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fore in this example set before us, the personal character had no influence in the charity. And in other places of the gospel we are exhorted to follow the example set us by our heavenly Father, who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. But as no man's ability to do good in any way is unlimited, it is commendable surely to seek after the properest and most deserving objects of charity; and in this consideration the virtue and innocence of the sufferer must be of great moment.
There would perhaps be little reason on the whole to be very nice and curious in the choice of objects, were it not for the many frauds and cheats which are daily practised on the charity of well-disposed persons. Begging is become a trade, and without doubt it is a very wicked one; it is not only a cheat on the giver, but it is robbing the stock of the poor, and perverting what was intended for the comfort of real distress, to the support of idleness. It is greatly injurious to the poor in another respect, as it lays a general suspicion on all who apply for alms; and many a proper object fails of the relief due to him, because he can say no more in his true case than counterfeits say every day in a false one.
There is another very great discouragement which charitable persons are under, from observing the ill use which the poor often make of their benefactions to them. One would imagine that a man who wanted food and raiment, and all other necessaries of life, was pretty well secured against the excesses of strong liquors, or any other temptations, which must necessarily exhaust his little stock, and leave him unable to provide for his wants. But the case is far otherwise : the general corruption of manners, too plainly to be seen in this country, has spread among the lowest; and necessity itself is grown luxurious. It is very
much to be lamented that so much art and skill have been shown of late years to make drunkenness the cheapest of all vices; for it will, it already has made it the commonest, and let in all the vices which follow this excess on the poorest of our people; who were formerly so far happy in their poverty, that their want secured them from many vices to which their richer neighbors were exposed.
How to advise charitable persons to steer clear of these in-.
conveniences in their private benefactions, I know not: perhaps it may be a good rule in general not to be too curious, or hard to be satisfied in these cases. But with respect to the great work of charity which has called us together this day, I can with-pleasure observe to you that it stands free of these difficulties: it will appear so to do from the nature of the charity itself, and the method in which it is conducted ; and though neither the persons who have undertaken this good work desire to have their praises set forth, nor is it my intention to do it; yet, in justice to the work itself, give me leave to mention very briefly some circumstances attending it that may recommend it to the approbation of good people.
In the first place, then, the persons admitted to partake in this charity are real objects, and from the nature of the thing they must be so : the blind, the lame, the diseased of various kinds, resort hither for a cure of their evils. That such are proper objects of charity there is no doubt ; but when complaints of this nature are used to move private charity, they are often counterfeited; and the money intended for the relief of a poor cripple is perhaps given to a sturdy vagabond. But that case can never happen here; for cheats and counterfeits never come to an hospital to be cured; they never desire that their complaints should be examined by the skilful eye and hand of the surgeon. Whatever therefore may happen in other cases, you may be sure to meet with no frauds of this kind in this charity.
There are distempers, indeed, which may be pretended, and in judging of which even the skilful may be imposed on; but neither will such frauds come here; for nobody will pretend such diseases merely for the sake of going into a course of physic, and submitting to the rules and orders of a place, which, though it affords ample provision for the wants of the miserable, yet it affords no temptation to the idle and vicious, that they should desire to come under the rule and discipline of it.
Secondly, whatever is given in support of this institution flows from the true and generous principle of charity before described : all persons are intitled to relief here, if they really want it; and every contributor is moved by the general regard
to the good of men, without any regard to the little partialities which often influence our private charities, whether we intend they should or no. But to subscribe to support an hospital open to all just complaints, is a general subscription for the assistance and comfort of men in misery and distress, without any other consideration whatever; and therefore this charity has this excellent ingredient in it, that it is love without partiality.'
Lastly, there is one inducement more, which is the good management and economy shown in the application of this charity. I have mentioned now a thing worthy to be highly commended and extolled, but not by me in this audience. I shall take notice of it, therefore, only as a fact, a fact published by laying the accounts of this charity before the world, and in which every man who pleases, may, at an easy rate, have full satisfaction.
If this consideration is, and surely it is a great inducement to benefactors to encourage this good work; it is an argument also to those who have employed their time and their pains in the affairs of this house, to persevere in this work of love: their charity is more, perhaps, than they imagine : others give whatever their proportion amounts to; but these, by their good and wise administration, encourage many to give; it is a circumstance which they may reflect on with comfort here, and it will surely have its reward hereafter.
Go on therefore with cheerfulness in this great and good employment, and in confidence that you are serving a Master who will not forget this your work and labor of love.
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE XII.
DEUTERONOMY, CHAP. XXXII.–VERSES 45. 46.
This is the last piece of advice which Moses gave to the people of Israel; and as the last advice of dying friends makes a strong impression on the minds of the survivors, so is it natural for those who are leaving this world, to make the thing which they deem of highest importance, the subject of their last advice.
If the character and circumstances of Moses be considered, the advice of the text is no less interesting than it is to be expected : it aims at laying a solid foundation of happiness for that and all succeeding generations, by instructing the people how to perpetuate to their posterity the knowlege of God and of his law, and to make him their constant friend and protector; viz. by instilling into the minds of their children a sense of what God had done for them and their forefathers, and by forming them early to obedience. : The Jews had a still greater reason for discharging this duty: they well knew that they were distinguished from the rest of the world by Providence for the sake of it.
That the command of Moses lays an obligation on parents to use their authority with their children to bring them into subjection to the law of God, is put out of all doubt by the language of the text. But this precept had a larger and more extensive view, being given not merely as the advice of a preacher, but as the injunction of a great lawgiver. The education therefore of the children of a country may, and ought, in all wise governments, to be considered as a national concern.
To judge of the methods which have been, or may be, applied to propagate or preserve religion in the world, we must consider the nature, capacities, and circumstances of men in general; the influences under which they act, and which of them may be properly made use of in the case in question. Religion being the service of a free agent, all external force is excluded as absolutely improper : instruction is the proper application to a reasonable mind; and were men under no influence but that of reason, instruction would be the only proper application : but men are born with passions also that become turbulent; and therefore authority is wanted as well as instruction, to form the mind to virtue and religion.
Some persons object to this method of propagating religion, and think that all men should be left free to judge for themselves, without the prejudices of education being thrown into the scale on either side. It is no uncommon thing for men to pursue their speculations till they lose sight of nature; whence they fall into notions contradictory to the experience of mankind, and impossible to be reduced to practice. If we look into the history of ages past, we shall find no instance of children. brought up free from the impressions of custom and education ; the nature and condition of men considered, it is impossible there ever should be: so that where parents do omit the instruction of their children, it is but leaving them to receive impressions from far worse hands.
But as this objection, if there be any weight in it, directly impeaches the means ordained by Providence for perpetuating the great truths of religion both under the Jewish and Christian dispensations, it may be proper to consider farther, how it stands on the grounds of reason and human nature.
Did men come into this world perfect, and equally perfect, as to all the faculties of the understanding, there might be some reason perhaps for saying, leave them to judge for themselves.' But as the case is otherwise, and we arrive by slow degrees to: