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strument of great good. But from larger experience, and larger knowledge, we look for still more important results of it.
We would state as our second principle, and it is a fundamental one, that beggary is as far as possible to be broken up, — and especially, beggary by children.
Law can punish vagrancy and imposture. But it can. not reach the beginnings of these great evils. How then is beggary to be arrested at the stages short of vagrancy and imposture? We have attempted, and we think we have done something for this object. We have done something for it, by carrying the principle which we have stated into our visits to the families we have found disposed to live by beggary. We have availed ourselves of these visits for obtaining a larger knowledge, and a stronger impression, of the causes and evils of beggary ; and we have given each other the light of our observations in the cases which have come under our notice. We have also adopted the rule, that, as far as our influence can be extended, no child that is sent out to beg shall in aly case receive alms in the hours in which children who go to school are in the schools of the city. Parents who so employ their children have to a considerable extent been taught, and they are universally to be taught, not only that they will obtain nothing from us by keeping their children from school, but that it is even a condition on which necessary aid will be dispensed to them, that they shall send their children to school, and faithfully keep them there. We earnestly wish that this rule might be adopted by the families throughout our community.
Another rule, or principle in relation to beggary, is, that individuals and families that ask for alms, are to be relieved only at their homes, and after a personal examination of each case; and that relief in these cases, when
given, is to be, not in money, but in the necessaries required in the case. We cannot, indeed, look for the adoption of this rule by any but visiters of the poor; and even by them, as a general rule, it may be supposed to admit of exceptions. But we would remark, that the exceptions to it cannot be too few. We feel quite sure, that a faithful regard to it will secure much additional comfort to the virtuous among the poor, and often at a considerably less cost than that which would otherwise be required; — while it will do much for the correction and prevention of abuses.
In this connexion, also, although comprehended but incidentally in the measures of this Association, may be mentioned the Ticket System of the Office of the Visiters of the Poor. This system belongs particularly to the operations of the Ministry at large. Yet it comes directly and strongly in aid of the objects of this Association, in respect to beggary. It is well known to the Association that Tickets of direction to this office are sold to any who are disposed to have them; and that one of these Tickets, given to any applicant for alms, and brought by the receiver to our office, is understood to express the wish of the giver of the Ticket, that the bearer of it should be an object of the attention of one of the Ministers at large, To some extent we have availed ourselves of the aid of other Visiters of the Poor, in securing a proper attention to the cases thus referred to us, while we have made it a rule, and have felt it our duły, as far as possible, to visit those thus commended to our notice. We do not, however, intend by this system, and we wish it to be known that we do not intend by it, to transfer care for the Poor from others to ourselves. Every individual who has the means of aiding and comforting those who have need of aid and comfort, is bound by the principles of our common humanity, as well as by those of the Gospel, to
such an extent as he can, to be a personal friend and visiter of some of the poor and suffering of his fellow-beings. There should be connexions of kindness, of sympathy and interest, between every rich family and certain families of the poor. Not only would we not disturb this union where it exists, but we are greatly desirous of extending it. In truth, the rich families and individuals who live without this connexion with the poor, are far greater losers by their neglect of it, than are even the poor. Far closer, also, than it is, should be the connexion between the poor of our Religious Societies, and the congregations with which they worship. The thought is a painful one, how very small and feeble is the sympathy which is felt by the members of these societies with one another ! Surely no poor person, who is a regular wor. shipper with any religious congregation, should be allowed to depend for alms either upon Benevolent Societies, or upon Overseers of the Poor. Without reference to the question of Church-membership, they should be in the charge of individuals, or of families, of the congregations to which they belong; or of officers in these congregations entrusted with the charge of their poor members. It is objected, that the recognition and maintenance of this principle would bring great numbers of the poor into our Religious Societies, with a view to the alms to be obtained through this connexion ? And suppose it should ? Might not this very circumstance, if wisely availed of, be made an important means of the best Christian improvement, both of the rich and of the poor? Would it not furnish such facilities as cannot otherwise be obtained, for raising and improving character among the poor? And in what higher or worthier service can the prosperous of a Religious Society be employed, than that of a faith. ful discharge of the Christian Offices to which they would
thus be called for the poor members of their own body? We believe that few means would be so effectual for the suppression of beggary, the prevention of pauperism, the diminution of public taxation for the poor, and the extension of a Christian spirit through a community, as a faithful care on the part of all Religious Societies of all the poor who may choose regularly to worship with them. We refer even to a care for them, which will induce the poor to join our Religious Societies, that they may be objects of the care of these Societies. Let this care be committed to proper instruments in these Societies, – to those who will take and maintain it with the spirit of men and Christians, and theirs will be among the most effectual of the ministrations of the Church, for the advancement within itself of the objects and spirit of Christianity. When our Tickets are brought to us by those who tell us that they regularly worship with any Religious Society among us, we refer them to the Ministers of those Societies. In all cases, however, in which a stranger shall ask for alms, either at the homes of our citizens, or in the streets, and when an investigation of the case cannot be made by one who shall be so applied to, let one of our Tickets be given instead of money; and thus let the case be referred to the Ministers at large. A benevolent mind, which shrinks from the thought of a refusal to give, where the seeming claims of the applicant are strong, and yet fears to give least the charity should be abused, must find no small relief in being thus enabled to refer the case to those, who are pledged to an examination of it. We believe that a great check to beggary was given by this system during the last winter. We trust also, that, by the same means, more may be done in this cause in the coming winter. We would, indeed, respect the beggar, however abject may be his condition ; for he is
a man, — a child of our own Father, even God, and our fellow-immortal. We would, therefore, do all that we may for his best good and happiness. But we believe, and must act upon the belief, that it is hardly possible to live by beggary, and to live virtuously. We think it almost certain, that the boy who shall be reared to beggary will be a pauper for life; and that the beggar girl, if not early rescued, will be irretrievably lost. — Were the suppression of beggary, then, and the discovery and application of right principles for its attainment, our only object, very great would be the moral interests of our Association, and great its claims upon each of its members.*