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ture; and to bestow that life which we have from God, upon a crea: ture that hath no life in itself, and no price but from men! Let me then persuade erery soul, that hears me this day, as Jacob did his household, Put
are among you, and be clean; Gen. xxxv. 2: and, as St. Paul did his Lystrians, Oh, turn aunty from these canities unto the Living God.
The last attractive of onr trust to God, is his mercy, and liberality: WHO GIVES US PICHLY ALL THINGS TO ENJOY. A theme, wherein ye will grant it easy to lose ourselves. First, God not only hath all in hiniself, but he gives to us. He gives, not somewhat, though a crust is more than we are worthy of, but all things. And not a little of all, but richly; and all this, not to look on, but to enjoy. Every word would require not a several hour, but a life to meditate of it; and the tongue, not of men, but of angels, to express it. It is here with ns, as in a throng; we can get neither in nor out: but, as we use to say of cares, so it shall be with our discourse, that the greatness of it shall procure silence; and the more we may say of this head, the less we will say. It will content us only to top these sheaves, since we cannot stand to thrash them out.
Whither can ye turn your eyes to look beside the bounty of God? If ye look upward; his mercy reacheth to the heavens: if downward; thë earth is full of his goodness, and so is the broad sea. If ye look about you, what is it, that he hath not given us? air, to breathe in; fire, to warm us; water, to cool us; clothes, to cover us; food, to nourish us; fruits, to refresh us: yea, delicates, to please us; beasts, to serve us; angels, to attend us; heaven, to receive us; and, which is above all, his own Son, to redeem us. Lastly, if ye look into yourselves; hath he not given us a Soul, to inform us; senses, to inform our soul; faculties, to furnish that soul; understanding, the great surveyor of the secrets of nature and grace; fantasy and invention, the master of the works; memory, the great keeper or master of the rolls of the soul, a power that can make amends for the speed of time, in causing him to leave behind him those things, which else he would so carry away, as if they had not been; will, which is the lord paramount in the state of the soul, the commander of our actions, the elector of our resolutions; judgment, which is the great counsellor of the will; affections, which are the servants of them both: a body, fit to execute the charge of the soul; so wondrously disposed, as that every part hath best opportunity in his own functions; so qualified with health arising from proportion of humours, that, like a watch kept in good tune, it goes right, and is fit to serve the soul and maintain itself: an Estate, that yields all due conveniences for both soul and body: seasonable times; rain, and sunshine; peace in our borders; competency, if not plenty of all commodities; good laws; religious, wise, just governors; happy and Hourishing days: and, above all, the liberty of the Gospel Cast up your books, () ye Citizens, and sum up your receipts: I am deceived, if he, that hath least, shall not conless his obligations infinite.
There are three things especially, wherein ye are beyond others; and must ackuowledge yourselves deeper in the books of God, than the rest of the world.
Let the first be the clear deliverance from that woeful judgment of the pestilence. Oh, remember those sorrowful times, when every inonth swept away thousands from among you *; when a man could not set forth his foot, but into the jaws of death; when piles of carcases were carried to their pits, as dung to the fields; when it was cruelty in the sick to admit visitation, and love was little better than murderous. And, by how much more sad and horrible the face of those evil times looked; so much greater proclaim you the mercy of God, in this happy freedom which you now enjoy; that you now throng together into God's house without fear, and breathe into one another's face without danger.
The second is, the wonderful plenty of all provisions, both spiritual and bodily. You are the sea; all the rivers of the land run into you: of the land? yea, of the whole world: sea and land conspire to emrich you.
The third is, the privilege of careful government. Your Charters, as they are large and strong, wherein the favour of princes hath made exceptions from the general rules of their municipal laws; so your form of aciministration is excellent, and the execution of justice exemplary, and such as might become the mother city of the whole eartli.
For all these, you have reason to ask, Quid retribuam ? with David: What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits? and to excite one another unto thankfulness, with that sweet Singer of Israel, Oh, that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness! And, as beneficence is a binder, these favours of God call for your
contidence. What should you do, but ever trust that God, whom you have found so gracious? Let him be your God; be ye his people for ever: and let him make this free and open challenge to you all: If there be any power in heaven or in earth, that can do more for you than he hath done, let him have your hearts and yourselves.
4. And thus, from that duty we owe to God in our confidence and his beneficence to us, we descend to that beneficence which we owe to men, expressed in the variety of four epithets, DOING GOOD; BEING RICH IN GOOD WORKS; READY TO DISTRIBUTE; WILLING TO COMMUNICATE: all to one sense; all is but Beneficence.
The Scriptures of God, lest any Atheist should quarrel at this waste, have not one word superfluous. Here is a redoubling of the same words, without fault of tautology; a redoubling of the same sense in divers words, without idleness. There is tavour in these repetitions; not looseness: as it was wont, for this cause, to be observed, both in councils and acclamations to princes, how oft the same word is reiterated; that, by the frequence, they might judge of the vehemence, of affection. It were easy to instance in many of this kind; as especially Exod. xxv. 35. Psalm lxxxix. 30. John
* About 30,000 in one year.
i. 20. and so many more, as that their mention could not be void of that superfuity which we disclaim.
This heap of words, therefore, shews the vehement intention of his desire of good works, and the important necessity of their performance: and the manner of this expression enforces no less; Charge the rich, that they do good, and be rich in doing good.
Hearken then, ye Rich Men of the World: it is not left arbitrary to you, that you may do good if you will; but it is laid upon you, 'as your charge and duty. You must do good works; and woë be to you, if you do not! This is not a counsel; but a precept: although I might say of God, as we use to say of princes, his will is his command. The same necessity, that there is of trusting in God; the same is, in doing good to men.
Let me sling this stone into the brazen foreheads of our adversaries; which, in their shameless challenges of our religion, dare tell the world, we are all for faith, nothing for works; and that we hold works to salvation, as a parenthesis to a clause, that it may be perfect without them. Heaven and earth shall witness the injustice of this calumniation; and your consciences shall be our compurgators this day, which shall testify to you, both now and on your deathbeds, that we have taught you, there is no less necessity of good works, than if you should be saved by them: and, that, though you cannot be saved by them, as the meritorious causes of your glory; yet, that you cannot be saved without them, as the necessary effects of that grace which brings glory.
It is a hard sentence of some Casuists, concerning their fellows, that but a few rich men's Confessors shall be saved; I imagine, for that they daub up their consciences with untempered mortar, and soothe them
in their sins. Let this be the care of them, whom it concerneth: for us, we desire to be faithful to God and
and tell you roundly, what
you must trust to. Do good therefore, ye Rich, if ever ye look to receive good: if ever ye look to be rich in heaven, be rich in good works upon earth. It is a shanie, to hear of a rich man, that dies, and makes his Will of thousands, and bequeaths nothing to pious and charitable uses: God and the poor are no part of his heir. We do not hover over your expiring souls on your death-beds, as ravens over a carcase. We do not beg for a convent; nor fright you with purgatory ; nor chaifer with you, for that invisible treasure of the Church, whereof there is but one key-keeper at Rome: but we tell you, that the making of friends with this mammon of unrighteousness, is the way to eternal habitations.
They say of Cyrus, that he was wont to say he laid up treasures for himself, while he made his friends rich: but we say to you, that you lay up treasures for yourselves in heaven, while you make the poor your friends upon earth: we tell you, there must be a Date, ere there can be a Dabitur ; that he, which gives to the poor lends upon use to the Lord, which pays large increase for all he borrows: and how shall he give you the interest of glory, where he hath not received the principal of beneficence? How can that man ever look
to be God's heir, in the kingdom of heaven, that gives all away to his earthly heirs, and lends nothing to the God of Heaven?
As that witty Grecian said of extreme tall men, that they were cypress-trees, neho mai undai, &c. "fair and tall, but fruitless;" so may I say of a strait-handed rich man. And these cypresses are not for the garden of Paradise: none shall ever be planted there, but the fruitful. And, if the first Paradise had any trees in it only for pleasure, I am sure the second, which is in the midst of the Neiv Jerusalem; Rev. xxii. 2. shall have no tree that bears not twelve fruits, yea whose very leaves are not beneficial.
Do good, therefore, 0 ye Rich; and shew your wealth to be, not in having, but in doing good. And, if God have put this holy resolution into any of your hearts, take this with you also, from him; do not talk, and purpose, and project; but execute: do not so do good, that we may thank your death-bed for it, and not you. Late beneficence is better than none, but so much as early beneficence is better than late. He, that gives not till he dies, shews that he would not give, if he could keep it. And God loves a cheerful giver. That, which you give thus, you give it by your Testament, I can scarce say you give it by your will: the good man's praise is dispersit, dedit: he dispersed his goods; not, he left them behind him: and his distribution is seconded with the retribution of God, His rightcousness endureth for ever; Psalm cxii. 9. Our Saviour tells us, that our good works are our light; Let your light so shine, that men may see your good works. Which of you lets his light go behind him; and hath it not rather carried before him, that he may see which way it goes, and which way himself goes by it? Do good, therefore, in your life; that you may have comfort in your death, and a crown of life after death.
Now all this have I spoken, not for that I have ought, as St. Paul says, whereof to accuse my nation. Blessed be God, as good works have abounded in this age, so this place hath superabounded in good works. Be it spoken to the glory of that God whose all our good works are, to the honour of the Gospel, to the conviction of that lewd slander of Solifidianism; London shall vie good works with any city upon earth: this day and
your ears are abundant witnesses. As those therefore, that by a handful guess at the whole sack, it may please you by this year's Brief to judge of the rest: wherein I do not fear, lest envy itself, shall accuse us of a vain glorious ostentation. Those obstreperous benefactors, that, like to hens which cannot lay an egg but they must cackle straight, give no alms but with trumpets, lose their thanks with God. Alnis should be like oil, which, though it swim aloft when it is fallen, yet makes no noise in the falling; not like water, that still sounds where it lights. But, howsoever private beneficence should not be acquainted with both the hands of the giver, but silently expect the reward of him that seeth in secret; yet, God should be a greater loser, if the pubLic fruits of charity should be smothered in a modest secrecy. To the praise, therefore, of that good God which gives us to give and rewards us for giving, to the exainple of posterity, to the honour of our profession, to the encouragement of the well-deserving, and to the shame of our malicious adversaries, hear what this year hath brought forth.
[Here followeth a brief memorial of the charitable acts of the city this year last past, &c.]
And if the season had not hindered, your eyes should have seconded your ears, in the comfortable testimony of this beneficence; Euge, &c: Well done, good and faithful serrants. Thus should your profession be graced: thus should the incense of your alms ascend, in pillars of holy smoke, into the nostrils of God: thus should your talents be turned into cities. This colour is no other than celestial; and so shall your reward be. Thus should the foundation be laid of that building, whose walls reach up unto heaven; whose roof is finished and laid on, in the heaven of heavens, in that immortality of glory, which the God of all glory, peace, and comfort hath provided for all that love him. Unto the participation whereof, the sane God of ours mercifully bring us, through the Son of his Love, JESUS CHRIST the Righteous: to whom, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, one Infinite and Incomprehensible God, be given ali praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.