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examined into, ought, for the most part, to engross their pity, and leave little for such vagrants, as exercise a motley trade, made up of begging, pilfering, and sharping.
But there is little or no room for this abuse of charity, in its application to such almshouses, and public contributions for the education or support of the poor, as have been well considered, and are faithfully managed. Again, of all these contributions, none seems to bid so fair for doing good, as that which is intended for feeding, clothing and instructing poor children ; because in the first place, there can be no mistake about their wants, nor doubts of their innocence; and, in the next, whatsoever is given for this use is expended on a manageable kind of poor, whom the donor at once relieves, and renders deserving of relief. Other charities but in part remove a calamity, after it hath been severely felt for some time; this prevents it, by enabling the object to support himself. Other alms bring assistance only to the body; this to both body and soul. Other alms supply a temporal necessity ; this, as far as human means can contribute to so great an end, provides for eternal happiness. Other alms are generally given to persons, already rendered useless to mankind, who have little left about them that concerns society, but a mouth and stomach; this bestows on the community a number of useful hands, which otherwise might have been idle, or employed in doing mischief. Other alms are often expended on such. as we can only pity, because reduced to poverty by sloth, extravagance, or wickedness; this on innocent creatures, whom we ought to pity, because, in themselves, they are altogether helpless; and, for whom, we ought to feel the greatest tenderness, because God and nature have rendered them exceeding lovely in our eyes, for that very purpose.
Consider you, whom the present charitable occasion hath assembled, what it is you are called upon to do. It is to take a number of yet innocent young creatures out of the hands of natural corruption, of vile company, of temptations to idleness, lying, debauchery, drunkenness, theft, robbery; to turn them from a course that tends, through vice and infamy, to the gallows and damnation, and to lead them, as it were, by the hand, through a regular course of education and good principles, to such a scheme of life, as
is most likely to be useful and happy here, and to end in eternal peace with God. Consider this, and you will want no other motive to contribute to the present charity.
I choose to touch but briefly on these considerations, important as they are, knowing that the tender and generous minds of those who hear me, are this moment pleading the same cause, with the eloquence of the heart, which is stronger than that of words. It is almost needless to remind an assembly, collected, as this is, out of a people already distinguished for their compassion to the poor, that the gracious Father of us all will doubly bless those in their own children, whose compassion extends itself to the children of their poor neighbours; or that a man can hardly do any thing more acceptable in the sight of Christ, than to cherish in his charitable arms, as he did, those engaging objects, so full of amiable innocence and sweet simplicity, that we need nothing more, in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven, than to resemble them.
Should I take up more of your time in endeavouring to soften your hearts into a tenderness for human nature, in its most lovely, but most helpless, circumstances; I should but wrong you, who had never come hither, on this occasion, had not your hearts been previously affected with that very tenderness, from generous sensations, and beneficent motives of their own. Give way to this noble turn of mind; let your hands be as open as your hearts, that God, who is looking on, may see your pity; and the poor, who look up to you for relief, may taste the fruits of your compassion, and add their prayers to yours for every divine blessing on you, and all you love or possess.
The cry of the poor, that ascends daily before God, and draws his peculiar attention, returns in blessings on the liberal hand, and in judgments on the hard heart. Whosoever * would choose blessing, rather than cursing, 'let him not turn his face from the poor man, and then the face of the Lord shall not be turned away from him,' when he becomes poor himself and destitute of righteousness to recommend him, shall beg and sue for mercy at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. "Let him provide for the sick and needy, that the Lord may preserve bím alive, and bless him upon the earth. Let him deliver the poor that cries, and
the fatherless, and him that hath none to help him ; let him be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame, and a father to the poor;
the cause that he knows not, let him search it out; let him break the jaws of the wicked, and pluck the spoil ont of his teeth, that the blessing of him who was ready to perish may come upon him, and that the widow's heart may sing for joy. Let him resolutely plead the cause of the helpless, and without hire ; and generously stand between him and his persecutors of all kinds, cold, hunger, and oppression; and, for his reward, he shall not want an advocate to plead an infinitely more important cause for him, against his own sins, and the accusations of his enemy.
Shall one man cry out in anguish and misery, and another not feel ? Shall one neighbour see another sinking under affliction, and not stretch out his hand to support him? Shall one shiver with cold, and there be none to clothe him? Shall another pine away with hunger, and there be none to feed him, of all those whose fortunes enable them to flaunt in finery, and surfeit in luxury? Shall the poor call out for help, and humanity refuse it? Shall God sue for a share of his own, and religion give him a denial ? Shall heaven be set to sale for a mite, and there be none found to pnrchase ?
These things shall not, cannot be, if there are the least remains of compassion towards men, or love towards God, or sense of our greatest interest, left among us. If the rich, who never felt the extremities of cold or hunger, could conceive what they are, and suppose themselves in the places of the poor, they would be more ready to conform themselves to the royal law, and to do as they would be done by. But, though they have never been in this sort of distress, have they not eyes? Can they not see the houses of the poor, open to every injury of the weather; their wretched beds of straw, to which sleep and rest must be strangers ; their tattered clothes, hardly sufficient for decency; their scanty meal of tasteless and unwholsome trash; their faces pale, and worn to the-bone, for want of bread; their languid eyes, sunk deep into their heads, and dimmed, as it were, with the shadows of death? Can they not hear the cries of their starving children, re-echoed, in a melan
choly concert, by the groans of parents, enfeebled, to an impossibility of affording help, by want of nourishment, or by distempers, perhaps by both ? If they can see and hear these things, have they not bowels to tell them, this is misery? Or have they neither bowels nor conscience, to rouse them to the relief of this misery, suffered by their poor fellow-creature, the creature of that God who gave them all their wealth ?
I know the good-natured heart that hears me, not only pardons the pains I take on this most affecting subject, but melts at every touch of a discourse like this, and wishes for one of more power in speaking, who could force a passage to hearts less sensible and tender. I will not apologize for what I have said to the man of humanity, because his goodness supersedes the necessity of recommending the poor to his compassion. And as for the hard and the insensible, for whom, I own, this discourse was intended, he will hear my apology, and know my reasons for thus speaking, when his poor brother and he meet before the throne of God.
In the mean time, let us beseech the good God to take from us the heart of stone,' and to give us one of flesb,' that may feel the distresses of our fellow-creatures, for the sake of Christ Jesus our Redeemer; to whom, with God the Father of the poor, and God the guardian and comforter of the afflicted, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now, and forevermore, Amen.
THE BIRTH AND GROWTH OF FAITH.
Rom. 1. 17.
Therein is the righteousness of God revealed
from faith to faith. The light of the natural day is so ordered by Providence as not to fall on the eye, all at once, in its full lustre, but rises and increases by insensible degrees, lest that organ of sight should either be forced to shut itself up in voluntary darkness, or be exposed to the danger of losing its power of vision. In like manner, he who is stiled the East, the Light, and Righteousness, breaks not forth on us, at first in all his brightness, but discovers himself, here a little, and there a little,' and so, ‘shineth more and more unto the perfect day' of that evangelical knowledge, which lays open too deep and too glorious a mystery of wisdom, power, and love, to be endured by the human mind, were it not gradually dispensed. Reason, weak reason, must have fled from, or been lost in, a light so over-powering, had it burst at the first moment in its full noon of brightness, on that naturally benighted and enfeebled faculty. From the beginning, therefore, it did but dawn on the world through an obscure, but consolatory prophecy; shone somewhat more clearly through the promise made to Abraham; emitted a still more distinguishable and steady ray through the typical institutions, and vicarious sacrifices of the Mosaical law; became more characteristical in the prophecies of David, Isaiah, and others; marked out the time of its own meridian in those of Daniel ; grew more diffusive, in the repeated captivities of the Jews; and being preceded by its morning star' the Baptist, had its day-spring' in the birth, and arose to its full height in the miracles, preachings, sufferings, and resurrection of Christ. Even in this fullest display of itself, a singular simplicity and plainness of dress, allaying its heat, and veiling its brightness, presents it to the mind through a Chili sky, so tempered as neither to scorch nor glare.