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And the vicious, let it be remembered, are not always the least acute, or discriminating ; nor are they easily to be brought under the authority of minds, in measuring which with their own, they exult in a consciousness of superiority. And in the distribution of the alms that are entrusted to him, he will find, if he wishes not to do evil by the means that are committed to him for good, that the greatest watchfulness, and the soundest judgment, and discretion, and firmness, are constantly required. No man, except a dispensary physician, can know so well where alms should be given, and where they should not, as it can be known by a minister at large. Even he may for a time, though he will not very long, find his confidence abused. And not only will a great waste of money be prevented, by committing the distribution of it to men who are qualified for the office, but a great amount also of vice ; while suffering is most effectually relieved, and the cause of virtue, and piety, and happiness is at the same time greatly advanced. And in the charge which a minister at large should feel of all the children in the section of the city in which he is to labor, who should be, but are not, in our schools, or who should be, but are not, in some useful employment ; in bringing these childTen of the poor into Sunday Schools, and in assisting unhappy parents in the discipline and care of their children ; he will have frequent and great demands, for the best practical wisdom, as well as for the best christian dispositions. He will find parents and children of this class, of a great diversity of character, and requiring thought, and judgment, and care, and energy, in order to meet the exigencies of their various conditions. I am well aware, that theological learning is not wanted for these services ; and that they may be performed by one,
who would neither be a very able, nor a very popular preacher. But they do require, if they are to be well executed, a strong good sense, a knowledge of human nature, a discretion, and a decision of character, which can be trusted, and which will be respected. And if these qualifications for the ministry for which I plead can be found in one, whose theological attainments, and popularity as a preacher, would make him a welcome occasional assistant to the ministers of our congregations, would not the tax for his support be cheerfully sustained ?
Once more ; Permit me to say, that I am very desirous of obtaining men for this service, who will be able to add important contributions to the knowledge which is now possessed, on the very dark and difficult subject of poverty ; its causes; its character; the most efficient means of its prevention; and the proper methods of relief, where relief is all that is to be sought, and is among the clearest and strongest of our duties.
Very much has been written, and by some of the ablest men of the last thirty years, upon poor's rates, and poor laws, and upon the causes and remedies of pauperism. But these have generally been treated merely as topics of political economy, and with reference to the existing and long established institutions, and the state of society, in Great Britain, and on the European continent. The poor have therefore too often been considered, either as a caste in society, against the ignorance and depravity of which it is necessary to guard by legislative provisions ; or as a dead weight, which must indeed be supported, but the primary consideration in regard to which is, the cost, and even the immediate expepse, to which it calls those who must sustain it. The whole subject, therefore
in those countries, is encumbered with many difficulties, which have hardly an existence among ourselves. Never, on the other hand, was there a state of society, or of institutions in a city, more favorable to the devising, and to the execution of measures, for the greatest practicable improvement of the character and condition of the poor, than are those by which our highly favored city is now distinguished. Nor do I believe that there exists anywhere a better disposition to every work of christian benevolence, if the object be but comprehended, and approved, and its feasibility be clearly manifested. Consider, also, who they are who have written concerning poverty, and the
poor ? Are they not, at least for the most part, men whose facts on these subjects have been obtained from the records alone of Police Courts, of prisons, and of alms houses ? How many have studied them in the only manner, in which an enlarged and satisfactory knowledge can be obtained of them ; I mean, by a long continued personal intercourse with all classes of the poor, and by acquainting themselves with all the various circumstances of their character and condition ? I hesitate not to say, that it is only by writers of this description, that the public mind can be enlightened, and wisely guided, on these subjects. Far the largest number of the poor, and the class to be most essentially benefited, can be known only by visiting them at home. Some of them will suffer anything, rather than even ask for public charity; and a still greater number would not only die, rather than go to a poor house, but will certainly never come under the cognizance of any courts of justice. Poverty is indeed a subject, which is perplexed by difficulties, and, I will even add, by moral difficulties, so great, and often so very embarrassing even to those who have given their best attention to it, that it is by no means surprising that the number is not large of those, who are disposed to follow the windings of the labyrinth, till they shall find its termination. But how may we hope that a thorough comprehension of the subject may be so effectually obtained, as by an able and faithful ministry at large, which will leave no family overlooked, or forgotten ; of which it will be a specific object, to employ all practicable means of saving as many as possible from pauperism, and from unnecessary dependence on others ; and by which facts will be collected, and published, for the examination of those who shall be qualified to discuss, and to decide respecting them ?
I am well aware, that the great objection, which presso es so strongly against almost every measure that has been proposed for improving the condition of the poor, will be adduced also against the proposition of a permanent city ministry for the poor. It will be said, that if this office be not directly, it may yet incidentally, be a means of increasing and of perpetuating pauperism. It is feared, that if too much shall be done for the poor among us, our city will be, even more than it now is, a centre of attraction to this class of the population of the country; and even to the poor foreigners who are landed upon our shores. I wish only that this, and that every other objection which can be brought against this measure, may be calmly and fairly considered, and I am persuaded that, of all the means that can be proposed for the prevention of pauperism, and for the greatest improvement of the character and condition of the poor, the ministry which I would obtain, if due care is taken in the selection of it,
will be the least liable to these objections. It is not to be forgotten in this connexion, that in proportion as our city increases in its numbers, the number of the poor will be increased; and that, in proportion as the poor are corrupt among us, this very corruption will itself become at once an encouragement, and a security, to the vilest that shall seek shelter in the city. It will itself be a centre of attraction to the most unprincipled, who cannot long practise iniquity with a high hand in the country, because the mass of the evil is not there great enough for their easy concealment, and their safety. To secure, however, the proper influence of a ministry at large, I must repeat, that the services will be required of not less than four protestants in the office, and of one from the Catholic church. Let these men be,-not narrow minded sectarians, but-men of enlarged and generous minds; and let them establish among themselves such principles, as men of this character may establish, of union, and of cooperation, and I believe that multitudes may be rescued from the gulf, into which they must otherwise fall; an impulse may be given to the poor, by which their best efforts for self-support will be secured ; and relief will be administered in a manner at once the most economical, and cffectual, to those who, if unrelieved, will either become a still heavier burden upon the charity of the community, or by their very wants be driven to crime. This office indeed, like any other, may be abused. Let it fall into the hands of those who are not fitted for it, and it will become despicable ; or of the faithless, and it will increase the evil which it is intended to remedy. But appoint for it men who shall be qualified for all its services, and then will