網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

fiot at the luxuries of life; he requested no more than the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table

ons

We may observe, Athly, That how poor sda ever Lazarus was, yet he had not recourse to unlawful means to support himself. When Aguri in the Old Testament, requested God to keep him from poverty, he gives this reason for it, “Lest,” says he, “I be poor and steal.” And, I fear, there are but too many indigent persons who fall under this temptation, which is one of the most dangerous rocks to which poverty is exposed. Many are ashamed to beg, who are not afraid to steal; and though, perhaps, they do it not openly, for fear of falling into the hands of justice, yet they pilfer and defraud in private, are addicted to lying and hypocrisy, and are guilty of many unjustifiable arts to excite the pity of well disposed persons. These are vices but too common among the poor: yet let me not be thought to charge them upon all. There are some, and I would hope many, who, rather than offend their consciences by these base arts, would chuse to bear the greatest miseries, and patiently, suffer hunger, and thirst, and cold, and nakeda, ness, with a contented mind, as knowing that it, is the will of God that it should be so.. And happy sure are they, who, amidst all the dis

tresses

tresses they feel, can thus look up to God, the rock of ages, and commit their souls into the hands of their Creator, without staining them with the filth of those sins which would bar their entrance into the kingdom of the just. May they ever retain these good resolutions, knowing that their light afflictions, which are but for a moment, will work out for them a far more exceeding and 'eternal weight of glory in the heavens.

Sthly, We must not forget the duty of humility, which is indeed necessary for all Christians, but more especially for those whom God has called to a state of poverty and dependence. For, though pride be odious enough in whatever state it appears, or from whatever cause it proceeds, yet we can bear it with some patience in men of exalted stations : but when it is the companion of rags, it is insufferable. A proud poor man is a monstrous composition, which must ever excite indignation here, and, what is worse, will suffer God's vengeance hereafter : for he who does not learn to humble his soul under the afflicting hand of God, loses one of the chief ends for which God sends so severe a chastisement upon him, and therefore must also lose that reward in heaven which belongs only to the meek and lowly in heart.

[ocr errors]

6thly; Patience is another duty which is in cumbent upon the poor. And in this Lazarus will afford thein à noble example: for his pas tience was as exemplary as his sufferings were great. He was, amidst all his misery, denied so small a relief as the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table; and yet he bore it without one murmur or complaint. It is hard indeed to want the necessaries of life, to suffer hunger and be full of sores; and it is still harder, if in this condition we are forsaken by those froin whom we might expect assistance, and, instead of moving compassion, are loaded with denials, res proaches and contempt : yet, though religion allows us to feel such evils as these, at the same time it teaches us to turn them to our spiritual advantage. By calamities we should learn to strengthen our piety, and raise our thoughts from this afflicting scene to that better country, where all tears shall be wiped away. Instead of repining at God's providence, we should learn humbly to adore his ways, and chearfully receive the bitter çup he has given us to drink. We should say, with the submission of old Eli, “It " is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him “ good.” Or with the Psalmist, . " I became “ dumb; and opened not my mouth; for it was “ thy doing.” We should remember, that all things work together for good to them that love F 4

God, God, and that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Such were the considerations by which the holy men of old were enabled to smile amid the flames and tortures of their worst enemies. And by them may we also subdue the bitterest pangs of distress, if we are not wanting to ourselves.. .

.. 7thly, To patience we must add a full trust in : God, and a firm reliance upon his providence..

And we may rest assured, that he who feeds the ravens, clothes the lilies of the field, and brings forth grass for the cattle, will not forget his children. ,.“ Take no anxious thought there. “ fore, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall ".we drink, or wherewithal shall we be cloathed?:

For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye. “ have need of all these things.” Instead, therefore, of trusting in man, in God be your only hope. His eyes are over the righteous, and his ears open unto their prayers. “ Fear

not then, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of “ Israel: I will help thee, saith the Lord thy " Redeemer, and the Holy One of Israel ;" he will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able: he will either deliver you by un- · expected means, or strengthen you by his grace to bear your sufferings. And let them be ever

so

so great, ye know that they cannot be very lasting: death will soon be at hånd, which will put an end to all your cares and sorrows, if ye be virtuous, and ye shall finally rest with Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.

· Lastly, An indifference to the things of this world is of great use to us in adversity. For did we rightly consider that we here walk among shadows, and that all is vanity, we should be less solicitous about earthly enjoyments, and turn our thoughts more earnestly to heaven, where alone true joys are to be found. For though we are deprived of what are commonly esteemed the blessings of life, yet what are all these, wealth, honours, dignity, and fame, about which mankind are making this endless bustle, to which they sacrifice their present ease, and too often their future hopes? What are they, if rightly estimated, but the gilded toys, which the blind, capricious hand of fortune scatters at random, and again can snatch from us at every hour? And though we have not these, we máy have blessings of a much nobler nature: we may have honesty and a good conscience, which riches cannot give; we may have religion and God's grace, which power cannot ta And if we are truly possessed of these, we need

not

« 上一頁繼續 »