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'Tis to be taken for granted, that this enquiry does only extend it self to such Outward Works, as are built upon a true Inward Principle of Charity. And undoubtedly such Works cannot but appear attended with great Excellency, if it should only be observed, That whosoever performs them, does bear a part with those glorious Creatures, the Holy Angels, in the Execution of their high Office. For they are employed in Ministration to the Necessities and Infirmities of Men: And then do we most conspire with those excellent Beings, and make the nearest approaches to their Perfection, when we approve our selves, as Faithful Guardians to those, who are placed below us, in a dependence upon our Protećtion and Succour. And yet it is the Excellency and Glory, even of those Blessed Spirits, as well as of Charitable Men, That in these Beneficial Employ– ments, they come up to the plainest resemblance of God Almighty himself,
which they are capable of, and that in respect of an Attribute, which, of allothers, seems most apt to command our Esteem and Love, His Infinite Goodness.
- Refle&tions upon his Immensity, Infinite Power, and justice, may raise Wonder in us; but a Sense of Complacency, and Joy, and Exultation, does not run in with that Wonder, till our Thoughts are turned upon his Goodness; which supports every Being in it's proper State, and supplies all those, which are capable of being Happy, with Happiness proportion'd to the utmost of their Capacity. The perfeótion of the Divine Nature cannot be conceived, without this Glorious Attribute: And in those * Men is the Image of this Divine Excellency truly Conspicuous, who are Beneficial to the utmost of their Power; whose Goodness is diffusive of Support and Comfort, to as many Miserable objećts, as they are . capable of Comforting and Supporting.
So Beautiful and Excellent are such fruits of Goodness, that whosoever refle&ts upon them, will plainly perceive their Excellency, from the Sentiments, which such a reflection does naturally raise up in his Mind. And every one will readily give in to this Observation, who does but consider our Saviour's account of the man * who fell among thieves, which siripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. For the Different Charaćters of the Persons, who came that way, do supply us with such different Affections, that the motions of our own Thoughts do fully testify the Baseness and Deformity of Uncharitableness, and the great Worth and Excellency of Charitable Works. We cannot reflect on those two, who passed by on the other side, but we presently find our selves Discomposed and Uneasy, and moved with some kind of Indignation against them. But as soon as we have passed through these Disagreeable and Grating Charaćters, to
* Luke x, 30, &c. - the
the account of the Kind Samaritan, who
so readily and chearfully relieved the Distressed; this different view determines us to an high Esteem of the Compassionate Person, and reduceth our Ruffled Minds, to a state of Serenity and Pleasure; as if such Aétions were so Ge— nerous and Excellent, that they must of Necessity be Approved. These observations might suffice for an Answer to the Question before us; but because the Goodness of Moral Actions does much depend upon the Principles, from which they flow, it ma possibly be some Additional Satisfaction, under the present Enquiry, briefly to refle&t upon the Excellency of some Qualities and Dispositions, which are the governing Principles in Charitable Minds, and to observe the Necessary and Peculiar relation and connection betwixt
bread upon the Waters; for thou shall find
it after many days. Whosoever makes an Estimate of Things, by Outward appearance alone, and the //isdom of this world, does as much charge Ill Management and Imprudence, upon those who give their bread to the hungry, as if they should “ cast it upon the waters; from whence they cannot expe&t its Return. For, according to the pure Natural state of Things, there is little reason to expect, that Works of Charity will turn to account. It hath indeed sometimes happen'd, that a Benefit hath been returned by the very hands which Received it, with large Encrease, into the Benefac— tor's Bosom. But instances of this kind are not Numerous enough to satisfie the Cautious Children of this world; who are in their generation wiser, than to deso upon Improbabilities, when they ave more Certain Advantages in view. They will Inviolably observe their Safe rules of a&tion: Sinners lend to sinners,