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deration of them, as brethren in Christ Jesus, which embraces every circumstance affecting their welfare in this world, and every means of advancing their eternal peace in the next, and which may lead us to seek the accomplishment of these great and des sirable ends, not only by pecuniary relief, but by activé, diligent, and personal exertion too; by personal investigation of their habits, manners, and dispositions, and by, a patient, kind, and affectionate attention to these as well as to their wants.
The evil we deplore can only, we submit, be remedied by THAT PIOUS CONSIDERATION AND REGARD of our poorer brethren to which God has been pleased to promise his blessing, declaring to us, by the mouth of his holy prophet,
. “ Blessed is he that considereth the poor ; the Lord “ will deliver him in time of trouble.”
It is true, that the duty of the affluent to provide for the necessities of the needy is not only founded in the principles of humanity, in the law and religion of nature, but is moreover confirmed and enforced both by the principles and precepts of revealed religion; but yet the nature and extent of the claims of the poor, and of the obligation on the rich to attend to and relieve their wants, and the mode of discharging that obligation without violating the best interests of society and weakening the influence of those principles, the preservation of which is alike essential to the welfare of mankind at large and to the glory of God, are considerations which have ever divided the opinions of all the wise and the good who have made them the subject of their deepest meditation.
Although the abstract principle of obligation on the rich, to minister to, and relieve the necessities of the poor is admitted by all; yet, in considering of the means best calculated to reduce this principle to practice, human wisdom, however deeply skilled in the science of political economy, has ever found itself surrounded with difficulties which, even to the present hour, it has never been able effectually to overcome.
The greatest statesmen, the most profound philo sophers, the wisest, the best informed, and the best disposed among men, have given up their time and devoted their talents to the consideration of this most important but difficult subject; the greatest natural powers, combined with the highest attainments of research, and aided by that almost infallible wisdom which results from experience, have been applied to the discovery of some practicable expedient, by which the wants and necessities of the poor might be provided for, without depressing that spirit of commendable independence, which is the main spring of honest industry, and without lessening the influence of moral character, and weakening the energies of moral principle thereby. But every measure which individual talent has hitherto suggested, or which the combined wisdom of the legislature has enacted into a law, has ever been found defective in practice, and ultimately ineffectual to these desirable ends; and it yet remains for a more improved state of the science of political economy, perhaps for a more enlightened state of the human mind, an amended state of the human heart, and a more improved state therefore of man's condition on earth, to solve the difficulty and to remove it.
It must be obvious to all who are disposed to give the momentous subject the slightest portion even of their consideration, that the existing laws of the land do little more, in the letter of them at the least, than enforce the supply of those means to the poor which are indispensably necessary to their actual existence and the preservation of their lives, and very imperfectly embrace, even if they may be said to contemplate at all, the means of increasing the comforts and of bettering the condition of the poor. And the most benevolent individual who may be appointed in carrying the laws into effect, to oversee and supply the necessities of the poor, must be bound in fulfilling the duties of his office by the letter of those provisions which the law has made for those necessities, and cannot extend his charitable consideration to measures which might increase their comforts and amend their condition in life, but on his own personal responsibility, and at the hazard of being made answerable for every expense resulting from his benevolence by any unfeeling individual who might object to the Christian-like attempt.
Besides all these considerations, it must be further obvious to every one, that no general law, however wisely framed, can possibly comprehend, or however conscientiously executed, can possibly be made applicable to every particular case which must daily and hourly arise from the multifarious demands of the indigent and needy, through the extensive population of a mighty empire; no general law can possibly embrace each particular shade of distinction which shall mark the actions of every individual, and separate the case of each from the other, in all the endless gradations of vice and virtue, from the lowest stage of moral depravity to the highest attainments of moral rectitude. No general law can possibly prescribe the regulations best suited to each particular case of good and evil, nor adjust the precise measure of those appropriate rewards and privations which may be best calculated to encourage honest industry, moral rectitude, and religious fidelity on the one hand, and to discourage the operations of vice and immorality on the other.
And so clearly were these unavoidable defects, were these circumstances seen,-so sensibly were they felt, and so generally acknowledged by many among the greatest and best men in the nation, that more than thirty years since a society was formed, under the auspices of our late venerable and universally beloved King, a sovereign alike distinguished by the many amiable and excellent qualities of his heart in general and by his love for his people in particular, virtues which were rarely, if ever surpassed in any
predecessor on the throne of these kingdoms; perhaps we might with truth add, by any predecessor on an earthly throne, and the remembrance of which is engraven on the hearts of all who had the happiness to be his subjects. In the year 1796 a society was formed under the auspices of this beloved monarch, of which he was then graciously pleased to declare himself the patron,
FOR BETTERING THE CONDITION AND INCREASING THE COMFORTS OF THE POOR.
And the following, we collect from their reports, were among the reasons which led to its establishment, and among the many laudable and Christian objects which the institution was intended to promote and eminently calculated to effect.
“In other liberal pursuits," said the first projectors of this valuable institution (which they very reasonably trusted might be the means of adding much to the general mass of national happiness), “In “ other liberal pursuits,” said they, “the joint labours " of intelligent and active men have never failed to
produce considerable effects-models, inventions, “, and experiments have been improved and applied “ to purposes of great importance; the same de“ gree of success may reasonably be expected from “ a society formed for the improvement of the most “ beneficial of all sciences--the promotion of the « welfare of our fellow creatures.
" Its object,” said they, “would be every thing " that concerns the happiness of the poor every