صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

under Heaven, in its own nature, is more lovely and engaging ?-To illustrate this the more, let us turn our thoughts within ourselves; and, for a moment, let any number of us here imagine ourselves at this instant engaged in drawing the most perfect and amiable character, such as, according to our conceptions of the Deity, we should think most acceptable to him, and most likely to be universally admired of all mankind.-I appeal to your own thoughts, whether the first idea which offered itself to most of our imaginations, would not be that of a compassionate benefactor, stretching forth his hand to raise up the helpless orphan? Whatever other virtues we should give our hero, we should all agree in making him a generous friend, who thought the opportunities of doing good, to be the only charm of his prosperity: We should paint him like the psalmist's river of God, overflowing the thirsty parts of the earth, that he might enrich them, carrying plenty and gladness along with him. If this was not sufficient, and we were still desirous of adding a farther degree of perfection to so great a character, we should endeavor to think of some one, if human nature could furnish such a pattern, who, if occasion required, was willing to undergo all kinds of affliction, to sacrifice himself, to forget his dearest interests, and even lay down his life for the good of mankind. —And here-O merciful Saviour ! how would the bright original of thy unbounded goodness break in upon our hearts? Thou who becamest poor, that we might be rich-though Lord of all this world, yet hadst not where to lay thy head -and though equal in power and glory to the great GoD of NATURE, yet madest thyself of no reputation, toøkest upon thee the form of a servant, -submitting thyself, without opening thy mouth, to all the indignities which a thankless and undiscerning people could offer; and at length, to

accomplish our salvation, becamest obedient unto death, suffering thyself, as on this day*, to be led like a lamb to the slaughter!

The consideration of this stupendous instance of compassion in the Son of GoD, is the most unanswerable appeal that can be made to the heart of man, for the unreasonableness of it in himself. -It is the great argument which the apostles use in almost all their exhortations to good works. Beloved, if Christ so loved us-the inference is unavoidable; and gives strength and beauty to every thing else which can be urged upon the subject. And therefore I have reserved it for my last and warmest appeal, with which I would gladly finish this discourse, that, at least for their sakes for whom it is preached, we might be left to the full impression of so exalted and so seasonable a motive-that by reflecting upon the infinite labor of this day's love, in the instance of CHRIST'S death, we may consider what an immense debt we owe to each other and by calling to mind the amiable pattern of his life, in doing good, we might learn in what manner we may best discharge it.

And indeed, of all the methods in which a good mind would be willing to do it, I believe there can be none more beneficial, or comprehensive in its effects, than that for which we are here met together;-the proper education of poor children being the ground work of almost every other kind of charity, as that which makes every other subsequent act of it answer the pious expectation of the giver.

Without this foundation first laid, how much kindness in the progress of a benevolent man's life is unavoidably cast away? and sometimes where it is as senseless as the exposing a tender plant to all the inclemencies of a cruel season, and then Preached on Good Friday.

going with sorrow to take it in, when the root is already dead. I said, therefore, this was the foundation of almost every kind of charity,—and might not one have added, of all policy too ? since the many ill consequences which attend the want of it, though grievously felt by the parties themselves, are no less so by the community of which they are members; and, moreover, of all mischiefs, seem the hardest to be redressed.

Insomuch, that when one considers the disloyal seductions of Popery on one hand, and, on the other, that no bad man, whatever he professes, can be a good subject, one may venture to say, it had been cheaper and better for the nation to have borne the expense of instilling sound principles and good morals into the neglected children of the lower sort, especially in some parts of Great Britain, than to be obliged, so often as we have been within this last century, to rise up and arm ourselves against the rebellious effects which the want of them have brought down even to our doors. And in fact, if we are to trust antiquity, of which, in this case, we have no reason to dispute, this matter has been looked upon of such vast importance to the civil happiness and peace of a people, that some commonwealths, the most eminent for political wisdom, have chose to make a public concern of it; thinking it much safer to be entrusted to the prudence of the magistrate, than to the mistaken tenderness, or the natural partiality of the parent.

It was consistent with this, and bespoke a very refined sense of policy in the Lacedæmonians, (though, by the way, I believe, different from what more modern politics would have directed in like circumstances), when Antipater demanded of them fifty children, as hostages for the security of a distant engagement, they made this brave and wise answer, "They would not they could

"not consent :-They would rather give him "double the number of their best up-grown “men.”—Intimating, that however they were distressed, they would choose any inconvenience rather than suffer the loss of their country's education, and the opportunity (which if once lost can never be regained) of giving their youth an early tincture of religion, and bringing them up to a love of industry, and a love of the laws and constitution of their country.-If this shows the great importance of a proper education to children of all ranks and conditions, what shall we say then of those whom the providence of GOD has placed in the very lowest lot of life, utterly cast out of the way of knowledge,-without a parent,-sometimes may be, without a friend to guide and instruct them, but what common pity, and the necessity of their sad situation, engages :- -Where the dangers which surround them on every side are so great and many, that, for one fortunate passenger in life, who makes his way well in the world with such early disadvantages, and so dismal a setting out, we may reckon thousands who every day suffer shipwreck, and are lost for ever. If there be a case under heaven which calls out aloud for the more immediate exercise of compassion, and which may be looked upon as the compendium of all charity, surely it is this; and I am persuaded there could want nothing more to convince the greatest enemy to this kind of charity, hat it is so, but a bare opportunity of taking a nearer view of some of the more distressful objects of it.

Let him go to the dwellings of the unfortunate, into some mournful cottage, where poverty and affliction reign together. There let him behold the disconsolate widow-sitting-steeped in tears thus sorrowing over the infant she knows not how to succor----- "O my child, thou art now

[ocr errors]

"left exposed to a wide and vicious world too "full of snares and temptations for thy tender and "unpractised age. Perhaps a parent's love may "magnify those dangers. But when I consider "thou art driven out naked into the midst of <6 them, without friends, without fortune, without "instruction, my heart bleeds beforehand for the "evils which may come upon thee. GOD in "whom we trusted, is witness, so low had his pro"vidence placed us, that we never indulged one "wish to have made thee rich ;-virtuous we "would have made thee;-for thy father, my "husband, was a good man, and feared the Lord : "And though all the fruits of his care and in"dustry were little enough for our support, yet "he honestly had determined to have spared 86 some portion of it, scanty as it was, to have pla"ced thee safely in the way of knowledge and in"struction. But, alas! he is gone from us, ne"ver to return more, and with him are fled the 66 means of doing it :-For, behold, the creditor is << come upon us, to take all that we have."-Grief is eloquent, and will not easily be imitated.But let the man, who is the least friend to distresses of this nature, conceive some disconsolate widow uttering her complaint even in this manner, and then let him consider, if there is any sorrow like this sorrow, wherewith the Lord has afflicted her? or whether there can be any charity like that, of taking the child out of the mother's bosom, and rescuing her from these apprehensions? Should a Heathen, a stranger to our holy religion, and the love it teaches, should he, as he journeyed,come to the place where she lay, when he saw, would he not have compassion on her? GOD forbid a Christian should this day want it? or at any time look upon such a distress, and pass by on the other side.

Rather let him do as his SAVIOUR taught him, bind up the wounds, and pour comfort into the

« السابقةمتابعة »