Edwards’ Resolution #13

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014 in Resolutions

download13. Resolved, To be endeavouring to find out fit objects of liberality and charity.

 [17] As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. [18] They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, [19] thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

This is perhaps the simplest way to show the love of Christ to others. In his sermon, “Christian Charity, or, The Duty of Charity to the Poor, Explained and Enforced,” Edwards gives three duties of the people of God concerning charity:

I. It is the duty of the people of God to give bountifully

II. It is the duty of the visible people of God to give for the supply of the needy, freely, and without grudging.

III. This is a duty to which God’s people are under very strict obligation. It is not merely a commendable thing for a man to be kind and bountiful to the poor, but our bounden duty, as much a duty as it is to pray, or to attend public worship, or anything else whatever. And the neglect of it brings great guilt upon any person.

He then gives helps, godly motivations if you will, towards this obligation:

I. Consider that what you have is not your own. Your money and your goods are not your own. They are only committed to you as stewards, to be used for him who committed them to you.

II. God tells us, that he shall look upon what is done in charity to our neighbors in want, as done unto him; and what is denied unto them, as denied unto him. If Christ himself were upon earth, a dwelt among us in a frail body, as he once did, and were in calamitous and needy circumstances, should we not be willing to supply him? Should we be apt to excuse ourselves from helping him? Should we not be willing to supply him so, that he might live free from distressing poverty?

III. Consider that there is an absolute necessity of our complying with the difficult duties of religion. To give to the poor in the manner and measure that the gospel prescribes is a difficult duty, i.e. it is very contrary to corrupt nature, to that covetousness and selfishness of which there is so much in the wicked heart of man. Man is naturally governed only by a principle of self-love. And it is a difficult thing to corrupt nature, for men to deny themselves of their present interest, trusting in God to make it up to them hereafter. — But how often hath Christ told us the necessity of doing difficult duties of religion, if we will be his disciples; that we must sell all, take up our cross daily, deny ourselves, renounce our worldly profits and interests, etc. And if this duty seem hard and difficult to you, let not that be an objection with you against doing it. For you have taken up quite a wrong notion of things if you expect to go to heaven without performing difficult duties; if you expect any other than to find the way to life a narrow way.

Are you “generous and ready to share”? I opened by saying this is one of the simplest ways to show love for Christ – not easiest! You can read Edwards’ entire sermon here.

If this duty seem hard and difficult to you, let not that be an objection with you against doing it. For you have taken up quite a wrong notion of things if you expect to go to heaven without performing difficult duties; if you expect any other than to find the way to life a narrow way.”

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