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tion to support them. They may Imagine, or Alledge, that the Fire of God may possibly fall from Heaven, and consume One part of their Substance, whilst the Chaldeans may seize upon Another: They may urge the Reasonableness of arming themselves against All future Dangers, against All Unexpected Accidents: And if this way of arguing be allowable, then must they suffer the Poor to perish, because they themselves may Possibly fall into that number. But they should be extremely cautious of trifling with them– selves in matters of this moment, and of running Perversely into such Fatal and Destructive Absurdities. Wecessaries and Superfluities are not to be estimated b Possibility, but by Probability, and the common Course of things. When any one hath made such Provision, as will probably, and under the usual course of God's good Providence, answer the Ne— cessities and Just Conveniencies of Himself and Dependents; the other shares of his Treasures are to be reached out unto those who want them. Not that works of Charity are to be neglected, whilst such Provision is Gathering, for 'tis not to be conceived, that a sincere Christian can, in a direct contradićtion to Chris's com— mand, be, in any period of Life, so engaged in laying up treasures upon earth, that he wholly neglects to lay up treasures in heaven. St. Paul gives this commandment to the Corinthians; * Comcerning the colletion for the Saints, as I have given order to the Churches of Galatia, even Jo do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. Charitable Contributions were not only incumbent upon those, who were possessed of a Full, Fixed Estate, but upon all others likewife, whose support depended upon Success in their Employments. Every one must, from time to time, lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him; must Constantly devote unto good Works, as large a Proportion of his Encrease, as will consist with the supply of his present Exigencies, and with the Probable expećtation of making suitable Provision for
the future support of himself and his Family. Mens Necessities, and by consequence, their Abilities to perform works' of Charity, are not capable of being fixed, in General, by Mathematical and exaćt proportions, and therefore do admit only of moral Determination, according to Probability, and the Ordinary methods of Providence. Let every one therefore compare his own Circumstances with the state of other Men, in his own rank: Let him attentively refle&t, and duly depend, upon God's providential Dispensations: Let É. throw off all reserves for Sensual Enjoyments: Let him abandon Covetousness and Ambition, and then proceed to determine, with the utmost Seriousness and Sincerity, confidering that God plainly sees both his Ability and his Will: Let him thus Conscientiously and Faithfully determine,what proportion of his Riches is, in Reality, Superfluous to his Station; for whatsoever shall, upon Impartial Enquiry, appear to be so, is a Debt due to his Afflićted Brethren.
God Almighty hath ranged Men in different Orders, that they may exercise the Virtues which their different States require. The Poor are to exercise their Patience and Resignation, their Hope and Affiance in God; and the Rich are to demonstrate their Charity to their Distressed Neighbour, by relieving him, and their Fidelity to God, by an Improvement of those Talents which were
committed to Their charge for this ve purpose, that they should be employed in Charitable Works, prudently proportion'd to their Wants and Deserts, who are the Objećts of Charity. For ’tis a Pernicious Error, to imagine, that we are the Proper and Arbitrary Lords of our own Possessions, and that we may justly and safely dispose of them, according to our own Pleasure. This plaufible mistake, so confidently urged, and the Pračtices so generally built upon it, may pass with Impunity and Approbation amongst Men; but the Holy Scriptures declare, and in the Day of Judgment we shall be effeótually convinced, That God is the sole Lord, who hath intrusted intrusted us with Treasures, to be disposed of, not as our own humours direét, but according to his express direétion and commandment, in supporting and comforting the Needy and Afflićted.
Those who are tenacious of their Superfluities, do prevent the course of God's Blessings through their proper Channels, frustrate the designs of Providence, and are at once Regardless of the Good of their Brethren, the Authority of God, and the Salvation of their own Souls. For 'tis Indispensably incumbent upon all “ them that are rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation, agains; the time to come, that they may lay hold on Eternal Life. And this brings me to the Second Enquiry proposed.
II. Upon what accounts chiefly it is, that Charitable Works are to be esteem
* 1 Tim. vi. 17, 18, 19.