Imatges de pÓgina

ed from the body of humanity, they are dead, and devoid of feeling. "A thousand may fall at their side, " and ten thousand at their right hand;" they are sat isfied if it does "not come nigh them." An attention to their own indulgence regulates all their actions. They pass by the poor traveller wounded, bleeding, half-dead, lest their feelings should be shocked at the spectacle. If they ever give of their abundance, or distribute any thing that remains after every passion and appetite is gratified to excess; they avoid every sacrifice of charity: all expense of trouble and of feeling; they do not " visit the fatherless and the widows " in their affliction." The eye would affect the heart; and the heart must not be affected; it is their plan to live" at ease." And sorry am I to be compelled to say, that there is not a few florid professors of the gospel, who expose themselves to this censure; persons who are zealous for orthodox sentiments, but cold in generous affections; "having a name to live," while they "are dead" to all those fine and tender feelings, which render us social and useful; which constitute the glory of the man, and of the christain-" This "man's religion is vain."

Our dispositions, my brethren, are always to correspond with the providence of God, and the purposes for which he placed us in the world. He continues the poor always with you, and encompasses you with diversified scenes of distress, to awaken your attention; to increase your benevolence; to discover your excellencies; and to form you into a resemblance of Himself, that " you


may be merciful, even as your Father which is in heav"en is merciful.” The Stoics indeed placed all mercy in

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beneficence, as distinguished from sympathy and com
miseration. Weeping with another, was a littleness
of soul unbecoming a wise man. Their doctrine required
this; for if they were to be insensible to their own af-
flictions, they were surely forbidden to feel the calam-
ities of others. But it is obviously the design of God,
that we should lay the miseries of others to heart, and
that the kindness we shew them should flow from com-
passion; and so necessary is the exercise of this ten-
derness to the condition of mankind, which is a state
of misery and dependance, that He has bound it upon
us by a natural, as well as by a moral law. Such is
the very frame and organization of the body, such the
motion and direction of the animal spirits on the sight
of distress, that we cannot help being moved and pained,
and therefore before we can be unmerciful, we must
become unnatural; and before we offer a violence to
morality, we must, offer one to nature. And we may
observe also, that the strength of the social instinct is in
proportion to the importance of its exercise in human
life; the degree of emotion which excites us to weep
with the miserable, is stronger than the degree of sen-
sation which urges us to rejoice with the prosperous;
because the former stand more in need of our sympathy
and assistance than the latter. God has clearly ex-
pressed his will in the Scriptures. There he requires
us to "mind every man also the things of others;" to
"be pitiful;" to
put on bowels of mercies." So-
ciety is placed before us, both civil and religious, as a
body, where" if one member suffers, all the members
"suffer with it." The gospel, we are assured, not
only illuminates but softens; it takes away
"the heart


"of stone," and gives us "hearts of flesh." This influence of divine grace we are never suffered to overlook in those characters which are held forth as worthy of our imitation. View David; what think you of a man who could say even of them who had "rewarded "him evil for good, to the spoiling of his soul"-" But હતું as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was "sackcloth, I humbled my soul with fasting; I behaved "myself as though he had been my friend or brother; "I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his "mother." Nehemiah, though high in office, the favourite of the king, and enjoying every personal satisfaction, is distressed because his "brethren are in af "fliction, and the city of his God lies waste." Jeremiah cries, "for the hurt of the daughter of my people am "I hurt, I am black; astonishment has taken hold "on me; O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night "for the slain of the daughter of my people." Paul could "ask who is weak, and I am not weak, who is "offended, and I burn not?" But, Oh! contemplate Him who "went about doing good;" who when exhausted with fatigue suffered the moments allotted to needful repose to be invaded without murmuring; who "in all our afflictions was afflicted;" who by an exquisite sensibility made the sorrows he beheld his own; who "took our infirmities, and bare our sick"nesses;" who when he saw the multitude fainting, and having nothing to eat, "had compassion on them;" who wept WITH friends around the grave of Lazarus, and OVER enemies as "he drew near the city." Was He ever at 66 ease in Zion ?”

Woe to such as have no claim to the honour of classing with these men of mercy, headed by the God of love. You may perhaps be ready to congratulate your selves; you may imagine that you escape much anguish ; and that you would only increase your sufferings by sharing in the grief of others. Now acknowledging this, would it not be virtuous, and peculiarly praiseworthy; would it not resemble Him, who "pleased not "himself;" and who, "though he was rich, yet for our "sakes became poor?" But we are not going to applaud insensibility; the tenderness we recommend is accompanied with sensation far superior to any the selfish and the unfeeling ever experience. If it is a source of pain, it is also a source of pleasure. This sensibility gives another degree of life, adds a new sense, enlarges the sphere of satisfaction, and increases the relish of enjoyment.


For the unfeeling wretch conscience has no kind office to perform; it has no pleasing recollections or prospects, with which to refresh him; no delicious entertainments with which to feast him. It never caresses, but it often smiles. "Neither do they which go by "say, the blessing of the Lord be upon you; we bless you in the name of the Lord." For him no orphan prays, no widow sings. To all the luxury of a Job he is a stranger: "when the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to "me, because I delivered the poor when he cried, the "fatherless, and him that had none to help him the "blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon



me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy." For him the evil day comes on charged with every

horror. He has no asylum in the feelings of the community, the happiness of whose members he never sought. When he fails, there is none to receive him; every application is rejected; homeless and destitute, he hears from many a merciless lip, "his mischief is "returned upon his own head, and his violent dealing "is come down upon his own pate." Seized with affliction, he is led into his chamber, but hears from no inspired voice as he enters, "the Lord will deliver him " in time of trouble; the Lord will strengthen him up"on the bed of languishing; he will make all his bed in "his sickness." His offspring appear; he beholds "the desire of his eyes, on whose desolate hours he "should have entailed mercy; but not to him belongs "the promise, his seed is blessed;" no divine Comforter says, "leave thy fatherless children, I will pre"serve them alive; and let thy widow trust in me.” "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of "the wicked shall rot." To a dying man there is something in the thought that he shall not be missed, that his character is more perishable than his body, that the door of life will be shut upon him, and bolted, before he is scarcely out, that sinks the wretch lower than the grave. But "after death, the judgment;" and his rolling eyes read inscribed on the wall, "he "shall have judgment without mercy, who shewed no "mercy." Have you courage to pursue him further?

See him at the bar of God; there to answer for crimes, which at no tribunal here are punishable; he is tried for being close-fisted and hard-hearted; and what fel lowship can there be between an unfeeling wretch, and a Saviour full of "tender mercy? Then shall the


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