Page images

purple, and fared sumptuously, was regardless of God and a future state. Not that there is any necessary connection between an affluence and ingratitude. The opulent, as well as the indigent, may trust in the living God. But in this case they are frugal, though they abound. Profusion is the reverse of gratitude; because it consumes the divine bounty by such provision for the flesh as fulfils the luft thereof.

Secondly, Frugality is dictated by a regard to health and contentment. We « need but little here.” The temperate enjoy life; the intemperate cannot. The gratifications which depend on other means than nature and providence have prescribed, or exceed the de. gree prescribed, are followed with an overbalance of pain. Different supplies, in kind or degree, or both, may be requisite for different constitutions, employments or situations. All beyond this gradually impairs the bodily health and powers,

Thirdly, Frugality is enforced by the precepts, Owe 110 man any thing. Whatsoever things are just, think on these things. When Elisha the prophet multiplied the widow's oil, he enjoined upon her to pay her creditor, and live with her children on the rest. The declaration of Zaccheus, The half of my goods I give to the poor, supposeth that so much at least was honestly acquired. When he further declared, if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore fourfold, it appears that he both did justly, and loved mercy. Men may involve themselves deeply through negligence, sloth or profusion. The consequences are injustice to their creditors, snares and embarrassments to themselves, mifery to their dependents and families, perplexity and want to their heirs. Sometimes, by engaging in too many branches of business, extending their pursuits beyond their means and talents, they are plunged in inextricable difficulties. Loose and unsettled accounts, a variety of circumstances known only to themselves, lay a foundation, after their decease, for large demands



upon their estate, where little or nothing might be due, They die insolvent by making haste to be rich.

Fourthly, Frugality favours industry. He that is a great waster and he that is fiothful in his work are breth

Observe the effects of profution and idleness on the person himself, on his connections, and on society, Those who are suffered to grow up without some useful employment, rarely know how to direct their inferi. ors and dependents. Those who have never learnt to obey, know not how to govern. High and low, rich and poor, if not employed, in different ways, and to different good purposes, fall into temptation and a snare, and into divers lusts, which drown men in ruin. They are ever restless, prepared to resolve on mischievous devices, open to Satan's temptations. Honest in. dustry and enterprize, on the contrary, supply the means of innocent enjoyment, render persons content with their own circumstances, and exempt them from presumptuous courses. They neither plot against the comfort of others, nor envy their enjoyments. Frugality affords every encouragement to industry, by preserving the

fruits of it, and applying them to their proper use. Opposed to penuriousness, it allows us to enjoy our portion. Opposed to dissipation and waste, it reserves something for a time of need.

Industry and frugality are useful, in a natural, civil and moral view. In the first, by forming to habits of body and mind, which fit men to fill up their proper place with their respective abilities and advantages. In the second, by disposing and enabling them to be just and charitable. In the last, by impressing the obligations of morality, the principle which should regulate our intercourse with our fellow men, even the fear of God, who will call us to account for our conduct towards them, and requires that we make his honour and approbation our fupreme end.

We have noticed, that the steward who wasted his Lord's goods, proceeded, as the consequence of his

profufion, and the pride and insolence which it had cherished, to the further and deeper injustice of conniving with his lord's debtors. A disposition to expend more than their means afford is in all cases a violation of justice. It will extend from an abuse of small means to an equal abuse of larger, and the greatest; and be apparent in all circumstances and situations.

It is a further reason for frugality that it supplies the means of alms-giving, and distributing to pious and charitable uses. A few retrenchments from dress, vanity or pleasure would enable people to perform many charities, Out of the stock belonging to Jesus and the twelve, small as it was, it had been the practice to give something to the poor, (John, xii. 5. xiii. 29.) The primitive Chriftians laid by, on the first day of the week,“ a little pittance for this purpose. These “ drops will not be missed from the general reservoir ; " and yet, collectively, will rain a shower of blessings “ on many indigent and distressed. Cordials and “ restoratives to the sick may be supplied by Christian

economy. So extreme was the avarice of Judas, that he embezzled part of the little stock he had in trust. He covered his avarice under pretence of pity to the poor. For when Mary, with very costly spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, Judas complained of the waste. Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Did he care for the poor, who fold his Lord for thirty pieces of filver?

The gospel makes the most honourable mention of charitable deeds, when they proceed from worthy motives. The most forcible motive to them is taken from the example of Christ, and the assurance he hath given that they will be recompensed at the resurrection of the juft. St. Paul excited the Corinthians to a liberal contribution for the necessitous disciples at Je. rufalem, first, by the example of the Macedonian Christians, whose “ abundant joy and deep poverty, in a

great trial of affliction, abounded unto the riches of 6 their liberality” -In the next place, by commending the forwardness of the Corinthians themselves on a former occasion, and observing to them, “ He who “ foweth bountifully fhall reap also bountifully” —And lastly, by the pattern of Christ. “ For ye know the

grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was

rich, yet for your fakes he became poor.” The apostle recommended to this church, the fame as he had to the churches of Galatia, a weekly collection for the


“Upon the first day of the “ week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as “ God hath profpered him, that there be no gathering when I come."

It is observable, that the good man will guide his affairs with discretion. Hence it is that he is able, according to the largeness of his heart, to disperse and give to the poor.

“ He who hath pity upon the poor, “ lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath “ given, will he pay him again. Caft thy bread upon " the waters, and it shall return again after many days. “ There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth ; and o there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it “ tendeth to poverty. Charge them that are rich in " this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust “ in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who

giveth us richly all things to enjoy : That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up

in « store for themselves a good foundation againft the “ time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal

life.” The merciful shall find mercy at the great day. They shall be reccived into everlasting habitations. Befide this good foundation for eternal life, which they lay up in store for themselves, they also lay a foundation for sympathy and relief in any calamity which may befal them in the world. Friends and benefactors will be found ready to succour them. « Blefled is he that confidereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in " time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and “ keep him alive. The Lord will strengthen him upon “ the bed of languishing.” The widow in Israel, who, in a time of famine, entertained a prophet of the Lord with the last provision she had, found that the barrel of meal did not waste, nor the cruise of oil fail. Deeds of charity are not estimated by the abundance of the gift, but by the circumstances and promptness of the giver, as appears from the honourable memorial of the poor widow's two mites. .

The firft objects of charity are the industrious and virtuous poor. The idle, profligate and vicious have no reason to complain, if they experience somewhat the neglect and extremity of that fon, who left his father's house, and wasted his patrimony in excess and riot. Charity, which, bestowed on the former, brings on the benefactor the blessing of him who was ready to perish, may be worse than loft upon the latter. Common vagrants would be better provided for in a work-house than otherwise. Those poor who consume their little earnings in intemperance, fhould not be furnished with the means. But too much attention cannot be paid to the neceflities of the virtuous, reduced to indigence by the act of providence. A compassionate man feels more satisfaction in ministring to their wants, than in his own necessary food. He will straiten himself, that he may be able to give to them. How different the character of such as, by various fpecies of luxury, put it out of their power to relieve the distressed, as they otherwise might? How much better to make our abundance a supply to the needy, than to consume it upon our lufts, or in frivolous amusements ? There is no good in it, but to rejoice and

do good.

The lower ranks, those in narrow or but moderate circumstances, by a fondness to copy, as far as they

« PreviousContinue »