Page images
PDF
EPUB

..:: ST. MATTHEW vi. 6. in. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into

thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in

secret, and thy Father, which seeth in *.. secret, shall reward thee openly. .

- OUR blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, now begins to tell his disciples and those who heard him, that they must not do good actions, or pray to God in order to be praised by men, but to please God, who sees every thing that is done in secret, and rewards openly and publicly. He tells them that, when they did alms, that is, gave away any thing in charity, they were not to sound a trumpet before them, as the hypocrites did in the synagogues

-

and in the streets, that they may have glory or praise of men. Verily I say unto you; our Saviour says, they have their reward. Thou wilt praise them, it is true, and say, they are good people, and this is the reward they seek, and this is the only reward they will have. They will have no reward from their Father, which is in Hea

ven.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: do it privately and secretly, not seeking the praise of men, but do it, because it is a duty, and God orders it, and will be pleased with you for doing it, that thine' alms may be in secret, and thy heavenly Father, which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly. He tells them too, when they pray, not to love to do so standing in the streets, and seeking that others may see them, and say, how good and religious these people are: this is vile hypocrisy, and they, who pray to God, not to please him and to seek his favour, but to be thought highly of by men : these bave

their reward in this world in being praised, they have no reward from their Father which is in Heaven. But thou, says our Saviour, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. My friends and hearers, it is highly necessary and right to caution you and every body else against being vain-glorious, and boastful, seeking praise from men. We generally like to be thought well of by people we know, and we wish them to praise us. And perhaps, it is pleasant to us, and may be useful to get this their liking and their praise. But still we are not to do any thing good, and abstain from any thing bad, in order to get their good-will and praise. No, we are to be good and religious, we are to give our alms, and pray to God, because God orders us to do so, and we wish to please him. We wish for his favour, we wish him to be pleased with us: we regard his good liking,

better than that of all the world besides : and, my friends, if we seek his favour, he will know that we do so, for he seeth in secret, and knoweth all hearts, and he will reward us before angels and before men. We are all bound to held and assist each other, being all of us poor, helpless, and dependent beings. And although you, my friends, cannot be expected to give away , sums of money, yet it may be in your power to give some relief to other negroes poorer and more in want than yourselves. You who are strong may assist the weak with your labour, you may some of you be able to give some food to the hungry, some garment to the naked; and, remember, that if you do these good acts, not to be seen by men, but to please, serve, and obey your Heavenly Father, who commands all of us, his creatures, to help each other, your Saviour tells you, that God will see what you do, and reward you for it. Again : we are weak, ignorant, and helpless: God is powerful, wise and, strong:

On him we depend for life, and breath, and all things.. It is, therefore, your duty to pray to him: but you must pray to him when you are at home, not that others may see you and praise you for it, but to please God, who seeth in secret. It is different in Church. Here we all meet to pray together to our God for the things that we all want; and even here, the rule is good : for we must not come to Church, that others may praise us, but that God may be pleased with us: we must not pretend to be what we are not, to be lifting up our eyes and falling on our knees, that others may say, how religious we are: but our hearts must be lifted up to God, we must pray with our hearts, as well as with our lips, for He seeth the hearts of us all. :

. This desire of pleasing God more than men will be of use to you, my friends, in all your duties. You will act in the ab? sence of your masters, just as well as in their preseñee: you will not require them

« PreviousContinue »