תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

than others? do not even the Publicans 6? 9. d. No great Thanks to you, if you are only kind to them who are kind to you ; Self-Love, and common Gratitude, which Men of the lowest Rank of Goodness put in practice, will carry you thus far. But if ye intend to be my Disciples, and think to get to Heaven, ye must not content yourselves with an ordinary Degree of Virtue, nor propose to yourselves the ordinary Patterns of the World, but must imitate God himfelf as far as human Frailty will allow, particularly in this ex. traordinary Duty of the Love of Enemies..

From the Words thus briefly explained, there are several Things I would observe, and recommend as worthy of our Confideration and suitable Practice.

1. First, I observe, that Gratitude is here recommended, not as a peculiar Virtue of Christianity, but as a common Virtue all the World over, judged necessary to be put in practice by all, even Men of the lowest Figure for Reputation; If ye love them wbicb love you, what Reward bave ye? do not even the Publicans the same ?

II. I observe, that the shewing Courteousness, and Civility, and Acts of Kindness to those of our own Sect or Party, is a very low Degree of Virtue : If ye salute your Brethren only, what de ye more than others ?

III. I observe, that merę Principles of SelfLove, without any thing of Religion, will carry a Man to be kind and courteous to thofe who are lo to him. This is implied in those Words, do not even the Publicans the fame?

IV. I observe, that upon occafion of any good Thing we see in other Men, we fhould stir up

our

ourselves to an holy Emulation to equal, or exceed them, as the Principles and Duties of our Religion do require ; as here, from the Example of the very Publicans, our Saviour excites us to the highesť Degrees of Duty.

V. Lastly; I obserye, that if we would approve ourselves true Chrisțians, and expect to go to Heaven, we must not content ourselves to live like other ordinary Men of the World; but even in those things wherein they seem to give us good Examples, should outstrip them, and distinguish ourselves, by endeavouring after the highest Degrees of all Christian Virtues. This is implied in these Words, What do ye more than others ?

I shall endeavour to bring all these within the Limits of this present Discourse.

I. The first Thing I observe from the Words, is, that Gratitude is here recommended, not as a peçuliar Virtue of Christianity, but as a common Virtue all the World over, and judged necessary to be put in practice by all, even Men of the lowest Figure for Reputation. If ye love them which love you, what Reward have ye? Do not even the Publicans the same ? Not that it is our Saviour's Design to speak diminutively, or contemptibly of this great Virtue of Gratitude : Quite otherwise, he takes it to be a Virtue fo conspicuous by the very Light of Nature, that all Men, even they who have a very indifferent Character otherwise, think it necessary to put it in practice. There are none but some of the very worst of Mankind, who do not love their Friends, and think themselves obliged to reward one Kindness with another; and therefore it is no wonder that our Saviour insists so little on this Duty; for pressing

fo

so much as he does the Love of Enemies, this of Friends is included. And there was indeed little occasion to press a Duty which all Mankind agreed in, at least, as to the Theory, whatever they may do as to the Practice. There were not, among the Jews, any Men more generally odious than the Publicans, who were Gatherers of the publick Taxes; whether it was that the Taxes were much hated, being payed to the Roman Conquerors, and so being Signs of their Subjection and servitude ; or whether these Publicans, who were an inferior fort of Farmers of the Taxes and Customs, stretched their Power to exact more than their due of the poor People ; yet as large Consciences as they had, they would go fo far into the Duty of Love and Charity, as to be loving and kind to their own Friends. Our Saviour thought it a great Disparagement, both to his Disciples and himself, that they should be no better than those who were reckoned among the worst of Men.

II. The second Thing which I observed, was, that the shewing of Courteousness, and Civility, and Acts of Kindness to those of our own Sect and Party, is a very low Degree of Virtue; If ye salute your Brethren only, what do ye more than others? It is a certain Sign of a little narrow Soul, which thus confines Love and Charity. This was a Vice the Jews in general were guilty of, and a Vice that all Sects of Christians, especially the most heretical and schismatical, do most notoriously espouse. One of the surest Effects of our different Opinions in Matters of Religion, is, that they straiten and confine our Charity within so very narrow Bounds, that it destroys the Duty

indeed,

indeed, as to the far greater part of thofe to whom it is due ; which is often a much worse Evil, than the Error in Opinion which occasioned it. I know not how all our ftrictest Sects have been deluded into so gross and so dangerous a piece of Immorality. There can be nothing more contrary to the Laws of Charity, which, by the Rule of the Gospel, is to be extended to all Men, even to our bitterest Enemies; nor to the Duty of brotherly Love, which is due to all Christians, than that proud, narrow-soul'd Temper. And therefore it is no wonder that our Sąviour did so particularly guard his Disciples againit it, and as it were shame them out of it, as he does in the Text.

III. The third Thing I observed from the Words, is, that mere. Principles of Self-Love, without any thing of Religion, will carry a Man to be kind and courteous to those who are so to him. This is inplied in these Words, Do not even the Publicans the fame? He doth not say, do not even the Scribes and Pharisees the fame; for they were People who pretended to be governed by religious Principles. "Two Things will be necessary to make us sensible of the Force of this Argument.

1. That Principles of Self-Love will carry us thus far.

2. And if so, then our Love, if limited to Friends, is no Part of Religion, but only Self-Love or Compliance with the Fashion, or our worldly Interest.

1. Now the first of these, it can be no hard Matter to convince us of, that Principles of SelfLove will carry us to the Love of Friends, or those that love us. A Man that would have Friends,

mult

must fhew himself friendly; and that Friends are a very great Help in furthering us, and all our Affairs in the World, there can be no manner of Doubt. Now worldly Men being, as our Saviour observes elsewhere, in their Generation wiser than the Children of Light; that is, minding and profecuting their worldly Interest closer than Men of Piety and Religion, must be supposed to obferve and follow every Thing that makes for their Purpose, with an equal, at least, if not with much greater Application and Diligence. And there is nothing the whole world is more fenfible of than this, how neceffary Friends are towards the Promotion of their several Interests. We may observe that the greatest Princes, States, and Potentates upon Earth, do not think themselves safe alone, except they strengthen themselves with Friend ships and Alliances; and in order, both to the engaging and keeping their Friends and Allies, they find themselves obliged mutually to protect and defend them. And so it is among private Men, they being yet more sensible, as they have reason, of their own Weakness, have invented many Ways to strengthen themselves by Friendships and Alliances; for often they betake themselves to great Men, and try, by all Means, if they can insinuate themselves into their Favour : Often they enter into Societies and Fraternities, for their mutual Support; and besides, they study by all the Arts of Civility and Complaisance, to get into the Favour of as many particular Persons as they can, by that means to enlarge their Estate, and secure their Interest. But on the other hand, if they have any formidable Enemy, they set themselves, by all means possible, to crush and vanquish him.

2. This

« הקודםהמשך »