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but the laborers are few, in comparison with the wants of the people. Let us therefore pray that the Lord of the harvest, may send forth laborers into his vineyard, and give them that success which may both save their own and the souls of those who hear them.
Philip ii. 4.
Look not every man on his own things, but every
man also on the things of others. « Do not every one of you) aim at his own interests; but each of you also at the interests of others?"
DODDRIDGE. • Be not so selfish and contracted in your sentiments, as to be concerned
only for your own advantages and happiness, but generously enlarge your views, and be attentive to the good of others also." "M.
- AMONG the many calamities introduced into the world by sin, it is not the least, that selflove hath generally so far gotten possession of the breasts of men, as either to confine their attention wholly to themselves as individuals, or to the few
whom nature hath connected with them by the ties of blood; or, if their feelings extend at all beyond these, to admit only of such occasional and languid exertions for the good of others, as produce no important effects.
. To rectify this error of the human heart, and recover men to that diffusive and active benevolence towards one another, which God originally designed to be an established law of our natures, is one grand and immediate object of the Gospel And wherever it is admitted to exercise its genuine influence on the temper, it will certainly produce these effects.
To pursue the subject, I propose to consider1.- The objects and extent of the precept—" Aim
not at 'your own things, but at the things, or
interests of others." II.—The obligations we are under, particularly as
Christians, to aim at the interests of others. III.-The advantages that would arise from such
a temper and practice, both to individuals and the community. * 1.—Let us consider the objects and extent of the precept in the text.
1. It cannot be the sense of the precept before us, that we are so far to regard the advantages of other men, as to be quite unconcerned for ourselves; or are in general, to be more attentive to their welfare, than our own; because this, if it
were even practicable, would be contrary to the constitution of God, who undoubtedly intended that our own happiness as individuals, should be the main object of our concern, in subordination to his glory, which in the reason of things, is the first and highest good. To secure the goods of this world, so far as is necessary to our own private happiness, or to enable us to fill up our places in society with ease and dignity—to secure peace of mind, and to aim constantly at obtaining the favor of God; and the final happiness that our nature is capable of, can never cease to be obligatory on every individual of the species. Next to himself, it is also his indispensible duty, to pay the greatest attention to those who are nearest to him by the connections of nature, or committed to his care by the particular disposal of providence. But his affections and conduct in all these circumstances, are to be managed in such a manner, as not to exclude an active and generous concern for others of mankind. Not only to avoid with a studious carefulness all occasions of doing them an injury, but to make it his study, in consistency with the more immediate obligations already mentioned, to promote their welfare. And in exercising this benevolent disposition, the characters of men are not to be regarded, but their necessities. Not those only whose good qualities entitle them to our particular esteem; or whose friendship for us claims
all the good offices we can render them; but those also, who possess nothing to excite our respect, or engage our affc ciion: and even those whom we expect to receive our kindness, not only without gratitude, but with a heart malevolent enough to repay our good offices with unmerited wrongs.
It was a great and pernicious mistake of the Jews to suppose, that because they were the only people in the world that maintained the worship of the true God, they were free from all obligation to exercise any good offices to persons of ano. ther nation. And something of the same narrowness and partiality of mind hath shewn itself in every age and place of the Christian Church. ' A zealous attachment to a party and a name has too often been supposed à sufficient reason for shutting up the bowels of compassion from those of different religious opinions. ;
But our Lord himself has expressly reprobated such a temper, and shewn it to be altogether inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity, and all sound sentiments of religion—"Give to him that asketh thee,” &c.-Read Mat. v. 42. to the end of the Ch. From which it is evident, that we are to be ready to do good to men, as their necessities may require, and as far as our abilities will enable us, whatever be their character. And though it is natural to be most attentive to those with whom we have the nearest connection---such as our own family, our
· particular friends and acquaintances, and those
of the religious community with which we commonly associate in the worship of God, as well as the nation in which we enjoy the benefits of civil society-yet, we are to regard men as parts of the human species, with whom we are connected by the same common nature and necessities, and are to exercise a general good will towards them, even when our active beneficence cannot reach them.
The ignorant, the slave, the vicious profligate, Jews, Mahometans, and Pagans, are to be considered as men, and to be the objects of our benevolence, and the partakers of our bounty, whenever we have opportunities of serving them, in any of the necessary offices of human life.
This is the genuine dictate of reason and Christianity, and it is in our measure an imitation of the common Father of Mankind, who, with undistin. guishing beneficence,“ causeth his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” Mat. V. 45.
The word look, or aim at, in the original, signifies the attention with which a marksman fixes his eye on the mark at which he is to shoot. And it emphatically points out the duty of an habitual and vigorous attention. It is not sufficient that we now and then exercise some good wishes for the happiness of others, or are disposed to do them some occasional services that will put us to no expense.