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termination of what part it must be, should be left to such hearts as ours. My friend, thou hast, it may be, too high an opinion of thy own wisdom and goodness, if nothing but thy own carpal heart is to determine what proportion of thy revenues are to be laid out for Him, whom thou art so ready to forget when he has filled thee. But if the Lord himself, to whom thou art but a steward, has fixed on any part of our usual income for himself, as it is most reasonable that he should have the fixing of it, certainly a tenth will be found the least tbat he has called for. A tenth is the least part in the first division of numbers, which is that of units. Grotius remarks it, as the foundation of the laws of tithes : 66 Almost all nations reckon by tens.' It is but reasonable, and the very light of nature will declare for it, that the great God, who with a seventh day is owned as the Creator, should with a tenth part be acknowledged as the possessor of all things. We do not allow him so much as the least, if we withhold a tenth from bim : less than that, is less than what all nations make the least. Certainly to withhold this, is to withhold more than is proper. Sirs, you know the tendency of this. Long before the Mosaic dispensation of the law, we find that this was Jacob's vow : 66 The Lord shall be my God, and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” It seems we do not sufficiently declare that “the Lord is our God," if we do not give a tenth to him. And how can approve ourselves • israelites indeed,” if we slight such an example as that of our father Jacob. I will ascend a little higber. In one , text we read that our father Abraham, “gare Melchisedek the tenth of all.” In another text we read of our Saviour Jesus, - Thon art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek." From hence I form this conclusion : the rights of Melchisedek belong to our Jesus, the royal high priest now officiating for us in the heavens. The tenths were the rights of Melchisedek; there.
* Numerus denarins gentibus ferme cunctis numerandi finis est.
fore the tenths belong to our Jesus. I do in my conscience believe that this argument cannot be answered; and the man who attempts it seems to darken the evidence of his being one of the true children of Abraham.
I now renew my appeal to the light of nature; to pature thou shalt go! It is very certain that the Pagans used to decimate for sacred uses. Pliny tells us, that the Arabians did so. Xenophon informs us, that the Grecians had the same practice. You find the custom to be as ancient as the pen of Herodotus can make it. It is confirmed by Pausanias and Diodorus Siculus, and a whole army of authors besides Doughty, have related and asserted it. I will only introduce Festus, to speak for them all:
"The ancients offered to their gods the tenth of every thing."* Christian, wilt thou do less for thy God than the poor perishing Pagans did for theirs ? “0, tell it not”—but this I will tell; that they who have conscientiously employed their tenths in pious uses, have usually been remarkably blessed in their estates, by the providence of God. The blessing has been sometimes delayed, with some trial of their patience : Not for any injustice in their hands; their
prayer has been 66 pure." And their belief of the future state has been sometimes tried, by their meeting with losses and disappointments. But then, their little has been so blessed as to be still a competency; and God has so favoured them with contentment, that it has yielded more than the abundance of many others, Very frequently too, they have been rewarded with remarkable success in their aftairs, and increase of their property; and even in this world have seen the fulfilment of those promises ; 66 Cast thy graia into. the moist ground, and thou shalt find it after many days.
66 Honour the Lord with thy substance ; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty." History has given us many delightful examples of those who have had their decimations followed and rewarded by a surprising prosperity of their affairs. Obscure mechan * Decima quæqu veteres Diis suis offerbanti
ics and husbandmen have risen to estates, of which once they had not the most distant expectation. The excellent Gouge, in bis treatise, entitled, “ The surest and safest way of thriving," has collected some such examples. The Jewish proverb, “Decima, ut dives fias.---Tithe, and be rich," would be oftener verified, if more frequently practised. “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not pour out a blessing upon you."
But let the demand of “liberal things” grow upon you : a tenth I have called the least; for some it is much too little. Men of large incomes, who would not “ sow to their flesh, and of the flesh reap corruption,” may and will often go beyond this proportion. Some rise to a fifth ; and the religious countess of Warwick would not stop at any thing short of a third. Gentlemen of fortune, who are my readers, would perhaps excuse me if I were to carry them no higher than this, and to say nothing to them of Johannes Eleemosynarius, who annually made a distribution of all to pious uses; and having settled his affairs, said, “I bless God that I have now nothing left but my Lord and Master, Christ, whom I long to be with, and to whom I can now fly with unentangled wings." Yet I will mention to them the example of some eminent merchants, who having obtained moderate and competent estates, have resolved never to be richer. They have carried on brisk and extensive trades, but whatever profits raised their incomes above the fixed sum, they have entirely devoted to pious uses. Were any of them losers by this conduct ? Not one.
The Christian emperor Tiberius II. was famous for his religious bounties : his empress thought him even profuse in them. But he told her that he should never want money so long as, in obedience to a glorious Christ, he should supply the necessities of the poor, and abound in religious benevolence. Once, immediately after he had made a liberal distribution, he unexpectedly found a mighty treasure, and at the same time tidings were brought to him of the death of a very rich man who had bequeathed to him all bis wealth. And men in far humbler stations can relate very many and interesting anecdotes of this nature, even from their own happy experience. I cannot forbear transcribing some lines of my honoured Gouge on this occasion :
“I am verily persuaded that there is scarcely any man who gives to the poor proportionably to what God has bestowed on him ; but, if he observe the dealings of God's providence towards him, will find the same doubled and redoubled upon him in temporal blessings. I dare challenge all the world to produce one instance, (or at least any considerable number of instances) of a merciful man, whose charity has undone him. On the contrary, as the more living wells are exhausted, the more freely they spring and flow; so the substance of charitable men frequently multiplies in the very distribution: even as the five loaves and tew fishes multiplied, while being broken and distributed, and as the widow's oil increased by being poured out."
I will add a consideration which, methinks, will act as a powerful motive upon the common feelings of human nature. Let rich men, who are not
66 rich towards God," especially such as have no children of their own to make their heirs, consider the vile ingratitude with which their successors will treat them. Sirs, they will hardly allow you a tombstone ; but, wallowing in the wealth you have left them, and complaining that you left it no sooner, they will insult your memory and ridicule your economy and parsimony. Ilow much wiser would it be for you to do good with your estates while you live, and at your death to dispose of them in a manner which may 'enbalm your names to posterity, and be for your advantage in the world to which you are going : That your souls may enjoy the good of paradisaical reflections, at the same time that others are inheriting what you have left to them.
I will only annex the compliment of a certain person to his friend, upon his accession to an estate; 66 Mych good may it do you ; that is, much good may you do with it."
I hope we are now ready for Proposals ; and that we shall set ourselves to “devise liberal things."
GENTLEMEN ! To relieve the necessities of the poor is a thing acceptable to the compassionate God who has given to you what he might have given to them, and has given it to you that you might have the honour and pleasure of imparting it to them; and who has said, “ He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord.” The more you regard the command and example of a glorious Christ in what you do this way, the more assurance you have that in the day of God you shall joyfully hear him saying, 66 You have done it unto me.
And the more humble, silent, reserved modesty you express, concealing even from the left hand what is done with the right, the more you are assured of a great reward in the heavenly world. Such liberal men, it is observed, are generally longlived men; (“ Gathering the fruit relieves the tree"*) and at last they pass from this into everlasting life.
PROPOSALS TO LARIES.
Tie true Lady is one who feeds the poor, and relieves their indirence. lp days of primitive christianity, ladies of the first quality would seek out the sick, visit hospitals, see what help they wanted, and assist them with an admirable alacrity. What a "good report” have the mother and sister of Nazianzen obtained from his pen, for their unwearied bounty to the poor! Empresses themselves have stooped to relieve the miserable, and never appeared so truly great as when they thus stooped.
A very proper season for your alms is, when you keep your days of prayer; that your prayers and your alms may go up together as a memorial be
* Fructus liberat arborem. + The following is supposed to be the etymology of the word Laus. It was at first Leafilian, from Leaf or Laf, which sigpifies a loaf of bread, and D'ian to serve. It was afterwards corrupted to Lasdy, and at length to Lady. So that it appears, the original meaning of the terin implies one who distoibutes lread.