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instructive and beautiful; and is so obvious in its meaning, and so forcible in its conclusion, as to render all comment superfluous. The story has all the minuteness, all the local allusion, of a narration founded on facts.
In the parable, a certain man, who was a Jew, is represented as travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and falling into the hands of robbers, who, after stripping and wounding him, left him half dead. While in this helpless condition, there passed by him one who could have no prejudices against him on account of his country, and whose priestly office should have led him to have compassion on the distressed, and to relieve them. But when he saw him he passed by on the other side. There next followed a Levite, a man of professed sanctity, and who ought to have had pity on a fellow-creature ; but he, though he came and looked on him, passed by on the other side. Both were the ministers of religion, who were under obligation, from their office, to perform works of charity and mercy, and who could not palliate their inhumanity by alleging that the sufferer was a Samaritan or a Heathen.
At length a Samaritan came that way, between whom and the Jews there existed an hereditary hostility, but who, when he saw him, had compassion on him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Here was the exercise of the love which is the fulfilling of the law. In place of calculating on the hinderance, the trouble, the expense, which would be occasioned by waiting to help this fellow-creature in distress, the Samaritan was moved with compassion, and acted agreeably to its dictates.
The parable is so framed as to produce the conviction intended, and to force the inquirer to acknowledge, contrary to his prevailing prejudices, that all his fellow-creatures were his neighbours. This neighbourhood is founded on the common relation which subsists between all mankind as branches of one stock, as partakers of the same nature, as having the same capacity for immortal happiness, and as being mutually dependent on each other.
Thus, it appears, that all mankind are our neighbours, and that we are bound, to the extent of our power and opportunity, to do good unto all men. Intelligent beings, of whatever nature, who are capable of happiness, are the objects of our benevolent wishes, and did our efforts reach them, of whatever exertions we could make in advancing their welfare.
That we are bound to extend our benevolence and forgiveness to our enemies, is not less clear, as the duty is expressly enjoined by our Lord and his Apostles. -6 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, (that is, according to the sense in which the Pharisees understood this term, our friends,) and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you,
Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you :
ye may be the children of your Father, who is in hea. ven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the
unjust*. For if ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. But I say unto you, love ye your enemies ; and do good, and lend; hoping for nothing again ; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be called the children of the Highest t. If thine enemy hun: ger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good I.”
These, and other similar passages of Scripture, are decisive as to the duty of extending our benevolence and forgiveness to our enemies. If any one scriptural attestation to the importance of this duty could be supposed stronger than another, I would allude to the petition in that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples: “ Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
ON THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE ARE REQUIRED TO LOVE
The rule which is to regulate the nature and extent of our benevolence, is contained in these words : “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
The meaning of this language is, that our love to others is to be the same in kind, and similar in degree with that which we bear to ourselves. * Matt. v. 43, &c. of Luke vi. 32.
Rom. xii. 20, 21.
It is to be the same in kind: not the same in nature as that inordinate, selfish, and sinful affection, with which mankind so generally regard themselves and their interests; but the same as that with which they ought to love themselves. In this way, by appealing to our own hearts, we can ascertain the nature of the feelings which we should indulge to others, and the light in which we should view their happiness. Our feelings and conduct towards them are to be regulated by the great law of love.
“ Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them, for this is the law and the prophets *."
We very sincerely desire our own well-being, and feel, often inordinately, anxious for our own health, credit, safety, and success. We are affected with sorrow at our losses and disappointments, and rejoice when we are prosperous. We should bear a like affection to our neighbours, who are capable of the same enjoyment with ourselves, who occupy, as partakers of the same nature, the same rank in the scale of being, and who are the children of the same good and almighty Parent.
Loving our neighbour as ourselves also implies, that we are to love him generally to the same extent or degree. I say generally, that we are to love him to the same extent or degree ; for, by the constitution of our nature, which is to us the expression of the will of God, we are led to regard the duty as peculiar, of paying regard to ourselves, and to those who are ours. Besides, we certainly owe very different degrees of affection to our fellow-creatures, according to their re
* Matt. vii, 12.
spective worth, and usefulness, and the relation, near or remote, in which they stand to us. We are to do good unto all men, as we have opportunity, but especially, that is, particularly, to those who are of the household of faith.
I would therefore understand the word As, in the commandment, as denoting similitude, rather than perfect equality. We are to love all with a benevolent affection, the same in kind with that which we bear to ourselves; and in general and in indefinite language, the same in degree. We may, with considerable accuracy, define the extent to which we are bound to love our neighbour. We should be as desirous of benefiting, and as unwilling to injure, any human being, as we are sincerely solicitous to do good to ourselves, and wishful to escape evil: we should be as ready to love what is truly lovely, to commend what is commendable, to compassionate, to excuse, and to preserve, in their character, interests, and connexions, every fellow-creature, as we are to exercise, and to do these things in regard to ourselves.
This is what the divine law demands, and what in reason and equity is due. We are the same with other human beings, in their capacity of enjoyment, in their relation to God, in their power of being instrumental in their own and in others' happiness, in their destination to eternity, and in all that is truly stable and substantial. We differ from them only in things that are fleeting and circumstantial ; things in which the same individual, at different periods of his life, may differ from himself, without any diminution of affection for himself and for his interests. Is not