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i tender Father pities the wretched. I speak
physical enjoyments, which riches enable a mas
and elegant literature; all which are ino-
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of his country; to the encourager of learning it.ng schools and colleges ; to the philanthropist
, 3 to the comforts and alleviating the miseries of Pent; and to the Christian, of advancing the Bof religion, and erecting a temple to the Maste
not of the needy, who are destitute of every comfort: they are not numerous in any country, particularly not here: I confine myself to the poor, who are deprived of the luxuries, and not a few of the conveniences, but still possess the necessaries, of life. This class of persons, who constitute the majority in every nation, if they are too much disposed to compare their situation with the condition of the wealthy, may fall into discontent; and may be ready to imagine, that they are not the objects of the care and kindness of Heaven : but I will endeavor to show, that God does not regard the rich, more than he regards them.
do I mean to assert, that there is no evil in porrir porerty in the extreme must be allowed to be -> calamity, which calls for the sympathy and leat aid of all, who are able to afford it reliel. Hur d thirst, and cold, and nakedness, cannot by any of eloquence or poetry be converted into blasLike sickness, and the death of friends, they 29 uns, to which it is the duty of a Christian to sub ih patience and pious resignation ; but it is man i of any one, that he should view them as plez
That God regards even this lotrest class of the
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1. I, in the first place, observe, that poverty, in the view which we take of it at present, is the unavoidable result of institutions, which are beneficial to society. If the property, which is in any quarter of the globe, was to be equally divided among its inhabitants, the poor, though they might not be as poor as they are now, would not be made rich. Each man might possess a single acre of land; which he might cultivate, as well as it could be done in a country, where there was no commerce, no established manufactures, and no large funds. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to procure even the necessary implements of husbandry. He would be destitute of many comforts and enjoyments, which the poor now possess. In a word, he would become a savage; and he would suffer the frequent hunger and other hardships, to which the savage life is exposed. The unequal distribution of property is the principal cause, wchhi renders men industrious; and it is this inequality, which has given rise to most of the inventions and improvements, that have been made in the arts. It always accompanies a high
degree of civilization, a state, which in spite of everything, that poets may urge in favor of the Indian wigwam, is much to be preferred, even for them who obtain the smallest share of its advantages, to a rude state of nature where riches are unknown. This argument, if there was time for it, might be pursued to a great length ; but I must leave it to your reflections, and satisfy myself with remarking, that the poor cannot doubt that they are regarded by God, when they perceive that their poverty is the effect of a constitution of society, which contrib
much to their benefit.
2. God formed the poor as well as the rich : he has bestowed on them the same nature, the same senses, the same powers of understanding. The differences, which exist between them, are accidental only; they are not an inferior class of beings; and if it should be the will of heaven, there is nothing in the constitution, either of their bodies or minds, to prevent them from changing places with each other, an event which indeed is frequently ordered by Providence. The inlets of pleasure are the same with them as with other men; and their gratifications probably are not fewer in number. They are not more exposed to disease and death: their lives are as long, and as cheerful. From the want of education, their taste may not be as refined as the taste of the rich; but perhaps they lose nothing by this circumstance for a refined taste, which is confessedly sometimes productive of a high degree of enjoyment, renders the person, who has acquired it, more difficult to be pleased ; so that he is often disgusted with what delights the uninstructed eye or ear of the poor. If the poor are delighted, they ought not to charge Heaven with unkindness, because wealth has not cut them off from many sources of simple and harmless pleasure.
3. The poor man, it is true, is subjected to perpetual toil ; which he may fear is a sign, that God does not regard him: but toil is the lot of man, and not of the poor man exclusively. We shall find on examination, that the labors of the rich are as irksome, as the labors of the indigent. The wealthy merchant, who plans a voyage, and who is perplexed with the intricacy of accounts, and vexed with the blunders, idleness, or unfaithfulness, of more than one person employed by him, toils at least as hard as the seaman and porter, who receive his wages. There is a pride, perhaps a pleasure, in commanding the services of others; but there is much more trouble in keeping them at work, than in working ourselves. The task of laborers, who have no other part to perform than to obey the orders given to them, is more simple, less responsible, and less embarrassing; and if there was not a charm in freedom, which fascinates the human heart, most men would find more enjoyment, as they certainly find more ease, in being guided by others in their pursuit of the necessary provisions of life, than in undertaking to guide themselves. The cares of the poor are not to be named with the anxiety of the rich. The objects, which they have to attend to, being few in number, their minds are not so much agitated with fearful thoughts. After the fatigues of the day, they can lie down on their beds, and enjoy there quietness and repose, without any apprehension of shipwrecks, of insolvent debtors, of robbers, or of ware-houses on fire,
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4. Some of the most valuable blessings, which God. has bestowed on the human race, are love and friendship; but these blessings are imparted with liberality to the poor. Among such of them as are virtuous, the mu
tual tenderness, which is felt and expressed by brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives, is the source of their highest enjoyments. This affection sweetens all their toils; and nothing can be more pleasing or more edifying, than to behold the eagerness, with which the industrious man returns to his much loved home, after the labors of the day, and to witness the joy, which he diffuses into the hearts of his delighted family. The rich also, I grant, are not strangers to these pleasures; and why should they be unknown to them? Does it lessen the happiness of the poor, that love is found in the splendid mansion, as well as in the lowly cottage ?
5. The gospel is designed for the poor as well as the rich. In imparting this inestimable blessing, there is no respect of persons with God. There may be difficulties in divine revelation, which even learned and enlightened theologians cannot solve ; but none of these difficulties relate to its duties, which are simple and easily understood. The poor know what their Maker has required of them : they are acquainted with the evils which they ought to avoid, and the perfection and happiness to which they should aspire. When they read the New Testament, they cannot doubt that God regards them; for they will find there every comfort which they want. They will learn that the Saviour of men was sent to preach the gospel to the poor; and that he honored and sanctified a state of poverty, by 'appearing in the character of a poor man. Should it be granted therefore, that at present they are in a depressed situation, let not their hearts be troubled, since Jesus himself is their friend. If they obey his commands and imitate his example, they will sit with him on his throne, and everlasting joy will surround their heads.
6. This important truth leads me, in the last place, to observe, that the bliss of paradise is promised to the poor as well as the rich. The present life is so short, that the mortifications and troubles, which are endured in it, are of small moment. When we arrive at last at the haven of felicity, where all are equal, or, to speak more accurately, where there is no superiority, except what is constituted by a superiority of piety and virtue, it cannot make any difference to us, whether our station during the voyage was high or low; and we shall probably soon forget, whether we were commanders or common men. In estimating the kindness of our heavenly Benefactor, it is just that we should take into view the whole of our existence. Since the present world therefore is nothing but a point, and the world beyond the grave is infinite, there can remain no doubt in our minds that the Supreme Being is without partiality ; that he is good to all men, and that his tender mercies are over all his works.
I have thus endeavored to show, that God regards the poor not less than the rich. The conclusion, which you, my brethren, who are poor, should draw from these observations, is, that it is your duty to make yourselves contented with your situation, and to be grateful to Heaven for the mercies which you have received. From pious motives you should strive to obtain the virtues and good habits, which become your stations in life, and which will render you useful to others and happy in yourselves. I would recommend to you to be respectful to your employers. Nothing is gained by rudeness and by an affected independence; and nothing is lost by good manners. Be not envious of the rich : they have their pleasures, it is acknowledged; but you have also