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commandment to any great extent through-, will, and never can be brought within the out the mass of society, but the principle of cognizance of any of our courts of adminisgodliness. Nothing will secure the general tration, will still continue to derange the observation of justice amongst us, in its business of human life, and to stir up all the punctuality and in its preciseness, but such heartburnings of suspicion and resentment a precise Christianity as many affirm to be among the members of human society. And puritanical. In other words, the virtues of it is, indeed, a triumphant reversion awaitsociety, to be kept in a healthful and prosing the Christianity of the New Testament, perous condition, must be upheld by the when it shall become manifest as day, that virtues of the sanctuary. Human law may it is her doctrine alone, which, by its searchrestrain many of the grosser violations. But ing and sanctifying influence, can so moralwithout religion among the people, justice ize our world-as that each may sleep secure will never be in extensive operation as a in the lap of his neighbour's integrity, and moral principle. A vast proportion of the charm of confidence, between man and man, species will be as unjust as the vigilance and will at length be felt in the business of the severities of law allow them to be. A every town, and in the bosom of every thousand petty dishonesties, which never family.
“ Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is
the law and the prophets.”-Matthew vii. 12.
There are two great classes in human in nearer accommodation to the feelings and society, between whom there lie certain the conveniences of men. mutual claims and obligations, which are And Christianity, on the very first blush felt by some to be of very difficult adjust- of it, appears to be precisely such a religion. ment. There are those who have requests It seems to take away all lawsulness of reof some kind or other to make; and there sistance from the possessor, and to invest are those to whom the requests are made, the demander with such an extent of priviand with whom there is lodged the power lege, as would make the two classes of soeither to grant or to refuse them. Now, at ciety, to which we have just now adverted, first sight, it would appear, that the firm speedily change places. And this is the true exercise of this power of refusal is the only secret of the many laborious deviations that barrier by which the latter class can be se-have been attempted in this branch of mocured against the indefinite encroachments rality, on the obvious meaning of the New of the former; and that, if this were remov- Testament. This is the secret of those many ed, all the safeguards of right and property qualifying clauses, by which its most luminwould be removed along with it. The power ous announcements have been beset, to the of refusal, on the part of those who have utter darkening of them. This it is which the right of refusal, may be abolished by an explains the many sad invasions that have act of violence, on the part of those who been made on the most manifest and unhave it not; and then, when this happens deniable literalities of the law and of the in individual cases, we have the crimes of testimony. And our present text, among assault and robbery; and when it happens others, has received its full share of mutilaon a more extended scale, we have anarchy tion, and of what may be called “ dressing and insurrection in the land. Or the power up," from the hands of commentators-it of refusal may be taken away by an au-having wakened the very alarms of which thoritative precept of religion; and then we have just spoken, and called forth the might it still be matter of apprehension, lest very attempts to quiet and to subdue them. our only defence against the inroads of Surely, it has been said, we can never be selfishness and injustice were as good as required to do unto others what they have given up, and lest the peace and interest of no right, and no reason, to expect from us. families should be laid open to a most fearful The demand must not be an extravagant exposure, by the enactments of a romantic one. It must lie within the limits of moderaand impracticable system. Whenever this tion. It must be such as, in the estimation is apprehended, the temptation is strongly of every justly thinking person, is counted felt, either to rid ourselves of the enactments fair in the circumstances of the case. The altogether, or at least to bring them down principle on which our Saviour, in the text,
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rests the obligation of doing any particular | legality would be overthrown. It is some thing to others, is, that we wish others to such fearsul anticipation as this which causes do that thing unto us. But this is too much casuistry to ply its wily expedienis, and for an affrighted selfishness; and, for her busily to devise its many limits, and its own protection, she would put forth a de- many exceptions, to the morality of the fensive sophistry upon the subject; and in New Testament. And yet, we think it pos. place of that distincily announced principle, sible to demonstrate of our text, that no such on which the Bible both directs and specifies modifying is requisite; and that, though adwhat the things are which we should do mnitted strictly and rigorously as the rule of unto others, does she substitute another our daily conduct, it would lead to no pracprinciple entirely-which is, merely to do tical conclusions which are at all formidable. unto others such things as are fair, and right, For, what is the precise circumstance and reasonable.
which lays the obligation of this precept Now, there is one clause of this verse upon you? There may be other places in which would appear to lay a positive inter- | the Bible where you are required to do dict on all these qualifications. How shall things for the benefit of your neighbour, we dispose of a phrase, so sweeping and whether you would wish your ncighbour 10 universal in its import; as that of "all things do these things for your benefit or not. But whatsoever We cannot think that such this is not the requirement here. There is an expression as this was inserted for no- none other thing laid upon you in this thing, by him who has told us, that "cursed place, than that you should do that good is every one who taketh away from the action in behalf of another, which you words of this book." There is no distinction would like that other to do in behalf of laid down between things fair, and things un- yourself. If you would not like him to do fair-between things reasonable, and things it for you, then there is nothing in the comunreasonable. Both are comprehended in pass of this sentence now before you, that the “ all things whatsoever.” The significa- at all obligates you to do it for him. If tion is plain and absolute, that, let the thing you would not like your neighbour to make be what it may, if you wish others to do so romantic a surrender to your interest, as that thing for you, it lies imperatively upon to offer you to the extent of half his fortune, you to do the very same thing for them also. then there is nothing in that part of the gos
But, at this rate, you may think that the pel code which now engages us, that renwhole system of human intercourse would ders it imperative upon you to make the go into unhingement. You may wish your same offer to your neighbour. If you would next-door neighbour to present you with positively recoil, in all the reluctance of inhalf his fortune. In this case, we know not genuous delicacy, from the selfishness of how you are to escape from the conclusion, laying on a relation the burden of the ex· that you are bound to present him with the penses of all your family, then this is not half of yours. Or you may wish a relative the good office that you would have him to to burden himself with the expenses of all do unto you; and this, therefore, is not the your family. It is then impossible to save good office which the text prescribes you to you from the positive obligation, if you are do unto him. If you have such consideraequally able for it, of doing the same ser- tion for another's ease, and another's convice to the family of another. Or you may venience, that you could not take the unwish to engross the whole time of an ac- generous advantage of so much of his time quaintance in personal attendance upon for your accommodation, there may be yourself. Then, it is just your part to do the other verses in the Bible which point to il same extent of civility to another who may greater sacrifice, on your part, for the good desire it. These are only a few specifica- of others, than you would like these others tions, out of the manifold varieties, whether to make for yours; but, most assuredly, of service or of donation, which are con- this is not the verse which imposes that ceivable between one man and another; nor sacrifice. If you would not that others are we aware of any artifice of explanation should do these things on your account, by which they can possibly be detached then these things form no part of the “all from the “all things whatsoever” of the things whatsoever" you would that men verse before us. These are the literalities should do unto you; and, therefore, they which we are not at liberty to compromise form no part of the “all things whatsoever" -but are bound to urge, and that simply, that you are required, by this verse, to do according to the terms in which they have unto them. · The bare circumstance of your been conveyed to us by the great Teacher positively not wishing that any such sarof righteousness. This may raise a sensitive vices should be rendered unto you, exempts dread in many a bosom. It may look like you, as far as the single authority of this the opening of a floodgate, through which precept is concerned, from the obligation of a torrent of human rapacity would be made rendering these services to others. This is *!) set in on the fair and measured domains the limitation to the extent of those services eflroperty, and by which all the fences of I which are called for in the text; and it is
surely better, that every limitation to a rule rise, in the scale of duty, with its decommandment of God's, should be defined mands upon him; and thus there is renderby God himself, than that it should be ing to him double for every unfair and undrawn from the assumptions of human fan- generous imposition that he would make cy, or from the fears and the feelings of on the kindness of those who are around human convenience.
him. Let a man, in fact, give himself up to a Now, there is one way, and a very effecstrict and literal observance of the precept tual one, of getting these two ends to meet. in this verse, and it will impress a two-fold Moderate your own desires of service from direction upon him. It will not only guide others, and you will moderate, in the same him to certain performances of good in be- degree, all those duties of service to others half of others, but it will guide him to the which are measured by these desires. Have regulation of his own desires of good from the delicacy to abstain from any wish of them. For his desires of good from others encroachment on the convenience or proare here set up as the measure of his per- perty of another. Have the high-mindedformances of good to others. The more ness to be indebted for your own support selfish and unbounded his desires are, the to the exertions of your own honourable larger are those performances with the ob- industry, rather than the dastardly habit of ligation of which he is burdened. What- preying on the simplicity of those around soever he would that others should do unto you. Have such a keen sense of equity, him, he is bound to do unto them; and, and such a fine tone of independent feeling, therefore, the more he gives way to unge- that you could not bear to be the cause of nerous and extravagant wishes of service hardship or distress to a single human from those who are around him, the hea- creature, if you could help it. Let the vier and more insupportable is the load of same spirit be in you, which the Apostle duty which he brings upon himself.--The wanted to exemplify before the eye of his commandment is quite imperative, and disciples, when he coveted no man's gold, there is no escaping from it; and if he, by or silver, or apparel; when he laboured not the excess of his selfishness, should render to be chargeable to any of them ; but it impracticable, then the whole punishment wrought with his own hands, rather than due to the guilt of casting aside the autho-be burdensome. Let this mind be in you, rity of this commandment, follows in that which was also in the Apostle of the Gentrain of punishment which is annexed to tiles; and, then, the text before us will not selfishness. There is one way of being re- come near you with a single oppressive or lieved from such a burden. There is one impracticable requirement. There may be way of reducing this verse to a moderate other passages, where you are called to go and practicable requirement; and that is, beyond the strict line of justice, or common just to give up selfishness-just to stifle all humanity, in behalf of your suffering breungenerous desires-just to moderate every thren. But this passage does not touch Wish of service or liberality from others, I you with any such preceptive imposition: down to the standard of what is right and and you, by moderating your wishes from equitable; and then there may be other others down to what is fair and equitable, verses in the Bible by which we are called do, in fact, reduce the rule which binds you to be kind even to the evil and the unthank- to act according to the measure of these ful. But, most assuredly, this verse lays wishes, down to a rule of precise and undeupon us none other thing, than that we viating equity. should do such services for others as are The operation is somewhat like that of a right and equitable.
governor or fly, in mechanism. This is a The more extravagant, then, a man's very happy contrivance, by which all that Wishes of accommodation from others are, lis defective or excessive in the motion, is the wider is the distance between him and 'l confined within the limits of equability: the bidden performances of our text. The and every tendency, in particular, to any separation of him from his duty, increases mischievous acceleration, is restrained. at ihe rate of two bodies receding from each The impulse given by this verse to the conother by equal and contrary movements. duct of man among his fellows, would seem, The more selfish his desires of service are to a superficial observer, to carry him to all from others, the more feeble, on that very the excesses of a most ruinous and quixotic account, will be his desires of making any benevolence. But let him only look to the surrender of himself to them, and yet the skilful adaptation of the fly. Just suppose greater is the amount of that surrender the control of moderation and equity to be which is due. The poor man, in fact, is laid upon his own wishes, and there is not moving himself away from the rule; and a single impulse given to his conduct bethe rule is just moving as fast away from yond the rate of moderation and equity. the man. As he sinks, in the scale of sel-/ You are not required here to do all things fishness, beneath the point of a fair and whatsoever in behalf of others, but to do all moderate expectation from others, does the things whatsoever for them, that you would
should be done unto yourself. This is the exclusion on every call that proceeds from check by which the whole of the bidden it; who in a tumult of perpetual alarm movement is governed, and kept from run- about new cases, and new tales of suffering, ing out into any hurtful excess. And such and new plans of philanthropy, has at is the beautiful operation of that piece of length learned to resist and to resent every moral mechanism that we are now employ- one of them; and, spurning the whole of ed in contemplating, that while it keeps this disturbance impatiently away, to maindown all the aspirations of selfishness, it tain a firm defensive over the close system does, in fact, restrain every extravagancy, of his own selfish luxuries, and his own and impress on its obedient subjects no snug accommodations. Such a man keeps other movement, than that of an even and back, it must be allowed, from the cause of inflexible justice.
charity, what he ought to have rendered it This rule of our Saviour's, then, pre-in his own person. There is a diminution scribes moderation to our desires of good of the philanthropic fund up to the extent from others, as well as generosity to our of what benevolence would have awarded doings in behalf of others; and makes the out of his individual means, and individual first the measure of obligation to the se- opportunities. The good cause is a sufferer, cond. It may thus be seen how easily, in not by any positive blow it has sustained, a Christian society, the whole work of be- but the simple negation of one friendly and nevolence could be adjusted, so as to render fostering hand, that else might have been it possible for the givers not only to meet, stretched forth to aid and patronise it. but also to overpass, the wishes and expec- There is only so much less of direct countations of the receivers. The rich man tenance and support than would otherwise may have a heavier obligation laid upon have been; for, in this our age, we have no him by other precepts of the New Testa- conception whatever of such an example ment; but, by this precept, he is not bound being at all infectious. For a man to walto do more for the poor man, than what he low in prosperity himself and be unmindful himself would wish, in like circumstances, of the wretchedness that is around him, is to be done for him. And let the poor man, an exhibition of altogether so ungainly a on the other hand, wish for no more than character, that it will far oftener provoke what a Christian ought to wish for; let him an observer to affront it by the contrast of work and endure to the extent of nature's his own generosity, than to render it the sufferance, rather than beg-and only beg, approving testimony of his imitation. So rather than that he should starve; and in that all we have lost by the man who is such a state of principle among men, a tide ungenerous in his doings, is his own conof beneficence would so go forth upon all tribution to the cause of philanthropy. And the vacant places in society, as that there it is a loss that can be borne. The cause should be no room to receive it. The duty of this world's beneficence can do abunof the rich, as connected with this adminis- dantly without him. There is a ground. tration, is of so direct and positive a charac- that is yet unbroken, and there are resources ter, as to obtrude itself at once on the notice which are still unexplored, that will yield a of the Christian moralist. But the poor far more substantial produce to the good of also have a duty in it-to which we feel humanity, than he, and thousands as wealourselves directed by the train of argument thy as he could render to it out of all their which we have now been prosecuting—and capabilities. a duty, too, we think, of far greater impor But there is a far wider mischief inflicted tance even than the other, to the best inte on the cause of charity, by the poor man rests of mankind.
who is ungenerous in his desires; by him, For, let us first contrast the rich man whom every act of kindness is sure to call who is ungenerous in his doings, with the out to the reaction of some new demand, or poor man who is ungenerous in his desires; new expectation; by him, on whom the and see from which of the two it is, that hand of a giver has the effect, not of apthe cause of charity receives the deadlier peasing his wants, but of inflaming his rainfliction. There is, it must be admitted, pacity; by him who, trading among the an individual to be met with occasionally, sympathies of the credulous, can dexterouswho represents the former of these two ly appropriate for himself a portion tenfold characters; with every affection gravitating greater than what would have blest and to itself, and to its sordid gratifications and brightened the aspect of many a deserving interests; bent on his own pleasure, or his family. Him we denounce as the worst own avarice—and so engrossed with these, enemy of the poor. It is he whose ravenous as to have no spare feeling at all for the gripe wrests from them a far more abunbrethren of his common nature; with a dant benefaction, than is done by the most heart obstinately shut against that most lordly and unfeeling proprietor in the land. powerful of applications, the look of genuine He is the arch-oppressor of his brethren; and imploring distress and whose very and the amount of the robbery which he countenance speaks a surly and determined I has practised upon them, is not to be esti
mated by the alms which he has monopo- 1 life becomes, will it be the more seen of lized, by the food, or the raiment, or ine what a high pitch of generosity even the money, which he has diverted to himself, very poorest are capable. They, in truth, from the more modest sufferers around him, though perhaps they are not aware of it, he has done what is infinitely worse than can contribute more to the cause of charity, turning aside the stream of charity. He by the moderation of their desires, than the has closed its floodgates. He has chilled rich can by the generosity of their doings. and alienated the hearts of the wealthy, by They; without, it may be, one penny to bethe gall of bitterness which he has infused stow, might obtain a place in the record of into this whole ministration. . . heaven, as the most liberal benefactors of
A few such harpies would suffice to exile their species. There is nothing in the huma whole neighbourhood from the attentions ble condition of life they occupy, which of the benevolent, by the distrust and the precludes them from all that is great or jealousy wherewith they have poisoned graceful in human charity. There is a way their bosoms, and laid an arrest on all the in which they may equal, and even outsensibilities that else would have flowed peer, the wealthiest of the land, in that very from them. It is he who, ever on the virtue of which wealth alone has been conwatch and on the wing about some enter- ceived to have the exclusive inheritance. prize of imposture, makes it his business to There is a pervading character in humanity work and to prey on the compassionate which the varieties of rank do not obliteprinciples of our nature; it is he who, in rate; and as, in virtue of the common coreffect, grinds the faces of the poor, and that, ruption, the poor man may be as effectually with deadlier severity than even is done by the rapacious despoiler of his brethren, as the great baronial tyrant, the battlements of the man of opulence above him—so, there whose castle seem to frown, in all the pride is a common excellence attainable by both; of aristocracy, on the territory that is be- and through which, the poor man may, to fore it. There is, at all times, a kindliness the full, be as splendid in generosity as the of feeling ready to stream forth, with a ten- rich, and yield a far more important contrifold greater liberality than ever, on the bution to the peace and comfort of society. humble orders of life, and it is he, and such To make this plain—it is in virtue of a as he, who have congealed it. He has generous doing on the part of a rich man, raised a jaundiced medium between the when a sum of money is offered for the rerich and the poor, in virtue of which, the lief of want; and it is in virtue of a geneformer eye the latter with suspicion; and rous desire on the part of a poor man, when there is not a man who wears the garb, and this money is refused; when, with the feelprefers the applications of poverty, that has (ing, that his necessities do not just warrant not suffered from the worthless impostor him to be yet a burden upon others, he dewho has gone before him. They are, in clines to touch the offered liberality; when, fact, the deceit, and the indolence, and the with a delicate recoil from the unlooked-for low sordidness of a few who have made proposal, he still resolves to put it for the outcasts of the many, and locked against present away, and to find, if possible, for them the feelings of the wealthy in a kind himself a little longer; when, standing on of iron imprisonment. The rich man who the very margin of dependence, he would is ungenerous in his doings, keeps back one yet like to struggle with the difficulties of labourer from the field of charity, But a his situation, and to maintain this severe poor man who is ungenerous in his desires, but honourable conflict, till hard necessity can expel a thousand labourers in disgust should force him to surrender. Let the moaway from it. He sheds a cruel and ex-ney which he has thus nobly shifted froin tended blight over the fair region of phi-himself take some new direction to another; lanthropy; and many have abandoned it, and who, we ask, is the giver of it? Thé who, but for him, would fondly have lin- first and most obvious reply is, that it is he gered thereupon; very many, who, but for who owned it: but, it is still more emphathe way in which their simplicity has been tically true, that it is he who has declined tried and trampled upon, would still have it. It came originally out of the rich man's tasted the luxury of doing good unto the abundance: but it was the noble-hearted poor, and made it their delight, as well as generosity of the poor man that handed it their duty, to expend and expatiate among onwards to its final destination. He did their habitations.
not emanate the gift; but it is just as much We say not this to exculpate the rich; that he has not absorbed it, but left it to for it is their part not to be weary in well find its full conveyance to some neighbour doing, but to prosecute the work and the poorer than himself, to some family still labour of love under every discouragement. more friendless and destitute than his own, Neither do we say this to the disparage- It was given the first time out of an overment of the poor; for the picture we have flowing fulness. It is given the second time given is of the few out of the many; and out of stinted and self-denying penury. In the closer the acquaintance with humble the world's eye, it is the proprietor who be