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longer display the blossoms of spring, or the fruit of autumn! God forbid that I should endeavour to dry up the sympathetic tear which flows for the sorrows of others; to make you deaf to the sigh of the afflicted, or render you less anxious to relieve the sick, and, by assistance and advice, to smooth the bed of death! God forbid that what is meant to excite charity, should create a jealousy of interest, or an interference of claims among institutions which have one common object in view, the relief of distress, the alleviation of human misery, in whatever shape it appears! My intention here is to congratulate you on the proper application of your charity ; to encourage you to proceed in the same course ; and to show that, while other charitable establishments ought not to be neglected, this requires and deserves a more than common share of
your attention and support. Many of the fair daughters of charity have done virtuously—but this ercelleth them all.
Institutions of this nature may justly be styled more charitable than any other, because they relieve greater wretchedness. There is not, in nature, a more striking picture of weakness and helplessness than man in the first
stage of his existence. Some animals are capable of providing for their defence and nourishment from the moment of their birth : and all, in a short space of time, are independent of foreign support. But man, like a tender and delicate flower, must be reared with infinite care and attention ; and requires for many years, the fostering hand of the parent. Happily the natural love of offspring, and the dictates of reason, combine to call forth the parental assistance.
But when this support is, by the decree of heaven, removed ; when they to whom they were accustomed to look for bread, are laid in the dust; when the unconcerned stranger, immersed in the pursuit of business or pleasure, passes by regardless of their distress : can imagination figure to itself a state more helpless and wretched? The very cries and tears, by which alone they can express their misery, speak more forcibly in the ears of the compassionate, than the most pathetic orator can in their behalf.
And yet, such has been the situation of most of those who have been received into this house. Some of them have been found wandering in the streets, without father or mother; without friend, except the compassion of the charita
ble, and the benevolent providence of him who is the father of the fatherless, the shield of the stranger and the support of the orphan; scarcely acquainted with their own names; and truly able to say, The fores have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but we have not where to lay our heads. Others have been ushered into the acquaintance of the commissioners by the disconsolate mother, whose tears still flowed for the head and supporter of herself and her children, and who has addressed them in the piteous language of the widow of Israel to the prophet of old: Thy servant, my husband, is dead, and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord. Thine handmaid hath nothing in the house save one pot of oil, and behold! the creditor is come to take my two sons to be bond men. In other cases, the children have been taken from the bedside of their aged, sick or infirm parents, who have thus been spared the heart-rending necessity of hearing them call for bread, while they had none to bestow; and who have then yielded with less reluctance to the irreversible sentence of heaven, when they knew that those whom they loved, and who would be the greatest losers by their death, were not left to wander
in the wide world, friendless and forlorn, but were provided for in this house, where there is bread enough and to spare. In short, others have been found in situations still more wretched and deplorable: the offspring of an illicit connection, ready to be sacrificed to that shame which natural feeling, as well as human opinion, have attached to every deviation from innocence; or breathing that noxious atmosphere which infects the haunts of profligacy and impurity, and which infallibly leads those who are contaminated with it, first, to the loss of virtue and honour, next, to idleness and intemperance, and last of all, to a shameful and untimely end.
Insitutions of this nature are not only more charitable in their origin, but also more varied and extensive in their objects. In common with others they have it in view to provide food and raiment, a place of habitation, health and comfort, for those who are destitute of them. And so far they deserve an equal share of praise and encouragement. But the plan of this institution extends farther, and penetrates deeper into the constitution of human nature. It is not satisfied with the removal or suspension of present misery, but provides against its return,
and lays the foundation of future comfort and happiness, by accustoming those whom it protects to habits of industry and application, and by teaching them some art or profession, in the prosecution of which they may acquire a decent and honourable subsistence. This institution, while it relieves outward indigence, likewise removes inward misery. It sees the immortal inhabitant of this earthly tabernacle stript and naked; mangled by vice, and bleeding at every pore; bound in fetters by ignorance, and struggling in vain for relief. Like the good Samaritan, it hastens to his assistance, breaks his chains, and removes his intellectual distress and misery. It pours the oil and wine of consolation into the wounded spirit. It causes the light of knowledge and instruction to shine into the dark and benighted mind. It feeds the hungry soul with that meat which endureth for ever. It gives to the thirsty the water springing up unto eternal life. It sows those seeds of virtue which will bring forth a rich harvest in future life, and will flourish when all human schemes and institutions shall have passed away.
Institutions of this kind are also more lasting in their effects. Other charities are confined