« AnteriorContinuar »
precept of the apostle, be pitiful : nor less useful, or less necessary, perhaps, is that which immediately follows it, and commands us to be courteous ; that is, to behave with civility and complaisance to all orders of men; and to pay that deference to every man which his station requires. If it were considered how much the peace of society is preserved by the forms of what we call good breeding, they would not hastily be neglected, nor left as useless or superfluous. Every one is pleased to be treated with the appearance of respect, and no prudent man would therefore refuse to pay it. If pleasure can be communicated at so cheap a rate, no goodnatured person would neglect the means. Whatever contributes to the good understanding, and mutual respect of social life, ought not by any means to be rejected. There is enough of malignity in human nature to disorder the peace and commerce of mankind, without creating coldness by a studied negligence of civility, or a rude or careless, or perhaps affected contempt of the established and expected forms of politeness. We should endeavour as much as possible to cherish the principle of social benevolence, and, as St. Paul says, be in some measure all things to all men. Whatever may advance the happiness or satisfaction of our
neighbour, Christian charity obliges us to offer: whatever would discompose or disgust him, we ought in justice to avoid, as we might easily conclude, it would be unwelcome to ourselves. To encourage and exhort to respect and amity; to engage mankind in mutual good offices, and to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, seems to have been the view of the apostle, when he enjoined us to love as brethren, to be pitiful, and to be courteous.
Preached at a Funeral, 1763.
THE PATIENCE OF JOB, NOT AN IMITABLE
EXAMPLE FOR CHRISTIANS.
Job xiv. 13. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me ! IT is natural for us, under the anguish of great afflictions, to make unnatural wishes.
To shạn by every means the approach of death, and to preserve these frail beings as long as possible, was implanted in our nature by the unerring will of Providence. Were we so little desirous of life, and so little afraid of death, as, to seek and wish for it upon every little uneasiness, the human species would be destroyed, and this world would become a desert, or be inhabited only by savages, by creatures that hare neither the
knowledge nor the desire of death-the race of man, I say, would perish from off the face of the earth; for what human being is so happy, that he is not some time or other uneasy.
It was the wisdom of Providence then that ordered it otherwise: for, though the Divine power has permitted enough of misery in the world to wean our hearts from it, yet he has given us such an apprehensive fear of death as is sufficient, in general, to reconcile us to this life, till, in the common course of nature, it is brought to an end.
Hence it is that so soon as sorrow vanishes at the appearance of hope; so soon as the languor of sickness is past, or the pain of disappointment is
grown older by a day, we begin once more to look forward with cheerfulness, and to run with patience the race that is set before us. Such is the general condition of life; and they who are and have been the happiest of mankind, must acknowledge that the picture bears some resemblance to their own circumstances. 11,
It is possible, however, that, in cases of extreme calamity, death may be wished for in earnest. There are some conditions of life so absolutely wretched, that the desire of living would almost seem unreasonable. Who would