30 MARCH (PREACHED 25 MARCH 1787)
Stretch out a friendly hand
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Proverbs 14:34
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Amos 5:4–15
Much may be done by the united efforts of persons of character and influence to enforce the laws of the land. The gross and shameful profanation of the Lord’s Day, the multitudes of unhappy prostitutes who throng our streets to ensnare the unwary, the many vile prints and pamphlets exposed to sale which are calculated to excite and disseminate lewdness, are no less contrary to law and sound policy than to religion. They are a disgrace to our police, and though tolerated with impunity in a land called Christian, would not, I am persuaded, have been permitted under the ancient heathen governments of Greece and Rome. How many are the snares spread for unexperienced youth, which too frequently counteract the advantages of education and good example. But the children of the poor, destitute of these advantages, many of them without advice and without restraint if no friendly hand is stretched out for their relief, are peculiarly exposed. It is a subject of lamentation, rather than wonder, that numbers grow up in the habits of idleness, drunkenness and dishonesty, that they are bold in the way of evil and neither fear God nor regard man, that from smaller they proceed to greater wickedness, that beggars and thieves abound everywhere, that neither our persons nor our property, nor dwellings, are safe, and that so many are brought to an untimely end at every sessions and assize. Who can say how many of these evils are prevented by the charitable institutions and support of schools for poor and otherwise friendless children?
FOR MEDITATION: I spoke to them of the love of Jesus in submitting to all these indignities for our sakes, of the wickedness of man in treating him who did nothing but good in this manner. I made them observe progress in wickedness. These ungodly men who crucified Christ were once children—began with little things, and so grew hardened as they grew old—from hence I showed them the necessity of praying to God to keep us, for if he should leave us to ourselves, we know not what we may come to.
Journal of children’s meetings at Olney, 24 January 1765
SERMON: PROVERBS 14:34 [6/7] [FOR THE ANNUAL CHARITY SERMON]