« PreviousContinue »
passion towards the poor, but that that he who is destitute of this one he loved their very state and con- virtue, stands exposed to eternal dition. If his humanity forbade condemnation, we should be quickhim ever to reject the petition of ened to greater diligence in our the poor suppliant, his conformity duty. Christians have but low ap. to the temper of Jesus led him ar- prehensions of faith in God, or dently to desire that he might re- they would not be afraid of parting semble his Divine Master even in with their whole substance. Ane. his poverty. His income was small, other advantage,” said he, “ to be and a state of continual sickness derived from frequenting the abodes considerably augmented his neces- of sickness and poverty, is a more sary expenses; yet his diffusive intimate acquaintance with human beneficence frequently constrained calamities. You will often behold him to borrow a temporary supply the sons and daughters of affliction to his own necessities. It was labouring under painful and dansometimes represented to him, gerous diseases, and at the same that a generosity, productive of time deprived of the comfort of these inconveniences, was exces- friends, unprovided with medicines sive, and ought not to be indulged: to soothe the agonies of pain, and to wbich he would reply with some even destitute of the necessary food earnestness; “ Let us be ever so to sustain a wretched existence. poor, we shall always leave some. When such a spectacle is exhibited. thing behind us when we die;" and that heart must indeed be an inhuthus he imposed silence on such man one, that is not willing cheerPenonstrants. Towards the close fully to resign trifling conveniences, of his life, this benevolent dispo- and useless embellishments, to sition seemed greatly to increase, alleviate or dispel such conuplicated and no conversation was more plea- misery.” sant to him than that which turn Discourses of this kind made sọ ed upon the best methods of assist- great an impression upon the mind ing the poor. He would earnestly of his sister, and some other friends, exhort his sister to dedicate her that they would sometimes propose self to the service of the distressed, the establishment of an institution, and to train up her children in the so regulated, as to relieye the indi. same views. She urged, that such gent and distressed of every dea service would interfere with the scription. But schemes like this attention that was due to the con- never met with his approbation. cerns of her own family. M. Pas- "Each Christian," said he,"is called cal, dissatisfied with such a plea, upon to perform this good work would reply, that "every virtue individually, and not to content has its proper measure and suitable himself in co-operating with geneoccasion, so that one duty need ral plans of relief. It will be a not to exclude another; and, where much better proof of true charity, the mind is heartily disposed, at. for each individual to assist the tention to the poor may be prac. poor according to his ability, howtised without any prejudice to ever circumscribed that ability domestic concerns." * This duty," may be, than to affect a more pub. continued hé,“ does not require a lic and diffusive beneficence. The particular sigo, whereby we may minds of men are often inflated know that we are called to it: it is the with lofty designs and magnificent general vocation of all Christians. projects, which, under the specious Jesus Christ has informed us, that appearances of charity and comwhen he comes to judge the world, passion, conceal a base and unwor. he will particularly inquire after thy thirst of general admiration and a spirit of charity. Were we popular applause." It was not the therefore seriously to consider, design of M. Pascal to censure the
endowment of public hospitals; violently extending a Christian prebat he used to say, that " such cept beyond its true and legitimate splendid performances were chiefly signification, may conduet to as designed to be the duty of certain palpable a derelietion of duty, and persons, on whom God, in bis wise be as inconsistent with pure and providence, had bestowed eleva- genuine piety, as a defective and tion of rank, and affluence of for- inadequate enunciation of it. There tune: whereas the most, obvious exists no necessary alliance between vocation of the bulk of mankind, 'poverty and piety: the temptawas to daily and more bumble ex- tions, which beset a state of want ercises of cbarity.”
and misery, are not fewer, nor That our Saviour should conde, less imperious in their influenee, scend to appear as a poor mao, in a than those which are incident to low and mean condition, and choose the enjoyment of a competency; for his companions and friends, and men are as little qualified to persons of uneducated minds and judge wirat may be the probable uncultivated manners, may seem operation of poverty on their to confirm the soundness of the minds, as what may be the result maxims, on the subject of volun- of opulence. The rule of duty tary poverty, adopted by M. Pas seems to be comprised in a ready cal, and by some other pious per- and cheerful acquiescence with the sons of a different communion. It Divine will, whateyer may be our cannot be disputed, that a con- allotment; in studying to be conformity with the spirit and temper tented and faithful in the condition of such sentiments is incumbent of life assigned us, not being elated upon all Christians; that we ought with our advantages, not repiging to be detached in heart and affec. under our privations; and instead tions from all the uncertain pos of indulging idle and whimsical sessions of this world, and be fancies, concerning the probable ready to relinquish every object, effect of other circumstances, be however dear and valuable, when studiously concerned to comply God in his word or by his pro with our present obligations, to vidences shall require it. There !' fulfil as an hireling our day," should be a holy coldness and and “ finish the work wbich our indifference towards secular ad- Lord and Master has given us to vantages, an absence of taste and do." Occasions may, doubtlessy relish for them, as things in which arise, on which a Christian may be we take no delight and repose no called to make great and.. extra, confidence. But these maxims do ordinary sacrifices, and expose not instruct us to abandon the sta bimself to vast inconvenience and tion and condition in which we find difficulty, for the sake of Christ, ourselves placed ; to dispossess and the good of his fellow-ereaourselves of that which Divine tures: but let : him wait for the Providence has allotted to us, and oecurrence of such peculiar exigento reduce ourselves, literally, to a cies, and not rashly aoticipate the state of indigence and mendicity, summons of his, Divine Master, There would be no more sense lest his offerings be rejeeted with and reason in such an interpreta: ihis severe rebuke: “Who halb țion, than if we were to extirpate required this at your hands?". It an eye, or amputate a hand, be- is too well known to admit of concause they might become the in- troversy, that the making vows of struments of sin. Great refine- yoluntary poverty,a practice bighly ment and extraordinary nieasures encouraged and extolled by the in matters of religion are always to Romish church, hath been the be viewed with suspicion and diffi- source of notorious and scandalous dence;' şince an error of excess iu corruptions, enrichiog, those wall
pretended to impoverish them- not conducting himself by the selves, and perverting their men- vague, uncertain suggestions of dicant profession into a system of humour, fancy, caprice, or fashion, covetousness and rapacity. These and where no remarkable disparity pious, extravagancies, which out of talents and acquirements exists, rage common sense, and prove that charity, which is the distinsubversive of the very purposes for guishing character of a Christian, which they were seemingly adopted, will naturally prompt him to shew. are justly censured and rejected by favour to those who may enjoy the reformed churches. Yet it is less estimation in the world than very important, while we restrain they deserve, on account of their excesses and prune exuberances, regard for religion". that the root of charity should When M. Pascal pleaded in strike deeply into the heart, and behalf of poor and honest artibe assiduously cultivated there ; ficers, he never designed to counthat it may continually gather tenance that defect of reputation strength, multiply its branches, and consequent distress, which so and expand with increasing ampli- justly overtake idleness, inapplitude and beauty, till, like the trees cation, and thoughtless indiscreplanted by the river of the water tion. The mysteries of Divine Proof life, its fruit and foliage being vidence are not, indeed, to be meaalike perennial, health and glad. sured by the scanty line of human ness sball fix their residence under wisdom and foresight: God is a its refreshing shadow. It was in Sovereign; he acts“ according to perfect conformity with that spirit the counsel of his own will," and of poverty which M. Pascal so in his conduct towards individuals, ardently cherished, that he advised he may perplex their calculations, his friends rather to employ work and confound their most reasonable. men who were poor and pious, expectations ; yet this is not his than to prefer those of great ce- ordinary course of proceeding; lebrity in the fashionable world. nor ought we, from a few excepa This temper of mind is quite agree- tions to conclude, that the general able to the genius of Christianity, laws, by which material beings although the practical application of and intelligent and moral agents it may require some himit and quali- are governed, are vacillating and fication, being subjected to such uncertain : they still continue in restrictions as judgment and pru- full force, and operate with steadidence shall dictate; yet it ought not ness and regularity. Notbing can to be fastidiously decried, and alto be more weak and unreasonable, gether renounced. The exercise than to interpret rare instances of of sound discretion is perfectly departure from an established rule compatible with the obligations of
* This is no uncommon case. Many charity: no man is bound to build
respectable and worthy persons of an a house without symmetry or con
enlarged and liberal turn of thinking, venience, to purchase furniture and who possess much kindness and coarse and mis-shapen, to wear benignity of nature, often hastily adopt apparel which is uneasy and un- unjust prejudices and cherish secret sightly, that he may encourage an aversions against men whom they would honest and indigent artificer. We otherwise highly esteem; and they shall seldom be at a loss to find would, perhaps, be abashed and conout other modes of assisting wor.
founded, if the true motives were disa thy and industrious persons, withi
closed which prompt them to a disliko
of such characters, and which seduco out necessarily combining perpe
them into a strange unfriendliness and tual mortification with our humane harshness in their transactions with exertions. A good man ought, persons of an elevated but unbepding indeed, to be a considerate man, piety.
into a positive and habitual abro- interposition of Divine Providence, gation of it.
It is not to be assumed, that these In the general course of human mistaken persons are not to be affairs, where talents and diligence comprehended among the proper are not opposed, in the applica- objects of bounty, when they are tion of them, by the re-action of in want: bút, as such a course of some great controuling force, we conduct is equally at variance with may reasonably, and with some reason and piety, the benevolence confidence, look for success. Hence which relieves their necessities men usually infer ability from a should also correct their errors, series of successful enterprises; and be careful not to suffer torpor, and a competent number of such sloth, and indiscretion to screen observations form the grounds of themselves under the venerable probable expectation, in the seve- shade of a religious profession. ral departments of study and bu- Men of good capacity and slender siness. Some disproportion must application are always ready to and will subsist between the re- console themselves, by attributing wards obtained by different per the success of competitors, not sons, who may rank nearly in the gifted with endowments superior same order; and a few men of to their own, to extrinsic and con. merit may be quite overlooked, tingent causes. These pretences and fail of the encouragement just- exhibit a dangerous specimen of ly due to them. But a small numself-delusion, and deceive scarcely ber of exceptions, and those fre- any but the pitiable victims of quently admitting of a satisfactory such reprehensible habits. No solution, do not invalidate the ge. thing can be more unreasonable neral position, that capacity and and inconsistent, than to expect assiduity will commonly engage civil advantages without competent the public confidence, and secure attainments; to suppose, that a à recoinpence. To deny this, and man, who dreams away the best ascribe all success to contingencies, portion of his life, shall be 'estior a fortuitous concurrence of fa- mated by his capacity, rather than vourable circuinstances, is to dis- his acquirements; and that the unite cause and effect: it is to homage he claims to his transcenfalsify, or render nugatory, all the dant genius shall secure the re maxims of civil and political eco- wards which are justly conferred nomy, founded on observation and on laborious application and suclong experience; and by abolish- cessful diligence. The qualities ing every motive for diligence and of an agent are best shewn by bis exertion, to subject the results of works; and where nothing but human action's to blind hazard or the potentiality of becoming pro. inevitable falality. Unfortunate found in learning, skilful in science, men, as they are frequently called, or dexterous in business can be are commonly imprudent men, adduced to justify the demands deeply tainted with idle and de- of a claimant, he has no right 'to sultory babits, who, having sacri- complain, if the potentiality of ficed their time, and misemployed competence and respectability Their talents, on objects foreign to comprises the whole of bis gratifi1heir particular vocation, affect cation." surprise at uie neglect they expe The generous and humane prinrience, and the difficulties' which ciples, by which M. Pascal Teguthey are obliged to encounter; aod, lated his eleemosynary distribuwhen they give themselves the tions, claim our respect at least, trouble of reflecting, they are rea- although our unqualified apprody to ascribe all ihoir sufferings bation of their practical conse and dishonour, to some particular quencés may be in some measure
withheld. To compassionate the and even then, it was upon a somiseries, and liberally contribute lemn promise, that he would not to the relief of our poor distressed divulge it during his life. Mdme. fellow - creatures, are obligations Perier, his sister, to whom we are which no Christian can deny. What indebted for the preservation of may be the exact measure of duty this anecdote, bas modestly supincumbent on each individual, can- pressed the share which she had not be assigned; but an error of in this laudable exertion of bene excess is always preferable to a ficence. neglect of charity. When with
(To be continued.) singleness of eye and rectitude of intention, we acknowledge God in all our ways, he has graciously To the Editor of the Christian Observer. promised to “ direct our paths."
I have no apology to offer for The following instance will il. troubling you with this address, lustrate the judgment and pru- except that it is of consequence dence, with which M. Pascal con- that the sacred volume of Scripducted his charitable exertions. ture should be rightly understood As he was one day returning and explained, even in its less im. from the church of St. Sulpice, portant parts, and that, in the proabout three months before his motion of this object, even the death, a young and beautiful girl humblest efforts may not be wholly from the country, about fifteen superfluous. years of age, applied to him for The passage on which I beg to relief, pleading great distress. He offer a few words, is the account was struck with the danger to of the quarrel between Saul and which her youth and her necessi- Jonathan, in the twentieth chapter ties exposed ber, and therefore of the First Book of Samuel. Saul, inquired to what cause she owed it will be remembered, had sought her present destitute condition: to slay David, by smiting him to slie informed him, that her father the wall with his javelin ; and Da. was dead, and her mother was that vid had twice escaped his fury, day carried sick into the Hôtel whether on the same or on two Dieu. M. Pascal did not think it different occasions, does not apsufficient to give her a little mo- pear*. David therefore absented ney, and take no more notice of bimself from bis place at the king's her; but he conducted her to a table; and when Saul missed him seminary, and recommended her to and inquired after him, Jonathan the care of an ecclesiastic, who (by previous concert with David) was one of the directors of the gave some explanation of his abhouse, giving him at the same time sence. Saul, perceiving his son's a proper sum of money, and ear: policy, burst into a paroxysm of nestly requesting, that she might rage, reviling Jonathan in the most be placed in some useful way of opprobrious terms, and commandlife, where she would be protecting bim to fetch the son of Jesse ed from want, and sheltered from impediately: for he should surely temptation. The next day, he die. « And Jonathan answered sent a female friend with some Saul his father, and said unto him, clothes and other necessaries, and, Wherefore shall he be slain? What by proper attention, the friendless hath he done? And Saul cast orphan was soon placed in a very a javelin at him, to smite him: respectable service. He was so whereby Jonathan knew that it was extremely averse from ostentation, determined of his father to slay that it was with difficulty the priest obtained the wame of the Ch, xviii. ver, 10, 11, and ch, xix. author of this benevolent action;
ver, 9, 10,