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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


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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.
Debt we shall still owe. And our Blefled IX.
Saviour puts it out of all doubt, in that re-
markable Passage in St. Luke, where hav-
ing been talking of the unjust Steward, he
thus concludes, And if ye have not been
faithful in that which is another Man's,
who shall give you that which is your
own? From which it is evident, that the
good things of this Life are not properly
our own; and that we are only Stewards,
and are accountable for them to our Ma-
ster, from whom we received them: For
though that which is translated another
Man's, is rendered by fome, Things foreign,
or without us, yet both Interpretations
will amount to the same thing in this case;
for it will follow from both, that we are
not Proprietors of those good things, but
are only entrusted with the Care of them,
to dispose of them to those that want; the
Neglect of which is here made a manifest
Breach of Trust. And indeed this is the
voice of Nature likewise, as well as Scrip-
ture : For what can be more reasonable,
than that, as every thing we have comes


receive any

Serm. from God (for what have we that we have

not received) we should be always ready
to make a grateful Return. As we have
freely received, we should also freely give.
Not that we can give any thing to our
Maker, whereby hre may

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


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