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tions must yield the palm to Englishmen. At the first call of the kind, they readily " put their hands to the plough;" and when they have so done, it is not their custom to "look back."
That it deserves support, you will all be convinced, when it shall have been briefly stated to you, that the objects relieved by it are poor; that they are women; that they are married women, in the most painful and perilous situation; and that the relief is brought home to them in their own houses.
God could have ordained that all should have been rich. But he has not so ordained. Poverty, with every other evil, came in upon man's transgression. The alteration which then took place in the earth rendered labour necessary. If none were poor, none would labour; and if some did not labour, none could eat. Difference there must be in rank and order; and the rich are not of more service to the poor, than the poor to them. Equality of condition could not subsist by the constitution of nature, as the case has stood since the fall. It must be effected by a new way; by the dispensation of love and charity. The indigence of some must be helped by the superfluity of others. "The poor "shall never cease out of thy land," says the God of Israel to his favoured people; "therefore, I "command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thy hand "wide to thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, "in thy land"." An opportunity of being blessed
d Deut. xv. 11.
is offered to the wealthy, and they should take particular care not to let it pass them unregarded; for, "Blessed is the man that considereth the poor and needy." In the sight of God, we are all poor. "He openeth his hand," and from it we receive, both for our bodies and our souls, food and raiment, medicine, liberty, and joy. Our Saviour himself, rich in the possession of all things visible and invisible, yet for our sakes became poor; he has directed us, in the persons of the poor, to behold him as present, and when they solicit our charity, to bestow it according. On the behalf of poverty, more cannot be said.
But it is peculiarly afflictive when it falls upon the weaker sex. At the sight of them in distress, few hearts are so hard as not to relent and show mercy and compassion. Formed originally from man, to man they of course look up for support. It is his duty, and in all civilized nations it has ever been his glory, to afford it. Their claim upon us is indeed a just one. They were created as help-mates, and through life are found to be such. From the cradle to the grave, from the swaddling clothes to the winding-sheet, we are indebted to their good offices; offices which can with propriety be performed by them alone. By them is the burden of cares domestic and economical taken off from us. The tenderness and sympathy of their nature alleviate our sorrows, their affection and fidelity double our joys.
The persons assisted by our benevolent institution are married women. For those in a single state,
whom thoughtless, unfeeling, cruel profligacy had seduced, and over whom savage, brutal lust had ty, rannized for a time, and then cast them, destitute and forlorn, upon the public, where there was none to help; for such, I say, when sufferings and the grace of God co-operating had led them to repentance, and to seek forgiveness, where we must all seek it, at the hands of a Redeemer-for such, a house of refuge has been opened, and ample provision made in it, of all the assistance requisite for the purpose. And a noble charity it is. "There is "joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth;" there is a joy peculiar to the circumstance of the sheep that is found, which cannot happen, unless that sheep has been lost. But let us not, therefore, in the mean time, forget the wants sustained by such of the flock as, having not wandered, require attention and provision in the fold. "Marriage is ho"nourable:" God has pronounced it to be so, and man cannot render it otherwise. By its offspring come the strength of kingdoms, the establishment of thrones, and the upholding of the world. Among the Romans, more than four ages elapsed, from the foundation of their city, without any complaint or process on account of adultery; and it was not till the year 521, that they saw the first divorce; when, though the cause was specious, the indignation of all Rome pursued the divorcer to the end of his days. These men were Heathens; but their morals put Christians wofully to the blush! Let us not be wanting in our endeavours to roll away the reproach which lies so heavy on the present generation, by
this instance of regard shown to the honest and faithful married.
It is shown at a time when they most need it-a time of distress and anguish, when they are suffering under the sentence passed from the beginning; when pains of body, sorrows of heart, and terrors of imagination, assail them with combined forces; when the enemy compasses them round about, and poverty has set all help at a distance. Their cries have been heard by the Lord of Sabaoth, and he hath raised up friends to their assistance. They have obtained mercy from God to be "saved in "child-bearing;" they should obtain it from you. If it be true, as the wise man has observed, that " by
a woman came the beginning of sin, and through "her we all die;" no less true it is, that when the Saviour was born, "by a woman came the beginning "of righteousness, and through her we all live." "I am come," says that Saviour himself, "that ye "might have life; and that ye might have it more "abundantly." Evil is swallowed up by good; and it must be through our own fault, if we do not become gainers by our loss. Sublime and beautiful is the exultation of Mary, upon the occasion, over the great enemy-" My soul doth magnify the Lord, "and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. "For he hath regarded the lowliness of his hand"maiden. For behold from henceforth, all genera"tions shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty "hath magnified me, and holy is his name: and his " mercy is on them that fear him throughout all
Lastly, the persons for whom your benevolence is this day entreated, are not of the number of those wandering and professional mendicants, who meet you, at every turn, with their clamorous and importunate petitions. Sober and laborious, they are to be found at home; quiet, though wretched; visited only by that charity, which, like the influence of heaven's great luminary, penetrates into the deepest recesses, and "nothing is hidden from the heat "thereof." Thither our institution goes to find them, and carries to their own houses the best medical, and every other necessary assistance. By the subscription of a generous public, hospitals have been erected, and are supported, for the same purpose. Without in the least depreciating them, or detracting from their utility, it may yet be truly said, that there are some superior advantages attending the present plan. The wife is not absent from her family, where, though, for a time she cannot herself do much, yet she can direct what is to be done; the husband can go forth to his labour, not an hour of which can well be spared; he is not induced to spend his evenings abroad in public houses, which may occasion his ruin and that of his family; being an eye-witness to the sorrows of his wife, the love between them is increased; and affection for the new-born offspring will stimulate him afresh to industry.
e See An Account of the Benevolent Institution for the sole purpose of delivering poor married women at their own habitations, printed in the year 1786. By this it appears, that since the establishment, in 1780, 9819 persons have been delivered.