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Rule ix. Free contribution and communication of temporal things to them that are poor indeed, suitable to their necessities, wants, and afflictions.

1 John iii. 17, 18, “Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.”

2 Cor. ix. 5–7, “Let your gift be ready as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” So the whole eighth and ninth chapters of this epistle.

Rom. xii. 13, “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”

Gal. vi. 10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

1 Tim. vi. 17–19, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come.”

Heb. xiii. 16, “To do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Lev. xxv. 35, “If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him.”

Matt. xxv. 34–36, 40, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I 75was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Explication ix. The having of poor always amongst us and of us, according to our Saviour’s prediction, Matt. xxvi. 11, and the promise of God, Deut. xv. 11, serves for the trial of themselves and others: of their own content with Christ alone, with submission to the all-disposing sovereignty of God; of others, how freely they can part, for Christ’s sake, with those things wherewith their hand is filled. When God gave manna for food unto his people, every one had an equal share: Exod. xvi. 18, “He that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack;” 2 Cor. viii. 15. This distribution in equality was again, for the necessity of the church, reduced into practice in the days of the apostles, Acts iv. 35. Of the total sum of the possessions of believers, distribution was made to every man according to his need.

That every man, by the ordinance and appointment of God, hath a peculiar right to the use and disposal of the earthly things wherewith he is in particular intrusted, is unquestionable. The very precepts for free distribution and communication are enough to prove it. But that these things are altogether given to men for themselves and their own use is denied; friends are to be made of mammon. Christ needs in some what he bestows on others. If he hath given thee thine own and thy brother’s portion also to keep, wilt thou be false to thy trust, and defraud thy brother? Christ being rich, became poor for our sakes; if he make us rich, it is that we may feed the poor for his sake. Neither doth this duty lie only (though chiefly) on those who are greatly increased; those who have nothing but their labour should spare out of that for those who cannot work, Eph. iv. 28. The two mites are required as well as accepted. Now, the relief of the poor brethren in the church hath a twofold rule:—

First, Their necessity; Secondly, Others’ abilities.

Unto these two must assistance be proportioned, provided that those which are poor walk suitably to their condition, 2 Thess. iii. 10, 11. And as we ought to relieve men in their poverty, so we ought by all lawful means to prevent their being poor. To keep a man from falling is an equal mercy to the helping of him up when he is down.

Motives to this duty are:—

1. The love of God unto us, 1 John iii. 16.

2. The glory of the gospel, exceedingly exalted thereby, Tit. iii. 8, 14; Matt. v. 7.

763. The union whereinto we are brought in Christ, with the common inheritance promised to us all.

4. The testimony of the Lord Jesus, witnessing what is done in this kind to be done unto himself, Matt. xxv. 35, 36, 40.

5. The promise annexed to it, Eccles. xi. 1; Prov. xix. 17; Deut. xv. 10; Matt. x. 42.

The way whereby it is to be done is by appointing some, Acts vi. 1–6, to take what is voluntarily contributed by the brethren, according as God hath blessed them, on the first day of the week, 1 Cor. xvi. 2, and to distribute to the necessity of the saints, according to the advice of the church; besides private distributions, wherein we ought to abound, Matt. vi. 3; Heb. xiii. 16.

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