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they are, ought not to reckon upon what they have lying by them, nor upon their houses and lands that are made over to them, nor yet upon what is owing to them by men; but should reckon only upon what they have given to pious and charitable uses, upon what treasure they have laid up in heaFor whatsoever they may think at present, I dare assure them, that will be found to be their only riches another day. And therefore if any one desires to be rich indeed, let him take my advice, do what good he can with the riches he hath, and then he will be rich enough; for this is the way to be rich in good works. But in order unto that, he must likewise observe what follows: to be

III. Ready to distribute; that is, ready upon all occasions to pay his tribute unto God, whensoever he in his providence calls for it; taking all opportunities of doing good, and glad when he can find them. Thus therefore whensoever any opportunities present themselves of expressing our thankfulness unto God, by works either of piety or charity, whatsoever other business may be neglected we must be sure to lay hold on that. For I dare say, that there is none but will grant me, that there is all the reason in the world that God should be served in the first place, and that he should have the first fruits of all our increase. And therefore we cannot but acknowledge, that works of piety towards God, and of charity to the poor, or as the Scripture calls them in general, good works, are always to be done in the first place; and whatsoever other works may be omitted, be sure they


I Gal. vi. 7.

2 Prov. iii. 9; Exod. xxiii. 19; Deut. xxvi. 2.

must not. But we ought still to be as ready to pay our duties unto God, as we are to receive any thing from him, as ready to give as to receive; and by consequence as men let no opportunities slip wherein they can increase their estates, they are much less to let any opportunities pass wherein they can any way improve their estates for God's glory and other's good; that they ought to be ready upon all occasions to distribute what they can upon charitable and pious uses.

IV. Willing to communicate. As we must do it with a ready hand, so we must do it with a willing heart too. Thus we are enjoined to serve God willingly, and cheerfully.' Indeed God accepts of none but free-will offerings. If we be not as willing to do good works as we are to have wherewith to do them, we may be confident God will never accept of them. And therefore in plain terms, if any would be rich in good works as becometh Christians, and as it is our interest to be, they must not stay till they be compelled, persuaded, or entreated by others to do them; but they must set upon them of their own accord, out of pure obedience unto God, and from a due sense of their constant dependence upon him, and manifest obligations to him; yea, so as to take pleasure in nothing in the world so much as in paying their respects and service to Almighty God."

Now to encourage the rich to employ their estates thus in doing good, the apostle adds in the last place, that this is the way to lay up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that


1 Chron. xxviii. 6; Cor. ix. 6, 7.
21 Chron. xxix. 14, 15, 17.

they may lay hold on eternal life.' A strange expression! yea, such an one, that had not St. Paul himself spake it, some would have been apt to have excepted against it for an error or mistake. What, good works the foundation of eternal life? No, that is not the meaning of it; but that good works are the foundation of that blessed sentence which they shall receive who are made partakers of eternal life, as is plain from our Saviour's own words.'

And verily, although there be no such intrinsic value in good works, whereby they that do them can merit any thing from God by their doing of them; yet nothing can be more certain, than that God, of his infinite mercy in Jesus Christ, will so accept of them as to reward us for them in the world to come. For this our Saviour himself doth clearly intimate to us in the place before quoted; as also, that is, distribute and employ the unrighteous or deceitful riches you have in this world in such a way as is most pleasing and acceptable unto God, that so he may be your friend, and receive you into everlasting habitations, when these transient and unstable riches fail you." From whence I beg leave to observe, that to do good with what we have, is the only way whereby to improve our estates for own good, so as to be the better for them both in this and also in the world to come.

,מלח ממון צדקה The Rabbins have a good saying, that

good works are the salt of riches, that which preserves them from corruption and makes them savoury and acceptable unto God, as also useful and profitable to the owners: unless we do good

1 Matt. xxv. 34, 35, 36.

2 Matt. vi. 20; Luke, xii. 33; xvi. 9.

with our estates, we forfeit our title to them by the non-payment of the rent-charge which God hath reserved to himself upon them; and therefore we may justly expect every moment to be cast out of possession; or howsoever though he may forbear us a while, yea, so long as we are in this world, what good, what benefit, what comfort shall we have of our estates in the world to come? Certainly no more than the rich man in the gospel had when he lay scorching in hell fire, and had not so much as a drop of water to cool his inflamed tongue. Whereas on the other side, if we do good with our estates, if we devote them to the service of God, and to the relief of the poor, by this means we shall not only secure the possession of them to ourselves here, but shall also receive comfort and benefit from them in the world to come; so that our estates will not die with us, but we shall receive benefit by them, and have cause to bless God for them unto all eternity; the apostle himself assuring us, that by this means we shall lay up for ourselves a good foundation for the time to come, so as to lay hold on eternal life.'


This one argument being duly weighed, I hope I need not use any more to persuade men to do good with what they have, and to make the best use of it they can. For I know I write to Christians, at least to such as profess themselves to be so; and therefore to such as believe there is another world besides this we live in, and by consequence that it concerns them to provide for that, which, as I have shown, we may do in a plentiful manner, by the right improvement of what God hath entrusted with us in this world. What then do the generality of men mean to be so slack and remiss

in laying hold of all opportunities of doing good! What, do they think it possible to lose any thing they do for God? or do they think it possible to employ their estates better than for his service and honour who gave them to us! I cannot believe they think so; and therefore must needs advise the rich, again and again, not to lay up their talents in a napkin, but to use their estates to the best advantage for God and their own souls; so that when they go from hence into the other world, they may be received into eternal glory, with a 'Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into your Master's joy.'


But fearing lest these moral persuasions may not prevail so much upon my readers as I desire they might, they must give me leave further to tell them, that I am here commanded to charge them that are rich in this world, to be rich also in good works and therefore, seeing, as I have shown, there are few but who in a Scripture sense are rich in this world; in obedience to this command which is here laid upon me, in the name of the most high God, I charge you, and not I only, but the eternal God himself, he wills and requires all those whom he hath blessed with riches in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but that they put their whole trust and confidence only in the living God, whose all things are, and who gives us whatsoever we have: that they do good with what he hath put into their hands, laying it out upon works of piety towards him, and of charity to the poor, that his worship may be decently performed, and the poor liberally relieved; that they be rich in good works, striving to excel each other in doing good in their genera

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