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Chapter XXVII


1. GOD said: A certain man built a dam across a river, using only stones, but no cement. And the water ran through the crevices, rendering the dam worthless.

2. Then came certain neighbors to him, saying: Thou shalt apply cement to the crevices.

3. So, the man went to the lower side, and applied cement; but, lo and behold, the result was only temporary, for the water washed the cement away.

4. Again his neighbors said unto him: Apply thou the cement at the upper side, and the water will carry it into the crevices, where it will remain with good effect.

5. And the man did so, and, behold, the dam was a complete structure.

6. After such manner, O man, consider all charities. Thou mayst apply thy riches, and thy estates for charity's sake, but of no profit under the sun.

7. When the man applied the cement, where it was not self-sustaining, the waters washed it away.

8. Wherein thou appliest charity, and it be not self-sustaining, judgment is rendered against thee.

9. When the man applied the cement toward the fountain, it became self-sustaining.

10. Wherein thou appliest charity, and it be self-sustaining, judgment is rendered in thy favor.

11. When thou meetest thy neighbor on the road, and he hath fallen down, and broken his legs, and can not stand, consider how foolish it would be, to lift him up, and, then, let him fall again. Flatter not thyself, that such would be charity.

12. And yet, how much of the so-called charity of the world is of that kind.

13. Thou mayst feed three drunkards' families, and flatter thyself thou hast done charity worthily; but, if thou hast not done that which will make them no longer in need of charity, thou hast done little.

14. Another man may not feed them, but he may reform them, and put them in the way to be self-sustaining. Such a man will have done a hundred-fold greater charity.

15. To open the way for employment and industry, this is the greatest of all charity. For, by these avenues, charity will not be needed, even for the aged, nor for orphans.

16. Consider, then, how little any people have to boast of for charity's sake. Even their asylums and poor-houses and homes for the aged and helpless are so many witnesses of condemnation against the people who built them; because some great wrongs and evils existing within the state were also built by the people in the first place.

17. They are as paint and plaster, hiding and redeeming them, in some measure, for the sins of a wicked people.

18. And, when such a city saith: Behold us! what a charitable people we are! I say unto thee, that that city understandeth not the kingdom of thy God.

19. Yet, thou shalt avoid going to the other extreme, doing nothing, which is worst of all. But thou shalt go to the root of the matter; thy charity shall be directed to prevent the causes of such ill-fortunes.

Next: Chapter XXVIII