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The Blessing of Levi. Deut. xxxiii. 11. • Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands. Smite through the loins of them that rise up against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again." This is a prophetical declaration of the dreadful punishment of such as shall oppose the priesthood.
Question from the Office of Ordination. — WILL YOU YOURSELF GENTLE, AND BE MERCIFUL FOR Christ'S SAKE TO POOR AND NEEDY PEOPLE, AND TO ALL STRANGERS DESTITUTE OF HELP? - Ans. I WILL SO SHOW MYSELF, BY GOD'S HELP.
Upon one of the days of the week (κατά μίαν Σαββάτων) let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him 1.
Gen. xxviji. 20. “ Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, then shall the LORD be my God; and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
Luke xi. 41. “But rather give alms of such things as you bave (or as you are able) and all things are clean unto you." That is, proportion your alms to your estate, lest God proportion your estate to your alms ?.
Luke xii. 33. “Sell that ye have, and give alms : provide yourselves bags which wax not old ; a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth cor
1 ] Cor. xvi. 2.
2 Bishop Beveridge.
do not your
rupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your
heart be also.” This is still a necessary Christian duty, whatever men think of it; to part with our worldly enjoyments for the sake of Christ. To sell all; that is, to renounce all the pleasures, and pomp, and enjoyment, which wealth affords, as if we had actually parted with it; to take to a man's self no more of his estate than necessity requires ; and to make the remainder the support of the poor and distressed :-It being utterly impossible to take delight in the enjoyments of riches, and to love God with all the soul. If God is our only happiness, we shall of course be dead, crucified, to the world. Give to the poor, said our Lord to the rich young man whom He loved. Had there been a better way of disposing of his estate, He would certainly have told him. Matth. vi. 1, 2. “ Take heed that
alms before men, to be seen of them. Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. Thy Father, which seeth in secret, Himself shall reward thee openly.” By vanity we lose both our riches and our reward. It is vanity to boast of our alms, and it is vanity to take pleasure in reflecting upon them. It is sufficient that God will remember them.
Tobit xii. 8. " It is better to give alms than to lay up gold.” Deut. xv. 7. “ If there shall be a poor man within any
of thy gates, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother ; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt freely lend him sufficient for his need. Thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him, because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works.”
Psalm xli. 1. “ Blessed be the man that provideth for the sick and needy: the LORD shall deliver him in the time of trouble.”
Matth. v. 7. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
Ecclus. iv. 8. “ Bow down thine ear to the poor, and give him a friendly answer with meekness ; be as a father unto the fatherless, and as an husband unto the widow; so shalt thou be
as the Son of the Most High, and He shall love thee more than thy mother doth."
Ecclus. xxix. 11. Lay up thy treasure according to the commandment. It shall bring thee more profit than gold, it shall deliver thee from all afflictions, it shall fight for thee against thine enemies," &c.
Is. lviii. 10, 11. "If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." Do not imagine that all that belongs to your Church belongs to you. You have indeed a right to live by the altar, but not in luxury'. The Church has not had worse enemies, than such as have been raised to estates out of her patrimony. This should open the eyes of those who make no other use of Church livings than to provide portions, raise estates and families, enrich relations, &c. from which practices the good LORD keep me. The goods of this world, much more the goods of the Church, are mere depositums, put into the hands of men for the common good—of the Church and of mankind”.
Col. iii. 2. “ Set your affections on things above." It is more to our advantage to have the prayers of a poor, good man, than the smiles of the greatest man on earth.
Deut. x. 18, 19. “ The Lord loveth the stranger; love ye therefore the stranger ; give him food and raiment," &c.
Mark x. 21. “Sell what thou hast, and give to the poor ; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven : and come, take up
the cross, and follow me.” My God! we think we love Thee above all things, when, without being sensible of it, we love a thousand things better ; but as we hope for heaven, we must sacrifice even what we love most. This is a neces
essary duty now ; and though it be a very, very difficult one, yet to Thee all things are possible. To sell is only an expression for a disregard for riches ;
1 St. Bern. Ep. 2.
2 Dr. Moore's Div. Dial.
such as are, being dead to the world, crucified, born again, overcome the world ; all which denote that temper which Christianity requires.
Matth. xxv. 40. "In as much (for as often) as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." As often !-Who then would miss any occasion ? The least :-Who then would despise any object? To me :-So that in serving the poor, we serve JESUS CHRIST. O comfortable declaration! It is not out of cruelty or indigence, that CHRIST suffers
any of His members to want or be in misery, but to give others an opportunity of exercising their faith and their love, and of making some amends for their mis-expences by their alms.
Mark ix. 41. “Whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to CHRIST ; verily, (with an oath He assures us) he shall not lose his reward.” This should always, if possible, be our intention :--This poor, oppressed, this miserable man, belongs to Christ. This would wonderfully enbance the value of our good deeds before God. Mercy is a natural debt, not left to our discretion. He that stands in need of our help, is to have it. Inclination, friendship, vain generosity, are selfish motives. The last refuge of a sinner is alms; it is an art of turning our master's goods innocently to our own advantage, and making to ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; heaven being the patrimony and inheritance of the poor, by our alms we engage them to solicit the mercy of God for us. This is the only way to sanctify riches, which are almost always either the fruit, or the seed, of unrighteousness and injustice. And indeed we are more obliged to the poor than they to us. Earthly riches are almost always abused without an extraordinary grace. -, Luke xviii. 12. "I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” Be very careful not to be puffed up with the thoughts of your alms. I give tithes of all that I possess, was the effect of a pride more prejudicial than the sins of a publican. It is a stratagem of the devil to set before us a sight of our own good works, and to deprive us of that humility which alone can render us acceptable to God.
Luke xxi. 3. “ And Jesus said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all. For all these of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God, but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.” GOD judges not by the greatness of the gift, but by the heart that offers it. The applause which the great gifts of the rich receive, the complacency they take in them, and the little religion wherewith they are too often companied, lessen them in the sight of God. The rich indeed may give much, and reserve much for themselves. The poor, who gives all, reserves nothing to him, self, but faith in God's providence. God magnifies the power of His grace, in disengaging a soul from the love of riches : O my God! manifest this power upon me : Raise my soul above the fears of poverty, and let me have the greatest part of my treasure in heaven. Shut: my heart, O Jesus, against the love of worldly riches. Rom. xv. 25.
go to Jerusalem, to minister (that is, to carry alms) unto the saints.” So great an Apostle is not at all afraid that he should debase his character in carrying of alms. A Christian, who considers all other Christians as one body in Jesus Christ, will cheerfully contribute even to the necessities of the greatest, remotest strangers. God often spares the rich for the sake of the poor. To the poor, therefore, the rich stand indebted. A rich man, if a good man, is more afraid of not finding fit persons to receive his alms, than a poor man is of not finding persons to bestow alms upon him. We honour Jesus Christ in His poor, when we treat them kindly and help them. The very best of men are only instruments in God's hands, to receive and to give what God bestows upon them. And this they should do without any desire of glory, or selfinterest. Let us make light of money and riches, and send before us into the heavenly treasures, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt; where neither tyrants nor thieves can take it from us; but where it will be kept to our eternal advantage, under
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