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4. Those who have not too much for themselves are willing to spare seed to sow, that they may have fruit hereafter. Perbaps they need that which they scatter in the field, and seem to throw away. They may need it for bread for their families; yet they will spare seed to sow, that they may provide for the future, and may have increase. But we have already shewn, that giving to the poor is in scripture compa red to sowing seed, and is as much the way to increase as the sowing of seed is. It doth not tend to poverty, but the contrary ; it is not the way to diminish our substance, but to increase it. All the difficulty in this matter is in trusting God with what we give, in trusting his promises. If men could but trust the faithfulness of God to his own promises, they would give freely.

Objec. VII. Some may object concerning a particular person, that they do not certainly know wbether he be an object of charity or not. They are not perfectly acquainted with his circumstances; neither do they know what sort of man he is. They know not whether he be in want as he pretends. Or, if they know this, they know not how he came to be in want; whether it were not by his own idleness, or prodigality. Thus they argue that they cannot be obliged, till they certainly know these things.- I reply,

1. This is Nabal's objection, for which he is greatly condemned in scripture; see 1 Sam. xxv. David in his exiled state came and begged relief of Nabal. Nabal objected, ver. 10,11. “ Who is David ? and who is the son of Jesse? There be many servants now-a-days, that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?" His objection was, that David was a stranger to him; he did not know who he was, nor what his circumstances were. He did not know but that he was a runaway;

and he was not obliged to support and harbour a runaway. He objected, that he knew not that he was a proper object of charity; that he knew not but that he was very much the contrary.

But Abigail no way countenanced his bebaviour herein, but greatly condemned it. She calls him a man of Belial, and says that he was as his name was; Nabal was bis name, and folly was with him. And her behaviour was very contrary to his; and she is greatly cominended for it. The Holy Ghost tells us in that chapter, ver. 3, That she was a woman of a good understanding. At the same time God exceedingly frowned on Nabal's behaviour on this occasion, as we are informed that about ten days after God smote Nabal that he died; ver. 38.

This story is doubtless told us partly for this end, to discountenance too great a scrupulosity as to the objeco;on whom we bestow our charity, and the making of this merely an objection against charity to others, that we do not certainly know their circumstances. It is true, when we have opportunity to become certainly acquainted with their circumstances, it is well to embrace it; and to be influenced in a measure by probability in such cases, is not to be condemned. Yet it is better to give to several that are not objects of charity, than to send away empty one that is.

2. We are commanded to be kind to strangers whom we know not, nor their circumstances. This is commanded in many places; but I shall mention only one; Heb. xiii. 2. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. By strangers here the apostle means one whom we know not, and whose circunıstances we know not; as is evident by these words, " for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Those who entertained angels uvawares, did not know the persons whom they entertained, nor their circumstances; else how could it be unawares ?

Objec. VIII. Some may say they are not obliged to give to the poor, till they ask. If any man is in necessity, let him come and make known his straits to me, and then it will be time enough for me to give him. - Or if he need a public contribution, let him come and ask. I do not know that the congregation or church is obliged to relieve till they ask relief.-I answer,

1. It surely is the most charitable, to relieve the needy in that way wherein we shall do them the greatest kindness. Now it is certain that we shall do them a greater kindness by inquiring into their circumstances, and relieving them, without putting them upon begging. There is none of us but who,

: if it were their case, would look upon it more kind in our neighbours, to inquire into our circumstances, and help us of their own accord. To put our neighbours upon begging in order to relief, is painful. It is more charitable, more brotherly, more becoming Christians and the disciples of Jesus, to do it without. I think this is self-evident, and needs no proof.

2. This is not agreeable to the character of the liberal man given in scripture, riz. that devises liberal things. Isa. xxxii. 8. It is not to devise liberal things, if we neglect all liberality till the poor come a begging to us.

But to inquire, who stand in need of our charity, and to contrive to relieve them in the way that shall do them the greatest kindness; that is to devise liberal things.

3. We should not commend a man for doing so to his VOL. y.

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own brother. If a man had an own brother or sister in great straits, and he were well able to supply them, under the pretence, that if he or she want any thing, let them come and ask, and I will give them; we should hardly think such an one behaved like a brother. Christians are commanded to love as brethren, to look upon one another as brethren in Christ, and to treat one another as such.

4. We should commend others for taking a method contrary to that which is proposed by the objector. If we should hear or read of a people who were so charitable, who took such care of the poor, and were so concerned that none among them should suffer, who were proper objects of charity; that they were wont diligently to inquire into the circumstances of their neighbours, to find out who were needy, and liberally supplied them of their own accord; I say, if we should hear or read of such a people, would it not appear well to us? Should not we have the better thought of that people, on that account:


OBJEC. IX. He has brought himself to want by his own fault.--In reply, it must be considered what you mean by his fault.

1. If you mean a want of a natural faculty to manage affairs to advantage, that is to be considered as his calamity. Such a faculty is a gift that God bestows on some, and not on others; and it is not owing to themselves. You ought to be thankful that God hath given you such a gift, which he bath denied to the person in question. And it will be a very suitable way for you to shew your thankfulness, to help those to whom that gift is denied, and let them share the benefit of it witb you. This is as reasonable as that he to whom Providence has in parted sight, should be willing to help him to whom sight is denied; and that he should have the benefit of the sight of others, who has none of his own; or, as that he to whom God hath given wisdom should be willing that the ignorant should have the benefit of his knowledge.

2. If they have been reduced to want by some oversight, and are to be blamed that they did not consider for themselves better; yet that doth not free us from all obligation to charity towards them. If we should for ever refuse to help men because of that, it would be for us to make their inconsiderateness and imprudent act, an unpardonable crime, quite contrary to the rules of tbe gospel, which insist so much upon forgiveness. We should not be disposed so highly to resent such an oversight in any for whom we have a dear affection, as our children, or our friends. We sbould not refuse to help them in that necessity and distress, which they brought upon themselves by their own inconsiderateness. But we ought to

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have a dear affection and concern for the welfare of all our fellow Christians, whom we should love as brethren, and as Christ hath loved us.

3. If they are come to want by a vicious idleness and prodigality ; yet we are not thereby excused from all obligation to relieve them, unless they continue in those vices. If they continue not in those vices, the rules of the gospel direct us to forgive them; and if their fault be forgiven, then it will not remain to be a bar in the way of our charitably relieving them. If we do otherwise, we shall act in a manner very contrary to the rule of loving one another as Christ hath loved us. Now Christ hath loved us, pitied us, and greatly laid out himself to relieve us from that want and misery which we brought on ourselves by our own folly and wickedness. We foolishly and perversely threw away those riches with which we were provided, upon which we might have lived and been happy to all eternity.

4. If they continue in the same courses still, yet that doth not excuse us from charity to their families that are innocent. If we cannot relieve those of their families without their having something of it; yet that ought not to be a bar in the way of our charity; and that because it is supposed that those of their families are proper objects of charity; and those that are so, we are bound to relieve: the command is positive and absolute. If we look upon that which the heads of the families have of what we give, to be entirely lost; yet we had better lose something of our estate, than suffer those who are really proper objects of charity to remain without relief.

Objec. X. Some may object and say, Others do not their duty. If others did their duty, the poor would be sufficiently supplied. If others did as much as we in proportion to their ability and obligation, the poor would have enough to help them out of their straits. Or some may say, it belongs to others more than it does to us. They have relations that ought to help them; or there are others to whom it more properly belongs than to us.

Ans. We ought to relieve those who are in want, though brought to it through others' fault. If our neighbour be poor, though others be to blame that it is so, yet that excuses us not from belping him. If it belong to others more than to us, yet if those others will neglect their duty, and our neighbour therefore remains in want, we may be obliged to relieve him. If a man be brought into straits through the injustice of others, suppose by thieves or robbers, as the poor Jew whom the Samaritan relieved; yet we may be obliged to relieve him, though it be not through our fault that he is in want, but through that of other men. And whether that fault be a commission or a neglect alters not the case.

As to the poor Jew that fell among thieves between Jerusalem and Jericho, it more properly belonged to those thieves who brought him into that distress, to relieve him, than to any other person. Yet seeing they would not do it, others were not excused; and the Samaritan did no more than bis duty, relieving him as he did, though it properly belonged to others. Thus if a man have children or other relations, to whom it most properly belongs to relieve him; yet if they will not do it, the obligation to relieve him falls upon others. So for the same reason we should do the more for the relief of the poor, because others neglect to do their proportion, or what belongs to them; and that because by the neglect of others to do their proportion they need the more, their necessity is the greater.

Objec. XI. The law makes provision for the poor, and obliges the respective towns in which they live to provide for them; therefore some argue, that there is no occasion for particular persons to exercise any charity this way. They say, the case is not the same with us now, as it was in the primitive church; for then Christians were under an Heathen government : and however the charity of Christians in those times be much to be commended; yet now, by reason of our different circumstances, there is no occasion for private charity; because, in the state in wbich Christians now are, provision is made for the poor otherwise.-This objection is built upon these two suppositions, both which I suppose are false.

1. That the towns are obliged by law to relieve every one who otherwise would be an object of charity. This I suppose to be false, unless it be supposed that none are proper objects of charity, but those that have no estate left to live upon, which is very unreasonable, and what I have already shewn to be false, in answer to the fourth objection, in shewing that it doth not answer the rules of Christian charity, to relieve only those who are reduced to extremity.

Nor do I suppose it was ever the design of the law, requiring the various towns to support their own poor, to cut off all occasion for Christian charity: nor is it fit there should be such a law. It is fit that the law should make provision for those that have no estates of their own; it is not fit that persons who are reduced to that extremity should be left to so precarious a source of supply as a voluntary charity. They are in extreme necessity of relief, and therefore it is fit that there should be something sure for them to depend on. But a voluntary charity in this corrupt world is an uncertain thing. Therefore the wisdom of the legislature did not think fit

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