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while to examine the reason and equity from which this duty flows, which will serve to direct us in all the various circumstances under which the objects of charity present themselves.

Charity is a relative duty, and supposes the distinction of rich and poor; since, if there were no such distinction, there could be no reason assigned why any man should part with what he has to another, who is already in as easy a fortune and condition as himself. The distinction of rich and poor supposes property; for if all things were in common, and every man had a right to serve himself at discretion out of the heap, one could not be richer than another, but every man would have an equal title to every thing : but then how unequally soever the good things of the world are divided, the wants and necessities of nature are shared in common: the poor are as sensible of hunger, and thirst, and cold, as the rich are ; and it cannot be supposed that God sent men into the world with such wants and cravings, merely to starve and perish under them: and yet how shall their wants be supplied, who have nothing to supply them with ? Steal they must not; for that would be to invade the sacred law of property, and overturn the order which God has settled and appointed : it remains therefore, that they must obtain the things they want from the proprietors of the world, in exchange for such services as they are able to perform.

But is this, you will say, a sufficient source for the maintenance of the poor? What if those who are in possession should refuse to accept the service of the poor in exchange for their wealth? This would be a hard question, were there not an equal necessity on both sides ; had not Providence so ordered it, that the rich can no more live without the poor, than the poor without the rich; which being the case, the poor, who are able to assist the rich, can never want a means of subsistence. How would a rich man differ from a poor one, were he to serve himself in all the necessities of life? What would signify your large tracts of land, were you to plough and sow with your own hands? What pleasure or advantage would your numerous flocks yield, were you to spin the wool yourselves, before you could be defended from the winter's frost ? Since then the rich are under a necessity of being served by the poor, as much as the poor are of being maintained by the rich, it evidently follows that the rich have as good a right to require service from the poor as the poor have to demand maintenance from the rich; and consequently the rich may as reasonably withdraw their maintenance as the poor withdraw their service ; which shows the equity of the rule in general, · If any man will not work, neither let him eat;' for, in truth, were the poor to be maintained without working, the rich would be in the worse case of the two; but there can be no obligation on the rich to exercise a charity which would destroy the very distinction of rich and poor; and therefore there can be no obligation on the rich to maintain an idle poverty.

It is evidently then agreeable to reason and equity, that the poor, who have strength and ability for labor, should work for their living. Let us in the next place consider how the duty of the rich stands with respect to this sort of poor.

The right which all men have to maintenance and subsistence is a superior right to that of property; for the great law of self-preservation is antecedent to all private laws and possessions whatever; the consequence of which is, that in the last result the property of the rich is subject to the maintenance of the poor.

Since then the rich cannot in reason preserve their property longer than the poor a way of maintenance; and since the poor have no other way, ordinarily speaking, but their labor; it follows that the rich are as much obliged to employ the poor as the poor are to work for the rich; and one is as much the necessary consequence of the distinction between rich and

poor as the other. As reasonable as this may seem on the general view, yet it is hard to tell every particular rich man what the measure of his duty is in this case, or how many poor he ought to employ ; but the wisdom of Providence has in great measure superseded this difficulty; for a rich man cannot enjoy his estate, cannot live answerably to his fortune and condition, without creating a great deal of work for the support and encouragement of the poor. The gayest of their attire comes through the hands of the poor ;

and he that makes a fine garment for you, will earn a coarse one at least for himself; he that searches the seas and woods to furnish dainties to your table, supplies his own at




the same time with wholesome, though less delicious fare, Every man therefore who lives answerably to his condition, does his part in furnishing the poor with work and maintenance; and in this method the poor receive support from the rich in proportion to the different degrees of their wealth; for if all live suitably to their condition, every man will furnish work to the industrious in proportion to his fortune.

On this view of the world, you may judge what real iniquity there is in the temper and practice of the covetous penurious miser : that he denies himself the comforts and enjoyments of life is the least part of his crime; for whilst he pinches himself, he starves the poor; and by living like a beggar in the midst of plenty, he withdraws from the needy and industrious that maintenance which God has appointed for them. Human laws have provided no remedy for this evil, nor indeed can they; but it may one day perhaps be found as criminal to rob the poor of their work, as to rob the rich of their possessions. Nay, this oppression often meets with its reward in the second or third generation, even in this world. It is common to see the miser's son or grandson squander the wealth of his ancestor with the utmost folly and profuseness; and when we behold such instances, can we help thinking that the providence of God is using the extravagance of the son to do justice to the poor, who were injured and oppressed by the penury of the father ? For whatever mischief extravagancy may do to private men and families, yet this good at least flows from it, that the same extravagance which is the undoing of a vain rich man, often makes way for the advancement of many an industrious poor one; or is at least, for the time it lasts, a new fund of work thrown into the maintenance of the needy.

Whenever this ordinary method of supporting the poor fails, the providing for them is a debt lying over the possessions of the rich, as a necessary condition of that law which secures them in their property, by making it penal for the poor to dispossess them by force or violence. And this shows the reasonableness of our own law, which has subjected all the estates and fortunes of the kingdom to the maintenance of the poor in defect of other means; which is not a new burden laid on private property by the mere strength of an arbitrary law, but

is the voice of reason and nature, acknowleged and inforced by the wisdom and power of the legislature.

You see then how the duties arising from the distinction of rich and poor stand on the foot of natural reason and equity.

The gospel, though it has left men in possession of their ancient rights, yet has it enlarged the duties of love and compassion, and taught rich men to consider the poor not only as servants, but as brethren; and to look on themselves not only as the masters, but as the patrons and protectors of the needy. On this view, the industrious poor are intitled to the rich man's charity; since in the candor of the gospel we ought to assist our poor neighbors, not only to live, but to live comfortably: and an honest laborious poverty has charms in it to draw relief from any rich man who has the heart of a Christian, or even the bowels of nature. Mean families, though perhaps they may subsist by their work, yet go through much sorrow to earn their bread : if they complain not, they are more worthy of regard; their silent suffering, and their contented resignation to Providence, intitle them to the more compassion; and there is a pleasure not to be described in words, which the rich man enjoys, when he makes glad the hearts of such patient sufferers, and by his liberality makes them for a time forget their poverty and distress; that even with respect to the present enjoyments the words of the text are verified; • It is more blessed to give than to receive.'

But to speak of the duty strictly, charity must begin where the maintenance of the poor fails; for whenever it becomes impossible for them to provide for themselves, it becomes the duty of others to provide for them. Now work being the maintenance of the poor, it is evident that, whenever their work fails, they become objects of charity; and this happens many ways : sometimes it happens for want of employment; and whenever it does, it is a noble instance of charity to furnish work for such useful hands. It is a charity which the rich may make subservient either to their pleasure or their profit; and be it either profit or pleasure which accrues to the rich man, as it arises from charity, it will bring a blessing along with it; and look, whatsoever he doth, it shall prosper, .

Sometimes their want arises from idleness, which is generally attended with great corruption of morals. When this is the case, it is a kindness, rather than a punishment, to inure them to labor by wholesome discipline; for work being the poor man's maintenance, idleness in him is the same thing as extravagance in the rich: one destroys the substance of the poor as effectually as the other does the substance of the rich.

That the young and the old, whose years render them incapable of taking care of themselves; that the impotent and lame, who have not only the necessities, but the miseries of life to struggle with; that the diseased in body and mind, who want either strength or reason to direct it to any useful

purposes, are all fit objects of Christian charity and compassion, is too well known to be insisted on. These calamities, which are incident to human life, and are not always the consequences of vice and immorality, but come either in the course of nature, or are sent by the secret disposition of the Almighty, what are they, but the voice of Providence, the hand of God demanding charity?

To direct you to the proper methods of charity, in regard to the several objects described, that the offering of an honest heart may not be lost through misapplication, would be a useful, were it a necessary part of this day's work: but behold, these objects are all before you, and the reports now to be read of the charitable institutions of this ancient and worthy city, will show you in what hands you may safely trust whatever your heart inclines you to offer to God for the relief of the miserable.

Here the report was read. You have had now the state of these charities set before you; you see how usefully their revenue is applied, and yet how short it falls of the several occasions. It remains on my part, that, for the encouragement of your liberality, I should speak to the last thing proposed, namely,

What is the blessing and reward attending on the faithful discharge of this duty: It is more blessed to give than to receive.'

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