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A SERMON PREACHED
or at times when they are not otherwife eniployed *:"
There must ever be in all communities a confiderable majority of poor, to perform the various labours of life. In return for their temporals, we fhould communicate to them of our fpirituals. If they, by their labours, furnish us with "the "meat that perifheth," it is but reasonable that we, especially as it can be done without much labour, fhould fupply them with "that meat which "endureth for ever." If they "give us to drink,”, we should in return present them with "the water
fpringing up unto eternal life." Their spiritual neceffities are the fame with thofe of the rich; they have equally fouls to be saved, and stand therefore equally in need of the knowlege requifite to fave
This being perfectly known to the God of the fpirits of all flesh, he has not been unmindful of them in the difpenfations of his grace, but has adapted his Gospel to the wants of all alike.
* M'Farlan's Inquiries concerning the Poor, p. 246.
The evidence, on which it's authority ftands, is not veiled from vulgar fight by the clouds of metaphysical subtlety; it depends not on intricate arguments, and tedious confequences, which the poor have neither leifure to ftudy, nor ability to underftand. Jefus could not have performed the miracles which he did perform, unlefs God had been with him; and if God were with him, then the doctrines taught by him, under the fanction of those miracles, were also of God. "The Apostles believed in him, because they faw his mighty works; and we believe them when they tell us fo, because they could not have deceived the world if they would, and would not have done it if they could. A little plain common fenfe fees all this; and more need not be seen, to induce any man to become a Christian.
As the evidence is ftated, fo the doctrines of fal vation are taught, with a condefcenfion to the сараcities of all. To render them at the fame time intelligible and agreeable, they are delivered in the pleafing form of history, and illustrated by comparifons and fimilitudes taken from the most familiar
A SERMON PREACHED
liar objects in the natural world, and the concerns of ordinary life. A poor man is thus taught, in a week, more than philofophy could teach thofe that were most learned in it, for a feries of ages: he is taught to know God, and his various difpenfations to mankind: and with refpect to morals, and the duties of fociety, he is taught-what every wife government would wifh that it's citizens might all be taught.
Accordingly, we find it given as one mark of the divinity of the Gofpel, and as the circumftance which difcriminates it from the wisdom of the world, that it was preached by Chrift and his Apoftles to the poor. Not for the reasons infinuated by unbelievers, ancient and modern, that they were either afraid or afhamed to preach it to the rich and the learned; but because the former were clear from many prejudices and evil paffions which adhered to the latter, and therefore were better disposed to receive it. These received it firft, and had the honour to lead the way to the others, who followed after, in due time, from every rank and order of life, as they could be brought to give it a fair and impar
tial hearing. But be it ever remembered, when this argument is under difcuffion, that the truth of God muft finally reft upon it's proper evidence, and not upon the incident of it's being accepted or rejected by those to whom it is proposed. Such acceptance or rejection must afterwards be accounted for, from the different tempers, difpofitions, and circumstances of mankind. And it requires but a very moderate degree of acquaintance with human nature, to affign adequate reasons, why, when the fame doctrine is preached to two different perfons, one should put it from him, and depart "" forrow"ful," while the other embraces it, and " goes on his way rejoicing."
If it be enquired, "Whether the poor be capable "of making any confiderable proficiency in the "school of Chrift?" Experience will anfwer in the affirmative. With a little plain instruction, they can apprehend the articles of faith as contained in the Apoftles' Creed, and the rules of practice as laid down in the Commandments. They can learn to trust in God, their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier: they can give him thanks for what they have, and
A SERMON PREACHED
and pray to him for what they want. They can love their Saviour, and for his fake fhew kindnefs to their brethren, whom he has redeemed. One may often behold, among the lower ranks, that attention to the diftreffes of each other, that earnest defire, and, what is of more worth, that unwearied endeavour, to remove or alleviate them, which do credit to the human heart, wherever they are found. A poor person, after labouring through the day, will pass the night in watching with a fick neighbour; while the rich pursue their pleasures, the scholar retires to his library, and the virtuofo to his cabinet, fafe from the importunity of the wretched, and where the voice of mifery never penetrates Let not the pride of wealth or science look down with contempt upon the poor, fince they often poffefs and exhibit that charity which is the end of knowlege, the comfort of fociety, the balm of life; and by his proficiency in which, every man is to be tried, at the judgment of the great day." Hath "not GOD chofen the poor ?" Let not MAN, then, defpife them."
Upon these grounds it is, that the Society has been employed, for near a century, in diffeminating