Obrazy na stronie

render an account to him at the judgment-day. He has laid down rules for your observance, and if you transgress these rules, it is at the peril of your souls! Among these rules, none are more explicit than those which relate to the distressed and the needy. If at any time God appears to renounce a right to your riches, it is only when he transfers this right to the poor. If you refuse to assist them, you are now at the bar of conscience, and you will hereafter be found at the bar of the Holy God, wrongful usurpers, retaining what is theirs by the allotment of the Almighty. You will then find, whatever you now imagine, that it is the bread of the needy which you have hoarded, that it is the gold of the perishing, which has been hidden in your coffers, that it is the silver of the orphan and the fatherless with which you have refused to part, and for which you must render a strict-oh, how strict an account!

Brethren, these are solemn truths! Look then, at these poor orphans; and let conscience declare, in the presence of the Searcher of hearts, whether you do not believe they are among that number whom the Bestower and Owner of your wealth, your Ruler and your Judge, requires you to relieve? If they are, by withholding your charity from them, you either challenge the authority of the God of heaven, or else wilfully resist his commands. Ah, for this will he hold you guiltless!

II. Excuse of Nabal: The supposed inferiority of those for whom his assistance was solicited, and his want of relationship to him. "Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? There be many servants now-adays that break away every man from his master." This excuse also is still daily presented, when we plead for the distressed.

There can be little doubt, that the ignorance of Nabal was was only pretended, that he might render his reply more contemptuous. He well knew the valour and reputation of David; he knew that when a stripling he had overcome the gigantic champion of Gath, and had often since smitten the Philistines; that he was nearly allied to Saul, and cruelly and unjustly persecuted. But even if his ignorance had been real; nay, had he certainly known that the situation of David was most abject, his excuse would have been frivolous. For, my brethren, when we look with contempt upon the poor, and refuse to assist them because of any real or imagined inferiority, we look with contempt on that God whose image they bear, on that Jesus, who died for them as well as for the opulent and distinguished; and who has declared that they are his representatives on earth, and that he considers as done to himself what we perform to them. Yes, let every sentiment of contempt for them be stifled in thy breast, when thou rememberest, that all thy hopes of salvation are founded on our blessed Redeemer's voluntary assumption of that poverty which thou scornest or neglectest. When thou despisest the poor, thou despisest the holy and adorable Jesus, our Lord, our Redeemer, and our Judge, "who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor."

Do you add, with Nabal, "Who is David ?" Who are these poor orphans? What relationship have they to me, that I should assist them? They have descended from the same parent with you; their origin is your own; the blood which flows in their veins is that which Adam has transmitted to you; they like you have a body organized and fashioned



by the hand of God; they walk under the same beaven with you, and the same earth sustains them: like you they bear the sacred impression of the image of God; an image, it is true, greatly obscured and disfigured by sin; an image nevertheless of which sufficient traits remain, to cause you to respect them for this august impression. In them as well as you, there is a soul endued with wonderful faculties; a soul destined to endless happiness or eternal misery. On these orphans, as well as on yourselves, is the aspersion of the blood of Jesus; for them he spared not his life: will you withhold from them your benevolence?

III. Excuse of Nabal: His unwillingness to encourage vice or indolence. "There be many servants nowa-days that break away every man from his master!" This excuse too we often hear when we ask relief for the distressed.

Brethren, I am not commending a blind and indiscriminate charity. It is necessary at times to refuse the wicked and the idle, that we may have resources for the relief of the deserving poor; of those who, through disease or decrepitude, through the adverse dispensations of Providence or the villany of others; through the weakness of infancy or the feebleness of age, are unable to provide for themselves. But were Nabal to revive among us, with all his avarice, would he dare to say that, by contributing to this institution, he was encouraging vice? No! it is one of the most important and interesting circumstances in this establishment, that it saves destitute children not only from ignorance and want, but probably from iniquity. Were they to grow up, with minds uninformed, uninstructed in the principles of religion, exposed to the contagion of evil example, and ex

periencing the pressure of calamity; who can tell. what scourges they would be to the community? But on the contrary, by your benevolent exertions, they are placed in a situation where the religion of Jesus is taught to them; where they are instructed in useful knowledge; where the principles of virtue are early inculcated; where they are trained to habits of industry; where they are shielded from that penury which might have led to their ruin; where, under the constant care and vigilant inspection of prudent and pious females, they are preparing to become useful members of society; and to increase the sum of virtue, and not of vice.

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Having thus considered the excuses of Nabal, let us answer the question which he proposes, "Shall I give unto those I know not?" and at the same time reply to the similar inquiry which you may be proposing to yourselves, "Shall I give for the support of this institution ?"

Yes! give, if you would not be unkind to the Most Merciful; for he has declared that he is the friend, the patron, the protector, of the poor and the fatherless, and that he regards what is bestowed upon them, from correct principles, as conferred upon himself.

Give, if you would not be ungrateful to God. What multiplied benefits has he conferred upon us! Our lives, our health, our reason, our wealth and prosperity, our spiritual privileges, our hopes of glory! Do we feel no thankfulness for these benefits? We are then worse than brutes. Do we feel gratitude? We can express it only by giving to the poor and necessitous. Without this, both scripture and reason declare that our praising God with our lips, and blessing him for bis mercy, is a dreadful mockery, a horrible hypo


crisy. Without this, all acts of devotion are unavailing. The cries and complaints of the afflicted will drown their noise; the sighs and groans of the orphan will obstruct their passage to the ears of God.

Give, if you believe God; for otherwise, whatever may be your pretences, you are infidels; else the promises and threatenings, the joys and the torments, announced to the charitable and uncharitable, must affect you.

Give, if you love God; for if your heart beats with affection to him, it is impossible that you should be unwilling to part with a little gold and silver for his sake and at his command, that we should prize it beyond his favour and friendship.

Give, if you desire to have the impress of God upon you. Mercy, compassion, and benevolence, are his peculiar properties, displayed in nature, providence, and grace. "But there is nothing so distant from God, so opposite to him, as a griping, covetous man, Hell is scarcely so contrary to heaven, as such a man's disposition to the nature of God: for it is goodness which sits gloriously triumphant in the height of heaven, and uncharitableness lies grovelling under the bottom of hell; heaven descends from the one as its principal cause, hell is built upon the other as its main foundation. The one approximates the blessed angels to God, and beatifies them: the other removes the accursed fiends to such a distance from the All-compassionate, and from happiness. Not to wish, not to do, any good, renders them at once so wicked and so wretched;" and he who in his practice and feelings corresponds with them, prefers the image of the devil before that of God. Oh! had Nabal looked up to the Source and Pattern of excellence, he could not have hesitated how

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