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abound in wealth to be that of murmuring and repining, that God hath dealt his blessings unequally to the sons of men, I thought it would be of great use to remove out of your minds so false and wicked an opinion, by showing that your condition is really happier than most of you imagine.
First, Therefore it hath been always agreed in the world that the present happiness of mankind consisted in the ease of our body, and the quiet of our mind; but, from what has been already said, it plainly appears that neither wealth nor power do in any sort contribute to either of these two blessings. If, on the contrary, by multiplying our desires they increase our discontents; if they destroy our health, gall us with painful diseases, and shorten our life; if they expose us to hatred, to envy, to censure, to a thousand templations, it is not easy to see why a wise man should make them his choice for their own sake, although it were in his power. Would any of
you who are in health and strength of body, with moderato food and raiment earned by your own labor, rather choose to be in the rich man's bed under the torture of the gout, unable to take your natural rest or natural nourishment, with the additional load of a guilty conscience reproaching you for injustice, oppressions, covetousness, and fraud ? No; but you would take the riches and power, and leave behind the inconveniences that attend them; and so would every man living. But that is more than our share, and God never intended this world for such a place of rest as we would make it; for the Scripture assureth us that it was only designed as a place of trial. Nothing is more frequent than a man to wish himself in another's condition, yet he seldom doth it without some reserve; he would not be so old, he would not be so sickly, he would not be so cruel, he would not be so insolent, he would not be so vicious, he would not be so oppressive, so griping, and so on. Whence it is plain that, in their own judgment, men are not so unequally dealt with as they would at first sight imagine ; for if I would not change my condition with another man without any exception or reservation at all, I am in reality more happy than he.
Secondly, You of the meaner sort are subject to fewer temptations than the rich, and therefore your vices are more unpardonable. Labor subdueth your appetites to be satisfied with common things; the business of your several callings filleth up your whole time; so that idleness, which is the bane and destruction of virtue, doth not lead you into the neighborhood of sin: your passions are cooler by not being inflamed with excess, and therefore the gate and the way
that leads to life are not so strait and so narrow to you as to those who live
all the allurements to wickedness. To serve God with the best of your care and understanding, and to be just and true in your dealings, is the short sum of your duty, and will be the more strictly required of you because nothing lieth in the way to divert
from it. Thirdly, It is plain from what I have said that you of the lower rank have no just reason to complain of your condition; because, as you plainly see, it affordeth you so many advantages, and freeth you from so many vexations, so many distempers, both of body and mind, which pursue and torment the rich and powerful.
Fourthly, You are to remember and apply, that the poorest person is not excused from doing good to others, and even relieving the wants of his distressed neighbor, according to his abilities; and if you perform your duty in this point, you far outdo the greatest liberalities of the rich, and will accordingly be accepted of by God and get your reward : for it is our Savior's own doctrine when the widow gave her two mites. The rich give out of their abundance; that is to say, what they give they do not feel it in their
of living; but the poor man who giveth out of his little stock, must spare it from the necessary food and raiment of himself and his family. And therefore our Savior adds, “That the widow gave more than all who went before her, for she gave all she had, even all her living,” and so went home utterly unprovided to supply her necessities.
Lastly, As it appeareth from what hath been said, that you in the lower rank have in reality a greater share of happiness, your work of salvation is easier by your being liable to fewer temptations; and as your reward in heaven is much more certain than it is to the rich if you seriously perform your duty, for yours is the kingdom of heaven: so your neglect of it will be less excusable, will meet with fewer allowances from God, and will be punished with double stripes; for the most unknowing among you cannot plead ignorance of what you have been so early taught, I hope so often instructed
I in, and which is so easy to be understood, I mean the art of leading a life agreeable to the plain and positive laws of God. Perhaps you may think you lie under one disadvantage which the great and rich have not, that idleness will certainly reduce you to beggary; whereas those who abound in wealth lie under no necessity either of labor or temperance to keep enough to live on. But this is indeed one part of your happiness, that the lowness of your condition in a manner forceth you to what is pleasing to God and necessary
for your daily support. Thus your duty and interest are always the
To conclude: Since our blessed Lord, instead of a rich and honorable station in this world, was pleased to choose his lot among men of the lower condition, let not those on whom the bounty of Providence hath bestowed wealth and honors despise the men who are placed in a humble and inferior station ; but rather with their utmost power, by their countenance, by their protection, by just payment of their honest labor, encourage their daily endeavors for the virtuous support of themselves and their families. On the other hand, let the poor labor to provide things honest in the sight of all men; and so, with diligence in their several employments, live soberly, righteously, and godlily in this present world, that they may obtain that glorious reward promised in the gospel to the poor, I mean the kingdom of heaven.
Now to God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, be praises for ever and ever. Amen.
SERMON THE NINTH.
ON THE CAUSES OF THE WRETCHED CONDITION OF IRELAND.1
PSALM cxliv. 13, 14.
That there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is the people that is in such
It is a very melancholy reflection that such a country as ours, which is capable of producing all things necessary and most things convenient for life, sufficient for the support of four times the number of its inhabitants, should yet lie under the heaviest load of misery and want; our streets crowded with beggars, so many of our lower sort of tradesmen, laborers and artificers not able to find clothes and food for their families.
I think it may therefore be of some use to lay before you the chief causes of this wretched condition we are in, and then it will be easier to assign what remedies are in our power toward removing at least some part of these evils.
For it is ever to be lamented that we lie under many disadvan
* This is not properly a serinon, but a political dissertation, and it is worthy of the subject and the author.
tages, not by our own faults, which are peculiar to ourselves, and of which no other nation under heaven hath any reason to complain.
I shall therefore first mention some causes of our miseries, which I doubt are not to be remedied, until God shall put it into the hearts of those who are the stronger to allow us the common rights and privileges of brethren, fellow-subjects, and even of mankind.
The first cause of our misery is the intolerable hardships we lie under in every branch of trade, by which we are become as hewers of wood and drawers of water to our rigorous neighbors.
The second cause of our miserable state is the folly, the vanity, and ingratitude of those vast numbers who think themselves too good to live in the country which gave them birth, and still gives them bread; and rather choose to pass their days and consume their wealth, and draw out the very vitals of their mother kingdom among those who heartily despise them.
These I have but lightly touched on, because I fear they ore not to be redressed; and besides, I am very sensible how ready some people are to take offence at the honest truth; and for that reason I shall omit several other grievances under which we are long likely
I shall therefore go on to relate some other causes of this nation's poverty, by which, if they continue much longer, it must infallibly sink to utter ruin.
The first is, that monstrous pride and vanity in both sexes, especially the weaker sex, who in the midst of poverty are suffered to run into all kind of expense and extravagance in dress; and particularly priding themselves to wear nothing but what cometh from abroad, disdaining the growth or manufacture of their own country, in those articles with which they can be better served at home at half the expense; and this is grown to such a height, that they will carry the whole yearly rent of a good estate at once on their body. And as there is in that sex a spirit of envy, by which they cannot endure to see others in a better habit than themselves, so those whose fortunes can hardly support their families in the necessaries of life will needs vie with the richest and greatest among us, to the ruin of themselves and their posterity.
Neither are the men less guilty of this pernicious folly, who, in imitation of a gaudiness and foppery of dress introduced of late years into our neighboring kingdom (as fools are apt to imitate only the defects of their betters), cannot find materials in their own country worthy to adorn their bodies of clay, while their minds are naked of every valuable quality.
Thus our tradesmen and shopkeepers who deal in home goods are left in a starving condition, and only those encouraged who ruin the kingdom by importing among us foreign vanities.
Another cause of our low condition is our great luxury; the chief support of which is the materials of it brought to the nation in exchange for the few valuable things left us, whereby so many thcusand families want the very necessaries of life.
Thirdly, In most parts of this kingdom the natives are from their infancy so given up to idleness and sloth that they often choose to beg or steal, rather than support themselves with their own labor; they marry without the least view or thought of being able to make any provision for their families; and whereas, in all industrious nations, children are looked on as a help to their parents, with us, for want of being early trained to work, they are an intolerable burden at home, and a grievous charge upon the public; as appeareth from the vast number of ragged and naked children in town and country, led about by strolling women, trained up in ignorance, and all manner of vice.
Lastly, A great cause of this nation's misery is, that Egyptian bondage of cruel, oppressing, covetous landlords ; expecting that all who live under them should make bricks without straw; who grieve and envy when they see a tenant of their own in a whole coat, or able to afford one comfortable meal in a month; by which the spirits of the people are broken and made fit for slavery: the farmers and cottagers almost through the whole kingdom being, to all intents and purposes, as real beggars as any of those to whom we give charity in the streets. And these cruel landlords are every day unpeopling the kingdom, by forbidding their miserable tenants to till the earth, against common reason and justice, and contrary to the practice and prudence of all other nations; by which numberless families have been forced either to leave the kingdom, or stroll about and increase the number of our thieves and beggars.
Such and much worse is our condition at present, if I had leisure or liberty to lay it before you; and therefore, the next thing which might be considered is, whether there may be any probable remedy found, at least against some part of these evils, for most of them are wholly desperate.
But this being too large a subject to be now handled, and the intent of my discourse confining me to give some directions concern
poor of the city, I shall keep myself within those limits. It is indeed in the power of the lawgivers to found a school in every