Abbildungen der Seite

Our third principle respects those who are called the able bodied poor. It is, that the 'alms which interfere

those who call themselves believers in Christianity. With this spirit it is the great object of the Gospel to embue each one of its believers. Through its great principles of virtue, duty, and faith, it would bring about in its believers, in all'occupations and conditions, a mutual respect of character, a regard to rights, and a sympathy with weaknesses and wants, and with joys and sorrows, which will not only equalize, but raise and advance human happiness in all the departments of society, as no other principles or means can equalize or advance it. The visible Church is one, and one of the most important, of the means which Jesus has instituted to this end. In the multitudes which followed him, to which he addressed himself, and upon all of which indiscriminately he inculcated these great principles, we see what he intended that his Church should be; and in his own peculiar care for those, for whom those who rejected him cared not, we see what should be the care of Christian Ministers, and of Christian Churches, for the poor, and for the lost. Is it asked, on whom, then, shall devolve the pecuniary support of the ministrations in the Church? We answer, that we have no objection to assessments for the support of public worship, which shall extend to every one in proportion to his ability. It should be felt, and by sincere believers in Christianity it will be felt, to be a great privilege, to contribute to the maintenance of the worship and ordinances of the Gospel. But we are strongly impressed with the duty, on the part of the prosperous, and of those in circumstances of competency, in Churches, - by which we mean congregations which assemble for worship, - to make it an object of especial care, and watchfulness and exertion, to do what they may, in their capacity as Churches, to bring the poor and the poorest, and even the outcasts of the earth into their number; and thus to the preaching, and under the influences of the Gospel, Let the avowed believers in Christianity, as individuals and as Churches, thus feel and carry out their obligations to Christianity and the Poor, and not only will multitude's be saved from falling into pauperism ; but the poor of every Church, taken as they should be, in respect to their temporal necessities, into the charge of the Christian Society with which they shall worship, will be doubly blessed in the alms they will receive, – for they will then be the alms of with the necessity of industry, forethought, economy and a proper self-denial, are not only encouragements, but causes of pauperism. We profess to act upon this principle, and we seek the information which will enable us to act upon it. The truth upon this subject is, — and the more faithfully we shall regard it the better it will be both for ourselves and the poor, — that except the feeble, the aged, the maimed and the diseased, the number is comparatively small among us, who, by industry, economy and temperance, could not provide for themselves and their families. We feel bound, however, to say, that among the feeble here referred to, we include a very interesting class of females, principally widows, and who have the charge of two, three, four or five children. Their sole dependence, except that of occasional alms, is either upon their needle, with which they can at best earn a dollar, or a dollar and a half a week; or upon employment for a day, or part of a day, whenever they can get it, in

Christian and fraternal sympathy, interest and respect. — No parish lines are known in our towns and cities. No one of our Churches, therefore, can consider the poor of any section of a city, or town, as peculiarly the poor of its charge. It can recognise none in this connexion, except those who are among its fellow worshippers. The greatest practicable increase of the number of its poor members, to whom it can extend all the charities of the Gospel, should therefore be felt to be one of the highest interests of every Church. Would to God that all our Churches might in this respect be alive, as they have never been, to the spirit and objects of our Religion! We believe that no incense, except that of the aspirations of the soul after an increasing personal assimilation to God, will rise from any temple upon the earth to the Throne of the Eternal Father with equal acceptance, as the incense of a heart, at once feeling itself amidst those of all diversities of outward condition, and glowing with the sentiments of Christian humanity; and thus prepared, as it has the means and opportunity, for a faithful discharge of all the offices of Christian benevolence to its suffering fellow-creatures.

any of the coarse work of a family. Many of these are the widows of men who might have left their wives independent of alms, had they but themselves refrained from the use of ardent spirits. But their husbands have left them broken in constitution, borne down by discouragement, utterly destitute, and surrounded by hungry and helpless children. The earnings of this class of women, with their best industry, are very precarious as well as small. At certain seasons, even with the extremest economy, they could not be comfortable without alms. They are unequivocally proper subjects of alms. But still greater is the number who are able bodied, both women and men, and who yet apply for alms. They are not inclined to do what they can for themselves. Many of them earn enough for self-support, but expend these earnings in vitiating indulgences. They know little of economy, and care for it and practise it less. They form their calculations, when employınent shall fail them, for living upon the alms they are to receive. It is a delicate, and often a very painful office to which we are called, of judging and acting upon applications for aid, where want, and even necessity may at the time be pressing, but where it is not only perceived that this necessity might have been obviated by a proper self-denial and economy on the part of the applicants, but that, through the continued neglect of this economy, there will be a perpetual recurrence of the very necessity which pleads for immediate relief. In rerpect to these cases we can only say, that if relief must be given, — and it sometimes must be, – it should never be of a kind, or to a degree, which will make this dependence preferable to a life of labor. It should, however, be remembered, — and justice requires us to remember, that many would be economical if they knew how to be. But they have been reared in ignorance, and indolence,

and thriftlessness. It may even be, that, amidst waste and want, they have been reared to every attainable indulgence of appetite, - and, as far as females are concerned, to every attainable gratification of the love of finery and show. If we cannot remedy these evils in parents, let us at least do what we may for their prevention in children. And we repeat, - for we attach great importance to the principle involved in the caution, — let us take care that we do not enable the willingly dependent to live more comfortably without industry and economy, by living upon our alms, than the humblest of the industrious and self-denying, who receive no alms, can live without them.*

* In the Report of the British Commissioners upon the Poor Laws it appears, that, under the administration which has prevailed of those laws, the parish pauper. has been a decidedly better fed man, than the humblest in the class of independent laborers, who would not submit to parish dependence. The facts upon this subject are very curious, and call for the serious attention of legislators, in view of their measures respecting poverty and crime. Should the question be brought before any body of fair-minded men, what are the claims of justice and right in regard to the provisions which should be made by law, or by officers acting under the authority of law, for the support of the able-bodied poor, and of criminals, no one, it is presumed, would require, or would even consent to a better provision for these classes, than the humblest of industrious and independent laborers can make for himself and his family. It would probably even be required, that as far as possible, no one of these classes should be quite as well fed by parish officers, as is the humblest independent laborer by his own industry and providence, Yet what have been the operations of law in these cases ? Let a scale be made, upon which the living of certain independent laborers in England, who have preferred to be rate-payers rather than paupers, shall have its true relative place with the living of those for whose support provision is made by law, and immediately above the line against which we write, the Independent Laborer, we must mark that of the Soldier ; next above the Soldier that of the Pauper ;

· Another principle which we think of great importance is, that wherever, in our intercourse with the poor, we meet with industry, with frugality, with self-respect, and with a preference of self-denial to dependence upon alms, the proper encouragement and support of an individual of this character is, not alms, or any other form of charity as a substitute for alms, but the simple and true respect and regard for character, which such a one will never fail to hnow how to appreciate. Here, indeed, is a test by which the truth of character in these respects may be tried. He, or she, who really prefers labor and self-denial to dependence upon alms, will equally prefer our simple confidence, our just appreciation of motives, and our respect, expressed not by words, but by treatment and conduct, to any alms which we could give. Let us not fail to sympathise with such a mind whenever we may find it. But let us be aware also of the delicacy, the


next above the Pauper, that of the Suspected Thief ; - next above his, that of the Convicted Thief ; — and above that of the Convict. ed Thief, the line of the living of the Transported Felon! Thus have the humblest classes been most effectually taught, that pauperism is a better, - a more desirable condition, than that of hardlaboring, self-denying independence; that, as far as food is concern. ed, it is better even to be a criminal, than a pauper. One of the great objects, therefore, contended for in the Report of the Commissioners was, that the pauper should not be better fed by public alms, than is the independent laborer who lives without alms. This surely is right. Let it not, however, be forgotten, that the pauper is he who asks for alms, and would live upon alms, while by industry, and temperance, and frugality, he might provide for his own support. Should he not, then, be made to feel, through the very provision that shall be made for him, that it is far more for his interest and happiness to live industriously, economically and temperately, than to live either upon public or private bounty ? · Copies of " Extracts from the Report of the Commissioners" may be obtained gratis at the office of the Visiters of the Poor,

« ZurückWeiter »