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by the innumerable hospitals, which they supported, and above all, by the immense, and almost incredible number of poor, which they maintained. Observe these words of St. Chrysostom, “ Consider, says he, among how many poor, widows, and orphans, this church distribute the charity of one rich man; the number in the catalogue is three thousand, not to mention extraordinary assistances given to prisoners, people sick in hospitals, strangers, leprous persons, servants of the church, and many other persons, whose necessities oblige them to apply every day, and who receive both food and cloathing.” What renders this the more remarkable is, that the primitive christians placed their glory in their charities. We have a famous example in the conduct of the church of Rome in regard to the Emperor Decius. This tyrant demanded their treasure; a deacon answered for the whole church, and required one day to comply with the order of the Emperor. When the term was expired, he assembled all the blind and the lame and the sick, that were supported by the church, and pointing to them, told the tyrant, " these are the riches of the church, these its revenue and treasure.” I have collected these examples to convince you, my brethren, that we have degenerated from the virtue of our ancestors, and that the lives of the primitive christians, at least in this article, were a lively comment on the doctrine of their master.
III. A third calculation, which we conjure to examine as christians ought, is that of your superAuous expences. We do not call those expences superfluous, which are necessary to your maintenance, nor those which contribute to the convenience and pleasure of life, nor those which support your rank; we do not touch this part of your fortune; we agree, that, before you think of your brethren, your countrymen, the household of faith, you should set apart (sad necessity, my brethren, which engageth us to preach to you a morality so lax, and to ask so little lest we should obtain nothing) we agree, I say, that before you think of the poor you should set apart as much as is necessary for your maintenance to a certain degree; for your ornaments to a certain degree: for your amusements and appearances to a certain degree: all this we give up, and agree, that this part shall be sacred, and that it shall be accounted a crime to touch the least particle of it. But reckon, I beseech you, what sums are consumed beyond all this. Cast your eyes about this churchi. Endeavor to calculate the immense sums, that have been spent in luxury, since you laid aside that wise simplicity, which your ancestors exemplified; I say, since that time, for before, this article could not have appeared in a christian sermon. Let us reckon what is now spent in extravagant entertainments, excessive gaming, immodest dresses, elegant furniture, and constant public amusements, all become now necessary by habit. Such a calculation would convince us, that what is given to the poor is nothing in comparison with what is spent in luxury: and yet I will venture to affirm, that in times like the present, we are bound to give a great deal more than our superfluities in charity. The poor we recommend to you are,for the most part so venerable; they have impoverished themselves for such a noble cause, that we ought to retrench even our necessary expences to support them. At least this superfluity, such a superfluity as we have described, a superfluity given to vice, can we refuse to give it to the Lord ? If we dedicate it to the poor we offer to God altogether our criminal pleasures and
the money they cost, our passions and our charities, and by so doing we discharge two religious duties, and present a double sacrifice.
IV. The last calculation we make (a sad calculation indeed, but, however, necessary) is that of the number of our poor, and, to abridge the matter we join to this an account of the funds, which we have to support them. It is necessary to enter into this detail, for some people pay no attention to these things; indeed, they know in general that there are poor, but satisfied with their own abuodance, they give themselves little concern to know how
many such persons there are. Turn your eyes a moment from your own prosperity, and fix them on these objects. All the world knows that an infinite number of poor people are supported in this country by charity; all the world knows that the afflictions, with which it hath pleased God to visit our churches, have filled these provinces with an innumerable multitude of distressed objects, who have no other resource than the charity of our magistrates. This charity will always be a reason for our gratitude. It enlivens not only those, who partake of it, but all the rest of the exiles, who behold with the tenderest sensibility the benefits conferred on their brethren. But woe be to you, if the charity of the state be made a pretext for your hard-heartedness, and if public beneficence be made an obstacle to private alms-deeds! Understand then, that, beside the poor we have mentioned, there is a great number, who have no share in the bounty of the states. This church hath several members of this sort. Beside an infinity of occasions which present themselves every day, beside a thousand extraordinary cases unprovided for, beside a number of indigent persons oc
casionally relieved, the church supports many hundreds of families, in which are many infants, many sick, many aged, and many. dying, they, who have been supported through life, must be buried after their death at the charge of the church. All these wants must be regularly supplied every week, whether there be money in hand or not. When your charities fail, our officers assist the poor with their purse, as at all times they assist them with their pains. Is the payment of the weekly sums deferred ? Alas! If it be deferred one single day, the poor have no bread that day: the dying expires without succor: the dead lies unburied, and putrifies, and infects those who assisted him while alive.
Whatever pains are taken, whatever exactness is observed, how great soever your charities be, the poor's fund in this church cannot supply all their wants. What am I saying, the funds of the church? We have none. We have no other supplies than what are derived from your charity given at the door of the church, from legacies left by a few pious persons, and from collections. All these are expended, and more than expended. Our officers are in arrears, and have no other hopes, than what are founded on your donations to-day, or next Wednesday to the collection, of which I give you this
You will ask me, without doubt, how then do all these poor subsist ? For it is very certain they do subsist, and no body perishes with hunger. How do they subsist ? Can you want to be informed? Why, they suffer--they weep--they groanfrom want of food they fall sick-sickness increases their wants-their wants increase their sickness
-they fall victims to death-a death so much the more cruel by how much the more slow it is and this death-this death cries to heaven for vengeance against you, who shut up your bowels of compassion from them.
My brethren, with what eyes do you see these things ? What effects do these sad objects produce upon you? Can you behold the miseries of your brethren without compassion ? can you without any emotions of pity hear Jesus Christ begging his bread of you? And all these blows, that we have given at the door of your hearts, shall they serve. only to discover the hardness of them and to aggravate your guilt ?
We frequently complain that our sermons are useless, that our exhortations are unprofitable, that our ministry produceth neither wisdom in your minds, nor virtue in your hearts, nor any alteration in your lives. You in your turn complain, you say, we declaim, you affirm, we exaggerate, and, as the reasonableness, or futility, of our complaints depends on a discussion, into which it is impossible for us to enter, the question remains undetermined.
My brethren, you have it in your power to-day, and next Wednesday, to make your apology. You may give a certain proof that you are not insensible to the care, which God takes for your salvation.. You may do us the favor to confound our reproofs, and to silence reproof for the future. Behold, our wants are before you. Behold our hands are held out to receive your charity.
Do not lessen your gift on account of what you have hitherto done: do not complain of our importunity : do not say the miseries of the poor are perpetual, and their wants have no end: but rather let your former charities be considered as motives to future charities.
Become models to yourselves. Follow your own example. Recollect, that what makes the glory of this state, and this.