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a matter of course; and being desirous of exhibiting to the multitude the excellence of his own character, he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? He perhaps expected to be told that those of his own kindred or acquaintance, who knew the law like himself, might be considered in that relation; or those who were his equals in rank and station, and condition of life; and especially such among them as returned his kindness and benefits with reciprocal or mutual regard. This is the idea which many persons entertain. To love those that love them, and do good to those that do good to them, is considered as all that is to be understood by loving our neighbour as ourselves. And should their love to God be called in question, they would be ready to adduce this love of their neighbour, as a sufficient proof of their moral rectitude. falls short of the love to our neighbour, which the law of God requires, is shown in the parable which our Lord Jesus Christ delivered in explanation of the question proposed to Him. He took up the man on his own ground, and proved to him that he was a transgressor of that law in which he trusted for justification.

How far this

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among

6 Luke vi. 32, 33.

thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho is said to have been about forty miles, and a part of the road was very dangerous. The poor Jew here spoken of, was not only plundered by the thieves who fell upon him, but dreadfully abused and injured, so as to be nearly killed.

While he was lying in this sad condition on the road side, weltering in his own blood, speechless, and almost motionless, by chance there came down a certain priest that way. The wretched sufferer, perhaps, rejoiced at the sound of a passenger's foot; and if he were able to lift up his eyes, and recognise a priest, he would not doubt but the minister of the sanctuary would afford him some relief in his deplorable situation. But no! The priest saw the poor man indeed, but instead of rendering him any assistance, being perhaps fearful lest he should be made unclean by touching a dead body, which would have prevented him from attending on the service of the temple for seven days, he would not go near him. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. The groans of the poor man might have informed the priest that life was still in him; but notwithstanding he might be able to give the same summary of the commandments as the lawyer did, he formed an excuse in his own mind for not doing to others, as he would

have had them do to himself. So he passed on, and left the poor man to his fate.

After some time, another passenger came to the same place; one who was also a minister of the sanctuary, but inferior in office to the priest. Likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, to see what was the matter. And he stood still, and seemed to hesitate a little whether he should inquire into the case, or give any help. But on second thoughts, he also resolved not to put himself to any trouble about it, and like the priest, passed by on the other side.

If these men had considered even the poor of their own nation, their fellow-countrymen, to be their neighbours, they would not have acted in this unfeeling manner. But such, it appears, was the way in which those persons were accustomed to act, who were the instructors of the people in the word of God. They had no compassion for the distresses and sufferings of the poor, even of their own nation.

At length, however, a Samaritan passed that way; one of a nation with whom the Jews would have no dealings, whom they looked down upon as the worst of mankind, a race descended from idolaters, who united some of the ceremonies of the law of Moses to their own idolatrous

7 John iv. 9.


worship, and had built a temple on mount Gerizim in opposition to that at Jerusalem; so that the Jews abhorred them exceedingly, as a people who were unfit to be associated with them in any respect. A man of this detested nation, a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where the poor wounded, naked, half-dead Jew was; and when he saw him, instead of passing on his way, as the priest and the Levite had done, although he must have known that the man was one of those people who were the most bitter enemies of his nation, yet seeing him in this pitiable state, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And as it was necessary for him to proceed on his own journey the next day, on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two-pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him, and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. The Samaritan thus evinced his charity, by not only paying the expenses which had been incurred, but also by promising to be answerable for any further sum that might be expended in effecting the poor Jew's recovery. This was acting a truly humane part, such as became one who was sensible that he was him

8 2 Kings xvii. 41.

self liable to be overtaken with similar calamities, and was therefore willing to do as he would be done by.

When our blessed Lord had delivered this parable, He asked the doctor of the law, Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? Which of

them acted the most neighbourly part? The lawyer was constrained to reply, He that shewed mercy on him; not the priest, not the Levite, but the Samaritan. Our Saviour here pointed out, that the poor and distressed ought to be objects of compassion; and that as kindness had in this instance been shown by an enemy, we ought not to shut up our bowels of compassion even from persons of that description. Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise. Act the neighbour's part. Be humane, compassionate, and kind to those who stand in need of your aid, though they should even be your bitterest enemies. This is nothing more than what humanity requires. Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.

By this exhortation of our blessed Saviour, we learn that what are called moral virtues are Christian duties; and that he who would be esteemed a Christian indeed, is bound by his profession to the exercise of compassion and kindness towards his fellow-creatures who are in distress, and stand in need of the aid which

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