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real charitable persons will approve of these frequent exhortations to charity, even though they should be conscious that they do not themselves stand in need of them, upon account of such as do. And such can possibly have no right to complain of being too often admonished of their duty, till they are pleased to practise it. It is true, indeed, we have the satisfaction of seeing a spirit of beneficence prevail, in a very commendable degree, amongst all ranks of people, and in a very distinguished manner in some persons amongst the highest; yet it is evident, too many of all ranks are very deficient in it, who are of great ability, and of whom much might be expected. Though every thing, therefore, were done in behalf of the poor which is wanted, yet these persons ought repeatedly to be told, how highly blameable they are for letting it be done without them; and done by persons, of whom great numbers must have much less ability than they.
But whoever can really think, that the necessities of the disabled poor are sufficiently provided for already, must be strangely prejudiced. If one were to send you to themselves to be better informed, you would readily answer, that their demands would be very extravagant; that persons are not to be their own judges in claims of justice, much less in those of charity. You, then -I am speaking to the hard people above mentioned -you are to judge, what provision is to be made for the necessitous, so far as it depends upon your contributions. But ought you not to remember, that you are interested, that you are parties in the affair, as well as they? For is not the giver as really so, as the receiver? And as there is danger that the receiver will err one way, is there not danger that the giver may err the other; since it is not matter of arbitrary choice, which has no rule, but matter of real equity, to be considered as in the presence of God, what provision shall be made for the poor? And therefore, though you are yourselves the only judges what you will do in their behalf, for the case admits no other;
yet let me tell you, you will not be impartial, you will not be equitable judges, until you have guarded against the influence which interest is apt to have upon your judgment, and cultivated within you the spirit of charity to balance it. Then you will see the various remaining necessities which call for relief. But that there are many such, must be evident at first sight to the most careless observer, were it only from hence, that both this and the other hospitals are often obliged to reject poor objects which offer, even for want of room, or wards to contain them.
Notwithstanding many persons have need of these admonitions, yet there is a good spirit of beneficence, as I observed, pretty generally prevailing. And I must congratulate you upon the great success it has given to the particular good work before us; great, I think beyond all example, for the time it has subsisted. Nor would it be unsuitable to the present occasion, to recount the particulars of this success. For the necessary accommodations which have been provided, and the numbers who have been relieved, in so short a time, cannot but give high reputation to the London Infirmary. And the reputation of any particular charity, like credit in trade, is so much real advantage, without the inconveniences to which that is sometimes liable. It will bring in contributions for its support; and men of character, as they shall be wanted, to assist in the management of it; men of skill in the professions, men of conduct in business, to perpetuate, improve, and bring it to perfection. So that you, the contributors to this charity, and more especially those of you by whose immediate care and economy it is in so high repute, are encouraged to go on with "your labor of love," not only by the present good, which you see is here done, but likewise by the prospect of what will probably be done, by your means, in future times, when this Infirmary shall become, as I hope it will, no less renowned, than the city in which it is established.
*Heb. vi. 10.
But to see how far it is from being yet complete, for want of contributions, one need only look upon the settled rules of the house for admission of patients. See there the limitations which necessity prescribes, as to the persons to be admitted, Read but that one order, though others might be mentioned, that "none who are judged to be in an asthmatic, consumptive, or dying condition, be admitted on any account whatsoever." Harsh as these words sound, they proceed out of the mouth of charity herself. Charity pronounces it to be better, that poor creatures, who might receive much ease and relief, should be denied it, if their case does not admit of recovery, rather than that others, whose case does admit of it, be left to perish. But it shocks humanity to hear such an alternative mentioned; and to think, that there should be a necessity, as there is at present, for such restrictions, in one of the most beneficent and best managed schemes in the world. May more numerous or larger contributions, at length, open a door to such as these; that what renders their case in the highest degree compassionable, their languishing under incurable diseases, may no longer exclude them from the house of mercy!
But besides the persons to whom I have been now more particularly speaking, there are others, who do not cast about for excuses for not contributing to the relief of the necessitous, perhaps are rather disposed to relieve them, who yet are not so careful as they ought to be, to put themselves into a capacity of doing it. For we are as really accountable for not doing the good which we might have in our power to do, if we could manage our affairs with prudence, as we are for not doing the good which is in our power now at present. And hence arise the obligations of economy upon people in the highest, as well as in the lower stations of life, in order to enable themselves to do that good, which, without economy, both of them must be incapable of; even though, without it, they could answer the strict demands of justice, which yet we find neither of them can.
man showeth favor, and lendeth; and," to enable himself to do so," he will guide his affairs with discretion."* For want of this, many a one has reduced his family to the necessity of asking relief from those public charities, to which he might have left them in a condition of largely contributing.
As economy is the duty of all persons without exception, frugality and diligence are duties which particularly belong to the middle, as well as lower ranks of men; and more particularly still, to persons in trade and commerce, whatever their fortunes be. For trade and commerce cannot otherwise be carried on, but is plainy inconsistent with idleness and profusion; though, indeed, were it only from regard to propriety, and to avoid being absurd, every one should conform his behaviour to what his situation in life requires, without which the order of society must be broken in upon. And considering how inherited riches, and a life of leisure, are often employed, the generality of mankind have cause to be thankful, that their station exempts them from so great temptations; that it engages them in a sober care of their expenses, and in a course of application to business : especially as these virtues, moreover, tend to give them, what is an excellent groundwork for all others, a stayed equality of temper and command of their passions. But when a man is diligent and frugal, in order to have it in his power to do good; when he is more industrious, or more sparing, perhaps, than his circumstances necessarily require, that he may "have to give to him that needeth;" when he "labors in order to support the weak; "I such care of his affairs is itself charity, and the actual beneficence which it enables him to practise, is additional charity.
You will easily see, why I insist thus upon these things, because I would particularly recommend the good work before us to all ranks of people in this great city. And I
* Psal. cxii. 5.
Acts. xx. 35.
† Eph. iv. 28.
think I have reason to do so, from the consideration, that it very particularly belongs to them to promote it. The gospel, indeed, teaches us to look upon every one in distress as our neighbor, yet neighborhood, in the literal sense, and likewise several other circumstances, are providential recommendations of such and such charities, and excitements to them; without which the necessitous would suffer much more than they do at present. For our general disposition to beneficence would not be sufficiently directed, and, in other respects, would be very ineffectual, if it were not called forth into action by some or other of those providential circumstances, which form particular relations between the rich and the poor, and are, of course, regarded by every one in some degree. But, though many persons among you, both in the way of contributions, and in other ways no less useful, have done even more than was to be expected, yet I must be allowed to say, that I do not think the relation the inhabitants of this city bear to the persons for whom our Infirmary was principally designed, is sufficiently attended to by the generality; which may be owing to its late establishment. It is, you know, designed principally for "diseased manufacturers, seamen in merchant service, and their wives and children;" and poor manufacturers comprehend all who are employed in any labor whatever, belonging to trade and commerce. The description of these objects shows their relation, and a very near one it is to you, my neighbors, the inhabitants of this city. If any of your domestic servants were disabled by sickness, there is none of you but would think himself bound to do somewhat for their relief. Now these seamen and manufacturers are employed in our immediate business. They are servants of merchants, and other principal traders; as much your servants as if they lived under your roof; though, by their not doing so, the relation is less in sight. And supposing they do not all depend upon traders of lower rank, in exactly the same manner, yet many of them do; and they have all connexions with