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it into my heart, that of all the profits which it shall please God to give me, and which shall become due to me after the 6th of August next, (after which time I hope to have paid my small debts,) I do purpose to separate the fifth part of all my incomes, as I shall receive them, for pious uses, and particularly for the poor.-T. W.”
“ August, 1693.—The God that gave me a will to make this solemn purpose has given me grace not to repent of it; and He will give me grace to my life's end. Amen. —Though I give my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.'”
The manner in which he made this dedication was as follows:- On the receipt of all moneys, he regularly placed the portion designed by himself, as well as what was given him by others, for charitable uses, within the drawer of a cabinet, with a note of the value, to be kept sacred for the use of the poor, and on no account whatever to be touched for any
The form of the note, as follows, is copied from the original :
“ January 29th, 1730-1.-Put into this drawer £20 British, being one year's money, the bounty of the Right Hon. the Lady Eliz. Hastings, for the year, and payable at Martinmas, 1730.
“THOMAS SODOR AND Man."
If the money placed there was his own, the note differed only in distinguishing from whence or how the money had been paid to him ; and into this sacred repository, called the Poor's Drawer, at first a tenth, then a fifth, a third, and at length the half of his revenues, were placed ; and whenever he deposited the poor man's portion, he did it with awe and reverence, as if it had been an offering to Heaven.
PRAYER AT SETTING ASIDE ALMS FOR THE POOR.
“ It is by Thy bounty and providence, O God, that I want nothing which is needful either for my soul or body. Be pleased in mercy to receive this small acknowledgment of my thankfulness and gratitude for the many favours which by Thy goodness I every day meet with ; and give me grace, that while I am able I may never turn away my face from any poor man, that Thy face, and the light of Thy countenance, may never be turned away from me. O Lord, my God! whatever I have prepared for the poor cometh of Thee; and of Thine own do I give thee. Pardon all my vain expenses; and teach me so to husband the riches wherewith I am intrusted, that I may always have where with to offer a testimony of my duty to my great Benefactor, to be bestowed on such poor people as Thy good providence shall direct to me for relief. And the good Lord direct my hand, that I may give where there is most need, and after such a way as shall most please Thee. Give a blessing to what I distribute, that it may Thy poor good, and that they may own Thy hand in it. And grant, O
Lord, if it should ever be Thy good pleasure to change my circumstances into a lower condition, that I may bear it patiently, believing assuredly that I have a treasure in heaven ; to which place I most humbly beseech Thee to bring me and my family, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
[Twelve scriptures follow.]
“Deut. xv.; Psalm xli. 1; Prov. iii. 27; xix. 17; Matt. v. 7; Luke xiv.; 1 John iii. 17 ; 2 Tim i. 17; &c., &c.
"So hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel.”
"O God, who hast graciously allowed us a recompense for our labours, make me, I humbly beseech Thee, a faithful steward of that part of Thy revenues committed to my charge, that I may give Thy servants their portion of meat in due season; that I may not feed myself nor family with that which belongs to Thy poor. But, above all, I beseech God to give me grace that I may preach the Gospel, as well as live of it; and that, when the Lord cometh, He may find me so doing. Amen.”
In the year 1716, he increased his charitable donations to the poor, as we learn by the following memorandums :
“ Bishop's-Court, January 6th, 1716. "Finding that I have enough and to spare, over and above a decent hospitality, besides what I formerly gave to pious uses; and being convinced that I am no proprietor, but only a steward of the church's patrimony; I do, therefore, to the glory of God, dedicate three-tenths of my rents to pious uses, and one-tenth of all the profits of the demesnes, and two-tenths of the profits of my English estate, until I can purchase the impropriation of that estate, which I intend to do, and give it to the Church; and, after that, one-tenth besides.”
“ Bishop's-Court, February 18th, 1718. " To the glory of God; I find, by constant experiences, that God will be no man's debtor. I find that I have enough and to spare ; so that for the fature I dedicate four-tenths to pious uses, one-tenth of the demesnes and customs which I receive in moneys, and of my English estate, as above. And the good Lord accept His poor servant in this service, for Christ's sake. Amen."
“Bishop's-Court, St. Thomas's Eve, 1721, " To the glory of God; I dedicate the interest of all my moneys to pious uses, so long as I have wherewithal to live on besides. Blessed be God for giving me a heart and will to do so !”
“ Bishop's-Court, December 23d, 1722. " I made the above dedications when I had enough and to spare ; and this I did in a grateful retorn to God for the undeserved bounties He had
beaped upon me. It has now pleased Him to suffer me to fall into troubles, and an expensive lawsuit, to defend the discipline of this Church, and the Episcopal jurisdiction. He is the same great and good God, who can either shorten my troubles, or lessen my expenses, or make good my losses in another life. In sure confidence of which, and as a testimony of my firm faith in His power, truth, and goodness, I do for the future dedicate fivetenths of all my ecclesiastical rents to pious uses, and the rest as above. And blessed be the good Spirit of God, who at this time has put this thing into my heart, as an earrest of His purpose of weaning my affections from the world! Amen."
“ And God has not disappointed His servant, but has raised up such friends to countenance my righteous cause as bave brought it to a good end ; and has also raised me up such friends (many of them unknown to me) as have made the burden of my expenses tolerable, which would otherwise have almost sunk me. Blessed be God for this mighty favour!” (Crutwell's "Life of Bishop Wilson," prefixed to his Works, folio edition, 1782.)
The charities he bestowed himself, and the contributions he obtained of others, are proofs of his munificence and the benevolence of his disposition. The following only appear in his memorandum-book :
“A very small page will serve for the number of our good works, where vast volumes would not contain our evil deeds.”
Here follow thirty-eight cases, dating from A.D. 1697 to March 23d, 1741, -which last, for example, is quoted :
“I gave £15 towards building a new house for the vicarage of KirkBraddan.
“ Nehem. v. ult.— Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.' Case of Cornelius— Thy prayers, and thine alms,'" &c.
“ A TIME TO DANCE."
(Eccles. iii. 4.)
Waiblingen, Würtemberg, February 12th, 1861. MY DEAR SIR,
The following article I have translated from the “Sonntagsbote,” a weekly Protestant journal published in Vienna. Perhaps it may be useful in England. At least it will be read with interest, as the exponent of the opinion of good men on the Continent respecting a practice which sometimes finds advocates within the precincts of the Christian church. That the argument is scriptural, as well as keen and racy, will, I think, be allowed by every dispassionate reader.
A BALL was given in the parish of a worthy clergyman, at a time when several young persons under his charge had become seriously convinced of the necessity of a religious life. Influenced by conscientious motives, some of them declined attendance; and their absence was attributed, but without just cause, to the private interference of the minister. The result was the following anonymous letter.
“ Listen to the voice of Holy Scripture. Take the following words as a text, and refute them; show wherein consists the sin of innocent dancing :
- A time to weep, and a time to laugh ; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.' (Eccles. iii. 4.)
“ A TRUE CHRISTIAN, BUT NO HYPOCRITE." The preacher immediately wrote a reply; which, however, as the letter was without name and address, remained a long time in his own possession. At length he published it, in hope that it might catch the eye of the unknown letter-writer, and serve to correct his erroneous notions, as well as those of others. It was as follows: “MY DEAR SIR,
“To your request, that I should preach from Eccles. iii. 4, I cannot at present accede; as there are many Christian duties, more important than that of dancing, which appear to be neglected by a portion of my charge. But as soon as I observe that the duty of dancing is too much neglected, I will not fail to lift up my warning voice against so dangerous an omission. At the same time, there are some difficulties in the text to which you have directed my attention, the solution of which I should very thankfully receive from a true Christian.'
" The first difficulty respects the proper time : for, although the text declares there is a time to dance, it does not determine when that time is. Now, I should be glad to ascertain this point exactly, before I preach on the subject : for, in my opinion, it would be just as bad to dance at the wrong time, as it would be not to dance at the right one. I have had the opportunity of convincing myself that in many cases dancing would be out of place; and I suppose we shall agree, that the time to dance is not on Sunday, at a funeral, or during a terrible pestilence, or a violent earthquake, or a dreadful thunderstorm. If we were under sentence of death, and awaited the day of execution, this would hardly be the time for dancing ; and if we stood upon the slippery edge of a precipice, we should certainly not think of venturing to dance.
Bat, supposing the right day for dancing were exactly ascertained, we must further inquire, whether we ought to spend the whole day, or only a part of it, in this diversion; and, if only a part of it, which part is the most appropriate. Now, it is well known, that nocturnal assemblies exert an extremely pernicious effect upon both morals and health ; so that no person will pretend that the night is the time for dancing. And perhaps it
" may not be an indifferent question, what time of the day should be devoted to this innocent amusement.
“Yet, granting the time had been exactly ascertained, there is still a degree of ambiguity in the text. Is it a command, or is it only a permission? Or, may we not have here a simple declaration of the fact, that, according to the circumstances of mankind, there is in the providence of God a time in which all the several incidents mentioned in the text actually occur? If the text is a command, is it not of universal obligation ? and ought not old men and maidens, young men and children, to dance obediently? But, if it is only a permission, may we not conclude that it is also allowable to refrain from dancing, if one has a mind to do so ? Or, sup posing it to be a simple declaration that there is a time when men dance, as well as a time when they die, perhaps I may also be requested to take the first eight verses, and show wherein consists the particular sin of such practices as “bating,'' warring,'' killing,' &c.; for which, as appears from the context, there is a time, as well as for dancing. “There still remains another difficulty in the text, which just occurs to
What sort of dancing is intended ?-for it is certainly a matter of no little importance to a true Christian to dance in a scriptural manner, as well as at a scriptural time.
"To prevent misapprehension in a point of such moment, I have examined every passage in the Bible, in which dancing is mentioned; and from these I will quote a few of the most important for your
consideration. “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels, and with dances.' (Exod. xv. 20.) This was done because of the overthrow of the Egyptians in the Red Sea.
“ The daughter of Jephthah came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances.' (Judges xi. 34.) This was also in commemoration of a victory over the enemies of Israel.
“The yearly celebration in Shiloh was a feast of the Lord, at which the daughters of Shiloh went out 'to dance in dances.' (Judges xxi. 21.) Here dancing was an act of Divine worship. 'And David danced before the Lord with all his might.' But the ungodly Michal came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself !' (2 Sam. vi. 14, 20.) Hence it would appear that dancing was a sacred rite usually performed by women, and at that time was perverted from its sacred use by none but " vain fellows' destitute of shame. Against this satirical accusation David defended himself with the words, ' It was before the Lord,'-clearly granting, that, if that had not been the case, the reproach had been well deserved.
“ Because of the victory which Saul and David had attained over the Philistines,' women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing.' *(1 Sam. xviii. 6.)