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DISPARITIES BETWEEN RICH AND POOR.

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dunghills the refuse vegetables of the markets, and wash and offer them for sale to beings abject and necessitous as themselves? Do they not sometimes even insult famine and misery by parading their epicurism, as if it were meritorious, and the ordinary food of their species were too coarse and vulgar for their sublimated nature? The writer recollects feeling indignant at hearing a lady, who aspired to be thought very refined and fashionable, say [it was during a season of scarcity, when potatoes were so dear that the poor could hardly afford to purchase them,] that she really, for the first time in her life, began to eat and to like them!

Callous, or in other words, unregenerate, must be the heart of that man who, aware of the existing mass of misery, compassionates it not. But to compassionate is not enough, we ought to endeavour to mitigate, and, as much as lies in our power, to prevent. Some people think to screen themselves beneath the plea of ignorance; this is an aggravation rather than an excuse. Such ignorance is a direct violation of Christian law, since it is our bounden duty to inform ourselves how the less fortunate of our fellow-creatures fare under the heavy burden of poverty, which is their portion.

In sketching the poor man's condition, I should indeed give an imperfect outline, if I left out the dark shadow cast over it by sickness, from which he is not exempt any more than his affluent brethren. How is his wretchedness heightened when the blight of sickness falls heavy on his household? Then, indeed, poverty may be said to deepen into despair: at least so far as this world is concerned. The father of the family stricken by disease—his wife and children famishing—the thought of their morrow, as the death struggle shakes his frame, renders his last moments, moments of unimaginable agony. No aid --no hope on any side; and yet the waste, the refuse of one luxurious kitchen would save the whole family. They are literally surrounded with abundance. On every hand the provision shops display to their hungry eyes stores of savoury viands, which they cannot buy, and must not take, and from which there are none to give them, no, not so much as a solitary morsel.

Yet such things are of daily, hourly occurrence: our fellow-creatures perish for want of food, either literally, and from the effects of actual inanition, or die inch by inch, from disease brought on by lack of proper nutriment; while we riot in superfluity of wealth, wholly indifferent to their destitute condition. Ought we not to tremble and be afraid, for hath not God said, “Woe unto you that are rich! for you have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.”

These disparities are, I repeat, frightful; and had we not Scripture authority for believing that the compensations of human life are more equal than might be supposed on a superficial glance, we

CHRISTIANITY, THE RELIGION FOR THE PEOPLE. 77

should be tempted to question the justice of the great Disposer of all things. We know that the luxurious couch is not always a couch of rest; that bitter tears often deluge the downy pillow; that a thousand artificial woes supply the place and fulfil the office of real ones; that mortified pride, defeated ambition, passions ungratified, sometimes make the human breast in itself a hell, even within the walls of palaces. That over indulgence in those good things, a tithe of which would save the lives of hundreds, breeds disease; that those very pleasures and possessions which the poor covet, pall upon the rich and become utterly valueless and distasteful. To crown all, we know that Death, the universal leveller, at his own good pleasure, prostrates the great as well as the lowly; and, as the words of an Eastern proverb, which for wisdom might be Solomon's, express it, “He that is surprised by death in the midst of riches and enjoyments, he it is that knows the misery of dying."

If thé cares and sorrows of the poor are manifold, their pleasures and amusements are scanty in proportion. This fact has of late years been much considered; and it is to be hoped that before long, rational and innocent amusements will be as abundant as they are now deficient, and that they will eventually supersede those sensual and degrading vices which have too long constituted the sole relaxation of the working classes.

working classes. “Formerly," says M. Buret, the French author, whom I have already quoted, “Religion undertook to satisfy the

78 CHRISTIANITY, THE RELIGION FOR THE PEOPLE.

noble wants of human nature, and by its festivals relieved the painful fatigue of toil. Religion has now lost the moral direction of the people, [in France] for its priesthood became the instrument of the powers of oppression, and has shared the fate of those whom it supported. Unfortunately we comprehend too well the fall of Catholicism, such as the priests made it; but who amongst us does not regret that nothing has replaced for the people that which it has lost? There is profound meaning in the common expression, we want a religion for the people.

Christianity, Protestant Christianity, is that religion for the people, that all-sufficing religion, which M. Buret deems a desideratum. But though it be the “pearl of great price,” if we do not instruct them how to seek it, we, who profess to know the way so well ourselves, are we not neglectful of our duty towards our poorer brethren? Christianity alone affords that balm which soothes the mind under sickness, sorrow, and privation; teaching the poor to cast all their care upon God, who careth for them; and, indifferent to the hardships of their earthly lot, to look for their reward in heaven. To the poor, thus enlightened, how consolatory such texts as the following, “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.”

for

ye shall laugh.” “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

6. Blessed are ye

that weep

now:

OSTENTATION CRUELLY EXACTING.

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more

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying; neither shall there be

any pain: for the former things are passed away.” “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”

Many contend, I know, that luxurious tastes and habits are at least productive of this good result, viz. by multiplying the wants of the rich, they provide employment, and, consequently, the means of subsistence for the poor. This, to a certain extent, is true; and were the just medium between profusion and parsimony, which I take to be liberality, strictly observed, and never exceeded, there would be little to complain of or to amend. But, as was lately proved in regard to our factory system, it is possible that ostentation may so far multiply our artificial wants, as to cause to be brought into existence a wretched surplus of human beings, doomed to labour, without intermission, from the cradle to the grave, for its sole gratification. Ostentation is selfish, and heeds not who suffers, so that itself enjoys. Liberality, on the contrary, , would have all partake; and therefore would dispense to all, without grudging, both reward for labour, and rest from labour. It is to gratify ostentation, or vanity, which is the same thing, that the pale-cheeked sempstress and the milliner's apprentice toil in close and heated rooms, often through the weary night, and even the Sabbath, which brings no holy rest to them. Others, be

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