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- And let us consider that many of us are a great S ER M.
way already on our journey towards the grave, that = our day is declining apace, and the shadows of the
evening begin to be stretched out, therefore that little } of our life which is yet behind us should be precious
to us, ut elle solis gratius lumen folet, jam jam cadenrtis, we should improve that which yet remains, as it
were for our lives, always remembring that our only opportunity of working, of designing and doing great and happy things for ourselves, is on this side the
grave, and that this opportunity will expire and die i with us; " for there is no work, nor device, nor i “ knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we E: “ are going."
“ Now God of his infinite mercy grant, that we “ may all of us know in this our day, the things “ which belong to our present peace and future hap“ piness, before they be hid from our eyes, for his “ mercy's fake in Jesus Christ; to whom with " thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all ho“ nour and glory, thanksgiving and praise, now and “ for evermore.
SERMON CCXIII. |
ACT S xx. 35.
he said, it is more blessed to give, than to receive.
I have newed you all things, how that so labouring, . gue ought to support the weak, and to remember the · words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more
blessed to give, than to receive.
SERM. THE words which I have read to you, have
this particular advantage to recommend them to our more attentive consideration, that they are a remarkable saying of our Lord himself, not record, ed by any of the evangelists among his other sayings and discourses, but remembred by the apostles, and by some of them delivered to St. Paul, and by him preserved to us in his farewel-speech to the elders of Ephesus. In which, after he had given them fome needful advice, and commended them to the grace of God, he appeals to them concerning the integrity of his conversation among them; that he was so far from seeking his own advantage and from covering any thing that was theirs, that he had not only supported himself, but also relieved others by the labour of his own hands; giving them herein a great example of charity, which, it seems, he was wont to enforce up
on thein by an excellent saying of our LORD, “ It is S E R M.
CCXIII. “ more blessed to give, than to receive.” .
And it is really a particular endearment of this saying to us, that being omitted by the evangelists, and in danger of being loft and forgotten, it was so happily retrieved by St. Paul, and recorded by St. Luke. The common sayings of ordinary persons perish without regard, and are spilt like water upon the ground, which no body goes about to gather up; but the little and short sayings of wise and excellent men are of great value, like the dust of gold, or the leasts sparks of diamonds. And such is this saying of our LORD, which is not only valuable out of respect to it's author, but for the sake of that admirable sense which is contained in it.
Some interpreters have needlesly troubled them- . felves to find these words, or something equivalent to them in the gospel. That the sense of them may be inferred from several passages in the gospel, none will deny; but that they are either expresly to be found there, or that there is any saying that sounds to the same sense, I think no body can shew. Besides that St: Paul cites a particular sentence or saying of our Lord, that was pogas, and in those very words spoken by him.'
And there is no reason to imagine, that the gospels are a perfect and exact account of all the sayings and actions of our LORD, though St. Luke calls his gospel « a treatise of all things that Jesus did and spake ;'! that is, of the principal actions of his life, and the substance of his discourses, at least so much of them as is needful for us to know: for St. Luke leaves our feveral things related by the other evangelists. And St. John expresly tells us, that Jesus did innumerable things not recorded in the history of his life : and there is no doubt but the disciples of our Lord remem: ber'd many particular sayings of his, not set down in
ifciples. Cory of
SER M. the gospels, which upon occasion they did relate and CCXIII. * communicate to others, as they did this to St. Paul.
The words themselves are the proposition I shall speak to, “ It is a more blessed thing to give, than to " receive." This, I know, seems a parodox to most men, who know no happiness but in hoarding up what they have, and in receiving and heaping up more; but as strange as this saying may appear, the sense of it is owned and assented to by those great oracles of reason, the wisest and most considerate heathen; This αρείης μάλλον το ευ ποιείν ή το έυ πάσχειν, « it is a “ more virtuous thing to do than to receive good," says Aristotle ; which according to his opinion was to say, it a greater happiness, because he placed happiness in the practice and exercise of virtue. To the same purpose is that saying of Plutarch, ĉu woteiv hóv Egon ñ wáoger, “ there is more pleasure in doing a “ kindness, than in taking one." And that of Seneca, Malim non recipere beneficia, quàm non dare; “ of “ the two, I had rather not receive benefits, than not “ bestow them.” And that the heathen have spoken things to the same sense with this saying of our SAviour's, is so far from being any prejudice to this saying of our SavIOUR, that it is a great commendation of it, as being an argument that our SAVIOUR hath herein said nothing, but what is very agreeable to the best notions of our minds, and to the highest reason and wisdom of mankind. In the handling of this proposition, I shall do these two things. ,
First, endeavour to convince men of the truth and reasonableness of it.
Secondly, to persuade men to act suitably to it.
First, to convince men of the truth and reasonableness of this principle, that “ it is more blessed to give, “ than to receive.” And this will fully appear by considering these three things.
.. 1. That it is an argument of a more happy fpirits ERM.
CCXIII. and temper. ;
II. Of a more happy ftate and condition. And,.
III. That it shall haye the happiness of a greater teward. :
1. To be governed by this principle, is an argument of a more happy spirit and temper. To do good, to be useful and beneficial to others, to be of a kind and obliging disposition, of a tender and compassionate fpirit, sensible of the straits and miseries of others, so as to be ready to ease and relieve them (for to this kind of goodness and charity the apostle applies this saying of our Saviour, as appears by the context) this certainly is the happiest spirit and temper in the world; and is an argument of a noble, and generous, and large heart, that is not contracted within itself, and confined to little and narrow designs, and takes care of no body but itself, envying that others should share with it, and partake of its happiness; but is free and open, “ ready to do good, and willing to “ communicate,” and thinks it's own happiness increased, by, making others happy.
It is the property of narrow and envious fpirits, to think their own happinels the greater, becaule they have it alone to themselves ; but the noblest and most heavenly dispositions desire that others should share with them in it. Of all beings God is the farthest removed from envy and ill-will, and the nearer any creature approachech to him, the farther it is from this hellish disposition. For it is the temper of the devil to grudge happiness to others; he envied that man should be in paradise, and was reftlels till he had got him out.
Some perfections are of a more solitary nature and disposition, and Ihine brightest when they are atrained . to but by few, as knowledge and power ; but the naVOL. XI.