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worldly station than their own. The tone and manner adopted towards them should not be those of a conscious and haughty superiority. As far as possible, they should rather indicate that whatever may be the difference of outward condition, it is less remembered than the joint participation of the same nature, the moral value and dignity of every human soul, the possibility of virtues among the poor quite equal to those which may adorn any higher station, the brotherhood of a common relationship to one almighty Father, and of a common interest in the same great truths of judgment and immortality. Yes; as far as possible, the poor man, in the whole language and behaviour to him of a superior in worldly situation, should be made to feel
here is one who does not despise me on account of my poverty, does not think it gives him any right to treat me as though i were a being of a different race and nature from himself ;—here is one who, notwithstanding our different allotments of this world's good, really sees in me a fellow-man, and is disposed to respect in me the qualities and capacities which are independent on outward distinctions ;-here is one with whom I shall have every advantage of whatever may be my good principles and good conduct-one who will value and honour me according to what I am, and not according to what I possess. It can hardly be doubted that this is a desirable feeling to cherish in the poor. It is not unreasonable to think that thus their sense of evil in the diversities of outward condition might often be lessened, while their attention would be more powerfully directed to the cultivation of intellectual and moral qualities, as the only sources of true respectability and of permanent distinctions between man and man.
It is a pleasing dream, if it be no more, that a time will perhaps come, when all the different classes of society will have much more intercourse of an agreeable and instructive kind than they have at present—when men will have learned to consider their various employments, pursued for the purpose of a livelihood, as no valid reasons for living, in their hours of leisure, so much apart from one another--and when they will be able to meet, after the business of the day is over, on terms of so much equality in intellectual acquirements and tastes, in moral feelings and manners governed by such feelings, that it will not be easy to discover, and will be accounted of small importance to inquire, what may still continue the diversities of condition among them. But whether this imagined state of things shall ever be fully realized or not, there would at least be some approach to it, so far as the effect on the feelings of the poor is concerned, if they were uniformly treated with that courteous, respectful, and kind consideration, which is certainly due to them as our fellow-beings. And how many among them there may be to whom this is really but a small part of their due ! How many who are living in the continued exercise of the highest and most difficult virtues ! How
who have resisted temptations, the strength of which can be little known to those who are dwelling at ease amidst ample possessions ! How many who are virtuous and pious, retaining their kind feelings towards man, and their humble trust in God, in circumstances which would, perhaps, have tempted not a few of those who are called their superiors to give up hope in God as well as man! Would we treat such men with disrespect ? Would we use to them the haughty language of conscious and scornful superiority? But how can we be sure that we never do so, unless, in all our intercourse with the poor, we remember their claim upon us for a kind and courteous demeanour?
4. Another claim they have upon us—and that is for our sympathy and assistance in their difficulties and distresses, more especially in those which they cannot be said to have brought upon themselves.
And there are difficulties and distresses of this kind. No doubt there are others, and those in no small number, which may be traced to some misconduct or imprudence on their own part. Every one who goes among them must have occasion to observe and lament instances, in which their sufferings and privations are only the natural consequences of their own improvidence and mismanagement. Often, no doubt, if they are eating the bread of bitterness, it may with truth be said to be no more than what they might have expected from a harvest of their own sowing. But this is far from being always the case. There are calamities and reverses which may come upon
the most industrious and prudent; there are circumstances and changes which they could hardly be expected to take into their account, and for which, even if they had been able to foresee them, they could not have made sufficient preparation. There are many things over which they could have no control, and for the effect of which on their condition they ought not to be blamed. It is no fault of theirs, for instance, that they were born and brought up in the midst of poverty. It is no fault of theirs, that in their childhood they were trained to employments which, perhaps, have since been found insufficient for a maintenance. It is no fault of theirs, if other employments to which they had betaken themselves as likely to be more profitable, have been subject to long interruptions from the fluctuations of trade. It is no fault of theirs, if these times of unwilling cessation from labour, or other times of long continued sickness and inability to labour, have consumed all their savings. Surely, in such cases, they are to be pitied--they are to be cared for they are to be relieved—and that with no grudging heart or niggardly hand. They have a just and rea
sonable claim upon us for such assistance as we can give them. It is a right on their part—it is a debt on ours ;-a debt to Him who, if He has made one man to differ from another, has not left that difference unconnected with a claim on the one side and a duty on the other. If He has made one man rich and another poor, He has also said to the rich man- - What hast thou which thou hast not received ?' and has commended to him the poor man as a brother whom, not only by that relation, but by the stewardship of the Divine bounty entrusted to himself, he is under a weighty and sacred obligation to comfort and assist. Liberality on the part of those who have this world's good to those who have need, appears to be the great remedy intended by Divine Providence for all that is otherwise unavoidable in the evils arising from the inequalities of human conditions. That, in any age of the world, how much soever improved, and with all the help of the best laws and institutions that human wisdom can devise, such inequalities should altogether cease, or even be very much lessened, is a thing very diffieult, if not impossible, to conceive. But with industry, forethought, good management, and good conduct on the part of the poor, and with a generous readiness to distribute and willingness to communicate out of their abundance, on the part of the rich, joined to a judicious direction and application of their bounty, it is very possible to imagine that much indeed might be done towards a removal of the most distressing and appalling evils at present observed in connection with the inequalities of human conditions.
To do away with poverty altogether, does not appear to have been the contemplated effect even of the political regulations and institutions which had their origin in the suggestions of Divine wisdom itself. But a remedy for its occasional evils does appear to have been intended in the express and urgent recommendation of liberality on the part of the rich. For thus we read in the Jewish law, (Deut. xv. 11.) The never cease out of the land ; therefore, I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.' And in like manner, we read among the lessons of the Christian Scriptures, these words of Jesus, (Mark xiv. 7.) “Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good;' while we read also repeated commands and exhortations, both of Jesus and of his apostles, all tending to make us consider it our duty; nay, a duty without the performance of which our religion will be vain—to comfort, succour, and relieve, as we have ability and opportunity, our poor and afflicted fellow-beings. As if the Author of Christianity, while not expecting, from any progress of his doctrines in the world, the removal of all inequalities in human conditions, did look for a mitigation of their greatest
poor shall evils, to a spirit of kindness and generosity on the part of the rich towards the poor.
5. Such a spirit will readily admit that the poor have farther a claim upon us for all the help and encouragement which we can give them, in their own plans and efforts for guarding against the evils to which their condition is liable.
If it is our duty to relieve them when actually suffering, it must be our duty also to aid them in securing themselves, as much as may be, from suffering; and, where they cannot do this altogether, in providing for the utmost possible mitigation of what they may have to endure. If we find them willing to lay by in store against a season of need, we shall surely account it a part of the service which we owe them, to counsel and aid them in making the most of their savings. If we find them disposed not to be altogether dependent upon charity, for the attendance and medicine which they may require in times of sickness, we shall think it the least that we can do to contrive how they may accomplish their purpose in the most effectual, and also the most economical manner. If we find them desirous of obtaining the means of intellectual and moral improvement for themselves or their children, we shall think it required of us to encourage them in so doing—to join them in the establishment of schools-to advise and assist them in the choice of suitable teachers—to share with them the expense of providing libraries and other sources of innocent, rational, and instructive recreation. And all this we shall be disposed to do, not as a matter of favour or charity, but as a debt which we owe them in consequence of our respective stations in the great social family. In no household is it thought an act of charity in the older children, who have had much pains and expense bestowed on their own education, to give some assistance in the guidance and training of the younger. It is considered no more than a debt which they owe their parents. It is a duty belonging to the relation in which they stand to their brethren. Now, in the great family of God, comprehending all the different classes of human society, the poor occupy the place of the younger children—they who have larger means that of the older. Whatever advantages we possess in connection with our respective stations, we owe for them a debt to our heavenly Father, which we cannot indeed repay, but which we may thankfully acknowledge, by holding out a friendly and assisting hand to our younger brethren—the poor.
That we should do so, our debt to God makes their right; and doubtless He will maintain their right. He will not hold us guiltless if we despise or neglect the poor ;nay, if we do not carefully and faithfully use our means and opportunities of advising, assisting and encouraging them in all their desires and efforts for their own comfort and improvement.
6. But have they no claim upon us except when they are themselves well-disposed, and already prepared to act with us in our plans for their benefit? Have even the most ignorant, the most hardened, the most depraved, no claim upon us ? Yes ; even these cannot be without a claim on disciples of Him who came to seek out and save that which was lost.' They have a claim upon us for our merciful consideration of the circumstances in which they may have been placed, the temptations to which they may have been exposed, and the difficulties with which they may have had to struggle. It is their right that we should seriously ask ourselves, how we know that we should have been better if we had been brought up as they have been, thrown among companions such as they have had, and cut off, as perhaps they have been, from all means and opportunities of instruction. Oh! yes; it is their right, that in the midst of judgment we should remember mercy. It is their right, that we should set ourselves to consider and contrive how some of them, at least, may yet be rescued from their deplorable condition; and how their children may be prevented from growing up in the same condition. Their children, let us recollect, in the guileless age of infancy, are just such beings as our own—as those whom we look upon with so much affection and so much hope ;—just as capable of being trained to what is good, and honourable, and lovely. Will not the thought of their children-of what they are now-of what they may become, if sought out and instructed and assisted—and of what they may become if neglected,—will not this thought plead with us on behalf of even the worst among the poor? Will it not convince us that even they are not without a claim upon us for some portion of our benevolent attention—for some efforts, on our part, to do them or their children good ?
Such are the suggestions offered to the readers of the Christian Teacher on the claims of the Poor. They are claims which, to the writer, appear urged on us by every consideration which makes us desire the improvement of human kind—by all that is sincere in our profession as disciples of Jesus—and by every affection which belongs to our relation as children of God. We cannot earnestly desire the improvement of our fellow-men, without feeling much concern for those who form so large a class of them. We cannot really be disciples of Jesus, without having learned of Him to care for both the temporal and spiritual wants and welfare of the
poor. And if we profess a filial love toward God, we shall do well to meditate often and deeply on that question of the apostle John, (1st Ep. iii. 17.) · Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him ?'