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ELIZABETH BARBARA, LADY HALFORD,
PREACHED IN THE PARISH CHURCH OF WISTOW,
IN THE COUNTY OF LEICESTER,
HER LADYSHIP, SIR HENRY HALFORD, BARONET,
THE HONOURABLE MR. BARON VAUGHAN,
THE PARISHIONERS OF WISTOW,
AND PRINTED ON THEIR RECOMMENDATION,
WITH HER LADYSHIP'S PERMISSION, MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.
BY HER AFFECTIONATE MINISTER,
AND VERY FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT SERVANT.
15th Chap. DeUTERONOMY, 11th v.
“ For the Poor shall never cease out of the Land."
It seems to follow, as an obvious and necessary consequence of this declaration, that if the poor shall never cease out of the land, so neither can the rich.
If the terms rich and poor may be justly considered to be terms of comparison, and to have no substantive meaning, no intelligible application, but by reference to each other, there must of necessity be an order of rich individuals, with whose superior wealth the possessions of others of inferior extent and value may be compared, in order to render the terms rich, as applied to the possessors of greater wealth, and poor, as applied to the owners of smaller property, intelligible terms.
If all men were in the same circumstances and condition of life,—if all had precisely the same wants and necessities, and possessed alike the same means of supplying them, the terms rich and poor could have no intelligible application to any one.
There must be inequality of circumstances and condition to render them, according, at least, to their common acceptation, intelligible in their application. And if so, since God has himself declared that the poor shall never cease out of the land, it follows, of necessity, that neither can the rich; and, consequently, that that illusory, delusive, that fallacious system of 'universal equality, which it has been attempted to introduce throughout the world in our own days, never can be established on Earth.
And even had the sacred Oracles been silent on the subject, the difference we observe in the physical powers of that constitution which God has appointed for man would alone preclude the possibility of such an order of things, of a state of universal equality throughout the world; so great is the difference in the natural faculties both of mind and body in different individuals, that while we see some men living in a state of inactivity throughout their days, and never seeking to emerge from the obscurity in which they have been born, we see others, by the force of those energies which their natural constitutions supply (where aided by the divine blessing on their endeavours), exalting themselves from the same obscurity to stations of wealth and rank and eminence among men, and transmitting their well-earned acquisitions to the enjoyment of their posterity, in whose possession we not unfrequently find them remaining, a valuable testimony, an honourable monument, of
the wisdom, intelligence, and integrity of their forefathers.
The reflections, however, which result from this arrangement of the divine wisdom, from this appointment of rich and poor, from this divine ordination of the different ranks and orders of society in the world, might furnish subject matter for endless volumes ; nor could the shortest outline of them to which we could possibly confine ourselves be brought within those limits to which, in this place, we are necessarily restrained. We shall only, therefore, briefly advert to some few of those leading considerations which the conclusions we have endeavoured to establish from the words of the text seem naturally to suggest; and these, we may remark, are either of universal concern, and involve in them the general duties of the whole race of mankind, or of partial application only, and relate exclusively to the peculiar duties of each particular class of society among men.
With respect to those considerations which are of universal concern, we may briefly observe—that if that inequality of condition among men which exists throughout the world in the present day, and has existed since the world began, be of God's ordination, it must be the obvious duty of every man, whatever his condition in life, whether rich or poor, to şubmit with pious and cheerful resignation to this arrangement of the divine wisdom, the divine economy, the divine will, and to be contented with the