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which might purchase for ourselves everlasting treasures in heaven. So that, if we part with our money in foolish ways; we part with a great power of comforting our fellow creatures, and of making ourselves forever blessed.
If there be nothing so glorious, as doing good ; if there is nothing that makes us so like to God; then nothing can be so glorious in the use of our money, as to use it in works of love and goodness, making ourselves friends, fathers, benefactors, to all our fellow creatures; imitat. ing the divine love, and toroing all our power into acts of generosity, care, and kindness; to such, as are in need of it.
If a man had eyes, and hands, and feet, that he could give to those, who wanted them; if he should either lock them up in a chest, or please himself with some needless or ridiculous use of them, instead of giving them to his brethren, who were blind and me; should we not justly reckon him an inhuman wietch ? If he should rather choose to amuse himself with furnishing his house with those things, than to entitle himself to an eternal reward, by giving them to those, that wanted eyes and hands, might we not justly reckon him mad?
has very much the nature of eyes and feet; if we either lock it up in chests, or waste it in needless and ridiculous expenses upon ourselves, while the poor and distressed want it for necessary uses ; if we consume it in ridiculous ornaments of apparel, while others are starving in nakedness ; we are not far from the cruelty of him, that chooses rather to adorn his house with hands and eyes, than to give them to those, that want them. If we choose to indulge ourselves in such expensive enjoyments, as have no real. use in them; such, as satisfy no real want, rather than to entitle ourselves to an eternal reward, by disposing of our money well; we are guilty of his madness, that rather chooses to lock up eyes and hands, than to make himself forever blessed, by giving them to those, that want them.
For, after we have satisfied our own reasonable wants, all the rest of our money is like spare eyes, or hands; it
is something, that we cannot keep to ourselves without being foolish in the use of it ; something, that can only be used well, by giving it to those, who want it.
Thirdly. If we waste our money; we are not only guilty of wasting a talent, which God has given us ; we are not only guilty of making that useless, which is so powerful a mean of doing good; but we do ourselves this farther harm, that we turn this useful talent into a powerful mean of corrupting ourselves ; because so far, as it is spent wrong, so far it is spent in gratifying some vain and unreasonable desires; in conforming to those fashions of the world, which, as Christians and reasonable men, we are obliged to renounce.
As wit and fine parts cannot be trifled away and only lost, but will expose those, that have them, to greater follies, if they are not strictly devoted to piety; so money, if it is not used strictly according to reason and religion, cannot only be trifled away, but it will betray people into greater follies, and make them live a more extravagant life, than they could have done without it. If, therefore, you don't spend your money in doing good to others, you must spend it to the hurt of yourself. You will act, like a man, that should refuse to give that, as a cordial to a sick friend, though he could not drink it himself without inflaming his blood. For this is the case of superfluous money, if you give it to those, that want it, it is a cordial; if you spend it upon yourself in something, that
you do not want; it only inflames and disorders your mind, and makes you worse than you would be without it.
Consider again the forementioned comparison : if the man, that would not make a right use of spare eyes and hands, should by continually trying to use them himself, spoil his own eyes and hands; we might justly accuse him of still greater madness.
Now this is truly the case of riches, spent upon ourselves in vain and needless expenses; in trying to use them, where they have no real use, we only use them to our hurt, in creating unreasonable desires, in nourishing ill tempers, in indulging our passions, and support,
ing a worldly turn of mind. For high eating and drinking, fine clothes, and fine houses, state and equipage, gay pleasures and diversions, do all of them naturally hurt and disorder our hearts; they are the food and nourishment of the foliy and weakness of our nature, and are certain means, to make us vain and worldly in our temper. They are the support of something, that ought not to be supported; they are contrary to that sobriety and piety of beart, which relishes divine things; they are like so many weights upon our minds, that make us less able, and less inclined to raise our thoughts and affections to things above.
So that money, thus spent, is not merely wasted or lost ; but it is spent to bad purposes, to the corruption and disorder of our hearts, and to the making us less able to live up to the sublime doctrines of the Gospel.
It is like keeping money from the poor, to buy poison for ourselves.
For so much, as is spent in the vanity of dress, may be reckoned so much laid out, to fix vanity in our minds. So much, as is laid out for idleness and indulgence, may be reckoned so much given, to render our hearts dull and sensual. So much as is spent in state and equipage, may be reckoned so much spent, to dazzle your own eyes, and render you the idol of your own imagination. So in every thing, when you go from reasonable wants, you only support some unreasonable temper; some turn of mind, which every good Christian is called upon to
So that on all accounts, whether we consider our fortune, as a talent and trust from God; or the good that it enables us to do ; or the harm, it does to ourselves, if idly spent ; on all these accounts it appears, that it is absolutely necessary, to make reason and religion the strict rule of using all our fortune.
Every exhortation in Scripture to be wise and reasonable, satisfying only such wants, as God would have satisfied; every exhortation to be spiritual and heavenly, pressing after a glorious change of our nature ; every exhortation to love our neighbour, as ourselves; to love
all mankind, as God has loved them; is a command, to be strictly religious in the use of our money. For none of these can be complied with, unless we be wise and reasonable, spiritual and heavenly, exercising brotherly love, a godlike charity in the use of all our fortune.
This use of our worldly goods, is so much the doctrine of the New Testament, that you cannot read a chapter, without being taught something of it. I shall only produce one remarkable passage of Scripture, which is sufficient to justify all, that I have said concerning this religious use of our fortune.
56 When the Son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him ; then shall he sit
the throne of his glory. And before him shall he gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats ; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right band, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom, prepared for you from the founda. tion of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranand
ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me ; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.-Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, juto everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat ; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in ; naked, and ye clothed me not ; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me pot. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."
I have quoted this passage at length, because, if one look at the way of the world, one would hardly think, that Christians had ever read this part of Scripture. For what is there in the lives of Christians, that looks, as if their salvation depended upon these good works?
Yet the necessity of them is bere asserted in the highest manner, and pressed upon us by a lively description of the glory and terrors of the day of judgment.
Some people, even of those, who may be reckoned virtuous Christians, look upon this text, only as a general recommendation of occasional works of charity; whereas it shows the necessity, not only of occasional charities, but of such an entire charitable life, as is a continual exercise of all such works of charity, as we are able to perform.
You own, that you have no title to salvation if you have neglected these good works; because such persons, as neglect them, are at the last day to be placed on the left hand, and banished with a Depart, ye cursed. There is therefore no salvation, but in the performance of these good works. Who is it, therefore, that may be said to have performed these good works? Is it he, that has sometimes assisted a prisoner, or relieved the poor or sick ? This would be as absurd, as to say, that he had performed the duties of devotion, who had sometimes said his prayers. Is it therefore he, that has several times done these works of charity? This can no more be said, than he can be said to be the truly just man, who had done acts of justice several times. What is the rule therefore, or measure of performing these good works?
The rule is very plain and easy, and such as is common to every other virtue, or good temper as well, as to charity. Who is the humble, or meek, or devout, or just, or faithful man? Is it he, that has several times done acts of humility, meekness, devotion, justice, or fi delity? No. ' But it is that lives in the habitual exercise of these virtues. In like manner he only can be said to have performed these works of charity, who lives in the habitual exercise of them to the utmost of his pow
He only has performed the duty of divine love, who loves God with all his heart, and with all his mind, and with all his strength; and he only has performed these good works, who has done them with all his heart, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. For there is no other measure of our doing good, than our power of doing it.
The Apostle Peter puts this question to our blessed