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SERM. encouragement to the performance thereof; for we are obliged to follow the pious man's practice, and so doing we shall assuredly partake of his condition. These parts we shall in order prosecute, endeavouring (by God's assistance) somewhat to illustrate the words themselves, to confirm the truths couched in them, and to inculcate the duties which they imply.
For the first part, He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; these words in general do import the liberal bounty and mercy which a pious man is wont to exercise; doing which doth in good part constitute him pious, and signally declareth him such; is a necessary ingredient of his piety, and a conspicuous mark thereof. But particularly they insinuate some things concerning the nature, the matter, the manner, and the object of those acts.
33. xi. 41.
He hath dispersed, he hath given. Those words being put indefinitely, or without determining what is dispersed and given by him, may be supposed to imply a kind of universality in the matter of his beneficence; that he bestoweth whatever he hath within compass of his possession, or his power; his Luke xii. Tà væάρxovra, (the things which he hath,) and his rà évóvra, (the things which he may,) according to the prescriptions of our Lord in the Gospel. Every thing, I say, which he hath in substance, or can do by his endeavour, that may conduce to the support of the life, or the health, or the welfare in any kind of his neighbour, to the succour or relief of his indigency, to the removal or easement of his affliction, he may well here be understood to disperse and give. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, entertaining the stranger, ransoming the captive, easing the oppressed, comforting the sorrowful,
assisting the weak, instructing or advising the igno- SERM. XXXI. rant, together with all such kinds or instances of beneficence, may be conceived either meant directly as the matter of the good man's dispersing and giving, or by just analogy of reason reducible thereto : substantial alms, as the most sensible and obvious matter of bounty, was (it is probable) especially intended, but thence no manner of expressing it is to be excluded; for the same reasons which oblige us, the same affections which dispose us to bestow our money, or deal our bread, will equally bind and move us to contribute our endeavour and advice, for the sustenance and comfort of our poor neighbour. Answerably our discourse will more expressly regard the principal matter, liberal communication of our goods; but it may be referred to all sorts of beneficence.
Further, the word dispersed intimateth the nature of his bounty, in exclusion of practices different from it. He disperseth, and is therefore not tenacious, doth not hoard up his goods, or keep them close to himself, for the gratifying his covetous humour, or nourishing his pride, or pampering his sensuality; but sendeth them abroad for the use and benefit of others. He disperseth his goods, and therefore doth not fling them away altogether, as if he were angry with them, or weary of them, as if he loathed or despised them; but fairly and softly with good consideration he disposeth of them here and there, as reason and need do require. He disperseth them to the poor, not dissipateth them among vain or lewd persons in wanton or wicked profusions, in riotous excesses, in idle divertisements, in expensive curiosities, in hazardous gamings, in any such courses which
SERM. swallow whole all that a man hath, or do so cripple XXXI. him, that he becomes unable to disperse any thing: our good man is to be understood wisely provident, honestly industrious, and soberly frugal, that he may have wherewith to be just first, and then liberal a.
His dispersing also (or scattering, so the *Hebrew Prov. xi.24. word here used is otherwhere rendered: There is, saith the Wise Man, that scattereth, and yet increaseth: where we may remark, that this word
singly by itself, without any adjunct matter to limit or interpret it, is used to signify this kind of practice. This his dispersing, I say, also) denotes the extent of the pious man's bounty, that it is very large and diffusive, and in a manner unrestrained; that it reacheth to many places, and is withheld from no persons within the verge of his power and opportunity to do good. This practice commonly by
Eph. iv. 28.
a like phrase (unto which perhaps this word refers) is termed sowing: He, saith St. Paul, which soweth Gal. vi. 7, sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which
2 Cor. ix.
Prov. xi.18. Soweth bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Now, Prov. xi.25. he that soweth, having chosen a good soil, and a fit season, doth not regard one particular spot, but throweth all about so much as his hand can hold, so far as the strength of his arm doth carry. It is likewise called watering ; (He that watereth, saith Solomon, shall be watered himself:) which expression also seemeth to import a plentiful and promiscuous effusion of good, dropping in showers upon dry and parched places; that is, upon persons dry for want, or parched with affliction. So the good man doth not plant his bounty in one small hole, or spout it on * Οὐ γὰρ οἷόν τε χρήματ ̓ ἔχειν, μὴ ἐπιμελούμενον, ὅπως ἔχῃ. Arist. Eth. iv. I.
one narrow spot, but with an open hand disseminates SERM. it, with an impartial regard distils it all about. He XXXI. stints it not to his own family or relations; to his neighbours, or friends, or benefactors; to those of his own sect and opinion, or of his humour and disposition; to such as serve him, or oblige him, or please him; whom some private interest ties, or some particular affection endears him to; but scatters it indifferently and unconfinedly toward all men that need it; toward mere strangers, yea, toward known enemies; toward such who never did him any good, or can ever be able to do any; yea, even toward them who have done evil to him, and may be presumed ready to do more ". Nothing in his neighbour but absence of need, nothing in himself but defect of ability, doth curb or limit his beneficence. In that 2 Cor. viii. poluμía, (that proclivity and promptitude of mind,) Ubicunque which St. Paul speaketh of, he doth good every ibi benefiwhere: wherever a man is, there is room for his cio locus wishing well, and doing good, if he can he observes Vit. B. cap. that rule of the Apostle, As we have opportunity, Gal. vi. 10. let us do good unto all men. So the pious man 13. hath dispersed. It follows,
est. Sen. de
2 Cor. ix.
He hath given to the poor. These words denote the freeness of his bounty, and determine the principal object thereof: he not only lendeth (though he also doth that upon reasonable occasion; for, A good Psal. cxii.5. man, as it is said before in this Psalm, sheweth mercy, and lendeth; and otherwhere, The righteous Ps. xxxvii. is ever merciful, and lendeth; he, I say, not only sometimes willingly lendeth) to those who in time.
b Ἐὰν ἴδῃς τινὰ κακῶς πάσχοντα, μηδὲν περιεργάζου λοιπόν· ἔχει τὸ δικαίωμα τῆς βοηθείας, τοῦ κακῶς παθεῖν αὐτόν·—τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστι, κἂν Ἕλλην, * 'lovdatos. Chrys. in Heb. Orat. 10.
SERM. may repay, or requite him; but he freely giveth to the poor, that is, to those from whom he can expect Qui diviti no retribution back. He doth not (as good and
He that giv- pious, he doth not) present the rich to do so is but
eth to the
rich shall a cleanly way of begging, or a subtile kind of trade; it is hardly courtesy; it is surely no bounty; for Prov. xxii. such persons (if they are not very sordid or very
surely come to want.
careless, and such men are not usually much troubled with presents) will, it is likely, overdo him, or at least will be even with him in kindness. In doing this, there is little virtue; for it there will be small Luke vi. 33, reward. For, If you do good to them who do good to you, (or whom you conceive able and disposed to requite you,) noía xápis, what thanks are due to you? For that, saith our Saviour, even sinners (even men notoriously bad) do the same: And if you lend to them from whom you hope to receive, what thanks have you? For sinners even lend to sinners, to receive as much again. All men commonly, the bad no less than the good, are apt to be superfluously kind in heaping favours on those whom fortune befriends, and whose condition requires not their courtesy; every one almost is ready to adopt himself into the kindred, or to screw himself into the friendship of the wealthy and prosperous: but where kindred is of use, there it is seldom found; it is commonly so deaf, as not to hear when it is called; so blind, as not to discern its proper object and natural season, Prov. xvii. (the time of adversity, for which a brother is born.)
Men disclaim alliance with the needy, and shun his
ι Οταν δ ̓ ὁ δαίμων εὖ διδῷ, τί χρὴ φίλων; ̓Αρκεῖ γὰρ αὐτὸς ὁ Θεὸς αφε éλav. Eurip. in Orest.
Τῶν εὐτυχούντων πάντες εἰσὶ συγγενεῖς.