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lating Words, the good and beneficial Actions of Mercy, sink with such deep Impression into our Souls, do so affect and melt down our sensible Nacure, and refresh our Bowels, that our Relief seems to over-balance our Sufferings, and 'we could well-nigh be content to be miserable to receive Mercy. When the Days of Affliction have taken hold of us, and our Calamities rush in upon us like a wide breaking in of Waters; when we are reduced to say with the Psalmist, Thy Rebuke hath broken me, I am full of Heaviness, I look'd for some to have pity on me, but lo! there was none, neither found I any to comfort me ; if Compassion approaches a Soul in this State, if its Condition be bur lamented and not assisted, the deep Affections which transfuse it, can be express’d by no Tongue, nor conceived by any Heart, but such as have felt them. It is recorded as an Instance of the Goodness
of God, That he made all those, that carried away the Children of Israel into Captivity, to picy them.
As there is no Capacity of our Nature so abundantly furnish'd with Objects and Occasions for its Exercise, so the Gratification of it yields us a more sincere Pleasure than any other whatsoever ; it is most agreeable to our Reason, and delightful to our Consciences; the largest and most repeated Indulgence of it leaves behind it no Loathing or Weariness. Most of our other Affections are gross and more material, narrow and selfish, and too often outrageous and violent, disordering our whole Fabrick by their impetuous Sallies: Mercy is more mild and generous; it has a Softness and Tenderness in its Principles as well as Effects; and yields the Agent, as well as Patient, an inexpressible Complacency.
St. Paul compares the Church of Christ to a Human Body, and asserts that there's a like Sense of the Misery or Happiness of particular Members in each; Whether one Member fuffers, all the Members suffer with it ; or one Member be honoured, all the Members rejoice with it. It is impossible to set the officious Courtesy of a Society of Men, Masters of their Affections, in a stronger Light; neither can we conceive a better Test of Church-Membership than this is.
It is difficult to give up a Subject so engaging and copious; but I proceed particularly to the Case of the Stranger.
As God has ser before us his Mercy as the Example of our Imitation; as he continually, throughout the Scriptures, expresses his especial Regard to the Stranger; so, would we be Followers of God as dear Children, would we be merciful as our
heavenly Father is merciful, we must observe those Rules of Mercy which he has prescribed to himself and us, and direct it to those Objects which he has pointed out to us. He loveth the Stranger, in giving him Food and Raiment; love ye therefore the Stranger. Deut. 10. 18, 19.
If we blindly follow those Impulses which are merely animal, 'tis not unlikely but our whole Beneficence may be directed to those few Persons who may be endeared to us by Relation, Conversation, or Similitude of Temper; but if we admit our Guide, Alifted Reason, it will soon break off this narrow Commerce, and extend our Loving-kindness : It will thew us that our whole Species are our Brethren, and the Samaritan our Neighbour; that every one who wants our Relief, is the proper Object of it; and he who wants it most, the most proper.
And here the Case of the Stranger will appear very strong, who is not only equally expos’d with other Men to the ordinary Calamities of Life, but must necessarily be destitute of all those Comforts which arise out of Friendship and Conversation; besides this, he must be more obnoxious to Injuries and Abuses, Affront and Ridicule; and these must fall with a double Weight on him who has no Friend to resort unto to unbofom his Soul; no Advocate for his Cause, or Avenger of his Quarrel. There seems to be something very emphatical in this Denunciation of God's on his People; I will deliver you into the Hands of Strangers, and will execute Judgments among you. Where thou art a Stranger, says the Son of Sirach, thou darft not open thy mouth. The Widow, the Fatherless, and the Stranger, are commonly joined together in the Scriptures as Persons under the most