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part of a grain may be visible without a microscope,) this “golden sentence” may be as much extended : no man can say how much. This book is but a beating upon it. And at the same time it is a commentary on that inspired maxim, “ As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” Every proposal here made upon it, hopes to be able to say,
66 When I am tried, I shall come forth as gold.”
I have not been unaware, that all the rules of discretion and behaviour are included in that one word, modesty. But it will be no breach of modesty, to be very positive in asserting, that the only wisdom of man lies in conversing with the great God, and his glorious Christ; and in engaging as many others as we can, to join with us in this our blessedness; thereby promoting his kingdom among the children of men; and in studying to do good to all about us; to be blessings in our several relations; to heal the disorders, and help the distresses of a miserable world, as far as ever we can extend our influence.
It will be no trespass upon the rules of modesty, with all possible assurance to assert, that no man begins to be wise till he come to make this the main purpose and pleasure of his life; yea, that
every man will at some time or other be so wise as to own, that every thing without this is but folly; though, alas! most men arrive not at that conclusion till too late.
Millions of men, in every rank, besides those whose Dying thoughts are collected in the “ Fair Warnings to a Careless World,” have at length declared their conviction of it. It will be no im
modesty in me to say, that the man who is not satisfied of the wisdom of making it the work of his life to do good, is always to be regarded with the pity due to an idiot.
No first principles are more peremptorily to be adhered to.
Or, do but grant a judgment to come," and my assertion is presently victorious.
I will not be immodest, and yet I will boldly say, The man is worse than a Pagan, who will not come into this notion of things : “ A good man is a common good;" and, “ none but a good man is really a living man;" and, “ the more good any man does, the more he really lives.”
All the rest is death, or belongs to it. Yea, you must excuse me if I say, the Mahometan also shall condemn the man who comes not into the principles of this book; for I think it occurs no less than three times in the Koran, “ God loves those that are inclined to do good.”
For this way of living, if we are fallen into a generation, wherein 'men will cry Sotah ! “ He is a fool,” that practises it, as the Rabbins foretell, it will be in the generation wherein the Messiah comes; yet there will be a wiser generation, and “wisdom will be justified of her children.” Among the Jews there has been an Ezra, whose head they called f the throne of wisdom.” Among the Greeks there has been a Democritus, who was called Sophia in the abstract. The later ages knew a Gil. das, who wore the surname of Sapiens : but it is the man whose temper and intent it is “to do good," that is the truly wise man after all. And, indeed, had a man the hands of a Briareus, they would all
be too few to do good; he might find occasions to call for more than all of them. The English nation had once a sect of men called “ Bons hommes," or 66 Good men.” The ambition of this book is to revive and enlarge a sect that may claim that name; yea, to solicit that it may extend beyond the bounds of a sect, by the coming of all men into it.
Of all the “ trees in the garden of God,” which is there that envies not the palm-tree, out of which alone, as Plutarch informs us, the Babylonians obtained more than three hundred commodities? Or the cocoa-tree, so beneficial to man, that a vessel may be built, and rigged, and freighted, and victualled from that alone? To plant such “ trees of righteousness,” and to prune them, is the object of the book now before us.
The men who devise good, will now give me leave to remind them of a few things, by which they may be a little fortified for their grand intention; for, sirs, you are to pass between “ Bozez” (or dirty) and “ Seneh” (or thorny), and encounter a host of things worse than Philistines, in your undertaking.
MISCONSTRUCTION is one thing against which you will do well to furnish yourselves with the armour both of prudence and of patience; prudence for the prevention of it, patience for the endurance of it. You will unavoidably be put upon doing many good things, which other people will see but at a distance, and be unacquainted with the motives and methods of your doing them; yea, they may imagine their own purposes crossed in what you do; and this will expose you to their censures.
Yet more particularly. In your essays to do good you may hap
pen to be concerned with persons whose power is greater than their virtue. It may be needful as well as lawful for you to mollify them with acknowledg. ments of those things in them, which may render them honourable or considerable; and forbear to take notice, at present, of what may be termed culpable. In this you may aim at nothing, but merely that you may be the more able to do them good; or, by their means, to do good to others: and yet, if you are not very cautious, this your civility may prove to your disadvantage; especially if you find yourselves obliged either to change your opinion of the
persons, or to tax any miscarriage in them. The injustice of the censures upon you, may be much as if Paul, rebuking Felix for his unrighteousness and unchastity, should have been reproached with his inconsistency in having so lately complimented this very Felix, and said, he was glad he had one to be concerned with of such accomplishments and so well acquainted with the affairs of his nation. must not be uneasy if you should be thus unjustly treated. Jerome had written highly of Origen, as a man of bright endowments; at another time he wrote as severely against some things that he was (perhaps unjustly) accused of. They charged Jerome with levity, yea, with falsehood: but he despised the calumny, and replied, “I did once commend what I thought was great in him; and now I condemn what I find to be evil in him." I is the contradiction? I say, Be cautious; but I say again, Be not uneasy.
What I add, is, that you must be above all DisCOURAGEMENTS. Look for them, and with a magnanimous courage overlook them.
Some have observed, that the most concealed, and yet the most violent of all our passions, is usually that of idleness. It lays adamantine chains of death and of darkness upon us.
It holds in chains that cannot be shaken off, all our other inclinations, however impetuous. That no more mischief is done in the world, is very much owing to a spontaneous lassitude on the minds of men, as well as that no more good is done. A Pharaoh will do us no wrong if he tells
us, “ Ye are idle, ye are idle !" We have usually more strength to do good, than we have inclination to employ it. Sirs, “ Be up and be doing!” It is, surely, too soon for a “ Here lies interred."
If you meet with vile INGRATITUDE from those whom you have laid under the most weighty obligations, do not wonder at it. Into such a state of turpitude is man sunk, that he would bear any weight rather than that of obligation. Men will acknowledge small obligations; but return wonderful hatred and malice for such as are extraordinary. They will render it a dangerous thing to be very charitable and beneficent. Communities will do it as well as individuals. Excess of desert turns at length into a kind of demerit.
Men will sooner forgive great injuries, than great services. He that built a matchless castle for the Poles, for his reward, had his eyes put out, that he might not build such another. Such things are enough to make one sick of the world; but, my friend, they should not make thee sick of essays to do good in the world. Let a conformity to thy Saviour, and a communion with him, be sufficient to carry thee through all.