1632 By George Herbert

The Parson's Courtesie.

THe Countrey Parson owing a debt of Charity to the
poor, and of Courtesie to his other parishioners, he so
distinguisheth, that he keeps his money for the poor, and his
table for those that are above Alms. Not but that the poor
are welcome also to his table, whom he sometimes purposely
takes home with him, setting them close by him, and carving
for them, both for his own humility, and their comfort, who
are much cheered with such friendliness. But since both is
to be done, the better sort invited, and meaner relieved, he
chooseth rather to give the poor money, which they can better
employ to their own advantage, and sutably to their needs,
then so much given in meat at dinner. Having then invited
some of his Parish, hee taketh his times to do the like to the
rest; so that in the compasse of the year, hee hath them all
with him, because countrey people are very observant of such
things, and will not be perswaded, but being not invited,
they are hated. Which perswasion the Parson by all means
avoyds, knowing that where there are such conceits, there is
no room for his doctrine to enter. Yet doth hee oftenest
invite those, whom hee sees take best courses, that so both
they may be encouraged to persevere, and others spurred to
do well, that they may enjoy the like courtesie. For though
he desire, that all should live well, and vertuously, not for any
reward of his, but for vertues sake; yet that will not be so:
and therefore as God, although we should love him onely
for his own sake, yet out of his infinite pity hath set forth
heaven for a reward to draw men to Piety, and is content, if
at least so, they will become good: So the Countrey Parson,
who is a diligent observer, and tracker of Gods wayes, sets
up as many encouragements to goodnesse as he can, both in
honour, and profit, and fame; that he may, if not the best
way, yet any way, make his Parish good.

Editor's Note: Forgive me, George Herbert, but I keep remembering the movie "Viridiana."

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