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of you always in my prayers. Making request, if by any means, I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God, to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spi-" ritual gift, to the end ye may be established: that is, that I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and me."
If the Apostle Paul, when he knew the Romans no otherwise than by report, expressed so ardent a desire to see them, for the sole purpose of inciting them to seek after higher degrees of faith and piety; . what must be the disposition of those ministers, who feel no desires of this nature even for the members of their own flock? And in how great an error are those christians, who frequently assemble together, either in their own houses, or in more public places, for the very purpose of mutually forgetting the rstraints of piety, losing their minds by frivolous conversation, and debasing their minds by puerile amusements! Further, if the new nature of the regenerate excites in them that lively concern for the salvation of their neighbours, which St. Paul expressed for the salvation of those, who inhabited the remotest parts of the earth, is it becoming in the faithful to stifle the motions of that commendable zeal, which christian charity alone can inspire ? And if there are to be found among us dignified teachers, who, far from seconding a zeal so necessary in our day, are rather disposed to extinguish the first sparks of it, wherever they are discernable ; whom may they be said to take for their model, Paul the Apostle, or Saul the Pharisee ; doubtless Saul, the agent of a bigotted sect, . and the open persecutor of the faithful.
HIS CHARITY TOWARDS THE POOR IN GIVING, OR
PROGURING FOR THEM TEMPORAL RELIEF.
THOUGH our Lord came principally to save the " souls" of sinners, yet he was by no means unmindful of their bodies." "He went about doing good,” in the most unlimited sense, daily re. lieving, with equal care, the corporeal and spiritual maladies of the people. Thus when he had distri. buted the word of God to those, who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness, he expressed an anxious concern for the support of those among his followers, who were sensible of no other wants, except such as were of a temporal nature : “ I have compassion on the multilude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat”....and not content with barely ex. pressing his concern for their corporeal necessities, he wrought an astonishing miracle for their imme.
diate relief. The true minister cheerfully imitates · the conduct of his gracious Master, by a strict and
affectionate attention to the spiritual, and temporal wants of his people. “ James, Cephas, and John," saith St. Paul, “ gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go unto the heathen ; only they would that we should remember the poor ; the same which I also was forward to do."
When the liberality of St. Paul toward his neces. sitous brethren was restrained by his own excessive indigence, he employed the most effectual means to procure for them the generous benefactions of their wealthier companions in the faith of the Gospel. The following passages extracted from his epistles may serve as sufficient proofs of this. “ Bretheren I cannot but inform you of "the grace of God, bestowed on the churches of Macedonia ; how that in a great trial of affiction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power, they were wil. ling of themselves; praying us with much entreaty, that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.... Therefore as ye abound in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. Wherefore shew ye, before the churches, the proof of our love, and of our boasting on your behalf.”
Not yet content with these earnest solicitations in behalf of the poor, the Apostle thus proceeds to enforce his importunities. “I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they should go before unto you, and make up before-hand your bounty, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. But this I say, he, that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly ; and he, that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you ; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work : as it is written, he hath dispersed abroad ; he hath given to the poor ; his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness :" that ye may be " enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abun
dant also by many thanksgivings unto God : while by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” Who could possibly refuse any thing to a godly minister pleading the cause of the poor, with all this apostolic dignity, simplicity, and zeal ?
After having obtained alms for the poor, the " Apostle Paul cautiously avoided all suspicion of ap- . propriating any part of them to the relief of his own necessities; and was equally careful, that they were never misemployed through the unfaithfulness of those, who were appointed to distribute them. One of our brethren, adds the Apostle, "chosen of the churches" accompanies us in our journey with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance, which is administered by us : providing for honest things not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Mentioning again his favourite employment, he writes to a distant church...." Now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor' saints, which are at Jerusalem. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed unto them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. Now I beseech you, brethren, that ye strive together in your prayers for me, that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea ; and that the service, which I have for Jerusalem, may be accepted of the saints.
Thus to wait upon the churches, and particularly thus to attend upon the poor, is to merit the name of a faithful minister,
YIS CHARITY TOWARD SINNERS IN OFFERING THEX
EVERY SPIRITUAL ASSISTANCE.
TO solicit alms for those, who are destitute of food and raiment, and at the same time to withhold the word of God from those,“ who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” is to manifest an unhappy inconsistency of character. Such inconsistencies, however, are frequently discoverable, even among pastors, who pique themselves upon their disposition to work sof benevolence and charity.
Man has an immortal soul. This soul, which is properly himself, is rendered, by sin so totally ignorant and so completely miserable, that she seeks to enrich herself with the vanities ofthe world, and to gratify her inclinations with the pollutions of sin. In pity to the soul in this state of wretchedness, the truths of the Gospel are proposed by a compassionate God, as a sacred remedy adapted to the nature of her innumerable wants : they illumine the blind with spiritual light and knowledge ; they clothe the
baked with the robe of righteousness; they feed the hungis ; they heal the sick ; They burst the cap. tive's bands ; they give eternal life to those, who are dead in trespasses and sin : in a word, they make its partakers of the great salvation of God. To publish this Gospel then, or to procure the preaching of it to sinners, is undoubiedly to give them an important proof of the most excellent charity : while, on the other hand, to refuse them the word of God, or to avoid any occasion of administering it, is absolutely or occasionally to deny them those spiricual alms and assisiances, which the Sa. viour of the world has appointed for their daily relief. The pastor, who acts in this unbecoming manner, resembles a physician, or an almoner, who,