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Saviour, who invites such men to put their whole confidence in the providential supplies of God. He points them to the lilies of the field, which toil not, neither do they spin, and yet he assures them that the king of Jerusalem in all his glory, even Solomon, was not arrayed like one of these; and then he says, "If GOD so clothe the grass which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall he clothe you, oh ye of little faith." He points them also to the ravens, who have no barns to gather their harvest into, "and yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them; how much better are ye than many ravens." And he invites the poor on this ground, to diligence in their calling, "seeking first the kingdom of GOD, and his righteousness;" that is contentment and diligence. "Seeking the kingdom of GOD-" to be under that supreme dominion of the things of GOD which mark the transitions of a man from the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of GOD. 66 Seeking first the kingdom of GOD," where the things of eternity have supreme dominion over the whole character, over the man's feelings and views, and habitual principles. "And the righteousness of GOD," which in that passage refers to the character of the Christian man, his diligence in all his callings, his manifestation of that character which GOD is working in him, the similitude of himself. Seek ye first that divine contentment which is your Father's appointment, which shows you in his kingdom, and that diligence in your calling which shows you partaker of his righteousness, and then all these necessary things will be added unto you, for GOD has made provision for the poor.
I now proceed to consider THE PROVIDENTIAL PROVISIONS WHICH GOD HAS MADE FOR THE POOR. Seeing that the Lord our GOD has appointed the
continuance of poverty, it would be an impeachment of his wisdom and goodness to doubt, for a moment, that he has made adequate provisions for the poor. Oh, my brethren, consider these things! GOD has made provision for the poor, in the obligations which he has laid upon the rich. This is a subject most largely spread over the volume which God has given us for our instruction. Let me direct your attention to one passage in particular in the fifteenth chapter of Deuteronomy; there, at the seventh verse, we read this instruction to the chosen people of GoD: "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates, in thy land which the Lord thy GOD giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thy hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release is at hand-" when all burthens were unloosed and the poor were established in their possessions, when all creditors gave up their claims on their debtors. This year of release was a sort of poor-law in the Jewish theocracy, of which the poor in the land got the benefit every seventh year: but here they are exhorted not to take advantage of this Divine provision, this national provision, to make it an excuse to themselves for refusing individual contributions. "Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release is at hand: and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him:
because that for this thing the Lord thy GoD shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore, I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land." It is my appointment, saith the Lord GOD, that the poor shall never cease from among you, it is my commandment, therefore, that you shall open your hand wide to the poor. The Lord's controversy with Israel was carried on upon this very ground, that while there were many who professed to know him, who came to him as a people who understood GOD, yet they did not undo the heavy burthens they did not judge the cause of the fatherless and the widow -they did not minister largely to the poor-they did not obey the injunctions which the Lord had laid upon them to make provision for their poor brethren. Hear the animated expostulation of the prophet on this subject: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy-burthens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house; when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh."
foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. Remember also the words of the apostle John: "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of GOD in him?"
See, my friends, what a provision GoD has made for the poor, so far as the rich are obedient to the commandment of GOD. The poor shall not, indeed, cease out of the land, but they shall be supplied in the land; they shall find the word of God fulfilled to them, which says: Trust in the Lord, dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." For God will fulfil his word of promise to the poor; not by miracles, but by means, by inclining the rich man's heart, by ordering matters so that to the diligent, and faithful, and contented, and trusting poor man, there shall always be a supply. These obligations are well understood by some persons; they are understood by Christians, real Christians; they are kept in their proper connection as fruits of faith; and they are engaged in with a power, yea, and by some beyond their power. It is delightful to see the exercises of Christian benevolence that are carried on in various places, by persons who are putting their entire trust and confidence before GoD in Christ Jesus, who know the freeness of Divine grace, who know the justification of a sinner standeth in Christ, and not in any thing of his own, who disclaim altogether the slightest merit in aught they do, and who yet are diligent in these things, showing, by practical
Neither is this confined to the Old Testament, my brethren. Remember the charge given by the apostle to his friend Timothy: "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncer-proof, the principle by which they
tain riches, but in the living GOD, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good
are actuated. But, my dear brethren, these obligations are misunderstood by many. It is melancholy to consider, by how many multitudes the passages I have now quoted to you from Holy Scripture are abused to
their own ends, abused as the resting full comforts of domestic life, or the places of self-righteousness. vain ornaments of fashionable frivolity. They hoard one lump after another! and where their treasure is, there their heart is also. The meditations of their hearts grovel in the interest and compound interest upon the same heap; their sinking fund becomes the object of their worship-" Covetousness is idolatry." Yet by these drones in human society, even by these, GOD makes provision for the poor. For, my brethren, these men cannot live always, and when these men die they cannot carry their treasures with them; and GOD, who marks the course of the gray haired miser, is preparing, at the same time, the overflowing heart of his heir, either in reckless extravagance, or in Christian principle. And so it is written in the Proverbs, “that he who by unjust usury increaseth his substance shall gather it for him that will have pity on the poor." Thus, when we say, that while the action of Christian benevolence is, as it were, God's direct provision, his provision of ready money, to use a common expression, for the poor, the exercise of covetousness in man forms a sort of savings' bank, in which GOD lays up a fund ready to be brought out at any moment for the supply of his poor, ready to be brought out by the sudden death of the old man, and the sudden opening of his purse strings to his young heir. Oh the wonder working of our GOD for the supply of his poor people which are in the land!
But, my brethren, I must direct your attention to a better supply still, that God has made for the poor,-it is that spiritual supply which is eminently adapted for them. Here we come, then, to the most precious provisions of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. GOD has made a provision for the poor spiritually; first, in that when he came himself, manifest in the flesh, he chose the condition of a poor man.
But here it belongs to our present subject to observe, that GoD overrules the false doctrines imbibed by the rich into a mean of providence for the poor; and that, while men shall be aiming at establishing their own righteousness, and shall be endea vouring to stand on the merit of their own almsgiving; and while, in the perversion of the truth of the gospel, they shall be ruining their own souls, they shall, nevertheless, in the wonder working providence of our GOD, be feeding his poor. Thus God hath made provision for the poor, not only directly by Christian principle, where the obligations laid upon the rich are understood, but indirectly, by false doctrine, where those obligations are misunderstood and abused.
And further, GOD hath made provision for the poor, by the determination of the rich to indulge in luxuries and vanities. There are rich men who will not give willingly to the poor; but they will indulge themselves, they will have certain luxuries and vanities of dress, of establishment, and of residence; and they will, and are determined, to enjoy these things whatsoever they may cost. Well, in paying for them, they are unwittingly dispersing the very funds which GOD has laid up for the supply of multitudes of servants, and mechanics, and artisans, and labourers, who thus find GOD feeding them by the unconscious instrumentality of self-indulgent rich men.
Nay, further, GOD has made provision for the poor in the very covetousness of the rich. There are some rich men who will not give to the poor, neither will they indulge themselves so as to be compelled to employ the poor. They are alike insensible to the obligations of Christianity, the tenderness of natural benevolence, the
Jesus was not born in affluence and rank and splendour, but was born in obscurity and poverty. One of the reproaches of his enemies was, " Is not this the carpenter's son?" and a part of his history is," that he had not where to lay his head." There is something peculiarly congenial in this to the minds and feelings of a poor man. I know not, my brethren, whether it has fallen within your experience to observe, but I can confidently and with a feeling heart, declare, that there is in a poor man, a man whose earnings are scarcely sufficient to support his family, when awakened in any degree to a sense of divine truth, such a congeniality to his heart in the history of the poverty of Jesus in person, as endears Jesus to him in a way that is difficult for a rich man to comprebend.
Neither is it the person of Jesus alone; it is his ministry, also, that is peculiarly adapted to the poor. It was one of the predicted characteristics of the Messiah, that by him "the poor should have the Gospel preached to them." It is enumerated among his miraculous powers, as equally, with them, characteristic of him. When the disciples of John the Baptist came and asked, whether he was the person "that was to come, or whether they were to look for another," Jesus at the time was performing divers acts of wonder, and he called the attention of John's messengers to those acts, and said “Go, and show John again those things which you do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me."
We shall see, my brethren, how the subject of the Gospel is peculiarly adapted to the poor, if we consider for
a moment the peculiar aspect in which Jesus is presented to us in the Gospel message. As a substitute for sinners he is, indeed, peculiarly applicable to all, for all are equally guilty; for a sense of guilt may press equally on the conscience of a rich man as a poor man. This is the foundation stone of the Gospel; and here we may well say, it is a message of GOD to sinners, equally and indiscriminately without considering rich or poor. But when we consider the other characteristics of Jesus, that he is the friend of the friendless, that he is the brother born for adversity, that he sympathizes in the sorrows and afflictions and distress of all who trust in him, here we recognize characteristics which have a peculiar adaptation to the state of the poor. "The poor is forsaken even of his brother, but the rich have many friends." It is not that the rich do not suffer; but it is that in the midst of their sufferings the comforts which they can command-the ordinary sympathy, either apparent or zeal, which is never wanting at the sick bed of a rich sufferer-the various consolations which money can procure, and the various alleviations of their complaint so constantly supplied by the ministering attention of those around them, these have a natural tendency to pre-engage the affections, to catch the heart and satisfy it here, and shut it out from the attractions which Jesus presents to it. But the poor man in his affliction, destitute, forsaken, passing hour after hour without one kind word of sympathy, without one ministering friend, without any attention; his own family, that would shew him attention, being obliged to have their time occupied in the labours of their station, and himself left on the bed of languishing hour after hour, no soothing hand to smooth his pillar, or to speak patience under the renewed pangs of his dis
ease; oh, my brethren, this man can feel and know how dear to his soul the character of Jesus is, as set forth in the Gospel of his grace, "the friend that is touched with a feeling of our infirmities." This makes the Gospel peculiarly applicable to the poor.
Yes, my friends, I do not undervalue, I do not forget, God forbid! I do not undervalue or forget the sovereign dealings of Jehovah's grace, in that these things can be made interesting to the rich also; but I know that the Lord works by means. It was in reference to these means, these natural tendencies, these peculiar suitablenesses that our Lord uttered those fearful words: "how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of GOD!" How hardly shall they who have superabundance of natural things to exercise supremacy over their affections enter into the kingdom of GOD, that should have Divine things exercising a true supremacy over them! How hardly shall pre-engaged hearts shake off their pre-engagements, and live to Jesus as the one only and best friend, "the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely!" How hardly shall they, who have many things that they value in this world, say to him with truth," whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison with thee!" Oh, how hardly shall they say so, who have many earthly endearments and enjoyments, and affectionate sympathies twining round all the inward constitution of their souls, and binding them to the endearments of human society! How hardly shall the rich enter into this! Now, here is GOD's special spiritual provision for the poor. My poor friends, how dear should Jesus be to you. He is the poor man's friend, peculiarly so; and to the poor "the gospel is preached" with peculiar emphasis.
And now if we can see that the gospel gives spiritual provision for the poor, has a peculiar adaptation to the poor considered as friendless and destitute, we shall see a little further peculiarity of application to them, if we consider them as outlawed from the pale, even of human society, scorned and spurned at as actual transgressors of the law of man, as well as the law of GOD. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you." Let the principle, on which these words were founded, be fairly examined, and it will be, at once, recognized, that there is a peculiar suitability in the gospel to the inmates of prisons and the outcasts in
My brethren, the institution with whose interest I am entrusted this afternoon, that I might engage your charitable contributions on its behalf, has for its object individuals such as I have now described-inmates in our prisons and outcasts in our streets. Its especial object is to lay hold of these in their infancy, to seize on them before they have been hardened by crime, to arrest them upon their first transgression; and when under sentence of imprisonment, when for the first slip that has been discovered they are ready to be thrown into all the contamination of the society of a gaol; or when having been there a short season they are liberated, and ready to fall back upon the frightful abyss of their former associates; the object of this institution is to catch them in its friendly arms, to protect, to screen them, to bring them into an asylum, to bring the firmness and tenderness of Christian principle to bear upon their moral character, and to cause the sweet accents of Divine love to ascend in their ears.
The institution is a small one, as far as man accounts greatness; and in an