This is the plain, manly, and consistent conclusion to be drawn from the premises. He who is thoroughly convinced of the truth of the latter must of course think it his duty, however painful it may be, to act up to the former. Nor can this opinion or conduct be at all altered by a mere recommendation from the person who, as he thinks, has established the principles, not to push them too far, because the benefit he may bestow upon one individual may perchance be greater than the injury he will certainly do to another. He may reasonably doubt this; and the doubt may serve very strongly to fortify the natural inclination, of which we are most of us too sensible, to keep our money in our pockets. Again, the goodness and justice of the Divine Providence, in the precepts it has laid down for the exercise of our charity, are no less implicated in the conclusions referred to. In addition to the texts just quoted, we are commanded absolutely, and without any reference to its effects upon society, “to give unto the poor sufficient for his need,” “to deal bread to the hungry,” “to cover the naked,” and so forth. The law is represented as of the highest obligation, and not only strict, but generous obedience to it as the most decisive test of faith. This is too broad a principle of duty to be palliated or denied: and being so, we are surely justified in presuming a priori, that a compliance with it can never endanger the welfare of those towards whom it is exercised, by enlarging the boundaries of vice and misery amongst them. Nor is it easy to reconcile our minds to the solution of this difficulty, which has been attempted, by saying, “that the Scriptures command us to give to the poor, but are quite silent as to the utility of such a virtue.” Undoubtedly, if in any case the commands of God appear to our finite understandings to be inexpedient in their particuliar application to human, affairs, we bow with humility, and conclude that their general expediency has reference to the universal scheme of things, which the wisdom of the Creator has removed far beyond the blinking imbecility of mortal ken. But on a subject of such daily importance to us as the practice of charity, it would not be without an obstinate struggle, nor without exquisite pain, that a philanthropist could be brought to rest its expediency solely on an argument so abstracted. He would rather argue, that if we conclude charity to be a virtue, we can hardly admit its consequences to be vicious; and whether or not his abilities would enable him to refute arguments that may be brought forward to prove them so, he would no more admit the truth of those arguments, than he would the falsehood of the Newtonian system, because its founder could not explain the cause of gravitation; or the non-existence of the electrical energies of various bodies in nature, because the primary cause of electricity is beyond the scope of our knowledge. To be told, therefore, that the delightful sentiments arising from the practice of this virtue are “baseless illusions,” should not disturb his repose in the least; and so far from seeking for consolation in a forgetfulness of the truth, he should immediately have recourse to the expedient of reminding himself of it. For the truth must evidently be, that since God is an all-wise and all-good being, who made the world, and is intimately acquainted with the principles upon which it is conducted, whatever he commands must | be expedient for the benefit of man, whether we can prove it so or not. Actually to bring forward that proof must nevertheless give a sensible pleasure, though it can impart no additional conviction, to a truly rational mind. . It is therefore gratifying to reflect, that the conclusions to be drawn from the first part of this treatise, with respect to the exercise of charity to the poor, leave the expediency of the practice of that virtue not only open to the utmost extent, under the control of discretion, to which a benevolent heart may find pleasure in its exertion; but by rendering every rational mode of relief innocent and praise-worthy, they afford to all, according to their means, the opportunity of obeying the commands of God by the exercise of this sublime duty to their fellow creatures. For if population, in well-governed states, hath a natural tendency to keep within the powers of the soil to afford it subsistence as society advances in its progress, the trifling impulse given to it by the most unbounded exercise of charity of which any record exists, or which any reasonable man would anticipate, can scarcely give an important counteraction to that natural tendency. The supposition that it would do so is merely theoretical, like most of the other arguments which pretend to prove the tendency of population to exuberance. They assume a probability contrary to all experience of the past, and to all future expectation; namely, that because charity is enjoined upon man without limit, therefore, unlimited alms-giving will be the result.— Whereas whoever reflects for an instant upon the various impediments which continually operate upon Z

the human heart, in opposition to the universal prevalence of that practice, need be under no extreme apprehension that it will ever tend to general extravagance. Moreover, we shall find in a subsequent chapter, (see chap. iv.) that as the exercise of charity is necessarily limited by the number of the legitimate objects of it, so these objects are continually changing their numbers during the progress of society, and will always bear a proportion to the means of ralief in the power of the community. Indiscriminate alms-giving is not charity, but profusion; the objects of judicious alms-giving increase in proportion to the whole number of the people, the farther society advances from the agricultural stage. But the natural rate of the increase of population also undergoes a proportionate abatement, as was fully proved in the course of the first book, and affords room for an enlarged exercise of charity without the danger of producing a vicious excess of population. It can scarcely therefore be necessary, with a view to the general welfare of society, to repress the influence of the virtue upon the charitable exertions of individuals. This will be still more apparent if we recollect that all money permanently bestowed in charity to those who are really unable to work, may in one sense as certainly encourage industry, as if it were paid in the first instance to the industrious labourer. For while it does not necessarily hold out encouragement to the able and the slothful, it is immediately paid away by the person first receiving it for objects, the products of industry. It operates as an increased demand for those products; and where freedom and security of property give scope to industrious exertion, those products, whether they consist of food, of manufactures, or of objects of foreign commerce, will certainly be supplied. If it keep in action a mouth which would otherwise be closed for ever, the demand for food thereby created will cause its production as certainly as if the rich man had spent his money so bestowed in building a summer-house, or digging a fish-pond. : To prosecute these observations to their full extent, as exemplified in our own country, is an important object which I have elsewhere endeavoured to fulfil. But I think it expedient in this place to enter my solemn protest against a very witty retort to which I perceive that the argument lies open. It may perhaps be said, that aecording to this reasoning, there would be no public injury in supporting the whole labouring population by donations in money, since they would immediately go to the purchase of necessaries, and thus to the encouragement of industry :-while it is evident that if all could be so supported, none would work to produce those necessaries. In answer to this piece of pleasantry it may be sufficient to observe, that the office of charity consists entirely, either in supporting those who cannot support themselves, whose number is necessarily limited; or in making up to others the deficiency which their own fair exertions leave in their power of supporting their families, whose number is also limited, and by the principles of this treatise is continually decreasing as society advances in its progress, and fewer individuals exist in a situation and capacity to rear large families. When giving away money extends beyond these limits, it becomes

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