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What then are liberal things ?—The original word, here rendered liberal, is, in the 51st Psalm, rendered free; and applied to the Holy Spirit ;" Uphold me by thy
666 free Spirit.” To be liberal is to be free : free from the restraints of a narrow, sordid, selfish disposition ; free, like the Spirit of all goodness, whose unconfined influences and benefactions are diffused through the universe. “ Charity seeketh not her own.” 6 The wisdom that is from above is full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality.” This is the character of genuine liberality.Liberal things of a free, disinterested spirit ; designs, and works of charity ; ways, and means, and acts of benefi
Of liberal things we have the fullest and brightest view in the gospel of the grace of God. The leading facts are plain, and most impressive. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have ever
66 Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners;"_" to seek and to save the lost.”
“ Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.” Though, “be. ing in the form of God, he thought it no robbery to be equal with God;" yet“ he made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." "He tasted death for every
66 “ He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, _“ giving himself for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God :"_" a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” Having thus “ made peace by the blood of his cross,” and “ brought in everlasting righteousness,” he “ forever sat down on the
" right hand of God," “ a Prince and a Saviour, to give re
pentance and forgiveness of sins." “ When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” “ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers ; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
, Christ.”—To the sacred ministry, thus graciously instituted, he “ committed the word of reconciliation,” the lively oracles of his truth and grace ;-together with the high and momentous commission, “ Go, teach, disci. ple, all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost :"_“Go ye
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And to insure success to this word and this ministry, he promised to send down, and he has sent down,“ the Comforter, the Holy Ghost,” evermore, and every where, to accompany them with his gracious and powerful influences : to 6 convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment;-to take away the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh; to bring sinners to repentance," and " to the knowledge and acknowledging of the truth ;” to “ cre. ate them anew after the image of God;" and " to seal them unto the day of redemption.”
These, my brethren, are liberal things. Herein is love, benevolence, liberality; the liberality of heaven.
The awful implication of these stupendous facts demands to be briefly stated, and most earnestly considered. “ If one died for all, then were all dead." Naturally mankind are in a state of moral corruption, of ruinous alienation from God. “ They
. They are all
are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Jews and Gentiles, all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Thus lying in wickedness, the whole world lies under condemnation :
6 for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men ;” and “ tribulation and anguish” are denounced“ upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile.” The only way of recovery from this woful state is that which is revealed in the gospel. " Christ crucified is the wisdom of God, and the power of God;" and there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved; neither is there salvation in any other.” “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Such is the express declaration of eternal Truth.
The salvation, then, which is by Jesus Christ, and through faith in him, is the highest good of mankind; comprises, indeed, all their essential interests. “ For what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” What are earthly things ?-riches, pleasures, honours ; arts, sciences, embellishments ; immunities, prerogatives, advancements; the various objects of individual desire and strife, and of national ambition and conflict; all that distinguishes the palace from the cottage, the civilized from the savage state, the freeman from the slave ? In so far as these things, or any of them, conduce to the recovery of mankind from moral corruption and wretchedness, to holiness and immortality, they are to be valued : apart from this conduciveness, they are but vanity and vexation of spirit. “For riches profit not in the day of wrath ;" 6 the name of the wicked, as well of the as of the small, shall rot;" 6 the wisdom of the wise shall be destroyed, and the understanding of the prudent shall be brought to nothing;" the monuments of earthly glory are perishing, and “the fashion of this world passeth away.”
great Designs and acts, therefore, plans and enterprises, endowments, largesses and distributions, which have for their object merely the temporal benefit, whether of few or of many, however great, however splendid, are not, in sacred estimation, or in scriptural style, liberal things. An apostle has taught us, in a manner the most impressive, that we may bestow all our goods upon the poor, and yet be utterly destitute of charity.
The benevolence of our God and Saviour looks to a higher, an infinitely more important object, than any merely terrestrial. It confers indeed unnumbered temporal benefits upon the children of men, upon the evil and upon the good. But whatsoever God doeth it shall be forever : and God doeth it that men should fear before him." In the temporal favours which he bestows upon them, he has always a view to their eternal state; and when those favours are used only for temporal purposes, he is justly displeased. Their recovery from sin and death to holiness and immortality ; their everlasting salvation by Jesus Christ and through faith in him, is the grand object of all the efforts of divine benevolence towards mankind; of all
! the distributions of heavenly liberality to them.
The same also is the object of all genuine liberality, in human action or design. And those things, and those only, which are conducive to this object, and intended to promote it, are truly liberal.
Every word of the text has a particular emphasis, and a pregnant meaning. The liberal deviseth liberal things; not only occasionally does them, but studiously exercises his mind in contriving, performing, and promoting them.
Every man has his object; an object on which his mind is habitually intent, and towards which his affections and thoughts and plans and efforts are constantly directed. The voluptuary devotes himself to his pleasures, the worldling, to the amassing of wealth, the ambitions man,
to the pursuit of preferment and fame. The liberal man has an object to which he is no less devoted. The same mind is in him that was in Jesus Christ, who came down from the bosom of the Father to save a ruined world. His soul is bent on doing good ; on promoting, by all the means in his power, the true and durable welfare of his fellow beings. If he desires wealth, or place, or name, or influence, it is not for the aggrandizement of himself, his family, or his connexions ; not for any personal, or partial, or earthly end : it is, that he may have it in his power to extend his usefulness.
Assuredly, then, he will devise liberal things. This will be his care, his study, his business ; not on special occasions, and exciting emergencies only, but ordinarily, and continually. Viewing, with deep concern, the condition of mankind; their depravity and guilt, their ignorance and stupidity, their errors and delusions, their vices and follies, their miseries and dangers ; he assiduously considers what is needful to be done for them ; what may be done, what ought to be done. He muses, the fire burns; he speaks, and he acts.
He devises respecting himself, where he should be and what he should do, to promote his great object; how he should cultivate his virtues, and occupy his talents ; in what pursuits he should engage,what'connexions he should form, what sacrifices and what exertions he should make. He devises respecting his time; how he may turn his days and his hours to the best account. He devises respecting his property ; what means he should employ to increase it, what care he should take to prevent its waste, and how he should apply it for the greatest good. Holding a portion, not less than a tenth of all bis increase, sacredly devoted to the Lord, for pious and charitable uses, it will be his especial study and care to make the best appropriation of that consecrated portion. He devises respecting oth