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many, I doubt not, would gladly do it, if they knew how to be useful: to such, I would beg leave to suggest that there are many very excellent charities, calculated to do much good, the support and beneficial administration of which, must depend on the committees being constituted of men of strict principle and integrity as well as active benevolencea personal inspection into the situation of their poor neighbours-a union with other respectable persons, of similar feelings, in promoting the education of ihe children of the poor, would be found a noble and gratifying employment. Such an example, too, might operate powerfully upon others; and thus one individual, might bave the pleasure of reflecting, that he had increased his powers of usefulness to a degree beyond any thing he could at one time bave thought possible.
We know there are many circumstances in life, in which serious evils may be averted by a little prudence and atten. tion; now, a personal acquaintance with our poor neighbours, would give us an opportunity of assisting them with counsel and advice, wbich, coming from those, known to take an interest in their welfare, might be expected to have great weight.
To a mind of sensibility, the very sight of an object it has been instrumental to relieve, is a source of secret joy, and the tear of gratitude on the cheek of the widow, who has been assisted in her distress, the innocent smile upon the countenance of the fatherless, who have found an unexpected friend, occasion in the bumane and generous breast, a glow of satisfaction, which is utterly unknown to those who indulge in self-gratification; these pleasurable feelings, naturally induce a complacency of inind, which, when carried by the individual into the bosom of his own family, may be there still farther productive of comfort and joy.
The culture of benevolent dispositions, while it promotes the happiness of the domestic circle, is beneficial to the individual in a most important point; the frequent exercise of these feelings tends to form a babit, and what at first might be undertaken as a duty, somewhat irksome, becomes a source of pleasure. If indeed it be true, that the habits and dispositions of this life will accompany us in the next, how desirable is it, to avoid all those which would unfit us for the abodes of the blessed, even if we were admitted into their society, and to cultivate those which alone could render that society desirable. Dreadful indeed must be the situation of a mind destined to feel the powerful stimulus of evil passions, when the means of their gratification are for ever removed ; but the benevolent feelings are in unison with Heaven, and not only tend to the comfort of our present existence, but will doubtless be productive of the highest gratification in a future state.
To love our neighbours as ourselves is an injunction of the highest authority; and the same authority forbade us to confine that term within the narrow limits of our own scct, or country, when he conimanded the self-righteous Pharisee, to imitate the good Samaritan : hence, if our attachment to any particular party lead us to stint the measure of our bounty, we should strongly suspect, that some of the “old leaven of the Pharisee” required to be purged out; and when we reflect upon the different points of view, in which even worthy people see the same thing, and how much we are influenced by constitution and education, we ought to be the less dis. posed to think uncharitably of our neighbour, even if he doth not exactly “ follow with us."
There is one vice which tends most powerfully to counteract the work of benevolence, and to sever the bands of society, which is too often indulged in by persons, in other respects, of amiable character, and that is, the vice of detraction; and as the temptations to it are more apt to occur, when the mind is unbent in free conversation, a double guard on our hearts and our tongues is required on such occasions : weak minds are most likely to fall into it; for, making an estimate of another's motives from their own contracted scale, and feeling a degree of envy at what it is not in their power to imitate, they too often endeavour to console themselves for their inferiority, by attempts to depress wbat is above them to their own standard ; but the generous mind feels it a duty, when he hears any thing said to the prejudice of his neighbour, to investigate it as minutely as if it related to himself; he will insist upon the reporter giving up his author, and will never rest satisfied until he has established the matter of fact: this conduct, if generally practised, would tend more to the exclusion of discord in society, and consequently to the happiness of individuals, than can be easily imagined
As the sufferings of human nature are common to all, and as, in many cases, it requires a powerful effort to alleviate or remove them, it is surely the duty of all, without distinction, to unite in endeavours to promote the great work, The good effects of this union have been seen in the abolition of the slave-trade, and are now experienced in the laudable exertions of the Bible society : by the first measure, a load of guilt and infamy was rolled away from our country ; by the second, we are instrumental in spreading a knowledge of that pure religion, which breathes “ peace on earth, and good towards men.
The different orders in society may be considered as links in a chain, all connected with, and dependent upon each other : the rich can no more dispense with the services of the poor, than the poor can be made confortable without the aid of the rich ; and as the security of these latter, in the enjoyment of their possessions, may be materially affected by the degree of virtue which exists in the great mass of the people, it becomes the interest as well as the duty of those in elevated stations, to encourage with their countenance, and support with their means, every well conducted effort, to improve the moral condition, and increase the domestic comforts of the poor : the middle ranks of society will natu. rally look up to their superiors for assistance in their undertakings for the public good; and notwithstanding the depravity for which many of this class are remarkable, England may yet boast of not a few enlightened individuals, in whom virtue, talent, and fortune are happily united, and from these, assistance will not be expected in vain : indeed they whom Providence has entrusted with riches, have an awful respon sibility,
Heaven's blessings here, are trials, not rewards;
Young. and it behoves them to consider, that much, being in their power, much will be required at their bands; and that the day is fast approaching, when the only distinction between the peer and the peasant will consist in the comparative degree of propriety with which each may have filled
his allotment during the term of his probation.
Thus we see, that the exercise of benevolent feelings is not confined to any rank in life, they may contribute to the comfort of the poor, and add dignity to the rich, and what is of infinitely greater consequence, they tend to purify and enlarge the mind, and bring us nearer in spirit to that Divine and Holy Being, whose distinguishing attribute, is love.
On the most rational Means of promoting Civilization in
“ The proper study of mankind, is, man.
calling upon a person the other day, it happened, in my way to him, that I was obliged to pass first through a room, in which I saw, unexpectedly, a child lying in a cradle. It was then fast asleep. I could not help stopping to look at it. The innocence of its countenance, and the calm and happy state in which it appeared to be, impressed me with a more than ordinary portion of joy. In a very short time, however, while still looking at the child, I gave way involuntarily to the following exclamation: Is it possible, sweet babe, that thou, who art so beautiful and lovely, so calm and quiet, so innocent and happy, shouldst have those seeds within thee, which, when thou art grown up, may make thee the reverse of what thou now appearest? Is it possible that thou canst become ugly and deformed-that thou canst be made violent and savage-that thou canst be made to rob even thyself of happiness, and to leave little of it to others, by becoming, as far as thy sphere of action is concerned, a tyger to thy own species ?”
In looking into life we see grown persons, who were as lovely and innocent in their infancy as the babe just spoken of, realizing the very character, which I have anticipated as its possible future lot. Among nations, indeed, where there is a general sense of order and decorum, and where they have been long subjected to law and religion, such persons, though numerous, are more thinly scattered. But have we not the misfortune to see whole nations consisting of such, with only now and then a solitary person rising up among them to communicate the knowledge of virtue by his own example?
Melancholy as the latter part of this picture may appear, it is some consolation, when we reflect upon the two cases, that we know the causes of the depravity in each. We
know, if we consult our own feelings, that there is something of a perverse tendency in the constitution of every one that exists; that there is some law in his members, warring against the law of his mind, so that the evil which he would not, that he does.” Conceive, then, an individual to labour under this stimulating infirmity, surrounded as he is with temptations. Conceive him, additionally, to have passed from his cradle to maturity, without baving received any armour to fight against it, or, in other words, without having had any acquaintance with letters, and of course without having had any other knowledge of divine truths than what, generally speaking, he might have casually collected, and then, I would ask, whether you would not think it next to a miracle, if such an one should be otherwise than a person of vicious character. In this instance, then, we see enough for our purpose; for we see in it a history of the principal causes of the depravity, which has prevailed, more or less, according to their joint action, among the civilized, as well as among the barbarous nations of the carth. But if this be so ; if we have found out some of the true causes, then we may pronounce with greater certainty as to the remedy to be applicd. With respect, indeed, to the stimulating infirmity just spoken of, we cannot extirpate it from our nature. We cannot get rid of those passions, interwoven in our constitutions, by which, though otherwise useful to us, we are yet as it were often inwardly enticed and led astray ; but we may happily, by our best exertions, under Providence, disarm this our hereditary opponent. If ignorance has tended to increase his power, knowledge must have a tendency to destroy it. Thus, at length, we see a sun-beam in the horizon, sufficiently powerful to dispel, in time, the mists which appear before us.
Knowledge then, as a human mean, (for we must always except the divine influence on the mind of man,) is the best foundation and guardian of virtue. This knowledge, however, in order to be p’rfect, must be of two kinds. It must be civil or social, and it must be moral or religious. By the first we become acquainted with men and manners, with laws and institutions, with arts and sciences, with systems develop. ing the properties and tendencies of things. By the second we become acquainted with the sublime truths of the gospel. Here we learn the nature and character of the Divine Being, our own origin and constitution, the duties which are required of us, the condition in which we are placed, the great object for which we are to labour in the present, and the