« AnteriorContinuar »
human nature could suffer. On this he always builds his repose, and refers for consolation to the integrity of his heart. His cruel and ill-judging friends would have advised him to forego every sentiment of that kind, and, in consideration of his afflictions, to have looked upon himself as the most abject of offenders. This advice might proceed from excess of
piety, but it was certainly wrong; for con
science is an unerring guide, and the heart has always a right to that satisfaction, which its own approbation can give. I cannot here forbear to observe, that there is, even now, a sect of men who, in this respect, are not unlike to Job's friends; I mean those unhappy and deluded people called Methodists. These poor fanatics, who are, in general, profoundly ignorant, and who catch at some branch or part of a Scriptural text, without being able to attend to the relation. and meaning of the whole, are for ever depreciating human virtue, and the merit of moral goodness: hence they do the utmost prejudice to the cause of religion, which is certainly founded on moral principles, while they deprive the virtuous man of that conscious happiness, which the integrity of his heart might afford him. They entirely destroy one of the
motives to a good life, which is the sense of that pleasure it may yield; and for ever inculcating the wretchedness of human nature and human virtue, they enlarge the empire of superstition by opening all the gloomy avenues of self-abasement and despair. Thus, I say, these unhappy people resemble the friends of Job, who wanted to deprive him of his only remaining consolation, the consciousness of his integrity; but he wisely answered them, My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.
. Preached at St. John's, Clerkenwell, March 11, 1764.
AN ExhortATION To BENEFICENCE; occA
sIon ED BY THE BIshop of LoNDoN's RECOMMENDING THE SUBJECT TO HIS cLERGY. ,
Gal. vi. 10.
THIS is surely a precept of the last importance, since it comes recommended to us by every writer, whose pen was charged with the commandments of his God. ... Alas! that the precept itself should ever need to be so repeatedly enforced that the best and most, essential part of human virtue should require to be enjoined by so many sanctions, to be inculcated by so many tongues! while the most iniquitous selfishness lays hold on the heart, and depraves those capacities which are derived from the eternal source of reason and benevolence 1
What the Almighty originally intended man to be, the conduct that is suitable to the dignity of his nature, and the happiness of his condition, we may learn from the character of that amiable and exalted Person, who took upon him the charge of our salvation. In him we behold essential goodness, and invariable benevolence; a heart for ever actuated by social love, watching, with unwearied kindness, over the welfare of others, and promoting their happiness, with the tenderest assiduity. He went about, says the evangelical writer, doing good. This was the continual employment of his life; with this view he visited every town in Judaea, and for the space of three successive years made it his business to relieve the sufferings of mankind. Where he went, pain and sickness and infirmity fled before him. He was, literally, that Sun of righteousness which arose with HEALING in his wings, and the effects of natural evil were, for a while, suspended in that happy region which had the honour to give him birth. . . . . . The effects of natural evil were suspended; mortwas, the divine benevolence less concerned to prevent, at the same time, the increase of moral evil. He seldom dismissed the sufferer, whom he had restored to health, without reminding him of his duty; and whén he had