Page images

prove myself a partaker of his love if I love not his poor brethren? &c. The result must surely be favourable to a beneficence at once active, disinterested, and persevering

The first obvious question on this subject is, Who are my poor brethren? Let the persons be determined by the opinions of Christian society, whether professedly members of it or not. Their worship of God on the Sabbath, and their separation from a profligate world, are additional criterions of character, which should ever guide us in forming the estimate ;-and let us, when looking for these objects, look beyond the pale of our own respective communions as well as within it; and their poverty may usually be ascertained by their appearance, by seasonable visits, and by unreserved enquiry. It is by a careless or criminal negligence on these points, that so many of the aged and afflicted, among the pious poor, frequently languish, without pity and without relief!

Having carefully ascertained who are the objects of Christian compassion, our next enquiry will be, “What are their wants?” In imitation of Him whose we are, and whom we serve, let us say, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” and perhaps we may discover that some want sympathy and consolation, prayer and Christian counsel ;—others, who are lingering in pain and infirmity, want a little proper food, medicine, or attendance, which it is not in their power to procure ; and a third class, especially


in winter, may want assistance in purchasing necessary fuel, or clothing. A third enquiry will naturally arise here, How

we immediately and suitably relieve those whose wants are so obvious and pressing ?" A friendly and devotional visit will often relieve the mourner in Zion; and truly happy are they who are habituated to such practices :--but temporal relief is a more serious thing; and many of us I fear, have said, as we "passed by on the other side,” I


thee have me excused. “ The badness of the times, the number of applicants, or what I did the other day,” are often made use of in opposition to the precepts, “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power

of thine hand to do it." Let prudence determine the means, and conscience the power of doing good ; and then, let the hand be ready to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and warm the frozen, till you cause their hearts “ to sing for joy!”

The liberal man, who deviseth liberal things, will make a fourth enquiry, “How shall I excite others to love, and good works ?" How ?-by a noble and disinterested example; by advocating the cause of your needy brethren ; by an appeal to their wealth, their feelings, the conduct of others, the commands of God, the example of the Son of God, and to the account they must give of their stewardship at the last day!

Finally, let Christians of every station abound in this good work :—Whatever our hands, and hearts, or our God shall find for us to do, let us do it with our might. Let brotherly love continue till its expansion in the heavenly world. Read Job xxix. 11-16, and compare it with your own conduct. Reflect on the appeal to character by the Apostle John, “ Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?” But "if we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”



FORCE OF HABIT. Those who have observed the power of sympathy and the influence of imitation, will perceive that antipathies are the offspring of unaccountable caprice. Let a child see a frog for the first time in company with a person who has no aversion to the species, who praises the beauty of its skin, admires its motion, and mentions its inoffensiveness with sympathy and tenderness, the child will be delighted with its appearance, and attach to it no more idea of disgust than he does to that of a robin redbreast. But alter these circumstances, and let him at the first sight of a frog hear a shriek of terror from his mamma, or some female friend, let him see her run from it with abhorrence, and hear her mention it with disgust, and it is ten to one but the association thus formed will remain fixed for life.

While sitting in a friend's garden in summer, I saw a darling little girl, whose mind had been hap. pily preserved from the early dominion of prejudice, busily employed in collecting pebbles (as I thought) and putting them in her frock, which she had gathered up and held in one hand as a receptacle for her treasure. Observing me, she came running towards me with a joyful countenance: “See !" cried she, “See! what a number of beautiful creatures I have got here!” emptying at the same time the contents of her lap upon mine-a number of large black beetles! I confess I could have excused the present; nor could I behold the harmless creatures crawling on me without shuddering. I had, however, resolution enough to conceal my sensations; and after thanking my little friend for her kindness, begged she would replace them in her frock, that she might put them down where she had found them, so that they might find their way to their families. Delighted with the employment in which I could not prevail on myself to assist her, she soon freed me from my disagreeable companions; and while I watched the expression of her animated countenance, I could not help reflecting on the injury I had sustained from that early association wbich could still thus operate upon my mind in defiance of the control of reason.

Antipathies. What an unaccountable medley of strength and weakness is man! Lord Bacon, it is said, fell back inanimate at the occurrence of an eclipse. The astute and erudite Erasmus was alarmed at the sight of an apple. Bayle, the great lexicographer, swooned at the noise made by some water as it escaped, drop by drop, from a tap. Henry of France, the third of that name, though he had driven his enemies before him at Jarnac, trembled, from

head to foot, at the sight of a cat. When a hare crossed the celebrated Duke d'Epernon's path, his blood stagnated in his veins. The masculine minded Mary of Medicis fainted away whenever a nosegay was in sight. A shudder overcame the learned Scaliger on perceiving cresses. Iven the Second, Czar of Muscovy, would faint away on seeing a woman; and Albert, a brave Field Marshal of France, fell insensible to the ground, on discovering a sucking pig served up at his own table !-Athenæum.

AN OBJECTION TO PENITENTIARIES CONSIDERED. OPPOSITION to any scheme of benevolence is never so formidable as when it professes to be grounded upon principle. For, in this case, not only are the negligent and hard-hearted, found among its opponents; but also the kind and the good. There is a principle, frequently advanced in opposition to Penitentiaries, which, if once established, would force every conscientious person into the ranks of the enemies of these institutions. The principle to which we refer is,—that Penitentiaries provide a refuge for the criminal, and thus give a bounty on the crime.

Now it will be evident, upon due examination, that the above proposition mis-states the object of these institutions. It protests indeed, against providing a refuge for the criminal; and justly, too, if that criminal is disposed to a repetition of her crimes. But, then, it is no part of the object of these societies to give any shelter to the criminal when in that state of mind. These societies provide an asylum, but to whom is it offered ?-not so much to the criminal, as to the penitent criminal ; not to the guilty, but to those who are desirous of washing away their guilt, and of

« PreviousContinue »