Imatges de pàgina

supplied, yet we should be uneasy unless we could vent our abundance.

We are not more eager to sound the notions and sentiments of others, than we are to communicate our own; we do not find more pleasure in learning than we do in teaching useful truths; nor doth he on whom a seasonable charity is bestowed feel bis soul filled with so much joy and satisfaction as possess the mind of him who bestows it. Now this joy will be more genuine and entire, when we are sure that our good deeds flow from a sound principle; when our consciences bear us witness, that no self-interest mixes itself with our designs of being useful to mankind; that there is a secret spring of benevolence within us which wants not to be set on work by the hopes of any temporal advantage; and that we can be content to be beneficial to those who want our help, without any other applause than that of our own consciences. No one who doeth good to those only from whom he expects to receive good can ever be fully satisfied of his own sincerity; he can never surely know whether charity or self-love influences his good deeds; and the grateful acknowledgments of others will afford him but little satisfaction, whilst he wants those applauses which he should receive from himself within his own breast. But the pleasures which arise from this purity of intention, and consciousness of doing good merely for the sake of doing good, suppose a greatness of spirit and nobleness of mind beyond the usual pitch of human nature. The most proper argument to prevail on men strongly devoted to their own interest is, to convince them that what we persuade them to is for their own proper benefit, what we dissuade them from is to their own personal disadvantage. Now even these men, if they will be true to their own principles, will not think the receiving good from men


the principal end they ought to aim at in their doing good; because,

Thirdly, the proposing to themselves this end will deprive them of a greater recompense hereafter.

Our Saviour in his gospel hath represented the prospect of a recompense from men for actions done to gain their affection and esteem, and the view of a recompense from God for the same actions, as inconsistent with and repugnant to each other. Which of these two rewards we will receive, he hath left to our option; but

he who proposes to himself the former doth by such Matt. vi. 2. proposal disclaim the latter. Those who sound a trumpet

before the giving of alms, that they may have glory of men ; those who pray in the corners of streets, that they may be seen of men ; those who when they fast disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast, these verily have their reward; they gain the applause which they sought; and because they sought it are excluded from all hopes of a reward from their Father which is in heaven. The direction of our good works to a good end is the only principle which, according to our Saviour's doctrine, distinguisheth the charity of saints from the gifts of sinners. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and

your reward shall be great. The publican and the disciple, the heathen and the Christian, may agree in the material acts of charity; but that which formally makes this a Christian grace is the spring from which it flows and the recompense at which it aims.

Luke vi. 32-35

Thus plainly hath Christ revealed unto us the measures according to which God will proceed at the great day of retribution in dispensing his rewards; and it is easy to discover the great wisdom and goodness, as well as the justice, of God in this dispensation. For it is agreeable to the divine wisdom and goodness to establish a duty of such universal concern to mankind as is the doing good to others, upon a firm and sure principle; such an one as might engage all men to do all the good possible, at all times, to all persons whatsoever. But the prospect of a return from those to whom we do good would have been too narrow and weak a foundation to have supported such a constant, impartial, universal beneficence, as is absolutely necessary for the well-being of mankind.

Were there no stronger motives to charity than the slender hopes of a recompense from men, those who have the greatest power to do good would have least obligation : for the more able they are to relieve the wants of others, the less do they themselves want to receive from others, and therefore they would be less careful to supply the necessities of the indigent, since their own sufficiency is such as needs no mutual supply. And as those who are most able would upon these motives be least bound to do good, so, if this principle obtained, those who most want the assistance of others would have least reason to expect it. For if no good were to be done but in hopes of a return from the party to whom it is done, those must expect to receive no benefits whose indigence is such that they can repay none. Charity displays itself in several acts, for which there would be no room, if it were always governed by this narrow principle. One man might be kind to another out of interest, and hopes of a proportionable return; but no one would be concerned to lay out himself

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for the good of his country, of his church, of mankind;
because these are services for which in this world he
can expect no equal recompense. There are, moreover,
many offices of charity which are best performed in se-
cret; many pious Christians are as assiduous in procuring
their brother's good as is his guardian angel; and they
take care to be equally invisible ; the streams of their
bounty flow under ground; the hungry and thirsty are
refreshed by them, but know not the spring from which
they issue: but such charitable benefactions as these
must necessarily fail, were men influenced only by the
mean hopes of temporal advantage, and had not He who
seeth these things in secret promised to reward them

But were the prospect of a present recompense suffi-
cient to make men charitable in their own generation,
and useful to the age wherein they live, yet upon this
bottom no provision would be made for posterity ; for
no one is in capacity of a requital from those who are
not to enter into this world till he is gone out of it;
so that the interest of succeeding ages would by the
present be entirely neglected. But mankind hath great
reason to rejoice, that neither the hopes nor charity of
good men have been confined within the narrow bounds
of their own age; but that some have thought it their
duty to sow, even where they could not reap; and to
convey down those blessings to future times, the fruits
of which others shall enjoy as long as the sun and moon
endure, but for which they can themselves expect no

recompense, but from that righteous Judge whose reRev. xxii. ward is with him, to give to every man according to his


Those who have been the pious and munificent founders of public hospitals, for the reception and maintenance of poor and indigent persons, have, in a



literal sense, followed the advice given in this parable by our Saviour: the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind are their constant guests; are daily fed at their table, and entertained at their expense. These have taken the most effectual care to bid those who cannot bid them again, nor make them any sort of recompense, no, not so much as by their good wishes and prayers. These therefore, above others, will be blessed; these, as we have good reason to believe, are already blessed in a great measure; and for these we are assured there is still reserved an ampler recompense at the resurrection Luke xiv. of the just.

And as those wbose abilities of doing good are greatest have no reason to contract their bounty, since God hath provided a reward equal to the most diffusive acts of their beneficence; so those whose power falls short of their wills have sufficient encouragement to exert their utmost endeavours; since, although charitable deeds only can hope for a reward from men, and that but in proportion to their real value, yet charitable purposes also, and such measures of doing good as were sincerely intended, but through inability could not be actually performed, will be crowned with a recompense from God, who hath promised to accept according to 2 Cor. viii. that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

For the reasons which have been given, and for many others which might be alleged, it is manifest that the public good of mankind is best provided for by the proposal of a future reward to benefactors; and that the hopes of receiving good from those whom we at any time gratify would produce but a very narrow, defective, and stinted charity. For the truth of which we might safely appeal to the judgment of those who are most wedded to their own interest, since, however they may be willing never to bestow a kindness but


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