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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

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Kindness exercised in the entertainment of strangers. This virtue, we find, is explicitly commanded by, and makes a part of the morality of the New Testament. Indeed, that religion which breathes nothing but charity, and whose tendency is to expand the heart, and call forth the benevolent exertions of mankind, must evidently embrace this practice.

If it be asked, of whom is this required? it is answered, that the principle is required of all, though the duty itself can only be practised by those whose circumstances will admit of it. Dr. Stennet, in his discourse on this subject (Domestic Duties, ser. 10, ) justly observes, "that hospitality is a species of charity to which every one is not competent. But the temper from which it proceeds, I mean a humane, generous, benevolent temper, that ought to prevail in every breast. Some are miserably poor, and it is not to be expected that their doors should be thrown open to entertain strangers; yet the cottage of a peasant may exhibit noble specimens of hospitality. Here distress has often met with pity, and the persecuted an asylum. Nor is there a man who has a house to sleep in, but may be benevolent to strangers.

But there are persons of certain characters and stations, who are more especially obliged to it: as particularly magistrates and others in civil offices, who would forfeit the esteem of the public, and greatly injure their usefulness, were they not to observe the rites of hospitality. Ministers also, and such Christians as are qualified by their particular offices in the church, and their affluent circumstances, may be eminently useful in this way. The two grand virtues which ought to be studied by every one, in order that he may have it in his power to be hospitable, are, industry and economy. But it may be asked again, to whom is this duty to be practised? The answer is, to strangers: but here it is necessary to observe, that the term strangers hath two acceptations. It is to be understood of travellers, or persons who come from a distance, and with whom we have little or no acquaintance; and more generally of all who are not of our house strangers, as opposed to domestics.

Hospitality is especially to be practised to the poor: they who have no houses of their own, or possess few of the conveniences of life, should occasionally be invited to our houses, and refreshed at our tables, Luke 14:1-35 . Hospitality also may be practised to those who are of the same character and of the same community with ourselves. As to the various offices of hospitality, and the manner in which they should be rendered, it must be observed, that the entertainments should be plentiful, frugal, and cordial. Genesis 18:6; Genesis 18:8 . John 12:3 . Luke 15:17 . The obligations to this duty arise from the fitness and reasonableness of it; it brings its own reward, Acts 20:35 . It is expressly commanded by God, Leviticus 25:35; Leviticus 25:38 . Luke 15:19; Luke 14:13-14 . Romans 12:1-21 : Hebrews 13:1-2 . 1 Peter 4:9 . We have many striking examples of hospitality on divine record: Abraham, Genesis 18:1; Genesis 18:8 . Lot, Genesis 19:1; Genesis 19:3 . Job 31:17; Job 31:22 . Shunamite, 2 Kings 4:1-44 . The hospitable man mentioned in Judges 19:16; Judges 19:21 . David, 2 Samuel 6:19 . Obadiah, 1 Kings 18:1-46 . Nehemiah, Nehemiah 5:17-18 . Martha, Luke 10:38 . Mary, Matthew 26:6; Matthew 26:13 . The primitive Christians, Acts 2:45-46 . Priscilla and Aquila, Acts 18:26 . Lydia, Acts 16:15 , &c. &c. Lastly, what should have a powerful effect on our minds, is the consideration of divine hospitality.

God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. His sun shines and his rain fall on the evil as well as the good. His very enemies share of his bounty. He gives liberally to all men, and upbraids not; but especially we should remember the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. Let us lay all these considerations together, and then ask ourselves whether we can find it in our hearts to be selfish, parsimonious, and inhospitable?"

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Hospitality'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​cbd/​h/hospitality.html. 1802.
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