« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
with it; and will not only commend us to every man's conscience ; bat, which is much more, to God, who searcheth our hearts: so that, upon all accounts, sincerity is true wisdom. Particularly as to the affairs of this world, integrity hath many allvantages over all the artificial modes of dissimulation and deceil. It is much the plainer and casier, much the safer and more secure way of dealing in the world; it hath less of trouble and difficulty, of entanglement and perplexity, of danger and hazard in it; it is the shortest and nearest way to our end, carrying us thither in a straight line ; anii will hold out and last longest. The arts of deceit and running continually grow weaker, and less cflectual and service able to those who prac:ise them; whereas integrity gains strength by use; and the more and longer any man practiseth it, the greater service it does hinn, by confirming his reputation, and encouraging those, with whom be hath to do, to repose the greatest confidence in lim; which is an unspeakable advantage in business and the affairs of life.
A dissembler must be always upon his guard, and watch himself carefully, that he do not contradict his own pretensions ; for he acis an unnatural part, and therefore, must put a continual force and restraint upon himself; whereas, he that acts sincerely, bath the easiest task in the world; because he follows nature, and so is put to no trouble and care about bis words and actions; lie needs not invent any pretence beforehand, nor make excuses afterwards, for any thing he bath said or done.
But insincerity is very troublesome to manage. A hypocrite bath so many things to attend to, as make his life a very perplexed and intricate thing. A liar hath need of a good memory, lest be contradict at one tine, what he said at another. But truth is always consistent with itself, and needs nothing to help it out; it is always near at hand, and siis upon our lips, and is ready to drop out before we are aware ; whereas a lie is trou. blesome, and one trick needs a great many more to make it good.
Add to all this, that sincerity is the most compendious wisdom, and an excellent instrument for the speed
dispatch of business. It creates confidence in those we have to deal with, saves the labour of many inquiries, and brings things to an issue in a few words. It is like travelling in a plain beaten road, which commonly brings a man sooner to his journey's end, than by ways in which men often lose themselves. In a word, whatever convenience may be thought to be in falsehood and dissimulation, it is soon over ; but the inconvenience of it is perpetual, because it brings a man underan everlasting jealousy and suspicion, so that he is not believed when he speaks the truth, nor trusted when perhaps he means honestly. When a man hath once forfeited the reputation of his integrity, nothing will then serve his turn, neither truth nor falsehood.
Indeed, if a man were only to deal in the world for a day, and should never have occasion to converse more with mankind, never more need their good opinion or good word, it were then no great matter (as far as respects the affairs of this world) if he spent his reputation all at once, and ventured it at one throw. But, if he be to coutinge in the world, and would have the ad, vantage of reputation whilst he is in it, let him maka use of sincerity in all bis words and actions ; for nothie ing but this will hold out to the end. All other arts will fail ; but truth and integrity will carry a mau through and bear him out to the last. 11.-On doing as we would be Done unto.
ATTERBURY. HUMAN laws are often so numerous as to escape our memories ; so darkly, sometimes, and inconsistentJy worded, as to puzzle our understandings; and they are not unfrequenily rendered still more obscure by the nice distinctions and subtle reasonings of those who profess to clear them : so that under these several disad. vantages, they lose much of their force and influer.ce; and in some cases raise more disputes than, perhaps, they determine. But here is a law, attended with none of these inconveniences; the grossest minds can scarce isapprehend it; the weakest memories are capable of ining it; po perplexing comment can easily cloud
e authority of no man's gloss upon earth can (if we are but sincere) sway us to make a wrong construction of it. What is said of all the gospel precepts by the evangelical prophet, is more eminently true of this ; ut It is an high-way ; and the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein."
It is not enough that a rule, which is to be of general ase, is suited to all capacities, so that whenever it is rep. resented to the mind, it is presently agreed to ; it must also be apt to offer itself to our thivuyhts and lie ready for present use, upon all exigencies and occasions. And such, remarkably such, is that which our Lord here re. commends to us. We can scarce be so far surprised by any immediate necessity of acting, as not to have time for a short recourse to it, room for a sudden glance as it were upon it, in our minds; where it rests and sparkles always, like the Uriin and Thummim, on the breast of Aaron. There is no occasion for us to guin search of it to the oracles of law, dead or living ; to the code or pandects ; to the volumes et divines or inoralists. We need look no farther than ourselves for it; for (to use the apposite expression of Moses) “ This commandment which I commandi thee this day is not hidden from thee. neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldst
say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we inay hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest du it.''
It is, moreover, a precept particularly fitted for practice, as it involves in the very notion of it a motive stirring us up to do what it enjoins. Other moral masims propose naked truths to the understanding, which operate often but faintly and slowly,on the will and passions, the two active principles of the mind of man; but it is the peculiar character of this, that it addresseth itself equally to all these powers ; imparts both light and heat to us, and at the same tiine that it informs us certainly and clearly what we are to do; escites us also, in the most tender and moving manner, to the performance of it. We can often see our neighbor's inisfortune with
out a sensible degree of concern ; which yet we canuot forbear espressing, when we have once made his condi. tion our own, and determined the measure of our obtigation towards him, by what we ourselves should, in such a case, expect from him; our duty grows immediately our interest and pleasure, by means of this powerful principle ; the seat of which is, in truth, not more in the brain than in the hcart of man ; it appeals to our very senses ; and exerts its secret force in so prevailing a way, that it is even felt, as well as understood by us.
The last recommendation of this rule I shall mention is its vast and comprehensive influence; for it extends to all ranks and conditions of men, and to all kinds of action and intercourse between them; to matters of char. its, generosity and civility, as well as justice ; to negative no less than positive duties. The ruler and the rul. ed are alike subject to it: public communities can no more exempt themselves froin its obligation than private persons : 56 All persons must fall down before it, all nations must do it service.” And, with respect to this extent of it, it is what our blessed Lorii pronounces it in the text, to be," the law and the prophets.” His meaning is, that whatever rules of the second table are delivered in the law of Moses, or in the larger comments add explanations of that law made by the other writers of the Old Testament (here and elsewhere styled the Prophets) they are all virtually comprised in this one short significant saying, " Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ge even so unto them.”
III.-On Benevolence and Charity.SEED. FORM as amiable sentiments as you can, of nations, communities of men, and individuals. If they are true, you do them only justice ; if false, though your opin. ion does not alter their nature and make them lovely, you yourself are more lovely for entertaining such sentiments. When you feel the bright warmth of a temper thoroughly good in your own breast, you will see something good in every one about you. It is a mark
ittleness of spirit to confine yourself to some minute part of a man's character; a man of generous, open, ex. tended views, will grasp the whole of it; without which he cannot pass a right judgment on any part. He will not arraign a man's general conduct for two or three particular actions ; as knowing that man is a changeable creature, and will not cease to be so, till he is united to that Being, who is the same yesterday, to-day and forever." He strives to out do his friends in good offices, and overcomes his enemies by them. He thinks he then receives the greatest injury, when he returns and revenges one ; for then he is “ overcome of evil.” Is the person young who has injured him ? He will reflect, that inexperience of the world, and a warinth of constitution, may betray his unpractised years into several in. advertencies, which a more advanced age,
his own good sense, and the advice of a judicious friend, will correct and rectify, Is he old ? The infirmaties of age and want of health may have set an edge upon his spirits, and made him " speak unadvisedly with his lips." Is he weak and ignorant ? He considers that it is a duty ineumbent upon the wise to bear with those that are not so : “ You suffer fools gladly," says St. Paul, seeing you yourselves are wise." In short, he judges of himself, as far as he can, with the strict rigor of justice; but of others with the softenings of humanity.
From charitable and benevolent thoughts, the transition is unavoidable to charitable actions. For wherever there is an inexhaustible fund of goodness at the heart, it will. under all the disadvantages of circumstances, exert itself in acts of substantial kindness. He that is substan. tially good, will be doing good. The man that has a hearty determinate will to be charitable, will seldom put men off with the mere will for the deed. For a siacere desire to do good, implies some uneasiness till the thing be done ; and uneasiness sets the inind at work, and puts it upon the stretch to find out a thousand ways and means of obliging, which will ever escape the unconeerued, the indifferent, and the unfealing
The most proper objects of your bounty are the necessitous. Give the same sum of
bestow on a person in tolerable circumstances, to one in extreme