Page images

more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."-Promises of similar import are found in every part of the inspired volume. "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee; that shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand, from thy poor brother. Thou shalt surely give him, and thy heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him; because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hands unto."--"Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."-" Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."-The Apostle Paul, in urging the duty of giving alms, compares that which is given to seed sown upon the earth, and with this view asserts; "He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."-The sense of these, and of similar passages cannot be mistaken. They are. plain promises, not so directly of spiritual, as of temporal good, to those who are willing to hold their temporal substance as stewards of the Lord, and bestow it as he in his providence shall call—or in other words, to those who are truly and consistently liberal.

It will be recollected that the Author of these promises is infinitely able to fulfil them. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." He holds the lives and

Healths, the powers, faculties, and various circumstances of his creatures-holds the winds, and waves, and seasons, and all the sources of temporal as well as spiritual good, most completely in his hands, and at his control. He has innumerable ways, in which to bless those whom he is pleased to bless, and curse those whom he is pleased to curse. Is not his promise then of all securities the greatest, that "the liberal soul shall" indeed" be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himelf?"

3. The leading sentiment of this discourse is conformable to the views of the best and wisest men, in all periods of the Christian Church. Clemens of Alexandria, one of the early Christian fathers, uses the following language relative to this subject; "Not he who possesseth wealth, and keepeth it by him, but he that distributeth it, is rich. We lose all earthly things by keeping them; but keep them by giving them away.”—Basil, another of the primitive fathers, asserts," It is the best way of thriving, to give to them that are in want. The field of the poor is very fruitful, and quickly yieldeth an increase to the charitable. God twice pays what is lent to him; once in this world, by multiplying the wealth of alms givers; and then in heaven, he pays it over and over."-Austin, an eminent Christian and Bishop of the primitive Church, also says, "That which thou givest out of thine estate to charitable uses will be no loss to thy children, but rather an advantage."

To these testimonies from the ancients, we might add almost indefinitely from more modern Divines. -In one of the published Discourses of the celebrated Dr. Hammond, the following is laid down as the leading proposition; “Alms giving, or mercifulness, was never the wasting or lessening af any man's es

tate to himself, or his posterity, but rather the increasing of it."-Dr. Jeremy Taylor, in his "Rules of Holy Living," has the following assertion; "That portion of our estate which goes forth to the poor, or in some offering to God for religion, returns with a great blessing upon all the rest. It is like the widow's barrel of meal; which consumed not as long as she fed the prophet."-Dr. Thomas Jacomb, in a Sermon from Mat. v. 7. says, "The best way for a man to increase his estate, is charity. Money here is like the widow's oil, the more it is poured out, the more it doth increase."-Mr. Thomas Gouge, a most excellent Christian and Minister of the last century, wrote and published a Treatise in order to prove, that "To be truly Charitable, is the surest and safest way of Thriving." In this work, we find the following strong expressions; "I dare challenge," says he, "all the world to give one instance, or at least a considerable number of instances, of any truly merciful men, whose charity hath undone them. But as living wells, the more they are drawn, the more freely they spring and flow; so the substance of the charitable doth ordinarily multiply in the very distribution."-I shall here introduce but another quotation, and this is from the commentary of Dr. Scott. "Liberality, exercised from right motives, is sowing seed; and God gives the increase generally even in temporal things. If he see it best, large increase, flourishing trade, kind friends, and various other supplies and savings, will soon reimburse the expences of genuine charity."

4. We may safely rest the point under consideration on an appeal to facts. Numerous instances may be produced, in which persons have found the promises of God to the charitable abundantly verified in


their own experience. By yielding to the demands of duty, and liberally bestowing their property for benevolent purposes; they have experienced the streams of God's bounty and blessing flowing in upon them in an unexampled manner.—Look at Job. He "delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him." He was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, and a father to the poor." And. after the days of his trial were ended, the Lord, it is said, "turned his captivity, and gave him twice so much as he had before, and blessed his latter end more than his beginning."-The widow of Sareptah was very charitable to the needy prophet Elijah. She willingly received him into her house, and made him a sharer of the little which re-mained to herself and her son. And how wonderfully was she prospered? Her stock of provisions was miraculously continued and increased, during the season of famine; and more than this, her beloved child, when breathless, was restored living to her bosom. We have a similar instance of charity, in the kindness of the Shunamite to the prophet Elisha; and by reading the fourth and eighth Chapters of "the second Book of the Kings," you will learn what a series of blessings she on that account experienced.

[ocr errors]

Numerous instances of the same kind, occuring in all periods of the Church, may be gathered from other sources besides the Bible. It was said of Constantine the great by a contemporary Bishop, " God gave that merciful prince more wealth than heart could wish, because of his bounties to the poor.". Tiberius the second, a succeeding Emperor, was so much distinguished for his charitable distributions, as to incur on account of them, the censure of his friends.

His reply was, "I shall never want money, so long as in obedience to Christ's command, I supply the necessities of the poor." On one occasion, after he had bestowed much in this way, "under a marble table which was taken up, he found a great treasure; and news was brought to him of the death of a very rich man who had left him his whole estate."—John, a Bishop of Alexandria in the sixth century, was surnamed the Almoner, on account of his extensive liberality. In a season of distressing famine, he continued to bestow his largesses, till he was in the utmost apparent danger of being reduced to want. But just at this crisis, when both his money and credit were about to fail, he heard of the arrival of two large ships, richly laden, which were sent to him from the island of Sicily.-As the charitable Bishop of Millain was one day travelling with his servant, they were overtaken by some poor people who asked alms. The Bishop directed to give them what money he had, which, as it happened, was no more than three crowns. The servant however thought it not prudent to part with all, and gave them but two. Directly afterwards, the Bishop received a present of two hundred crowns; upon which he is reported to have said to his disobedient servant, "See, how in wronging the poor of their due, thou hast likewise wronged me. If thou hadst given those three crowns, which I commanded thee to give, I had received three hundred crowns; whereas now I have but two."-Mr. John Walter, a citizen and draper of London more than a hundred years ago, was remarkable for his liberality, even from his youth. In consequence of this, he was so richly blessed, and his possessions so rapidly and constantly increased, that he became satisfied with his worldly estate, and twenty years before

« PreviousContinue »