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other-where In godly men's works, that alms-deeds, mercy, and charitableness, doth wash away (in, and blot out iniquity; yet do they not arrogantly and proudly stick and trust unto them, or brag themselves of them, as the proud Pharisee did, lest with the Pharisee they should he condemned: but rather with the humble and poor Publican consess themielves sinful wretches, unworthy to look up to heaven, calling and craving for mercy, that with the Publican they may be pronounced of Christ to he justisied. The godly do learn that when the Scriptures fay, that by good and merciful works we are reconciled to God's favour, we are taught then to know what Christ by his intercession and mediation obtaineth for us of his Father, when we be obedient to his will; yea, they learn in such manner os speaking a comfortabla argument of God's singular favour and love, that attributeth that unto us and to our doings, that he by his Spirit worketh in U6, and through his grace procureth for us. And yet this notwithstanding, they cry out with St. Paul, 0 wretches that we are; and acknowledge, as Christ teacheth, that when they have all done, they are but unprofitable servants; and with the bleffed King David, in respect of the just judgments of God, they do tremble, and fay, Who shall he able to abide it, Lord if thou wilt give sentence according to our deserts f Thus they humble themselves, and are exalted ot God; they count themselves vile, and of God ave counted pure and clean; they condemn themselves, and are justisied of God; they think themselves unworthy of the earth, and of God are thought worthy of heaven. Thus by God's word are they truly taught how to think rightly of merciful dealing of alms, and of God's especial mercy and goodness are made partakers of those fruits that his word hath promised. Let us then follow their examples, and both shew obediently in our lives those works of mercy that we are commanded, aud have that right opinion and judgment of them that we are taught; and we shall in like manner, as they, be made partakers, and seel the fruits and rewards that follow such godly living, so shall we know by proof what prosit and commodity doth come of giving of alms and fuccouring of the poor.
The The Third Part of the Sermon of Aims-Deeds.
YE have already heard two parts of this treatise of Alms-deeds. The sirst, how pleafant and acceptable before God the doing of them is; the second, how much it behoveth us, and how prositable it is to apply ourselves unto them. Now in the third part will I take away that let, that hindereth many from doing them. There be many, that when they hear how acceptable a thing in the sight of God the giving of alms is, and how much God extendeth his favour towards them that are merciful, and what fruits and commodities do come to them by it, they wish very gladly with themselves that they also might obtain these benessits, and be counted sucn of God as whom he would love or do for. But yet these men are with greedy covetousness so pulled back, that they will not bestow one halspenny, or one piece of bread, that they might be thought worthy of God's benesits, and so to come into his favour. For they are evermore searful, and doubting, lest by often giving, although it were but a little at a time, they should consume their goods, and so impoverish themselves, that even themselves at the length should not be able to live, but should be driven to beg, and live of other men's alms. And thus they seek excuses to withhold themselves from the favouf of God, and choose with pinching covetousness rather to lean unto the Devil, than by charitable mercifulness either to come unto Christ, or to suffer Christ to come unto them. O that we had some cunning and skilful physician, that were able to purge them of this so pestiient an humour, that so sore insecteth, not their bodies, but their minds, and so by corrupting their souls bringeth their bodies and souls into danger of hell-sire! Now lest there be any such among us, dearly beloved, let us diligently search for that physician, which is Jesus Christ, and earnestly labour that of his mercy he will truly instruct us, and give us a present remedy against so perilous a disease. Hearken then, whosoever thou art that searest lest by giving to the poor thou shouldest bring thyself to beggary. That which thou takest from thyself to bestow upon Christ can never be consumed and wasted away. Wherein thou shalt not believe me, but if thou have faith, and be a true Christian, believe the Holy Ghost, give credit to the authority of God's word that thus teacheth. For thus faith the Holy Ghost by Solo. \ mon,
mon, He that givetb unto the poor shall never want. Men suppose that by hoarding and laying up still, they (hall at length be rich, .aud that by distributing and laying out, although it be for most neceffary and godly uses, they (hall be brought to poverty. But the Holy Ghost, which knoweth all truth, teacheth us another leffon, contrary to this. He teacheth us that there is a kind of depending that shall never diminish the stock, and a kind of faving that shall bring a man to extreme poverty. For where he faith, that the good alms-man shall never have scarcity, he addeth, but he that turnetb away bis eyes from such as he in necessity, shall suffer great poverty himself. How far different then is the judgment of man from the judgment of the Holy Ghost! The holy Apostle Paul, a man full of the Holy Ghost, and made privy even of the secret will of God, teacheth, that the liberal alms-giver shall not thereby be impoverished. He that vCoi. is, minjleretb, faith he, seed unto the sower, will minijjler also bread unto you for food; yea, he will multiply your seed, and increase the fruits of your righteousness. He is not content to advertise them that they shall not lack, but he sheweth them also in what sort God will provide for them. Even as he provided seed for the sower in multiplying it, and giving great increase; so he will multiply their goods, and increase them, that there shall be great abundance. And lest we should think his fayings to be but words, and not truth, we have an example thereof in the sirst Book of Kings, which doth conssirm and seal it up as a most certain truth. The poor widow that received the banished Prophet of God, Elias, when as she had but a handful of meal in a veffel, and a little oil in a cruse, whereof she would make a cake for herself and her son, that after they had eaten that, they might die, because in that great famine there was no more food to be gotten: yet when she gave part thereof to Elias, and defrauded her own hungry belly, mercifully to relieve him, she was fp bleffed of God, that neither the meal nor the oil was consumed all the time while that famine did last, but thereof both the Prophet Elias, she, and her son, were sussiciently nourished and had enough.
Oh consider this example, ye unbelieving and faithless covetous persons, who ditcredit God's word, and think his power diminished! This poor woman, in the time of an extreme and long dearth, had but one handful of meal and a little cruse or oil; her only son was ready to perish . before her face for hunger, and she herself like to pine 4. away: away: and yet when the poor Prophet came, and aflted
Irart, she was so mindful of mercifulness, that she forgot ier own misery; and rather than die would omit the occasion given to give alms, and work a work of righteousness, she was content presently to hazard her own and her son's lise. And you, who nave great plenty of meats and drinks, great store of moth-eaten apparel, yea, many of you great heaps of gold and silver, and he that hath least hath more than sussicient, now in this time, when, thanks be to God, no great famine doth oppress vou, your children being well clothed and well sed, an<3 no danger of death for famine to be seared, will rather cast doubts and perils of unlikely penury, than you will part with any piece of your supersluities, to help and succour the poor, hungry, and naked Christ, that cometh to your doors a begging. This poor and silly widow never cast doubts in all her misery what wants she herself should have, slic never distrusted the promise that God made to her by the Prophet, but straightway went about to relieve the hungry Prophet of God, yea, preserring his neceffity before her own. But we, like unbelieving wretches, before we will give one mite, we will cast a thoufand doubts of danger, whether that will stand us in any stead, that we give to the poor, whether we should not have need of it at any other time, and whether here it would not hare been more prositably bestowed. So that it is more hard to wrench a strong nail (as the proverb faith) out of a post, than to wring a farthing out of our singers. There is neither the sear nor the love of God before our eyes; we will more esteem a mite, than we either desire God's kingdom, or sear the Devil's dungeon. Hearken, therefore, ye merciless misers, what will be the end of this your unmerciful dealing. As certainly as God nourished this poor widow in the time of famine, and increased her little store, so that she had enough, and selt no penury, when other pined away; so certainly shall God plague you with poverty in the midst of plenty. Then when other have abundance and be sed at hill, you shall utterly waste and consume away yourselves, your store shall b« destroyed, your goods plucked from you, all your glory and wealth shall perish; and that which when you had vou might have enjoyed yourselves in peace, and might have beslowed upon other most godly, ye (hall seek with sorrow and sighs, and no where shall hnd it. For your unmercifulnels towards other, ye shall sind no man that will shew mercy towards you. You that had ftpny hearts
towards other, shall sind all the creatures of God to you ward as hard as brass and iron. Alas, what fury and madness doth poffess our minds, that in a matter of truth and certainty we will not give credit to the truth, testifying unto that which is most certain! Christ faith, that if we will firjj l seek the kingdom of God, and do the works of righteousness thereof, we jhall not he left dejlitute, all other things shall he given to us plentcoujly. Nay, fay we, I will sirst look that I be able to live myself, and be sure that I have enough for me and mine; and if I have any thing over, I will bestow it to get God's favour, and the poor shall then have part with me.
See, I pray you, the perverse judgment of men; we have more care to nourish the carcase, than we have sear to see our soul perish. And, as Cyprian faith, whilst we stand in sermon.-3t doubt lest our goods fail in being over liberal, we put itEiecraoiyout of doubt, that our lise and health faileth in not being liberal at all. Whilst we are careful for diminishing ofour stock, we are altogether careless to diminish ourselves. We love Mammon, and lose our fouls. We sear lest our patrimony should perish from us ; but we sear not lest we should perish for it. Thus do we perversely love that which we should hate, and hate that which we should love; we be negligent where we should be careful, and careful where we need not. Thus vain sear to lack ourselves, if we give to the poor, is much like the sear of children and fools, which when they see the bright glimmering of a glass, they do imagine straightway that it is the lightning, and yet the brightness of a glass never was the lightning. Even so, when we imagine that by spending upon the poor, a man may come to poverty, we are cast into a vain sear; for we never heard or knew, that by that means any man came to misery, and was left destitute, and not considered of God. Nay, we read to the contrary in the Scripture, (as I have before shewed, and as by insinite testimonies and examples may be
proved,) that whosoever serveth God faithfully and unseignedly in any vocation, God will not fuffer him to decay, much less to perish. The Holy Ghost teacheth us by Solomon, that the Lord will not suffer the soul of the ?mr. xyiU righteous to peri/h for bunger. And therefore David faith unto all them that are merciful, 0fear the Ijord,ye that be his faints, for they that fear him luck nothing. The lions do lack and suffer bunger; but they which seek the Lord shall want no manner of thing that is good. When Elias was in 1 Kinp the defart, God fed him by the ministry of a raven, thatxviu