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siderable disposition to fulfil it. The wild savage, who delights him with the tortures of his captive enemy, and dead to every other feeling of humanity, murders his wife and children before his eyes in very wantonness of cruelty, had the same father and his children come to him cold and starving, would have warmed and fed them. The bandit, whose very business it is to murder and rifle the rich man on his way, will give something of what he has so gained, to the starved and naked wanderer that breaks in on his concealment. In civilized society, it is true, there are some who, in proportion to their means, will give but very little—their self-indulgence and wasteful expenditure leave their coffers so exhausted, that with more truth, perhaps, than they would like to have it believed, they plead their inability-or if ashamed of this, as is more commonly the case, find an evasive covering for their selfishness, in pretended objections to the mode of charity proposed, or the object for whom it is solicited. But these delinquents find not, like the proud and vindictive man, an advocate in the habits of society, or a shelter in the opinions of men. They are clothed in their own colours, and called by their own name-selfish, niggard wretches, whose conduct no man will take upon him to defend. This want of charitable feeling towards the indigent remains a blot upon the few, and not a charge against the many.
It is impossible to look around us at this time, and deny that alms-giving is the fashion, the prevalent disposition, the very favourite virtue of our age and country. Doubtless with those to whom the Saviour preached, alms-giving was in reputation too, whether in practice it prevailed or not. With the Pharisees we know it did prevail--for it was one of their boasted virtues—one of their pleaded claims to the favour of heaven and reward hereafter. In principle and practice, then, it might seem that God and man were at last agreed, and that the disciples of Christ needed no new law on the assumption of their new name. And we may observe how the divine Preacher, ever mindful of his object, and ever wise in the pursuance of it, changes at this point the manner of his address. He no more repeats the false maxims established in the world—the sayings of them of old time were on this occasion right, and he no more complains of them-neither does he complain of their doings-he does not complain that they withheld their alms, or that they bestowed them too liberally, or in the wrong place. But now, with the eye of Deity, he looks into the secrets of their hearts, and there beholds that while the words are right, and the deeds are right, the motive, and object, and principle are wrong--and growing even more indignant than while they were open and consistent in their wrong, he uses a stronger and a harsher term, and calls these worldlings hypocrites. Why were they hypocrites? Doubtless when the trumpet sounded, the alms were given-there was no deception in the outward act. The hypocrisy was in the motive of their charity, and the purpose they meant to serve by it: the hypocrisy was to God, and by him alone perceived. And now, as then, his wide glance is upon all this charitable land, laying, perhaps, the charge of hypocrisy against thousands, whose names are blazoned in the records of benevolence, and held of men in high and just esteem.
Is there, then, no beauty in the abundant benevolence of our age? Is there no merit in abridging our selfish expenditure to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to surround the sick-bed of poverty with indulgence, and take the fatherless and widow into our keeping? Jesus does not say so.
The heart must be insensible indeed to moral beauty, it must be devoid of the feelings, not of Christianity, but of nature, to find no satisfaction in contemplating the universal impetus of benevolence that agitates our country, and puts every body in motion to provide for the necessities of their suffering fellow-creatures. Whether we consider the enormous sums of money subscribed to publick institutions, multiplied every year, and swelling their lists in proportion as they multi
ply the objects; and count the crowds as they egress from the charitable institution, and see the road-ways stopped, not as they were used, at St. James's or the Operahouse, but before the halls of anniversary meetings for some benevolent purpose—or whether we look into the privacy of retired life, and observe the lady of rank making baby linen for her tenants, instead of wreaths for her own
and the most refined and delicate women, not sending the solicited cash, they care not whither or to whom, but going themselves to the filthy and disgusting abodes of misery, to administer comfort and counsel as well as money-does the heart feel no glow of exultation, even though we cannot scan the individual motive? Can we say there is no beauty or excellence in it? Jesus does not say so—on the contrary he admits a merit, since he speaks of a reward.
The trumpet that proclaims the day of alms-giving is sounded continually in our streets, and they who obey the summops are sure to have glory of men. He who makes a good speech upon the platform of a charitable institution, is as sure to see it printed, and almost as sure to gain reputation by it; as if he made it in the commons or at the bar: he whose name is conspicuous in every subscription list, becomes a person of greater notoriety now than the hero of Newmarket. Are we therefore to suppose notoriety the actuating motive? We hope not, and we believe not. Far be it from us, even in thought, to lay such a charge against any individual those who take the lead in these things, are those whose principles do not depend on such undertakings to prove or disprove them. But it becomes very necessary at a time like this, that each one for himself and before his God-especially those younger persons, who may enter so smoothly on the path, once exposed to opposition from the fears of the timid and the laugh of the foolish, but which now the best of men under influence of the best of motives bave made so easy-should bring, as it were, this charge against himself, and try his motives strictly, lest he deceive himself with respect to them. A reward he will have at any rate, and better than any other earthly pursuit he will find it-for he will gain the exact object of his pursuit—if that object be to win the praise of men, he will have their praises—if it be to deserve the gratitude of men, he will deserve their gratitude, and he will have it—the niggard world will for once at least be just, it will discharge its debts; and for the benefits the man of benevolence has conferred on society, he will receive the love and approbation of society-it is his reward-his by merit, and his by choice.
And where the trumpet does not sound, and the crowds do not assemble, and there is no witness but Heaven to the deed of charity, we know that the prevalence of benevolent exertion is not less; and it is surely there we shall look for it in its purest form. It would be impossible to tell the numbers of young people in genteel life, who expend a portion of their time, abridged not seldom from their hours of recreation, in visiting the cottages of poverty; and when their supply of means are not equal to the tender suggestions of their pity, we know them very frequently employed at home, in earning money by their ingenuity to distribute in secret to the indigent. The praise of man cannot here be the object or the reward—but even here there
be some self-deception. Our motive is the kindest feeling and the best of which the heart of man is naturally susceptible -tender pity and disinterested sympathy: our object is the noblest and the purest that can be aspired after upon earth-to lessen the sum of human suffering, and add something to the quantity of enjoyment—and the only reward we aim at is to succeed in doing so. And sweet indeed shall be the reward we gather-the thought that a fellow-creature is made happier by our means, will be a nobler recompense than the applause of nations, and richly will our bosom's share the joy they have communicated. The female who sets out in the fill flush of expectation, to enjoy the fête for which she
bas expended on her person all she could command of her time, and all she could spare of her revenue, tastes not a pleasure to be compared to that which charity feels, when she steals out undressed and unobserved, to seek the pallet where a suffering, dying fellow-creature lies watching in anxious expectation the hand of the dial-plate, as it draws nearer to the hour of her coming. She has her reward--the only one she desires, the only one she values.
But while we give to publick and to private charity its full measure of approbation, and paint it in all the charms of moral loveliness, and repeat the promise of our Saviour that it shall be rewarded, we cannot but be aware that it is simply earthly—aiming at an earthly good, instigated by an earthly feeling, and awaiting an earthly recompense. The successful competitor in the race, however much he may outstrip his fellows, cannot claim more than the prize for which he runs; and if that prize be but the myrtle-wreath, decreed to bim amid the shouts of an admiring multitude, he cannot complain, when it fades upon his brow, that it was not of gold : he had what he contended for. Even so, when gratitude, and love, and approbation, and the lightness of a selfapproving spirit, have attended the man of benevolence through life, his claims have been acknowledged and his reward received. Should he present himself thereafter where the prizes awarded are of another kind—where the crowns are of gold, and the wreaths are woven of everlasting flowers, and the praise is of God, and the reward is immortality-should be present himself with bis record of charities to be rewarded there, would it not be just that his Lord should say to him-“What have I to do with it? When your name was sounded through the crowded chamber, when you were sitting alone beside the bed of poverty, I was present. I looked into the secret emotions of your bosom, but I did not see in it
any thought of me. It was not on my account that you were there, nor was it my approbation you were