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originating without voluntary wrong-doing in one's own soul, as the tendency of oppressive want? And does it not require equal moral courage successfully to resist it?
I make these remarks in the persuasion that injustice has sometimes been done to the Rich, and from the conviction that their situation is, no more than that of the Poor, entirely favorable to the growth of the spiritual nature, or altogether without obstacles to that grwth. They do not live free from gross material incumbrances any more than the Poor. But, like the Poor, they are placed in the midst of the mechanical and the circumstantial. Their worldly condition is, in some respects, favorable to virtue, in other respects adverse to it. So is that of the Poor. And the Rich man, no more than the Poor man, can reach great spirituality of character without strong and sustained resistance to sore temptations. If these things be so, I ask, in the first place, if the Rich, as well as the Poor, do not need to feel such an influence as that of the Ministry at large ?
But, if these things be so, I ask, also, in the second place, if a portion of the Rich are not already placed in the light of men deserving the hearty thanks of all true lovers of humanity ? For whence has sprung this Ministry at large ? Is it not from the Rich ? . Is not the Ministry itself, in great measure, their own good deed ? Count its benefactors, - yes, its best benefactors, and you will answer, it is in truth the living seed of those who, rich in gold, have been rich also in good works. And, as an outward kindness strengthens the principle of love in the soul, shall not their blessed performance act back upon their hearts to confirm and increase the noble disposition that has already done so much ? And shall not those, who have learned so pure a love, by their holy zeal extend it to hearts in which it has not yet begun to burn? He, who, twenty years ago, should have predicted that Boston soil would now hold up two such buildings as the Chapels in Warren Street and Pitts Street, would have prophesied to the winds. And those Chapels, while they are noble monuments to the honor of those who have built them for the human soul, in a clear vision of its nature and wants, stand a silent reproach to any man, who will not acknowledge the generosity to which they testify.
Nay,—it is not those alone, that have given aid in this way, of whom I speak, when I say that the Ministry at large is, in great measure, a living deed of the Rich. There are those, and not a few, from the Rich, actually engaged in this Ministry, and making a part of it. The young, the bright and beautiful, from the Rich, are continually going to the poor widow and the destitute child with pure hands full of blessings. They are weaving, though the sound of the loom is not heard, The strong silken bonds that shall, at length, unite all men in one family of little children living in the smile of their great Parent. The world knows them not, nor praises them with its lips, It will feel their power and praise them with its character and joy ages hence. And what praise even now could be more touching than the swist ascent to God of their names in many a comforted, blest spirit's Prayer! What reward so rich as the answer from heaven to that Prayer !
From the preliminary hints already given on this point , I proceed to its more systematic exposition. The influence in question seems to me to be threefold. First, in helping the Rich to form a true idea of the great object of life and society. Secondly, in doing something to inspire the living sentiment that shall make that idea effectual in prompting them to a pursuit of the object it contemplates. And lastly, in exciting their active powers and drawing forth their personal endeavors in real manifestation of the thought of their mind and the feeling of their heart.
First, then, it helps them to form a true idea of the great object of life and society. The very existence of this Ministry is nothing but a clear, living assertion, that this object is the spiritual education of the human soul, and of every human soul:in as much as to this end the Ministry was established, and is devoted. And the importance of this end it ever struggles to set forth to others, not seeming to understand it in its clear light and full proportions. Very many of the benevolent plans and institutions of the present day are, on the contrary, concerned chiefly in the removal of this life's pains and troubles. Let all, then, understand that the relief of these is not a special object of the Ministry at large. It
would not, indeed, pass them by in the mood of cold apathy. It would not refuse to extend direct relief where absolute necessity cries for it. Still it considers these things as but minor evils,-indeed not as essential evils at all,--but as, for the most part, only manifestations which indicate a deep, enduring wretchedness within. In its devotion to an assuaging of the spirit's fierce anguish it hardly minds its own or any other tears for the exposures and trials of the spirit's fleshly frame. And thus, I say, it helps the Rich to form a true idea of the great object of life and society.
I say it helps the Rich to form it. For they are in danger of turning away from this great object. How many of this world's sights and motions, and plans and operations, are necessarily, in their view, directed to a different object. The application of their capital wakes industry, and keeps the world in continual stir. And all the busy striving, as it springs out from their accumulated interests, so it moves through its many rough paths and wide circles, only to gather wherewith it may return to lift these interests higher still. Thus are they in great danger of supposing, at least of acting on the belief, that the great object of life and society is to build up the outward,--to vex the sea for the gain of traffic,-to weary the earth and exhaust its powers, delving in it for gold, piling it with splendid structures,-binding it with railroads,and hewing down its rocks and boring its mountains for canals. I would not blame this perpetual toil upon the outward. I believe not as some seem to believe, with certain old philosophers, in the essential malignity of matter. Indeed what new joy must all the good feel in beholding man's intellect boldly piercing the material universe and subjecting its powers to his use, could they know the spiritual were the motive and would be the result. But, on the contrary, calm observation sees the great danger there is that the mechanical and the worldlv will swallow up and mount above the spiritual, instead of being made its expression and producing cause. And, therefore, I feel justified in saying that such an institution as the Ministry for the Poor is called for by a necessity of the Rich,—and that it conveys to the Rich a real
blessing in helping them to form a true idea of the great object of life and society.
I have said that the Ministry at large helps in the forming of this idea. I may, perhaps, be allowed to say it with some emphasis. Every spiritual agent, indeed, that is at work, does it in some degree. Every faithful and truly spiritual Minister, wherever he stands, and to whomsoever he speaks, does it. But is it too much to affirm, that such an institution as the Ministry at large is absolutely needed to fulfill the work, and that it acts with a special power in its actual fulfillment? If a large portion of society were left with souls uncared for, such a fact would fearfully darken what I have set forth as the great object to be pursued. If the Rich only have regu. lar worship, and if Churches and Pews, and Preachers were beyond the reach of the Poor, Religion would seem a part of the artificial work of society, rather than the living spirit which should act in itself, producing society and determining its form. And the object of Religion would appear to be to satisfy certain desires of a particular class,—desires incidental to the existence of that class, --and not to answer the deep, universal, undying wants of the individual soul.
But when, on demonstration of the fact, that a large portion of the community are practically without the Church-pale, this state of things is viewed as an enormity of our civilization, and a Christian institution is formed with the special purpose of educating for immortal life this neglected portion, and is kept perpetually and vigorously at work to this simple end, then is it proper, as I believe, to say with emphasis, that this Institution helps in forming a true idea of the great object of life and society.
And, in reference to this first point, I will only ask, if that be not a great service which is thus rendered by the Ministry at large? Is it not a great moral benefit, that, in the complicated plans of business, the bargaining and clamoring of the market-place, the hot chase after perishing goods, the lax business-morality whose hurtful vapors are breathed in like the surrounding air,--that in these circnmstances, the merchant, the speculator, the
contractor, should thus have a pure, spiritual, eternal object ever holden up before their eyes, -50 that, like the children of Israel bitten of the poisonous reptiles, and looking up for their cure at the serpent of brass Moses made in the wilderness,--they may behold this object and live. Men are sometimes angry at what they deem the obtrusion of good objects upon them. But would not even the obtrusion of such an object, in such circumstances, be a great blessing?
But, secondly, if the effect now described were the only one exerted upon the Rich, by the Ministry at large, its influence would be very incomplete. It is not enough that a good object is placed before us, however clearly, if we do nothing but gaze at it, and then, like certain philanthropists an Ancient Book speaks of, pass by on the other side.' I say, then, in the next place, that this Ministry exerts another influence in adding to a true idea of the great object, the living sentiment, which prompts to its pursuit. This second influence is even more nego lected by other agents than the first. The true idea of the human soul is neither new, nor infrequently set forth. And the Ministry at large only helps a work, at which many hands are busy, when by the fact of its institution and the exhibition of its leading traits, it displays the essential equality and uniformity of human nature, human wants and destinies. We have exercised our intellects times without number for many years upon human equality, as a fine speculation. The powers of the human soul have been the burden of uncounted discourses and orations. Every writer, high and humble, has tried his strength in developing the splendid idea. It has now been placed before us simply and in the sober light of day, and now the light of imagination has played upon and glanced through it, and quick-moving fancy brought for its adornment garlands made from every flower of every hue. It has been, at one time, wrought into the plainest textures, at another, woven in cloth of gold. But it is not enough for us to prepare, or be charmed with the most eloquent descriptions. Fatal for the philosopher, who can see the beauty of the thought, and fatal for society, that ought in all its members with