« ElőzőTovább »
"the Profane, admonish the Erring with "fo much ease, advantage and authority as "our bleffed Lord did; we fhould then per
haps be very free and liberal in imparting "thofe great Favours and Bleffings Heaven "had fo fignally beftowed upon us, for the "good and benefit of others. But alas! as "things now ftand with us, we have neither "Power nor Skill, nor Means to do good at "all, after that illuftrious manner our Sa"viour did."
To which, all I fhall at prefent reply, is, that tho we cannot after that ftupendous manner be beneficial to Mankind, as our Saviour was, yet there are very many things which we are able to do for the good of others, which our blessed Saviour could not do by reason of his Poverty and low Estate in this World, without the Expence of a Miaacle.
Few of us, but as to our outward Circumftances in this Life, are in a far more plentiful Condition than the Son of God himself was, whilft here on Earth: and it is in our power by ordinary ways to relieve and fuccour, oblige and benefit many, fo as our Lord could not do, without employing his Divine Power to furnifh himfelf with means for it.
Be pleased therefore to take notice that it is not doing good just in the fame inftances, or after that fame wonderful manner, that this Example obligeth us unto, but only to
a like Willingness and Readiness to do good upon all fit occafions, as far as our Power and Activity reacheth. It obligeth us all in our feveral Stations, according to thofe Opportunities God hath afforded us, and thofe Abilities he hath endued us with, and thofe Conditions of Life his Providence has placed us in, to endeavour, as much as in us lies, the Welfare and Profperity. Eafe and Happiness of all Men so that others may bless the divine Goodness for us, the state of their Bodies or Minds being bettered by our imparting to them what God hath more abundantly bestowed upon us
Contrary to which, is a narrow, selfish, ftingy Spirit; when we are concerned for none but our felves, and regard not how it fares with other Men, fo it be but well with us; when we follow our own Humour, and with great Pleasure enjoy the Accommodations of our own State; when we think our own Happiness the greater, because we have it alone to our felves, and no other partakes of it which of all other things is the moft directly oppofite to that benign and compaffionate Temper, which our Saviour came into the World by his Doctrine and Example to implant in Men.
I fhall not undertake to fet before you the several Instances of doing good to others, fince they are fo various and infinite, and our Duty varies according to our Circumstances and Opportunities, which are very different;
and every one may eafily find them out by confidering what good he would have other Men do for him. What he should reasonably expect, or would take kindly from those he converfeth with, or is any ways related unto, all that he is in like cafes to be willing to do for another fo that this doing good is a work of large comprehenfive extent and univerfal influence; it reacheth to the Souls and Bodies of Men, and takes in all those ways and means whereby we may promote the temporal, fpiritual, or eternal advantage of others. And to fo happy and noble an Employment, one would think there fhould be no need of Perfuafion. However, I humbly beg your patience, whilft I put you in mind of fome of those Arguments and Confiderations which feem moft proper and effectual to engage Men to the imitation of this bleffed Example, to do all the good they can in the World.
1. This, of all other Employments, is most agreeable to our Natures. By doing good we gratify and comply with the best and nobleft of our natural Inclinations and Appetites. The very fame Sense which informs us of our own Wants, and doth powerfully move and inftigate us to provide for their Relief, doth also refent the Diftreffes of another, and vehemently provoke and urge us to yield him all neceffary Succour. This is true in all Men, but most apparent in the beft Natures, that at beholding the Miferies and Calamities of other Men, they find fuch yernings of their Bowels,
and fuch fenfible Commotions and Paffions raised in their own Breasts, as they can by no means fatisfy, but by reaching forth their helping hand and to deny our affistance according as our Ability permits us, is a Violence to our very Natural Inftincts and Propenfions, as well as contrary to our Religious Obligations; our very Flesh, which in many other inftances tempts us to Sin, yet in this cafe prompts us to our Duty.
This is a gracious provifion God Almighty hath made in favour of the Neceffitous, and Calamitous; that fince his Providence, for great reafons, is pleased to permit fuch inequalities in Mens Fortunes and outward Conditions, the state of some in this life being fo extremely wretched and deplorable, if compared with others; left therefore the Sick and Blind, and Naked and Poor should seem to be forgotten, or wholly difregarded by their Maker, He hath implanted in Men a quick and tender fenfe of Pity and Compaffion, that should always follicit and plead their Caufe, ftand their Friend, and not only dif pofe us, but e'en force us for our own quiet and fatisfaction, tho with fome inconvenience to our felves, to relieve and fuccour the Afflicted and Miserable, according to our several Capacities and Opportunities. And this Sympathy doth as truly belong to human Nature, as Love, Defire, Hope, Fear, or any other Affection of our Minds; and it is as eafy a matter to diveft our felves of any other
Paffion, as of this of Pity: And he who like the Prieft and Levite in our Saviour's Parable of the wounded Man, is void of all compaffion, is degenerated not fo much into the likeness of a brute Beast, as of the hardest Rock or Marble. Thus to do good is according to the very Make and Frame of our Beings and Natures.
Hence it follows that it must be the most pleafant and delightful Employment we can chufe for our felves. Whatever is according to our Nature, muft for that reafon be pleafant for all actual Pleasure confifts in the gratification and fatisfaction of our natural Inclinations and Appetites. Since therefore the very Constitution and Temper of our Nature fway and prompt us to the exercise of Charity and Beneficence, the fatisfying fuch Inclinations, by doing good, must be as truly grateful to us, as any other Thing or Action whatever that miniftreth to our Pleasure ; and it cannot be more delightful to receive Kindnesses, than it is to bestow them. A feafonable unexpected Relief doth not affect him that stands in great need of it with more fenfible Contentment, than the Opportunity of doing it doth rejoice a good Man's heart. Nay, it may be doubted on which hand lies the greatest Obligation; whether he who receives is more obliged to the Giver for the good turn he has done him, or the Giver be more obliged to the Receiver for the occafion of exercifing his goodness. When we receive