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a: d inhabited, and celebrated for the seats of so many of the nobility and gentry, is capable of doing great things if it pleases, and may, like Devonshire, without feeling any sensible burden, command a spacious and commodious edifice to arise for this purpose in a few months; and if no unexpected providence obstruct it, I know not what should forbid us to hope and expect it. Good examples are already giren, great patrons are engaged*, and measures are entered into for soliciting the county in the most prudent and engaging methods that could be contrived. The effects will soon be seen; and then, not till then, the managers will be able to judge what they can at first safely attempt, and will, I dare say, greatly rejoice to see a much grander scheme practicable, than they have allowed themselves particularly to project.
It is with great pleasure, that I see persons, who have been listed under opposite parties, and wlio bear different denominations, cordially uniting to advance this generous scheme, and consulting to make each other as easy as possible in the execution of it. There is very little in the following sermon, which is no matter of common concern, as we are christians, and as we are men; and I am not aware of one word, which can reasonably give offence to any: And therefore I hope, the name of the author will be no prevailing prejudice against its acceptance and usefulness. I cannot think an attempt of this kind out of character in present circumstances, I have peculiar obligations to love a county, where I have spent so many agreeable years, and in the various parts of which I have the pleasure of enjoying a personal friend, ship with so many deserving people. But had I been only an occasional resident in it for a few months or weeks, I could not have refused what little I night have had an opportunity of doing, in subserviency to a design sa friendly to human nature as this. Homo sum, humani nihil à me alienum puto,
* This refers to the honour, which his Grace the Duke of Montague and the Earl of Northampton have done us, the former in accepting the office of grand visitor of the hospital, and the latter that of perpetual president; as well as to the important assistances, which the Earl of Halifax has given, and is giving, as in every other generous and zealous service to the design, so especially in presiding as chairman in the present committee for drawing up the statutes of the Hospital, and taking other preparatory measures for putting the plan into the most speedy and effectual execution : Circumstances, which in so happy a concurrence, have given a spirit and a weight to its resolutions, which it is hard to imagine how they could otherwise have had. I mention not the names of several others of the nobility, gentry, and clergy, who have distinguished themselves on this occasion: The list, when published, will speak the generosity of their subscription ; and other services, not capable of being represented there or here, will, no donbt, live in the grateful pemory of all who have particularly known them, without any such records,
Psalm xli. 1, 3.-Blessed is he trutt considereth the Poor; the Lord will ddiver
him in Time of Trouble : The Lord will strengthen him upon the Bed of Languishing : Thou wilt make all_his Bed in his Sickness.
IT is matter of certain observation, and of delightful reflection, that under the adıninistration of a wise and gracious pro.. vidence, even the distresses of human nature are so over-ruled, as to occasion some of its most exquisite pleasures. Our own have this effect, when generously encountered in a good cause; or when, from whatever source they arise, we bear them with a calm resignation to the great Governor of all, animated by an humble confidence in his goodness. And the calamities of others, deeply as they wound every compassionate heart, are the accidental cause of a proportionable satisfaction attending every humane attempt for their relief. This is what I am persuaded, many of you, to whom I now speak, have often experienced already; and I hope, that experience will now be largely and happily renewed. I am confident it will, if what I am about to lay before you in favour of the scheme, which is now opening upon us, for a County Infirmary to be erected here, be regarded in such a manner, as I have great reason to hope it will; considering how noble a charity it suggests, and how ready I have ever found you to comply with every call of providence to contribute liberally for the assistance of the necessitous.
That important branch of christian charity, which consists in giving alms to the poor and indigent, has been the subject of so many of my discourses, that almost every topic, and every argument, which I could think of to enforce it, has been warmly and frequently urged upon you; and the fairest examples of such a disposition have been particularly illustrated, that, charmed with the beauty of them, you might go and do likewise. Especially you have been often pressed by that noblest and tenderest of all arguments, which arises from the infinite
compassion and benevolence of the blessed Jesus, and the distinguished genius of his religion ; as having charity for its declared end, and rising above all other religions, as much in the excellence of its tendency, as it doth in the dignity of its Author. And therefore, without so much as recapitulating what I have said on such'occasions, I shall make it the whole of my present work, to suggest such things, as may have a peculiar suitableness to that particular kind of charity which we have now in view : And I think myself exceedingly happy in this opportunity of offering you a set of thoughts, which would never before have been equally seasonable here. Many of them will naturally arise from the words which I at first read, as the foundation of my discourse ; blessed is he that considereth the poor, &c.
It would perhaps be too bold a criticism, to pretend to determine the particular distemper, under which David had been labouring, just before he composed this admirable Psalm. But I think it is in general abundantly evident, that it was occasioned by a violent and dangerous fit of sickness ; in which he met with most inhuman treatment from some base and wicked men, who had pretended great affection to him. “Mine enemies, says he, speak evil of me, saying, when shall he die and his name perish? They think the distemper, terrible as it is, does its work too slowly, and would gladly, if they durst, aid its victory by murder. And as for him who is the chief of them,” by whom some suppose he meant Absalom, whose unnatural rebellion might be ripened by the concurrence of this circumstance, “ if he come to see me, as he frequently does under specious pretences of duty and affection, yet in all his most respectful condolences, he speaks vanity and falsehood, and his heart is in the mean time gathering iniquity , is making one malignant remark or another, which, when he goeth away out of my apartment, he proclaims abroad to increase the disaffection he is endeavouring to sow among my subjects. And their mischievous counsels are quickened and emboldened hereby, while they say, an evil disease cleaveth fast unto him, as a peculiar judgment of heaven upon him ; and now that he lieth disabled in his bed, he shall arise no more. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted to have given me the surest assistance in my pressing affairs, while I am thus rendered incapable of attending to them myself, even he who did so long eat of my bread, and had a place at my table, has like an ungrateful brute that strikes at his feeder, lifted up his broad heel against
me," as the original imports *, “and endeavoured to do me all the mischief in his power.”
This was king David's unhappy circumstance in his illness, as royal dignity can neither secure the continuance of health, or the fidelity of friendship, nor fortify the heart against the sting of ingratitude; especially in such a concurrence of afflicting circumstances. On his recovery he described it in the most lively colours; and to represent how much it impressed him, he speaks of the scene, as if it were actually present: And that a proper contrast might set it off the more forcibly, he begins the psalm with an affectionate reflection on the beauty of a contrary character, and on the happiness to which the possessor of it was entitled. Blessed is he who considereth the poor. The original is yet more emphatical and extensive : Oh the blessedness, or the various felicities of that man who wisely reflects on the case, and circumstances of him that is brought low t. The margin renders it, him that is weak or sick: And another translation gives it thus, blessed is the man that provideth for the sick and needy; which is a sense undoubtedly comprehended in the words, though I cannot think them limited to it. They speak of a person reduced and brought low, whether by poverty, or oppression, or sickness, or any other calamity, affecting mind, body, or estate 1: From whence it will clearly follow, that where several
* spyssy sogen
+ 39 38 503VD 4DN They who can consult the original, and will give themselves the trouble of tracing the etymology from 557, and examining the many places in which this word is used, will soon see the justice of this remark. It most frequently signifies poor, and accordingly is often opposed to rich; as, Exod. xxx. 15. Ruth iii. 10. Job xxxiv. 19. Prov. x. 15. xix. 4. xxviii. 11. It is sometimes rendered brought low in our version; as, Psal. Ixxix. 8. cxlii. 6. and cxvi. 6. in which last place the connection shews, it relates to sickness. It is sometimes applied to streams emptied and dried up, Job xxvii. 4. Isa. xix. 6. and sometimes it signifies emaciated, Isa. xvii. 4. and is in that sense applied to Pharoah's lean kine, Gen. xli. 19. and to Amnon when pining away for Tamar; 2 Sam. xii. 4. agreeably to which 77771 derived from the same root is rendered pining sickness, Iga. xxxviii. 12. And it is elsewhere used to express a weakness in the eyes and limbs : Compare Isa, xxxviii. 14. where 1705 I'Y 157 should be rendered, mine eyes are so weakened, i. e. by languishing illness, that I am not able to look up. And Prov. xxvi. 7. which verse might most naturally be translated, As the legs of the lame sink under him, (NDED 'pw 457) so doth a parable in the mouth of fools : Solomon thereby beautifully expressing how feeble the sublimest discourses on moral and religious subjects are in the mouth of a vicious man. I know many critics have produced these two last texts, as instances in which 557 signifies to be lifted up ; but I believe, if most of the places, in which the same Hebrew word is said to signify contrary things were accurately weighed, they would be found as little to the purpose of proving that very improbable, and in many instances mischievous assertion, as these two.
of these causes join, as the circumstance is peculiarly worthy of compassion, the virtue, and therefore the blessedness, of him who is ready to pity and relieve it, must be proportionably great.
The word which we render considereth, is sometimes used for taking an intelligent view of a thing, and sometimes for acting in a prudent and reasonable manner, suitable to such views*. And accordingly it well expresses the character of one, who examines into the circumstances of the afflicted creature of whom David speaks, and upon that takes wise and proper measures for giving him the most convenient and effectual assistance he can. And as on the one hand, it may be intended to recommend the use of discretion in directing and managing our charities; so on the other, it may intimate, that where men overlook those that are brought low, it is an evidence of a narrow inattentive mind, that takes up with short and superficial views of things; whereas if men's sentiments were juster, their affections and actions would be kinder and more beneficent. They would find, that nature, and duty, and interest too, if rightly consider ed, and justly estimated; would all dictate the same thing on sich occasions.
This will especially appear, when it is considered, in how gracious and condescending a manner the blessed God, the supreme disposer of all events, is pleased to interest himself in the cause of the indigent and distressed, and the kind notice which he takes of the man that appears as a patron of such persons. The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble, or, as it might more literally be rendered, in the day of calamity t: As if it had been said, “ There is a revolution in human affairs, as well as in the returning seasons of day and night, of summer and winter. Calamity will have its day, and the time will come, when they, who are now most prosperous, will find themselves surrounded with dark and gloomy schemes. And then may the generous and charitable man hope to receive the compassion he hath extended; or, as we elsewhere read, With the merciful thou, Lord, wilt shew thyself merciful I” And indeed one cannot without astonishment, as well as delight, reflect on what is so suitably and so tenderly added in the third verse, to express the divine care of such a person. The Lord, Jehovah himself, in whom is everlasting strength $, and who bears up the pillars of
the ment and is please the
* Saw has plainly the former signification, Neh. viii. 13. Job xxxiv. 27, 35. Psal. xiv. 2. Jer. ix. 24. Dan i. 4. and the latter, 1 Sam. xviii, 14, 15, 30. Psal. cvi. 7. Amos v. 13. * Psal. xviii. 25.
Isa. xxvi. 4.