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in religion are you arrived ? Is it a confirmed, lively, increasing one; or faint and tottering ? Unless you gain ground, you will lose it: if you are negligent, you will fall: and if you imagine yourselves as pious and virtuous, as you need be; you are almost as far from it as you can be. Search then diligently, strengthen what is weak, and add what is deficient; that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing * Whatever due instruction I may have omitted to give you, it ought to have been, and is, your concern to supply it to yourselves : and if I have in any measure performed that duty as I ought; remember, improvement will be expected from you, in proportion to the advantages which you have enjoyed. Through God's mercy, some of you, that were bad, I have cause to think are become good; and some, that were good, become better : but, alas ! how few are these, amongst the thousands, of whom this parish consists! O may there prove to be many more, than are come to my knowledge! Else I must give account of the success of my ministry with grieft: for the largest and best part of it hath been employed on you: and fain therefore would I persuade myself, that it will be found to have produced a tolerable share of good effect. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming 12 But however I have failed hitherto, let me not, I beseech you, fail now to obtain, that if ever I have said any thing to you, which raised any one Christian purpose or desire in your hearts, you would at length set yourselves to recollect and accomplish it; and that if you have experienced nothing of this kind from my preaching, you would the more conscientiously open your breasts to the impressions of that, which you will attend next:
+ Heb. xiii. 17. I 1 Thess. ii, 19.
Es i. 4.
197 for glad shall I be, to have promoted your spiritual welfare, be it only by this final request; and to learn that the seed, which shall be sown from henceforward, yields beyond comparison a more plentiful harvest, than that which preceded. For God is my record, if I may presume to adopt the Apostle's words, how greatly I long after you all, in the bowels of Jesus Christ; and this I yet more and more, in knowledge and all judgment; that ye may approve the things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of the Lord, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Joous Christ, unto the glory and praise of God*. Let then your conversation that whether I come and see you, or be absent, I may ear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, wh one mind t; not as in my presence only, but now mih more in my absence, working out your own salvationwith fear and trembling: for it is God that worketh in you, both to will ard to do I.
Understand me not to mean taking an absolute and final leave of you. As long as I am in this tabernacle, to speak the language of St. Peter, I shall think it mont, if desired and able to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance g. But this is the last time I shall stand here in that peculiar relation to you, which I have borne so long. And now, therefore, brethren, to conclude with pronouncing over you the solemn farewell of St. Paul, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified ||. There may we meet again, never to part more ! * Phil. 8-11.
| Phil. ii. 12, 13. § 2 Pet. i. 13.
l Acts xx. 32.
+ Ver. 27.
PREACHED BEFORE THE GOVERNORS OF THE LONDON
HOSPITAL, OR INFIRMARY, FOR THE RELIEF OF SICK AND DISEASED PERSONS, ESPECIALLY MANUFACTURERS, AND SEAMEN IN MERCHANTS' SERVICE, &c. AT THE PARISH-CHURCH OF ST. LAWRENCE-JEWRY, ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1754.
ROMANS xii. 8.
He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity: he th
ruleth, with diligence: he that sheweth mercy,
cheerfulness. Of all the benevolent feelings, which Go hath planted in our nature, compassion is the most valuable
. For it prompts us the most directly to relieve the miserable, whose distresses are much greater, than the enjoyments of the horny can he hero he low: and yet, without the call of this tender sympathy, we should, far oftener than we do, turn our eyes from them, and leave them to their fate. Persons of all ranks are frequently in circumstances, that demand pity. But the higher part of the world have it more in their power to avoid sufferings, than the lowest: and it is easier to assist the latter effectually. Their poverty alone, indeed, if they are well able to provide themselves necessaries, wants no assistance. It is one requisite state in the scale of things, appointed by the wisdom of Providence : and allows
them a very comfortable enjoyment of life. But if work be scarce, or their families large, they may be grievously straitened, even in health; and in sickness, their condition, though single, is lamentable; and, when married, often extremely so. If only a child be sick, they have seldom leisure to attend it duly: but if the parents are sick, all the children must be neglected; and the labour, which used to maintain them, cease. They are destitute, both of knowledge what to do, and of money to procure directions and medicines, nay, perhaps, proper food. They follow, at random, the suggestions of neighbours, no wiser than themselves: or, after languishing long, and growing worse than they needed, have recourse for cure, often to ignorant, often to rapacious creatures; who, if they chance to recover, yet strip them of all, and load them with debts, that disquiet the rest of their days; and too commonly drive them to destructive cordials, which unhappily the most needy can afford; or desperate acts of injustice to others, or violence to their own persons.
Religion, humanity, common prudence, loudly require us to rescue them from such dreadful evils. For they are our brethren, and God hath committed them to our care: we owe to their industry all that we enjoy; and, without their aid, should be far more helpless than they. It is true, many of them fall into diseases and want through their own faults : and bounty to them may encourage those faults. But many also, with the utmost diligence and parsimony, can but just live. Now surely such ought to have the comfort of knowing, that in all events they shall be secured from extremities. And, even could we distinguish the blamable from the rest, we should make allowances to them, for ignorance, frailty, temptation : as we hope God and man will to us, who have less excuse. While they are well, indeed, it will be right to let them fare more hardly: but neglecting them, when they are ill, is exposing them to perish, is next to murdering them. Their distemper, it must be owned, is from God's hand : but he commands us, both by nature and Scripture, to alleviate it, if we can: and doubtful consequences afford no plea to the contrary. How do we know, that mercy, exercised prudently, will not reclaim them; or that refusing it will prove a warning to them, or to others ?
If then the sick poor ought to have relief, what is the best manner of giving it ? Barely supplying them with food, is doing little or nothing towards their cure: and every day's continuance of their sickness, that can be prevented, is just so much unnecessary addition of wretchedness to themselves, and of damage to the public. If we furnish them with money also, they will often misapply it. If we procure them advice and medicines: dispersed, and unprovided, and unteachable as they are, the charge will usually be heavy, and the success very uncertain. Therefore parochial infirmaries have been erected, where they could; and may be of considerable use, but far inferior to larger hospitals. They are much more liable to the bad influence of private interest and partiality: governors, practitioners, attendants, will seldom be near so well qualified ; and the cost of each patient will be vastly greater. Public hospitals then are evidently the most desirable. There, cheats will never apply : proper objects may have what is needful, as soon as ever they are indisposed : if able, may go on with their business; if not, may be taken into the house. Thus, in both cases, they partake of the united skill of learned persons, almost as largely as