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we have had of the fame State and Circumstances in ourselves. Thus a noble Heathen Poet introduces a certain great Person, telling how, from the Experience of Misfortunes in her own Circumstances, she had learned to pity and relieve the Unfortunate :
Having Experience of Misfortunes myself, says she, I learn to relieve the Unfortunate. A very just Thought; and I find God himself makes use of such an Argument in a more lively Manner to the People of Israel, against the Oppression of Strangers, Exod. xxiii. 9. Thou shalt not oppress a Stranger, says he, for ye know the Heart of a Stranger, seeing ye weré Strangers in the Land of Egypt. Now if this one thing of Experience were observed, and applied to the Rule of
my Text, what excellent Direction would it afford us in most of the Cases of human Life? If ever ye were poor, think upon it; ye know the Heart of a poor Man, and what is the most proper Way to treat and comfort any such. If ever ye were in Debt, and had to do with a rigid Creditor, then ye know, when ye are Creditors, what is the most proper Way to behave yourselves towards
your Debters. If ever ye were fick, and wanted Tendance, and Company, and Comfort of Friends, your own Experience, with the Help of this Rule, will teach you best your Duty to fick People. If ever ye suffered under harsh Masters or Mistresses; or were disheartned by severe Fathers and Mothers, or Fathers or Mo
thers-in-Law, or Tutors and Guardians; if ever ye were imposed upon by fraudulent or exacting Merchants, or oppressed by insolent or arbitrary Magistrates, Officers, or Commanders; then your own Experience, with the Application of this Rule, will best teach you how to behave your selves, when ye are Masters, or Mistresses; Parents, or Parents-in-Law; Tutors and Guardiars; Merchants, or Magistrates, &c. or in any
other of those States and Circumstances, of which ye have had Experience in any former Part of your Life.
But against this it may be objected, That the taking of this Course will cast us upon the contrary Extreme, as putting all the Weight of Self-love, and Self-interest, into the other Scale. For it is not to be supposed, when we were in these other Circumstances, that our Sentiments were exactly just, no more than they are now. But to this I answer ; First, That this Method will bring our partial Sentiments much nearer a Poise than they would be otherwise, by ballancing the inordinate Self-love, which infinuates itself into all our Actions at present, with a former Self-love, which would have turned the Scale the other Way. Now the weighing these two one against the other, is the way to find out the right, which is commonly in the Middle between them. But, Secondly, suppose this Method should carry us a little to the other Extreme, the Consequence will only be, that we shall be a little kinder to our Neighbour than is exactly just; and this, I think, is no bad Consequence, as long as we ourselves are the other Party; what if we do intermix a little more Cha
rity, more Humanity, more Civility and good Usage than is exactly our Neighbour's due, and so yield a little of what in Strictness would be our own Right, is there any Harm in this? Never fear that too much Charity, or Goodness, or kind Confideration of our Neighbour's Circumstances, will do us any harm, if we should happen to go a little to that Extreme. But really there is no Occasion to fear the running to this Extreme at all, for Self-interest is so strong, that if we strain ever so much against it, it will retain something of its present Crookedness; at least, there is no Fear that by all our Pains it will quite go back to its former Biass, and incline to that Extreme, if we should use ever so much Art and Vigour to bend it that Way. The Method then to which I have been advising you, is, only to serve your Self-love, and Self-interelt, which are very crooked Inclinations, the fame Way ye serve a crooked Stick, when ye would make it straight; ye bend it as far as ye can the contrary Way; not that ye mean to have it crooked that Way no more than the other, but because ye know that is the best way to overcome its present Crookedness, and to make it straight.
So much for the first Advice, to facilitate the Rule of my Text; namely, the remembring and considering what Sentiments we had formerly, when we were in the same or like Circumstances with our Neighbour, and the acting accordingly; which, by the by, is, though a very rational, yet a very uncommon Practice; for when Men grow rich and great, they soon forget what Thoughts and Sentiments they had when they were low and poor ; at least, they do not care
actually to remember and call to Mind these Things.
But now, Secondly, suppose we have never been in any such Circumstances ourselves, there are many other Ways, by which we may come to know what are the ordinary Sentiments of Men in the same or like Case with those we have to deal with. Next to Experience, the Examples of others, of which we have read, or which have been told us, or which we may have observed our felves, if duly improved, will serve to teach us what we would think just and fair in such and such Circumstances. Especially it is observed of domestick Examples, those I mean, in our own Family and near Friends, that they make almost as great an Impression, as the other Experiments we make in our own Perfons. Here then we have the Experience of our Fathers, and Mothers, and Predeceffors, and all our near Relations, Friends, and Acquaintance, to help us to this useful Piece of Knowledge, what Sentiments we should be of, if we were in such and fuch Circumstances, that so we may be enabled to do by our Neighbour, as we should think it just and fair that he should do by us in the like Circumstances. So we find the People of Israel put in mind, not only of such things as fell under their own Experience, but under the Experience of their Fathers and Progenitors. Thus the Prophet Jeremiab puts them in mind of their Father's Hospitality, and Justice, and Honesty, to condemn their own Covetousness and Oppression : Jer. xxii. 15. Did not tky Father eat and drink, and do Judgment and Justice, and then it was well with him? be judged the Cause of the Paor and Needy,
then it was well with him.-- But thine Eyes and thine Heart are not but for thy Covetousness, and for to shed innocent Blood, and for Oppresion, and for Violence, to do it. So the Advice to be hospitable to Strangers, because they had been Strangers in the Land of Egypt, was often given, not only to themselves, but to the Posterity of them who were so oppressed. This is the great Use we Thould make of all Histories, and all Examples, both for Imitation and Caution, even to learn, both from the Virtues and Vices of others, what is right, and what is wrong, and what unbiaffed Sentiments of Things we should have, if ever it come to be our own Case. But,
Thirdly, Where both these fail, and we have neither our own Experience, nor our Observation of the Experiences of others, to direct us to find out the real Sentiments we should have, if we were in such and such Circumstances, then the Knowledge of Mankind in general, together with an hearty and compassionate Application of other Mens Thoughts and Circumstances to our selves, will qualify us to find out the right Temper of Mind and Thoughts for one in such and such particular Circumstances. And therefore let us but endeavour heartily to make other Mens Case our own, and to have a true Sympathy and Fellow-feeling of it, and it will be no very
hard Matter to enter into such Thoughts and Confiderations as are proper for their State. An universal Concern for, and good Will to, others, would go a great way in this. We see how pathetically an Attorney, or Advocate, will open, and plead for his Client's Cause, only for some known Confiderations, whereby he makes his