Abbildungen der Seite

moreover, to respect, as of God's appointment, the stations and conditions of all his neighbours whether rich or poor, and not to covet nor desire the goods of his richer neighbours, but to protect and support them in the full, the peaceable, the undisturbed possession and enjoyment of all the blessings God has been pleased to grant them; remembering that they obtained not their riches by the help of their own arm alone, but that they are appendages to that station to which God has seen fit to appoint them.

In adverting to the performance of these various duties of their several stations by our poorer brethren in this little community, we should ourselves neglect the dictates of justice and of truth if we hesitated to declare our sincere conviction, that there are many excellent, many valuable, many pious Christians among them, by whom these duties are faithfully and conscientiously discharged, who not only labour truly to get their own living, but diligently to maintain those who are justly dependent on them for support : who neither covet nor desire the goods of their richer neighbours, but would readily apply every power they possess to guard and protect them in the peaceable and uninterrupted enjoyment of their possessions.

But while we rejoice in bearing our testimony to the piety, the good conduct, the Christian demeanour of many of our poorer brethren, we should fail to do the work of an Evangelist, and to make proof of our ministry before you, if we omitted to express our

conviction, that there are, on the other hand, many among them of a very opposite character ;-many who, instead of pursuing this righteous course of Christian duty, look rather to the goods of their richer neighbours for support, and unblushingly demand it from the public funds of their parish.

We should fail in our own duty if we omitted to state our conviction, that there are many among our poorer brethren who, reduced to this degraded state of pauperism, instead of labouring to maintain themselves and their families in obedience to the divine commands, relying on and looking only to their parishes for support, live in the continual neglect and violation of all the duties they owe to God, their neighbour and themselves, to the ruin and destruction of their comfort in this world, and at the hazard of endangering their everlasting peace in the next; and whose religious, moral, and civil conditions call aloud therefore for the exertions of Christian charity, to endeavour to convert them from the error of their ways, as well with the benevolent design of bettering their condition on earth, as with the more exalted and pious purpose of saving their souls from death.

But, however earnestly we may deprecate, however sincerely we may deplore, the existence of the errors we have before adverted to, we are well aware that the divine grace can alone supply the remedy for an evil so deeply rooted in the fallen nature of man. In considering, however, of those human means with

which God has provided us, and which, through the blessing of divine grace, might be successfully applied to this important end, we are led to the concluding division of our subject—to the consideration of those duties which the divine ordination of the various ranks and orders of society in the world, of our several stations and conditions on earth, imposes on those of our Christian brethren whom God has been pleased to call to the superior stations of life, and to whose care and improvement, as his stewards, he has seen fit to assign a larger share of wealth and influence than he has been pleased to appoint to their humbler neighbours.

If, as we have before remarked, the condition of the poor man and the station of the rich be, as the text directly or indirectly proclaims them to be, of the ordination of God, every consideration of love, of gratitude, of duty to that all-gracious Being by whom such superior privileges have been conferred on him, should lead the rich man to respect and venerate every ordinance and appointment of his divine Benefactor; and to consider how he may most effectually contribute to render the station which God has appointed to his poorer neighbour most conducive to his comfort, and most extensively efficacious of the gracious purposes for which it was assigned him; and to consider how, and by what application of his superior talents in zealous efforts to promote the welfare of his creatures, he may most largely advance the glory of God.

Nor can any one be disposed to question or to deny the duty to pursue this pious course of Christian love, who calls to his remembrance the many high and commanding motives with which the sacred oracles abound to a lively, a zealous, and an affectionate concern in whatever regards the interest, or may promote the welfare of our poorer brethren in Christ Jesus.

In the passage immediately following the text, “ The poor shall never cease out of the land,” the inspired writer adds—

“ Therefore, I command thee, saying, thou shalt

open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor “ and to thy needy in the land.”

And in other passages innumerable of the sacred volume we find similar directions recorded for our instruction.

* Charge them,” says the Apostle St. Paul to Timothy, “ who are rich in this world, that they be

ready to give and glad to distribute, laying up in “ store for themselves a good foundation against the “ time to come, that they may attain eternal life.”

And, “ Blessed,” says the holy Psalmist,“ is he “ that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver “ him in time of trouble.”

Mark, my brethren, the peculiar expression which the holy Psalmist has here used :-Not he that giveth alms of his goods, not he that distributeth of them to the poor, as in other passages, but blessed is he that considereth the poor; he, that is as we

humbly conceive, who considers his circumstances and condition in life, and considers how he may best contribute to render his station what God designed it to be to him ; he that considers by what means he may assist to render him comfortable and contented, and thankful and happy in it; and who, while he thus endeavours to promote his peace of mind on earth, is careful also to minister to this important end by such means only as may best conduce to direct his pursuits to the happiness of heaven hereafter.

Who, my brethren, that contemplates the stupendous love of that Almighty God who, of his own free and unmerited grace, first called us into being from the dust, and who has promised to all who love and seek him on earth a more glorious destiny in his eternal kingdom in heaven, where, we are told, is the fulness of joy, in which we are instructed, there will be pleasure for evermore—who that calls to his reinembrance the unspeakable love of that everblessed Saviour, who laid down his life on the cross to redeem us from the penalties of our sins, from the power and dominion of that evil spirit who reigns over the kingdoms of eternal darkness, and rules his condemned subjects with the rod of torment, and of anguish unutterable and unceasing—who that meditates on those passages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which he has commanded us to love one another as he loved us,-in which he has told us that the best proof we can give of our love for him is by deeds of kindness and charity to each other, and in

« ZurückWeiter »