Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

of mind, that is produced by luxury and indolence, might sorrow and repine, while surrounded with blessings of every kind. But those who enjoy mediocrity, are equally removed from the real distresses of poverty, and the imaginary, though often no less severe calamities of wealth. Their lot therefore is fallen on a good ground, where the virtues of industry and temperance may be exerted with the most beneficial effects; and where no insuperable barriers oppose their progress to higher stations. They are neither checked, at their first outset, by hopeless despondency, nor are their powers lost in that satiety of enjoyment, which opulence too often affords. By laudable exertions, they may improve the respective talents entrusted to their care, without any imputation of covetousness; and the fruits of their industry may make that provision for themselves and their own houshold, which Christianity not only permits, but enjoins.

Yet, in doing this, let them remember that the same divine authority, which tells them "not to be slothful in business," bids them take heed lest they violate the sacred duties of justice, and neighbourly love, by indulging any concealed fraud, avarice, or oppression. The

virtues and the vices of men, we may remark, are a kind of reciprocals; and exhortations to the one, and dissuasives from the other, are nearly of the same import. In encouraging ( those in middle life to industry and activity, we sufficiently warn them against idleness and selfindulgence; and in the practice of almost every duty, there are extremes bordering on vice and fully, which require both the vigilance and prayer commanded in the text to guard against.

But, to descend to particulars-Let those, who rank in the middle classes of society, be-i, ware how they in any form or degree oppress the Poor; and, by reflecting on what it is their duty to do, they may learn what transgressions i 3 and omissions they ought to avoid.

se q

Let it be considered that to them, chiefly, the Poor look up for instruction, employment, and relief. Between the highest orders of the community and the lowest, unfortunately, there is scarcely any intercourse. It is with those in middle life, that the Poor are connected in the numerous and useful relations of servants, la-a bourers, artizans, and manufacturers. And let the merchant, the husbandman, and trader reflect, that it is chiefly by the work of their hands that they grow rich, and must depend for future..

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

comfort and support. This should teach themi at all times, to respect the usefulness of their humble station; and to be particularly kind to them under their little hardships and misforu tunes, considering, that what are trifling losses it and calamities to some, might be attended witho irretrievable ruin to others. Sickness, moreni especially, should claim a large portion of that b "charity which is the bond of perfectness;" asot should also those inclement seasons, which pre clude many kinds of labor, and those long and dreary intervals, when, from a state of warfare," the caprices of fashion, and other causes, the artist and manufacturer might be deprived of their daily employment, and consequently of their daily bread.

On all occasions, indeed, those who enjoy the privileges of masters, should learn to be "kind, t knowing that they also have a Master in hea ven." When no unusual circumstances call for particular attention, they should in their general ai treatment and conversation "be, as the apostle exhorts, pitiful and courteous;"-avoiding all unnecessary harshness, they should be models! of conduct to them in the humble circle, where t they also are required to act and govern, as mas ters of housholds, and fathers of families;d:



models that would be more generally imitated were they more generally known: but the misfortune is, that the relation between the master and the servant, in many instances, and between the employer and the employed, is too distant-there is unavoidably, perhaps, in the present state of society, too little personal intercourse between them. What is worse, the rich now shrink from the important office of guardians and superintendants of the poor; and therefore every thing that tends to raise or sink their condition,-every thing that is generously meant to increase the poor man's comforts, or that might serve ultimately, but unintentionally, to add to his hardships, by diminishing exertion, and quenching the last spark of independence in his heart, reaches him through the medium of under agents, with this peculiar disadvantage, that the good is generally diminished, and the evil is always increased.

This neglect is productive of much depravity among our poor brethren, while it greatly augments their difficulties and distresses. Were they not a sort of insulated body, as it were, in society, but more particularly in the metro'polis, (where, it must be allowed, it would be extremely difficult to remedy this, and many

other evils) were they not cut off from almost every communication with their betters, they would learn to speak and act from a sense of shame, and fear, like other men. Admitted to some little intercourse with those who rank above them, they would often be proud of the advantages, which it afforded, and studiously improve them. No longer considered merely as beings that live only to labor, and labor only to live, they would learn to respect themselves. Their principles and their manners would thus insensibly grow better. They would become wiser and more prudent in managing their little store, -more temperate and frugal in the use of it. Excited by proper examples, they would more frequently attend the places of public worship; nor so shamefully profane the Sabbath as many thousands do at present, spending the hallowed time in vice and idleness, or else, perhaps, in brawls and breaches of the public peace, exhibiting themselves also in such forms of wretchedness, as disgrace humanity, and shocking the ears of common decency almost as often as they speak. But, instead of enjoying the benefits, that are derived from good examples, and an intercourse with their betters, they are exposed to all the contagion that spreads from bad ones,

« AnteriorContinua »