Page images
PDF
EPUB

might have gotten you this wealth." Or, if instead of this fuperfluity of abundance, you are but a little more profperous than some of your neighbors to whom are you indebted? If then the fun of profperity fhine on you, and withhold his foftering beams from others, is it not an intimation from "the Giver of "every good gift," expreffed in characters too legible to be overlooked, and too important to be disregarded, to wipe away the tear from the cheek of forrow, and comfort the heart that throbs with affliction?

But let it not be imagined, that the exercife of compaffion is to be confined entirely to the rich and profperous. No. Compaffion does not altogether confift in the diftribution of charity. To inftruct the ignorant, to reprove the profane, to cheer the defponding, is the common duty of all mankind; of both rich and poor. To fatisfy the doubts, to remove the fcruples, to appease the difquietude of our neighbor, is incumbent on all, the loweft lot, of humanity.

[ocr errors]

But the great Author of our being has made a farther provision for those, to whom he has denied the good things of this life, in the beX 3

nevolent

nevolent principles he has implanted within us. At the fight of a diftreffed object we feel, and we cannot but feel, ftrong emotions of compaffion. This generous principle arifes with an impatient, and imperceptible hurry in our breafts. Our wishes to relieve, are eager to be gratified; and if we are reftrained by the want of power, we would purchase it at the expence of a participation of the wretch's fufferings.

This humane principle receives not only the fanction, but the encouragement, of Revelation," and is there placed before us in every light that may engage our regard, or intereft our affections. Compaffion is, in the Evangelical Covenant, recommended by Example, and enjoined by Authority; and it is required of us as an indifpenfable article of our duty, as a diftinguishing mark of our adoption.

To acts of mercy we have an urgent inducement fet before us, in a living and familiar pattern. The holy Jefus, "the Author and Fi"nisher of our faith," was conftantly employed in removing the ills, and relieving the infirmities of thofe, who labored under them.

Thus are we excited by the fuggeftions of

our

our nature-required by the precepts of our Religion-encouraged by the example of our Redeemer-to alleviate the diftreffes of others, and adminifter comfort to thofe, who cannot adminifter it to themselves.

With the hard-hearted and inhuman, thefe arguments, and arguments like these, although founded in reason, and supported by Revelation, will have little weight.

Yet to these fons of inhumanity, let us fuggeft, that, fo uncertain is every poffeffion on this fide the grave, the most affluent, however fenced he may be with all human fecurities, knows not how foon he may ftand in need of the affiftance, and friendship of others: or, if he is not reduced to diftrefs, God often denies him the power of enjoying, either by want of health, or, through a dread of poverty, the riches, which, with fuch avaricious parfimony, he hath fcraped together.

Than fuch a Spectacle-a man furrounded with abundance, and withheld, by an Almighty Power, from an application of it, to the conveniences and comforts his fituation requires there can be nothing more melancholy. Man," fays the Scripture,

X 4.

" is born to

"trouble;"

"trouble;" it accompanies every fate, as na turally as the shadow accompanies the body.H Every wife man, therefore, though he cannot dry up its fource, will break its power, and avert its fury. He will imitate the conduct of the Patriarch, that, when his troubles come upon him, whether the chagrin of disappointment, the lofs of health, or the frowns of fortune, he may poffes one comfort greater and better than all this world can beftow, the reflection, the cheering reflection, of having uniformly, and effectually, promoted the welfare and happinefs of his fellow-creaturess. When the

❝ear

ear hears me," may he fay," then it bleffes "me; and when the eye fees me it gives "witness to me, because I deliver the poor "that cry, the fatherless and him that hath none to help him. The bleffing of him "that is ready to perish, comes upon me, and "I cause the widow's heart to fing for joy.!! "I am eyes to the blind, and feet am I to thei "lame."

To excite in every breast the amiable virtue of compaffion, let us take a view of the dwellings of affliction, not what imagination may create, or fancy feign, but what is too fre

quently

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

quently exemplified by our own obfervation, How often do we behold a large, and innocent, and deferving family, deprived of all the com forts, and the neceffaries of life, by an unforeseen and unexpected stroke, without the power of making any provifion for themselves; unable, through weakness, to earn their bread, and afhamed, through the recollection of better days, to beg it. Into fuch a dwelling let us enter and inftances, God knows, of fuch uncertainty of all human good, meet us, very often meet us, in our paffage through life. We fee the mother of a numerous offspring, overwhelmed with all the diftractions of forrow, lamenting, with equal affection, the lofs of an indulgenthus and, and the fate of helpless orphans. Every expedient which occurs to her bewildered mind, to provide them with the comforts of a decent competency, and preferve them from the fnares of impending ruin, the adopts as likely, and as foon rejects as impracticable. Hear the difconfolate widow, crying over her children, with the feelings of maternal tenderness; I am left, my children, your protector, ' without the means of protection. The comforts of life we enjoyed in common together

1

C

are

« PreviousContinue »