Imatges de pÓgina

are about to enter upon the work, seek his help by earnest prayer. Cry to him for the whole spirit of humility, lest if pride steal into your heart, if you ascribe any thing to yourself, while you strive to save others, you destroy your own soul. Before and through the work, from the beginning to the end, let your heart wait upon him for a continual supply of meekness and gentleness, of patience and long suffering, that you may never be angry or discouraged, at whatever treatment, rough or smooth, kind or unkind, you may meet with. Be not moved with the deep ignorance of some, the dulness, the amazing stupidity of others: marvel not at their peevishness or stubbornness; at their nonimprovement after all the pains that you have taken; yea, at some of them turning back to perdition, and being worse than they were before. Still your record is with the Lord, and your reward with the Most High.

2. As to the particular method of treating the sick; you need not tie yourself down to any; but may continually vary your manner of proceeding, as various circumstances may require. But it may not be amiss, usually, to begin with inquiring into their outward condition. You may ask, Whether they have the necessaries of life? Whether they have sufficient food and raiment? If the weather be cold, Whether they have fuel? Whether they have needful attendance? Whether they have proper advice, with regard to their bodily disorder? especially if it be of a dangerous kind. In several of these respects you may be able to give them some assistance yourself; and you may move those that are more able than you, to supply your lack of service. You might properly say in your own case, "To beg I am ashamed:" but never be ashamed to beg for the poor: yea, in this case, be an importunate beggar do not easily take a denial. Use all the address, all the understanding, all the influence you have: at the same time trusting in Him that has the hearts of all men in his hands.

3. You will then easily discern, whether there is any good office, which you can do for them with your hands. Indeed most of the things which are needful to be done, those about them can do better than you. But in some you may have more skill, or more experience than them. And if you have, let not delicacy or honour stand in your way. Remember his word, "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me." And think nothing too mean to do for Him. Rejoice to be abased for his sake.

4. These little labours of love will pave your way to things of greater importance. Having shown that you have a regard for their bodies, you may proceed to inquire concerning their souls. And here you have a large field before you: you have scope for exercising all the talents which God has given you. May you not begin with asking, Have you ever considered that God governs the world?—that his providence is over all?—and over you in particular?-Does any thing then befal you without his knowledge?-or without his designing it for your good? He knows all you suffer he knows all your pains: he sees all your wants. He sees not only your affliction in general, but every particular circumstance of it. Is he not looking down from heaven, and disposing all these things for your profit? You may then inquire, Whether he is acquainted with the general principles of religion? And afterwards, lovingly and gently examine, Whether his life has been agreeable thereto? Whether he has been an outward, barefaced sinner, or

has had a form of religion? See next, whether he knows any thing of the power? Of worshipping God "in spirit and in truth?" If he does not, endeavour to explain to him, "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" and, " Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." When he begins to understand the nature of holiness, and the necessity of the new birth, then you may press upon him " pentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."


5. When you find any of them begin to fear God, it will be proper to give them one after another, some plain tracts, as the "Instructions for Christians;" "Awake, thou that Sleepest ;" and the "Nature and Design of Christianity." At the next visit you may inquire, What they have read?-what they remember ?-and what they understand? And then will be the time to enforce what they understand, and, if possible, impress it on their hearts. Be sure to conclude every meeting with prayer. If you cannot yet pray without a form, you may use some of those composed by Mr. Spinckes, or any other pious writer. But the sooner you break through this backwardness the better. Ask of God, and he will open your mouth.

6. Together with the more important lessons which you endeavour to teach all the poor whom you visit, it would be a deed of charity to teach them two things more, which they are generally little acquainted with industry and cleanliness. It was said by a pious man, " Cleanliness is next to godliness." Indeed the want of it is a scandal to all religion; causing the way of truth to be evil spoken of. And without industry, we are neither fit for this world, nor for the world to come. With regard to both, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."


III. 1. The third point to be considered is, By whom is this duty to be performed? The answer is ready: By all that desire to "inherit the kingdom" of their Father, which was "prepared for them from the foundation of the world." For thus saith the Lord, "Come, ye blessed;-inherit the kingdom;—for I was sick, and ye visited me. And to those on the left hand, "Depart, ye cursed;-for I was sick, and ye visited me not." Docs not this plainly imply, that as all who do this are "blessed," and shall "inherit the kingdom;" so all who do it not are "cursed," and shall "depart into everlasting fire?"

2. All, therefore, who desire to escape everlasting fire, and to inherit the everlasting kingdom, are equally concerned, according to their power, to practise this important duty. It is equally incumbent on young and old, rich and poor, men and women, according to their ability. None are so young, if they desire to save their own souls, as to be excused from assisting their neighbours. None are so poor, (unless they want the necessaries of life,) but they are called to do something more or less, at whatever time they can spare, for the relief and comfort of their afflicted fellow sufferers.

3. But those "who are rich in this world," who have more than the conveniences of life, are peculiarly called of God to this blessed work, and pointed out to it by his gracious providence. As you are not under a necessity of working for your bread, you have your time at your own disposal. You may, therefore, allot some part of it every day for this labour of love. If it be practicable, it is far best to have a fixed hour, (for any time, we say, is no time,) and not to employ that time in any

other business, without urgent necessity. You have likewise a peculiar advantage over many, by your station in life. Being superior in rank to them, you have the more influence on that very account. Your inferiors, of course, look up to you with a kind of reverence. And the condescension which you show in visiting them, gives them a prejudice in your favour, which inclines them to hear you with attention, and willingly receive what you say. Improve this prejudice to the uttermost for the benefit of their souls, as well as their bodies. While you are eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless, see that you still keep a higher end in view, even the saving of souls from death, and that you labour to make all you say and do subservient to that great end.

4. "But have the poor themselves any part or lot in this matter? Are they any way concerned in visiting the sick? What can they give to others, who have hardly the conveniences, or perhaps necessaries of life for themselves?" If they have not, yet they need not be wholly excluded from the blessing which attends the practice of this duty. Even those may remember that excellent rule, "Let our conveniences give way to our neighbour's necessities; and our necessities give way to our neighbour's extremities." And few are so poor, as not to be able sometimes to give "two mites:" but if they are not, if they have no money to give, may they not give what is of more value? Yea, of more value than thousands of gold and silver? If you speak "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth," may not the words you speak be health to the soul, and marrow to the bones? Can you give them nothing? Nay, in administering to them the grace of God, you give them more than all this world is worth. Go on, go on, thou poor disciple of a poor Master! Do as he did in the days of his flesh! Whenever thou hast an opportunity, go about deing good, and healing all that are oppressed of the devil; encouraging them to shake off his chains, and fly immediately to Him

"Who sets the prisoners free, and breaks
The iron bondage from their necks."

Above all, give them your prayers. Pray with them; pray for them; and who knows but you may save their souls alive?

5. You that are old, whose feet are ready to stumble upon the dark mountains, may not you do a little more good before you go hence and are no more seen? Oh remember,


""Tis time to live, if you grow old: Of little life the best to make, And manage wisely the last stake!" As have lived many years, it may be hoped you have attained such knowledge as may be of use to others. You have certainly more knowledge of men, which is commonly learned by dear bought experience. With what strength you have left, employ the few moments you have to spare, in ministering to those who are weaker than yourselves. Your grey hairs will not fail to give you authority, and add weight to what you speak. You may frequently urge, to increase their attention,

"Believe me, youth; for I am read in cares,

And groan beneath the weight of more than three score years.'

You have frequently been a sufferer yourself; perhaps you are so still. So much the more give them all the assistance you can, both with regard to their souls and bodies, before they and you go to the place whence you will not return.

6. On the other hand, you that are young have several advantages that are almost peculiar to yourselves. You have generally a flow of spirits, and a liveliness of temper, which, by the grace of God, make you willing to undertake, and capable of performing, many good works, at which others would be discouraged. And you have your health and strength of body, whereby you are eminently qualified to assist the sick and those that have no strength. You are able to take up and carry the crosses which may be expected to lie in the way. Employ then your whole vigour of body and mind, in ministering to your afflicted brethren. And bless God that you have them to employ in so honourable a service; like those heavenly "servants of his that do his pleasure," by continually ministering to the heirs of salvation.


7. "But may not women, as well as men, bear a part in this honourable service?" Undoubtedly they may nay, they ought: it is meet, right, and their bounden duty. Herein there is no difference: "there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus." Indeed it has long passed for a maxim with many, that women are only to be seen; not heard." And accordingly many of them are brought up in such a manner, as if they were only designed for agreeable playthings! But is this doing honour to the sex? Or is it a real kindness to them? No; it is the deepest unkness: it is horrid cruelty: it is mere Turkish barbarity. And I know not how any woman of sense and spirit can submit to it. Let all you that have it in your power assert the right, which the God of nature has given you. Yield not to that vile bondage any longer' You, as well as men, are rational creatures. You, like them, were made in the image of God; you are equally candidates for immortality; you too are called of God, as you have time, to "do good unto all men." Be" not disobedient to the heavenly calling." Whenever you have opportunity, do all the good you can, particularly to your poor sick neighbour. And every one of you likewise, "shall receive your own reward according to your own labour."


8. It is well known, that in the primitive church, there were women particularly appointed for this work. Indeed there was one or more such in every Christian congregation under heaven. They were then termed deaconesses, that is, servants: servants of the church, and of its great Master. Such was Phebe, mentioned by St. Paul, Rom. xvi, 1, a deaconess of the church of Cenchrea." It is true, most of these were women in years, and well experienced in the work of God. But were the young wholly excluded from that service? No: neither need they be, provided they know in whom they have believed; and show that they are holy of heart, by being holy in all manner of conversation. Such a deaconess, if she answered her picture, was Mr. Law's Miranda. Would any one object to her visiting and relieving the sick and poor, because she was a woman? Nay, and a young one too? Do any of you that are young desire to tread in her steps? Have you a pleasing form? An agreeable address? So much the better, if you are wholly devoted to God. He will use these, if your eye be single, to make your words strike the deeper. And while you minister to others, how many bless

ings may redound into your own bosom! Hereby your natural levity may be destroyed; your fondness for trifles cured; your wrong tempers corrected; your evil habits weakened, until they are rooted out. And you will be prepared to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, in every future scene of life; only be very wary, if you visit or converse with those of the other sex, lest your affections be entangled, on one side or the other, and so you find a curse instead of a blessing.

9. Seeing then this is a duty to which we are called, rich and poor, young and old, male and female; (and it would be well if parents would train up their children herein, as well as in saying their prayers and going to church;) let the time past suffice, that almost all of us have neglected it, as by general consent. Oh what need has every one of us to say, "Lord, forgive me my sins of omission!" Well, in the name of God, let us now from this day set about it with general consent. And I pray, let it never go out of your mind, that this is a duty which you cannot perform by proxy; unless in one only case ;-unless you are disabled by your own pain or weakness. In that only case, it suffices to send the relief which you would otherwise give. Begin, my dear brethren, begin now, else the impression which you now feel, will wear off; and, possibly, it may never return! What then will be the consequence? Instead of hearing that word, " Come, ye blessed ;-For I was sick, and ye visited me;" you must hear that awful sentence,


Depart ye cursed!-For I was sick, and ye visited me not!"

SERMON CIV.-The Reward of the Righteous.

Preached before the Humane Society.

"Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," Matt. xxv, 34.

to say,

1. REASON alone will convince every fair inquirer, that God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." This alone teaches him "Doubtless there is a reward for the righteous ;" "there is a God that judgeth the earth." But how little information do we receive from unassisted reason, touching the particulars contained in this general truth! As eye hath not seen, or ear heard, so neither could it naturally enter into our hearts to conceive the circumstances of that awful day, wherein God will judge the world. No information of this kind could be given, but from the great Judge himself. And what an amazing instance of condescension it is, that the Creator, the Governor, the Lord, the Judge of all, should deign to give us so clear and particular an account of that solemn transaction! If the learned heathen acknowledged the sublimity of that account which Moses gives of the creation, what would he have said, if he had heard this account of the Son of man coming in his glory? Here, indeed, is no laboured pomp of words, no ornaments of language. This would not have suited either the speaker or the occasion. But what inexpressible dignity of thought! see him


coming in the clouds of heaven; and all the angels with him!" See him "sitting on the throne of his glory, and all the nations gathered before him!" And shall he separate them, placing the good on his right

« AnteriorContinua »