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1. Of the benefit of good works and mercy.
In Isaiah: “Cry aloud,” saith He, “and spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet; tell my people their sins, and the house of Jacob their wickednesses. They seek me from day to day, and desire to know my ways, as a people which did righteousness, and did not forsake the judgment of God. They ask of me now a righteous judgment, and desire to approach to God, saying, What! because we have fasted, and Thou hast not seen: we have humiliated our souls, and Thou hast not known. For in the days of fasting are found your own wills; for either ye torment those who are subjected to you, or ye fast for strifes and judgments, or ye strike your neighbours with fists. For what do you fast unto me, that to-day your voice should be heard in clamour? This fast I have not chosen, save that a man should humble his soul. And if thou shalt bend thy neck like a ring, and spread under thee sackcloth and ashes, neither thus shall it be called an acceptable fast. Not such a fast have I chosen, saith the Lord; but loose every knot of unrighteousness, let go the chokings of impotent engagements.41454145 “Impotentium commerciorum.” Send away the harassed into rest, and scatter every unrighteous contract. Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the houseless poor into thy dwelling. If thou seest the naked, clothe him; and despise not them of thy own seed in thy house. Then shall thy seasonable light break forth, and thy garments shall quickly arise; and righteousness shall go before thee: and the glory of God shall surround thee. Then thou shalt cry out, and God shall hear thee; while thou art yet speaking, He shall say, Here I am.”41464146 Isa. lviii. 1–9. Concerning this same thing in Job: “I have preserved the needy from the hand of the mighty; and I have helped the orphan, to whom there was no helper. The mouth of the widow blessed me, since I was the eye of the blind; I was also the foot of the lame, and the father of the weak.”41474147 Job xxix. 12, 13, 15, 16. Of this same matter in Tobit: “And I said to Tobias, My son, go and bring whatever poor man thou shalt find out of our brethren, who still has God in mind with his whole heart. Bring him hither, and he shall eat my dinner together with me. Behold, I attend thee, my son, until thou come.”41484148 Tob. ii. 2. Also in the same place: “All the days of thy life, my son, keep God in mind, and transgress not His precepts. Do justice all the days of thy life, and do not walk in the way of unrighteousness; because if thou act truly, there will be respect of thy works. Give alms of thy substance, and turn not thy face from any poor man. So shall it come to pass that the face of God shall not be turned away from thee. Even as thou hast, my son, so do: if thou hast abundant substance, give the more alms therefrom; if thou hast little, communicate even of that little. And do not fear when thou givest alms: thou layest up for thyself a good reward against the day of need; because alms delivereth from death, and does not suffer to go into darkness. Alms is a good office for all who do it in the sight of the most high God.”41494149 Tob. iv. 5–11. On this same subject in Solomon in Proverbs: “He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord.”41504150 Prov. xix. 17. Also in the same place: “He that giveth to the poor shall never want; but he who turns away his eye shall be in much penury.”41514151 Prov. xxviii. 27. Also in the same place: “Sins are purged away by alms-giving and faith.”41524152 Prov. xvi. 6. Again, in the same place: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; and if he thirst, give him to drink: for by doing this thou shalt scatter live coals upon his head.”41534153 Prov. xxv. 21. Again, in the same place: “As water extinguishes fire, so alms-giving extinguishes sin.”41544154 Ecclus. iii. 30. In the same in Proverbs: “Say not, Go away, and return, to-morrow I will give; when you can do good immediately. For thou knowest not what may happen on the coming day.”41554155 Prov. iii. 28. Also in the same place: “He who stoppeth his ears that he may not hear the weak, shall himself call upon God, and there shall be none to hear him.”41564156 Prov. xxi. 13. Also in the same place: “He who has his conversation without reproach in righteousness, leaves blessed children.”41574157 Prov. xx. 7. In the same in Ecclesiasticus: “My son, if thou hast, do good by thyself, and present worthy offerings to God; remember that death delayeth not.”41584158 Ecclus. xiv. 11. Also in the same place: “Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and this will entreat for thee from all evil.”41594159 Ecclus. xxix. 12. Concerning this thing in the thirty-sixth Psalm, that mercy is beneficial also to one’s posterity: “I have been young, and I have also grown old; and I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread. The whole day he is merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is in blessing.”41604160 Ps. xxxvii. 25, 26. Of this same thing in the fortieth Psalm: “Blessed is he who considereth over the poor and needy: in the evil day God will deliver him.”41614161 Ps. xli. 1. Also in the cxith Psalm: “He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness shall remain from generation to generation.”41624162 Ps. cxii. 9. Of this same thing in Hosea: “I desire mercy rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than whole burnt-offerings.”41634163 Hos. vi. 6. Of this same thing also in the Gospel according to Matthew: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be satisfied.”41644164 Matt. v. 6. Also in the same place: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”41654165 Matt. v. 7. Also in the same place: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not dig through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”41664166 Matt. vi. 20, 21. Also in the same place: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls: and when he hath found a precious pearl, he went away and sold all that he had, and bought it.”41674167 Matt. xiii. 45, 46. That even a small work is of advantage, also in the same place: “And whoever shall give to drink to one of the least of these a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, His reward shall not perish.”41684168 Matt. x. 42. That alms are to be denied to none, also in the same place: “Give to every one that asketh thee; and from him who would wish to borrow, be not turned away.”41694169 Matt. v. 42. Also in the same place: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith, Which? Jesus saith unto him, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I observed: what lack I yet? Jesus saith unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”41704170 Matt. xix. 17–21. Also in the same place: “When the Son of man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His glory: and all nations shall be gathered together before Him; and He shall separate them one from another, even as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: and He shall place the sheep on the right hand, but the goats on the left hand. Then shall the King say unto them that are on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer Him, and say, Lord, when saw we Thee41714171 The Oxford edition inserts here, “an hungered, and fed Thee: thirsty, and gave Thee drink? when saw we Thee—” a stranger, and took Thee in: naked, and clothed Thee? And when saw we Thee sick, and in prison, and came to Thee? And the King, answering, shall say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me. Then shall He say unto them who are on His left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which my Father hath prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry, and ye gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me not to drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: I was naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer, and say, Lord, when saw we Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? And He shall answer them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into everlasting burning: but the righteous into life eternal.”41724172 Matt. xxv. 31–46. Concerning this same matter in the Gospel according to Luke: “Sell your possessions, and give alms.”41734173 Luke xii. 33. Also in the same place: “He who made that which is within, made that which is without also. But give alms, and, behold, all things are pure unto you.”41744174 Luke xi. 40, 41. Also in the same place: “Behold, the half of my substance I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, that salvation has this day been wrought for this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.”41754175 Luke xix. 8, 9. Of this same thing also in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: “Let your abundance supply their want, that their abundance also may be the supplement of your want, that there may be equality: as it is written, He who had much had not excess; and he who had little had no lack.”41764176 2 Cor. viii. 14, 15. Also in the same place: “He who soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he who soweth in blessing shall reap also of blessing. But let every one do as he has proposed in his heart: not as if sorrowfully, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”41774177 2 Cor. ix. 6, 7. Also in the same place: “As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.”41784178 2 Cor. ix. 9. Likewise in the same place: “Now he who ministereth seed to the sower, shall both supply bread to be eaten, and shall multiply your seed, and shall increase the growth of the fruits of your righteousness: that in all things ye may be made rich.”41794179 2 Cor. ix. 10, 11. Also in the same place: “The administration of this service has not only supplied that which is lacking to the saints, but has abounded by much giving of thanks unto God.”41804180 2 Cor. ix. 12. Of this same matter in the Epistle of John: “Whoso hath this world’s substance, and seeth his brother desiring, and shutteth up his bowels from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”41814181 1 John iii. 17. Of this same thing in the Gospel according to Luke: “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor brethren, nor neighbours, nor the rich; lest haply they also invite thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a banquet, call the poor, the weak, the blind, and lame: and thou shalt be blessed; because they have not the means of rewarding thee: but thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just.”41824182 Luke xiv. 12–14.
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