Page images

XX. 10.; and that the thing itself, or the value of it, yca and a reafonable acknowledgement for the loss of it, Lev. vi. 5. Luke xix. 8. The restitution is to be made to the owner, or, if he Be dead, to his heirs; and if neither can be found, to the Lord, Numb. v. 6. 7. 8. Luke xix. 8.

In case the reputation of the party be in hazard, the reftitution should be managed with that prudence, that it may not be unnecessarily blasted; for which cause they that are in straits that way ought to consult fome prudent person, either minister or Christian, that will be tender of them.

4thly, Charity and justice in the matter of loans. Here,

(..) Lending to our neighbour in his neceflity is a duty we owe him for the welfare of his outward eftate, Matth. v. 42. ; not only lending upon interest, which is lawful, so that it be moderate, Deut. xxiii. 20. but frecly, viz. to those that are poor, and require the loan for pressing necessity. In that -case we ought to lend them freely such a quantity of money and goods as we can well enough bear tlie lofs of, in case they be rendered incapable to pay it again. And fo is that scripture to be understood, Luke vi. 35. Lend, hoping for nothing again.

(2.) Returning or paying again thankfully what is borrowed by us, Exod. xxii. 14. And therefore we are not to borrow more than what we are in a probable capacity to pay; which while some have not regarded, they have liberally lived on other mens lubstance, and in end have ruined other famia lies, and quite devoured their money, as in another cale, Gen. xxxi. 15. for no man has nore that he can call his own than what is over and above his debt, Pial. xxxvii. 21. If the incapacity flow from mere providence, it is their affliction, but not their fin, 2 Kings iv. 1.

Lastly, Giving unto the poor or those that are in need, according to their necessity and our ability,

Luke xi. 41. They are our neighbours, to whose outward estate we are obliged to look ; they are to have mercy shewn to them that way. A disposition of soul to help them is requisite in all, even in those that have not a farthing to give, Prov. xi. 25. What people give must be their own, 1 John iii. 17. it must be thy bread, Eccl. xi. 1. And therefore such as have not of their own, they cannot give what is another's without the tacit content and approbation or allowance of the owner; neither will God accept their robbery for burnt-offering. But even people that must work hard for their own bread, muft work the harder that they may be able to give, Eph. iv. 28. But they to whom God has given a more plentiful measure of the world's goods, must be so much the more liberal to the poor. For to whom much is given, of him is much required, In helping of the necessitous the apostle's rules are to be observed, that special regard is to be had to our relations that may be in Itraits, i Tim. v. 8, and that though all that need are to be helped, yet special respect is to be had to the poor members of Chrilt, Gal. vi. 10. and the greateit need is to be most regarded and most helped.

This duty is to be managed with these qualities.

(1.) People must give to the poor out of conscience cowards God, and a design to honour him, Prov. iji. 9.: not out of vain glory, else the work is lost as to acceptance, Matth. vi, 1. 2,

(2.) Wizh an honourable regard to the poor, either as Christians and members of the fame myftica! body of Chrift, or at least as of the fame blood with nurselves, and not with contempt and shaming of them, i Cor. xi. 22.

(3.) Chearfully and freely, put grudgingly and as by constraint, 2 Cor. ix. 7,

(4.) According to the measure of what the Lord has given unto us, 1 Cor. xvi. 2.

So the more we have, the more we ought to give. The quantity

[ocr errors]

particularly cannot be defined, but by wisdom and charity it must be defined by every one for themselves, Psal. cxii. s.

To engage you to this duty, consider,

[1.] We are not absolute masters, but stewards of our goods. The whole world is God's household; and he has made fome.ftewards to feed others, Luke xvi, 10. 11. 12. We must give account of our stewardship to him, who could have put us in their case, and them in ours.

[2.] It is a duty bound on us with ties of nature and revelation. The law of God requires it, 2 Cor. viii. 9. Nature itself binds it on us, teaching us to do to others as we would be done by, if in their case. Not only Chriftianity, but humanity calls for it.

[3.] In this duty there is a singular excellency. For, 1.) It is a blessed thing by the verdict of our blefled Lord, Acts xx. 35. It is more blessed to give than to receive. 2.) The image and likeness of God fhines forth in it in a peculiar manner, Luke vi. 35. 36. Love ye. your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again : and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest : for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil

. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Tho' Chrift became poor for us, yet he gave to the poor to commend it to us by his example. 3.) It is particularly taken notice of in the day of judgement, Matth. xxv. 34. 35.

Lastly, It is the most frugal and advantageous way of managing of the world's goods. For,

1.) It is the way to secure to ourselves a throughbearing; there is a good security for it, Prov. xxviii. 27. He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack,

2.) It is the best way to secure what we have, which is liable to so many accidents, Eccl. xi. 1. Caft thy bread upon the waters : for thou shalt find it after many days. Laying out for God is better security than laying up what God calls for. For so it is put in a sure hand, that will be sure to pay it again. The poor and needy are God's receivers, Prov. xix. 17. He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given, will be pay

bim again.

3.) It is the way to be rich, as the Bible points out the way, Prov. iii. 9. Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of thine increase. Solomon observes the accomplishment of it, Prov. xi. 24. There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth,

4.) It is the way to secure comfort to us in the time when trouble fall overtake us, Pfal. xli. 1. 2. 3. Blessed is be that considereth the poor ; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; and thou wilt not deliver him into the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him ироп the bed of languishing : thou wilt make all his bed in bis fickness.

Lastly, God has promised that such shall find mer. cy, Matth. v. 7. always taking along what is said, ver. 3. Blessed are the poor in spirit : for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. See Luke xvi. 9. 1 Tim. vi. 17. 18. 19.

II, I come now to fhew what is forbidden in the eighth commandment. It " forbids whatsoever “ doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our

neighbour's wealth or outward estate."

The fins forbidden in this command may be reduced to these two heads; whatever doth or may hinder our own wealth unjustly, and whatever doth or may unjustly hinder our neighbour's wealth or outward eltate.

FIRST, Whatsoever doth or may hinder our own wealth unjustly. This is necessarily understood: for we may neither do a linful thing to procure our own wealth, nor yet to preserve it. But when there are ļawful means which providence calls us to the use of, and we do not use them, we fin against God and ourselves. Thus this command says to each of us, in the first place, Thou shalts not steal from thyself. Thus we are guilty,

1. By idleness, when people that are able do not employ themselves in some honest calling or work according to their ability, 2 Theff. iii. 11. The idle , man wrongs himself, while he exposes himself to poverty, and so to a snare, by his not using means to preserve and improve his substance. And he fins against God, who has appointed that in the sweat of his face man fhall eat bread; Gen. iii. 19. And this is so although he have enough of his own, and needs not be burdensome to others, Ezek. xvi. 49. He makes himself a waif for Satan to pick up.

2. By carelessness, fioth, and mismanagement in our calling, Prov. xviii. 9. Carelessness lets occafions of furthering our own wealth flip; and fothfulness in business is next to doing nothing at all. And they that cannot put down their hands to work diligently, will hardly miss some time or another to put out their hand to steal. Careless and fothful management of business by one hand in a family, may do more mischief than many diligent hands can remedy, Prov. xiv. I. Religion does not allow cither men or women to be drones in their family, good for nothing but to make a noise, take up loom, and feed on the product of the diligence of their relatives, Rom. xii. 11.

3. . By not owning God in our business, and so slighting his blessing, who gives man power to get wealth, Deut. viii. 18. It is he that gives rains and fruitful seasons; that makes the catile to thrive or to be diminished; and that profpereth the work of our hands. Do they not then stand in their own light that acknowledge him not in these things?

4. By wastefulness and prodigality, whereby peaple foolishly spend and lavish away what God has brought to their hands, Prov. xxi. 17. And in

« PreviousContinue »