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crisis, whilst this empire of reason and religion lasts, and the heart is thus exercised with wisdom and busied with iseavenly contemplations could we see it naked as it is stripped of its passions, unspotted by the world, and regardless of its pleasures--we might then safely rest our cause upon this single evidence, and appeal to the most sensual, whether Solomon has not made a just determination here in favour of the house of mourning ?not for its own sake, but as it is fruitful in virtue, and becomes the oceasion of so much good. Without this end, sorrow, I own, has no use but to shorten a man's days ;-nor can gravity, with all its studied solemnity of look and carriage, serve any end but to make one half of the world merry, and impose upon the other.
Consider what has been said; and may God of his mercy bless you! Amen.
LUKE X. 36, 37.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him
that fell amongst the thieves !-- And he said, he that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him,-Go, and do thou likewise.
In the foregoing verses of this chapter, the Evangelist relates, that a certain lawyer stood up and tempted Jesus, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?-To which inquiry our Saviour, as his manner was, when any ensnaring question was put to him, which he saw proceeded more from a design to entangle him, than an honest view of getting information, instead of giving a direct answer, which might afford a handle to malice, or at best serve only to gratify an impertinent humour,he immediately retorts the question upon the man who asked it, and unavoidably puts him upon the necessity of answering himself;-and, as in the present case, the particular profession of the inquirer, and his supposed general knowledge of all other branches of learning, left no room to suspect he could be ignorant of the true answer to this question; and especially, of what every one knew was deliv. ered upon that head by their great legislator; our Saviour therefore refers him to his own memory of what he had found there in the course of his stud. ies:- What is written in the law, how readest thou? _Upon which the inquirer, reciting the general heads of our duty to God and man, as delivered in the 18th of Leviticus and the 6th of Deuteronomy; -namely,"That we should worship the Lord our “ God with all our hearts, and love our neighbour
as ourselves;" our blessed Saviour tells him, he had answered right; and if he followed that lesson, he could not fail of the blessing he seemed desirous to inherit.-" This do, and thou shalt live.”
But he, as the context tells us, willing to justify himself,-willing possibly to gain more credit in the conference, or hoping, perhaps, to hear such a partial and narrow definition of the word neighbour as would suit his own principles, and justify some particular oppressions of his own, or those of which his whole order lay under an accusation,--says unto Jesus, in the 29th verse, And who is my neigh« bour?”—Though the demand at first sight may seem utterly trifling, yet was it far from being so in fact.. For, according as you understood the term in a more or less restrained sense,—it produced many necessary variations in the duties you owed, from that relation.-Our blessed Saviour, to rectify any partial and pernicious mistake in this matter, and to place at once this duty of the love of our neighbour upon its true bottom of philanthropy and universal kindness, makes answer to the proposed question, not by any far-fetched refinement from the schools of the rabbies, which might have sooner silenced than convinced the many—but by a direct appeal to human nature, in an instance he relates of a man falling amongst thieves, left in the greatest distress imaginable, till by chance a Samaritan,
an utter stranger, coming where he was, by an act of great goodness and compassion, not only relieved him at present, but took him under his protection, and generously provided for his future safety.
On the close of which engaging account, our Saviour appeals to the man's own heart, in the first verse of the text--" Which now of these three, " thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell
amongst the thieves ?”—and instead of drawing the inference himself, leaves him to decide in favour of so noble a principle so evidently founded in mercy.-The lawyer, struck with the truth and justice of the doctrine, and frankly acknowledging the force of it, our blessed Saviour concludes the debate with a short admonition, that he would practise what he had approved, and go, and imitate that fair exam. ple of universal benevolence which it had set before him.
In the remaining part of the discourse I shall follow the same plan; and, therefore, shall beg leave to enlarge first upon the story itself, with such re. flections as will arise from it; and conclude, as our Saviour has done, with the same, exhortation to kindness and humanity which so naturally falls from it.
A certain man, says our Saviour, went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment, and departed, leaving him half-dead. There is something in our nature which engages us to take part in every accident to which nian is subject, from what cause soever it may have happened; but in such calamities as a man has fallen into through mere misfortune, to be charged upon no fault or indiscretion of himself,
there is something then so truly interesting that, at first sight, we generally make them our own, not altogether from a reflection that they might have been or may be so, but oftener from a certain generosity and tenderness of nature which disposes us for compassion, abstracted from all considerations of self: so that, without any observable act of the will, we suffer with the unfortunate, and feel a weight upon our spirits we know not why, on seeing the most common instances of their distress. But where the spectacle is uncommonly tragical, and complicated with many circumstances of misery, the mind is then taken captive at once, and, were it inclined to it, has no power to make resistance ; but surrenders itself to all the tender emotions of pity and deep concern. So that when one considers the friendly part of our nature without looking farther, one would think it impossible for a man to look upon misery without finding himself in some measure attached to the interest of him who suffers it. say, one would think it impossible, for there are some tempers~(how shall I describe them ?)formed either of such impenetrable matter, or wrought up by habitual selfishness to such an utter insensibility of what becomes of the fortunes of their fellow-creatures, as if they were not partakers of the same nature, or had no lot or connection at all with the species.
Of this character, our Saviour produces two disgraceful instances in the behaviour of a Priest and a Leyite, whom in this account he represents as coming to the place where the unhappy man was ;both passing by without either stretching forth a hand to assist, or uttering a word to comfort him in his distress.