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SERM. of ravenous oppressors, of malicious politicians, of XXVIII. such degenerate apostates from humanity; by whose practice (debauched by vain conceits and naughty customs) an ill measure is taken of mankind. Aristotle himself, who had observed things as well as any of these men, and with as sharp a judgment, affirmeth the contrary, that all men are friends, and disposed to entertain friendly correspondence with one anotherb: indeed to say the contrary is a blasphemy against the Author of our nature; and is spoken no less out of profane enmity against him, than out of venomous malignity against men: out of hatred to God and goodness they would disparage and vilify the noblest work of God's creation; yet do they, if we sound the bottom of their mind, imply themselves to admire this quality, and by their decrying it do commend it: for it is easy to discern that therefore only they slander mankind as uncapable of goodness, because out of malignity they would not allow it so excellent a quality.
II. Let us consider what our neighbour is; how near in blood, how like in nature, how much in all considerable respects the same with us he is.
Should any one wrong or defame our brother, we should be displeased; should we do it ourselves, or should we omit any office of kindness toward him, we should blame ourselves: every man is such, of
↳ Oikeîor nãç år@pwños åv0pány kai píňov. Arist. Eth. viii. 1. Rhet.
Ἐνέθηκε γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς φίλτρον τῇ φύσει τῇ ἡμετέρᾳ, ὥστε ἀλλήλους ἀγαπᾷν. Chrys. in Eph. Orat. ii.
Συνδεσμῶν εἰς ὁμογνωμοσύνην ὁ ἀριστοτέχνης Θεὸς ἣν ἐδημιούργησε φύσιν τῇ διαθέσει τοὺς λόγῳ διοικουμένως συνέσφιγξε, &c. Proclus Constantinopl. Syn. Chalc. Act. xiv.
one stock, of one blood with us; and as such may SERM. challenge and call for real affection from us.
τις πάντα φιλεῖ πρὸς άλληλα συν
Should any one mar, tear, or deface our picture, or shew any kind of disrespect thereto, we should be offended, taking it for an indignity put on our-airselves; and as for ourselves, we should never in such a manner affront or despite ourselves: every man is such, our most lively image, representing us Plato most exactly in all the main figures and features of body, of soul, of state; we thence do owe respect to every one.
Every man is another self, partaker of the same nature, endued with the same faculties, subject to the same laws, liable to the same fortunes; distinguished from us only in accidental and variable circumstances; whence if we be amiable or estimable, so is he upon the same grounds; and acting impartially (according to right judgment) we should yield love and esteem to him: by slighting, hating, injuring, hurting him, we do consequentially abuse ourselves, or acknowledge ourselves deservedly liable to the same usage.
Every man, as a Christian, is in a higher and nobler way allied, assimilated, and identified to us; to him therefore upon the like grounds improved charity is more due; and we wrong our heavenly relations, our better nature, our more considerable selves, in withholding it from him.
III. Equity doth plainly require charity from us: for every one is ready not only to wish and seek, but to demand and claim love from others; so as to be much offended, and grievously to complain, if he do not find it.
We do all conceive love and respect due to us
SERM. from all men; we take all men bound to wish and XXVIII. tender our welfare; we suppose our need to require commiseration and succour from every man : if it be refused, we think it a hard case, and that we are ill used; we cry out of wrong, of discourtesy, of inhumanity, of baseness, practised toward us.
A moderate respect and affection will hardly satisfy us; we pretend to them in the highest degree, disgusting the least appearance of disregard or disaffection; we can scarce better digest indifference than hatred.
This evidenceth our opinion and conscience to be, that we ought to pay the greatest respect and kindness to our neighbour: for it is plainly unjust and ridiculously vain, to require that from others, which we refuse to others, who may demand it upon the same title; nor can we without self-condemnation practise that which we detest in others.
In all reason and equity, if I would have another my friend, I must be a friend to him; if I pretend to charity from all men, I must render it to all in the same kind and measure.
Hence is the law of charity well expressed in Matt. vii. those terms, of doing to others whatever we would have them do to us; whereby the palpable equity of this practice is demonstrated.
IV. Let us consider that charity is a right noble and worthy thing; greatly perfective of our nature; much dignifying and beautifying our soul.
It rendereth a man truly great, enlarging his mind unto a vast circumference, and to a capacity near infinite; so that it by a general care doth reach all things, by an universal affection doth embrace and grasp the world.
By it our reason obtaineth a field or scope of em- SERM. ployment worthy of it, not confined to the slender interests of one person or one place, but extending to the concerns of all men.
Eph. Or. 9.
Charity is the imitation and copy of that immense Chrys. in love, which is the fountain of all being and all good; which made all things, which preserveth the world, which sustaineth every creature: nothing advanceth us so near to a resemblance of him, who is essential love and goodness; who freely and purely, without any regard to his own advantage or capacity of finding any beneficial return, doth bear and express the highest good-will, with a liberal hand pouring down showers of bounty and mercy on all his creatures; who daily putteth up numberless indignities and injuries, upholding and maintaining those who offend and provoke him c.
Charity rendereth us as angels, or peers to those glorious and blessed creatures, who, without receiving or expecting any requital from us, do heartily desire and delight in our good, are ready to promote it, do willingly serve and labour for it. Nothing is more amiable, more admirable, more venerable, even in the common eye and opinion of men; it hath in it a beauty and a majesty apt to ravish every heart; even a spark of it in generosity of dealing breedeth admiration, a glimpse of it in formal courtesy of behaviour procureth much esteem, being deemed to accomplish and adorn a man: how lovely therefore
· Ἡμᾶς εἴτις ερωτήσεις, τί τὸ τιμώμενον ὑμῖν καὶ προσκυνούμενον, πρόχειρον εἰπεῖν ἡ ἀγάπη; ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς ἡμῶν ἡ ἀγάπη ἐστὶ, ῥῆσις τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος, καὶ τοῦτο χαίρει μᾶλλον ἀκούων ὁ Θεὸς, ἤ τι ἄλλο. Naz. Οr. 14.
Καθ' ἑκάστην ὑβρίζεται τὴν ἡμέραν, παρῶν καὶ ὁρῶν, καὶ ἀκούων, καὶ οὔτε σκηπτὸν ἀφῆκε, &c. Chrys. 'Ανδρ. γ'.
SERM. and truly gallant is an entire, sincere, constant and XXVIII. uniform practice thereof, issuing from pure goodwill and affection!
Love indeed or goodness (for true love is nothing else but goodness exerting itself, in direction toward objects capable of its influence) is the only amiable and only honourable thing: power and wit may be admired by some, or have some fond idolaters; but being severed from goodness, or abstracted from their subserviency to it, they cannot obtain real love, they deserve not any esteem: for the worst, the most unhappy, the most odious and contemptible of beings do partake of them in a high measure; the prince of darkness hath more power, and reigneth with absolute sovereignty over more subjects by many than the great Turk; one devil may have more wit than all the politic Achitophels, and all the profane Hectors in the world; yet with all his power and all his wit he is most wretched, most detestable, and most despicable and such in proportion is every one, who partaketh in his accursed dispositions of malice and uncharitableness.
On the other side, uncharitableness is a very mean and base thing: it contracteth a man's soul into a narrow compass, or straiteneth it as it were into one point; drawing all his thoughts, his desires, his affections into himself, as to their centre; so that his reason, his will, his activity have but one pitiful object to exercise themselves about: to scrape together a little pelf, to catch a vapour of fame, to prog for a frivolous semblance of power or dignity, to soothe the humour or pamper the sensuality of one poor worm, is the ignoble subject of his busy care and endeavour.