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determine what is meant in this place by receiving a Prophet : Into whatsoever City or Town ye mall enter, enquire who in it is worthy, and there abide till ye go thence, v. 11. In the 14th it follows, Whosoever Mail not receive you, &c. that is, to abide with them ; which Abode implies, not only House-room, but a Supply of such other Necessaries as their Circumstances required; for it was to answer the Want of Gold and Silver, and such other Things as they were expressly forbidden to provide for themselves.
The second Reason may be collected from the last Verse of the Text: And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little Onés, a Cup of cold Water only, in the Name of a Disciple; verily, I say unto you, be shall in no wise lose his Reward. It is manifest that our Saviour here speaks of giving a Cup of cold Water only, as the lowest Degree of that Virtue which he was then recommend ing; for to Thew how acceptable an Offering it would be to God, to receive a Prophet in the Name of a Prophet, he adds, that even a Cup of cold Water given in the Name of a Disciple, should not lose its Reward. To receive a Prophet, therefore, and
to give a Cup of cold Water to a Disciple, are Acts of the same Kind, though differing in Degree; and consequently to receive à Prophet in this Place, is not an Act of Faith or Obedience, but of Charity and Beneficence.
To receive a Prophet in the Name of a Prophet, is to receive him because he is a Prophet; upon Account of his Character and Office, and near Relation which he bears to Christ. To be kind to our Friends and Relations, and to administer Relief to the extreme Necessities and Sufferings of our Fellow-Creatures, is, in fome Degree, to comply with the Cravings of Nature in ourselves, and to provide for our own Ease and Enjoyment: for the Pity and Compassion, which miserable Objects raise in us, are attended with a Pain and Uneasiness to ourselves, no otherwise to be allayed, but by relieving the Misery that caused them. But when we relieve the Members of Christ, because of the Relation they bear to him, we act then in the Spirit of true Christian Charity; and shew ourselves to be lively Parts of his Body: Rejoicing with them that do rejoice, and suffering with those who fuffer.
The Excellency of Christian Charity is derived from this Dignity of its Object. In Morality we can rise no higher than to consider Men as Men, as Partakers of the fame common Nature with ourselves; and the natural Sense we have of Misery, is the Foundation of our Tenderness and Compassion towards others. In this Case,' the Regard we have for others is derived from ourselves; and our Love and Compassion bear a Proportion to the Relation that is between us and them: our Children share as largely in our Affections, as they do in our Blood: next to them, our Relations and Friends have the Preference: and in all Cases, the Love of ourselves is the Fountain from which our Love to others is derived. But Christian Charity flows from another Spring : here all the Affections terminate in Chrift; and we know no other Relation but that which is derived from him, who is Head over the whole Family. And as the Love of Christ is the Source of Christian Charity, so is it the Measure of it too; and the Rule by which we must adjust our Love and Charity to others; he is our nearest Relation, who is nearest related to Christ; and is therefore the most immediate Object
of of our Love and Charity. He that receiveth you, says our Blessed Lord to his Apostles, receiveth me ; and be that receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me. Then follow immediately the Words which I have now
read to you, for the Subject of this Discourse. . In treating on which, I beg Leave to observe to you,.
First, The several Degrees of Charity mentioned in them; and wherein the Excellency of one above the other consists..
Secondly, How truly Christian, and excellent in its Kind, that Charity is, which is the End and Design of this annual So-, lemnity.
1. If we begin our Account at the Verse immediately preceding the Text, we shall find four Degrees of Charity enumerated, and distinguished from each other, by the several and distinct Promises made to them. The first is, That of receiving an Apostle : He that receiveth you, receiveth me. The second, That of receiving a Prophet: He that receiveth a Prophet in the Name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophet's Reward. The third, That of receiving a righteous Man: He that receiveth a righteous Man in the Name of a righteous Man, shall receive
- a right
a righteous Man's Reward. The fourth, That of relieving the meanest of Christ's Disciples : Whosoever hall 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.
Charity is distinguished into these different Kinds and Degrees, by the Dignity of the Persons who are the Objects of it. For since receiving a Prophet, shall entitle us to a Prophet's Reward ; and receiving a righteous Man, to a righteous Man's Reward; it is plain that receiving a Prophet as far exceeds the Charity of receiving a righteous Man, as a Prophet is more excellent than he.
To receive a Prophet, because he is our Friend or Relation, is but a common Degree of Kindness; the Honour must be paid him because he is a Prophet; it must be done in the Name of a Prophet: so that the Motive and Principle upon which we act, must be taken into the Account; and our good Deeds will receive their true and proper Value, from the Views and Regards with which they are done. - In this lies the Difference between the