Page images
PDF
EPUB

- We frequently complain that our sermons are useless, that our exhortations are unprofitable, that our ministry produceth neither wisdom in your minds, nor virtue in your hearts, nor any alteration in your lives. You in your turn complain, you say we declaim, you affirm, we exaggerate, and, as the reasonableness, or futility, of our complaints depends on a discussion, into which it is impossible for us to enter, the question remains undetermined. · My brethren, you have it in your power to day, and next Wednesday, to make your apology. You may give à certain proof that you are not insensible to the care, which God takes for your salvation. You may do us the favour to

confound our reproofs, and to silence reproof for the future. · Behold, our wants are before you. Behold our hands are held out to receive your charity. · Do not lessen your gift on account of what you have hitherto done: do not complain of our importunity: do not say the miseries of the poor are perpetual, and their wants have no end: but rather let your former charities bé considered as motives to future charities.. Become models to yourselves. Follow your own exainple. Recollect, that what makes the glory of this state, and this church, what, Jesus will comniend at the last day, what will comfort you on your death bed, will not be the rich beaufets that shine in your houses, the superb equipages that attend you, the exquisite dishes that nourish you, not even the signal exploits, and numberless victories, which astonish the universe, and fill the world with your names : but the pious foundations you have made, the families you have supported, the exiles you have receivel, these, these will be your fecility and glory. • You say, the miseries of the poor are perpetual, and their wants endless, and this disheartens, you. Alas! Is not this, on the contrary, what ought to enflame your charity? What! Should your charity diminish as wants increase? What! Because your brethren are not weary of carrying the cross of Christ, are you weary of encouraging them to do so?

You say, the iniseries of the poor are perpetual, and theii wants have no end. I understand you, this reproach touches us in a tender part. But have we less reason to complain, because we are always miserable? Yet, perhaps we may not always be in a condition so melancholy. Pero haps God will have mercy upon his afflicted. Perhaps the

faming

flaming sword, which hath pursued us for more than twenty years, will return into its scabbard, rest and be still. Perhaps we may some day cease to be a wretched people, wandering about the world, exciting the displeasure of soine, and tiring out the charity of others. Perhaps God, in order. to recompense the charity, which you have testified by receiving us, will grant you the glory of re-establishing us, and, as you have lodged the captive ark, will empower you to conduct it back to Shiloh with songs of victory and praise. Perhaps, if we all concur to day in the same design, if we alt unite in one bond of charity, if animated with such a noble zeal we address our prayers to him, after we have offered to him our alms, perhaps we may build again the walls of our Jerusalem, and redeem our captive brethren from prisons, and gallies, and slavery. Perhaps, if God has determined that Egypt, which enslaves.them, should be for ever the theatre of his vengeance and curse, he may bring out the remainder of his Israel with a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm, with jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, with flocks and herds, not an hoof being left behind, according to the expressicn of Moses, Exod. x. 11.

After all, let us remember what was said at the beginning of this discourse, that if God require alms of you, it is owo ing to his goodness towards you. Yes, I would engrave this truth upon your minds, and fix this sentiment in your hearts. I would make you fully understand, that God haş no need of you to support his poor, and that he hath a thousand ways at hand to support them without you. I would fain convince you, that if he leaves poor people among you, it is for the reason we have already mentioned; it is from a sublime principle, for which I have no name. In dispensing his other favours, he makes you sink with joy, under the weight of his magnificence and mercy: to day he offers to owe you something. He would become your debtor. He makes himself poor, that you may be enriched by enriching him. He would have you address that prayer, which a prophet formerly: addressed to him, Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty : for all that is in the heaven or the eurth is thine, thine is the kingdom, () Lord, and thou art eralted as head above all. Both riches and honour's come of thee, and thou reignest over all, and in thine hand is power and might, and in thine hand it is to make great,

Cc 2

and

and to give strength unto all. Now, therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee and sojourners, as were all our fathers : our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding, i Chron. xxxix. 11, &c. · May these forcible reasons, and these noble motives convey light into the darkest minds, and soften the most obdu+ Fate hearts; and may each apply them to himself in partie €ular! It happens, not unfrequently, that on these occasions each trusts to the public, and, imagining that the charity of an individual will be nothing to the total sum, for this reason omits to give. No, my brethren, there is no person here, who does not make one. There is no person here, who ought not to consider himself the public, and, if I may ven, ture to say so, representing in some sort the whole congregation. Every person here ought to consider his own contribution as deciding the abundance or the insignihcance of our collection. Let each therefore tax himself. Let no one continue in arrears. Let a noble emulation be seen amongst us. Let the man in power give a part of the salary of his office. Let military men give a part of their pay. Let the merchant give a part of the profits of his trade. Let the mechanic give a part of the labour of his hands. Let the minister 'consecrate a part of what his ministry produces. Let the young man give a part of his pleasures. Let the lady bestow a part of her ornaments. Let the dissipated give the poor that box of ointment, which was intended for prophane uses. Let the native of these provinces give a part of his patrimony: and let the refugee give part of what he has saved from the fury of the ocean when his vessel was dashed to pieces, and with a part of these remnants let him kindle a fire to offer sacrifices to that God, wlio saved him from perishing by shipwreck.

My brethren, I know not what emotions of joy penetrate and transport ine. I know not what emotions of my heart promise me, that this discourse will be attended with more success than all we have ever addressed to you. Ye stewards of our charity, ask boldly. Come into our houses ye blessed of the Lord, and receive alms of a people, who will contribute with joy, yea even with gratitude and thanks.

But. But, my brethren, we are not yet content with you. Should you exceed all our expectations; should you give all your fortune, should you leave no poor hereafter among you, all this would not satisfy me. I speak not only for the interest of the poor, but for your own interest; we wish

you to give your charity with the same view. In giving .. your alms, give your minds, give your hearts. Commit to

Jesus Christ not only a little portion of your property, but your bodies, your souls, your salvation, that so you may be able to say in the agonies of death, I know whom I have trusted, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that, which I have committed unto him, against that day, 2 Tim. i. 12. God grant us this grace. To him be honour and glory for ever..

SERMON

« PreviousContinue »