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the greatest tenderness, to human suffering — | forted and assisted. But in case any through such tenderness as we look for in vain among hard-heartedness should plead, that many who the heathen who surrounded them, or the most solicit charity are not of the same nation with distinguished nations, whether of ancient or themselves, and so have no claims on their kindmodern times, unless where they have been ness, the Jewish law adds, that though he be blessed with the faith of the gospel in some mea- a stranger, or a sojourner'—a Gentile—and that sure of purity. Nor is this tenderness limited merely passing through the country, and thereto human suffering. It extends to animal suf- fore having of all men the least claims, still he fering-the suffering of the inferior creation. is to be relieved. No charity, surely, can be The Jewish law expressly forbids every thing like more comprehensive, and yet it is the charity of cruelty; even a kid is not to be seethed in its the despised Jewish law. It would be well if mother's milk; no wonder then that the poor are all other, and especially all Christian nations, specially care for. But how interesting a pecu- could point to the same benevolence themselves. liarity is this of the law of God, and how worthy Many passages could be quoted from the Old of his character, as the God of goodness and love! Testament scriptures which breathe the same The injunctions to kindness to the poor are the spirit with the great law before us; for instance, more remarkable among the Jews, when it is oppression is strongly and severely forbidden : remembered that every Jewish family (with the “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his exception of the tribe of Levi, otherwise provided riches, shall surely come to want. Rob' not for) had a share in the land, which though capa- the poor, neither oppress the afflicted, for the ble of being lost or forfeited for a season, was Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the always restored on the year of jubilee; a singu- soul of those that spoiled them.' Here God is lar institution, which only the belief of super- represented as the Advocate of the oppressed, natural authority could have maintained. Such and as inflicting certain retribution on their an institution rendered poverty the more inexcus- oppressors. In like manner, He is exhibited as able, and might have tended to harden the Jews the friend of the stranger, the widow, and the against the poor. Hence the wisdom, as well as fatherless, all of whom are frequently exposed to the kindness of the injunction: “And if thy bro- poverty. “The Lord doth execute the judgment ther be waxen poor,' &c. The injunction has of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the the force of law. It is not a mere recommen- stranger in giving him food and raiment. A dation. It is a commandment, as binding as any father of the fatherless, and judge of the widow, in the decalogue, and is most comprehensive-no is God in his holy habitation; the Lord preservexception is specified—at the same time the eth the stranger, and relieveth the fatherless and terms in which it is conveyed are very affecting, widow.' What a beautiful, tender, and affecting 'If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in character is that of Jehovah, the God of the Jews! decay with thee.
How unlike to the idols of heathenism! yea, how Men are unwilling to acknowledge any rela- unlike to the hard-heartedness and cruelty of tionship to the poor—they would account it many professed Christians! In gleaning the vindegradation to have beggars styled their bro- tage, and reaping the corn harvest, they were thers and sisters; but such is the tie which expressly commanded not to make a clean ridthe Jewish law recognises, and it is the recog- dance of the corners of the field, but to leave nition of it which softens the heart, and draws a portion for the poor and the stranger. And in forth the exercise of true charity. If men could regard to the widow and the fatherless, it was see in the destitute the relationship of bro- solemnly declared, Ye shall not afflict any ther and sister, they would be far more tender widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them and liberal than they usually are. The word of in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will God describes the poor as our brethren. We surely hear their cry, and my wrath shall wax are partakers of the same nature, are sus- hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your ceptible of the same feelings where there is pri- children shall be fatherless.' The very poverty, vation, and know not how soon the circumstances and absence of human protectors, which should of the destitute may be ours, how quickly the call forth the deeper sympathy in behalf of the most opulent may be involved in all the horrors widow and her children, are frequently the very of want! In such circumstances, surely we must things which provoke the aggression of the be forward to relieve. The poor are not an cowardly and heartless. To meet this, God inferior and degraded class to be despised. They represents himself as specially the judge of the are brethren, objects of sympathy, to be com- I widow, and the father of the fatherless, and denounces against their oppressors the heaviest of peculiar tenderness to the poor. Our blessed woe.
Lord may, indeed, be said to have sanctified From the views to which our attention has poverty by his own example, choosing its state been called, let us feel fresh inducements to be of privation rather than a state of secure, conkind and tender to the poor. If the law of petent wealth. Poor as he was, he manifested Moses, under a comparatively dark dispensation, the utmost kindness and liberality to the indiwas so clear and strong in its requirements, let gent, incessantly labouring for the good of the not Christians, under their noble dispensation, be suffering, however unable to repay him. He cold-hearted and illiberal. There are many other commended the poor widow who cast in her ways of aiding the poor besides the mere gift of mite into the treasury, and called upon the young alms, which in too many instances is open to man, the sincerity of whose professed attachment abuse. We may do much by advice, by instruc- he wished to ascertain, to sell all, and give to the tion, by finding employment for the poor—by poor. He enjoins his followers, also, when they caring for their children, by withdrawing them would make a feast, to call not those who are from evil example, and putting them in a way of able to return the compliment, but the poor, being useful. In short, even in the worst cases the maimed, the lame, and the blind, assuring we may do good. Let us in all act the part of them that if they did so they should be blessed, genuine friends.
and receive an ample recoinpense at the resurrection of the just.
The spirit of kindness thus shown by the Mas
ter in behalf of the poor, he imperatively requires TWENTY-SEVENTH DAY.-EVENING. on the part of all his faithful servants. As Chris"Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his tianity naturally leads to the acquisition of wealth;
brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels apart from this outlet there would be no small of compassion from him, how decelleth the lore danger of Christians becoming covetous and of God in him? My little children, let us not to be self-denied, as regards themselves, it requires
worldly-minded. Hence while it enjoins men loce in word, neither in tongue; but in deed, them to be liberal as regards others, especially to and in truth,' 1 John iii. 17, 18.
the pious poor. It is evidently the pious poor of In the former exposition we contemplated the whom the apostle speaks. He had been setting kind consideration of God for the poor under the forth the duty of Christians loving one another, and Old Testament dispensation. Comparatively nar- had declared that this was the test of Christian row and obscure as that dispensation was, He discipleship: an infallible proof that we had under it gave to charity the force of a law, and passed from spiritual death to spiritual life. He that in terms the most tender. We have now to had also referred, as an illustration of and inducecontemplate the same duty under the more per- ment to Christian love, to the case of Christ, who fected dispensation of the New Testament, and laid down his life for his people, which he conas might have been expected, there is no diminu- verts into an argument why Christian brethren tion in the obligation; on the contrary, it is con- should be prepared to hazard life itself for each firmed and enforced by new arguments. True other; and then having pointed to so high a standChristianity conduces to the increase of wealth. It ard of love, he proceeds to rebuke those who would stimulates the mind, and makes industry and fru- not make even a small sacrifice of money for the gality sacred duties, and saves from many costly relief and comfort of their Christian brethren. vanities and sins. Hence the countries where its Appealing to their consciences, as in the sight influence is most powerful, are most noted for their of God, the apostle asks, ‘But whoso, whatever enterprise, industry, and resources. On the other professed Christian, 'hath this world's goods, and hand, corrupted Christianity, such as Popery, tends seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up to poverty. It lowers the mind as a whole. Its bowels of compassion from him;' has ample and superstitious observances, such as saints' days, im- satisfactory evidence of his Christian brother's poverish; and the priesthood have an interest in necessity, and yet refuses to relieve him, show keeping the people poor in their means, that they dwelleth the love of God in him?' Is it possible may be dependent and enslaved in their judg- that he can know any thing of the love of God ments. But Christianity is not, on this account, in his own soul? No! If he truly loved God, a worshipper of wealth, or a despiser of poverty. which he professedly does, he would love the It crucifies the inordinate love of wealth, directs Christian who is formed not only after God's money into useful channels, and breathes a spirit natural, but after his moral image.' If he loved
God he would love all who were connected TWENTY-Eighth Day.-MORNING, with, and like to God. This is an invariable
· Blessed is he that considereth the rule in nature, and also an infallible test of per
poor: sonal safety, so that it is added, “Hereby we know
will deliver him in time of trouble,' Ps. xli. 1. that we are of the truth,' as if by no other means, BLESSED,' says inspiration, is he that con‘and shall assure our hearts before him.' Perhaps sidereth the poor.' By the poor, we are prothere is no class more interesting than that of bably to understand those who have become poor the pious poor. They naturally remind us of in the ordinary course of God's providence; not the Lord Jesus Christ. They are his representa- that we are to despise and disregard even those tives upon earth. What, more fitted to cut who have become poor through their vices and a Christian to the heart, than to think that a criminal abuse of the divine gifts; for we are he has been unkind to one who has been loved informed, as characteristic of the conduct of God, by Christ from eternity, who, it may be, will to which our conduct should be conformed, that be in heaven before him, and who will be with he makes his sun to shine on the evil as well as him for ever engaged in worshipping the same the good, and his rain to descend on the just and compassionate Redeemer? What is more opposed the unjust. At the same time an important disto the spirit of heaven, than a cold, selfish distinction must be drawn between different classes regard of the necessities of others—a shutting of poor.
To bestow in the form of money upon up of the bowels of compassion? Could we con- many poor, would be bat to encourage them in ceive heaven to be a place of true happiness, or sin, and therefore to arm them in more daring rereally desirable, if filled with hard-hearted, cruel bellion against God, while it would render to the men? Surely not.
parties themselves no real benefit. This is at war Let Christians, then, listen to the apostolic with the spirit of true religion, which condemns counsel, My little children, let us not love,' idleness, improvidence, and vice, and calls to indushowever others may do, let us professed Chris- try, prudence, and good conduct. The poor for tians not love .in word or in tongue,'—let us whom God specially cares, and for whom he would not content ourselves with the name and pro- have all professing to be his servants, and who are fession of sympathy for others, but let us “love in blessed with the means, to care, are those who have deed and in truth. Let us show the reality of been impoverished without any fault of their own, our professed kindness by suitable action, by cor- in consequence of His all-wise and righteous visitaresponding deeds. Good words are easy, they tion. And what does he declare of those who cost us nothing; besides, the feeling and expres- consider the case of such persons; who, not consion of sympathy, without active benevolence, are tented with a single act of instinctive charity, dangerous. They deceive and harden the soul. called forth by the sight of suffering, deliberately And if men
are in hazard, in many cases, of lay themselves out to relieve and permanently being deceived, let them rejoice the more in benefit them? He says of such persons that they opportunities of giving to the pious poor; glad to are blessed; · Blessed is he that considereth.' think that these are cases in which they cannot err. Many regard the poor as a burden and injury to It is much for Christ to say, “Whosoever shall give society; they are irritated; they would much to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold rather there were no poor to annoy them with water only, in the name of a disciple, shall in no calls of charity—but · blessed,' says God, happy wise lose his reward'—that the humblest service to is he that considereth the poor,' who studies their believers, done in faith, and from a Christian
case, who enters into their wants, in order to relieve tive, shall be acknowledged; but it is a still loftier them. He shall not merely be happy hereafter, testimony to the importance of charity, when it receive an ample recompense in the future world is remembered that on the great day of judgment for his present pains and liberality. But he is the everlasting awards shall be dispensed accord- happy now. He is blessed in the very act of giving, ing as men have been liberal or penurious in their especially where the case is a good one, and he has donations to the Christian poor. “Come, ye reason to believe the charity will not be abused to blessed of my Father,' &c., Matt. xxv. 40. evil. The highest authority-one who knew the
truth from ample personal experience—has said, • It is more blessed to give than to receive. There is a wise and beautiful connection between doing good to others and receiving personal happiness and enjoyment. All who have ever made trial must know from experience the relation between doing
good and getting good. The selfish and the cove- perfect assurance that God will repay him for his tous, in withholding, rob theinselves of much services. This honours God, and those who greater happiness than all their hoarding can confer. honour Him He will honour. There are various The enjoyment connected with selfish indulgence ways of honouring Him spoken of in scripture; is not once to be compared with the happiness he is honoured by acts of worship, by prayer and which results from the exercise of the sympathetic thanksgiving—he is honoured by due observance and benevolent affections. The world is of course of the sabbath, and by holiness of life and conincredulous on this point, but the testimonies of versation. He is also not less truly honoured by the word of God and of Christian experience are kindness to his creatures, and especially by deeds clear and assured. And besides the happiness of charity and mercy to the poor. inseparable from the exercise of enlightened liber- Let all those who make a profession of true ality, which is indeed twice blessed,' there is in religion, repress the risings of selfishness, and cultiaddition many direct and precious promises from vate a spirit of enlarged benevolence ; especially God of blessing to those who befriend the poor, let them tenderly and unweariedly consider the even in this world.
case of the poor. Let them remember that this It is declared in the passage before us, that the is required by the spirit of the eighth commandLord Jehovah will deliver him in the time of ment, and that if they fail in it, they are guilty trouble—that he will preserve and keep him of a violation of the decalogue. Let them think alive—that he shall be blessed upon the earth of the present and certain happiness of giving —that he shall not be delivered into the hands to those who need, that God shows a peculiar of his enemies—that Jehovah will strengthen him kindness for the poor as his representatives upon upon the bed of languishing, and will make all earth, sent to test the benevolence of others
, his bed in his sickness. These comprehend all tem- and that those who manifest his amiable spirit poral good; preservation, deliverance, restoration, shall share in his favour. Let them consider that and prosperity, and they seem to correspond with a spirit of care for the poor is essential to true the circumstances and wants of the poor. They are religion, and is one of its most prominent charoften in trouble-stretched on a bed of languish- acteristics, Isa. Iviii. 6–11. ing—involved in sickness oppressed by enemies. Now, says Jehovah, those who consider' in these respects the necessities of the poor and relieve them, shall in the same respects themselves be blessed
TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY.—EVENING. of God, according to their wants, in return. It
• Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, is easy for God in the course of his providence, and in a thousand unknown ways, to preserve
to be seen of them ; otherwise ye have no reward
of your Father which is in heaven,' Matt. vi. I. and rescue and restore those whom he designs to favour. Scripture speaks of the blessing of such The influential Jews of our Lord's day were as are ready to perish, coming upon those who governed in their charity by the external and do them good, and no one can tell how much the the visible. Nor was this a solitary instance. liberal and beneficent are indebted for protection Their prayers and fastings were vitiated by the against evil and the possession of good to the same false principle. When they went to prayer, prayers of the poor in their behalf.
Certainly instead of betaking themselves to retirement, few evils can be conceived more dreadful than they betook themselves to the synagogue and to be exposed to the curses and maledictions of the corners of the streets and the market places; the poor. Nor is it wonderful that God thus and when they observed a fast, they put on a promises the best temporal blessings to those who sad countenance and disfigured their faces, that care for the poor. Entertaining a special regard they might appear to men to fast.' So of the for them himself, he befriends those who cherish payment of tithe—they paid the tithes of insigand manifest the same sentiment. The man who nificant garden herbs, such as mint, anise, and despiseth the poor in effect despises God, under cummin, which were of no consequence to the whose providence they have become poor. He tribe of Levi, while they omitted the weightier quarrels with God's dispensations, or as much as matters of the law-judgment, mercy and faith says that he was not able to make them other--and probably withheld the larger tithes. In wise, whereas he who gives to the poor from short, their religion was ostentatious, fitted and right motives, lends to the Lord; he recognizes intended to attract the attention of men, and God's hand in their lot, acknowledges it to be was, moreover, stained with hypocrisy.
What wise and righteous and good, and expresses his our Lord condemned in the Pharisees is, un
happily, not peculiar to them. The tendency the most endearing relationship, who sees in to the external and hypocritical, and that in secret, shall reward openly, it may be here, connection with almsgiving, has been mani- certainly it shall be hereafter on the great fested in every age of the church, and espe- day, when men would most wish approbation. cially in degenerating periods of her history. In addition to these considerations, we have to The caution contained in the words before us, remember that ostentation is at utter variance was addressed not only to the multitudes who with the spirit of true religion. That spirit is heard, but also to Christ's own disciples. They generous and benevolent—it looks out of ourneeded to be guarded against such temptations. selves to others; whereas ostentation is essentially The praise which men bestow upon the liberal, selfish, and looks to the estimation in which self and the flattery which they often receive from is held as supreme. This, too, is the spirit of those who wish to turn their benevolence to hypocrisy. The language of hypocrites is, personal advantage, are exceedingly apt to Come and see our zeal for the Lord!' They ensnare and mislead even the well-principled proclaim their own goodness -- they trust in and the good, much more the self-righteous. themselves that they are righteous, and despise We need scarcely remind you how deeply the others—they justify themselves before mencorrupt Christian church, in the days of Popery, they receive honour one of another, and seek not dealt, and still deals, in the hypocrisies of osten- the honour which cometh from God only. And tatious charity. Who can question that the what shall be the end of persons breathing such large donations regularly dispensed at the gates a spirit? Their hope shall perish—the hypocrite of Romish convents and monasteries—donations shall not come before God—the congregation of so abundant, that they have diffused a spirit of hypocrites shall be desolate—the Lord of the mendicancy over continents—if not designed as evil servant shall appoint him his portion with the purchase money of eternal life, are intended the hypocrites—there shall be weeping and to earn the applause of men, so as to add to the gnashing of teeth. power of the giver? And in countries of purer
Let Christians then be on their guard against Christianity, how much ostentation often is there the temptations to ostentatious charity. These in the donations of charity! what founding of may not be so strong among us as they were charitable institutions for the sake of a name! among the Jews of our Lord's day, who had not what trumpeting of subscriptions! what extra- only a much more external and ritual religion vagant laudation of individuals who, it may be, than Christianity, but the influence of strong have done no more than their duty!
prepossessions in behalf of Pharisaian virtues In opposition to all that savours of ostentation with which to contend; still the bias is powerful and hypocrisy, our Lord enters a solemn warn
Let them consider that though men can ing. He cautions his followers against doing only see the outside, God sees the heart—that almsdeeds to be seen of men, forbids them to the secret is as open to him as the public—and sound a trumpet in the streets and synagogues that one of the remarkable names of Jehovah to attract public attention to their charity; and, is
, “Thou, God, seest me. Let them think, too, on the contrary, exhorts them to dispense their how idle and foolish it is to attempt to have a alms in secret, in a manner so quiet and unosten- reputation for piety and liberality, when the tatious, that the right hand shall not know what hypocrisy will so soon be broken up and exthe left is doing. And what are the reasons for posed to their everlasting thame and contempt. pursuing such a course? They are many. He it may not be possible literally to forbid the tells them that if they do their alms to be seen right hand to know, in the dispensations of of men, they shall only have the reward of charity, what the left is doing. There are some human praise. And how poor and worthless a sorts of charity which, for the satisfaction of the recompense! It perishes with the breath of public, must be more or less proclaimed; but man, and while it lasts, is often associated with certainly the counsel of the Saviour calls upon suspicions and distrusts. The hypocrite is con- Christians to look narrowly to the motives of all scious of his own baseness, and lives in the their actions, and particularly of their charity; perpetual dread of exposure. On the other to be jealous of themselves; to be on their guard hand, they who give alms from correct motives, against all that savours of egotism and display without regard to what men think or say—and vanity and ostentation in almsgiving; in because charity is right in itself, and God has short, to be like the Master whom they profess enjoined it-shall receive an ample recompense. to serve, who loved not the fame of men, but God, our heavenly Father, Jehovah, under the approbation of the unseen Jehovah.