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be : for setting aside all selfish respects, purely out of humanity and charity, and a generous compassion, we should be ready, as we have opportunity, to do good to all that stand in need of our kindness and help.
So that a disposition to do good is the best and happiest temper of mind, because it is the nearest resemblance of the divine nature, which is perfectly happy : it is a grateful acknowledgment of our obligations to God, and all that we can render to him for his benefits; it is an argument of great wisdom and consideration; it gives ease and satisfaction to our minds : and the reflection upon any good that we have done, is certainly the greatest contentment and pleasure in the world, and a felicity much beyond that of the greatest fortune of this world: whereas the spirit contrary to this, is always uneasy to itself; the envious and malicious, the hard-hearted and ill-natured man, carries his own torment and hell about him, his mind is full of tumul. tuous agitations and unquiet thoughts : but, were our nature rectified, and brought back to its primitive frame and temper, we should take no such pleasure in any thing as in acts of kindness and compassion, which are so suitable and agreeable to our nature, that they are peculiarly called humanity, as if without this temper we were not truly men, but something else disguised under a human shape.
II. To give, is an argument of a more happy state and condition, than to receive. To receive from others is an argument of indigency, and plainly shews that we are in want and necessity; either that we stand in need of something, or that we think we do ; and either of these conditions is far from perfect happiness : but to give is an argument of fulness and sufficiency, that we have more than is necessary for ourselves and something to spare.
To receive kindness from others, supposeih we stand in need of it ; and to stand in need of it, is to be in a state of being obliged and indebted. Obligation is a dear thing, and a real debt which lies heavy and uneasy upon a grateful mind : so much obligation as any man hath to another, so much he hath loit of his own liberty and freedom; for it gives him that hath obliged
us, a fuperiority and advantage over us. And what Solomon says of the borrower, that he is a servant to the lender, is in proportion true in this cale, that the receiver is a servant to the giver.
But to be able to benefit others, is a condition of freedom and superiority, and is so far from impairing our liberty, that it shews our power : and the happiness which we confer upon others, by doing them good, is not only a conteniment to ourselves, but we do in some fort enjoy the happiness we give, in being conscious to ourselves that we are the authors of it. And could we but once come to this excellent temper, to delight in the good that others enjoy, as if it were our own, (and it is our own, if we be the instruments of it, and take pleasure in it ;), I say, could we but once come to this temper, we need not envy the wealth and Splendor of the most prosperous upon earth; for upon these terms the happiness of the whole world would in some fort be ours, and we should have a fare in the pleasure and satisfaction of all that good which happens to any man any way, especially by our means.
To depend upon another, and to receive from him, and to be beholden to him, is the necessary imperfeetion of creatures : but to confer benefits upon others, is to resemble God, and to approach towards divinity. Aristotle could say, that by narrowness and feltilhneis, by envy and ill-will, men degenerate into beasts, and become wolves and tygers to one another; but by goodness and kindness, by mutual compaslion and helpful. ness, inen become gods to one another. To be a bene. ** factor, is to be as like God as it is possible for men to be; and the more any one partakes of this divine qua.lity and disposition, the liker and nearer he is to God, who is good to all, and whole tender mercies are over all his works.
The blessed angels, who behold the face of God continually, are, as it were, perfectly transformed into the image of the divine goodness; and therefore the work which with so much chearfulness and vigour they employ themselves in, is to be ministring Spirits for the good of the elect, to bring men to goodnels, and to encourage, and allift, and comfort them in well-doingL. 3
And our blessed Lord, when he was upon earth, did in nothing shew himself more like the Son of God, than in going about doing good. And the wonderful works which he did, gave testimony of his divinity, not so much as they were acts of power as of goodness, and wrought for the benefit and advantage of men. And the true advantage of greatness, and wealth, and power, does not consist in this, that it fets men above others, but that it puts them in a capacity of doing more good than others. Men are apt to call them their betters, who are higher and richer than themselves; but in a true and juít esteem of things, they only are our betters who do more good than we. From the meanest creature below us, up to God himself, they are the best and happiest and most perfect beings, who are most useful and beneficial to others, who have the most power and the strongest inclinations to do good.
III. To give, that is, to be beneficial and to do good to others, hath the happiness of a great reward. There is no grace or virtue whatsoever, which hath in scripture the encouragement of more and greater promises than this, of happiness in general; of temporal happiness in this life ; of happiness at death; and of everlasting happiness in the world to come.
1. For promises of happiness in general. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor, his righteousness endures for ever, that is, Ihall never be forgotten, shall not pass unrewarded. Prov. xiv. 21. He that giveth to the poor, happy is he. Matth. v. 7. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Luke vi. 38. Give and it shall be given unto yoll, good measure, prelled down, and maken together, and running over, shull men give into your bosom ; for with the same measure that ye mete with. al, it shall be measured to you again; that is, according to our goodness and compassion towards others, we must expect to find the charity of men, and the compassions of God towards us. Job speaks as if some eminent and peculiar blessing did attend and follow acts of charity, Job xxix. 13. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me.
2. Promises of temporal happiness in this life. Psal. xxxvii. 3. Trust in the Lord, and do good : So shalt thou
dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Prov. xxviii. 27. He that giveth to the poor, Mall not lack. Nay, God hath promised to have a particular respect to fuch as do good, in every condition, and all kinds of troubles that besal them. Psalm xli. 1. 2. 3. Blessed is he that considereth the poor : the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will srengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his ficknefs.
3. Of happiness in death. The righteous, faith Solomon, Prov. xiv. 32. hath hope in his death. By the righteous in scripture is frequently meant the merciful and good man. And so it is to be understood, as appears from the context; He that oppresseih the poor, reproacheth his maker : but he that honoureth him, hath mercy upon the poor. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness : but the righteous hath hope in his death. If God design to send calamities upon the earth, upon the place where the good man lives, which it would grieve him to see, or which he might be involved in, so as either to make his life uncomfortable, or to cut him off by a violent death ; God considers the merciful man, and removes him out of the way, into a better and safer place, Isa, lvii. 1. The merciful man is taken away from the evil to come.
4. The promises of eternal life and happiness in the world to come. Luke xiv. 13. 14. But when thou mak. est a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind : and thou shalt be blessed. For they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the jusi. And chap xvi. 9. And I say unto you, faith our Lord, Make to your selves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that is, to do good with what you have, that when je fail, they may receive you unto everlasting habitations. 1 Tim. vi. 17. 18. 19. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor truf to uncertain riches; but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy ; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, realy to destribute, willing to commu-
nicate, nicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. And the more to fix upon our minds the necessity of doing good, especially in ways of mercy and charity, our Lord represents this, as the great matter of enquiry at the great day of judgment, how they have behaved themselves in this kind, what good they have done, or omitted and neglected to do; efpecially to those who are in misery and want; and as if the sentence of eternal happiness or misery would accordingly pass upon them. And this, methinks, Tould make a mighty impression upon us, to think that when we shall appear before the great judge of the world, we are to expect mercy from him, according to the measure that we have shewed it to others.
And now if men be thoroughly convinced of the happiness of this temper, rethinks, it would be no difficult matter to persuade them to it. If we believe this faying of our Lord, that it is more blesed to give, than to receive ; let us do accordingly.
I know that to carnal and earthly-minded men, this must needs fcem a new and wrong way to happineis. For if we may juuge of mens persuasions by their practice, which seems to be a reasonable and good sure way of judging, I am afraid it will appear, that few believe this to be the way to happiness. If we mind the course of the world, and the actions of men, it is but too evi. dent that most men place their greatest felicity in receiv. ing and getting the good things of this world; almost all seek their own things, and but few the goud of others. Many fay, who will thew us; who will do us any good ? but few ask that question, What good thing Mall I do that I may inl'erit eternal life? And when our Lord tells men that they must give to the poor, if they would have treasure in heaven; that they must be charitable, if they would be happy; that it is a more blessed thing to give, than to receive, there are sad and melancholy sayings to those who have great poffeffions; and most men are ready with the young man in the gospel, to part with our Lord, and to break with him upon these terms,