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And let us confider 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 fhadows of the evening begin to be ftretched out, therefore that little of our life which is yet behind us fhould be precious to us, ut effe folis gratius lumen folet, jam jam cadentis, we should improve that which yet remains, as it were for our lives, always remembring that our only opportunity of working, of defigning and doing great and happy things for ourselves, is on this fide the grave, and that this opportunity will expire and die with us; "for there is no work, nor device, nor "knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we " 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 prefent 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.




Of the bleffedness of giving, more than that of receiving.


ACTS xx. 35.

And to remember the words of the LORD JESUS, bow he faid, it is more bleffed to give, than to receive.

The whole Verfe runs thus,

I have fhewed you all things, how that fo labouring, se ought to fupport the weak, and to remember the words of the LORD JESUS, how he faid, it is more blessed to give, than to receive.


HE words which I have read to you, have this particular advantage to recommend them to our more attentive confideration, that they are a remarkable faying of our LORD himself, not record, ed by any of the evangelists among his other fayings and difcourfes, but remembred by the apoftles, and by fome of them delivered to St. Paul, and by him preserved to us in his farewel-fpeech to the elders of Ephefus. 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 converfation among them; that he was fo far from feeking his own advantage and from coveting any thing that was theirs, that he had not only fupported 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 them by an excellent faying of our LORD, "It is SER M. "more bleffed to give, than to receive."

And it is really a particular endearment of this faying to us, that being omitted by the evangelifts, and in danger of being loft and forgotten, it was fo happily retrieved by St. Paul, and recorded by St. Luke. The common fayings of ordinary perfons perifh without regard, and are fpilt like water upon the ground, which no body goes about to gather up; but the little and fhort fayings of wife and excellent men are of great value, like the duft of gold, or the leafts sparks of diamonds. And fuch is this faying of our LORD, which is not only valuable out of refpect to it's author, but for the fake of that admirable fenfe which is contained in it.

Some interpreters have needlefly troubled themfelves to find thefe words, or fomething equivalent to them in the gospel. That the fenfe of them may be inferred from feveral paffages in the gofpel, none will deny; but that they are either exprefly to be found there, or that there is any faying that founds to the fame sense, I think no body can fhew. Befides that St. Paul cites a particular fentence or faying of our LORD, that was ps, and in thofe very words spoken by him."

And there is no reafon 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 gofpel "a treatise of all things that Jesus did and fpake;" that is, of the principal actions of his life, and the fubftance of his difcourfes, at leaft fo much of them as is needful for us to know: for St. Luke leaves out feveral things related by the other evangelifts. And St. John exprefly tells us, that JESUS did innumerable things not recorded in the hiftory of his life and there is no doubt but the difciples of our LORD remem ber'd many particular fayings of his, not fet down in



SER M. the gospels, which upon occafion they did relate and communicate to others, as they did this to St. Paul.


The words themselves are the propofition I fhall fpeak 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 ftrange as this faying may appear, the fenfe of it is owned and affented to by thofe great oracles of reafon, the wifeft and moft confiderate heathen; T ἀρείης μᾶλλον τὸ ἐν ποιεῖν ἢ τὸ ἔν πάσχειν, "it is a


more virtuous thing to do than to receive good," fays Ariftotle; which according to his opinion was to fay, it a greater happiness, because he placed happinefs in the practice and exercife of virtue. To the fame purpofe is that faying of Plutarch, ἓν ποιεῖν ἤδιόν ἔτιν ἡ πάσχειν, "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 fame fenfe with this faying of our SAVIOUR'S, is fo far from being any prejudice to this faying of our SAVIOUR, that it is a great commendation of it, as being an argument that our SAVIOUR hath herein faid nothing, but what is very agreeable to the beft notions of our minds, and to the highest reason and wisdom of mankind. In the handling of this propofition, I fhall do these two things.

First, endeavour to convince men of the truth and reasonableness of it.

Secondly, to perfuade men to act fuitably to it. First, to convince men of the truth and reasonablenefs of this principle, that "it is more blessed to give, "than to receive." And this will fully appear by confidering these three things. I. That

I. That it is an argument of a more happy fpiritS ERM. and temper.

II. Of a more happy state and condition. And,

III. That it fhall have the happiness of a greater reward.

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I. To be governed by this principle, is an argument of a more happy fpirit and temper. To do good, to be useful and beneficial to others, to be of a kind and obliging difpofition, of a tender and compassionate fpirit, fenfible of the straits and miseries of others, fo as to be ready to eafe and relieve them (for to this kind of goodness and charity the apoftle applies this faying 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 defigns, and takes care of no body but itself, envying that others should fhare 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.

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It is the property of narrow and envious fpirits, to think their own happiness the greater, because they have it alone to themselves; but the nobleft and most heavenly difpofitions defire that others fhould share with them in it. Of all beings GOD is the farthest removed from envy and ill-will, and the nearer any creature approacheth to him, the farther it is from this hellish difpofition. For it is the temper of the devil to grudge happiness to others; he envied that man fhould be in paradife, and was reftlefs till he had got him out. Some perfections are of a more folitary nature and difpofition, and shine brightest when they are attained to but by few, as knowledge and power; but the naVOL. XI. F



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