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for educating poor children and placing them in good families: if these means are all brought, by a kind Providence, within your reach, then you cannot neglect them without incurring the guilt of outraging both humanity and benevolence. If you have it in your power to dry up so many sorrows, to remove so many causes of pauperism, by your exertions and example; if the moral and religious preventives of this wasting and spreading disease are placed, by a merciful God, in your hands, will you not hold yourselves solemnly bound to unite in every proper measure for warding off evils so many and so terrible, and for the attainment. of blessings so desirable to the present generation, and so important in their future consequences.?
Think of the difference between a sober, industrious, moral, religious, well-educated, and prosperous people, and an ignorant, upprincipled, unpolished, drinking, quarrelsome, stupid, idle, and beggarly population. Consider what it is that makes this immense difference, and surely you cannot fail of being impressed with the overwhelming importance of our subject. Do you, then, my brethren, pity the poor? Have you any compassion for those who are past feeling for themselves; who are eagerly sacrificing their food and raiment, their reputation, their health, their consciences, their bodies, and their souls on the altars of Bacchus? Have you any feeling for their broken-hearted wives and suffering children? Are your hearts affected with what your eyes see and your ears hear? Does the love of Christ constrain you ? Has the Bible any influence upon your minds ?. Then you will not be • forgetful hearers but doers of the word.' You will unite heart and hand, in persevering exertions to better the condition of those who are now.dependent upon the
aids of charity, and to bring into full operation those moral and religious preventives, which have been pointed out in this discourse. • Blessed is he that considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he shall be blessed upon the earth; and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing; thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.'
What shall I say more? Look a moment, brethren, at the heavy bearing of this subject upon taxation. This is one of the smallest evils attendant upon the alarming prevalence and rapid increase of pauperism. But even this, I think you will say, is no trifle. See how it affects your property. Fifteen hundred, or two thousand dollars annually, is no small sum for a town, containing 2600 inhabitants, to pay for the support of its poor. Possibly one third of this sum is necessary, to maintain such as have been reduced to want by sickness, derangement, unavoidable losses, and other adverse circumstances.
What becomes of the other two thirds, ---of one thousand dollars, at least, paid every year out of your hard earnings ? I need not stop to answer so plain a question. Go to the poor house, and ask from the beginning to the end of the alphabet, How came you here? Go to the grog-shop, and if you can bear the fumes long enough, count up the mysterious marks upon the walls and the shelves.
And will you continue to pay this enormous tax? If you suffer things to go on in their present course, you must pay it, with ten or fifteen per cent in addition, every twelve months. You inay remonstrate and put off, but there is no relief. The day of settlement will come, and the collector must be satisfied.
Have you seriously thought of the subject in this light? Do you consider, that almost every idler and drunkard in the community, is a public pensioner? Are you sensible, when you see men reducing their families to want, by tippling and its attendant vices, that you are made debtors, for all this waste of health, and time, and property? Do you know, that while a man is drinking up his own estate, he is every day lessening the value of yours? That while you stand by and calmly look on, he is actually laying a mortgage upon every foot of your land, which neither you nor your children can ever pay off? This, whether you realize it or not, is capable of mathematical demonstration. Dram-shops are supported at your expense. The revenue of those who subsist by dealing out ardent spirits to hard drinkers, is indirectly drawn from your pockets. You will find it charged to you, with heavy interest, in the rate-book. The intemperale are constantly running you in debt without your consent. They are doing it from day to day, when you are at work, and from night to night, while you are asleep. And are you willing thus to be taxed for that which does „you no good; and to have these accumulating burdens entailed upon your posterity ? I know you are not, and I have pointed out the means of relief.
• Choose you then this day' what you will do; whether you will endeavor to make the tree good, that its fruit may be good ;' whether you will go to work in earnest, to lessen the evils and expenses of existing poverty ; whether you will faithfully test the efficacy of those preventives on which I have insisted, or whether, 'despairing of the Commonwealth,' you will fee before increasing swarms of foreign beggars and resident paupers; and thus exchange the blessings of industry, competence, education,
social enjoyment, and religious order, for hunger and nakedness, ignorance and profligacy, idleness and ruin.
I do not say, that you can certainly banish poverty from your borders. Ye have the poor with you always ; ' and this is wisely ordered, no doubt, that you may have opportunity to show your gratitude to God, and your compassion for suffering humanity, by giving to him that needeth. Sickness, and other adversities, will bring their well substantiated claims to your doors ; but these, presented in behalf of the virtuous and deserving poor, will be few, in comparison with those which are now arrogantly preferred, by lying vagrancy and resident improvidence.
Thus, brethren, have I deliberately given you my sentiments, on a subject which I conscientiously regard, as immensely iinportant to this community. You will judge how far the views which I have expressed, and the arguments which I have adduced, are worthy of your consideration. I am aware, that ingenuity, stimulated by jealousy, and sharpened by privations, may easily misconstrue some parts of this discourse. Idleness and intemperance will most certainly complain of the preacher, as unfriendly to christian liberality. But I am sure no just occasion has been given for such a charge. God forbid, that I should utter a syllable to discourage real charity ; to close a single hand against the deserving poor. I have, on the contrary, appeared, in the integrity of my heart, as their friend and advocate, upon the broadest principles of justice, humanity, and religion. I have pointed out a course of measures, the adoption of which, I firmly believe, would at once prove signal blessings to the poor, and relieve the community from a heavy and most unreasonable burden.