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and make themselves Friends of the Mammon of Unrighteousness; as they would gain the inward Efteem of Mankind, whereof their outward Titles are fometimes falfe Ecchoes) let them refolve to purfue the Practice of holy Job, (a Perfon of high Rank and Dignity) and, after his gracious Example, become Eyes to the Blind, and Feet to the Lame: Let them draw out their Soul to the Hungry, and fatisfy the afflicted Soul, undoing the heavy Burthens, and breaking every Yoke. Then fhall their Light break forth as the Morning, when every Ear that bears them fhall blefs them, and every Eye that fees them fhall give Witness to them, and glorify their Father which is in Heaven.
These are the Duties wherein Perfons of high Birth and Fortune stand indebted to their Inferiors: And what their Inferiors, in Return, owe to them may be reduced to thefe two Particulars, Honour and Gratitude: Honour, where eminent Qualities are observed; and Gratitude, where Favours and Obligations have been received.
I. As Honours were at first designed for the Reward of great and laudable Actions, fo were they made fucceffive, for the farther Encouragement and Promotion of them. Were the Honours, which Men propofe to themfelves in performing any great Atchievements, to terminate with their Lives, this would difcourage their Zeal, and put a Damp upon their Refolutions to undertake them; but when they understand that the Renown which will accrue to them will be made hereditary, and defcend to their latest Pofterity, this is fuch a Spur to illuftrious Actions, as he, who has any Senfe of Ambition, or Love for his Country, cannot but feel: And for this Reafon it is prefumed, that Perfons of noble Birth, having the Examples of their Anceftors, and the Senfe of Shame (if they should fall fhort of their Virtues, and incur the Imputation
of Degeneracy) always before their Eyes, fhould exert themselves, with a more than ordinary Vigour and Refolution, to avoid that Reproach, and, conquently, to fignalife themselves in every Thing that is excellent and praife-worthy. Upon thefe Accounts it is generally fuppofed, that Perfons of high Titles and honourable Parentage are Men of real Worth; and, though they may chance to be the Reverse, yet, in Compliance to the End of civil Institution, they ought to be treated with external Obfervance, left, in the Person of Particulars, the whole Order fhould think itself neglected. In likeManner, when any Honour is conferred by a Prince, though the Perfon fhould not have all the Merit that might be expected, yet an outward Regard is certainly due to him, because the Expreffions of Royal Favour have the fame Efficacy, in diftinguishing the Objects of it, that the Royal Stamp has to put a Difference between Coins, and even fometimes to give a current and intrinfick Value to that which has little or none of itself. And fo again, though Riches are fometimes found in the Hands of Perfons that have the leaft Pretence to perfonal Merit; though not only Folly, (as Solomon obferves) but fometimes Vice and Injustice, are fet in high Dignity; yet the Reafons of outward Refpect are oftener founded on the relative than real Characters of Men. So that, as Riches make a Man more confiderable in the Commonwealth, and more capable of ferving its Intereft, those that are the Poffeffors of them have a Right, at least, to fome Share of our Regard in their civil Capacity, how little foever they may deferve it in their private. But where, in Conjunction with an ample Fortune, we discover any generous and laudable Qualities; where the Perfon whom the King delights to honour puts on Righteousness, as Job expreffes it, for his Cloathing, and Judgment for his Robe
Robe and his Diadem; there the Degrees of our Honour and Refpect can hardly tranfcend the Bounds of our Duty.
II. Another Duty which Inferiors, thofe efpecially that have received Favours and Obligations, owe to their Superiors, is Gratitude; which consists in a Senfibility of Kindness received, and an Endeavour either to acknowledge or repay them. To repay them perhaps by an equivalent Return may not be in the Perfon's Power, and, confequently, cannot be his Duty; but Thanks are a Tribute payable by the pooreft, fince none is fo indigent as not to have a Heart to be fenfible, and a Tongue to exprefs his Senfe of a Benefit, when he hath received it. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his Benefits towards me? Says holy David, reflecting upon the Divine Goodnefs to him: And, in like Manner, under a lively Apprehenfion of any human Favours, "What fhall I do (fhould "the grateful Man fay to himself) for fuch a "Friend, for fuch a Patron, who hath fo frankly, "fo generously, fo unconftrainedly, relieved me "in my Distress; supported me against such an "Enemy; fupplied, cherished, and upheld me, "when Relations would not know me, or at leaft
could not help me; and, in a Word, has pre"vented my Defire, and out-done my Neceffi"ties? I can never return him a Kindness any Ways anfwerable; but I may, as I am in Juf"tice bound, exprefs my thankful Remembrance "of what he has done: I can take all fair Occa"fions to commemorate his good Offices, and, by "the little Services I am able to do, teftify my
Willingness to make him a full Requital, if I "could." For as, in the Matter of Debt, he who cannot pay all muft compound, and pay as far as he is able; fo, in the Matter of Beneficence, when we cannot make a compleat Requital, we are obli
ged to make fome fmall Compofition; and, if we can do no more, to exprefs a grateful Senfe of what we have received, and give thankful Words for beneficial Actions; which all generous Benefactors esteem the nobleft Return, except it be to blefs God for thefe great Inftruments of his Bounty to us, to offer up our Prayers for their Profperity, both Spiritual and temporal, and to intercede with Heaven, fince we find ourselves infolvent, to make them a full Requital at the Retribution of the Juft.
Of Mercy in general.
ERCY, in the general Notion of it, is a Trouble or Uneafinefs of Spirit, conceived at fome Evil that has befallen another, and attended with an ardent Defire to help him out of it: And from hence we may perceive that it is a mixed Paffion, compounded of Sorrow and Defire; Sorrow, for the Evil of the Patient, and Defire to deliver him from it. But here a Question will arife, what Kind of Evil is the proper Object of this Sorrow, or what is it that fhould recommend a Man to our Pity? Some very confiderable Moralifts and Divines will allow no other Evil to be capable of Pity but the Evil of Pain, and that only when it is undeferved: But why Sin fhould not fall under our Pity, as well as any other Evil (fince an irreclaimable Sinner is the moft miferable Object we can think of) I cannot conceive: And, though I readily grant that Affliction, when joined with Innocence, is very apt to excite Compaffion, yet, upon the whole, I cannot but think that the guilty Sufferer is more to be pitied than the innocent; fince I can pity him for his Demerit and his Mifery
too; whereas the latter is pitiable only for his Mifery. The guilty Patient indeed is not to be pitied fo much for his direct Misery, because he deferves it; but then he is more to be pitied, for his Defert and Mifery together, than the other is for his Mifery only: And I make no Doubt but that our compaffionate Saviour, when he wept over Jerufalem, relented as much for the Sins as for the Vengeance that was hanging over that unhappy City, and that, had these two great tragick Scenes been at once presented before him, the Slaughter of the innocent, and the Destruction of the guilty People, he would have found more to be pitied in the latter than in the former Tragedy.
This being premifed, concerning the Extent of Mercy and Compaffion, that it is converfant about Evils of all Kinds, whether spiritual or temporal, deferved or undeferved, we fhall now proceed to confider, 1. Some of the Obligations and Reafons and, 2. Some of the Motives and Inducements we all lie under to the Practice of this Virtue.
I. The Stoicks indeed are fo far from accounting Mercy a Virtue, that, acccording to the Vogue of their Morality, it paffes for a Sin, for an Inftance of Weaknefs and Littlenefs of Soul, and fuch a Piece of Softness and Effeminacy, as does not comport with the Character of their wife Man, who is allowed indeed to relieve, but not to be troubled for the Afflicted, to add, if he can, to the Tranquillity of their Minds, but not to fuffer his own to be difcompofed at the Sight of any. Calamity. This however, instead of improving, is debafing human Nature, and robbing it of that Happiness and Security, which we may reasonably promise ourselves from the Protection of Society; for the Protection of Society, without a kind Compaffion and Inclination to affift, avails us nothing: it is then only that we reap the Benefit of Society, when