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Motives to Charity.
The motives to this duty are such, as Holy Scripture hath propounded to us by way of consideration and proposition of its excellences and consequent reward. 1. There is no one duty which our blessed Saviour did recommend to his disciples with so repeated an injunction as this of charity and alms.259259Matt. vi. 4; xiii.12, 33; xxv. 15. Luke, xi. 41. To which add the words spoken by our Lord, ‘It is better to give than to receive.’ And when we consider how great a blessing it is that we beg not from door to door, it is a ready instance of our thankfulness to God, for his sake, to relieve them that do. 2. This duty is that alone whereby the future day of judgment shall be transacted. For nothing but charity and alms is that whereby Christ shall declare the justice and mercy of the eternal sentence. Martyrdom itself is not there expressed, and no otherwise involved, but as it is the greatest charity. 3. Christ made himself the greatest and daily example of alms or charity. He went up and down doing good, preaching the gospel, and healing all diseases; and God the Father is imitable by us in nothing but in purity and mercy. 4. Alms given to the poor rebound to the emolument of the giver both temporal and eternal.260260Phil. iv. 17. 5. They are instrumental to the remission of sins; our forgiveness and mercy to others being made the very rule and proportion of our confidence and hope, and our prayer to be forgiven ourselves.261261Acts, x. 4; Heb. xiii. 16; Dan. iv. 27. 6. It is a treasure in heaven; it procures friends when we die. It is reckoned as done to Christ, whatsoever we do to our poor brother; and, therefore, when a poor man begs for Christ’s sake, if he have reason to ask for Christ’s sake, give it him if thou canst. Now every man hath title to ask for Christ’s sake whose need is great, and himself unable to cure it, and if the man be a Christian. Whatsoever charity Christ will reward, all that is given for Christ’s sake, and therefore it may be asked in his name; but every man that uses that sacred name for an endearment hath not a title to it, neither he nor his need. 7. It is one of the wings of prayer by which it flies to the throne of grace. 8. It crowns all the works of piety.262262Nunquam memini me legisse mala morte mortuum, qui libenter opera charitatis exercuit.—S. Hieron. Ep. ad Nepot. 9. It causes thanksgiving to God on our behalf; 10. And the bowels of the poor bless us and pray for us; 11. And that portion of our estate out of which a tenth, or a fifth, or a twentieth, or some offering to God for religion and the poor goes forth, certainly returns with a great blessing upon all the rest. It is like the effusion of oil by the Sidonian woman; as long as she pours into empty vessels it could never cease running; or like the widow’s barrel of meal, it consumed not as long as she fed the profit. 12. The sum of all it contained in the words of our blesses Saviour: ‘Give alms of such things as you have, and behold all things are clean unto you.’ 13. To which may be added, that charity or mercy is the peculiar character of God’s elect, and a sign of predestination, which advantage we are taught by St. Paul: ‘Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, etc. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any.’263263Coloss. iii. 12. The result of all which we may read in the words of St. Chrysostom: “To know the art of alms is greater than to be crowned with the diadem of kings. And yet to convert one soul is greater than to pour out ten thousand talents into the baskets of the poor.”
But because giving alms is an act of the virtue of mercifulness, our endeavour must be, by proper arts, to mortify the parents of unmercifulness, which are — 1. Envy; 2. Anger; 3. Covetousness: in which we may be helped by the following rules or instruments:
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