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LIBERALITY AND BENEVOLENCE.
THE liberal soul shall be made fat and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
He that hath pity upon the
poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a
Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
THE gifts of Providence are unequally distributed in this world. Some are affluent, some have moderate possessions, and some are poor. This difference in condition cannot always be attributed to industry and thrift on the one hand, and indolence and improvidence on the other; but is often the result of circumstances, in which the overruling providence of God may be clearly seen. The industrious are not always rich, nor the indolent always poor; wealth is not always the proof of merit, nor poverty the result of crime. As the distinction exists among men, it is safe in all cases to say that God has made us to differ. The designs of Providence are often inscrutable, but one intent of this difference in worldly condition is obvious it is to furnish scope for the exercise of the sweet charities of life. "The poor ye have always with you," that you may cultivate the benevolent affections, and minister to their necessities. A brother may be sick, or infirm, or reduced by a reverse of for
tune to utter destitution; and is he to be hungry, and are we to give him no food? naked, and we to furnish him no raiment? sick, and we refuse to minister to him? While we have enough and to spare, shall he perish at our doors? When he asks for a little of our superfluity to cheer his desolate condition, shall we heartlessly refuse him?
Men may be poor in a still more emphatic sense, when destitute of the means of grace, and ignorant of the way of salvation. This is a penury which affects the well-being of the soul, and carries its blight into eternity. If we pity and relieve the man who is perishing for bread, how much more urgent the call upon us to extend our charity to those who are perishing for the bread of life! If our sensibilities would be shocked by the death of a fellow man at our doors by famine, how much more deeply should we feel for those who are dying around us without hope! The eye of charity cannot be closed on the fearful ravages which sin is making in the world, or on the countless victims it is heaping up for the fires of Tophet. Shall our eye
refuse to pity, or our hand to relieve?
In either case the Lord has entrusted the poor to the benevolence of those more highly favoured, and however ingenious and plausible the excuses for a neglect of duty, they will avail us nothing in that day when Christ the Judge of the world shall say, "I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not." "Forasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
Ponder the sayings of the wise man. and emphatic, and how amply confirmed by the whole spirit of the gospel! Not only do our Christian principles become questionable by the absence of charity, but we thereby cut ourselves off from some of the most precious promises. "He that watereth shall be watered also himself," and so far from being losers by ministering to the wants of others, we thus "lend to the Lord," and that which we give shall be repaid with interest. On the other hand, "whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, and shall not be heard." He may shut up his bowels of compassion, and for the sake of hoarding treasure, may withhold more than is meet, and yet it will tend to poverty.
O my soul, thou hast thyself been a petitioner at the door of mercy, and if thou hast found favour, wilt thou refuse thy sympathy to a poor fellow-sufferer? Has the compassion of Jesus relieved thee in thy sore straits, and wilt thou turn a deaf ear to the moaning ories of thy indigent brother? Suffer not the cold and calculating excuses which some may urge for their niggardliness, to blunt thy sensibilities, and to close the fountain of kindly feeling. Devise liberal things, let thy charity embrace the world; regard each man as thy brother, and for humanity's sake, nay, for Christ's sake, run to his relief. Canst thou expect mercy, if thou showest none? Can the spirit of a compassionate Saviour dwell in thee, if thou canst with cold indifference look on human suffering? Surely not. Love thy neighbour as thyself, and esteem it thy privilege, and make it thy delight, to minister to his temporal and spiritual wants.
OINTMENT and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a
man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.
He that rebuketh a man, afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
ONE of the sweetest charms of life is human friendship. To have even one, to whom we can at all times open our heart with confidence, upon whose fidelity we can rely, and who, we are sure, will never withhold his kindly aid or desert us in distress, is a great acquisition. In a selfish world where most men are eager to serve themselves, and regardless of the interests of others, it is pleasant to find heart thus beating responsive to heart. We should expect of a friend sympathy in our sorrow, joy in our prosperity, counsel in trouble, aid in difficulty, and rebuke when it is deserved; for "faithful are even the wounds of a friend." The men of the world have their friendships, but they are often the compacts of wickedness, in which one encourages another in the way of ruin. How often too are they pretended rather than real, specious rather than solid! They flourish in prosperity, but will not bear the test of adversity; they are founded in
selfishness and not in love. The friendship of the world worketh death.
They, however, who have an identity of interests, who have selected the same pursuits, have imbibed the same principles, because baptized by the same Spirit and united to the same Saviour, are best fitted for this relation. True Christian friendship can alone be relied on: for he that is faithful to God, is not likely to prove unfaithful to his friend.
The rich perfume of a precious ointment but imperfectly symbolizes the sweetness of this relation between brethren in Christ, as they pursue their journey together, encouraging each other by their hearty counsels, and pressing on towards their heavenly home.
My soul, suffer no feeling of jealousy, or envy, or ill will, to alienate thee from thine own or thy father's friend. To such show thyself friendly. Where the sources of human happiness are few, be careful that none of them be obstructed through thy fault. Reciprocate the kindness of others. Repel the suggestions of suspicion or distrust; and yet remember that human friendship is only subsidiary to thy happiness, not its ultimate ground. Thou must look to the available friendship of Him "who sticketh closer than a brother." Is he not thy friend? Did he not seek thee when a wanderer, kindly restore thee to his paths, and even die for thy redemption? Let him not be ungratefully requited, or "wounded in the house of his friends." Thou needest him more than he needs thee, and the day is approaching, when he will be all in all to thee, as a friendly intercessor at the bar of judgment.