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and is frequently fubject to great efforts of paffion and resentment to the desires of ambition and lafciviousnefs, and other vices, which have no fociety, which can have none, with Chriftian charity. Goodnature has oftentimes something that wants to be corrected in the very principles of it; fometimes it is an agreeable and easy weakness of mind, or an indolence or carelessness with respect to persons and things. But charity is reason made perfect by grace: it is a beneficence which arises from a contemplation of the world, from a knowledge of the great Creator, and the relation we bear to him and to our fellow creatures : it is that reason into which all duties owing from man to man are ultimately resolved; and when we choose to say in a word what is the character, the temper, or the duty of a disciple of the Gospel, charity is the only word that can express our meaning.
The same fort of actions materially considered de oftentimes proceed from very different principles. Liberality and hospitality are natural effects of charity, which inspires us with the tender motions of compaffion and benevolence towards our fellowcreatures: but it is no very uncommon thing for men to be liberal out of pride, and hospitable out of vanity; to do their alms before men, that they may be feen of them; and of such our Saviour's judgment is, that they shall have no reward of their Father, which is in heaven.
This leads to an inquiry, by what means we may certainly diftinguish the principles from which our actions are derived, without which we can have no well-grounded confidence towards God, how fpe
cious soever the appearance may be which we inake in the eyes of the world? The ready answer to which inquiry is, that we must consult our own hearts, and examine what passes in them, in order to form a right judgment upon the motives of our own actions. But if we consider what is meant by searching the heart, we shall find that to search the heart, and to examine into the motives and principles of our actions, is one and the same thing; and therefore this direction does not fet us one step forward in the inquiry. Befides, it is no easy matter to come to the knowledge of our own hearts, since from experience it is plain, that men do impose upon themselves at least as often as they do upon the world, and find an ease and satisfaction in doing the things, which shall yield no fruit in the great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. And though in actions which require deliberation, and are not undertaken without a previous debate had with ourselves upon their expe- : diency or inexpediency, an honest man may judge of his own motives and sincerity; yet a thousand things there are which men do habitually, and with so much ease and readiness, as not to attend to the influence of any particular motive at the time of doing the action. Charitable persons do not, in each single instance of charity, set before their minds the connection of that action with the honour of God, and the good of the world; nor can they perhaps be able to say what particular motive led to each act of charity. A man of a regular chastity and fobriety does not every day, nor perhaps every month, reason himself into the observation of these duties, and exert the motives in his heart, upon which the practice of these duties is founded; nor can he answer, should he be examined to the point, how far his virtue is owing to this or the other motive, or how far to his natural temperament and constitution. And fince no one virtue consists in a single act, or in any certain determinate number of single acts, but in a regular and habitual conformity to the rules of reason and morality; which conformity the more habitual it is, the less we feel of the influence of any particular motives ; it is hardly possible for men to estimate the good or evil of their actions, by considering the immediate and sensible connection between each action, and the motives producing it. For, as many motions of the body, which depend on the acts of our will, are exerted with the greatest reason, and yet the reason of exerting them is but seldom by any, and by some hardly ever attended to; fo in moral actions a man of confirmed habitual goodness does many things right, without recurring back by reflection to the special grounds and reasons of duty, in which the morality of such actions is founded.
For these reasons, and for others which might be affigned, it seems to me to be a very distracting method, to put people upon inquiry into the motives of all their particular actions; and still more unreasonable it seems to be, to exclude fincerity from all actions that are not immediately influenced by a special confideration of the proper motives of religion ; because, in this case, the more naturally and habitually men do good, the more reason they will have to doubt of their fincerity.
We must therefore search after a more equitable and more practicable way of judging of our sincerity. Our Saviour tells us, we must love our neighbour as ourselves ; making hereby that love, which naturally every man bears to himself, to be the standard of that love and charity which we ought to have to one another. As therefore it is sufficient to love our neighbour as ourselves ; so likewise it will be sufficient evidence of the fincerity of our charity, if we can give as good proof of our love towards our neighbour, as we ordinarily can do of our love towards ourselves.
Now certain it is, that the principle of self-prefervation does generally act so uniformly in men, that they do the things most necessary to their own well-being without much thought and reflection upon the reasons for so doing ; nor do we ever sufpect men so far in the fincerity of their love to themselves, as to question whether the things which they do rightly for their own preservation proceed from proper motives, and out of a due regard to their own well-being.
What the principle of self-preservation is with respect to ourselves, the same is charity with respect to our neighbour : and the more real and vigorous this principle is, the more easily, and with the less deliberation, does it exert the acts of love and beneficence towards our fellow-creatures. Hypocrites and dissemblers, and self-interested persons, have always a design in what they do; and therefore they necessarily deliberate, whether it be worth their while to do good to others or no; and can therefore assign to themfelves a particular reason for any good office they perform to their neighbour : and it is a great prefumption that a man acts upon a general principle of charity and humanity, when he lives well towards others, without having a particular reason to assign in every inftance for so doing.
It is either a principle of felf-love, or a principle of charity, that inclines us to do good to others. Where men act out of self-love, and seek to promote their own intereft, to gratify their own vanity or ambition by serving others, there is fo much design in what they do, that they cannot but be conscious of the reasons which prevail with them: and where there are no such reasons to be afligned, what cause is there for men to fuspect their own sincerity, or to imagine that the love they fhew to others proceeds from any thing but a good principle ?
It is therefore, if not a certain rule, yet at least a very reasonable presumption, that we act upon a true principle of charity, when we seek the ease, and fatisfaction, and comfort of others, without being conscious to ourfelves of any felfish views to our own interest in what we do.
But to prevent mistakes, I would not be understood, by laying down this rule, to condemn men always in the good they do to others, with a view to themselves: for surely, it is as reasonable to exchange good offices, as other lefs valuable conveniencies of life ; and, indeed, the happiness of civil life consists in this mutual exchange of good offices : and therefore, where men serve others in an honeft