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be for fetting afide all felfish refpects, purely out of humanity and charity, and a generous compaffion, we fhould be ready, as we have opportunity, to do good to all that ftand in need of our kindness and help.
So that a difpofition to do good is the best and happieft temper of mind, because it is the nearest refemblance of the divine nature, which is perfectly happy : it is a grateful acknowledgment of our obligations to God, and all that we can render to him for his benefits; it is an argument of great wifdom and confideration; it gives eafe and fatisfaction to our minds: and the reflection upon any good that we have done, is certainly the greatest contentment and pleasure in the world, and a felicity much beyond that of the greatest fortune of this world: whereas the fpirit contrary to this, is always uneafy to itfelf; the envious and malicious, the hard-hearted and ill-natured man, carries his own torment and hell about him, his mind is full of tumultuous agitations and unquiet thoughts: but, were our nature rectified, and brought back to its primitive frame and temper, we fhould take no fuch pleasure in any thing as in acts of kindness and compaffion, which are fo fuitable and agreeable to our nature, that they are peculiarly called humanity, as if without this temper we were not truly men, but fomething elfe difguifed under a human fhape.
II. To give, is an argument of a more happy state and condition, than to receive. To receive from others is an argument of indigency, and plainly fhews that we are in want and neceflity; either that we ftand in need of fomething, or that we think we do; and either of thefe conditions is far from perfect happiness: but to give is an argument of fulness and fufficiency, that we have more than is neceffary for ourselves and fomething to spare.
To receive kindness from others, fuppofeth we ftand in need of it; and to stand in need of it, is to be in a ftate of being obliged and indebted. Obligation is a dear thing, and a real debt which lies heavy and uneafy upon a grateful mind: fo much obligation as any man hath to another, so much he hath loft of his own liberty and freedom; for it gives him that hath obliged
us, a fuperiority and advantage over us. And what Solomon fays of the borrower, that he is a fervant to the lender, is in proportion true in this cafe, that the receiver is a fervant to the giver.
But to be able to benefit others, is a condition of freedom and fuperiority, and is fo far from impairing our liberty, that it fhews our power and the happiness which we confer upon others, by doing them good, is not only a conteniment to ourfelves, but we do in fome fort enjoy the happinefs we give, in being confcious to ourfelves that we are the authors of it. And could we but once come to this excellent temper, to delight in the good that others enjoy, as if it were our own, (and it is our own, if we be the inftruments of it, and take pleasure in it ;) I fay, could we but once come to this temper, we need not envy the wealth and fplendor of the most profperous upon earth; for upon thefe terms the happiness of the whole world would in fome fort be ours, and we should have a fhare in the pleasure and satisfaction of all that good which happens to any man any way, especially by our means..
To depend upon another, and to receive from him,. and to be beholden to him, is the neceffary imperfection of creatures: but to confer benefits upon others, is to refemble God, and to approach towards divinity.. Ariftotle could fay, that by narrownefs and felfishnets, by envy and ill-will, men degenerate into beafts, and become wolves and tygers to one another; but by goodnefs and kindness, by mutual compaflion and helpfulnefs, men become gods to one another. To be a benefactor, is to be as like God as it is poffible for men to be; and the more any one partakes of this divine quality and difpofition, the liker and nearer he is to God,. who is good to all, and whofe tender mercies are over all
The bleffed angels, who behold the face of God continually, are, as it were, perfectly transformed into the image of the divine goodness, and therefore the work which with fo much chearfulness and vigour they employ themselves in, is to be miniftring fpirits for the good of the elect, to bring men to goodnels, and to encourage, and allift, and comfort them in well-doing,La 3
And our bleffed Lord, when he was upon earth, did in nothing fhew himself more like the Son of God, than in going about doing good. And the wonderful works which he did, gave teftimony of his divinity, not fo much as they were acts of power as of goodnefs, and wrought for the benefit and advantage of men. And the true advantage of greatnefs, and wealth, and power, does not confift in this, that it fets men above others, but that it puts them in a capacity of doing more good than others. Men are apt to call them their betters, who are higher and richer than themfelves; but in a true and just esteem of things, they only are our betters who do more good than we. From the meanest creature below us, up to God himself, they are the beft and happiest and most perfect beings, who are most useful and beneficial to others, who have the most power and the ftrongest inclinations to do good.
III. To give, that is, to be beneficial and to do good to others, hath the happiness of a great reward. There is no grace or virtue whatfoever, which hath in fcripture the encouragement of more and greater promifes than this, of happinefs in general; of temporal happiness in this life; of happinefs at death; and of everlafting happiness in the world to come.
1. For promifes of happiness in general. He hath · difperfed, he hath given to the poor, his righteousness endures for ever, that is, fhall never be forgotten, fhall not pafs unrewarded. Prov. xiv. 21. He that giveth to the poor, happy is he. Matth. v. 7. Bleed are the merciful, for they fhall obtain mercy. Luke vi. 38. Give and it fhall be given unto you, good meafure, preffed down, and fhaken together, and running over, fhall men give into your bofom; for with the fame measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again; that is, according to our goodness and compaffion towards others, we must expect to find the charity of men, and the compaffions of God towards us. Job fpeaks as if fome eminent and peculiar bleffing did attend and follow acts of charity, Job xxix. 13. The bleffing of him that was ready to perifh came upon me.
2. Promifes of temporal happiness in this life. Pfal. xxxvii. 3. Truft in the Lord, and do good: so shalt thou
dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Prov. xxviii. 27. He that giveth to the poor, fhall not lack. Nay, God hath promised to have a particular refpect to fuch as do good, in every condition, and all kinds of troubles that befal them. Pfalm xli. 1. 2. 3. Blessed is he that confidereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preferve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will ftrengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his ficknefs.
3. Of happiness in death. The righteous, faith Solomon, Prov. xiv. 32. hath hope in his death. By the righteous in fcripture is frequently meant the merciful and good man. And fo it is to be understood, as appears from the context; He that oppresseih the poor, reproacheth his maker: but he that honour eth him, hath mercy upon the poor. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death. If God defign to fend calamities upon the earth, upon the place where the good man lives, which it would grieve him to fee, or which he might be involved in, so as either to make his life uncomfortable, or to cut him off by a violent death; God confiders the merciful man, and removes him out of the way, into a better and fafer place, Ifa. lvii. 1. The merciful man is taken away from the evil to come.
4. The promises of eternal life and happiness in the world to come. Luke xiv. 13. 14. But when thou mak eft a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind: and thou shalt be bleffed. For they cannot recompenfe thee; for thou shalt be recompenfed at the refurrection of the juft. And chap xvi. 9. And I say unto you, faith our Lord, Make to your felves friends of the mammon of unrighteoufnefs, that is, to do good with what you have, that when ye fail, they may receive you unto everlasting habitations. 1 Tim. vi. 17. 18. 19. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust to 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 deftribute, willing to commu-
nicate, laying up in flore for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. And the more to fix upon our minds the ncceffity of doing good, efpecially in ways of mercy and charity, our Lord reprefents this, as the great matter of enquiry at the great day of judgment, how they have behaved themfelves in this kind, what good they have done, or omitted and neglected to do; efpecially to those who are in mifery and want; and as if the fentence of eternal happiness or mifery would accordingly pass upon them. And this, methinks, should make a mighty impreffion upon us, to think that when we shall appear before the great judge of the world, we are to expect mercy from him, according to the measure that we have fhewed it to others.
And now if men be thoroughly convinced of the happinefs of this temper, methinks, it would be no difficult matter to perfuade them to it. If we believe this faying of our Lord, that it is more blessed to give, than to receive; let us do accordingly.
I know that to carnal and earthly-minded men, this must needs feem a new and wrong way to happiness. For if we may judge of mens perfuafions by their practice, which feems to be a reafonable and good fure way of judging, I am afraid it will appear, that few believe this to be the way to happiness. If we mind the course of the world, and the actions of men, it is but too evident that most men place their greatest felicity in receiv ing and getting the good things of this world; almost all feek their own things, and but few the goud of others. Many fay, who will fhew us; who will do us any good? but few afk that question, What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And when our Lord tells men. that they must give to the poor, if they would have treasure in heaven; that they must be charitable, if they would be happy; that it is a more bleed thing to give, than to receive, thefe are fad and melancholy fayings to those who have great poffeffions; and most men are ready with the young man in the gospel, to part with our Lord, and to break with him upon thefe