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Ser m. her in her bounty, for the reason given by our XVII. Saviour, because there was none so poor, and m that she could not find any that wanted more
than herself: So had her fortune been equal to the goodness of her heart, she had out-done them all likewise in the fize and number of their offerings. She who could freely part with two mites for the publick good, and want bread for it that day, would have found no reluctance in parting off all the superfluous vanities of a fashionable way of living, and laying of them out in the purchase of heaven and eternal life.' Nay it is plain the had a foul as great as that of David or Solomon ; and if the had wherewithal, she would have defrayed the charges of re-building the temple with all its furniture, nothing inferiour to what it appeared in its greatest fplendour.
If you are sensible of the true value and worth of a publick charity in the fight of God, I shall here proceed to the present occasion of my laying before you this great and excellent example of it proposed by our Saviour in the Gospel ; which is a good opportunity now to be given of making tryal of our own hearts how far they are in a disposition of being moved and influenced by it. Namely, a collection to be made for a number of poor helpless children, to be laid out in providing for them cloaths, and books, and schooling ; in giving them instruction in the first rudiments of the christian religion, and acquainting them with the do&rines and principles of our holychurch;
in teaching them such things as may qualify Serm, them for trades and callings ; in binding them XVII. out apprentices, and so putting them into a condition of earning bread for themselves, and being some
way useful to the publick. Now because it is no small comfort to such as give, that they do it in a well-chosen charity; that they give with prudence as well as with a free and ready heart, it ought to be considered," that setting aside cases of necessity and present misery, this is one of the noblest charities in the world; insomuch that it is hard to tell how money can be given to better purposes, and how any liberality whatsoever can be greater in its effects and consequences. For
ift. It is an immediate relief to the greatest objects of charity in the world; it is for cloathing the nakedness of poor distressed and fatherless children, who are not able to help themfelyes; and are by the providence of God exposed deftitute of friends or relations, on purpose for a tryal of our obedience to God's commands; of our faith in him; and dependance upon
those blessings which are promised to them who provide for the fick and needy. Is not this the faft I have chosen, says God in Ifai. lviii. 6, 7. When thou feeft the naked, that tbou cover him, i.e. When you spare it from your felves, and off your own backs to cloath the naked; not only such as are intirely fo, but such as are either indecently or thinly clad; in which sense St. Paul fays of himself, i Cor. iv, 11. that he himself was naked. And what
ŞER M. numbers of poor distressed children are there
exposed, as St. Paul speaks of himself at the
But zdly, this charity is not only for the
devotion of their lives, and enable them to SER M. keep up some communion with God, even in XVII. the midst of work and business.
It is a reproach to our common christianity, that in the midst of a nation where it is
professed and established, such multitudes should be found void of either natural or revealed religion, and even of the first principles of the oracles of God; scarce having tasted of the milk of the word which is necessary for the nourishment of babes in Christ. The ignorance of many among the lower rank of people, is incredible to any but such as have sought for opportunities of trying them ; nay, many
know no more of Christ than the name, and have as little knowledge of our salvation by him, as if they had been born wild Indians or Americans. And which is yet more lamentable, when once men are grown up in this ignorance, they are lost and undone past all remedy; for sad experience Thews us, that when they pass their childhood and youth without any impressions of virtue and holiness, it is an insuperable difficulty ever after to work in them any truly sincere and lasting sense of religion. So remarkably true is that saying of the wise man's, Train up a child in the way which he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it; the full import of which is; that if you do not train him up in the right way while he is a child, he will hardly ever be brought into it afterwards. How deplorably is this verified through the whole VOL.II.
Se'r M. rank of common beggars, who growing up XVII. destitute of all knowledge of the laws of God, Uw and below the notice of humane laws, are ge
nerally the most corrupt and profligate part of mankind, without any sense or feeling of religion, and never use the name of any person in the holy trinity, but to profane it in their loud and importunate clamours for an alms : All which would have been in a great degree prevented, had the last age been sensible of the great and unspeakable advantages of this kind of charity. You see the importance of what you give to this use ; it is for feeding the lambs of Christ with spiritual nourishment; rescuing them from the jaws of hell; building
immortal souls for heaven and everlasting happiness ; fouls as dear and precious in the fight of Christ with whom there is no respect of persons, as those of your own children, and equally the price of his blood. In short, it is to save them from perishing for lack of knowledge, which is infinitely worse than perishing with hunger and cold.
A third thing of no small consequence to which we contribute, is the breeding up numbers of children to be true and faithful fons and daughters of the purest and holiest church upon earth ; and this must be a motive of great weight with all those who are sincere and unfhaken members of it themselves : For surely that communion which they make choice of for their own salvation, except they be reprobetes, they cannot but judge most fafe for the