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you, which give them a claim to your charity preferably to strangers. They are indeed servants of the public; and so are all industrious poor people, as well as they. But that does not hinder the latter from being more immediately yours. And as their being servants to the public, is a general recommendation of this charity to all other persons, so their being more immediately yours is, surely, a particular recommendation of it to you. Notwithstanding all this, I will not take upon me to say, that every one of you is blameable who does not contribute to your infirmary, for yours it is in a peculiar sense but I will say, that those of you who do, are highly commendable. I will say more, that you promote a very excellent work, which your particular station is a providential call upon you to promote. And there can be no stronger reason than this for doing any thing, except the one reason, that it would be criminal to omit it.
These considerations, methinks, might induce every trader of higher rank in this city, to become a subscriber to the Infirmary which is named from it; and others of you, to contribute somewhat yearly to it, in the way in which smaller contributions are given. This would be a most proper offering, out of your increase, to him whose "blessing maketh rich."* Let it be more or less, "every man according as he purposeth in his heart; not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver."+
The large benefactions of some persons of ability may be necessary in the first establishment of a public charity, and are greatly useful afterwards in maintaining it but the expenses of this before us, in the extent and degree of perfection to which one would hope it might be brought, cannot be effectually supported, any more than the expenses of civil government, without the contribution of great numbers. You have already the assistance
* Prov. x. 22.
† 2 Cor. ix. 7.
of persons of the highest rank and fortune, of which the list of our governors, and the present appearance, are illustrious examples. And their assistance would be far from lessening, by a general contribution to it amongst yourselves. On the contrary, the general contribution to it amongst yourselves, which I have been proposing, would give it still higher repute, and more invite such persons to continue their assistance, and accept the honor of being in its direction. For the greatest persons receive honor from taking the direction of a good work, as they likewise give honor to it. And by these concurrent endeavors, our Infirmary might at length be brought to answer, in some competent measure, to the occasions of our city.
Blessed are they who employ their riches in promoting so excellent a design. The temporal advantages of them are far from coming up, in enjoyment, to what they promise at a distance. But the distinguished privilege, the prerogative of riches is, that they increase our power of doing good. This is their proper use. In proportion as men make this use of them, they imitate Almighty God; and co-operate together with him in promoting the happiness of the world; and may expect the most favorable judgment which their case will admit of, at the last day, upon the general repeated maxim of the gospel, that we shall then be treated ourselves as we now treat others. They have moreover the prayers of all good men, those of them particularly whom they have befriended; and, by such exercise of charity, they improve within themselves the temper of it, which is the very temper of heaven. Consider, next, the peculiar force with which this branch of charity, alms-giving, is recommended to us in these words, "He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; "* and in these of our Saviour, "Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it," relieved the sick and needy, "unto one of the least of
*Prov. xix. 17.
these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' "Beware you do not explain away these passages of Scripture, under the notion, that they have been made to serve superstitious purposes; but ponder them fairly in your heart, and you will feel them to be of irresistible weight. Lastly, let us remember, in how many instances we have all left undone those things which we ought to have done, and done those things which we ought not to have done. Now, whoever has a serious sense of this, will most earnestly desire to supply the good, which he was obliged to have done, but has not, and undo the evil which he has done, or neglected to prevent; and when that is impracticable, to make amends, in some other way, for his offences-I can mean only to our fellow creatures. To make amends, in some way or other, to a particular person, against whom we have offended, either by positive injury, or by neglect, is an express condition of our obtaining forgiveness of God, when it is in our power to make it. And, when it is not, surely the next best thing is, to make amends to society by fervent charity, in a course of doing good; which riches, as I observed, put very much within our power.
How unhappy a choice, then, do those rich men make, who sacrifice all these high prerogatives of their state, to the wretched purposes of dissoluteness and vanity, or to the sordid itch of heaping up, to no purpose at all; whilst, in the mean time, they stand charged with the important trust, in which they are thus unfaithful, and of which a strict account remains to be given.
* Matt. xxv. 40.
PRIMARY VISITATION OF THE DIOCESE OF
DURHAM, IN THE YEAR 1751;
BY THE RIGHT REVEREND FATHER IN GOD,
JOSEPH BUTLER, LL. D.
THEN LORD BISHOP OF THAT DIOCESE,
A DEFENCE OF THE CHARGE AGAINST THE OBJEC
TIONS OF AN ANONYMOUS WRITER,
BY THE EDITOR.