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minds of many are not so susceptible of warm pierced to their souls with the folly and indisimpressions, or so badly fortified against them, cretion of a thankless child-the child of their that pleasure should easily corrupt or soften prayers, in whom all their hopes and expectathem; that it would be hard to suppose, of tions centred : perhaps a more affecting scene the great multitudes which daily throng and - a virtuous family lying pinched with want, press into this house of feasting, but that num- where the unfortunate support of it, having bers come out of it again with all the innocence long struggled with a train of misfortunes, with which they entered ; and that if both and bravely fought up against them, is now sexes are included in the computation, what piteously borne down at the last-overwhelmed fair example shall we see of many of so pure with a cruel blow which no forecast or frugality and chaste a turn of mind that the house of could have prevented. O God ! look upon his feasting, with all its charms and temptations, afilictions. Behold him distracted with many was never able to excite a thought or awaken sorrows, surrounded with the tender pledges of an inclination which virtue need to blush at, his love and the partner of his cares, without or which the most scrupulous conscience might bread to give them, unable, from the rememnot support. God forbid we should say other brance of better days, to dig; to beg, ashamed. wise. No doubt, numbers of all ages escape
When we enter into the house of mourning unhurt, and get off this dangerous sea without such as this, it is impossible to insult the unshipwreck. Yet are they not to be reckoned fortunate even with an improper look. Under amongst the more fortunate adventurers ? and whatever levity and dissipation of heart such though one would not absolutely prohibit the objects catch our eyes, they catch likewise our attempt, or be so cynical as to condemn every attentions, collect and call home our scattered one who tries it, --since there are so many, I thoughts, and exercise them with wisdom. A suppose, who cannot well do otherwise, and transient scene of distress, such as is here whose condition and situation in life unavoid sketched, how soon docs it furnish materials ably force them upon it, -yet we may be allowed to set the mind at work; how necessarily does to describe this fair and flattering coast, we it engage it to the consideration of the miseries may point out the unsuspected dangers of it, and misfortunes, the dangers and calamities to and warn the unwary passenger where they lie. which the life of man is subject! By holding We may show him what hazards his youth and up such a glass before it, it forces the mind to inexperience will run, how little he can gain by sce and reflect upon the vanity-the perishing the venture, and how much wiser and better it condition and uncertain tenure of everything would be (as is implied in the text) to seek in this world. From reflections of this serious occasions rather to improve his little stock of cast, how insensibly do the thoughts carry us virtue than incautiously expose it to so unequal further! and from considering what we are, a chance, where the best he can hope is to what kind of world we live in, and what evils return safe with what treasure he carried out, befall us in it, how naturally do they set us to but where probably he may be so unfortunate look forwards at what possibly we shall be ! as to lose it all, be lost himself, and undone for what kind of world we are intended; what for ever.
evils may befall us there ; and what provision Thus much for the house of feasting; whichi, we should make against them here, whilst we by the way, though generally open at other have time and opportunity. times of the year throughout the world, is sup- If these lessons are so inseparable from the posed, in Christian countries, now everywhere house of mourning here supposed, we shall find to be universally shut up. And, in truth, I it a still more instructive school of wisdom have been more full in my cautions against it, when we take a view of the place in that more not only as reason requires, but in reverence affecting light in which the wise man scems to to this season,' wherein our Church exacts a confine it in the text, in which, by the house of more particular forbearance and self-denial in mourning, I believe he means that particular this point, and thereby adds to the restraints scene of sorrow where there is lamentation and upon pleasure and entertainments which this mourning for the dead. representation of things has suggested against Turn in hither, I beseech you, for a moment. them already.
Behold a dead man ready to be carried out, the Here, then, let us turn aside from this gay only son of his mother, and she a widow. Perscene; and suffer me to take you with me for a haps a more affecting spectacle,-a kind and moment to one much fitter for your meditation. indulgent father of a numerous family lies Let us go into the house of mourning, made so breathless-snatched away in the strength of by such afflictions as have been brought in his age-torn in an evil hour from his children merely by the common cross accidents and dis. and the bosom of a disconsolate wife. asters to which our condition is exposed-where, Behold much people of the city gathered perhaps, the aged parents sit broken-hearted, together to mix their tears, with settled sorrow
in their looks, going heavily along to the house * Preached in Lent.
of mourning, to perform that last melancholy office which, when the debt of nature is paid, every one knew was delivered upon that head we are called upon to pay to each other. by their great Legislator, our Saviour therefore
If this sad occasion, which leads him there, refers him to his own memory of what he had has not done it already, take notice to what a found there in the course of his studies. What serious and devout frame of mind every man is is written in the law? how readest thou? Upon reduced, the moment he enters this gate of which, the inquirer reciting the general heads affliction. The busy and fluttering spirits of our duty to God and man, as delivered in which in the house of mirth were wont to the 18th of Leviticus and the 6th of Deuterotransport him from one diverting object to nomy, namely, That we should worship the Lord another-see how they are fallen ! how peace- our God with all our hearts, and love our neighably they are laid ! In this gloomy mansion, bour as ourselres ; our blessed Saviour tells him full of shades and uncomfortable damps to seize he had answered right, and if he followed that the soul-see the light and easy heart which lesson he could not fail of the blessing he never knew what it was to think before, how seemed desirous to inherit,- This do, and thou pensive it is now, how soft, how susceptible, shalt live. how full of religious impressions, how deeply it But he, as the context tells us, willing to is smitten with sense, and with a love of virtue ! justify himself,-willing, possibly, to gain more Could we, in this crisis, whilst this empire of credit in the conference, or hoping, perhaps, to reason and religion lasts, and the heart is hear such a partial and narrow definition of the thus exercised with wisdom, and busied with word neighbour as would suit his own principles, heavenly contemplations—could we see it naked and justify some particular oppressions of his as it is-stripped of its passions, unspotted by own, or those of which his whole order lay the world, and regardless of its pleasures—we under an accusation,-says unto Jesus, in the might then safely rest our cause upon this 29th verse, And who is my neighbour! Though single evidence, and appeal to the most sensual, the demand at first sight may seem utterly whether Solomon has not made a just deter-trifling, yet was it far from being so in fact. mination here, in favour of the house of mourn-For, according as you understood the term in a ing, -not for its own sake, but as it is fruitful more or less restrained sense, it produced many in virtue, and becomes the occasion of so much necessary variations in the duties you owed good. Without this end, sorrow, I own, has from that relation. Our blessed Saviour, to no use but to shorten a man's days; nor can rectify any partial and pernicious mistake in gravity, with all its studied solemnity of look this matter, and to place at once this duty of and carriage, serve any end but to make one- the love of our neighbour upon its true bottom half of the world merry, and impose upon the of philanthropy and universal kindness, makes other.
answer to the proposed question, not by any Consider what has been said, and may Göd, far-fetched refinement from the schools of the of his mercy, bless you! Amen.
Rabbis, which might have sooner silenced than convinced the man, but by a direct appeal to
human nature, in an instance he relates of a III.-PHILANTHROPY RECOMMENDED.
man falling amongst thieves, left in the greatest Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour distress imaginable, till by chance a Samaritan, unto him that fell amongst the thieves? And he said, an utter stranger, coming where he was, by an He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto
act of great goodness and compassion, not only him, Go, and do thou likewise.'-LUKE X. 36, 37.
relieved hiin at present, but took him under his In the foregoing verses of this chapter the protection, and generously provided for his Evangelist relates that a certain lawyer stood future safety. up and tempted Jesus, saying, Master, what On the close of which engaging account, our shall I do to inherit eternal life? To which Saviour appeals to the man's own heart in the inquiry, our Saviour, as his manner was when first verse of the text-Which now of these three, any ensnaring question was put to him, which thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell proceeded more from a design to entangle him amongst the thieves ? and, instead of drawing than an honest view of getting information, the inference himself, leaves him to decide in instead of giving a direct answer, which might favour of so noble a principle, so evidently afford a handle to malice, or at best serve only founded in mercy. The lawyer, struck with to gratify an impertinent humour, he immedi- the truth and justice of the doctrine, and ately retorts the question upon the man who frankly acknowledging the force of it, our asked it, and unavoidably puts him upon the blessed Saviour concludes the debate with a necessity of answering himself; and, as in the short admonition, that he would practise what present case, the particular profession of the he had approved, and go and imitate that fair inquirer, and his supposed general knowledge example of universal benevolence which it had of all other branches of learning, left no room
set before him. to suspect he could be ignorant of the true In the remaining part of the discourse I shall answer to this question, and especially of what follow the same plan, and therefore shall beg
leave to enlarge, first, upon the story itself, Look into the world. How often do you bewith such reflections as will arise from it;'and hold a sordid wretch, whose strait heart is open conclude, as our Saviour has done, with the to no man's affliction, taking shelter behind an same exhortation to kindness and humanity, appearance of piety, and putting on the garb of which so naturally falls from it.
religion, which none but the merciful and comA certain man, says our Saviour, went down passionate have a title to wear! Take notice from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among with what sanctity he goes to the end of his thieves, who stripped him of his raiment, and days, in the same selfish track in which he at departed, leaving him half dead. There is first set out,-turning neither to the right hand something in our nature which engages us to nor to the left,-but plods on; pores all his take part in every accident to which man is life long upon the ground, as if afraid to look up, subject, from what cause soever it may have lest peradventure he should see aught which happened ; but in such calamities as a man has might turn him one moment out of that straight fallen into through mere misfortune, to be line where interest is carrying him ; or if by charged upon no fault or indiscretion of him- chance he stumbles upon hapless object of self, there is something then so truly interest distress, which threatens such a disaster to him, ing, that, at the first sight, we generally make like the man here represented, devoutly passthem our own, not altogether from a reflection ing by on the other side, as if unwilling to trust that they might have been or may be so, but himself to the impressions of nature, or hazard oftener from a certain generosity and tender the inconveniences which pity might lead him ness of nature, which disposes us for compas- into upon the occasion. sion, abstracted from all considerations of self ; There is but one stroke wanting in this picso that, without any observable act of the will, ture of an unmerciful man, to render the characwe suffer with the unfortunate, and feel a ter utterly odious; and that our Saviour gives weight upon our spirits, we know not why, on in the following instance he relates upon it. seeing the most common instances of their dis- 'And likewise,' says he, 'a Levite, when he was tress. But where the spectacle is uncommonly at the place, came and looked at him.' It was tragical, and complicated with many circum- not a transient oversight, the hasty or ill-advised stances of misery, the mind is then taken cap- neglect of an unconsidering humour, with which tive at once, and were it inclined to it, has no the best disposed are sometimes overtaken, and power to make resistance, but surrenders itself led on beyond the point where otherwise they to all the tender emotions of pity and deep would have wished to stop. No ! on the con
So that, when one considers this trary, it had all the aggravation of a deliberate friendly part of our nature, without looking act of insensibility proceeding from a hard heart. further, one would think it impossible for a When he was at the place, he came and looked man to look upon misery without finding him- at him, --considered his misfortunes, gave time self in some measure attached to the interest of for reason and nature to have awoke,-saw the him who suffers it. I say one would think it imminent danger he was in, and the pressing impossible ; for there are some tempers (how necessity of immediate help, which so violent a shall I describe them ?) formed either of such case called aloud for; and, after all, turned aside, impenetrable matter, or wrought up by habitual and unmercifully left him to all the distresses selfisliness to such an utter insensibility of what of his condition. becomes of the fortunes of their fellow-creatures, In all unmerciful actions, the worst of men as if they were not partakers of the same nature, pay this compliment at least to humanity, to or had no lot nor connection at all with the species. endeavour to wear as much of the appearance of
Of this character our Saviour produces two it as the case will let them; so that, in the disgraceful instances in the behaviour of a hardest acts a man shall be guilty of, he has priest and a Levite, whom in this account he some motives, true or false, always ready to represents as coming to the place where the un-offer, either to satisfy himself or the world, happy man was; both passing by without either and, God knows, too often to impose both upon stretching forth a hand to assist, or uttering a the one and the other. And therefore it would word to comfort him in his distress.
be no hard matter here to give a probable guess And by chance there came down a certain at what passed in the Levite's mind in the prepriest! Merciful God ! that a teacher of thy sent case, and show, was it necessary, by what religion should ever want humanity! or that a kind of casuistry he settled the matter with his man, whose head might be thought full of the conscience as he passed by, and guarded all the one, should have a heart void of the other ! passages to his heart against the inroads which This, however, was the case before us; and pity might attempt to make upon the occasion. though in theory one would scarce suspect that | But it is painful to dwell long upon this disthe least pretence to religion, and an open dis- agreeable part of the story. I therefore hasten regard to so main a part of it, could ever meet to the concluding incident of it, which is so together in one person, yet in fact it is no amiable that one cannot easily be too copious fictitious character.
in reflections upon it. And behold, says our
Saviour, a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, does not attend to her own operations, or take came where he was : and when he saw him, he leisure to examine the principles upon which had compassion on him, and went to him, she acts. So that the Samaritan, though the bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, moment he saw him he had compassion on him, set him upon his own beast, brought him to an yet, sudden as the emotion is represented, you inn, and took care of him. I suppose it will be are not to imagine that it was mechanical, but scarce necessary here to remind you that the that there was a settled principle of humanity Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans: an and goodness which operated within him, and old religious grudge-the worst of all grudges, influenced not only the first impulse of kindness, had wrought such a dislike between both people but the continuation of it throughout the rest that they held themselves mutually discharged, of so engaging a behaviour. And because it is not only from all offices of friendship and kind- a pleasure to look into a good mind, and trace ness, but even from the most common acts of out, as far as one is able, what passes within it courtesy and good manners. This operated so on such occasions, I shall beg leave for a moment strongly in our Saviour's time, that the woman to state an account of what was likely to pass in of Samaria seemed astonished that he, being a his, and in what manner so distressful a case Jew, should ask water of her, who was a Sama- would necessarily work upon such a disposition. ritan; so that with such a prepossession, how- As he approached the place where the unforever distressful the case of the unfortunate man tunate man lay, the instant he beheld him, no was, and how reasonably soever he might plead doubt, some such train of reflections as these for pity from another man, there was little aid would rise in his mind :-'Good God! what a or consolation to be looked for from so unpro- spectacle of misery do I behold : a man stripped mising a quarter. Alas! after I have been of his raiment,-wounded, -lying languishing twice passed by, neglected by men of my own before me upon the ground, just ready to exnation and religion, bound by so many ties to pire, without the comfort of a friend to supassist me, left here friendless and unpitied both port him in his last agonies, or the prospect of by a priest and a Levite, men whose profession a hand to close his eyes when his pains are over! and superior advantages of knowledge could not But perhaps my concern should lessen, when I leave them in the dark in what manner they reflect on the relations in which we stand to should discharge this debt which my condition each other,-that he is a Jew, and I a Samaritan. claims,-after this, what hopes ! what expec- But are we not still both men ? partakers of the tations from a passenger, not only a stranger, same nature, and subject to the same evils ? but a Samaritan, released from all obligations Let me change conditions with him for a moto me, and by a national dislike inflamed by ment, and consider, had his lot befallen me as mutual ill-offices, now made my enemy, and I journeyed in the way, what measure I should more likely to rejoice at the evils which have have expected at his hand. Should I wish, when fallen upon me than to stretch forth a hand to he beheld me wounded and half dead, that he save me from them!'
should shut up his bowels of compassion from 'Tis no unnatural soliloquy to imagine ; but me, and double the weight of my miseries by the actions of generous and compassionate tem- passing by, and leaving them unpitied? But I pers baffle all little reasonings about them. True am a stranger to the man: be it so; but I am charity, in the apostle's description, as it is kind, no stranger to his condition ; misfortunes are and is not easily provoked, so it manifested this of no particular tribe or nation, but belong to character here; for we find, when he came where us all, and have a general claim upon us, withhe was, and beheld his distress, all the un- out distinction of climate, country, or religion. friendly passions which at another time might Besides, though I am a stranger, 'tis no fault of have rose within him, now utterly forsook him his that I do not know him, and therefore unand fled : when he saw his misfortunes, he for- equitable he should suffer by it; had I known got his enmity towards the man, dropped all him, possibly I should have had cause to love the prejudices which education had planted and pity him the more ; for aught I know, he against him; and, in the room of them, all that is some one of uncommon merit, whose life is was good and compassionate was suffered to rendered still more precious as the lives and speak in his behalf.
happiness of others may be involved in it; perIn benevolent natures, the impulse to pity is haps at this instant, that he lies here forsaken so sudden, that, like instruments of music which in all this misery, a whole virtuous family is obey the touch, the objects which are fitted to joyfully looking for his return, and affectionexcite such impressions work so instantaneous ately counting the hours of his delay! Oh! did an effect that you would think the will was they know what evil had befallen him, how scarce concerned, and that the mind was alto-would they fly to succour him! Let me then gether passive in the sympathy which her own hasten to supply those tender offices of binding goodness has excited. The truth is, the soul is up his wounds, and carry him to a place of generally in such cases so busily taken up and safety; or, if that assistance comes too late, I wholly engrossed by the object of pity, that she shall comfort him at least in his last hour; and, if I can do nothing else, I shall soften his longer than with a single remark upon the submisfortunes by dropping a tear of pity over ject in general, which is this :—'Tis observable, them.'
in many places of Scripture, that our blessed 'Tis almost necessary to imagine the good Saviour, in describing the day of judgment, Samaritan was influenced by some such thoughts does it in such a manner, as if the great inas these, from the uncommon generosity of his quiry then was to relate principally to this one behaviour, which is represented by our Saviour virtue of compassion, and as if our final sentence operating like the warm zeal of a brother, mixed at that solemnity was to be pronounced exactly with the affectionate discretion and care of a according to the degrees of it. 'I was an parent, who was not satisfied with taking him hungered, and ye gave me meat: thirsty, and under his protection, and supplying his present ye gave me drink: naked, and ye clothed me: wants, but in looking forwards for him, and I was sick, and ye visited me: in prison, and taking care that his wants should be supplied ye came unto me.' Not that we are to imagine when he should be gone, and no longer near to thence, as if any other good or evil action befriend him.
should then be overlooked by the eye of the I think there needs no stronger argument to All-seeing Judge, but barely to intimate to us. prove how universally and deeply the seeds of that a charitable and benevolent disposition is this virtue of compassion are planted in the so principal and ruling a part of a man's chaheart of man than in the pleasure we take in racter as to be a considerable test by itself of such representations of it; and though some the whole frame and temper of his mind, with men have represented human nature in other which all other virtues and vices respectively colours (though to what end I know not), yet rise and fall, and will almost necessarily be conthe matter of fact is so strong against them, that, nected. Tell me therefore of a compassionate from the general propensity to pity the unfor- man, you represent to me a man of a thousand tunate, we express that sensation by the word other good qualities ; on whom I can depend; Humanity, as if it was inseparable from our whom I may safely trust with my wife, my nature. That it is not inseparable, I have children, my fortune and reputation. 'Tis for allowed in the former part of this discourse, this, as the Apostle argues from the same prinfrom some reproachful instances of selfish tem-ciple,-that he will not commit adultery,—that pers, which seem to take part in nothing beyond he will not kill,—that he will not steal,-that themselves ; yet I am persuaded, and affirm, he will not bear false witness. That is, the 'tis still so great and noble a part of our nature, sorrows which are stirred up in men's hearts by that a man must do great violence to himself, such trespasses are so tenderly felt by a compasand suffer many a painful conflict, before he has sionate man that it is not in his power or his brought himself to a different disposition. nature to commit them.
'Tis observable, in the foregoing account, that So that well might he conclude that charity, when the priest came to the place where he was, by which he means love to your neighbour, was he passed by on the other side ; he might have the end of the commandment; and that whosopassed by, you'll say, without turning aside. ever fulfilled it had fulfilled the law, No; there is a secret shame which attends Now to God, etc. Amen. 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
IV.-SELF-KNOWLEDGE. do a cruel act who at the same time will blush to look you in the face, and is forced to turn
And Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man'
2 SAM. XII. 7. aside before he can have a heart to execute his purpose.
THERE is no historical passage in Scripture, Inconsistent creature that man is! who, at which gives a more remarkable instance of the that instant that he does what is wrong, is not deceitfulness of the heart of man to itself, and able to withhold his testimony to what is good of how little we truly know of ourselves, than and praiseworthy!
this, wherein David is convicted out of his own I have now done with the parable, which was mouth, and is led by the prophet to condemn the first part proposed to be considered in this and pronounce a severe judgment upon another, discourse; and should proceed to the second, for an act of injustice, which he had passed over which so naturally falls from it, of exhorting in himself, and possibly reconciled to his own you, as our Saviour did the lawyer upon it, to conscience. To know one's self, one would go and do so likewise ; but I have been so copi-think, could be no very difficult lesson; for ous in my reflections upon the story itself that who, you'll say, can well be truly ignorant of I find I have insensibly incorporated into them himself, and the true disposition of his own almost all that I should have said here in re- heart? If a man thinks at all, he cannot be commending so amiable an example; by which a stranger to what passes there; he must be means I have unawares anticipated the task conscious of his own thoughts and desires, he I proposed. I shall therefore detain you no must remember his past pursuits, and the true