Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

pass a right Judgment on any Part. HeSerm.UI: will not arraign a Man's general Conduct for two or three particular Actions ; as knowing, that Man is a changeable Creature, and will not cease to be fo; till he is united to that Being, who is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever. He strives to outdo his Friends in good Offices, and overcome his Enemies by them. He thinks he then 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 his unpractised Years into several Inadvertencies, which a more advanced Age, his own good Sense, 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 Spirits, and made him speak unadvisedly with his Lips. Is he weak and ignorant? he considers, that it is a Duty incumbent upon the wise to bear with those that are not so. re suffer Fools gladly, says St. Paul, seeing ye yourselves are wise. In short, he judges of himself, as far as he can, with the strict Riger of ,

G 2 . Justice ;

SERM. III. Justice ; but of others, with all the Soft

enings of Humanity.

From charitable and benevolent Thoughts, the Transition is unavoidable to charitable pagine 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 fubftantially good will be doing good. The Man, that has a hearty determinate Will to be charitable, will seldom put Men off with the mere Will for the Deed. For a sincere Desire to do Good implies fome Uneasiness, till the Thing be done : And Uneafiness 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 Necessitous. 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 Serm.III. quenched his Thirst. Mercy is seasonable

in Time of Affli&tion, like Clouds of Rain *in the Time of Drought.

And among the Variety of necessitous Objects, none have a better Title to our Compassion, than those, who, after having tasted the Sweets of Plenty, are, by some undeserved Calamity, obliged, without fome charitable Relief, to drag out the Remainder of Life in Misery and Woe; 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 Confusion of Face may be prevented.'

There is not an Instance of this kind in History so affecting, as that beautiful one of Boaz to Ruth. 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 several.Handfuls with a seeming Carelessness, but really with a set Design, that The might gather them up without being

G 3 ashamed.

Serm. III ashamed. Thus did he form an artful

Scheme, that he might give, without the Vanity and Ostentatian of giving; and me receive, without the Shame and Confuson of making Acknowledgments. Take the History in the Words of Scripture, as it is recorded in the Book of Ruth. And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young Men, saying ; Let her glean even among the Sheaves, and rebuke ber not : and let fall also some of the Handfuls of Purpose, and leave them that she 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 enter into Lifé. When it would have been as good for the World, if such a Man had never lived; it would perhaps have 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, Relations and Neighbours ; but let your Benevolence extend as far as Thought can travel, to the utmost Bounds of the World : Just as it may be only in your

Power

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

to

Power to beautify the Spot of Ground that Serm. III.
lyes near and close to you ; but you could e
wilh, that, as far as your Eye can reach,
the whole Prospect before you was chearful,
that every Thing disagreeable was removed,
and every Thing beautiful made more so.

I have dwelt so long upon this last Vir-
tue, that I have not Time to discourse up-
on the rest. One Duty, however, I shall
just touch upon, which will engage us
to Performance of all the Rest ; and that
is, frequent Self-Examination, or Self-Re-
flection.

We need not look far to meet with Perfons who, though they have a competent Knowledge of the World, know not what manner of Spirit they are of ; condemning the Want of Charity in others, with all the Acrimony, Fierceness and Uncharitableness imaginable ; censuring People for the Defect of Candour and a Sweetness of Dispofition, with that merciless Keenness and Eagerness of Spirit, which shews them to be, whatever others are, in the very Gall of Bitterness: Now the Use of such an Observation, is not so much to arraign them, as to suspect yourself. For he never knew himself rightly, who never suspected him

self.

G4

« PreviousContinue »