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a true patriot, and does more good to mankind, than all the heroes and man-destroyers, who fill the annals of history. The fame of the one is founded upon the numbers that he has slain ; the glory of the other arises from the numbers that he preserves and makes happy.
Another act of charity, of equal importance, is to supply the wants of the really indigent and necessitous. If the industrious, with all their efforts, are not able to earn a competent livelihood ; if the produce of their labour be not proportionable to the demands of a numerous family ; then they are proper objects of your charity. Nor can there be conceived a more pitiable case, than that of those whose daily labour, after the utmost they can do, will not procure daily bread for themselves and their household. To consider a parent who has toiled the livelong day in hardship, who yet at night, instead of finding rest, shall find a pain more insupportable than all his fatigues abroad ; the cravings of a numerous and helpless family, which he cannot satisfy : this is sufficient to give the most lively touches of compassion to every heart that is not past feeling. Nor can there be an exercise of charity better judged, than administering to the wants of those who are at the same time industrious and indigent.
Another class of men that demand our charity, is the aged and feeble, who, after a life of hard labour, after being worn out with the cares and business of life, are grown unfit for further business, and who add poverty to the other miseries of old age. What can be more worthy of us, than thus to contribute to their happiness, who have been once useful, and are stil!
willing to be so; to allow them not to feel the want of those enjoyments, which they are not now able to procure ; to be a staff to their declining days ; to smooth the furrows in the faded cheek, and to make the winter of old age wear the aspect of spring?
Children also bereft of their parents, orphans cast upon the care of Providence, are signal objects of compassion. To act the part of a father to those upon whose helpless years no parent of their own ever smiled; to rear up the plant that was left alone to perish in the storm ; to fence the tender bloom against the early blasts of vice ; to watch and superintend its growth, till it flourishes and brings forth fruit : this is a noble and beneficial employment, well adapted to a generous mind. What can be more delightfựl than thus to train up the young to happiness and virtue; to conduct them with a safe but gentle hand, through the dangerous stages of infancy and youth; to give them, at an age when their minds are most susceptible of good impressions, early notices of religion, and render them useful members of society, who, if turned adrift, and left defenceless, would, without the extraordinary grace of God, become a burden and a nuisance to the world?
But there is a class of the unfortunate not yet mentioned, who are the greatest objects of all; those who, after having been accustomed to ease and plenty, are, by some unavoidable reverse of fortue, by no. fault or folly of theirs, condemned to bear, what they are least able to bear, the galling load of poverty ; who, after having been perhaps fathers to the fatherless, in the day of their prosperity, are now be.
come the objects of that charity which they were wont so liberally to dispense. These persons plead the more strongly for our relief, because they are the least able to reveal their misery, and make their wants known. Let these therefore in a peculiar manner partake the bounty of the liberal and open hand. Let your goodness descend to them in secret, and, like the providence of Heaven, conceal the hand which sends them relief, that their blushes may be spared while their wants are supplied.
Concerning one class of the indigent, vagrants and common beggars, I have hitherto said nothing.
About these your own observation and experience will enable you to judge. Some of them are real and deserving objects of your compassion. Of others, the greatest want is the want of industry and virtue.
The second thing proposed, was, To give exhortations to the practice of this duty. This duty is so agreeable to the common notions of mankind, that every one condemns the mean and sordid spirit of that wretch whom God has blessed with abundance, and consequently with the power of blessing others, and who is yet relentless to the cries of the poor and miserable. We look with contempt and abhorrence upon a man who is ever amassing riches, and never bestowing them ; as greedy as the sea, and yet as barren as the shore. Numbers, it is true, think they have done enough in declaiming against the practice of such persons ; for upon the great and the opulent they think the whole burden of this duty ought to rest ; but for themselves, being somewhat of a lower class, they desire to be excused. Their circumstançes, they say, are but just easy, to answer the de. mands of their family, and therefore they plead inability, and expect to be exempted from the performance of this duty. Before this excuse will be of any avail, it behoves them to consider whether they do not indulge themselves in expenses unsuitable to their rank and condition. Imaginary wants are boundless, and charity will never begin, if it be postponed till these have an end. Every man, whether rich or poor, is concerned in this duty, in proportion to his circumstances : and he that has little is as strictly bound to give something out of that little, as he that hath more is obliged to give more. What advantage was it to the poor widow, that she, by giving her one mite into the treasury, could exercile a nobler charity than all the rich had done! The smallest gift may be the greatest bounty.
The practice of this duty, therefore, is incumbent upon all. To the performance of it you are drawn by that pity and compassion which are implanted in the heart. Compassion is the call of our Father in heaven to us his children, to put us upon relieving our brethren in distress. This is an affection wisely interwoven in our frame by the Author of our nature, that whereas abstracted reason is too sedentary and remiss a counsellor, we might have a more in, ftant and vigorous pleader in our own breasts to excite us to acts of charity. As far, indeed, as it is ingrafted in us, it is mere instinct; but when we cultivate and cherish it, till we love mercy; when we dwell upon every tender sentiment that opens our mind and enlarges our heart, then it becomes a virtue. Whoso. ever thou art whose heart is hardened and waxed gross, put thyself in the room of some poor unfriend.
ed wretch, beset perhaps with a large family, broken with misfortunes, and pining with poverty, whilst silent grief preys upon his vitals ; in such a case, what wouldst thou think it reasonable thy rich neighbours should do ? That, like the Priest and the Levite, they should look with an eye of indifference, and pass by on the other side ; or like the good Samaritan, pour balm into thy wounded mind? Be thyself the judge ! and whatever thou thinkest reasonable thy neighbours should do to thee, go thou and do likewise unto them.
Consider next the pleasure derived from benevolence. Mean and illiberal is the man whose soul the good of himself can entirely engross. True benevolence, extensive as the light of the sun, takes in all mankind. It is not indeed in your power to support all the indigent, incurable and aged ; it is not in your power to train up in the paths of virtue many friendless and fatherless children : but if, as far as the compass of your power reaches, nothing is deprived of the influence of your bounty, and where your power falls short, you are cordially affected to see good works done by others, those charities which you could not do, will be placed to your account. To grasp thus the whole system of reasonable beings, with an overflowing love, is to pofless the greatest of all earthly enjoyments, is to make approaches to the happiness of higher natures, and anticipate the joy of the world to come. · For it is impoflible, that the man who, actuated by a principle of obedience to his Creator, has cherished each generous and liberal movement of the soul, with a lead ever studious to contrive, a heart ever willing to pro