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When our bounty is beyond our fortune and station, that is, when it is more than could be expected from us, our charity should be private, if privacy be practicable: when it is not more than might be expected, it may be public; for we cannot hope to influence others to the imitation of e.vtraordinary generosity, and therefore want, in the former case, the only justifiable reason for making it public. Having thus described several different exertions of charity, it may not be improper to take notice of a species of liberality, which is not charity, in any sense of the word: I mean the giving of entertainments or liquor, for the sake of popularity; or the rewarding, treating, and maintaining the companions of our diversions, as hunters, shooters, fishers, and the like. I do not say that this is criminal; I only say that it is not charity; and that we are not to suppose, because we give, and give to the poor, that it will stand in the place, or supersede the obligation of more meritorious and disinterested bounty. III. The pretences by which men eveuse themselves from giving to the poor. 1. “That they have nothing to spare,” i.e. nothing for which they have not provided some other use; nothing which their plan of expense, together with the savings they have resolved to lay by, will not exhaust: never reflecting whether it be in their power, or that it is their duty to retrench their expenses, and contract their plan, “that they may have to give to them that need :” or rather, that this ought to have been part of their plan originally. 2. “That they have families of their own, and that charity begins at home.” The extent of this plea will be considered, when we come to explain the duty of parents. - 3. “That charity does not consist in giving money, but in benevolence, philanthropy, love to all mankind, goodness of heart,” &c. Hear St. James: “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace; be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James, ii. 15, 16.) 4. “That giving to the poor is not mentioned in St. Paul's description of charity, in the thirteenth chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians.” This is not a description of charity, but of good nature; and it is not necessary that every duty be mentioned in every place. 5. “That they pay the poor rates.” They might as well allege that they pay their debts: for the poor have the same right to that portion of a man's property which the laws assign to them, that the man himself has to the remainder. 6. “That they employ many poor persons !”—for their own sake, not the poor's;–otherwise it is a good lea. p 7. “That the poor do not suffer so much as we imagine; that education and habit have reconciled them to the evils of their condition, and make them easy under it.” Habit can never reconcile human nature to the extremities of cold, hunger, and thirst, any more than it can reconcile the hand to the touch of a red hot iron : besides, the question is not, how unhappy any one is, but how much more happy we can make him. 8. “That these people, give them what you will, will never thank you or think of you for it.” In the first place, that is not true: in the second place, it i. not for the sake of their thanks that you relieved them. 9. “That we are liable to be imposed upon.” If a due inquiry be made, our merit is the same: beside that the distress is generally real, although the cause be untruly stated. 10. “That they should apply to their parishes.” This is not always practicable: to which we may add, that there are many requisites to a comfortable subsistence, which parish relief does not supply; and that there are some who would suffer almost as much from receiving parish relief as by the want of it; and lastly, that there are many modes of charity to which this answer does not relate at all. 11. “That giving money encourages idleness and vagrancy.” This is true only of injudicious and indiscriminate generosity. 12. “That we have too many objects of charity at home to bestow any thing upon strangers; or, that there are other charities, which are more useful, or stand in greater need.” The value of this excuse depends entirely upon the fact, whether we actually relieve those neighbouring objects, and contribute to those other charities. Beside all these excuses, pride or prudery or delicacy or love of ease keep one half of the world out of the way of observing what the other half suffer.
RESENTMENT may be distinguished into anger and revenge.
By anger, I mean the pain we suffer upon the receipt of an injury or affront, with the usual effects of that pain upon ourselves.
By revenge, the inflicting of pain upon the person who has injured or offended us, further than the just ends of punishment or reparation require.
Anger prompts to revenge; but it is possible to suspend the effect, when we cannot altogether quell the principle. We are bound also to endeavour to qualify and correct the principle itself. So that our duty requires two different applications of the mind; and, for that reason, anger and revenge may be considered separately.
“BE ye angry, and sin not;” therefore all anger is not sinful: I suppose, because some degree of it, and upon some occasions, is inevitable. It becomes sinful, or contradicts, however, the rule of Scripture, when it is conceived upon slight and inadequate provocations, and when it continues long. 1. When it is conceived upon slight provocations: for, “charity suffereth long, is not easily provoked.” —“Let every man be slow to anger.” Peace, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness are enumerated among the fruits of the spirit, Gal. v. 22. and compose the true Christian temper, as to this article of duty. 2. When it continues long: for, “let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” These precepts, and all reasoning indeed on the subject, suppose the passion of anger to be within our power: and this power consists not so much in any faculty we possess of appeasing our wrath at the time (for we are passive under the smart which an injury or affront occasions, and all we can then do is to prevent its breaking out into action), as in so mollifying our minds by habits of just reflection, as to be less irritated by impressions of injury, and to be sooner pacified. Reflections proper for this purpose, and which may be called the sedatives of anger, are the following: The possibility of mistaking the motives from which the conduct that offends us proceeded; how often our offences have been the effect of inadvertency, when they were construed into indications of malice; the inducement which prompted our adversary to act as he did, and how powerfully the same inducement has, at one time or other, operated upon ourselves; that he is suffering perhaps under a contrition, which he is ashamed, or wants an opportunity, to confess; and how ungenerous it is to triumph by coldness or insult over a spirit already humbled in secret; that the returns of kindness are sweet, and that there is neither honour nor virtue nor use in resisting them; —for some persons think themselves bound to cherish and keep alive their indignation, when they find it dying away of itself. We may remember that others have their passions, their prejudices, their favourite aims, their fears, their cautions, their interests, their sudden impulses, their varieties of apprehension, as well as we: we may recollect what hath sometimes passed in our minds, when we have gotten on the wrong side of a quarrel, and imagine the same to be passing in our adversary's mind now; when we became sensible of our misbehaviour, what palliations we perceived in it, and expected others to perceive; how we were affected by the kindness, and felt the superiority of a generous reception and ready forgiveness; how persecution revived our spirits with our enmity, and seemed to justify the conduct in ourselves which we before blamed. Add to this, the indecency of extravagant anger; how it renders us, whilst it lasts, the scorn and sport of all about us, of which it leaves us, when it ceases, sensible and ashamed ; the inconveniences and irretrievable misconduct into which our irascibility has sometimes betrayed us; the friendships it has lost us; the distresses and embarrassments in which we have been involved by it; and the sore repentance which, on one account or other, it always costs us. But the reflection calculated above all others to allay the haughtiness of temper which is ever finding out provocations, and which renders anger so impetuous, is that which the gospel proposes; namely, that we ourselves are, or shortly shall be, suppliants for mercy and pardon at the judgment-seat of God. Imagine our secret sins disclosed and brought to light; imagine us thus humbled and exposed; trembling under the hand of God; casting ourselves on his compassion; crying out for mercy:-imagine