صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

bour, and to love your neighbour as yourself, as it is a law of christianity to abstain from theft.

The noblest motive to this universal tenderness and affection is founded in this doctrine, God is love, and he; that dwelleth in him, dwelleth in God."

Who therefore, whose heart has any tendency towards God, would not aspire after this divine temper, which so changes and exalts our nature into a union with him ?

How should we rejoice in the exercise and practice of this love, which, so often as we feel it, is so often an assurance to us, that God is in us, that we act according to his spirit, who is love itself ? But we must observe, that love has. then only this mighty power of uniting us to God, when it is so pure and universal, as to inutate that love, which God bears to all his creatures.

God wills the happiness of all beings, though it is no happiness to himself ; therefore we must desire the happiness of all beings, though no happiness comes to us from it.

God equally delights in the perfections of all bis creatures ; therefore we should rejoice in those perfections, wherever we see them, and be as glad to have other people perfeet, as ourselves,

As God forgives all, and gives grace to all, so we should forgive all those injuries and affronts, which we receive from others, and do all the good we can to them.

God almighty, besides his own great example of love, which ought to draw all his creatures after it, has so provided for us, and made our bappiness so common to us all, that we have no occasion to envy or hate one another. For we cannot stand in one another's way, nor, by en. joying any particular good, keep another from his full share of it.

As we cannot be happy, but in the enjoyment of God, so we cannot rival, nor rob one another of this happiness.

As to other things, the enjoyments and prosperities of this life, they are so little in them selves, so foreign to our happiness, and, generally speaking, so contrary to that, which they appear to be, that they are no foundation for envy, or spite, or hatred.

How silly would it be to envy a man, who was drinking poison out of a golden cup. Yet, who can say that he is acting wiser than thus, when he is envying any instance of worldly greatness ?

How many saints has adversity sent to heaven? How many poor sinners has

sinners has prosperity plunged into everlasting misery ? A man seems then to be in the most glorious state, when he has conquered, disgraced, and humbled his enemy; though it may be, that same conquest has saved his adversary and undone himself.

This man had perhaps never been debauched, but for his fortune and advancement ; that had never been pious, but through his poverty. and disgrace.

She, who is envied for her beauty, may perchance owe all her misery to it ; and another may be forever happy, for having no admirers

of her person.

One man succeeds in every thing, and so loses all; another meets with nothing but crosses and disappointments, and thereby gains more than all the world is worth...

How despised was the poor preacher, St. Paul, when he was beaten with rods! Yet how strangely was the world mistaken in their judgment! How much to be envied was St. Paul ! How much to be pitied was Alexander !

How envied was Alexander, when conquering the world, he built towns, set up his statues, and left marks of his glory in so many kingdoms!

There are,

These few reflections sufficiently show us, that the different conditions of this life have nothing in them to excite our uneasy passions, nothing, which can reasonably interrupt our love and affection to one another.

To proceed now to another motive to this universal love. Our

power of doing external acts of love and goodness is often very narrow and restrained.

it may be, but few people, to whom we can contribute any worldly relief.

But, though our outward means of doing good are often thus limited, yet, if our hearts are but full of love and goodness, we get, as it were, an infinite power; because God will at. tribute to us those good works, those acts of love and tender charities, which we sincerely desired, and would gladly have performed, had it been in our power.

You cannot heal all the sick, relieve all the poor ; you cannot comfort all in distress, nor be a father to all the fatherless. You cannot, it may be, deliver many from their misfortunes, por teach them to find comfort in God.

But, if there be a love and tenderness in your heart, which delights in these good works, and excites you to do all, that you can; if your love

haveʼrio bounds, but you continually wish and pray for the relief and happiness of all, in distress, you will be received by God, as a benefactor to those, who have had nothing from you but your good will and tender affections.

You cannot build hospitals for the incurable ; but if you join in your heart with those, who do, and thank God for their pious designs ; if you are a friend to these great friends of man. kind, and rejoice in their eminent virtues, you will be received by God as a sharer of such good works, as though they had none of your hands, yet had all

your

heart. This consideration is surely sufficient to make us look to, and watch over our hearts with all diligence; to study the improvement of our inward tempers, and aspire after every height and perfection of a loving, charitable, and benevolent mind.

On the other hand, we may hence learn the great evil and mischief of all wrong turns of mind, of envy, spite, hatred, and ill-will. For, if the goodness of our hearts will entitle us to the reward of good actions, which we never performed ; it is certain, that the badness of our hearts, our envy, ill-nature, and hatred, will

« السابقةمتابعة »