Imatges de pàgina
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hearts with benevolent chearfulness; and when they are depressed by misfortunes, let your humanity sympathise with their diftress, and your participation relieve their forrows. If they are happy, your sensibility will make them more so: if they are wretched, it will render them less miserable. It shall therefore be the business of this discourse briefly to consider the nature, use, and necessity of both these duties, and endeavour to recommend and enforce the practice of them.

With regard to the first of these, one would think there was no necessity for any arguments to recommend, or any authority to enforce it; a command to love ourselves, to be easy and happy, seems indeed superfluous; and yet as ealy as the injunction is, we shall not find it always complied with. Rejoicing with those that rejoice, though it be so pleasant, so profitable, fo amiable, is a duty notwithstanding which some men never perform.

The proud man never performs it, because he thinks he has a right to all the applause that can be bestowed, and all the good fortune that can possibly happen; he will not take a part, because he imagines himself intitled to the whole; he weeps therefore when he ought to rejoice, and complains when he ought to be thankful.

The envious man never performs this duty, Because he considers his neighbour's happiness, as his misfortune; and every addition to another's pleasure, as a diminution of his own. With him, therefore, to have merit, is to re

proach

reproach him for the want of it; to have honour and reputation, is to insult him; he looks upon no affront so unpardonable as to be hap. py; no crime so great against him, as to be successful.

The selfish man does not perform this duty, Because he does not think it one; he is grown callous and insensible to every thing round him, and imagines that he is not in the least concerned in things foreign to his immediate interest. Country, relations, frien lship, the connections of life, are things from which he is resolved to fit loose: joy is a kind of commodity; he desires neither to lend or borrow; and he had rather starve by himself, than be indebted to fociety for its affistance.

But let us turn the perspective, and take a view of the good and benevolent man, who multiplies the gifts of Providence, and increases his pleasures by participation; who rejoiceth with all those that do rejoice, with his relations, his friends, his country, and his kind. He is less sensible of his own calamities, for the part he bears in others happiness; he can scarce feel the weight of poverty or distress, whilft he has a worthy friend that prospers, a good and honest neighbour that is Tuccessful; from the joy he receives in viewing the happiness of his fellow-creatures, he naturally endeavours to encrease them; he laughs at the malice of fortune, despises the censure of the vulgar, and rises superior to adversity.

When the mind is harmonized to peace and tranquillity, it naturally softens into the mildnels of compassion, and opens to the dictates of

humanity;

humanity; the circle of its pleasures is enlarged and expanded by beneficence; it will no longer be confined within the narrow limits of self-love, but will exert its social qualities, expatiate with freedom in the wide field of generofity, take in the whole range of nature, and, like the perfumes of the East, diffuse its sweetness over every thing that falls within the large compass of its influence. This will double every pleasure, and lefsen every calamity: it hath indeed the same effect upon the mind of man, as the light of the sun on the various parts of the world; it throws a luftre on every object, gilds the face of nature, gives a glow to every colour, and brightens and beautifies the whole visible creation.

Let us then endeavour to cultivate in ourfelves an humane and chcarful disposition; it will double all our joys, and foften all our calamities; it is this difpofition to be pleased and satisfied with all that is about us, that alone can render us amiable companions, generous and beneficent neighbours, thankful and pious Christians.

But the apostle, in the latter part of my text, hath fubjoined also another duty, which, though of a very different nature, is, as I before observed to you, as necessary as the first, and consequently as incumbent on every one of us, and that is, to weep wiih them that te'eep.

And as this is a duty incumbent upon all men, it is therefore a duty which all men, may very easily perform; it doth not require any superior talents or accomplishments, and ex

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traordinary advantages of fortune, fame, or power. Compassion is not confined or circumscribed, but, like those misfortunes it was meant to alleviate, spreads itself through all ranks and degrees of men. To remove the poverty of the indigent, is the happy lot of the rich; to succour the oppressed, is the glorious privilege of the great. The physician may afliit nature, to throw off the disorders of the body; the philosopher may rectify the errors of the mind; These are offices adapted to circumstance, ftation, or profession; but the duty inculcated in the text, is the universal remedy to be admi. nistered by every hand, the grand specific against all the evils of life; and were it applied as constantly and as universally as it ought to be, human nature would be relieved of half her burthen, and the rugged paths which so obstruct our journey through this world would become smooth and passable.

It is an old, but a very just obfervation, that all our happiness and misery arises in a great measure from comparison.

In penury therefore, in forrow, in sickness, and in age, the opposite, the more desirable situation of others, makes us more sensible of our own misfortune, and reproaches us, as it were, with our infirmities. The kind and compassionate friend, therefore, who generously attends and sympathises with us, who feels for and partakes of our sufferings, banishes this uneasy sensation, brings himself down upon the level with us, and by that means puts a stop to all those grating and cruel reflections

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which are the natural attendants on bitterness and misfortune.

In those hours, and under those circumftances, where folitude is least acceptable, we are generally most confined to it.

When a man is in pain, want, or adversity, his own thoughts are the worst companions in the world, and yet they are perhaps the only ones with which he has it in his power to affociate

This then is the time for friendship, true, disinterested friendship, to appear in its utmost perfection: through the darkness of affliction that jewel shines in its greatest lustre: when the vain have left us, and the proud forsaken us, when the spirit itself is wounded, the friend fteps in to heal it, divides the forrow, and lays claim to a partnership in our afiliction. This is Humanity, this is Virtue, this is Religion. If you kindly condescend to footh his griefs, they will lessen by degrees: as the channel is divided, the stream of sorrow diminishes, and the burthen grows lighter by participation; he returns insensibly to comfort ; and when once he has proved your friendship, will foon admit of your confolation.

But that the two great and important duties inculcated in the text may want no motive or inducement to the constant, steady, and uniform practice of them, let us remember, that we are not only exhorted to them by the faithful apofa tle and disciple of Christ, but by Christ himself; that these are duties which our blessed Saviour did himself perform; that by our

compliance

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