« PreviousContinue »
former some respectable mode of maintaining a Family should be taught in early youth, and for the latter he provided a portion,-bequeathing to his Trustees the pleasing charge of adjudging a valuable reward to those, who were most distinguished by virgin purity and other female endowments, those precious ornaments of character, which give to Beauty its highest charm, either in the duteous exemplary Daughter, or in the chaste and faithful Wife. His object appears to have been to render the place of his birth a pattern to surrounding Parishes, and he certainly did adopt the means most likely to accomplish that salutary purpose.
True it is, that this Charitable Foundation was posthumous, but let me repeat, that nothing can, from any such consideration, be detracted from the merit of the pious Dean :-it had long been his darling object, the labour of his life, his unceasing solicitude to lay up in store an annually increasing stock or fund for the benefit of his native village and its future inhabitants. His charities after death are nothing more than a continuation of his long-accustomed living benefactions. Not content with what could be effected within the short span of human life, it had been his uniform study, while he was yet on earth, to ameliorate the character and condition not of those only among whom he passed his days, but more especially of the friends of his early youth, whom he still remembered with fondest affection. Nay, further still did he carry his parental eye; it was his truly christian ambition to leave to the necessitous a legacy, which might teach them the road to Heaven throughout all generations :-it was his meditation by day and by night how best to provide that “the poor have the Gospel preached unto them.”
And that this purpose was not realized by a robbery of his nearest relatives we may well in fer from a striking circumstance, that a brother (the next heir I believe,) followed his example, and with approviny munificence added largely to the original bequest.
It cannot be denied, that he who gives is, in a general view, to be exalted above those, who only bequeath what they can no longer use or enjoy ; but the man, who has regularly appropriated a certain portion of his increasing wealth to charitable purposes through a long succession of well-spent years, may doubtless be excused, if he wish to be a friend and supporter, even after death, to those who have long looked up to him as their chief stay and prop in this world, and whose wants and infirmities are daily multiplied with advancing age. He may well be excused if it be his benevolent wish to do good till time shall be no more, when his old pensioners are all dead and
gone, to their successors in after ages—for as Christ himself declared—“the poor ye have always with you."
_ But excused, did I say ?-improper is the term :—for all praise falls short of the high merit of those, who are so zealous in the cause of piety and religion, as not to deem it enough to labour through life in the service of the poor, but who also “ lay up in store,” that they may have to give to him that needeth, so long as sun and moon endure :-Such, in my humble opinion, was the Founder of this your Charity.
They alone, who have long made it their study, know how to perfect any arduous work :-and what has this pious and considerate benefactor left undone ? for what call has he not provided ? “ The poor have the gospel preached to them,”— their children are fed at the fountain of Christianity,—the
boys are, also, taught some gainful trade,—and the girls endowed with marriage portions. What further could the most affectionate father have done ? and let me repeat once more, that this paternal care is not for one generation,—or for a century,—no :-it is perpetual.
To the trustees there has indeed been consigned a charge of incalculable importance :—the means are ample,-may the happy fruits, also, be abundant.
On them now depends, in a great measure, the issue of the Charity
It would ill become me, both on account of my years, and also as a stranger, to address such a body in terms either of reproof or commendation ;—nay, or in the language of exhortation. But it
may be permitted me to express my wishes and my hopes, and to offer up my earnest prayers, that, in every particular, the object of the pious Founder may be complied with and accomplished, that there may ever prevail a vigilant care in singling from the classes, for superior rewards and encouragement, those boys, who have been most distinguished by talent, or diligence, or good conduct,—and that it may also be a study of nice and delicate discrimination to select the portioned virgins with due regard to industry, modesty, chastity, and piety.
May never that portion, which is of inestimable worth in the hands of the virtuous matron, be misbestowed on the light and wanton characters, who have forsaken the guide of their youth! May you ever so act, in the discharge of this sacred and weighty trust, as if the eyes of the anxious Founder were fixed upon you, and that, looking on one side, he may say“ Well done ye good and faithful servants”:—and on the other, “ These are my children indeed.”
To the latter, with a better grace, may I assume the language of authority,—and address them in the tone of earnest exhortation, or expostulation.
Be advised then, my dear young friends, not to neglect the present invaluable, irrecoverable, opportunity of heavenly instruction. Great are the advantages you may derive from this charity ;-your lot, my little fellow christians, has fallen in a happy spot; you have the bread of life presented to your very lips :—you are urged to partake of it ;—and if it be not your own fault, you will be trained up in the way you should go, and it is my humble, but fervent prayer, that you may never depart from it!
PREACHED AT RYDAL, IN 1820, IN AID OF THE FUNDS OF THE INCORPORATED SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE
GOSPEL IN FOREIGN PARTS.)
JOHN XXI. 17.
“JESUS SAITH UNTO HIM,-FEED MY SHEEP.”
It is worthy of remark, that this precept of our Saviour was repeated three times, and with only a slight variation. In the 15th verse, He had said to Simon—" Feed my lambs ;”afterwards, in the 16th and 17th verses,—" Feed my sheep ;" as if He had intended to intimate, that not only to infants, but to those of mature age, is heavenly food or religious nurture a necessary sustenance. And when, too, we consider this injunc
, tion in connexion with the context, it cannot escape our observation, that the performance of this duty seems to be required by the Apostles as a proof of their love of our divine Master. “ Simon, lovest thou me? Then follows, “Feed my