A PLEA FOR Almes; Delivered in a SERMON AT THE SPITAL, Before a Solemn Assembly of the City, on Tuesday in Easter Week, April. 13. 1658.

By THOMAS WATSON Mini­ster of Stephens Walbrook Lond.



But who so hath this worlds good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him how dwelleth the love of God in him?

1 Joh. 3. 17.

London, Printed for Thomas Parkburst at the three Crowns over-against the great Conduit at the lower end of Cheap-side. 1658.

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE Sir Richard Chiverton, Lord Major; The Right Worshipful, the She­riffes, with the rest of the Alder­men of the Famous CITY of LONDON.

Right Honourable and Right Worshipful,

MY own indexterity and unfitnesse to appear thus Publickly, needs some Apology; But your ac­ceptation is my encou­ragement; and the order from your Honourable Court, Carries so much [Page] Authority with it, as to add some weight to that which dares not plead worth. I was the more inclinable to publish this Discourse, because though the theam be common, yet the practice of it is rare and unusual. Con­tentions never more hot, Charity ne­ver more cold, a signe Iniquity a­bounds. The zeale of our forefa­thers condemnes us, we with Rachel have better eyes, but they with Leah were more fruitful. We are so far (at least the generality of men) from building Churches and Almes-houses, that we are more ready to pull them down. How is TRUTH in these dayes forsaken, and CHARITY for­gotten! We may say of many they are miserable rich, their affections towards publick advancements and dis­bursements, are like the scales of the Leviathan, shut up together, as with a close seal, Job. 41. 15. Saint Ambrose saith that when we [Page] relieve not one, whom we see ready to perish with hunger, we are the cause of his death. Pasce fa­me mori­entem fi non pave­ris occi­disti. Ambr If this rule hold true, there are more guilty of the breach of the sixth Command­ment than we are aware of. When shall we see a resurrection of Chari­ty, which seemes to lye dead and bu­ried? Sure, it will not be, unless God work a miracle upon mens hearts. The good Lord by his Spirit cleave the rocks in our bosomes, that the water of repentance, and the wine of Charity may flow forth! O that Eng­land might have that encomium as once Athens, to be the Nursery of Humanity; beleeve it, Charity is the best policy; by helping others we heal our selves, Job 29. 13. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me. As the poor had Jobs almes, so he had their prayers, and he fared the better. Christs poor are Favourites of the [Page] Court of heaven, and you that give them of your gold, they can unlock heaven by the golden key of prayer, and set God a work on your behalf. The merciful man hath many intercessours, which made Hierom to say, that it is almost impossible that God should not hear the prayers of so many. [...]ene im­possibile multorum preces non exaudiri. Why should there be the least regret, or re­coyling in our hearts, why should Cha­rity stick in the birth? It would be our glory, if it might be said of us, as St. Paul speaks of those Evangelical, or rather Angelical Christians, 1 Thes. 3. 9. As touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you. O how forgetful are we of that breast of mercy which feeds us, those golden wings which cover us! Surely did we keep a [...] or register of Gods fa­vours to us, we would as Clemens A­lexandrinus Clem. A­lex. Strom. 7. saith, give Almes to te­stifie our gratitude. But I shall avoid Prolixnes; this Sermon which you did [Page] heare with seriousnesse and affection, craves now your candour, and comes un­der your Patrociny. What was once said to Aegidius of Norinberg concerning Davids words in the 118 Psal. They are verba vivenda non legenda. The same may I say concerning these few no­tions, they are not so much to be read over, as to be lived over. Your libe­rality to them that are in want, will give the best glosse upon the Text. The Lord hath set you in publick places, and that you may become publick blessings in your generation, walking in the fear of God, and shining forth in a bible-conversati­on, shall be the prayer of him who is,

Your Honours, And Worships servant, In the work of the Lord, THOMAS WATSON.


Page 2. marg. for ruine read ruinae. for [...] p. 21. r. [...], for [...] p. 32. r. [...]


PSAL. 112. 9.

He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor, his Righteousness endureth for ever.

THe Prophet David in­spired from heaven, doth in this Psalm deci­pher a good man; and he describes him two wayes.

[Page 2] 1 1. By his Sanctity; and that first in general, he is one that fears God, ver. 1. 2. In particular; he is cha­ritable minded, ver. 5. 9.

2 2. The Psalmist describes a god­ly man by his safety; non commove­bitur in saeculum, he shall not be moved for ever, ver. 6. he stands impregnable, being planted upon the Rock of Ages. Though evil times come, he is not terrified, Si fractus illabatur orbis im­pavidum ferient ruine. Hor. he shall not be afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord, ver. 8. Guilt is the breeder of fear, Isa. 33. 14. The sinners in Sion are a­fraid, trembling hath surprized the hypocrites; and a little thing will af­fright, Lev. 26. 36. The sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them. Trepi­dent in­creduli ad minimas quas (que) si­nistri ru­moris au­ras, imo ad fol [...]i volantis strepitum. Mollerus. It is not affliction without, but sin within creates fear; 'tis the wind within the bowels of the earth, makes an Earthquake; but Religion is the best antidote against these heart-killing [Page 3] feares. Fieri quidem non po­test quin expavescant nonnihil pii nam si nul­lo sensu tangantur, stu­poris esset; sed hoc vult spiritus sanctus, fideles non de spe decidere, non languefieri, sed unico Deo niti omnes (que) in illum curas, suavi, & sedato animo proijce­re. The fear of God drives out all other fear; missa tri­umphalem non tangunt fulmina laurum; the godly man insults over danger; with the Le­viathan, he laughs at the shaking of a Spear, Job 41. 29. When there is a Tempest abroad, he hath musick at home; he is setled by faith, as a Ship at An­chor, or as a weight in the Center: His heart is fixed trusting in the Lord.

I shall at this time, consider the godly man as he is described by his sanctity, specified under the notion of charity and munificence, in these words, dispersit dedit ege­nis.—He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor, his [Page 4] righteousnesse endureth for e­ver.

Mercy is a weighty matter of the Law, Mat. 23. 23. And ne­ver can it more seasonably be pres­sed than upon a day of such So­lemnity, wherein we commemo­rate the noble bounty of many worthy and famous men, whose acts of benificence and liberality are left behinde as so many monu­ments of their Piety and Re­nown to succeeding Ages.

Give me leave to open the Tearmes; [He hath dispersed.]

Metaphora ab agricolis sumpta. 'Tis a Metaphor taken from Hus­bandmen, who scatter, and dis­perse their seed in the furrowes of the field, expecting afterwards a crop: So the good man scatters the precious seed of his charity a­broad, and this seed is not lost, but afterwards springs up into a crop.

[Page 5] [He hath given to the poor.]

The Hebrew word for poor in Scripture [...] seu [...] signifies one that is empty, or drawn dry. Exhau­stus, opi­bus atte­nuatus Drusius. It is a Metaphor taken from Ponds, or Rivers that are drawn dry. So, the poor are exhausted of their strength, beauty, substance; like Ponds they are dried up, therefore they must be filled again with the silver streames of Charity;

[His righteousnesse.]

By righteousnesse (as most a­greeable to the Context.) I under­stand, the work of inherent grace in the heart, displaying and evidencing it self in works of mercy and boun­tifulnesse.

[Endureth for ever.]

[Page 6]Either first, the comfort of his Righteousnesse endureth. He hath sweet peace and satisfaction in his own minde. Or, Secondly, the Honour of it endureth. Accor­ding to the Hebrew phrase, [...] the memorial of his good­nesse stands as a Monument of Fame not to be forgotten. Or, Thirdly, the Reward of his Righ­teousnesse endureth. He reapes the fruit of his Charity for ever. So R. Kimchi. and others inter­pret it.

The words thus opened, fall into these four parts. 1. The Benefactour. He. viz. the man fearing God. 2. His bounty, he hath dispersed. 3. The object. The poor. 4. The Trophy, or Ensigne of his honour dis­played. His righteousnesse endureth for ever. Or if you will, the text consists of two things. 1. The [Page 7] godly mans benignity. He hath dispersed. 2. His Benediction. His righteousnesse endureth for e­ver.

Doct.The Observation from the words is this. Doct. That a godly man is a liberal man. The Hebrew word for godly, [...] signifies mer­ciful. The more godly, the more merciful; a good man doth not like the Snake twist within himself, his motion is direct, not circular. He is a [...] a publick dif­fusive blessing in the place where he lives, Psal. 37. 26. He is ever merciful and lendeth. As a Noble­mans servant is known by the li­very he weares: So is a servant of Christ known by this livery of mer­cifulnesse and charity.

There are two Channels in which the stream of Charity must runne.

[Page 8] Charity to

  • 1. The souls of others.
  • 2. The wants of others.

1. Charity to the soules of o­thers. This is spiritualis eleemo­syna, a spiritual almes. Indeed this is the highest kind of charity. The soul is the most precious thing, [...] &c. Macar. Tis a vessel of honour, 'tis a bud of eternity, 'tis a sparkle lighted by the breath of God, 'tis a rich diamond set in a wring of clay. The soul hath the Image of God to beautifie it, the blood of God to redeem it: it be­ing therefore of so high a descent, sprung from the Ancient of dayes, of so noble an extract, that Cha­rity which is shewen to the soul must needs be the great­est.

This is Charity to souls, when we see others▪ in their blood, and we pity them; if I weep (saith Austin) [Page 9] for that body from which the soul is departed, how should I weep for that soul from which God is depar­ted. This is Charity to souls when we see men in the gall of bitternesse, and we labour by councel, admoniti­on, reproof, to pull them out of their natural estate as the Angel did Lot out of Sodome; Gen. 19. 6.Gen. 19. 6. God made a Law, Exod. 23. 5. that whosoever did see his enemies asse bying under a burden, he should help him; on which words saith Chryso­stome, we will help a Beast that is fallen under a burden, and shall we not extend relief to those who are fallen under a worse burden of sin? To let others go on in sinne secure­ly, is not Charity but Cruelty. If a mans house were on fire, and another should see it, and not tell him of it for fear of waking him, were not this cruelty? did he not deserve to be indighted? when we [Page 10] see the souls of others sleeping the sleep of death, and the fire of Gods wrath ready to burne about their ears, and we are silent, is not this to be accessory to their death?

When there is a toleration given, That if men will to hell, none shall stop them, is this Charity to souls?

Memi­nerit princeps non so­lum quan­tum sibi commissum, sed quatenus permis­sum sit. Cicero. Oh I beseech you, if you have a­ny bowels, strengthen the weak, reduce the wandring, raise up them that are fallen, James 5. 20. He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death.

2. Charity to the wants of o­thers; This the text properly in­tends, and it stands in three things.

  • 1. A judicious consideration.
  • 2. A tender commiseration.
  • 3. A liberal contribution.

1 1. A judicious consideration. [Page 11] Psal. 41. 1. Blessed is he that con­sidereth the poor. And you must consider four things,

1 1. It might have been your own case. You might have stood in need of anothers Charity, and then how welcome and refreshing would those streames have been to you?

2 2. Consider how sad a condition poverty is. Though Chrysostome calls poverty the high-way to heaven, yet he that keeps this road will go weeping thither. [...]. Consider the poor. Behold their tears, their sighes, their dying groans. Look upon the deep fur­rowes made in their faces, and con­sider if there be not reason why you should scatter your seed in these fur­rowes? Pro pallio vestem laceram, pro pulvinari lapidem. The poor man feeds upon sorrow, he drinks tears, Psal. 80. 5. Like Jacob [Page 12] in a windy night he hath the clouds for his Canopy, and a stone for his Pillow.

Nay further, consider that oftentimes poverty becomes not only a crosse, but a snare; it ex­poseth to much evil. [...]. Which made Agur pray, Give me not poverty, Prov. 3. 8. Want puts men upon indirect Courses. The poor will venture their soules for money; which is like throwing Diamonds at Payre-Trees. If the Rich would wisely consider this, they might be a means of prevent­ing much sin.

3 3. Consider why the Wise God hath suffered an inequality in the world: it is for this very reason, because he would have Charity ex­ercised. If all were Rich, there were no need of Almes; nor could the merciful man have been so well known. If he that travailed to Ie­richo [Page 13] had not been wounded and left half dead, the good Samaritane who poured wine and oile into his wounds had not been known.

Hectora quis nosset felix si Troja — fuisset.

4 4. Consider how quickly the ballance of providence may turne; we our selves may be brought to poverty, and then it will be no small comfort to us that we relieved others while we were in a capacity to do it, Eccles. 11. 2. Give a portion to seven and also to eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. We cannot promise our selves alwayes Halcyon dayes. God knowes how soon any of us may change our pasture. The Cup which now runnes over with wine, may be filled with the waters of Marah, Ruth 1. 21. I went out full, [Page 14] and the Lord hath brought me home a­gain empty. How many have we seen like Bajazet, and Bellizarius, invested with great Lordships and Possessions, who have on a sudden brought their Mannor to a Mor­sel;

Irus erit subito, qui modo Croesus erat.

So that, 'tis wisdome (in this sense) to consider the poor; remem­ber how soon the scene may alter, we may be put in the poors dresse, and if adversity come it will rejoyce us to think, that while we had an estate, we did lay it out upon Christs indigent members.

This is the first thing in Chari­ty, a judicious consideration.

2 2. A tender Commiseration. Isa. 58. 10. If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry; bounty begins in [Page 15] pity. Quis ig­noret ex ea appella­tione esse misere­cordiam quod mi­serum cor faciat con­dolentis a­lieno ma­lo. Aug. Tom. 1. lib. 1. The Hebrew word for mercy, [...] signifies bowels; Christ first had compassion on the multitude, then he wrought a mi­racle to feed them, Mat. 15. 32. Charity which wants compassion is bruitish. The bruit Creatures can releeve us many wayes, but cannot pity us. 'Tis a kind of Cruelty (saith Quintilian) to feed one in want, and not to sympathize with him. True Religion begets ten­dernesse; [...] Greg. Nazianz. as it melts the heart in tears of contrition towards God, so in bowels of compassion towards others. Isa. 11. 16. My bowels shall sound as an harp. Let me allude, when your bowels of pity sound, then your Almes make sweet Musick in the eares of God.

3 3. Charity consists in a liberal Contribution. Deut. 15. 8. If there be a poor man within thy gates [Page 16] thou shalt open thy hand wide unto him. The Hebrew word in the Text, [...] to disperse, signifies a largenesse of bounty; Non ha­bet hic lo­cum sor­dida tena­citas. Musculus. it must be like water that overflowes the banks. Non tenuitur erogandum pauxillum aliquid. If God hath enrich'd you with estates, and made his Candle (as Job saith) to shine upon your Tabernacle, you must not incircle and engrosse all to your selves, but be as the Moon which having received its light from the Sun, lets it shine to the world. The Antients (as Bazil and Lo­rinus observe Oleum charitatis symbo­lum.) made oyle to be the Embleme of Charity. The golden oyle of your mercy must like Aarons oyle runne down upon the poor which are the lower skirts of the garment.

This liberal disbursement to the necessities of others,

Reas. 1 1. God commands. There is an expresse Statute-Law, Levit. 25. 35. If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt releeve him. The He­brew word is [...] Thou shalt strengthen him, put under him a a silver crutch when he is fal­ling.

'Tis worth our observation, what great care God took of the poor, besides what was given pri­vately, God made many Lawes for the publick and visible relief of the poor, Exod. 23. 11. The sea­venth year thou shall let the land rest and lye still, that the poor of thy peo­ple may eat, &c. Gods intention in this Law was that the poor should [Page 18] be liberally provided for. Ordi­nabatur ad commo­dum pau­perum. Cornel. a lap. They might freely eat of any thing which did grow of it self this seaventh year; whether of herbs, vines, or Olive-trees. If it be asked how the poor could live onely on these fruits, there being (as it is proba­ble) no Corne growing then? For answer, Cajetan is of opinion they lived by selling these fruits, and so converting them into money, lived upon the price of the fruits.

Lev. 19. 9There is another Law made, Leviticus 19. 9. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the cor­ners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. See how God indulged the poor; some Corners of the field were for the poors sake to be left uncut, and when the owners did reap, they must not go too near the earth with their sickle, the vulgar latine reads [Page 19] it, non tondebis us (que) ad solum. Thou shalt not shear to the very ground. Something like an af­ter-crop must be left. The shorter eares of Corne, and such as did lie bending to the ground were to be reserved for the poor, saith Tostatus.

And God made another Law in favour of the poor, Deut. 14. 28, 29. At the end of three yeares thou shalt bring forth the Tythe of thy encrease the same year, and thou shalt lay it up in thy gates, and the Levite, and the fatherlesse, and the Widow which are within thy gates shall come, and shall eat, and be satisfied. The Hebrewes write that every third year, besides the first tyth given to Levi, which wasNum. 18. 21. call'd the perpetual tyth, Numbers 18. 21. the Jewes did set apart ano­ther tyth of their encrease, for the use of the Widdows and Orphans, [Page 20] and that was call'd the tyth of the poor. Sol. Jarchi. Besides at the Jewes Solemn Festivals, the poor were to have a share, Deut. 16. 11.

And as relieving the necessitous, was commanded under the Law, so it stands in force under the Gospel, 1 Tim. 16. 17, 8. Charge them that be rich in this world, that they [...] do good, that they be rich in good works, &c. 'Tis not onely a counsel but a charge; and the non-attendency to it runnes men into a Gospel-premunire. Thus we have seen the minde of God in this particular of Charity. Let all good Christians comment upon it in their practise. What benefit is there of gold while it is imbowell'd, and lock'd up in the Mine? And what is it the better to have a great estate, if it be so hoarded and cloister'd up, as never [Page 21] to see the light?

Reas. 2 2. As God commands, so grace compels to works of mercy and be­nificence, 2 Cor. 14. The love of Christ constrains. Grace comes with Majesty upon the heart. 'Tis not in sermone but virtute. Grace doth not lie as a sleepy habit in the soul, but will put forth it selfe in vigorous and glorious actings; grace can no more be conceal'd than fire. Like new wine it will have vent, Si ope­rari renuit gratia non est. grace doth not lie in the heart as a stone in the earth, but as seed in the earth, it will spring up into good works.

Use 1 Inform. Use 1. Inform. It may serve to justifie the Church of England against the calumny of malevolent men. Julian upbraided the Chri­stians, that they were Solifidians; and the Church of Rome layes upon us this aspersion that we are against good workes. Indeed we plead [Page 22] not for the merit of them, Asserunt ponticifij, bona opera [...] esse peccati, mortis terro­res vincere, ne (que) mise­recordia Dei, & pro­pitiatore Christo egere quas in operibus opi­niones, ut impias dam­namus. Melancthon. De Justif. Debitorem ip­se se Dominus secit non accipiendo sed pro­mittendo. Austin in Psal. 83. but we are for the use of them, Titus 3. 14. Let ours also learne to maintain good works for necessary uses. We preach they are needful, both necessita­te precepti, and medij. We read the Angels had wings and hands under their wings, Ezek. 1. 8. It may be an hieroglyphical embleme of this truth; Christians must not onely have the wings of faith to flie, but hands under their wings to work the works of mercy. This is a faith­ful saying, and these things I will that you maintain constantly, that they which have beleeved in God might be careful to maintain good workes. Titus 1. 8. The Lampe of faith [Page 23] must be filled with the oile of Charity. Faith alone justifies, but justifying faith is not alone. Fides sola justi­ficat, sed fides justi­ficans non est sola. You may as well separate weight from lead, or heat from fire, as works from faith. Good workes though they are not the causes of salvation, yet they are evidences. Bona o­pera sunt via ad reg­num non causa reg­nandi. Bern. Though they are not the foundati­on, yet they are the superstructure. Faith must not be built upon works, but works must be built upon faith. Rom. 7. 4. Ye are married to another that ye should bring forth fruit unto God. Faith is the Spouse which marries Christ, and good works are the children which faith bears. For the vindi­cation of the Doctrine of our Church, and in the honour of good works, I shall lay down these four Aphorismes.

Aphor. 1 1. Works are distinct from faith. 'Tis vaine to imagine that [Page 24] works are included in faith, as the Diamond is enclosed in the Ring; No, they are distinct, as the sap in the Vine is different from the clusters that grow upon it.

Aphor. 2 2. Works are the touch-stoneof faith. Shew me thy faith by thy works, Jam. 2. 18. Sicut seres habet ad es [...]e ita ad operari. Aquinas. Works are faiths letters of credence to shew. If (saith Saint Bernard) thou seest a man in operibus strenuum, full of good works, then by the Rule of Charity thou art not to doubt of his faith. We judge of the health of the body by the pulse, where the blood stirres and operates: O Christian, judge of the health of thy faith by the pulse of Charity; it is with faith as with a Deed in Law. To make a Deed in Law valid, there are three things requisite. The Writing, the Seal, the Witnesses; So for the Tryal and Confirmation of faith, [Page 25] there must be these three things; The Writing, viz. the Word of God, the Seal, the Spirit of God, the Witnesses, good workes. Bring your faith to this Scripture­touch-stone. Faith doth justifie works; Workes do testifie faith. Opera justifica­torum gratiae Dei effectus sunt, & movente & adju­vante Spi­ritu sancto fiunt. Synod. Mo­guntin. cap. 8.

Aphor. 3 3. Workes do honour faith; as the fruit adornes the Tree. Let the liberality of thy hand (saith Clemens Alexandrinus) be the Ornament of thy faith, and wear it as an holy bracelet about thy wrists. Job. 29. 15 I was eyes to the blinde, and feet was I to the lame, I put on righteousness and it cloathed me, my judgment was as a Robe and a Diadem. While Job was pleading the cause of the poor, this was the ensigne of his honour it cloathed him as a Robe, and crowned him as a Diadem.

[Page 26]This is that takes off the o­dium, and obloquy from Religi­on, and makes others speak well of holinesse, when they see good works, as hand-maids waiting up­on this Queen.

Aphor. 4 4. Good workes are in some sense, more excellent than Faith. In two respects.

1. Because they are of a more noble diffusive nature. Though faith be more needful for our selves, yet works are more be­neficial to others. Fidei est accipere Charitatis distribue­re. Austin. Faith is a receptive grace, it is all for self­interest, it moves within its own sphere; workes are for the good of others. And it is a more blessed thing to give, than to re­ceive.

2. Good works are more visible and conspicuous than faith. Faith is a more occult grace. It may lie hid in the heart and not be seen, [Page 27] but when works are joyned with it, now it shines forth in its na­tive beautie; Though a garden be never so deck'd with flowers, yet they are not seen till the light come: So the heart of a Christian may be enrich'd with Faith, but it is like a flower in the night, it is not seen till works come; when this light shines be­fore men, then faith appears in its orient Colours.

Use. 2 Reproof.Vse 2. Reproofe. If this be the effigies of a good man, he is of a charitable disposition, then it doth sharply reprove those that are far from this temper, who are all for gathering, but nothing for dis­peirsing. Mancipa­ti pecuniis. Sen. They move onely within the Circle of their own in­terest; but do not indulge the ne­cessities of others. They have a flourishing estate, but like him in the Gospel, they have a withered [Page 28] hand and cannot stretch it out to good uses. They have all quoad [...] not quoad [...]. These are like the churl Nabal, 1 Sam. 25. 11. shall I take my bread and my water and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be. 'Twas said of the Emperour Pertinax, he had August­um impe­rium, an­gustum a­nimum. a large Empire, but a narrow scanty heart.

There was a Temple at Athens, which was called the Temple of mercy, it was dedicated to chari­table uses, and it was the greatest reproach to upbraid one with this, that he had never been in the Tem­ple of mercy; 'Tis the greatest disgrace to a Christian to be unmer­cifull; covetous men while they enrich themselves, they debase themselves, setting up a Mono­poly, and committing Idolatry with Mammon; Thus making themselves lower than their [Page 29] Angels, as God made them lower than his Angels. In the time of Pestilence it is sad to have your houses shut up, but it is worse to have your hearts shut up; Cove­tous persons are like the Leviathan, Job. 41. 24. Their hearts are firm as a stone. You may as well extract oyle out of a flint, as the golden Oyle of Charity out of their flinty hearts. The Philisopher saith, that the coldnesse of the heart is a presage of death. Corde in­fi igidato moritur a­nimal. when mens affections to works of mercy are frozen, This coldnesse at heart is ominous, and doth sadly portend that they are dead in sinne. We read in the Law that the Shelfish was accounted unclean. This might probably be one reason, because the meat of it was enclosed in the shell, and it was hard to come by: They are to be reckoned a­mong the unclean, who enclose [Page 30] all their estate within the shell of their own Cabinet, and will not let others be the better for it. How many have lost their souls by being so saving.

There are some who perhaps will give the poore good words, and that is all. [...]. Ignat. Jam. 2. 15. If a brother, or sister be naked and de­stitute of food, and one of you say to them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needfull, what doth it profit? Good words are but a cold kind of Charity; Veritas fundatur in aliquo esse. the poore cannot live as the Camelion upon this aire. Let your words be as smooth as oyle, they will not heale the woun­ded, let them drop as the hony­comb, they will not feed the hungry, 1 Cor 13. 1. Though I speak with the tongue of Angels and have not charity, I am but as a Tinck­ling [Page 31] Symball. 'Tis better to be charitable as a Saint, than eloquent as an Angel. Such as are cruel to the poor, let me tell you, you unchristian your selves. Unmer­cifulnesse is the sinne of the Hea­then, Rom. 1. 31. while you put off the bowels of charitie, you put off the badge of Christianitie. St. James speaks a sad word, Jam. 2. 13. for he shall have judge­ment without mercy, that shewed no mercy. Dives denied Lazarus a crumb of bread, and Dives was denied a drop of water; at the last day, behold the sinners indight­ment, Mat. 25. 42. I was an hun­gred and ye gave me no meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink. Christ doth not say ye took away my meat, but ye gave me none, ye did not feed my members, Then followes the sentence, ite maledi­cti, Depart from me ye cursed: [Page 32] When Christs poor come to your doores, and you bid them depart from you, the time may come when you shall knock at heaven Gate, and Christ will say, go from my doore, depart from me ye cur­sed.

In short, Covetousnesse is a fool­ish sinne, God gave the Rich man in the Gospel that appellation, [...]. Thou fool, Luke 12. 20. The Covetous man doth not enjoy what he doth possesse; He imbit­ters his own life, he discruciates himself with care, either how to get or how to encrease, or how to secure an estate; and what is the issue and result? often as a just re­ward of sordid penuriousnesse God doth blast and wither him in his [...], &c. outward estate. That saying of Gregory Nazianzene is to be seri­ously weighed, God many times lets the thief take away, and the Moth [Page 33] consume that which is injuriously and uncharitably with-held from the poore.

Before I leave this use, I am sor­ry that any who go for honest men, should be brought into the indight­ment; I mean that any Professors, should be impeached as guilty of this sinne of covetousnesse and un­mercifulnesse; Sure I am Gods E­lect put on bowels, Coloss. 3. 12. I tell you these devout Misers are the reproach of Christianity, they are wens and spots in the face of Re­ligion. Truly, I know not well what to make of them, I remem­ber Aelian in his History reports that in India there is a Griffin ha­ving foure feet and wings, his bill like the Eagles, 'Tis hard whether to rank him among the beasts, or the fowle. So I may say of Penurious Votaries, they have the wings of pro­fession by which they seem to fly to [Page 34] heaven, but the feet of beasts, wal­king on the earth, and even lick­ing the dust, 'Tis hard where to rank these, whether among the godly, or the wicked. Oh take heed, that seeing your Religion will not destroy your Covetous­nesse, at last your Covetousnesse doth not destroy your Religion. The Fabulist tells us a story of the Hedg-hog, that came to the Co­ny-burroughs in stormy weather, and desired harbour, promising that he would be a quiet ghuest, but when once he had gotten en­tertainment, he set up his prickles, and did never leave till he had thrust the poore conies out of their burroughs: So covetous­nesse, though it hath many faire pleas to insinuate and wind it self into the heart, yet assoon as you have let it in, this thorne will never leave pricking till it hath [Page 35] choaked all good beginnings, and thrust all Religion out of your hearts.

Use 3 Exhort.Use 3. I proceed next to the exhortation, to beseech you all who heare me this day, to put on bowels of mercies; be ready to indulge the miseries and necessities of others; St. Ambrose calls cha­ritie the summe of Christianity, and the Apostle makes it the verie de­finition of Religion, Jam. 1. ult. Pure Religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherlesse and the widows in their affliction. The poor are tanquam in sepulchro, as it were in the grave, the comfort of their life is buried, O help with your merciful hands, to raise them out of the Sepulchre. God sendeth his springs into the val­lies, Psal. 104. 10. let the springs of your charitie run among the vallies of poverty. Your sweet­est, [Page 36] and most benigne influences should fall upon the lower grounds; what is all your seeming devotion without bountie and mercifulnesse? I have known many (saith Basil) praie and fast, but relieve not such as are in distresse; they are for a zeale that puts them to no char­ges; [...] Basil. what are they the better (saith he) for all their seeming vertue? We read the incense was to be laid upon the fire. Lev. 16. 13. The flame of devotion must be perfum'd with the incense of Charitie. Aaron was to have a bell and a Pomgranate. The Pom­granate (as some of the learned observe) was a Symbol of good works. They want the Pomgra­nate (saith Gregory Nazianzene) who have no good works. The wise men did not onlie bow the knee to Christ, but present him with gold mirrh and Frankin­cense [Page 37] Mat. 2. 11. Pretences of zeal are insufficient; we must not onely worship Christ, but bestow some­thing upon his members, this is to present Christ with gold and frankincense. Isaac would not blesse Jacob by the voice, but he feels and handles him, and sup­posing them to be Esaus hands, he blessed him. God will not blesse you by your voice, your loud praiers, your devout discourses, but if he feel Esaus hands, if your hands have wrought good works, then he will blesse you.Si de [...]it charitas frustra ha­bentur cae­tera. Aug.

Let me exhort you therefore to deeds of mercie, let your fingers drop with the mirrh of liberality. Sow your golden seed; in this sense it is lawful to put out your monie to use, when you lay it out for good u­ses. Remember that excellent saying of St. Austin, give those [Page 38] things to the poor which you cannot keep, that you may receive those things which you cannot lose. Da quod non potes retinere, ut recipias quod non potes a­mittere.

There are many occasions of exercising your pious charitie. Pauper ubique jacet—heare the Or­phans cry, pity the Widows tears. Some there are who want employ­ment, it would do well to set their wheele a going; others who are past employment be as eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame: Some whole families are sinking, if your merciful hands do not help to shore them up.

I cannot be unmindful of the Universities, which are ecclesiae plantaria, (as Chemnitius calls them,) the nurceries of the Church. They may be compared to that Persian Tree Theophrastus speaks of, which doth bud, blossome, and [Page 39] beare ripe fruit at the same time; Oh let these plants be watered with your silver drops, cast not salt, but gold, into these springs, that from thence may flow forth many Celestial streames, both of learning and piety, to refresh THIS CITY of our God.

Before I come to presse you with arguments to liberalitie and munificence, there are three ob­jections lie in the way, which I shall endeavour to remove.

Object 1 1 We may give, and so in time our selves come to want?

Answ. Answ. Let Basil. answer this. Wells (saith he) which have their water drawn, spring ever more freely. [...] Basil. Prov. 11. 25. the Liberal soul shall be made fat. Luther speaks of a Monastery in Austria which was very rich while it gave annually to the poore, [Page 40] but when it left off giving, the Monastery began to decay. There is nothing lost by doing our du­tie; an estate may be imparted, yet not impaired. The flowers yield honie to the Bee, yet hurt not their own fruit. When the candle of prosperitie shines upon us, we may light our neighbour that is in the darke, and have never the lesse light our selves; whatever is disbursed to pious u­ses, God doth bring it in some other way; as the loaves in break­ing multiplied, or as the widows oile encreased by pouring out, 1 Kings 17. 16.1 King. 17. 16.

Object. 2 2. Objection. I cannot do so much as others? erect Churches, build Hospitalls, augment Libra­ries, maintain Scholars at the Universitie?

Answ. Answ. If you cannot do so much, yet do something. Let there be [Page 41] quantitas virtutis, though there be not quantitas molis. The Widows two mites cast into the treasury, were accepted, Non. [...] sed [...]. He­insius. Luke 21. God (as Chrysostom observes) look'd not at the smallnesse of her guift, but the largenesse of her heart: in the Law he that could not bring a Lamb for an offering, if he brought but two Turtle Doves it sufficed. We read Exod. 35. The people brought gold and silver and Gaots haire to the building of the Tabernacle. On which place (saith Origen.) I desire Lord, to bring something to the building of thy Temple, if not Gold to make the mercy­seat on; if not silk to make the Curtaines on, yet a little Goats haire, that I may not be found in the number of those that have brought nothing to thy Tem­ple.

[Page 42] Object. 3 3. Objection. But I have not any thing to bestow upon the necessities of others.

Answ. 1 Answ. 1. Hast thou to be­stow upon thy lusts? hast thou money to feed thy pride, thy Epicurisme, and hast thou nothing to releeve the poor members of Christ?

2. Answ. Admit this excuse to be real, that you have not such an estate, yet you may do something wherein you may ex­presse your mercy to the poor; you may Sympathize with them, pray for them, speak a word of comfort to them, Isa. 40. 2. speak ye comfortably to Hierusalem. If you can give them no gold, you may speak a word in season which may be as apples of gold in pictures of silver; nay more, you may be helpful to the poore, by stirring up others who have estates [Page 43] to relieve them; as it is with the winde, if a man be hungry, the winde will not fill him, but it can blow the failes of the Mill, and make it grinde Corne for the use of man: So though thou hast not an estate thy self, to help him who is in want, yet thou mayest stirre up others to help him; thou mayest blow the sails of their affections, causing them to shew mercy, and so mayest help thy brother by a proxy.

Having answered these Obje­ctions, let me pursue the Exhor­tation to mercy and liberality. I shall lay down several Argu­ments, which I desire you to weigh in the ballance of Reason, and Conscience.

Arg. 1 Argument 1. To be diffusive­ly good, is the great end of our Creation, Ephes. 2. 10. Created in Christ Jesus to good workes. [Page 44] Every Creature answers the end of its Creation. The Star shines, the Bird sings, the Plant beares, the end of life is service. [...] Ignatius. He that doth not answer his end in respect of usefulnesse, cannot en­joy his end in respect of happi­nesse. Many saith Seneca have been long in the world, but have not lived, they have done no good. Telluris inutile pondus.—An unuseful person serves for no­thing but to cumber the ground, and because he is barren of figs, he shall be fruitful in Cur­ses. Heb. 6. 8.

Argu. 2 Argument 2. By this we re­semble God, who is a God of mercy. [...]. Ma­car. He is said to delight in mercy, Micah 7. 18. His mer­cies are over all his works, Psal. 145. 9. He requites good for e­vil. Like the clouds, which re­ceive ill vapours from us, but [Page 45] returne them to us again in sweet showres. There is not a creature lives, but tasts of the mercies of God; every Bird saith Ambrose doth in its kind sing hymnes of praise to God for his bounty; but men and Angels in a more peculiar manner taste the cream and quintessence of Gods mer­cies.

1 1. What temporal mercies have you received? Every time you draw your breath, you suck in mercy; every bit of bread you eat the hand of mercy carves it to you; you never drink but in a golden Cup of mercy.

2 2. What spiritual mercies hath God invested some of you with? Pardoning, Adopting, Saving mercy. The Picture of Gods mercy can never be drawen to the full; you cannot take the breadth of his mercy, for it is [Page 46] infinite, nor the height of it, for it reacheth above the clouds, nor the length of it, for it is from everlasting to everlasting, Psalme 103. 17. The works of mer­cy are the glory of the God­head. Moses prayes, Lord shew me thy glory, Exod. 33. 18. saith God, I will make all my goodnesse to passe before thee, Ver. 19. God doth account himself most glorious in the shining robes of his mercy. Now by workes of mercy, we resemble the God of mercy. We are bid to draw our lines according to this Copy. Luke 6. 36. Be you merciful, [...], as your Father also is merci­ful.

Argu. 3 3. Argument. Almes are a sa­crifice, Heb. 13. 16. Todo good, and to communicate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well [Page 47] pleased. [...] When you are distributing to the poor, 'tis as if you were praying, as if you were worshipping God. There are two sorts of sacrifices, expia­tory, the sacrifice of Christs blood, and gratulatory, the sacrifice of Almes. This saith holy Green­ham, is more acceptable to God than any other sacrifice, Acts 10. 4. The Angel said to Cornelius, thy Almes are come up for a me­morial before God. The backs of the poor are the Altar on which this sacrifice is to be offered up.

Arg. 4 Argument 4. We our selves live upon Almes. Other Crea­tures do liberally contribute to our necessities. The Sun hath not its light for it self, but for us. It doth enrich us with its golden beames, the earth brings us a fruitful crop, and to shew [Page 48] how joyful a mother she is in bringing forth, the Psalmist saith, the Valleyes are covered with Corne, they shout for joy, they al­so sing, Psalme 65. 13. One creature gives us wooll, another oyle, another silk. We are fain to go a begging to the Cre­ation. Shall every Creature be for the good of man, and man onely be for himself.

Arg. 5 Argument 5. We are to ex­tend our liberality by vertue of a membership. Isaiah 58. 7. That thou hide not thy self from thy own flesh. The poor are ex eodem lu­to, Pars est propter totum. they are fellow-members of the same body. The members do by a Law of equity and sym­pathy contribute one to another; the eye conveyes light to the bo­dy, the heart blood, the head spirits. That is a dead member in the body which doth not [Page 49] communicate to the rest. Thus it is also in the body politick; let no man think it is too far below him to minde the wants and necessities of others; it is pity but that hand should be cut off, which disdaines to pluck a thorne out of the foot. It is spo­ken in the honour of that Re­nowned Princesse, the Emperesse of Theodosius the great, that she did her self visit the sick, and prepare relief for them with her own imperial hands.

Arg. 6 Argument 6. We are not Lords of an estate, but Stewards; and how soon may we hear that word, redde rationem, Give an ac­count of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer Steward, Luk. 16. 2. An estate is a talent to trade with, 'tis as dangerous to hide our talent, Defossoauro incu­bare dici­tur qui pe­cuniam inu [...]ilem detinet. Grotius. as to spend it, Mat. 25. 25, 30. If the cove­tous [Page 50] man keeps his gold too long, it will begin to rust, and the rust of it will witnesse against him.Jam. 5. 3.

Arg. 7 Argument 7. The examples of others who have been famous, and renown'd for acts of Cha­rity.

1 1. Our Lord Christ, a great example of Charity. He was not more full of merit than boun­ty. Trajan the Emperour did rend off a piece of his own robe to wrap his souldiers wounds. Christ did more, he made a me­dicine of his body and blood to heale us, Isaiah 53. 5. By his stripes ye are healed. Here was a pattern of Charity without a parallel. [...] Greg. Nys­sen.

2 2. The Jewes are noted in this kind. 'Tis a rabbinical observa­tion, that those who live devout­ly among the Jewes, distribute a tenth part of their estate among [Page 51] the poor; and they give so freely (saith Philo the Jew) as if by giving, they hoped to receive some great gratuity; now if the Jewes are so devoted to workes of mercy, who live without Priest, without Temple, without Messiah; shall not we much more who professe our faith in the bles­sed Messiah?

3 3. Let me tell you of Hea­thens; I have read of Titus Ves­pasian, he was so inured to works of mercy, that remembring he had given nothing that day, cried out diem perdidi, I have lost a day. 'Tis reported of some of the Turkes that they have servants whom they employ on purpose to enquire what poor they have, and they send relief to them; and the Turkes have a saying, in their Al­coran, that if men knew what a blessed thing it were to distribute [Page 52] Almes, rather than spare, they would give some of their own flesh to relieve the poor; and shall not a Christians Creed be better than a Turkes Alco­ran.

But (Right Honourable and Beloved,) we are not left this day without witnesse. I desire to speak it to the glory of God, and the Renown of this City, there hath been both in the dayes of our worthy Progenitors, and is still to this day among many of you, a spirit of sympathy and compassion.

Regia crede mihi res est succurrere lapsis.

When poor indigent creatures have been as Moses, laid in the Ark of bulrushes ready to sink in the waters of affliction, you [Page 53] have been temporal saviours to them, and have drawn them out of the waters with a golden cord. When they have been ready to make their own grave, vou have built them Hospitals. The milk of your Charity hath nursed them up, and while they have sate under your vines, they have eat the sweet grape; we reade that they shewed Peter the gar­ments and coates which Dorcas made, Acts 9. 39. And may we not this day behold the COATS which have been made to cloath the indigent. Go on still to do worthily in Ephrata, and by these your acts of munificence to blazen your Coat of Armes, and eternize your fame.

Argu. 8 I shall use but one Argument more to perswade to Charity, and that is, the reward which followes Almes-deeds. Giving [Page 54] of Almes is a glorious work, and let me tell you, 'tis no unfruitful work. [...]. Theodoret. They that sow mercy, shall reap mercy. Whatsoever is disbursed to the poor, is given to Christ. Mat. 25. 40. Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. The poor mans hand is Christs Treasury, and there is nothing lost which is put there. Manus pauperis est Christi gazophy­lacium. Chrysolo­gus.

1 There is a reward. 1. In this life. The Charitable man is crown'd with a blessing. He is blessed.

1. In his person, Psal. 41. 1. Blessed is he that considers the poor. God casts a favourable aspect up­on him.

2. Blessed in his name. So it is in the Text, his horn shall be exalted with honour; and Psalme 112. 6. He shall be had in ever­lasting [Page 55] lasting remembrance, his name shall be gloriously enbalm'd.

3. Blessed in his estate. Omni rerum copia affluet, Prov. 11. 25. The liberal soul shall be made fat. He shall not onely have the ve­nison, but the blessing.

4. Blessed in his posterity, Psal. 37. 26. He is ever merciful and lendeth, his seed is blessed. He shall not onely leave an estate be­hinde, but a blessing behinde to his children; and God will see that the Entail shall not be cut off.

5. Blessed in his negotiations, Deut. 15. 10. For this thing the Lord thy God shall blesse thee in all thy works, and in all that thou put­test thine hand unto. The Chari­table man shall be blessed in his building, planting, journying; whatever he is about, a blessing shall empty it selfe upon him. [Page 56] Quicquid calcaverit rosa fiet.—He shall be a prosperous man. The honey-combe of a bles­sing shall be still dropping upon him.

6. Blessed with long life, Psal. 41. 2. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive. Restituet eum Deus, qui antea morti vi­cinu▪ & longiore vita dona­bit. Moller. He hath help'd to keep others alive, and God will keep him alive; Is there any thing then lost by Cha­rity? It spinnes out the silver thread of life. Many are taken away the sooner for their unmer­cifulnesse; because their hearts are streightned, their lives are short­ned.

2 2. The great reward is in the life to come. Aristotle joynes these two together, [...] andAristot. Rhet. [...], liberality and utility. God will reward the merciful man, though not for his workes, yet according to his works, Revel. 20. [Page 57] 12. I saw the dead, small and great stand before God, and the bookes were opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books ac­cording to their workes. As God hath a bottle to put your teares in, so he hath a book to write your Almes in. As God will put a vail over his peoples sinnes, so he will set a Crown upon their workes. The way to lay up, is to lay out. Other parts of your estate you leave behinde, Eccles. 2. 18, 19. but that which is given▪ to Christs poor is hoarded up in heaven! That is a blessed kinde of giving, which though it makes the purse lighter, it makes the Crown heavier.

Whatever Almes you distri­bute, 1. You shall have good security, Prov. 19. 17. He that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord, and Eccles. 11. 1. that which he hath given will he [Page 58] pay him again. Luk. 6. 38 There is Gods counter-band to save you harm­lesse, which is better security than any publick faith; yet here is our Unbelief and Atheisme, we will not take Gods Bond; we commonly put our deeds of mercy among our desperate debts.

2 2. You shall be paid with o­ver-plus. For a wedge of gold, which you have parted with, you shall have a weight of glory. For a Cup of cold water, you shall have Rivers of pleasure, which runne at Gods right hand for evermore. The Interest comes to infinitely more than the Principal. Pliny writes of a Countrey in Affrica, where the people for every bushel of seed they sow, receive an hun­dred and fifty fold encrease. For every penny you drop into Christs Treasury, you shall receive above a thousand fold encrease. Your [Page 59] after-crop of glory will be so great, that though you are still reaping, you will never be able to inne the whole harvest. Let this perswade rich men to honour the Lord with their substance.

Before I conclude, let me lay down some rules briefly concern­ing your Charity, that it may be the sacrifice of a sweet-smelling sa­vour to God.

Rule 1 1. Your Charity must be free. Deut. 15. 10. Thou shalt give, and thy heart shall not be grieved, &c. that is, thou shalt not be troubled at parting with thy mo­ney; he that gives grievingly, gives grudgingly. Charity must flow like spring water. Non quaeritur quantum sed quo animo de­tur. Ambr. The heart must be the spring, the hand the pipe, the poor the cistern. God loves a chearful giver; be not like the Crab, which hath all the ver­juyce squeez'd and pressed out. You must not give to the poor, as if [Page 60] you were delivering your purse on the high-way. Charity without Alacrity, is rather a fine, than an offering; 'tis rather doing of pennance, than giving of Almes. Charity must be like the myrrhe which drops from the Tree with­out cutting, or forcing. Benefici­um est magis affectu quam effectu. Seneca.

Rule. 2 2. We must give that which is our own; Isaiah 58. 7. To deal thy bread to the hungry. It must be de tuo pane. The word for almes in the Syriack, signifies justice; to shew that Almes must be of that which is justly gotten. The Scripture puts them toge­ther, Micah 6. 8. To do justice, to love mercy, we must not make ex rapina holocaustum, a sacrifice of sacriledge. Qui ma­le parta dispergit, injustitia ejus manet in saeculum. Musculus. Isaiah 61. 8. For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt-offering. He that shall build an Hospital with goods [Page 61] ill-gotten, displayes the Ensigne of his Pride, and sets up the Mo­nument of his shame.

Rule. 3 3. Do all in Christ and for Christ.

1 1. Do all in Christ. La­bour that your persons may be in Christ.—We are accepted in him. Ephesians 1. 6. Origen, Chryso­stome, and Peter Martyr affirme that the best workes not spring­ing from a root of faith are lost.

The Pelagians thought to have posed Austin with that question, whether it was sinne in the Hea­thenNon perseipsum, factum propeccato habetur, &c. to clothe the naked. Austin answered rightly, the doing of good is not in it self simply evil, but proceeding of infidelity, it becomes evil. Mat. 7. 18 Heb. 11. 6. Titus 1. 15. To them that are unbelieving, is nothing pure. That fruit is most sweet and genine which is brought forth in the Vine; John 15. 4. Out of [Page 62] Christ all our Almes-deeds are but the fruit of the Wild-Olive. Faciunt gentes ea quae legis sunt ethicè non Evan­gelicè, bo­na opera agunt, sed non bene. Macovii. loc. com. They are not good workes, but dead works.

2 2. Do all for Christ. viz. For his sake, that you may testi­fie your love to him; love mel­lowes and ripens our Almes-deeds; it makes them a precious perfume to God. [...]. Cy­ril. As Mary did out of love bring her oyntments and sweet spices to anoint Christs dead body: so out of love to Christ, bring your oyntments, and anoint his living body, his Saints and Members.

Rule 4 Works of mercy are to be done in humility. Away with osten­tation; the Worme breeds in the fairest fruit, the Moth in the fi­nest Cloth. Pride will be creep­int into our best things; beware [Page 63] of this dead fly in the Box of ointment. When Moses face did shine, he put a vaile over it; so while your light shines before men, and they see your good workes, cover your selves with the vaile of humility. As the silk-worme, while she weaves her curious works, hides her self within the silke, and is not seen: so we should hide our selves from Pride and Vain­glory.

'Twas the sinne of the Phari­sees while they were distributing Almes, Nec illa perfecta est libera­litas si jac­tantiae causa lar­giaris. Am­brose. they did buccina canere, blow the Trumpet, Mat. 6. 2. They did not give their Almes, but sell them for applause. A proud man casts his bread upon the waters, as the Fisherman casts his angle up­on the waters; he angles for vain glory. I have read of one Cosmus Medices, a Rich Citizen of Flo­rence, [Page 64] that he confessed to a near friend of his, he built so many magnificent Structures, and spent so mu [...]h on Scholars and Libraries, not for any love to Learning, but to raise up to himselfe, the Trophyes of Fame and Renown.Burt. Me­lan. An humble soul denies himself, yea, even annihilates himself; he thinks how little it is he can do for God,Jerem. Patriarch. Censur. Orient. cap. 6. and if he could do more, it were but a due debt, therefore lookes upon all his workes as if he had done nothing. [...] &c. Macar. The Saints are brought in at the last day, [...]as disowning their workes of Charity, Matthew 25. 37. Lord when saw we thee an hun­gred and fed thee, or thirsty and gave thee drink. A good Chri­stian doth not onely empty his hand of Almes, but empties his heart of pride; while he raiseth the poore out of the dust, he [Page 65] qaies himselfe in the dust. Nihi humilitat [...] altius. Mar▪ celly. l. 2. Workes of mercy must be like the Cassia, which is a sweet spice, but growes low.

Rule 5 5. Dispose your Almes pruden­tially. Vox pau [...] perum mo­uet pru­dentiam i [...] dandis eleemosynis adhiben­dam esse Mollerus. 'Tis said of the merci­ful man, he orders his affairs with discretion. Psalme 112. 5. There is a great deale of wisdome in distinguishing between them that have sinned themselves into po­verty, and who by the hand of God are brought into poverty. Discretion in the Distribution of Almes, consists in two things.

  • 1. In finding out a fit object.
  • 2. In taking the fit season.

1 1. In finding out a fit object, and that comes under a double notion. 1. Give to those who are in most need. Episcopus Constantino­politanus mittens pecuniam ad Callio­pum P [...]esbyte [...]um. Nicenum quam ero­garet in [...]a [...]peres, [...]ubet ut in [...]largiendo hoc unum [...]pecter ut indigentes alat. illos praesertim qui men­dicare eru­ [...]escunt. Raise the hedge [Page 66] where it is lowest, feed the Lamp which is going out. 2. Give to those who may probably be most serviceable; Though we bestow cost and dressing upon a weak plant, yet not upon a dead plant. Breed up such as may help to build the house of Israel, Ruth 4. 11. That may be pillars in Church and State, not Caterpillars, ma­king your Charity to blush.

2 2. Discretion in giving Almes is in taking the fit season. Give to charitable uses in time of health and prosperity. Distribute your silver and gold to the poor before the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowle be broken, Ecclesiastes 12. 6. Qui cito dat bis dat. Make your hands your Execu­tors, not as some who do reserve all they give till the tearme of life is ready to expire. And truly [Page 67] what is then bestowed, is not gi­ven away, but taken away by death. 'Tis not charity but ne­cessity. Oh do not so marry your selves to money, that you are re­solved nothing shall part you but death. Be not like the Medlar which is never good till it be rot­ten. A Covetous man may be compared to a Christmas Box, he receives money, but parts with none, till death breakes this Box in pieces, then the silver and gold comes tumbling out. Give in time of health; these are the Almes which God takes notice of, and (as Cal­vin saith) putteth into his book of accounts.

Rule. 6 6. Give thankfully. They should be more thankful that give an Almes, than they that [Page 68] receive it. We should (saith Nazianzene) give [...] a thank-offering to God, that we are in the number of givers, and not receivers. Blesse God for a willing minde. To have not on­ly an estate, but an heart is mat­ter of gratulation. Set the Crown of your thankfulnesse, up­on the head of free-grace.


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