« AnteriorContinuar »
Ipend it upon our Lusts, and make our selves Beasts; if with the Rich Man in the Gospel, we fare delicioufly every day, and suffer the Poor and Miserable to starve at our Doors, we must expect to hear what Abraham said to him, Son, remember thou hadfi thy good things in thy life-time, and Lazarus ha evil things, therefore -now thou art tormented and he is comforted. x v:
To whom much is given, of them fliall be much required: Our Account increases as our Riches, and Honour, and Power does; for the more Opportunities we have of doing good , the more is expected from us; and the more we have experienced the Divine Bounty and Goodness, the greater Returns we owe of Duty and Gratitude; and therefore Rich and Great and Powerful Men, have more reason to think of Judgments than other Men, because they have a greater Account to give; and yet there is a greater reason than this too, that nothing but the frequent and serious Thoughts of Judgment will enable them to make a good Account.
Our Saviour tells us how hard it is for a rich man to enter into heaven; as hard as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle i For how irre sistible are the Temptations of Riches and Power? Which take off all the Restraints of Fear and Shame, and furnish them with all the Instruments and Opportunities of gratifying their Lusts.
How hard it is for Men to bear Greatness without Pride and Insolence? To be Rich without being covetous or luxurious? To be devout Worshippers of GOD, when they themselves
i . are are adored and flattered by Men? There are very few Examples of Humility, Piety, and Devotion, Temperance and Chastity in an exalted Fortune. Prosperity is generally a greater Tryal of a steddy and confirmed Vertue, than Adversity is; for it scatters our Thoughts , makes our Spirits aery and volatile, gives new Charms to the World, and kindles new Fires within; it leads us through all the various Scenes of Pleasures, and keeps up and tempts our Appetite with Varieties and fresh Delights, and entertains us so much abroad, that we can seldom retire into our selves, and converse with our own thoughts.
But would such Men seriously think of Judgment, it would teach them another use of Riches and Power; it would mind them that they are but Men, as other Men are, all alike to God, and that they shall be judged alike ,« that their Riches and Power, which distinguishes them from other Men, is not their own, but they are entrusted with it by God, .pot to domineer over their fellow-Creatures $ not to eat and drink and be drunken, and to smite their fellow-servants, but to relieve the Poor, to defend the Injured and Oppressed, to be Eyes to the Blind, and Feet to the Lame, a Father to the Fatherless, and a Husband to the Widows: This is the Honour God has conferred on them, that he has made them his Ministers and Stewards, Tutelar Angels, and even Gods to Men and the way to be truly Great, is to improve their Power and Riches, to make themselves very useful to the World: To have Power and Riches is not to be great, but to do a grea$
> deal deal of good with them,' this sets them above other Men, and will prepare glorious Rewards for them: But if Power and Riches make them only more wicked than their Neighbours, all that they will get by it will be a hotter Hell.
zdlj. Those who are very Poor and Calamitous, are very apt to fotget a Future Judgment, or think themselves unconcerned in it: They are too little for Judgment, as the others were too great what should God judge them for , whom he has entrusted with little or nothing but their Skins. Who can spare no time to worship God, for all the time they have is little enough to get Bread in,« Who cannot be bla.r med, if when they can get a little Drink they drink away Sorrow, and forget their Wants and Miseries for some few Moments; or if they pilfer and steal or lye to get Bread, Necessity has no Law, and makes such Actions innocent in them, as are great Crimes in other Men: By such kind of Excuses as these, poor Men excuse away all concernment about Religion; Religion is above them rich and happy People may be at leasure for it, but they have enough to do to live the Church-door they like very well, where devout and charitable People drop their Alms, but the inside of the Church does not belong to them, and they have nothing to do there. And thus it is proportionably in left degrees of Poverty; every Condition of Life which may be called Poor, is apt to tempt Men to be careless of Religion, and unmindful of a Future Judgment.
Now what is to be said to these Men? Shall we prove that Poor Men shall be judged as well as Rich? I doubt you would think me very impertinent, should 1 attempt it, for if all Manr kind are to be judged, the Poor must be judged too, if they be Men. F Are not Poor Men abje to give an account of their Actions, and why then should they not be called to an account for them? Are they not reasonable Creatures, and able to understand, and give reason for what they do? And why then should not God ask a reason of them? |f they have nothing to give an account of, no account shall be demanded; but if they have, why should they not give an account of what they have, be it more or less? Poor Men shall give no account of Riches, because they have them not, but this does not hinder, but that they may give an account of their Poverty, and those Graces which become a poor and low Fortune.
They shall not be examined about their Charity, when they had nothing to. give $ but they may for their Thankfulness to God, and to their Benefactors: They shall not be examined how they used their Riches, which they had no t ?. but? they may be, how* they bore their Poverty; whether external Poverty has taught them true Poverty of Spirit, Humility, Modesty, Patience in Want and Sufferings^ Contentment with a little, Submission to the; Will of God,, and a chearful Dependance oct Providence for their daily Bread; whether they have constantly prayed to God for the supply cf their Wants, as well as begged an Alms of Men, and implored the Help and Assistance of the Rich: these are Duties and Vertues which Poverty teaches, and which Poof Men ought to exercise, and therefore which God may challenge from them, and judge them for.
It is a very wild Imagination, to think that Poverty will excuse Mens Pride, and Rudeness and Insolence, unless it be a Vertue to be Proud, when Men have no temptation to it, when they Jaave nothing to be proud of.
"Will Poverty excuse Sloth and Idleness? when Men have nothing to live by but their Hands, is that a Reason why they should not work? When Men are able to workj and get their own living, is Poverty an excuse for begging and living idly upon the Charity and Industry of other Men? when they work hard all day to get Bread for themselves and Families, is this a reason to go to the Ale-house, and spend it all at night, to make themselves Beasts, and leave their Wives and Children to starve? ought not God and Men to judge them for this?
But above all things, Poverty is the most unreasonable and senseless Excuse for Irreligion, for neglecting the Worship of God; For certainly, if any thing will make us sensible,. how much we stand in need of God, Poverty will: Rich Men, whose Coffers are full of Treasure, who have Goods laid up for many Years, are apt toforgetGod, because they think they have no present need of Him; they know how to live without Him: They have no occasion to beg their daily Bread of Him, who have enough to last their lives, and to maintain their