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those plain discourses, which probe the human heart,
expressions of affection, with the most generous and disinterested sentiments. For charity she entertains a fond regard. Charity, that divine nymph, which descends from the skies, with an eye beaming with benignity, a cheek glowing with compassion, a foot light as a zephyr silently stepping near the couch of anguish, and a soft hand gently opened for the solace of the daughters of wo; charity which she cannot figuratively describe, without literally describing the loveliness of her own face, and the graces of her own person ; charity is so charming a form, that no mind, she thinks, can contemplate her without delightful emotions. Her refined taste in benevolence, and the books which she has read, teach her highly to value this godlike virtue ; and she impatiently longs for an opportunity of displaying her liberality in such a magnificent style, as to overwhelm with gratitude the object of her bounty. But the sufferer, whom she has imaged in her mind, is as elegant as herself; and though poor, yet without any of the mean concomitants of poverty. For the real poor, who daily pass before her eyes, who are gross and vulgar, rude in their speech, base in their sentiments, and squalid in their garments, she has little sympathy. Farthings would comfort them, but she gives them nothing; for her ambition is to pour handfuls of guineas into the lap of poor Maria, a lovely and unfortunate girl, who would thank her in pathetic and polished language. Thus she passes her youth, praising and affecting benevolence, but without the actual performance of good works; and should not her heart in season be touched with piety and Christian charity, when she enters the conjugal state, she sinks into the cold and selfish matron, whom I have already exposed to your view.
Such are the prosperous women, who adorn themselves with gold, and pearls, and costly array, but not with good works ; who are vain and worldly-minded, and not meek and humble; who live for themselves, but have no pity for the poor. May I not be permitted to address them in the bold language of the Prophet Isaiah ? Tremble, ye women, that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters. These are not the steps which lead to heaven. But the liberal woman deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things only can she stand without dismay before the judgment seat of Christ.
4. After contemplating the worldly-minded and the selfish, we turn our eyes with pleasure on the pious and benevolent woman.
As she professes and believes the Christian religion, she is persuaded that the best, the only foundation of the love of her neighbor is the love of God; or, as St John teaches, that he who loveth God, will love his brother also. She erects therefore the superstructure of her good works on the basis of piety. For the affluence, with which Heaven has blessed her, she is thankful ; but she has a proper sense of the danger
of her situation. She is therefore constantly on her guard to preserve herself from yielding to the temptations, to which she is peculiarly exposed; and she endeavors to convert what is the cause of the corruption and misery of so many, into the means of moral improvement and advancement in the way of salvation. As she is afraid of nothing so much as of forgetting her Maker, she directs her thoughts perpetually toward him: and as she fears that she may become vain and haughty, she is assiduous in cultivating the virtue of humility. She never loses sight of the solemn truth, that she must
die; that the grave is the end of the rich as well as the poor ; that there the prosperous must lie down, as well as the wretched; and that after death she must appear at the bar of God, where rank and fortune will be of no avail. Firmly persuaded of the vanity of sublunary objects, there is nothing which attaches her strongly to the world. She knows that the present life is a state of probation, in which she has to perform diligently and faithfully the part, which her Maker has assigned her ; and that she must do all the good which she can. She determines therefore to devote her wealth to the glory of God, and the promotion of happiness among his rational offspring.
In her youth, whilst she is the delight, the joy of her parents, of her brothers, and of the servants of the family, by her obedience, her affection, her affability, condescension, and tenderness, she looks abroad for objects to whom she may impart consolation. She bestows meat and drink on the hungry and thirsty traveller. She clothes the naked poor with garments, which she makes up
with her own hands. She carries cordials to her sick neighbors; and as she sits by the side of their beds, her kind words infuse healing balm into their wounded minds. From the liberal allowance, which her indulgent parents commit to her discretion, she contrives to save a large portion, which she devotes to the support and education of one or two orphan children. I do not here delineate a fiction : I speak of a woman, who once existed, but who now is in the tomb; of a woman, who thus sanctified a state of prosperity by the practice of good works.
The Christian woman after she is established in life and is no longer under the control of her parents, but has a more ample use of the gifts of fortune, pursues the
same benevolent plan. Convinced that no person, who does not deliberate and reason, can conduct herself discreetly and virtuously, she determines to make herself perfectly acquainted with her duty, and to guide her heart and practice, not by instinct, not by enthusiastic and sudden impulses, but by order and rule. Judiciously weighing the relative importance of the several actions, which she is called to perform, she pays her first attention to those which are most essential. These are the duties that arise from the relations, in which she stands as a wife, a mother and a mistress. But having discharged the obligations, which she owes to her husband, her children, and her domestics; having provided for her household, and been scrupulously just in all her transactions; having paid the laborer his hire, and remunerated the services of the industrious; she bends her soul to deeds of charity. As economy is one of the best supports of liberality, she is careful that in her house nothing should be wasted, which will afford comfort and relief to the poor.
But she does not merely feed the hungry with the crumbs, which fall from her table, or clothe the naked with the garments which she can no longer wear: she appropriates a certain part of her income to beneficence; and she regards it as a sacred treasure, which she cannot afterwards divert to her personal use. It would be impossible for me to enumerate all the benefits, which this fund diffuses around her. It beams on the chamber of the widow, and causes her heart to sing for joy : it carries light into the dark cells of the prison, restores the debtor to his family, and brings tears of gratitude into the hard eye of the condemned criminal. She devotes not only her wealth, but her time, her talents, her reason to works of charity. Convinced