« ZurückWeiter »
4. It endureth for ever in the perpetual favor of God, and in the eternal rewards which he has prepared for it: when all the fashion of this world, with its glories, are gone, his righteousness shall then endure for ever.
It follows, his horn shall be exalted with honor. A horn is an emblem of power and of dignity. And that this shall so be, may appear from many considerations.
1. Honor is inseparably annexed thereto, as its natural companion and shadow. God hath impressed on all virtue a majesty and a beauty, which command respect, and extort veneration from men; but whilst other virtues are seen and approved as goodly to the sight, this is tasted and felt; this by the most sensible experience is found pleasant and profitable; and it is therefore most highly prized.
2. But farther, an accession of honor, according to gracious promise, is due from God unto the bountiful person, and is by special promise surely conferred on him and there is no kind of piety or obedience, whereby God himself is more signally honored than by this; since from it proceed those good works, the which men seeing, are apt to glorify our father which is in heaven.
3. God will thus exalt the bountiful man's horn even here in this world; and to an infinitely higher pitch he will advance it in a future state: he shall there be set at the right hand, in a most honorable place and rank, among the chief friends and favorites of the Heavenly King. Conclusion.
THE DUTY AND REWARD OF BOUNTY TO THE POOR.
PSALM CXII. VERSE 9.
He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with honor.
As this whole Psalm appears to have a double intent; one to describe the proper actions and affections of a truly religious or pious man; (of a man who feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in his commandments;') the other to declare the happiness of such a man's state, consequent on those his affections and actions, whether in way of natural result or of gracious recompense from God: so doth this verse particularly contain both a good part of a pious man's character, and some considerable instances of his felicity. The first words (He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor') express part of his character; the latter ('His righteousness endureth for ever, his horn shall be exalted with honor') assign instances of his felicity. So that our text hath two parts, one affording us good information concerning our duty, the other yielding great encouragement to the performance thereof; for we are obliged to follow the pious man's practice, and so doing we shall assuredly partake of his condition. These parts we shall in order prosecute, endeavoring (by God's assistance) somewhat to illustrate the
*This Sermon was preached at the Spital on Wednesday in Easter Week, A. D. 1671.
words themselves, to confirm the truths couched in them, and to inculcate the duties which they imply.
For the first part, He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor;' these words in general do import the liberal bounty and mercy which a pious man is wont to exercise; doing which doth in good part constitute him pious, and signally declareth him such; is a necessary ingredient of his piety, and a conspicuous mark thereof. But particularly they insinuate some things concerning the nature, the matter, the manner, and the object of those acts.
He hath dispersed, he hath given.' Those words being put indefinitely, or without determining what is dispersed and given by him, may be supposed to imply a kind of universality in the matter of his beneficence; that he bestoweth whatever he hath within compass of his possession or his power; his rà vτápxovra, (the things which he hath,) and his rà ẻvóvra, (the things which he may,) according to the prescriptions of our Lord in the gospel. Every thing, I say, which he hath in substance, or can do by his endeavor, that may conduce to the support of the life, or the health, or the welfare in any kind of his neighbor, to the succor or relief of his indigency, to the removal or easement of his affliction, he may well here be understood to disperse and give. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, entertaining the stranger, ransoming the captive, easing the oppressed, comforting the sorrowful, assisting the weak, instructing or advising the ignorant, together with all such kinds or instances of beneficence, may be conceived either meant directly as the matter of the good man's dispersing and giving, or by just analogy of reason reducible thereto : substantial alms, as the most sensible and obvious matter of bounty, was (it is probable) especially intended, but thence no manner of expressing it is to be excluded; for the same reasons which oblige us, the same affections which dispose us to bestow our money, or deal our bread, will equally bind and move us to contribute our endeavor and advice, for the sustenance and comfort of our poor neighbor. Answerably our discourse will more expressly regard the principal matter, liberal communication of our goods; but it may be referred to all sorts of beneficence.
Farther, the word dispersed intimateth the nature of his
bounty, in exclusion of practices different from it. He disperseth, and is therefore not tenacious, doth not hoard up his: goods, or keep them close to himself, for the gratifying his covetous humor, or nourishing his pride, or pampering his sensuality; but sendeth them abroad for the use and benefit of others. He disperseth his goods, and therefore doth not fling them away altogether, as if he were angry with them, or weary of them, as if he loathed or despised them; but fairly and softly with good consideration he disposeth of them here and there, as reason and need do require. He disperseth them to the poor, not dissipateth them among vain or lewd persons in wanton or wicked profusions, in riotous excesses, in idle divertisements, in expensive curiosities, in hazardous gamings, in any such courses which swallow whole all that a man hath, or do so cripple him, that he becomes unable to disperse any thing: our good man is to be understood wisely provident, honestly industrious, and soberly frugal, that we may have wherewith to be. just first, and then liberal.
His dispersing also (or scattering, so the Hebrew* word here. used is otherwhere rendered: There is,' saith the wise man, 'that scattereth, and yet increaseth :' where we may remark that this word singly by itself, without any adjunct matter to limit or interpret it, is used to signify this kind of practice. This his dispersing, I say, also) denotes the extent of the pious man's bounty, that it is very large and diffusive, and in a manner unrestrained; that it reacheth to many places, and is withheld from no persons within the verge of his power, and opportunity to do good. This practice commonly by a like phrase (unto which perhaps this word refers) is termed 'sowing:' He,' saith St. Paul, which soweth sparingly, shall also reap. sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall also reap bountifully.' Now, he that soweth, having chosen a good soil, and a fit season, doth not regard one particular spot, but throweth all about so much as his hand can hold, so far as the strength of his arm doth carry. It is likewise called watering;' (He that watereth,' saith Solomon, shall be watered himself:') which expression also seemeth to import a plentiful
* Eph. iv. 28. 775
and promiscuous effusion of good, dropping in showers on dry and parched places; that is, on persons dry for want, or parched with affliction. So the good man doth not plant his bounty in' one small hole, or spout it on one narrow spot, but with an open hand disseminates it, with an impartial regard distils it all about. He stints it not to his own family or relations; to his neighbors, or friends, or benefactors; to those of his own sect and opinion, or of his humor and disposition; to such as serve him, or oblige him, or please him; whom some private interest ties, or some particular affection endears him to; but scatters it indifferently and unconfinedly toward all men that need it; toward mere strangers, yea, toward known enemies; toward such who never did him any good, or can ever be able to do any; yea, even toward them who have done evil to him, and may be presumed ready to do more. Nothing in his neighbor. but absence of need, nothing in himself but defect of ability, doth curb or limit his beneficence. In that Tрolvμía, (that proclivity and promptitude of mind) which St. Paul speaketh of, he doth good everywhere: wherever a man is, there is a room for his wishing well, and doing good, if he can he observes that rule of the Apostle, As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men.' So the pious man hath dispersed. It follows,
'He hath given to the poor.' These words denote the freeness of his bounty, and determine the principal object thereof: he not only lendeth (though he also doth that on reasonable occasion; for,' a good man,' as it is said before in this Psalm, 'showeth mercy, and lendeth;' and otherwhere, the righteous is ever merciful, and lendeth;' he, I say, not only sometimes willingly lendeth) to those who in time may repay, or requite him; but he freely giveth to the poor, that is, to those from whom he can expect no retribution back. He doth not (as good and pious, he doth not) present the rich: to do so is but a cleanly way of begging, or a subtile kind of trade; it is. hardly courtesy; it is surely no bounty; for such persons (if they are not very sordid or very careless, and such men are not usually much troubled with presents) will, it is likely, overdo him, or at least will be even with him in kindness. In doing this, there is little virtue; for it there will be small re