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We seem all to be hastening to the opposite ex. treme of luxury and expense :-We generally content ourselves with the solution of it, and say, It is a natural consequence of trade and richesand there it ends.
By the way, I affirm, there is a mistake in the account; and that it is not riches which are the cause of luxury,-but the corrupt calculation of the world, in making riches the balance for honor, for virtue, and for every thing that is great and good, which goads so many thousands on with an affectation of possessing more than they have, and, consequently, of engaging in a system of expenses they cannot support.
In one word, it is the necessity of appearing to be somebody, in order to be so-which ruins the world.
This leads us to another lesson in the parable, concerning the true use and application of riches; -we may be sure, from the treatment of the rich man, that he did not employ those talents as GOD intended.
How God did intend them-may as well be known from an appeal to your own hearts, and the inscription you shall read there,—as from any chapter and verse I might cite upon the subject. Let us then, for a moment, my dear auditors! turn our eyes that way, and consider the traces which even the most insensible man may have proof of, from what he may perceive springing up within him, from some casual act of generosity; and tho' this is a pleasure which properly belongs to the good, yet, let him try the experiment, let him comfort the captive, or cover the naked with a garment, and he will feel what is meant by that moral delight arising in the mind from the conscience of a humane action.
But to know it right, we must call upon the compassionate.Cruelty gives evidence un
willingly, and feels the pleasure but imperfectly; -for this, like all other pleasures, is of a relative nature, and consequently, the enjoyment of it requires some qualification in the faculty, as much as the enjoyment of any other good does :There must be something antecedent in the dispo sition and temper, which will render that goodgood to that individual;-otherwise though, it is true, it may be possessed, yet, it never can be enjoyed.
Consider how difficult you would find it, to convince a miserly heart, that any thing is good, which is not profitable or a libertine one, that any thing is bad, which is pleasant.
Preach to a voluptuary, who has modelled both mind and body to no other happiness but good eating and drinking,bid him taste and see how good GOD is :-There is not an invitation in all nature would confound him like it.
In a word a man's mind must be like your proposition before it can be relished;-and it is the resemblance between them, which brings over his judgment,and makes him an evidence on your side. It is therefore not to the cruel, It is to the merciful, to those who rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep,that we make this appeal : -It is to the generous, the kind, the humane, that I am now to tell the sad * story of the fatherless, of him who hath no helper, and bespeak your almsgiving in behalf of those, who know not how to ask for it themselves.
-What can I say more?It is a subject on which I cannot inform your judgment,—and, in such an audience, I would not presume to prac tise upon your passions :-Let it suffice to say, that they whom God hath blessed with the means
Charity Sermon at St. Andrews, Holborn.
and for whom he has done more, in blessing them likewise with a disposition,-have abundant reason to be thankful to him, as the Author of every good gift, for the measure he has bestowed to them both :—It is the refuge against the stormy wind and tempest, which he has planted in our hearts ;-and the constant fluctuation of every thing in this world, forces all the sons and daughters of Adam to seek shelter under it by turns.-Guard it by entails and settlements as we will, the most affluent plenty may be stripped, and find all its worldly comforts, like so many withered leaves, dropping from us :--The crowns of princes may be shaken ;....and the greatest that ever awed the world, have looked back and moralized upon the turn of the wheel.
That which has happened to one,-may happen to every man ;-and therefore, that excellent rule of our SAVIOUR, in acts of benevolence, as well as every thing else, should govern us- That whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also unto them.
Hast thou ever lain upon the bed of languishing, or labored under a distemper which threatened thy life?Call to mind thy sorrowful and pensive spirit at that time, and say, What it was that made the thoughts of death so bitter?-if thou hast children,—I affirm it, the bitterness of death lay there ;-if unbrought up, and unprovided for,-What will become of them?Where will they find a friend, when I am gone, who will stand up for them, and plead their cause against the wicked?
-Blessed GOD! to thee, who art a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow, I entrust them.
Hast thou ever sustained any considerable shock in thy fortune? or, has the scantiness of thy condition hurried thee into great straits, and brought
thee almost to distraction ?-Consider who was it that spread a table in that wilderness of thought, -who made thy cup to overflow ?-Was it not a friend of consolation who stepped in,-saw thee embarrassed with the tender pledges of thy love, and the partner of thy cares,-took them under his protection-Heaven! thou wilt reward him for it!and freed thee from all the terrifying apprehensions of a parent's love?
-But, how shall I ask a question which must bring tears into so many eyes?-Hast thou ever been wounded, in a more affecting manner still, by the loss of a most obliging friend,-or been torn away from the embraces of a dear and promising child, by the stroke of death!--Bitter remembrance !--nature droops at it--but nature is the same in all conditions and lots of life. A child thrust forth in an evil hour, without food, without raiment, bereft of instruction, and the means of its salvation, is a subject of more tender heart-aches, and will awaken every power of nature --As we have felt ourselves,--let us feel --for CHRIST's sake--let us feel for theirs : And may the GOD of all comfort bless you. Amen.
LUKE XIV. 10, II.
But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lor◄ est room,that when he that bade thee cometh,he may say to thee, Friend go up higher; then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them who sit at meat with thee :-For whosoever exalted himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.
T is an exhortation of our SAVIOUR's to humi. lity, addressed by way of inference from what he had said in the three foregoing verses of the chapter; where upon entering into the house of one of the chief Pharisees, to eat bread, and marking how small a portion of this necessary virtue entered in with the several guests, discovering itself from their choosing the chief rooms and most distinguished places of honor,........he takes the occasion which such a behavior offered, to caution them against pride ;....states the inconvenience of the passion ;....shows the disappointments which attend it,....the disgrace in which it generally ends, in being forced, at last, to recede from the pretensions to what is more than our due; ......which, by the way, is the very thing the pas sion is eternally prompting us to expect. When, therefore, thou art bidden to a wedding, says our SAVIOUR, sit not down in the highest room, lest a more honorable man than thou, be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him, come and say to thee.......Give this man place ....And thou begin with shame, to take the loowest room.
........But thou, when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room. Hard lecture !....In the lowest room?...... What !.....Do I owe nothing to myself? Must I forget my station, my character in life?....Resign the precedence which my birth,