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SERMON IX.

Saviour's preaching as to them. Nor were these ends unworthy of being accomplished even by Divine interposition. For what is the language of him to whom I have so often alluded? “It is incumbent on us diligently to remember, that the kingdom of heaven was promised to the poor in spirit, and that minds afflicted by calamity and the contempt of mankind, cheerfully listen to the Divine promise of future happiness; while, on the contrary, the fortunate are satisfied with the possession of this world; and the wise abuse in doubt and dispute their vain superiority of reason and knowledge'." It is not for us to say, whether more is meant here than is expressed. I would charitably hope that he does not intend to include himself amongst those fortunate and wise persons, to whom he ascribes such cold, unfeeling, and irrational sentiments and conduct as these. But if such are to be considered the general, or the frequent attendants upon wealth and wisdom, then indeed have the poor and the simple reason to rejoice in their lot, then indeed is it evident that the Gospel is preached to them

1

169

Gibbon, c. xv.

under peculiar advantages, then is it demonstrated that the kingdom of heaven is of easier acquisition to them, than to their more opulent and intellectual brethren.

The last object of our Lord's preaching, as it especially regarded the poor,

which remains to be noticed, was to secure them an interest in the hearts of the affluent, for the mitigation of the various sufferings to which they are exposed. This he has done, by appealing in the most irresistible manner to their feelings of compassion for others, and to their most lively sensations of hope or fear for themselves. Who can forget these affecting words? When, at the last day, the Son of Man shall have set the good on his right hand, and the wicked on his left, then shall he say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and

ye took me in : naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me : I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when suw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink ? when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ? or naked, and clothed thee? or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? Then shall he answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.-Then shall he

say

also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels : for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not : sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment : but the righteous into life eternal.

I will not weaken the impression, which this

passage is so well calculated to make, by

many more words of my own. What

arguments can hope to convince him, who is unmoved by such an appeal as this ? That Gospel, which brought good tidings to the poor, has assuredly also brought bad tidings to the rich, if they neglect those for whom it displays so much solicitude. But I trust that better feelings than that of fear, will lead us to adopt our Lord's benevolent and charitable maxims. And not to adopt them in theory only, but also to reduce them to practice. If ever there was a period when this was more urgently required than another, it has been that which this country has of late

years

witnessed. If ever our Christian faith should be clearly manifested by our conduct, it is when the calls upon our compassion are so loud and so appalling as they still too frequently are. It is now especially incumbent upon us to remember our Saviour's declaration, that by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another : and to

sured, that that Gospel which exhibits throughout, so much concern for the welfare of the poor, will never be the Gospel of salvation to those, who coldly, and cruelly, regard their sufferings with indifference: and

be assul

either from avarice or prodigality, are unfaithful stewards of that wealth, which God has entrusted to them for the especial purpose of proving their faith in his Son, and their obedience to his most express and often repeated commandments.

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