Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

unless we have reason to think it will be a benefit to him. I presume i this principle will hardly be doubted; and, if it be fully adopted in practice, it will put an end to nearly all the mendicity, which exists in our country. A literal compliance with the command, Give to him i that asketh of thee, would lead to the most dangerous absurdities. A ll man asks for arsenic to poison himself. Shall it be given him?! Another requests a pistol to shoot his neighbor. Shall it not be with 1 held? A third asks for money, under some plausible pretence, but with a real design to buy intoxicating liquor; and thus becomes prepared for the commission of any atrocious crime, to which he may be tempted. A fourth begs his bread, because he had rather live in idleness, thanh earn a subsistence by the sweat of his brow. An apostle has decided that if any man will not work he must not eat. What reason have we to think, that the street beggar will derive any real benefit from F the money, which our compassion might induce us to give him? In most instances none at all; but quite the reverse. So true is this, that I have been induced to form a general resolution not to bestow money in charity upon a common street beggar; and whenever a sorrowful tale bas induced ine to depart, in ever so small a degree, from this resolution, I bave afterwards met with irresistible evidence, that my i charity had been misapplied. In almost every instance, the beggar expends bis money in the tippling-shop and is habitually employed in obtaining the means of vice by gross fraud and falsehood. It surely requires no argument to prove, that it is not a duty to furnish encouragement to idleness and vice. The utmost that can be said in favori of giving money to mendicants indiscriminately is, that some relief may possibly be afforded in one case out of a hundred, while it is morally certain, that in ninety nine cases direct and positive evil will be done.

2. It appears to me very evident, that in all our attempts to benefit the poor, we are to act on different principles from those, which usually prompt indiscriminate charity to beggars. Men sometimes give to clamorous importunity. But this is far from judicious, when it so often conduces to a shameless continuance in the habit of begging. and to the formation of a character hardened in vice, and prepared for ruin. Others give money from a sudden impulse of compassion, without considering whether their hasty bounty will not increase suffering rather than alleviate it. In order to avoid hurtful charity on one hand, and to prevent unnecessary suffering on the other, it seems to be desirable, perhaps indispensable, that in every well regulated Christian community, there should be some public, known, and judicious method of ascertaining the wants of the poor, especially of the sick and deserving poor. After all that has been written on the subject of pauperisin and poor laws, I do not believe that the best remedies for poverty have been proposed. Sure I am, that our system of poor-laws is much better, than it would be to encourage indiscriminate begging. But the grand defect in the English and American systems is, that they do not take the evil at the beginning; that they do not lay so heavy a hand on idleness, drunkenness, and other vices, as to prevent so vast an increase of poverty; that they do not take effectual care, that the rising generation shall be well instructed, and preserved from the early

haunts of wickedness. This is a subject which deserves, perhaps more than any other, the labors of a wise and provident legislature.

At the close of these brief remarks I would observe, that in large towns a particular species of charity, thought by many to be unexceptionable, sometimes does a great deal of mischief. I refer to the practice of giving cold meats, and broken bread to the poor. Where this is done to really deserving families known to their benefactors, and where it subserves no purpose of idleness and extravagance, it ought not to be strenuously ohjected to; nor should it be objected to at all, so far as it may be necessary to consume the fragments, which sometimes remain in the best managed houses But it may be more than questioned, whether it is right to make large provision for a man's own family, on purpose to give away a great deal in the form of broken bread and meat; because the same money may do more good distributed in other forms. What is particularly mischievous in this matter is, that children, belonging to families totally unknown, are encouraged to perambulate the streets with their baskets, knocking at every door till they get a load to carry home. Now this course of life is absolute and irretrievable ruin to these children. At a tender age, they become shameless, hardened, filthy, degraded, and addicted to perpetual falsehood. Can any friend of man patronize them in this course? The families at home are regularly supplied with food, and thus rely upon charitable assistance; while the heads of the family too often spend their earnings, or a large part of them, for gin, rum, and brandy.

The police of a well regulated town should take care, that children especially, should never be permitted to follow the employment of begging.

While every Christian should ask for a compassionate heart, and should labor much for the relief of human woe, he should avoid every encouragement of practices, however plausibly defended, which do in fact add to the already enormous mass of suffering in the world.

A. B.

URGENT CLAIMS OF THE GOSPEL. [We have the happiness to inform our readers, from very respectable authority, that Dr.

DWIGAT'S TRYOLOGY is read with great interest and approbatioo by serious Christians in England. It was printed in London, as fast as the half volumes could be sent from the press in this country; and we presume that new editions will be called for, on each side of the Atlantic. The following paragraphs are the closing part of the last sermon in the syslem, and are eminently worthy of serious perusal; particularly the paragraph, which describes the immutable providence and purposes of God, as uncontrolled by the plans, or inclinations of his creatures.]

Huw solemnly does the Scriptural system of Doctrines and Precepts demand the cordial reception of every man, to whom it is published!

“Every one of those, who hear me, is a creature of God; an accountable creature; an immortal creature. Every one is bound to the grave, and the judgment. Every one is a candidate for heaven, or hell. To every one, life is a day of trial. On your conduct in this life, is suspended your destiny in that which is to come.

"All of you, also, are sinners. You have offended God. You have broken his most holy law, times innumerable, with a bold hand, a hard heart, and a blind mind. By that law you are condemned, and cannot be justified.

Your sins, also, are gross and dreadful: not perhaps scandalous, and such as cover you with infamy; but such, as have been committed in the meridian day of the Gospel, against the dictates of an enlightened conscience, against blessings of high moment, daily and hourly renewed. Ignorance of your Lord's will you cannot plead, for you bave known it from early life. Leisure for understanding it, books, instructions, motives, have been supplied to you with a munificent hand, Your allotments in life have been mercifully distributed by the great Benefactor. He has called to you with a voice of unspeakable kindness. He has charmed you with continual testimonies of parental love,

osIn these circumstances, and amid so many inducements to lear, and to obey, the Savior of mankind has placed himself directly before your eyes, suspended on the cross, and expiring in agonies, to atone for your sins, and to reconcile you to God. He has offered to you hiinself and all his blessings, and of you he has required nothing, but cordially to receive him. Instead of listening, there is but too melancholy reason to believe, you have turned a deaf ear, and a blind eye, to all that he has said, and done. He has called; but you have refused. To what has he called you? To purification from sin; to forgiveness; to sanctification; to the attainment of the everlasting love of God; to the possession of heaven; to the blessings of immortal life.

“But he knew, that your hearts were harder than the nether millstone. He therefore sent his holy and good Spirit into the world, to enlighten your minds; to convince you of your guilt and danger; to unfold to you the divine excellence of the Redeemer; and by the renovation of your hearts to persuade you to embrace him, as he is offered to you in the Gospel. A thousand times has this glorious Agent awakened in your minds a solemn sense of their worth, and their immortality; lcd you to serious reflections on your guilt; excited in you alarming apprehensions concerning death, and the judgment; and prompted you to sober resolutions of repentance, and reformation.

“All these benevolent efforts you have resisted. All the grace of the Gospel, all the benevolent offers, which Christ has made

you, all his merciful invitations and promises, you have rejected. On bis cross you have cast contempt. To his character you have been hostile. You have grieved the Spirit of Grace. You have wronged your own souls.

"Still, you are bound to eternity. You must die: you will be judged: you will he rewarded according to your works. Consider this, ye that forget God; lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.

"In this solemn, this exposed, situation, immeasurably interesting to every one of you, what measures will you take? Remember, that, whatever you may think proper to do, God will take his own measures. You may wish, that he would do otherwise. You may hope, you may believe, you may determine, that he will bend his purposes so, as to make them more palatable to you. Under this determination, and with these hopes, you may feel yourselves safe; and say, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. Like Agag, you may exclaim, Surely the bitterness of death as past; when you are on the point of being hewed in pieces. The providence of your Maker, whatever you may wish, or believe, will move on uninterruptedly, and immutably, to the accomplislıment of every one of bis purposes; and of those, which respect your salvation, and your perdition, as truly as any other. When you come to the regions of woe; with what anguish will you look back upon your present life; and wish, that you had now listened to the calls of mercy; that you bad been roused from this sleep of death, and obtained life from the bands of the Savior!

“It is not necessary, that every one should be learned in Theology: but it is necessary that every man should be a Christian. The souls of the learned and the unlearned, are alike immortal; ayd are alike destined to endless happiness, or endless misery. How will you acquire this glorious blessing, and escape this absolute ruin? I'here is but one path, which has hitherto conducted; there is but one path, which will ever conduct; mankind to eternal life. This has been pointed out by the finger of God; and was never discovered by human Philosophy. The cell of Philosophy is dug beneath the ground; is dark, cold, and comfortless; and was never visited by the sunshine of heaven. The miserable rush-light, which glimmers along its walls, scarcely enables this goddess, of man's creation, to distinguish her own footsteps around the dreary cavern; and shows no avenue to the world above. Here no celestial messenger ever arrived; and no tidings from that world were ever announced. Here God is neither worshipped, loved, nor known; the voice of mercy was never heard; and salvation was never proclaimed, sought, nor found.

“The Gospel, at an immeasurable distance from this desolate mansion, is the garden of Eden in its pristine beauty. Here Jehovah manifests himself in the Shechinah; as of old he caused the glory of his presence to dwell at the east of Paradise above the Cherubim. * Here his answers are given to the inquiring penitent. Here angels are again heard praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth; and good-will towards men. Here the Savior is born; and publishes the glad tidings of great joy. Here the Spirit of Grace fixes his divine abode, and sheds piety, and peace, and faith, and hope, upon the assembly of the first-born. Here, finally, commences the high-way of holiness, which leads directly to the regions of immortality.

“Who, in this house, can contemplate these things without the strongest emotions? Who can behold his all at hazard; his soul, his eternal well-being, at stake; without inexpressible anxiety? Life and death, both eternal, are here the objects of choice. Whose bosom must not thrill; whose heart must not throb; when, famishing with thirst, and perishing with hunger, he hears a voice from heaven, calling directly to himself, Ho! every one that thirsteth! come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price. With what transport will he learn, that the voice, which conveys this delightful

Genesis iii, 24, paraphrased by the Targums.

invitation, is the voice of the Son of God! Must not his soul expand, with ecstas y, to see the Almighty arm of this glorious Person stretched out, to seize him, while walking on the brink of perdition, and convey him to the world of joy?

«On the brink of perdition every sinner in this house is walking at the present moment. The only way, back, to eternal life; the only safety, the only hope; is found in the Gospel. Strive, then, with all possible earnestness to enter in at the strait gate, which stands at the head of this delightful path. Now the gate is open: soon, to you, it will be shut. Now the path is illuminated by the Sun of righteousness: soon it will be lost in interminable darkness. Now heaven invites you to enter in, and be saved. Soon its doors will be closed for ever. Now God is reconcilable to you; the Savior proffers himself, and all his blessings, to your acceptance; and the Spirit of Grace is waiting to renew you to repentance. How soon will all these blessings retire beyond your reach; the hope of salvation set to rise no more; and the voice of mercy be dumb for ever!"

REVIVAL OF RELIGION ON BOARD THE BRIG INDUS.

Most of our readers will recollect, that on the 8th of Jane last, four missionaries and their vives sailed from Boston for Ceylon, on board the Indus, captain Wills of Newburyport. Letters bave just been received, dated in the bay of Bengal, ict 12th, signed by all the missionaries, giving a particular account of a most remarkable revival of religion, the state of which, at the time the letters were written, warranted the hope, that the whole ship's company, viz. two mates, clerk, steward, cook, boy, and ten seamen, sixteen in all, had become Savingly acquainted with the Gospel. The captain was previously a mau of established relig. jous character.

We must defer the publication of the full account to a future number; but our churches, and the friends of missions have an immediate claim upon all which our limits will admit.

Bibles and tracts were distributed among the crew, at an early period of the voyage; and the missionaries met with them two or three evenings in the week for prayer and religious instruction. But neither these meetings, nor private conversation, nor preaching on the Sabo bath, were known to have made any permanent impression, till eleven weeks had elapsed. At that time one of the seamen was brought to the foot of the cross. He had thought on re. ligion for several weeks, and his case had been made the subject of particular prayer, uill the cha his view

lace. This evident answer to prayer, encouraged to inore earnest and fervent supplications. One, who had been the leader in opposition, was soon after distressed in mind, and two or three others with him. Near the close of Septem. ber, a solemnity settled on the countenance of almost evcry person on board. The two mates and clerk were mourning for sin.

The first day of October made the missionaries forget all that had preceded. They had only to stand still and see the salvation of God. “During the day,” to use their own words, "the officers and seamen were seen here and there collected in little circles to speak of the great salvation, or retiring to weep apart. At evening all on board were collected on deck, under a fair moon. Such a meeting was perhaps never seen on the great waters The still small voice, which had been whispering alarm lo so many, became a mighty rushing wind, which sbook every soul. After the usual addresses from us, Capt. Wills spoke to the seamen, in a very earnest and feeling manner.” The first Sabbath in Oct. was a precious day; and Mon. day' was kept as a day of thanksgiving. "A whole ship's company with streaming eyes, were collected to thank God for a general revival of religion at sea. Such a spectacle must have rejoiced angels; oh, how would it have rejoiced our Christian friends in America."

The conscience was principally addressed, in the progress of the work;---convictions of sin were deep and afflicting;- grief for sin, rather than terror on account of it, was a prominent trait;-almost all were seriously impressed separately from the rest, and without knowing of each other's impressions. The change of character is very striking. The lion is turned into a lamb, and the leopard into a kid.

The missionaries exerted themselves to discourage false hopes, and to promote thorough self-examination. They are aware of the dangers which beset new converts. But there was no one on board, of whom they would not be unwilling to say, "by and by that man will be offended.”

Let all friends of the Redeemer give thanks for this glorious display of his grace and power.

« AnteriorContinuar »