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God who has given you the means, now gives you the opportunity of being merciful. Alas! it is but a little thing which your poor afflicted fellow-creatures, who stand here, require of you. No luxuries--no comfortsnot even fire or shelter—but bread, just to support life-and clothing, just to shield them from the inclemency of winter. Look upon them, and tell me, are you prepared to say, in the presence of your Saviour, that you
suffered the burden of poverty to press upon
their aged shoulders, until it brought down their grey hairs with sorrow to the grave ?
But if, witnessing such a case, you could withhold your aid, you would be even more pitiable objects than those whom you left to perish—for death would soon release them from their misery, and, perhaps, make them one with their Saviour. But
would be cursed with hard hearts—and, as you disobeyed the commands of God, should live in the eye of his displeasure. . Are you prepared for this ? Are you prepared to sink into a luxurious indulgence, and shut the ears of your hearts against the cries of the wretched in this their utter extremity, while you ýet expect that the Lord will graciously hear you, when you call upon
him for a continuance of those blessings by which you have been so abun
Will you say,
dantly favoured ? For, what have you that he has not given you, and which he may not again resume?
your prosperity is all your own desert—that you are not accountable for the use of your possessions ? Oh! be timely wise. Let no such impious thoughts assail you. Acknowledge that all is the gift of God-of that God who will not be worshipped by empty external acts—who will have mercy and not sacrifice. And as you value his blessings—as you reverence his laws as you hope for his favour—as you dread his judgments-prove yourselves careful and diligent in the stewardship to which he has appointed you ;-be occupied in works of mercy-be instant in affording aid to the indigent-in speaking comfort to the afflicted, and in binding up the broken heart; and the good favour of your God will be with you, and the blessing of the poor
upon you, and the holy angels will look down rejoicing upon your work, and when you fail, they will receive you into everlasting habitations.
Rom. xii. 20.
THEREFORE, IF THINE ENEMY HUNGER, FEED HÍM; If HE THIRST, GIVE HIM DRINK; FOR, IN SO DOING, THOU SHALT HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD."
These words are quoted literally by the Apostle Paul, from the 25th chapter of the Book of Proverbs, and afford a signal evidence that the same Divine Spirit which inspired the author of this epistle, spoke also to the understanding, and to the heart of him who wrote that truly profound book. For the sentiment contained in these words, forms a distinguishing and characteristic feature of that mind, and of that morality which God only enlightapproves,
whilst it passes a repeal on such rigorous precepts as “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which was the decision, not only of retributive justice under the Mosaic law, (accommodated as that law was to the hardness of the human heart) but which
is more or less, the natural propensity, and the serious intention of every heart, which the exhortation in the text has not brought under its benign influence. Nor is this exhortation confined to the negative prohibition of forbearing to retaliate. It does not merely soften down the severity of feelings, which might plead a sort of justification in the unprovoked injuries that may have excited-them, or in the repeated aggravations they may have endured. It makes no stipulation in behalf of insulted honour, nor any compromise for the indulgence of a little wrath. But forbidding every limitation to generosity, it nobly transcends those barriers beyond which, the pride and the selfishness, and the vindictive temper of our fallen nature would seldom permit any of us to pass, and silencing every rising opposition of the heart, it teaches us to look upon our enemies with the eyes and with the compassion of a friend, when circumstances arise by which they may be recommended to our commiseration, and to our relief;—“ if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.” What a world would this wicked world become, did all who call themselves Christians, and who profess to take the word of God for the rule of their conduct, act in a manner thus worthy of such a word,