תמונות בעמוד

and brings things to an issue in a few words. It is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings á man sooner to his journey's end than by•ways, in which men often lose theinfelves. In a word, whatever convenience may be thonglit to be in falsehood and difsimulation, it is soon over ; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man under an everlasting jealousy and fufpicion, fo that he is not believed when he speaks truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.

Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with mankind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (as far as refpects the affairs of this world) if he spent his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw. But, if he be to continue in the world, and would have the ad. vantage of reputation whilft he is in it, let him make use of fincerity in all his words and actions; for nothing but this will hold out to the end. All other arts will fail ; but truth and integrity will carry a man through, and : bear him out to the last.

II. On Doing as we would be Done unto: . HUMAN laws are often so numerous as to escape our

memories ; fo darkly fometimes, and inconsistently *worded, as to puzzle our understandings; and they are not unfrequently rendered still more obscure by the nice distinctions and subtile reasonings of those who profess to clear them : so that, under thele several disadvantages, they lose much of their force and influence; and, in fome cases, -raise more difputes than, perhaps, they determine. But here is a law, attended with none of these inconveniences; the groffest minds can scarce misapprehend it ; the weakest memories are capable of retaining ita: no perplexing comment can easily cloud it ; the authority of no man's glofs- upon earth can (if we are but fincere) fway us to make a wrong construction of it. What is said of all the gospel precepts by the evangelical prophet, is more eminently true of this : “ It is an X 3


high-way; and the wayfaring man, though a fool, thall not err therein.”.

It is not enough that a rule, which is to be of general use, is suited to all capacities, so that, wherever it. is reprefented to the mind, it is presently agreed to; it must also be apt to offer itself to our thoughts, and lie ready for present use, upon all exigencies and occasions. And such, reinarkably such, is that which our Lord here: recommends to us. We can scarce be so far surprised by any immediate necessity of acting, as not to have time for a short recourse to it, room for a fudden glance as it were upon it, in our minds; where it refts and sparkles always, like the Urim and Thummim on the breast of Aaron. There is no occasion for us to go in search of it to the oracles of law, dead or living ; to the code or: pandects; to the volumes of divines or moralists : we need look no further than ourselves for it: for (to use. the appolite expressions of Moses), “ This commandment which I command thee this day, is not hidden from: thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou . houldīt say, Who Thall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Nejther is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldst say, Who Shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayeft: do it.”

It is, moreover, a precept particularly fitted for practice; as it involves in the very notion of it a motive ftir. ring us up to do what it enjoins. Other moral, maxims propose naked truths to the understanding, which operate often but faintly and slowly on the will and paffions, the two active principles of the mind of man: but: it is the peculiar character of this, that it addrefseth ita felf equally to all these powers ; imparts both light and heat to us; and, at the same time that it informs us certainly and clearly what we are to do, excites us allo, in the most tender and moving manner to the performance of it. We can often see our neighbour's misfortune, witbout a sensible degree of concern; which yet we cannot forbear exprefling, when we have once nade his condition our own, and determined the meature of our obligation


towards him, by what we ourselves should, in such a case, expect from him: our duty grows immediately our intereft and pleafure, by means of this powerful princi ple; the seat of which is, in truth, not more in the brain, than in the heart of man: it appeals to our very senses; and exerts its fecret force in to prevailing a way, that it is even felt, as well as understood by us.

The last recommendation of this rule I shall mention, is its past and comprehensive influence ; for it extends to all ranks and conditions of men, and to all kinds of action and intercourse between them; to matters of cha.. rity, generofity, and civility, as well as justice ; to negative no less than positive duties. The ruler and the ruled are alike subject to it ; public communities can no more exempt themselves from its obligation than private persons : “ All persons must fall down before it, all na. tions must do it service.” And, with respect to this ex. tent of it, it is, that our blessed Lord pronounces it in the text to be “the law and the prophets.” His meaning is, that whatever rules of the second table are delivered in the law of Mores, or in the larger comments and explanations of that law made by the other writers of the Old Testament (here and elsewhere Ityled the prophets), they are all virtually comprised in this one short. fignificant saying, “ Whatsoever ye would that men: Thould do unto you, do ye even so unto them.”

Ill. On Benevolence and Charity: FORM as amiable sentiments as you can, of nations,

communities of men, and individuals. If they are true, you do them only justice ; if false, though your opinion does not alter their nature and make them love. ly, you yourself are more lovely for entertaining such sentiments. When you feel the bright warmth of a temper thoroughly good in your own breast, you will see. something good in every one about you. It is a mark of littleness of spirit to confine yourself to fome minute part of a man's character: a man of generous, open, ex-. tended views, will grasp the whole of it; without which be cannot pass a right judgment on any part." He will not arraign a man's general conduct for two or three particular actions; as knowing that man is a change


able creature, and will not cease to be so, till he is uni ted to that Being who is “ the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” He lirive in ontdo his friends in good offices, and overcome his enenie, by them. He thinks he ihen receives the greatest injury when he returns and revenges one : for then he is “ overcome of evil.” Is the person young who has injured him ? he will reflect, that inexperience of the world, and a warmth of constitution, may betray bis unpractiled years into several inadvertencies, which a more advanced age, his own good sente, and the advice of a judicious friend, will correct and rectify. Is he old ? the infirmities of age and want of health may have set an edge upon his fpirits, and made him “vipeak unadvisedly with his lips.” Is he weak and ignorant ? he conliders that it is a duty incumbent upon ihe wise to bear with those that are not fo: “ Ye fuffer fools gladly," says St Paul,“ seeing ye yourselves are wise.” In Thort, he judges of bimself, as far as he can, with the strict rigour of justice; but of others, with the foftenings of humanity.

From charitable and benevolent thoughts, the transi tion is unavoidable to charitable actions. For wherever: there is an inexhaustible fund of goodness at the heart, it will, under all the disadvantages of circumstances, exert itself in acts of substantial kindness. He that is substantially good, will be doing good. The man that has a : hearty determinate will to be charitable, will feldom put men off with the mere will for the deed.' For a fincere desire to do good, implies some uneafiness till the thing be done : and uneasiness sets the mind at work, and puts it upon the stretch to find out a thousand ways and means of obliging, which will ever escape the unconcerned, the indifferent, and the unfeeling.

The most proper objects of your bounty are the neceffitous. Give the same sum of money, which you bestow on a person in tolerable circumstances, to one in extreme poverty; and observe what a wide disproportion of happiness is produced. In the latter case, it is like giving a cordial to a fainting person ; in the former, it is like giving wine to him who has already quenched his thirst. "Mercy is seasonable in time of affliction, like clouds of rain in the time of drought.”

And among the yariety of neceffitous objects, none have a better title to our compassion, than those, who, after having talted the sweets of plenty, are, by some undeserved calamity, obliged, without some charitable relief, to drag out the remainder of life in misery and wo; who little thought they should ask their daily bread of any but of God: who, after a life led in affluence, “ cannot dig, and are ashamed to beg.” And they are to be relieved in such an endearing manner, with such a beauty of holiness, that, at the same time that their wants are supplied, their confufion of face may be pre. vented.

There is not an instance of this kind in history so af fećting, as that beautiful one of Boaz to Rath. He knew her family, and how she was reduced to the lowest ebb : when, therefore, the begged leave to glean in his fields, he ordered his reapers to let fall feveral handfuls with a seeming careleslness, but really with a set design, that she might gather them up without being ashamed, Thus did he form an artful fcheme, that he might give, withont the vanity and oftentation of giving; and the receive, without the fhame and confusion of making acol knowledgments. Take the history in the words of leripture, as it is recorded in the book of Ruth.

" And when she was rifen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young meni, saying, Let her glean even among the Theaves, and rebuke her not: and let fall also fome of the handfuls of purpose, and leave them that the may glean them, and reproach her not." This was not only doing a good action; it was doing it likewise with a good grace.

It is not enough we do no harm, that we be negatively good, we must do good, positive good, if we would se enter into life.” When it would have been as good for the world, if such a man had never lived; it would perhaps bave been better for him, “ if he had never been born.” A scanty fortune may limit your beneficence, and confine it chiefly to the circle of your domestics, re. lations, and neighbours; but let your benevolence extend as far as thought can travel, to the utmost bounds of the world : juft as it may be only in your power to beautify the spot of ground that lies near and close to


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