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to patch up and improve the Ruins of it, by certain artificial Methods of Education, which we call Goodmanners and Good-breeding; by which the Language and Forms of Humanity are in some measure preserved, without any correspondent Sympathy in the inward Man. Hence proceed the affected Sigh, the aukward Smile, the lying Tear, the ceremonious Compliment, the insincere Promise, the merry Mourning, and all the various Forms and Shapes of Hypocrisy, which pass current through the polite World, under the venerable Names of Good-nature and Good-manners; from whence (as I have already observed) the partial and corrupt Observers of human Nature have taken occasion to resolve all the Appearances of Humanity and Benevolence among Mankind into Policy, Affectation, or Self-love: But let these Enemies of human Nature declaim and reason as loudly and perversely as they please, sure I am, there is such a Principle as Generosity and Benevolence, the original Growth of human Nature, implanted in us by the Great Author of our Being, which is inseparable from great and worthy Minds; which, however it may be checked and buried under the corrupt Passions and Inclinations of degenerate Nature; yet has still some Force, even in the worst of Tempers, and is an invincible Bias and Direction in the best. Let us but observe the involuntary (I had almost faid, mechanical) Emotions of Compassion that arise in the Hearts of all Men, who are not quite abandoned, at the Sight of an unhappy Object in Distress; and the God-like Pleasure that arises from our successful Endeavours to relieve them, and get them removed into a happier Situation: This is an un3 answerable
answerable Proof that there is, even in these Ruins of human Nature, such a Virtue as a disinterested Benevolence; and that this is not an artificial, but a natural State of Soul, appears plainly from hence, that we see even Children, and People of weak Understandings, who are not capable of abstracted Reflections, who are most thoughtless of their own Condition, and incapable of entering into the Prospects of Futurity, have the most tender and affecting Sentiments of Compassion. But when we proceed further, and reflect upon the divine Satisfaction that arises in a generous Heart, from the Consciousness of having done a good-natured, compassionate Thing, to a Person in Distress, of having relieved his Sorrows, and comforted an afflicted Soul, it can proceed from nothing but a Consciousness of having acted agreeably to the Dignity of our Nature, something worthy of a great and generous Soul.
This is saying a great deal; but this is not all. It is possible that all this may be done by the mere Strength of Good-nature, but especially if joined with good Sense, and improved by wise and strong Reflection; but there is yet behind one Point of Honour, one Instance os a great and noble Soul, which mere Nature, unassisted by the Grace of God, can never attain to; and that is, aster the Command and Example of our Blessed Master, tt forgive Injuries, to love our Enemies, to bless them that hate us, to pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us. This is a hard Lesson to corrupt Flesh and Blood, and appears as absurd and unreasonable to unmortified Reason, as to be in love with Sickness and Poverty, or to pray for Pestilence and Famine. But, that even this is a Duty, though not discoverable by corrupt Reason, nor agreeable to our corrupt Passions, not only bound upon us by the Obligations of Religion, but persectly agreeable to the supreme Truth and Nature of Things, I shall endeavour to make appear from these two Considerations:
1. That an unsorgiving revengeful Temper can only proceed from a Littleness and Weakness of Mind, and a narrow Understanding.
2. That, by plain Consequence, a Forgiveness of Injuries, and a placable and merciful Disposition towards those that commit them, is an insallible Mark of a great Mind, animated by noble Sentiments, and just Views of the real State and ultimate Issue of Things.
Infirm: est animi exiguiq; voluptas Ultio,— was the Observation of a wise Heathen; and whatever Opinion the military Gentlemen (who, in all Ages and Nations are much the fame), might have, of the Lawfulness and Expediency of Revenge, the wiser and better Part of the heathen World, the Moralists and Philosophers were univerfally agreed to condemn it as ungenerous and unmanly. If we duly consider the real Ground and Foundation of most of the Enmities and Disputes which divide and disturb Mankind, (I mean private Persons) we generally find, they arise from such Trifles as a wise Man would be ashamed to own. All the great Articles of human Property are happily secured to every good Man by the Laws of our Country, and all Controversies upon these Accounts are easily reducible to a just and equitable Decision; but the Things which break the Friendships, interrupt the Peace, and trouble the Re
pose of Mankind, are generally of another Nature; such as little Competitions for Interest, or Emulations for Fame, Honour, and Precedency; a wry Look, a contemptuous Expression, a disrespectsul Behaviour, or even the mistaken Appearance of either, which a wise Man would have despised and pitied, has too . often produced bloody and tragical Consequences. Now, how is it possible that such Trifles should discompose a reasonable Mind, force it from its Situation, and precipitate the angry Soul into a State of Fury and Distraction! How comes it to pass that such Trifles, as have no real Connection with our Happiness, no Existence but in our distempered Imaginations, should have so much Power over us, as to difarm our Reason, baffle all our Philosophy, and drive us to such Degrees of Madness as may intail Sorrow upon our last Moments, and casts us into endless Misery! Why, it proceeds only from a shameful Weakness of Mind, a Desect of Reason, and a criminal Indulgence of Fancy, Imagination, and Passion. This may help to explain a common Observation: That Cowards are most prone to Revenge. A Man of a little Mind, who has been guilty. of mean and dishonourable Practices, judges of other Men by himself, and measures every Man's Sentiments by his own, and theresore cannot expect that another Jhould forgive him, what he knows he could not forgive in another; and is theresore under continual Apprehensions of suffering what he knows he has deserved, and can never think himself secure till he can find an Opportunity of finishing his Malice by some unsuspected Treachery in an unguarded Hour. Sq true is that Saying, That Cowards have been known to
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fight, and sometimes to conquer, but were never known to forgive; which gave Occasion for the Spanijh Proverb, agreeable to the Genius of that proud, cowardly, vindictive Nation, Forgive me the Injuries you have done me.
Forgiveness of Injuries, therefore, and a merciful Disposition towards those that have injured us, is an insallible Mark of a great and noble Mind, and is our indifpensible Duty, 1. As reasonable Creatures j but more so, 2. As Christians.
As reasonable Creatures, we mould seriously con" sider the real Ground of our Complaints, the Subject-matter of our Contentions, the Nature of those Articles, in which we are capable of doing, or receiving Injuries; and these appear, at first Sight, to be nothing more than the trifling Appendages of this short precarious State of Being; little Circumstances, arising from the present fantastical State of Things, in which the real and proper Happiness of dur Nature is no way concerned; a State that will quickly have an End, and in the next Stage of Existence will appear as not worthy to be remembered by rational and immortal Spirits, created for everlasting Lise and Glory. Of these, if we would form a right Judgment, we should judge of them as God judges. We should endeavour to view them in the fame Light as they appear to glorified Saints and Angels, the glorious Host of Heaven. To these blessed Spirits, all our eager Competitions, and fierce Contentions for Interest, or Fame, Riches, Glory, Crowns and Scepters, Kingdoms and Empires, appear just as contemptible, though not so innocent, as the Squabbles of Children about Play-things and