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stances, and not he who gives absolutely most, is the most charitable person.'
Alms are effective to the abolition and pardon of our sins; and St. Chrysostom affirms that repentance without alms is dead, and without wings, and can never soar upwards to the element of love.
St. Jerome says, "I do not remember to have read that any charitable person died died an evil death.2 And ours ought not to be a death-bed charity, any more than a death-bed repentance; but it ought to be the charity of our life and healthful yearsa parting of our goods then when we can keep them.3
In giving money for charitable purposes we are to consider, not merely the small good which we may, individually, be able to do, but the amount of good which would be produced were every one charitable according to his or her means.1
Give alms with a cheerful heart and countenance, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver; and therefore give quickly, when the power is in thy hand, and the need is in thy neighbour's, and thy neighbour at the door. He gives twice that relieves speedily."
The best objects of charity are poor housekeepers that labour hard, and are burdened with many children; persecuted persons; widows; and fatherless children, putting them to honest trades or schools of learning; and search out the needs of numerous and meaner families: for there are many
1 Waterland (Sermons).
3 Ibid. 304.
2 Jer. Taylor, iv. 383.
persons who have nothing left but misery and modesty. We must enquire them out', and convey our relief so as we do not make them ashamed; and be sure that ye omit not to relieve the needs of your enemy and the injurious; possibly you may win him to yourself, but do you intend the winning him to God.2
After all, we are to remember that an incidental alms deserves not much commendation; it is a regular habit of doing good which shows a true sense of benevolence. And your charity must not be confined to the distribution of money.3
Whatever others may think or do, you, I hope, will never look upon your most precious hours as misemployed [when spent] in the service of mankind, or be too delicate to hear the representation of misery, when you consider what they must undergo who feel it.4
Among those actions which the mind can most securely review with unabated pleasure, is that of having contributed to an hospital for the sick. Of some kinds of charity the consequences are dubious; some evils which beneficence has been busy to remedy, are not certainly known to be very grievous to the sufferer, or detrimental to the community: but no man can question whether wounds and sickness are not really painful; whether it be not worthy of a good man's care, to restore those to
1 Many of the most deserving, are the least obtrusive.—— C.
ease and usefulness from whose labour infants and women expect their bread, and who, by a casual hurt or lingering disease, lie pining in want and anguish.1
Public charities admit of this argument in their favour, that your money goes farther towards attaining the end for which it is given, than it can do by any private and separate beneficence. A guinea, for example, contributed to an infirmary, becomes the means of providing one patient, at least, with a physician, surgeon, apothecary, with medicine, diet, lodging, and suitable attendance, which is not the tenth part of what the same assistance, if it could be procured at all, would cost to a sick person or family in any other situation.2
If a poor traveller tell us that he has neither strength, nor food, nor money left, do not let us bid him go to the place from whence he came, and that we cannot relieve him because he may be a cheat. We may often give to those that do not deserve it, or will make a bad use of our alms. But what then? Does not God make his sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and send his rain on the just and on the unjust? And shall we withhold a little money or food from a fellow creature, for fear he should not be good enough to receive it of us? Do we beg of God to deal with us, not according to our merit, but according to his own great goodness; and shall we be so absurd as to with
1 Johnson (Idler, No. 4.).
hold our charity from a poor brother or sister, because they may perhaps not deserve it? Shall we use a measure towards them which we pray God never to use towards ourselves?
If we are commanded to do good to our worst enemies; if we are to be charitable to them, notwithstanding all their spite and malice; surely we are not to deny alms to poor beggars, whom we neither know to be bad people, nor in any way our enemies?'
Our time is very short; but the time of doing good is much shorter: neglect not, then, any opportunity of doing good.2
Say not to thy neighbour, Go and come again, and to morrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee.3
If thou intendest any good, defer it not, but do it to-day, or as soon as thou canst; thou knowest not what chance may happen this very night to prevent it.
Let him that desires to see others happy, make haste to give while his gift can be enjoyed, and remember that every moment of delay takes away something from the value of his benefaction. And let him who proposes his own happiness reflect that, while he forms his purpose, the day rolls on, and "the night cometh in the which no man can work."4
1 Law's Serious Call (abridged from pp. 82, 83, 84.).
Absence of occupation is not rest;
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress'd.
Calls thee to cope with enemies, and first
And since that time it needs not cost much showing,
"Beatus ille procul!" from "negotiis,"
L'action avec un but.4
Viens marchons, avançons dans la vie, ne redoute rien; ce qui est entrepris avec une ardeur si franche ne peut avoir qu'une heureuse issue. On peut toujours ce qu'on veut fortement. Le monde est ingrat, dit-on; je n'ai jamais trouvé qu'il le fût, quand on sait trouver les moyens de la servir, ou de lui plaire.
1 Cowper, Retirement.