صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

66 us, without distinction of climate, country, or re"ligion. Besides, though I am a stranger,-'tis "no fault of his that I do not know him, and there"fore unequitable he should suffer by it :-Had I "known him, possibly I should have had cause to "love and pity him the more ;-for aught I know, "he is some one of uncommon merit, whose life is "rendered still more precious, as the lives and "happiness of others may be involved in it: per"haps at this instant that he lies here forsaken, in "all this misery, a whole virtuous family is joyfully "looking for his return, and affectionately counting "the hours of his delay! Oh! did they know what " evil had befallen him,-how would they fly to suc "cour him!-Let me then hasten to supply those "tender offices of binding up his wounds, and car"rying him to a place of safety;-or, if that assist"ance comes too late, I shall comfort him at least "in his last hour;-and, if I can do nothing else,"I shall soften his misfortunes by dropping a tear "of pity over them."

'Tis almost necessary to imagine the good Samaritan was influenced by some such thoughts as these, from the uncommon generosity of his behaviour, which is represented by our Saviour operating like the warm zeal of a brother, mixed with the affectionate discretion and care of a parent, who was not satisfied with taking him under his protection, and supplying his present wants, but in looking forwards for him, and taking care that his wants should be supplied when he should be gone, and no longer near to befriend him.

I think there needs no stronger argument to prove how universally and deeply the seeds of this

virtue of compassion are planted in the heart of man, than in the pleasure we take in such representations of it: and though some men have represented human nature in other colours (though to what end I know not) yet the matter of fact is so strong against him, that from the general propensity to pity the unfortunate, we express that sensation by the word humanity, as if it was inseparable from our nature. That it is not inseparable, I have allowed in the former part of this discourse, from some reproachful instances of selfish tempers, which seem to take part in nothing beyond themselves; yet I am persuaded, and affirm 'tis still so great and noble a part of our nature, that a man must do great violence to himself, and suffer many a painful conflict, before he has brought himself to a different disposition.

'Tis observable in the foregoing account, that when the priest came to the place where he was, he passed by on the other side;—he might have passed by, you'll say, without turning aside.-No; there is a secret shame which attends every act of inhumanity, not to be conquered in the hardest natures; so that, as in other cases, so especially in this, many a man will do a cruel act, who at the same time will blush to look you in the face, and is forced to turn aside before he can have a heart to execute his purpose.

Inconsistent creature that man is! who at that instant that he does what is wrong, is not able to withhold his testimony to what is good and praiseworthy!

I have now done with the parable, which was the first part proposed to be considered in this discourse; and should proceed to the second, which so

naturally falls from it, of exhorting you, as our Saviour did the lawyer upon it, to go and do so likewise: but I have been so copious in my reflections upon the story itself, that I find I have insensibly incorporated into them almost all, that I should have said here in recommending so amiable an example; by which means I have unwares anticipated the task I proposed. I shall therefore detain you no longer than with a single remark upon the subject in general, which is this:-'tis observable in many places of scripture, that our blessed Saviour, in describing the day of judgment, does it in such a manner, as if the great enquiry then, was to relate principally to this one virtue of compassion,-and as if our final sentence at that solemnity was to be pronounced exactly according to the degress of it. "I was a hun"gered, and ye gave me meat ;-thirsty, and ye gave me drink ;-naked, and ye clothed me;—I "was sick, and ye visited me;-in prison, and ye came unto me." Not that we are to imagine from thence, as if any other good or evil action should then be overlooked by the eye of the all-seeing Judge, but barely to intimate to us, that a charitable and benevolent disposition is so principal and ruling a part of a man's character, as to be a considerable test by itself of the whole frame and temper of his mind, with which all other virtues and vices respectively rise and fall, and will almost necessarily be connected. Tell me therefore of a compassionate man, you represent to me a man of a thousand other good qualities;-on whom I can depend,-whom I may safely trust with my wife,-my children,-my fortune and reputation.-'Tis for this, as the apostle argues from the same principle," that he will

not commit adultery, that he will not kill,-that he will not steal,-that he will not bear false witness." That is, the sorrows which are stirred up in men's hearts by such trespasses, are so tenderly felt by a compassionate man, that it is not in his power or his nature to commit them.

So that well might he conclude, that charity, by which he means love to your neighbour, was the end of the commandment; and that whosoever fulfilled it, had fulfilled the law. Now to God, &c. Amen.



2 SAM. XII. 7.

And Nathan said unto David, thou art the man.

THERE is no historical passage in scripture which gives a more remarkable instance of the deceitfulness of the heart of man to itself, and of how little we truly know of ourselves, than this, wherein David is convicted out of his own mouth, and is led by the prophet to condemn and pronounce a severe judg ment upon another, for an act of injustice, which he had passed over in himself, and possibly reconciled to his own conscience. To know one's self, one would think could be no very difficult lesson ;-for who, you'll say, can well be truly ignorant of himself, and the true disposition of his own heart? If a man thinks at all, he cannot be a stranger to what passes there; he must be conscious of his own thoughts and desires, he must remember his past pursuits, and the true springs and motives which in general have directed the actions of his life: he may hang out false colours and deceive the world; but how can a man deceive himself? That a man ean, is evident, because he daily does so.-Scripture tells us, and gives us many historical proots of it, besides this to which the text refers :—“ i hat "the heart of man is treacherous to itself, and de

« السابقةمتابعة »