Alms, or charitable donations to the poor. In the early ages of Christianity, this term was employed in a more general sense, and signified as well those donations which were given for the subsistence of the ecclesiastical establishments, as those which were ap-propriated to the repair of churches, and the relief of the indigent.
Alms-giving forms an essential part of all religions. It is particu-arly enjoined by the Mahometans; and the Alcoran represents it as the only means of ensuring successful prayer. The Christian system constantly recommends the active practice of benevolence, and the frequent distribution of alms.
Hence Dean Swift very emphatically remarks, that "the poor beggar has a just demand of an Alms from the rich man; who is guilty of fraud, injustice, and op-ion, if he does not afford relief, according to his abilities."