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ALL the brethren of the poor do hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him! he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their
POVERTY is a condition in life, which is not necessarily connected with any particular grade of moral character; in itself it is neither a reproach nor a merit, and it may be associated with the highest worth or the greatest turpitude. A man can no more be entitled to heaven on account of his poverty, than he can on account of his wealth; although we have reason to believe that the former condition is more favourable to the cultivation of the Christian temper. Both conditions have their peculiar temptations, but those of wealth are the most formidable. We should, however, distinguish between the poverty which has resulted from vice, and that which befalls a person in the ordinary course of the divine providence. Whilst the former is ordinarily the worst possible condition of human life, the latter may prove the most favourable to virtue. We say this in full view of the usual attend
ants of poverty. The poor are generally neglected, often despised, and, as Solomon says, even "hated by their own neighbours;" their opinions are little regarded, their friendship unsought, and their fate contemplated without concern; but all this may prove eminently serviceable in weaning them from the world, and fixing their thoughts on heaven. Although wealth may confer artificial distinctions, it cannot purchase happiness; but poverty may be dignified by virtue, and consist with true enjoyment. It is not the privilege of the rich to despise the poor, nor is it justifiable in the poor to envy and hate the rich. Differing, as they do, in outward circumstances, in the sight of God they meet together on an equality, and "he is the ruler of them all."
For the poor there should be sympathy, not of that kind which expends itself in words of condolence, and which merely says, "be ye warmed and be ye filled;" but that which, while it consoles and lightens the sorrows of the poor, more substantially aids in diminishing their burdens. It is our sacred duty to minister to the wants of the needy; and perhaps one of the heaviest items in the account of the rich, will be their indifference and heartlessness towards their suffering brethren, who would be satisfied with the crumbs of their superfluity.
That is a noble charity which deviseth liberal things and penetrates into the recesses of human woe, to carry relief to the wretched. How many are the sons and daughters of poverty, whose pangs would be mitigated by the sympathy of the benevolent visitor; and whose beds of sickness and suffering would be softened by cheaply purchased comforts.
If to neglect the poor be a sin, to oppress them is a crime of deeper dye. It is both unmanly and base to trample on those who are already prostrated, and to impose on those who are incapable of self-defence. To grind the faces of the poor by exacting labour without suitable remuneration, is a heinous crime. The cry of the poor labourer, who is defrauded of his wages, will be heard by the Most High; and especially will unprotected and destitute females, who abound in our large cities, and are suffered to pine away in poverty, while ceaselessly toiling to minister to the comforts and luxuries of the rich, find an almighty Advocate, who will defend their cause, and "spoil the soul of those who spoiled them."
Remember, my soul, that He that was rich in all the attributes of Godhead, became poor that thou, through his poverty, mightest become rich. During his earthly ministry he chose to be poor; the poor he sought as his companions; from them he selected his disciples; to them he most graciously ministered. Imitate his example. Despise not those whom he regarded with favour; oppress not those whom it was his delight to relieve. If thou wouldst have self-satisfaction, have mercy on the poor; if thou wouldst lend to the Lord, freely disburse thy charities. Thou wast poor, when Jesus enriched thee by his grace; and it is thy duty not only to relieve the bodily wants of the poor, but to instruct them in the way of salvation, that they may become heirs of the kingdom. If thou shouldst be reduced to want thyself, repine not at thy lot; but aim more steadfastly at that inheritance which is incorruptible in the heavens. Be poor in spirit, and "rich in faith and every good work.
MERCY AND CRUELTY.
THE merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
If thou sayest, Behold, we know it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it ? and he that keepeth thy soul,
doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
A BEAUTIFUL exemplification of a humane and merciful disposition is presented to us in the conduct of the Samaritan towards the Jew, who had been robbed and wounded on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho. The Priest and Levite had unfeelingly deserted their hapless countryman to his fate; but the Samaritan, notwithstanding the bitter feud subsisting between his own nation and that of the Jews, no sooner beheld his condition, than, extinguishing every feeling of national hostility, he ran to his succour, and left him not until he had placed him in a situation of comfort and safety.
As an extreme example of the contrary disposition, we adduce the horrid cruelties perpetrated by the Spanish Inquisitors, than which, nothing can better illustrate the atrocious barbarity, of which the heart of man can become guilty, under circumstances favourable to its development.
Under suitable cultivation, the finer sensibilities of the heart may be preserved and improved; and by a different treatment they may easily be blunted, and ultimately obliterated. Cruelty may be traced back,
through various gradations, to an unfeeling disregard of another's welfare. In its first acts, it may be scarcely noticed; in its maturer exhibitions it is frightful and appalling. The man who has become a monster of iniquity, with a heart dead to every generous impulse, was once a child, playful and comparatively innocent; then he would shrink instinctively from an act of cruelty, now he can without compunction imbrue his hands in the blood of his fellow-man. Cruelty to inferior animals is often the precursor of that which is of a darker hue.
Such is the virtue, and such its opposite vice. To possess the first, every humane feeling must be carefully cherished, and the heart be made to respond to every cry of misery. Repeated acts of benevolence will impart vigour to a merciful disposition; while every feeling of inhumanity will tend to foster the opposite disposition.
It is a characteristic trait of heathenism that it is cruel, and its spirit is observable not only in the social relations, but in the character of its gods and the bloody rites of its religion. The spirit of Christianity, on the contrary, is merciful; and the institutions of pure benevolence, which spring up under its fostering influence, as a refuge for the poor and suffering, are an exemplification of its benign character. Those who have imbibed most of its spirit are most intent on mitigating human suffering, and most assiduous in ministering to the miserable. He that can causelessly inflict pain on another, or triumph in his calamity, has not the spirit of Him who wept over the miseries which were about to befall his relentless persecutors.
While humanity is shocked at the career of a Cæsar