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bounty, in exclusion of practices different from it. He disperseth, and is therefore not tenacious, doth not hoard up bis goods, or keep them close to himself, for the gratifying his covetous humor, or nourishing his pride, or pampering his sensuality; but sendeth them abroad for the use and benefit of others. He disperseth his goods, and therefore doth not fling them away altogether, as if he were angry with them, or weary of them, as if he loathed or despised them ; but fairly and softly with good consideration he disposeth of them here and there, reason and need do require. He disperseth them to the poor, not dissipateth them among vain or lewd persons in wanton or wicked profusious, in riotous excesses, in idle divertisements, in expensive curiosities, in hazardous gamings, in any such courses which swallow whole all that a man hath, or do so cripple him, that he becomes unable to disperse any thing: our good man is to be understood wisely provident, honestly industrious, and soberly frugal, that we may have wherewith to be just first, and then liberal.

His dispersing also (or scattering, so the Hebrew* word here used is otherwhere rendered : • There is,' saith the wise man, • that scattereth, and yet increaseth :' where we may remark that this word singly by itself, without any adjunct matter to limit or interpret it, is used to signify this kind of practice. This his dispersing, I say, also) denotes the extent of the pious man's bounty, that it is very large and diffusive, and in a manner unrestrained; that it reacheth to many places, and is withheld from no persons within the verge of his power, and opportunity to do good. This practice commonly by a like phrase (unto which perhaps this word refers) is termed sowing :' • He,' saith St. Paul, which soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall also reap bountifully.' Now, he that soweth, having chosen a good soil, and a fit season, doth not regard one particular spot, but throw. eth all about so much as his hand can hold, so far as the strength of his arm doth carry. It is likewise called “watering ;' ( He that watereth,' saith Solomon, shall be watered himself :') which expression also seemeth to import a plentiful

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* Eph. iv. 28. 779

and promiscuous effusion of good, dropping in showers on dry and parched places; that is, on persons dry for want, or parched with affliction. So the good man doth not plant his bounty in one small hole, or spout it on one narrow spot, but with an open hand disseminates it, with an impartial regard distils it all about. He stints it not to his own family or relations; to his neighbors, or friends, or benefactors; to those of his own sect and opinion, or of his humor and disposition; to such as serve him, or oblige him, or please him ; whom some private interest ties, or some particular affection endears him to; but scatters it indifferently and unconfinedly toward all men that need it; toward mere strangers, yea, toward known enemies; toward such who never did him any good, or can ever be able to do any; yea, even toward them who have done evil to him, and may be presumed ready to do more. Nothing in his neighbor but absence of need, nothing in bimself but defect of ability, doth curb or limit his beneficence. In that apo vuía, (that proclivity and promptitude of mind) which St. Paul speaketh of, he doth good everywhere : wherever a man is, there is a room for his wishing well, and doing good, if he can: he observes that rule of the Apostle, “As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men.' So the pious man hath dispersed. It follows,

• He hath given to the poor.' These words denote the freeness of his bounty, and determine the principal object thereof: he not only lendeth (though he also doth that on reasonable occasion; for, ' a good man,' as it is said before in this Psalm, • showeth mercy, and lendeth ;' and otherwhere,' the righteous is ever merciful, and lendeth;' he, I say, not only sometimes willingly lendeth) to those who in time may repay, or requite him ; but he freely giveth to the poor, that is, to those from whom he can expect no retribution back. He doth not (as good and pious, he doth not) present the rich: to do so is but a cleanly way of begging, or a subtile kind of trade; it is hardly courtesy; it is surely no bounty ; for such persons (if they are not very sordid or very careless, and such men are not usually much troubled with presents) will, it is likely, overdo him, or at least will be even with him in kindness. In doing this, there is little virtue ; for it there will be small re

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ward. For, if you do good to them who do good to you,' (or whom you conceive able and disposed to requite you,) noia xápis, 'what thanks' are due to you? For that, saith our Saviour, ' even sinners (even men notoriously bad) do the same :' • and if you lend to them from whom you hope to receive, what thanks have you? For sioners even lend to sinners, to receive as much again. All men commonly, the bad no less than the good, are apt to be superfluously kind in heaping favors on those whom fortune befriends, and whose condition requires not their courtesy ; every one almost is ready to adopt himself into the kindred, or to screw himself into the friendship of the wealthy and prosperous : but where kindred is of use, there it is seldom found; it is commonly so deaf, as not to hear when it is called ; so blind as not to discern its proper object and natural season, (the time of adversity, for which a brother is born.') Men disclaim alliance with the needy, and shun his acquaintance; so the wise man observed, all the brethren of the poor do hate him ; how much more do his friends go far from him ? Thus it is in vulgar practice: but the pious man is more judicious, more just, and more generous in the placing of his favors; he is courteous to purpose, he is good to those who need. He, as such, doth not make large entertainments for his friends, his brethren, his kindred, his rich neighbors ;' but observes that precept of our Lord, · When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed : for they cannot recompense thee; thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.? Thus the pious man giveth, that is, with a free heart and pure intention bestoweth his goods on the indigent, without designing any benefit, or hoping for any requital to himself; except from God, in conscience, respect, and love to whom he doeth it.

It may be also material to observe the form of speech here used in reference to the time: · He hath dispersed, and be hath given;' or, · He doth disperse, he doth give;' (for in the Hebrew language the past and present times are not distinguished :) which manner of speaking may seem to intimate the reality, or the certainty, and the constancy of his practice in this kind; for what is past or present, we are infallibly secure of; and in morals, what one is said to have done, or to do, is

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always understood according to habit or custom. It is not, 'he will disperse, he will give ;' that were no fit description of a good man; to pretend to, would be no argument of piety; those words might import uncertainty, and delay in his practice. He that saith, ‘I will give,' may be fallacious in his professions, may be inconsistent with his resolutions, may wilfully or negligently let slip the due season of performing it. Our good man is not a Doson,' or 'Will-give,' (like that king of Macedon, who got that name from often signifying an intention of giving, but never giving in effect ;) he not only purposes well, and promises fairly for the future, but he hath effectually done it, and perseveres doing it on every fit occasion. He puts not his neighbor into tedious expectations, nor puts him off with frivolous excuses, saying to bim, as it is in the Proverbs, ‘go, and come again, and to-morrow I will give,' when he hath it by him : he bids him not have patience, or says unto him, depart in peace,' when his need is urgent, and his pain impatient, when hunger or cold do then pinch him, when sickness incessantly vexeth him, when present straits and burdens oppress him; but he affordeth a ready, quick, and seasonable relief.

• He hath dispersed,' and given, while he lives, not reserving the disposal of all at once on his death, or by his last will ; that unwilling will, whereby men would seem to give somewhat, when they can keep nothing; drawing to themselves those commendations and thanks, which are only due to their mortality; whenas were they immortal, they would never be liberal: No; it is, he hath freely dispersed;' not an inevitable necessity will extort it from him; it cannot be said of him, that he never does well, but when he dies; so he hath done it really and surely.

He also doth it constantly, through all the course of his life, whenever good opportunity presents itself. He doth it not by fits or by accident, according to unstable causes or circumstances moving him, (when bodily temper or humor inclineth him, when a sad object makes vehement impression on him, when shame obligeth him to comply with the practice of others, when he may thereby promote some design, or procure some glory to himself,) but his practice is constant and uniform,

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being drawn from steady principles, and guided by certain rules, proceeding from reverence to God, and good-will toward man, following the clear dictates and immutable laws of conscience. Thus hath the pious man dispersed,' and 'given to the poor:' and let thus much suffice for explicatory reflexion on the first words.

The main drift and purport of which is, to represent the liberal exercising of bounty and mercy to be the necessary duty, the ordinary practice, and the proper character of a truly pious man; so that performing such acts is a good sign of true piety; and omitting them is a certain argument of ungodliness. For the demonstration of which points, and for exciting us to a practice answerable, I shall propound several considerations, whereby the plain reasonableness, the great weight, the high worth and excellency of this duty, together with its strict connexion with other principal duties of piety, will appear. And first, I will show with what advantage the holy Scripture represents it to us, or presses it on us.

[First Head of Discourse.] 1. We may consider that there is no sort of duties which God hath more expressly commanded, or more earnestly inculcated, than these of bounty and mercy toward our brethren : whence evidently the great moment of them, and their high value in God's esteem may be inferred. Even in the ancient law, we may observe very careful provisions made for en. gaging men to works of this kind, and the performance of them is with huge life and urgency prescribed : • Thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.'-—' Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brother, unto thy poor, and to thy needy in the land.' So did Moses, in God's name, with language very significant and emphatical, enjoin to the chil. dren of Israel. The holy prophets also do commonly with an especial heat and vigor press these duties, most smartly reproring the transgression or neglect of them ; especially when they reclaim men from their wicked courses, urging them seriously to return unto God and goodness, they propose this practice as a singular instance most expressive of their conversion, most apt to appease God's wrath, most effectual to the recovery of his favor. · Wash you,' saith God in Isaiah, ‘make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine

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