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MOTIVES TO PRACTICAL CHARITY OR G00D WORKS,
BY THE REW. J. D. GARDINER.
THE land of Uz, in the eastern world, was the dwelling-place of a distinguished prince, a man no less distinguished for his benevolence, than for his sudden reverse of fortune. Whether Job belonged to the fraternity of Odd-Fellows or not, history affords no particular information ; that he breathed their spirit, and abounded in those works of charity and kindness so characteristic of this noble Order, there is no question. But this did not shield him from the changes and afflictions of the world. In the morning on which he rose, no cloud flitted across the heavens to dim for a moment the brightness of his vision. A thousand streams of pleasure flowed around him, and filled his cup of enjoyment. The canopy of a serene sky hung over his head, and a carpet of the green earth lay beneath his feet. Nature, in all her loveliness, smiled about him, and promised lasting happiness. The charms of wealth, the splendors of oriental magnificence, sparkled on his eye, while the melodies of song enraptured his ear.
Servants waited his pleasure, and thousands were ready to do him homage. He beheld his flocks whitening the hills, his oxen ploughing in his fields, and his herds grazing in his pastures; while his children, gathered round the convivial board, were rejoicing together at their brother's house. All the endearments of “friendship, love, and truth,” clustered about his family and his home. In the midst of prosperity and affluence stood this great and good man. As the centre of the social circle, his sons and daughters gathered about him, and, with filial affections, rejoiced a father's heart. But lo! how soon was this bright scene overspread with Egyptian night ! How soon did all these enchanting visions pass away and perish for ever! In an hour of unapprehensive security, he was robbed of his wealth, and stripped of his children. Then it was that he, who rose in the morning the greatest of all the men in the East, overwhelmed with despair, sat down at evening to bewail his misfortune, and weep over the ruins of his departed glory. Though resigned to this unexpected calamity, the tender recollections of the past came over his mind; and the remembrance of charities, which he could now no longer bestow, gave poignancy to his grief. When he beheld the children of poverty, whom he had clothed and fed, but whom he could clothe and feed no more, the sight filled him with pain, and, under the feelings of a heart alive to the noblest sentiments of pity, he exclaimed, in anguish of spirit, “O that it was with me as in months past, as in the days when God pre
served me ! when the ear heard me, then it blessed me; when the eye saw me, then it gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. Then the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.” What an illustrious example of charity is here presented for the imitation of all ! To understand its nature and its motives is the duty of all, and especially of those who belong to the society of OddFellows. Among all the Christian virtues, Charity holds the most distinguished place. Her circle embraces every other, and is the root from which they spring. Benevolence is the essence of her nature, and consists in love to God and man. All the duties and principles of morality and religion come within her bounds. The universal happiness of man is the grand object at which she aims in all her movements. This is the end of her being ; the object alike of all her desires and her efforts. On this, and this alone, her eye is fixed. As the daughter of Heaven, for this purpose she came down to earth, dressed in the robes of love. For this end she takes up her abode in the bosom of mortals, and lives, and plans, and toils. In this world of sin, she beholds a miserable race dwelling together, all exposed to innumerable trials. Without regard to kindred or name, she seeks to alleviate the sufferings and promote the welfare of all. It is her glory, that “she seeketh not her own,” exclusive of the happiness of others. She rises above self, and, with outstretched arms, embraces the whole family of man as one great brotherhood, whose wants she delights to supply, and whose miseries she delights to relieve. As the dispenser of good to a suffering world, she will have an end; but in her nature, she is immortal as God, from whose bosom she came. “Charity never faileth.” She will survive the sun, and moon, and stars. She will outlive the ruins of the whole material universe. Permanent as the eternal throne, she will rise and shine, when Faith and Hope are no more. It is her nature to work, while she continues here on the earth, where so much is to be done. But she works by love. This is the power that impels her to action— the moving principle of all her operations. She is the sum and substance of every virtue in earth or heaven. Being active in her nature, she can not lie dormant in the bosom where she dwells. She prompts her subjects to every good work. Her hand has laid the foundation and reared the superstructure of every true benevolent society that ever existed among men. The institution of OddFellowship is the fruit of her labors, no less than the evidence of her being. Her name is written upon the badges of the Order, and upon the walls of their rooms, to remind them of the duties of practical charity. To the performance of these duties, motives are not wanting. Among them, the BENEvoleNCE of the DEITY stands conspicuous. Perfectly happy in himself, in the enjoy
ment of his own infinite blessedness, nothing was needed,
Throughout the wide domains of earth, every object