an eminence. Numbers are within the immediate sphere of their irradiation: the blaze of their virtues is conspicuous to all; and, whilst all admire, some will catch the flame of benevolence, and endeavour; to imitate that noble spirit. of philanthropy, which rejoices in every opportunity of employing itself for the benefit of mankind. ...... ., ,

The obligation upon every man thus to exert the talents he has received, for the good of himself and others, is. clearly de* ducible from a variety of topics of argument. The first and greatest of these is the example of God himself. In the Ian-, guage of scripture, *.* God is Jove;" and the voice of reason and nature, speaks the same language. It was love, which called man from nothing into existence; from mingling with the clods q£ the valley to the view and capacity of immortality. Love breathes through the whole creation, and meets us wherever we turn our eyes;



but, above all, it shines forth in the great work of redemption, which was planned and executed by the most wonderful ef* fort of divine benevolence, for the resto-^ ration of a lost and rebellious race. And^ in imitation of this parental love of God the Father, God the Son also is described as exerting, through his whole life, the powers of omnipotence in doing good to the souls and bodies of men.

Now these sublime characters of the Godhead are not held forth to our view for adoration and praise alone, though they have the amplest claim to both front every considerate mind, but also for our example and imitation, that we should by them be induced, in our several stations, to make a good use of the talents committed to us; and endeavour, as far as human infirmity allows, to be perfect in good works, even as our Father in heaven

is perfect.



But, though God's authority and example be undoubtedly the best and strongest argument for the vigorous application of our talents for the good of others, yet the obligation to it may also clearly be deduced from the constitution of man himself.

. Man is formed by nature for a reciprocation of good offices. He cannot sub->sist a single moment without help; from the cradle to the grave he wants it. For, though in society, where mutual wants are supplied by mutual assistance, he is tl^e most powerful of all beings; yet, when solitary, he is the most timid and helpless. Since, therefore, he requires aid, the duty must certainly be reciprocal to give it; since he cannot live without receive ing freely, he is indisputably bound to give freely. .

Indeed, this exertion of our talents, in *. . reciprocation of good offices, is the "" l very, bond and cement, which can alone keep firm and compacted the jarring and discordant interets of civil society. For, take away the power, the obligation, and the will of doing good to other; let self* ishness and an avaricious desire of mo* nopolizing the blessings of life prevail; and men will soon become uncontrolable savages, without bond' or .capacity of union. ', > • . > ;■ ;:,..-,'

And, even setting aside the clear deductions of argument upon this point, we may safely affirm that every man, in whom. nature is not distorted from her original form, must be sensible.of this obligation from the strong impulse of those principles of benevolence, which are deeply engraven on his hearty..

I will not enter into the dispute, how far God has given us an internal sense correspondent to every external object or moral perfection; but, I think, it will be

.. . no no presumption to say, that benevolence is either an implanted principle, or grows up so readily with our earliest years, that it may justly be considered as such. Every man feels it within himself, where nature is suffered to act without restraint. We are irresistibly impelled to drop the tear of pity over the sufferings of distress, by a voice within us, whose language cannot be mistaken, though its dictates are too often stifled by the intervention of baser passions. And even then, we cannot forbear admiring in others what we are unwilling to practise ourselves; and the impenetrable heart of the miser himself will secretly applaud the charity, which it cannot be prevailed upon to imitate.

Now such an impulse as this, so strong, so universal, so invariable, can be no other than the pure voice of nature, proclaiming to every man the indispensable duty of doing all the good in his power

Vol. IV. C to

« ElőzőTovább »