Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/73

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61
VOLUNTEER VISITORS.

its evil has been reduced to a great extent. But the gift you have to make to the poor, depend upon it, is the greatest of all gifts you can make—that of yourselves, following in your great Master's steps, whose life is the foundation of all charity. The form of it may change with the ages, the great law remains, "Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away;" but see that thou give him bread, not a stone—bread, the nourishing thing, that which wise thought teaches you will be to him helpful, not what will ruin him body and soul; else, while obeying the letter of the command, you will be false to its deep everlasting meaning. My friends, I have lived face to face with the poor for now some years, and I have not learned to think gifts of necessaries, such as a man usually provides for his own family, helpful to them. I have abstained from such, and expect those who love the poor and know them individually will do so more and more