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CHARITY AND CHARITIES

devolved on him. The temples were in pagan times depositories of money. Probably the churches were also.

3. Great stress is laid by the Jews on the duty of gentleness to the poor (Maim. x. 5). The woman was to have first attention (Maim. vi. 13). If the applicant was hungry he was to be fed, and then examined to learn whether he was a deceiver (Maim. vii. 6). Assistance was to be given according to the want—clothes, household things, a wife or a husband—and according to the poor man’s station in life. For widows and orphans the “gleanings” were left. Both are the recognized objects of charity (Maim. x. 16,17). “The poor and the orphan were to be employed in domestic affairs in preference to servants.” The dower was a constant form of help. The ransoming of slaves took precedence of relief to the poor. The highest degree of alms-deed (Maim. x. 7) was “to yield support to him who is cast down, either by means of gifts, or by loan, or by commerce, or by procuring for him traffic with others. Thus his hand becometh strengthened, exempt from the necessity of soliciting succour from any created being.”

If we compare the Christian methods we find but slight difference. The absoluteness of “Give to him that asketh” is in the Didachē checked by the “Woe to him that receives: for if any receives having need, he shall be guiltless, but he that has no need shall give account, ... and coming into distress ... he shall not come out thence till he hath paid the last farthing.” It is the duty of the bishop to know who is most worthy of assistance (Ap. Con. ii. 3, 4); and “if any one is in want by gluttony, drunkenness, or idleness, he does not deserve assistance, or to be esteemed a member of the church.” The widow assumes the position not only of a recipient of alms, but a church worker. Some were a private charge, some were maintained by the church. The recognized “widow” was maintained: she was to be sixty years of age (cf. 1 Tim, v. 9 and Ap. Con. iii. 1), and was sometimes tempted to become a bedes-woman and gossipy pauper, if one may judge from the texts. Remarriage was not approved. Orphans were provided for by members of the churches. The virgins formed another class, as, contrary to the earlier feeling, marriage came to be held a state of lesser sanctity. They too seem to have been also, in part at least, church workers. Thus round the churches grew up new groups of recognized dependents; but the older theory of charity was broad and practical—akin to that of Maimonides. “Love all your brethren, performing to orphans the part of parents, to widows that of husbands, affording them sustenance with all kindliness, arranging marriages for those who are in their prime, and for those who are without a profession the means of necessary support through employment: giving work to the artificer and alms to the incapable” (Ep. Clem, to James viii.).

4. The Jews in pre-Christian and Talmudic times supported the stranger or wayfarer by the distribution of food (tamchui); the strangers were lodged in private houses, and there were inns provided at which no money was taken (cf. Jewish Life, p. 314). Subsequently, besides these methods, special societies were formed “for the entertainment of the resident poor and of strangers.” There were commendatory letters also. These conditions prevailed in the Christian church also. The Xenodocheion, coming by direct succession alike from Jewish and Greek precedents, was the first form of Christian hospital both for strangers and for members of the Christian churches. In the Christian community the endowment charity comes into existence in the 4th century, among the Jews not till the 13th. The charities of the synagogue without separate societies sufficed.

We may now compare the conceptions of Jews and Christians on charity with those of the Greeks. There are two chief exponents of the diverse views—Aristotle and St Paul; for to simplify the issues we refer to them only. Thoughts such as Aristotle’s, recastGreek, Jewish and Christian thought. by the Stoic Panaetius (185–112 B.C.), and used by Cicero in his De Officiis, became in the hands of St Ambrose arguments for the direction of the clergy in the founding of the medieval church; and in the 13th century Aristotle reasserts his influence through such leaders of medieval thought as St Thomas Aquinas. St Paul’s chapters on charity, not fully appreciated and understood, one is inclined to think, have perhaps more than any other words prevented an absolute lapse into the materialism of almsgiving. After him we think of St Francis, the greatest of a group of men who, seeking reality in life, revived charity; but to the theory of charity it might almost be said that since Aristotle and St Paul nothing has been added until we come to the economic and moral issues which Dr Chalmers explained and illustrated.

The problem turns on the conception (1) of purpose, (2) of the self, and (3) of charity, love or friendship as an active force in social life. To the Greek, or at least to Greek philosophic thought, purpose was the measure of goodness. To have no purpose was, so far as the particular act was concerned, to be simply irrational; and the less definite the purpose the more irrational the act. This conception of purpose was the touchstone of family and social life, and of the civic life also. In no sphere could goodness be irrational. To say that it was without purpose was to say that it was without reality. So far as the actor was concerned, the main purpose of right action was the good of the soul (ψυχή); and by the soul was meant the better self, “the ruling part” acting in harmony with every faculty and function of the man. With faculties constantly trained and developed, a higher life was gradually developed in the soul. We are thus, it might be said, what we become. The gates of the higher life are within us. The issue is whether we will open them and pass in.

Consistent with this is the social purpose. Love or friendship is not conceived by Aristotle except in relation to social life. Society is based on an interchange of services. This interchange in one series of acts we call justice; in another friendship or love. A man cannot be just unless he has acquired a certain character or habit of mind; and hence no just man will act without knowledge, previous deliberation and definite purpose. So also will a friend fulfil these conditions in his acts of love or friendship. In the love existing between good men there is continuance and equality of service; but in the case of benefactor and benefited, in deeds of charity, in fact, there is no such equality. The satisfaction is on one side but often not on the other. (The dilemma is one that is pressed, though not satisfactorily, in Cicero and Seneca.) The reason for this will be found, Aristotle suggests, in the feeling of satisfaction which men experience in action. We realize ourselves in our deeds—throw ourselves into them, as people say; and this is happiness. What we make we like: it is part of us. On the other hand, in the person benefited there may be no corresponding action, and in so far as there is not, there is no exchange of service or the contentment that arises from it. The “self” of the recipient is not drawn out. On the contrary, he may be made worse, and feel the uneasiness and discontent that result from this. In truth, to complete Aristotle’s argument, the good deed on one side, as it represents the best self of the benefactor, should on the other side draw out the best self of the person benefited. And where there is not ultimately this result, there is not effective friendship or charity, and consequently there is no personal or social satisfaction. The point may be pushed somewhat further. In recent developments of charitable work the term “friendly visitor” is applied to persons who endeavour to help families in distress on the lines of associated charity. It represents the work of charity in one definite light. So far as the relation is mutual, it cannot at the outset be said to exist. The charitable friend wishes to befriend another; but at first there may be no reciprocal feeling of friendship on the other’s part—indeed, such a feeling may never be created. The effort to reciprocate kindness by becoming what the friend desires may be too painful to make. Or the two may be on different planes, one not really befriending, but giving without intelligence, the other not really endeavouring to change his nature, but receiving help solely with a view to immediate advantage. The would-be befriender may begin “despairing of no man,” expecting nothing in return; but if, in fact, there is never any kind of return, the friendship actually fails of its purpose, and the “friend’s” satisfaction is lost, except in that he may “have loved much.” In any case,