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these several degrees of charity have to their respective rewards : it is sufficient to instance the one which is most applicable to the present discourse, that of receiving a prophet in the name of a prophet.
This charity is intitled to a prophet's reward ; and well it may; for it is a charity which does a prophet's duty: by enabling him to do the work of his calling, we share it with him, and preach the gospel by the mouth which we feed.
The work of the ministry is great, and requires our whole attendance; and if to this be added the constant care of supporting ourselves and families against encroaching poverty, who would be sufficient for these things? Must not the ignorant want instruction, and the afflicted comfort, whilst the prophet is employed in the meaner cares of the world ? And must not such as set the Lord's prophets free from the world, and enable them to dedicate themselves to his service, be properly said to labor with them in the work of the gospel ? And as they thus partake in the work, ought they not also to partake in the reward ?
The properest way of exercising this charity is by allotting such a maintenance to the ministers of Christ, as may enable them to provide for themselves and those who depend on them. Next to its present wants and necessities, poverty has nothing more terrible in it than the fear of futurity ; nor is there a more distressing case than that which arises from the prospect of intailing want and misery on those for whom we are bound by the dearest ties of nature to provide.
After a present maintenance therefore, the next degree of charity is to lighten this heavy burden ; that the ministers of Christ may with chee
with cheerfulness, and without interruption, attend to the service of the altar, seeing a way open for the support of their indigent families, when they, their present support, shall be called away. And this leads to the second consideration proposed; viz.
How truly Christian and excellent in its kind that charity is, which is the end and design of this annual solemnity.
Its objects are the widows and orphans of those who have spent their lives in the service of the altar, and were found faithful. Considered in themselves, they are not the meanest, of Christ's disciples ; but to their own they add the prophet's claim to charity, who has left them nothing else to maintain them.
Were their poverty the effect of luxury or idleness, we might be ashamed to plead its cause in public : but its reasons are too well known; and it is so far from being a reproach, that in some measure it is a glory: this point enlarged on.
Some who subsist on the charity of this corporation are living witnesses of the faith and constancy of the English clergy to God and to their king : allusion made to the widows of the sequestered clergy.
Never does Christ more truly suffer in his members, than when his members suffer for him ; nor can our acts of mercy ever more nearly approach him, than when we relieve those who endure affliction for his sake and that of the gospel.
The worldly advantages pointed out, which would have accrued to these children, if their parents had been turned to the more profitable employments of the world: hence arguments are deduced for the support of the charity.
Preached before the Sons of the Clergy at St. Paul's Cathe
dral, December 5, 1710.
MATTHEW, CHAP. X.-VERSES 41. 42,
He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive
a prophet's reward ; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
TOWARDS the beginning of this chapter we read that our Saviour sent forth his disciples to preach the kingdom of God. That they might preach with authority, he endowed them with power from above, and with the manifold gifts of the Spirit. That they might attend on their ministry without distraction, he eased them of the care of providing for themselves, and gave them power to demand and receive of those under their instruction whatever their wants required. • Provide,' says he, * neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses; nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of his meat :' verse 9. 10. Or as St. Luke expresses it, · The laborer is worthy of his hire: ch. x. 7. This reason shows the true sense of the precept ; that it was not meant to take from them the necessaries and conveniences of life, or to make poverty a part of their profession; but only to discharge them of the care and solicitude of providing for themselves; for they had a right to be provided for by those whom they served in the gospel : • For the laborer is worthy of his hire.
And this farther appears to be the sense of this precept in Luke xxii. 35. * And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.' Had it been his intent to make poverty a necessary qualification for the ministry, he would not have asked this question, or received this answer. But so little did he intend it, that his care supplied the wants of theirs throughout their journey, and enlarged the hearts of the people towards them: so that their poverty was turned into plenty; and they preached the gospel, without the incumbrance of worldly cares, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.'
As the office of preaching the gospel was to be perpetual in the Christian church, so this right of maintenance was for ever to attend it; for the Lord ordained,' as St. Paul tell us, ' that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel :' 1 Cor. ix. 14. A right on one side infers a duty on the other: if the ministers of the gospel have a right to be provided for, it is the duty of the faithful to provide for them; but the proportion of this maintenance being no where determined, but men left to give as their circumstances enable them, and as their love and honor for the ministry incline them; what is given on this account comes to be considered as a charity freely offered, rather than as a debt duly discharged: and as such, our Saviour has promised to accept and reward it. And since in this kind of charity the honor of his name, and the promoting his religion, are most immediately consulted, he has distinguished it from all others by a more honorable and glorious reward: · He that receiveth a prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet's reward :' &c. Matt. x. 41,
To receive a prophet' sometimes signifies to receive his doctrine, and to become his follower or disciple; but in this place it cannot signify so, for these two reasons :
First, our Saviour himself distinguishes this reception of a prophet from the other reception, which is obeying and hearkening to his voice, in the 14th verse : • Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.' Had the same thing been intended by receiving' and hearing a prophet, the words would have been thus connected: Whosoever shall not receive you, and' hear your words; but the disjunctive particle 'nor' shows that they are here spoken of as different things. The 11th verse, compared with this 14th, will determine what is meant in this place by receiving a prophet: Into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence :' ver. 11. In the 14th it follows, · Whosoever shall not receive,' &c. that is, to • abide' with them; which abode implies, not only house-room, but a supply of such other necessaries as their circumstances required : for it was to answer the want of gold and silver, and such other things as they were expressly forbidden to provide for themselves.
The second reason may be collected from the last verse of the text: 'And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward,'' It is manifest that our Saviour here speaks of giving a cup of cold water only,' as the lowest degree of that virtue which he was then recommending ; for to show how acceptable an offering it would be to God to receive a prophet in the name of a prophet, he adds, that even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple should not lose its reward. To receive a prophet, therefore, and to give a cup of cold water to a disciple, are acts of the same kind, though differing in degree; and consequently to receive a prophet in this place, is not an act of faith or obedience, but of charity and beneficence.
. To receive a prophet in the name of a prophet,' is to receive him because he is a prophet; on account of his character and office, and near relation which he bears to Christ. To be kind to our friends and relations, and to administer relief to the extreme necessities and sufferings of our fellow-creatures, is, in some degree, to comply with the cravings of nature in ourselves, and to provide for our own ease and enjoyment: for the pity and compassion which miserable objects raise in us, ar attended with a pain and uneasiness to ourselves, no otherwise to be allayed but by relieving the misery that caused them. But when we relieve the members of Christ, because of the relation they bear to him, we act then in the spirit of true Christian charity, and show ourselves to be lively parts of his