to do unto all Men, as you would they should do unto you, is the Law and the Prophets, The Jews are commanded in Leviticus to be compassionate towards those that were in Distress. If thy Brother bę waxen poor, and fallen in decay with
Serm. thee, then thou shalt relieve him ; yea, IX. tho' he be a Stranger, or a Sojourner, that
live with thee. And to take in a still greater compass and extent of Charity, they were to love their Neighbours as themselves. Now Self-Preservation, and a natural Care and Concern for ourselves, every one knows, is one of the first things we discover any Apprehensions of; and to owe our Neighbour a Love like this, is a Debt of no small Consequence; a Debt it is, which we shall always owe, as long as we have a Being. For though there are some Duties, such as the Relative Duties subfisting between Children and Parents, Masters and Servants, &c. which
the Death of either do immediately cease and become void, because the Reason of them ceases with them ; yet as long as there are any Men in the World, that have any Wants to be relieved, so long will Charity be a Debt by the Law of God. St. Paul, teaching the Romans to render
Man his Due, tells them, that they should owe no Man any thing, but to Love' one another : So that after we have discharged all
other Debts, yet Love and Charity is a Serm.
Serm. from God (for what have we that we have
not received) we should be always ready
Ad. vantage; for a Man cannot be profitable to God, as he that is wife
be profitable to himself; but we are to give it to the Poor, whom God has taken under his Protection, who are the
Persons appointed ro receive it. But further, it is certain that we were born for the mutual Help of each other, not to moleft and disturb, but to aid and assist one another ; and whoever does not do fo, when it is in his power to do it, acts contrary to Nature So that it is plain, that Charity, or the assisting our Fellow-creatures, is a Debt, and that too by the Law of Nature, antecedent to any written Law whatsoever.
Tho it be certainly true, that Charity is a Debt, which we owe all Mankind, yet it is true likewise, that this, as well as any other Duty, how universal soever it may Seem to be, is Subject to Limitations and