Jonathan Edwards on our duty to the poor
From a sermon on Deuteronomy 15:
It is the duty of the visible people of God to give for the supply of the needy, freely, and without grudging…
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…
This duty is absolutely commanded, and much insisted on, in the Word of God. Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a more peremptory urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor?…But by many it seems not to be looked upon as a duty of great importance.
Consider how much God hath done for us, how greatly he hath loved us, what he hath given us, when we were so unworthy, and when he could have no addition to his happiness by us. Consider that silver, and gold, and earthly crowns, were in his esteem but mean things to give us, and he hath therefore given us his own Son…How unsuitable is it for us, who live only by kindness, to be unkind!
Let everyone examine himself, whether he [does] not lie under guilt in this matter.
There’s a very helpful list of objections at the end of the sermon. Some are pretty appropriate to today, such as we “know not whether he be in want as he pretends [or] …how he came to be in want, whether it were not by his own idleness, or prodigality.” Or: “He has brought himself to want by his own fault.” Edwards answers these objections very well.