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But what if contumely were to follow charity? What if a benefactor should become an enemy? What if he who gives, should follow his gifts with reproach and insult? Alas, then the poor man must suffer with meekness. He must learn to be independent, but he must learn to endure. He must respect himself, but he must quell the spirit of resentment. And he will remember, that there is a kind and gentle power above him and around him, who chastises without insult, reproves without reproach, blesses without return, and heals the wounds of poverty with the riches of parental love.
The state of mind, thus produced, will encourage a willingness to acknowledge the benevolence of Heaven. Poverty promotes gratitude to God, and trust in his Providence. It is the rich, who in the midst of abundance forget the Author of good. They, who repose in the delightful gardens of plenty, and enjoy the refreshing shadow of the trees of God, hardly remember the kind being, who adorned our planet so pleasantly; while the pilgrim, who is lost in the desert, where no tree can flourish, and the flower of hope can hardly blossom, grows warm with gratitude as he shelters himself beneath what the prophet so sublimely calls "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." The shipwrecked mariner, who has neither fire nor water, knows the value of the elements, and receives a few drops of rain with thanksgiving; but we hardly deem the enjoyment of pure air and wholesome water a cause for praise; and they for whom the streams of pros perity pour most copiously, forget that the sources of all good are in Heaven.
The heart of the poor man turns gratefully to God. He becomes weaned from the world. His treasures are on high. His best hope is in immortality. To the opulent the grave may seem an enemy; to the poor it is a strong fortress against suffering.
The grave is the shelter of poverty. They who have no place of refuge, will soon find one there. Amidst all distress and humiliation they must remember, that they still have a country, where their names may be written foremost on the lists of citizenship. I speak of the city of God, where gold is not honoured, and where treasures are not gathered; the city of God, which is indeed a spiritual city; but if we will have images for our hopes, it is the city, where the palm will be given to patient sufferers, and the amaranth be woven into garlands for those, who have been purified by affliction.
Thus it is that poverty reminds us of the instability of every thing in this world, and of the certainty of every thing in another. Bearing this in mind, can we not learn to support what the apostles endured before us, and what the Saviour of men endured before them? Is there any man so poor that he has no home? Jesus never had a home on earth. Is there any man so poor, that he has no shelter for the night? Though the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, Jesus had not where to lay his head. Is there any man so poor, that he cannot feel with his country? Had Jesus a country? Was it Bethlehem, where they would have slain his infancy, or Egypt which was but his place of refuge, or Jerusalem where they crucified him? Jesus had no country. Or, since the regard for the body still clings to every one, is there any man so
poor, that he fears his remains can never be decently interred but by the pity of strangers? Jesus was indebted to charity for a sepulchre.
Let the poor man apply the example of Jesus to his own condition. Let him join to his poverty integrity. Oh! how humble should he then be before God; oh! how proud may he then be before men. He will find poverty an evil easily supported, and will be persuaded, as I hope we are all now persuaded, that knowledge is better than opulence; that wealth is of no value without virtue; that a man may be very poor and very happy. G. B.
Inconsistency in one of Bishop Porteus's Lectures.
Will some of your correspondents, or perhaps your Trinitarian readers, reconcile an apparent inconsistency which occurs in one of Bishop Porteus's popular Lectures on the Gospel of St. Matthew? It will be found in Lecture Second. At page 34, second London edition, the author observes, in reference to the visit of the wise men to Jesus-"As the Son of God he was soon acknowledged, and due homage paid to his divinity by a very singular embassy, and in a very singular manner. For the Evangelist proceeds to tell us in the beginning of the second chapter that "when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have
seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.""
In the above passage, Mr. Editor, the elegant Lecturer unequivocally and positively asserts that due homage was paid to Christ's divinity by the embassy of the wise men,—an assertion which he fortifies by the quotation from Matthew in which the word worship occurs. I must confess I was not a little astonished to see so respectable a man giving into the vulgar, but among critics the universally exploded error, with regard to the true signification of worship in this and many other scriptural passages. However, this remark is but by the way. My main object now is something else.
Having asserted, as we have just seen, that due homage was paid to Christ's divinity by that very singular embassy, he does not proceed eight pages before he commits himself with the following signal passage, which is as remarkable indeed for its true criticism, as the former is for just the reverse.
"When the wise men came into the house, and saw the child, they fell down and worshipped him, that is, bowed and prostrated themselves before him, in the eastern manner of doing obeisance to kings. Whether they designed also paying him religious adoration, or how distinct a knowledge had been given them of the nature and rank of the Saviour of the world, we cannot say." Page 42.
How is this? In the former passage, there is nothing like this hesitance, and modest profession of ignorance, but it is affirmed without the least qualification that the wise men paid due homage to Christ's divinity. But here, the author "cannot say whether
they designed to pay him religious adoration." Can the following explanation serve to account for this unfortunate contradiction, until a better is supplied from some other quarter?
Bishop Porteus was unquestionably a man of fine taste, elegant talents, and laudable general purposes. But his biblical erudition was as shallow as his style of writing was smooth and polished. It is almost distressing to see scattered throughout his work, third or fourth-hand criticisms, and often of the most puerile description. I remember reading these Lectures with great delight at the age of sixteen, and well I might, since I could be entertained by such mystical and airy speculations in them as the following, which I quote from the very page as it now happens to lie open before me. "According to the opinion of some ancient fathers concerning the presents [made by the wise men] their faith must have been very great. For they represent the incense as offered to our Saviour as God; the gold to have been paid as tribute to a king; and the myrrh (a principal ingredient used in embalming) brought as an acknowledgment that he was to die for men. But others interpret these same gifts very differently, and take them to signify the three spiritual offerings, which we must all present to heaven, through Jesus Christ; the incense to denote piety towards God; the gold, charity towards our fellow creatures; and the myrrh, purity of soul and body; it being highly efficacious in preserving them from corruption." Now it is no wonder that a man who could pick up such trash as this from Matthew Henry, or somebody else, for the Sabbath-evening's entertainment of a London audience, should set out with his commentary upon the