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bring to thy house the poor that are cast out; when thou seest the naked, cover him:” at least, exercise Nazianzen's charity—“ If you have nothing else to bestow
the miserable, bestow a tear or two upon their miseries.” This little is better than nothing.
Would it be amiss for you, always to have lying by you, a list of the poor in your neighbourhood, or of those whose calamities may call for the assistance of the neighbourhood ? Such a list would often furnish
you with matter for useful conversation, when you are conversing with your friends, whom you may thus “provoke to love and to good works.”
I will go on to say, be glad of opportunities to do good in your neighbourhood: yea, look out for them! lay hold on them with a rapturous assiduity. Be sorry for all the sad circumstances of your neighbour which render your doing good to them necessary; yet, be glad, if any one tell you of thein. Thank him who gives you the information, as having therein done you a very great kindness. Let him know that he could not, by any means, have more gratified you. Show civility to your neighbours, whether by lending, by watching, or by any other method you are able, and be happy you can do so. Do this willingly, and with a pleasant countenance; “ Let your wisdom cause your face to shine.” your neighbours, not with a cloudy, but with a serene and shining face; and shed the rays of your courtesy upon them, with such affability, that they may see they are welcome to all you can do for them. Yea, stay not until you are told of opportunities to do good, but inquire after them and let the inquiry be
solicitous and unwearied. The incomparable pleasure of doing kindness, is worth a diligent inquiry.
There was a generous Pagan, who counted a day lost, in which he had not obliged some one“ Friends, I have lost a day!” O Christian, let us try whether we cannot contrive to do something for one or other of our neighbours, every day that passes over our heads.
Some do so; and with better spirit than ever actuated Titus Vespasian. Thrice in the Scriptures we find the good angels rejoicing; it is always at the good of others; to rejoice in the good of others, and especially in doing good to them, is angelical goodness.
In devising for the good of your neighbourhood, a particular motion I have to make is, that you will consult their spiritual interests. Be concerned lest the 6 deceitfulness of sin” should destroy any of your neighbours. If there be any idle persons among them, endeavour to cure them of their idleness: do not nourish and harden them in it, but find employment for them; set them to work, and keep them to work; and then be otherwise as bountiful to them as you please.
If any poor children in the neighbourhood are without education, do not suffer them to remain so. Let care be taken that they may be taught to read their catechism, and the truths and ways of their only Saviour.
Once more. If any in the neighbourhood are taking to bad courses, affectionately and faithfully admonish them; if any are enemies to their own welfare, or that of their families, prudently dispense
your admonitions to them; if there be any prayerless families, never cease to entreat and exhort them, till
you have persuaded them to set up the worship of God in their families. If there be any service of God or of his people, to which any one requires to be excited, tenderly excite him to it. Whatever snare you perceive any of them exposed to, be so kind as to warn them of their danger. By furnishing your neighbours with good books, and obtaining their promise to read them, who can tell how much good you may do them!
It is possible, you may, in this way, with ingenuity and efficacy, administer such reproofs as your neighbours may need, and this will not hinder your conversation with them on the same subjects, in which they require your particular advice.
Finally, if there be any bad houses, which threaten to debauch and poison the neighbourhood; let your charity induce you to do all you can for the suppression of them.
That my proposal “ to do good in the neighbourhood, and as a neighbour,” may be more fully formed and followed, I will conclude with reminding you that much self-denial will be necessary for the execution of it; you must be armed against all selfish and sinister intentions in these generous attempts. You must not make use of your good actions as persons
who pour water into a pump, to draw up something for themselves.
be the meaning of our Lord's direction—“Lend, hoping for nothing again.” To lend a thing, is, properly, to hope that we shall receive it again; and this probably refers
to the ERANISMOS, or Collation, usual among the ancients, of which we find frequent mention in antiquity. If any man by a fire, shipwreck, or other disaster, had lost his estate, his friends used to lend him considerable sums to be repaid, not on a certain day, but when he should find himself able to repay it, without any inconvenience. Now persons were so selfish that they would rarely lend on such occasions, to any, unless they had some reason to hope they should again recover their money, and that the persons to whom it was lent, should also requite their kindness, if they should ever need it.
But then, there is something still higher required of you; that
that is, “ Do good to those neighbours who have done hurt to you.” So saith our Saviour, “ Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do gond to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Yea, if any injury have been done you, consider it as a provocation to confer a benefit on him who hath done it. This is noble! It will bring much consolation. Another method might make you even with your froward neighbours; but this will place you above them all. It were nobly done. If at the close of the day when you are alone, you made a particular prayer to God for the pardon and prosperity of any person, by whom you have been injured through the day; and it would be nobly done, if, in looking over the catalogue of such as have injured you, you should be able to say, (the only intention that can justify your keeping a catalogue of them) There is not one of these, to whom I have not done, or at
tempted to do a kindness. Among the Jews themselves, the Hasideans made this daily prayer to God, “ Forgive and pardon all who distress us.” Christians, exceed them : yea, Justin Martyr tells us they did so in primitive times— They prayed for their enemies."
But I will not stop here; something higher still is required; that is, Do good to those neighbours who will speak evil of you after you have done it. “ Thus,” saith our Saviour, " ye shall be the children of the Highest, who is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil." You will frequently find Monsters of Ingratitude ; and if you distinguish a person, by doing for him more than you have done for others, it will be well if that very person do not injure you.
O the wisdom of Divine Providence, in so ordering this, that you may learn to do good on a divine principle-good, merely for the sake of good! 66 Lord, increase our faith !" God forbid that a Christian faith should not come up to a Jewish.
There is a memorable passage in the Jewish records. There was a gentleman, by whose generosity many persons were constantly relieved.
One day he asked the question : Well, what do our people say to-day?” The answer was, “ Why, the people partook of your kindness, and then blessed you very fervently.” “ Did they so ?” said he, “ Then I shall have no great reward for this day. Another time he asked the same question—" Well, and what say our people now?” They replied,
They replied, “ Alas! good Sir, the people enjoyed your kindness to-day, and afterwards they did nothing but rail at you."