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God, and taking pleasure in the way of his commandments. Such is the state of the blessed man in the first psalm; he is happy in himself, and his ways are prospered upon the earth. There is a farther blessed, ness in peace of conscience under a sense of the forgiveness of sin; as it is said, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin,
It is certainly one of the first blessings in this life, to be able and willing to relieve the wants of the poor; not only for the prospect of future good, but the enjoyment of present pleasure. For is it not a blessed privilege in the divine nature, that it can distribute to the wants of all, and fill their hearts with food and gladness ? and can it be otherwise than a blessedness in man, when he partakes of the blessedness of God? Here pleasure and duty go together; and, doubtless, there are many good hearts which feel in themselves the blessedness pronounced upon them in the text. Man can be like unto God in no capacity so much as in that of being glad to distribute : and to this likeness we may aspire without ambition. In fact, we are commanded to propose God himself as a pattern
"Be ye perfeci,” saith our blessed Saviour, “ even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Not perfect in wisdom, or power, or purity, but in goodness; distribute with kindness, and do good to all without partiality, even as He maketh his sun to rise, arid sendeth his rain on the just, and on the unjust. It is said of kings and magistrates, that they are gods, though they shall die like men : and Moses was made a God unto Pharaoh, with authority to execute vengeance on a proud prince, and a wicked people. This office we are not to desire; nor did Moses desire it; he was the mechest of men in his temper, and therefore God chose him as a fit instrument for the in
flicting of his judgments; who could drive the furious blast with calmness and serenity. He is the proper minister of vengeance, who can execute it without wrath. Our blessed Saviour, to whom all judgment is committed, was the mildest and the most lowly in his conversation upon earth. In this capacity of a judge, we are not called to imitate him; but all may go about doing good; and they who can do the most good, have the most pleasure within their power.
But there is now another sort of blessedness (and that more valuable to us in our present state) to which he shall be entitled, who considereth the poor and needy ;--the LORD shall deliver him in the time of trouble.
In the days of youth, we are thoughtless and forgetful; in the days of prosperity, we are high-spirited and presumptuous; but the time of sorrow must overtake those who least think of it; and there are troubles in store, by which the highest minds shall be brought low, and the stoutest hearts shall be made to tremble. Then to find deliverance from the Lord, is the greatest blessedness of man; and consequently to secure it before hand, by shewing mercy to the poor, must be this great wisdom. Wealth being so often abused as a root of evil, is called the Mammon of unrighteousness ; but by this wise application of it, we may provide to ourselves a sure friend in the day of our distress.
The troubles of man's mind are as many and as various as the discases of his body, so that it were vain to number them: but there are some in particular under wbich you must all see, that we can expect no deliverance but from God. There are cares and disappointments, brought upon us sometimes by our own Oversights, sometimes by the perverseness and treachery of others, from which nothing can extricate us, but that Providence which ruleth over all, and worketh by ways which are secret and unexpected. And
And by some such way shall be be delivered, who hath considered others in their necessity.
There is another trouble, by which the mind is subject to be agitated ; and which is more afflicting than tvorldly sorrow : I mean a remorse of conscience under a sense of guilt. Some men, when they have fallen into sin, seem to'be as tasy as they were before. This is a dreadful symptom. When a limb feels no pain from incision, we know it is in a state of mortification: and ease in such a case, is the forerunner of death. But a mind more tender, and of a godly frame, is often reduced to a fearful sense of past sins. Sorrow, and shame, and terror seize upon it like fiends, and threaten to tear it in pieces. Where can it look for deliverance at such a tine, but to the grace of God, who hath promised forgiveness of sin ? Neither the power of man, nor the comforts of the world, can reach this case. Spiritual griefs must have a spiritual remedy; and that reinedy is with the great Physician of the soul, who alone can heal our sins, and help our infirunities. If he is sought at such a time of trouble, and not found, nothing remains but despair, which is the extremity of trouble. Many passages in the Psalms are written for the use and support of contrite minds, labouring under the burthen of their sins; and by the charitable they shall not be uttered in vain. They that have shewed mercy shall find
mercy, and be restored to peace of conscience. Another time of trouble is the time of sickness. The help of God, under this trial, is particularly promised to the merciful, in the words which follow the text. The Lord shall comfort him when he lieth sick upon his
bed: thou shalt make all his bed in his sickness. The Scripture expresses all things in figure and metaphor, with great force and signification. The making of his bed is a relief to the sick, and sometimes the only relief they are capable of. How easy then must he lie, whose bodily sorrows are made lighter by a communication of ease and comfort from above! for an easy mind, which is the gift of God, will sustain all the infirmities of the body. How frequently and unexpectedly doth the blessing of God raise up the sick, whose life hath been despaired of; as it is here said, The Lord shall preserve him and keep him alive, that he may be blessed upon the earth. But some sickness must end in death ; and when that time of trouble is approaching ; when this world is vanishing from our sight, and we are departing into the world of spirits; how inestimable is one ray of light from above, to cheer us in that hour of darkness! Who, that duly considers this in the days of health, would not sell all that he hath, and give to the poor, to purchase it?
But there is still another occasion of trouble, and that the greatest of all : when we shall besummoned by the trump of judgment to appear before the tribunal of Jesus Christ. Then must the rich and the poor, the weak and the powerful, stand naked and helpless before a Judge, who is no respecter of persons, but will demand an account of every man; of me that speak, and of you that hear; and reward them all according to their works. Who are they that shall be able to stand in that fearful day of reckoning? who, but they that have distributed of their abundance to the poor members of Jesus Christ? What is now done to thein, will then be placed by him to his own account, as if it were done to himself. I was naked, saith he, and ye clothed me ; sick and in prison, and ye visited me. To the rest
who bestowed their possessions upon themselves, and were unmindful of him, and of his poor brethren, he saith, Depart from me, I know you not.
Think then, all ye that have ability : think what a serious trust is committed to you, and what great things depend upon a faithful discharge of it. We count the rich happy ; we labour for wealth ; we court popularity ; we are proud of honours and titles ; but all these things will fail us in the time of trouble. No man can be accounted happy, but he who shall find deliverance from God. This deliverance is promised to the charitable man; and the promise of God shall never disappoint him. In all the cares and vexations of life; in the temptations of prosperity, and in the sorrows of adversity ; in health and in sickness ; in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment; blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy; the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble.