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cup, his store-houses and his barns; keeps all his bones that none of them are broken, and perpetually supplies him with countless sources of comfort. There is no year, no day, no hour, when his hand is not stretched out to convey benefits to every house about you and to every being, however regardless of His agency, and however ungrateful.
Now the text, and the whole Bible, just urges upon every man this same expanded benevolence. You are required to be a worker together with God. If many around you are your enemies, and you would urge this as an excuse for neglecting to do them good, you are to remember that God does not act thus. The very man that you hate the most, is, it may be, the enemy of God; but God continues to do him good every moment; never neglects to cause his heart to beat and his lungs to heave; watches him at night, and in the morning wakes him, feeds him, clothes him. And perhaps you are as much the enemy of God as the man you hate, but God is good to you. When you plough your field and scatter your seed, you expect him to make it vegetate; and when you have sent out your ships, he sends the generous and friendly gale. Then why not imitate an example so infinitely illustrious? If there is not a foe you have, but God is doing him kindnesses every day, and he is perhaps as much, nay more, the foe of God, why not go and do likewise? It would not injure you; it would not disgrace you. If it would render you unhappy to do what would render your enemies happy, then know that you have not a godly temper, that you have not the benevolence which the gospel requires. God is happy while he makes glad his enemies. It gratifies the benevolence of his heart, if they rejoice. But you would carry, it seems, if you could, sorrow and vexation to every house where you have not a friend; you would measure their worthiness by their attachment to you, and your benefits by their worthiness. But God has pleasure in doing good, if from the heart that he make glad there never rises any incense of praise or one note of gratitude. He is pleased when men are sensible of his benefits, and when they love to praise him, but it gives him joy to do good, abstractly from any return that creatures make. Now we can meet with no case more forbidding than God meets with. There are some into whose bosoms God has poured his blessings these seventy years, and there has never yet been awakened one sentiment of gratitude. There has risen to his throne every hour the murmurings, the repinings, the complaints, and the spleen of an impious heart and, perhaps daily, the vibrations of profane and
lying lips. Yet all this never induced the Lord to leave his fields one year unwatered, or leave him one day without light, and food, and reason. Who is there, then, that can have a foe so inveterate that he is not under obligation, if in his power, to do him good? If then we find ourselves, instead of exercising such a spirit, engaged in injuring a fellow-creature, we have only to recollect how differently God is doing at the same moment. We are wronging him, and God is feeding him; we are defaming him, and endeavoring to diminish his influence, and God is giving him health, and wealth, and friends. Now one is thus placed in a very unpleasant attitude. Suppose Jehovah visible; he and you meet at your neighbor's door; you have come to ruin him, but God has come to bring him blessings. He is your enemy, and he is God's enemy. He has once injured you; God he has wronged and abused every day he has lived. And when the Lord has supplied his wants, he comes to your door and supplies yours, and you perhaps have been as base a rebel as your neighbor. Now, although God is not seen by the eye of sense, the fact is not altered; his benevolence leads him all this length. He bestows blessings every hour upon the man who would injure; supplies the wants that you create, heals the wounds you inflict, and repairs the reputation you destroy. O, let shame cover us! and let the benevolence of God teach us to drop our blessings on all men, at all times, if they are within our reach, and we have any good to bestow.
2. We are urged to the same duty by the command of God. God does not exhibit his example before us, and leave it to our option whether we will do like him. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This is the law, precisely, by which heaven has bound us. Whatsoever, then, we would that others should do to us, we are to do the same to them. The command is, "That we love our enemies, bless them that curse us, do good to them that
hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us." It is enjoined, "that we love one another with a pure heart, fervently." "That we honor all men." "That we be pitiful and courteous." "That we submit ourselves to one anoth、 r," and be clothed with humility. "He that would be great must become a servant." "We are to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." "Nothing is to be done through vain-glory, but each, in lowliness of mind, esteem other better than themselves." "Every man is to look not on his own things, but every man also on the things of others," that thus the "same mind may be in us which was also in Christ Jesus." "We are to follow after the things
that make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another." We are to have that "love that worketh no ill to his neighbor." We are to "love not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth." God urges that we should love one another by the consideration, that he so loved us, that he sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Thus are we taught of God to love one another.
And the Scriptures teach us what the effect of this love will be. It will lead to an affectionate deportment, and a readiness to serve each other. It begets a spirit of forbearance, of truth, of unanimity, of self-denial, of meekness, and forgiveness. It "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." It "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Thus do we see a few of the outlines of the code of love.. Thus the Divine authority binds us to the exercise of that same benevolence which God displays in his own providence toward all men. Hence our obligations to be benevolent will bear, in our view, an exact proportion to our respect for the authority of God: if the latter be supreme, so will the former.
3. Benevolence affords its possessor a permanent and high enjoyment. It is, in its nature, a sweet and calm affection, has its origin in heaven, and exerts a sanctifying influence upon every other exercise of the soul. It is an affection which we can contemplate with pleasure, and view with complacency. If I know that I love my fellow-men, I am conscious that I feel as God does, and as he commands me to feel. I see, in that case, the image of my Creator in my heart. Hence it begets joy and hope. I believe, then, that God has wrought in me, by his Spirit, has left upon the heart his own impress, and will one day make me wholly like him, and take me to himself.
But this is not all: a benevolent heart makes all the happiness it sees its own, and thus widens, indefinitely, the sphere of its enjoyment. It has a real pleasure in another's joy, and still does not diminish the good on which it feeds and thrives. If there is harmony in the civil community, or domestic quiet in any house, or joy in any heart, or peace in any conscience, the benevolent man enjoys it all, and makes it all his own. The whole aggregate of enjoyment about him becomes appropriated to himself; if any are happy, he is. The man of taste will enjoy what is the property of a neighbor. If he can see, within another's enclosures, a verdant spot, a lawn, an orchard, or a grove, his eye extracts from it a pleasure, which no power can prevent, which no barriers can
defend. It is his right, for no one suffers by his enjoyment-no one is made the poorer by his claim, or suffers to serve him. So the man of real benevolence gathers into his own heart the joy that elates the hearts of others, and into his own home, the quiet, the good-will, the condescension, the harmony, and the hope, that prevail in the home of his neighbor.
Let there be enjoyment any where about him, and it increases his own. Hence he is the only man who can beguile the miseries of human life, and rob the old serpent of his sting. Nothing can make him miserable, if there is happiness any where. Rob him of his comforts, and, in an hour, he can go and gather more. So the bee, if you take away the bread he has brought home, can hie him away to some opening flower, and gather a new supply. Hence, in the dark hour, when all others are wretched, the man of real benevolence can be happy.
The soul that's filled with virtue's light,
And sees, in darkness, beams of hope.
But you tell me, that philanthropy, in a world so miserable as this is, is likely to create more misery than joy. In every look we take athwart its wastes, there strike the eye ten objects, polluted, deformed, and miserable, where there is one of order, joy, and beauty. Hence it would seem, that the man of kindest feelings, must be the greatest sufferer, whilst the callous and the cold, who are unmoved by human misery, and have no tears for another's wo, have the greatest share of enjoyment. All this seems rational, but is not true. Benevolence is an affection, which carries its own reward with it, and must render the heart happy that puts it forth, were there nothing about it but misery. It finds a kind of relief in its own tears, and if all the objects on which it can fasten a look of sympathy must remain unhappy, it can gather to itself enjoyment from the sympathy it feels.
But the benevolent heart is not driven to this alternative. This world is not wholly filled with misery. There may be a dreary spot just here; a dearth of piety, the absence of all holiness, and the presence of stormy passions; but beyond this scene, there is fertility and life. God there appears in his glory, men are sanctified, and are made happy, and there is joy and gladness. The benevolent Howard spent much of his life in the prison, but he was comforted to know that this world was not all a prison. ried with him into the recesses and the infection of the dungeon
the recollection, that the sufferers about him were not the whole of this world's population. There were those at a little remove from him, who did not wear a chain, nor want for bread, nor sigh for liberty. There were dwellings into which the light of heaven might shine, where reigned health, affection, and joy. Upon these, when he could look at misery no longer, he could cast his eye and find relief. So the man in this age, or in any age, whose heart expands with benevolence, but who may chance to see misery all around him, has only to widen the circumference of his vision, and it embraces objects that can give him joy. If the case require he can look beyond this world to heaven. There every object will gratify the benevolence of his heart. All its inhabitants are holy and happy, beyond what hath entered into the heart of man to conceive. There is not one object in all its happy realms. on which, while the benevolent heart lingers, it feels not the most exquisite delight. Thus the good man, if the misery about him gives him pain which he can hardly endure, having that faith which gives him the power of flight, can wing himself to some happier clime, and inhale refreshment from scenes more adapted to his
And there is one other thought from which we discern, clearly, the advantage of the benevolent man above all others, notwithstanding the pain he endures at the sight of misery. The heart that is not benevolent, is, of course, the seat of passions far more corroding and painful than the keenest sympathy. Pride, and envy, and ambition, and covetousness, with other kindred tormentors, hold the entire ascendancy, where the heart has not been melted into love. And who that has been the prey of these devourers, and has any conviction of their power to destroy, would not rather feel a philanthropy so pure, and be surrounded with miseries so multiplied as to keep the heart bleeding with sympathy, rather than be committed to their merciless and arbitrary supremacy? He who looks upon poverty, and famine, and nakedness, in their most appalling attitude, and would give relief but cannot, must indeed suffer intensely; but still he enjoys a heaven, compared with him who sees others too happy, and envies them. The one in the midst of all his tears, can be tranquil and submissive, while in the bosom of the other there burns a fire that consumes him. Howard found his joy diminished, because he looked upon plagues which he had not the power and the skill to cure ; but compare the state of his mind, with his who has coveted, but