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seek it for the benefit of your souls, and in order to practice.If applause be your end, you will not be so likely to be led to the knowledge of the truth, but may justly, as often is the case of those who are proud of their knowledge, be led into error to your own perdition. This being your end, if you should obtain much rational knowledge, it would not be likely to be of any benefit to you, but would puff you up with pride: 1 Cor. viii. 1. "Knowledge puffeth up.
6. Seek to God, that he would direct you, and bless you, in this pursuit after knowledge. This is the apostle's direction, Jam. i. 5. "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all liberally, and upbraideth not." God is the fountain of all divine knowledge: Prov. ii. 6. "The Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." Labour to be sensible of your own blindness and ignorance, and your need of the help of God, lest you be led into error, instead of true knowledge: I Cor. iii. 18. "If any man would be wise, let him become a fool, that he may be wise."
7. Practise according to what knowledge you have. This will be the way to know more. The Psalmist warmly recommends this way of seeking knowledge in divine truth, from his own experience: Psal. cxix. 100." I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts." Christ also recommends the same: John vii. 17." If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
DEUT. XV. 7-12.
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, within any of thy gates, in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand: and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou pultest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shall open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
The Words explained.
THE duty here enjoined is giving to the poor: "If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:-Thou shalt surely give him." Here by thy poor brother is to be understood the same as in other places is meant by neighbour. It is explained in Levit. xxv. 35, to mean not only those of their own nation, but even strangers and sojourners: "And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in
decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner." The Pharisees indeed interpreted it to signify only one of their own nation; but Christ condemns this interpretation, Luke x. 29, &c. and teaches, in contradiction to their opinion, that the rules of charity, in the law of Moses, are to be extended to the Samaritans, who were not of their nation, and between whom and the Jews there was the most bitter enmity, and who were a people very troublesome to the Jews.
God gives us direction how we are to give in such a case, viz. bountifully, and willingly. We should give bountifully, and sufficiently for the supply of the poor's need: verse 7, 8. "Thou shall not shut up thine hand from thy poor brother; but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth." And again, in verse 11. "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” Again, we should give willingly, and without grudging: verse 7. Thou shalt not harden thine heart from thy poor brother;" and verse 10. "And thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest him.'
We may also observe how peremptorily this duty is here enjoined, and how much it is insisted on. It is repeated over and over again, and enjoined in the strongest terms: verse 7. "Thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother;" verse 8. " But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him;" verse 10. "Thou shalt surely give him;" verse 11. "I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother; to thy poor, and to thy needy."
Moreover, God strictly warns against objections, verse 9, "Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, "The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand: and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee." The matter concerning the seventh year, or year of release, was thus: God had given Israel a law, that every seventh year should be a year of release; that if any man had lent any thing to any of his poor neighbours, if the latter had not been able to repay it before that year, the former should release it, and should not exact it of his neighbour, but give it to him. Therefore God warns the children of Israel against making of this an objection to helping their poor neighbours, that the year of release was near at hand; and it was not likely that they would be able to refund it again before that time, and then they should lose it wholly, because then they would be obliged to release it. God foresaw that the wickedness of their hearts would be ready to make such an objection; but