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extinct though under obliteration, given to men at the first and coeval with the species. And not only is this the morality which most approves itself to the calm and enlightened judgment of men, but, in act and in experience, is it found to be the best for the happiness of the world—a regimen of peace and charity and righteousness that of itself would turn earth into heaven; and when once universal, which it is its obvious tendency at length to become, then, in the great and glorious renovation that ensues, the brightest visions of prophecy will be fully realized. The same gospel which gladdens every heart and every family that it enters, would turn the dwelling-place of every nation whom it christianizes into a gladsome land; and, when once commensurate with the globe and of complete operation on all who live in it, it would revive and regenerate the whole earth. Other codes and other constitutions have been framed for the separate countries of the world, and they tell the wisdom of their respective but earthly legislators; but this, in its characters alike of goodness and of greatness, and withal of boundless application, obviously announces itself as the code of humanity—and bespeaks the comprehensive wisdom of Him, who, devising for all times and for all people, is the Legislator of the species. It is not the workmanship of a few peasants in Judea. The perfection of its moral characteristics, the greatness and perpetuity of its results—both speak to us of a different fountainhead, and decisively point to us the celestial origin whence it must have sprung.
8. But beside these more general attributes which belong to the morality of the New Testament, there are certain tests of exceeding delicacy which serve to mark the discrimination of its Author—the profoundness of His wisdom, and never more than when exemplified in cases of actual occurrence. The first specimen of this which offers itself to our recollection, is the occasion, when an expensive ointment was poured on the head of the Saviour, and Judas remonstrated because of that being wasted, which might have been sold and its price given to the poor. If there be one characteristic of the Gospel more prominent than another, it is the tenderness of its care and consideration for the poor—not in the form however of a headlong affection, but subject, as every other affection ought to be under a system not of moral feeling alone but of moral tuition, to the qualifications of wisdom and principle. Our Saviour vindicates the application that was made of the precious ointment; and thus lets us know that there are other impulses beside compassion for the poor, which, in their right place and on fitting occasions, should in their turn be obeyed. And an expression of reverence and respect for a divine messenger was one of these occasions. There are certain short-sighted philanthropists who would set up the plea of humanity to the poor in opposition to every cause; and who, under the guise perhaps the reality of a sympathetic regard for them, would lay an arrest on other good works, not only of more urgent principle and necessity at the time, but ten-fold more beneficial in point of effect. It
is thus that the expenses, even the most needful expenses of Christianity have been looked to with an evil eye; and not only would the decency, still more the dignity, of its temple services be grudged for the reason alleged by him who betrayed its author_but, on the same ground too, have we heard both the cost of religious education for our families at home, and the cost of a missionary apparatus for the people abroad, made alike the subjects of a most virulent declamation. And there are other expenses beside those which subserve the well-being of the soul, that relief for the wants of the body ought not to supersede—the expense of justice—the expense of governmentthe expense even of upholding in becoming state and splendour the offices of magistracy—all which, as connected with right sentiment as well as the real interests of human society, would seem to be warranted by this example of our Saviour_even in the face of that exclusive preference for the poor which some would allege in argument for doing
Little have they reflected on the ruinous effect, on the fatal certainty, wherewith it would extend and sorely aggravate the poverty of our land—were the whole wealth of the country turned into one undiverted and undivided stream towards the object of relieving it. And it marks we have often thought, not only a sound discrimination on the part of our first christian teachers, but their wisdom, the reach and comprehensiveness of their wisdom in the foresight of consequencesthat, while every positive sanction is given by them to the virtue of liberality, they have not left it
unassociated with the prudence and the principle by which all its exercises ought to be guarded. The refusal of the twelve apostles to continue their services in the distribution of the common fund for the poor, and that because of the better services by which they were occupied, evince, not their disinterestedness alone, but their enlightened judgment, in that they thought it a far higher walk of benevolence to instruct the poor than to relieve them. In striking and remarkable contrast with this is the conduct of Paul-who, while his brethren in the ministry refused to join in the work of distribution, because of its encroachment on the peculiar business of their Apostleship, he made large encroachment thereupon, by mixing with the labours of an Apostle the labours of a tent-maker, and so working with his own hands rather than that he should be burdensome. And this he did, we are told, that he might be an example to others, in being able to say that with his own hands he had ministered to his own necessities.
There are some who appear to look on alıns-giving as the highest exercise of charity; but here we are most impressively told, that a higher charity still is to teach the people to be independent of almsgiving. The same lesson is reiterated by Paul in his correspondence with the churches. “If any refuse to work neither should he eat.” If any provide not for his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” Nothing can be more obvious than his contempt for money, or rather, his contempt for the sordid affection of covetousness when he urges on every possessor
of wealth its best and most rightful application, whether at one time for the relief of the poor saints, or at another for the expenses of the ministry of the Gospel. But there is withal so much of manly sense, and so little of weak sentimentalism -such an equal and impartial dealing with all ranks, charging the rich that they should be ready to distribute and willing to communicate, charging the poor to be industrious and contented and if possible independent of charity—such a care lest his infant society should suffer from the contaminations of that hypocrisy which would “make a gain of godliness”—such a preference for that system of helping the poor, which teaches them, by their own exertions and economy and good conduct, to help themselves—in a word, along with the tenderness, the undoubted feeling which prompted his benevolence, such a power and predominance of wholesome judgment in all his ministrations of it—as bespeaks, not only the enlightened moralist, but the enlightened political economist also. In the directions given by him, for the management of the pauperism of these days, there is the profoundest insight, both into motives and consequences—insomuch, that, from the epistles which he has left behind him, we might draw a system of rules and principles, which, though the product of so early and rude an age, might not only serve for the guidance of particular churches, but is of best possible adaptation to the general and complicated society of modern times. This adaptation is of itself an argument for the wisdom of Christianity; and it amounts to a miracle, when