Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

befall it soon, an Assurance is given them in
the last Place, that their exemplary Obedience
to the Laws of God will, through his Mercy,
contribute to their being Witnesses of the
Prosperity, both of their Country and their
Descendants during a long Course of Years :
The Lord fall bless thee out of Zion, and thou,
Jhalt see the Good of Jerusalem all the Days of
thy Life. Yea, thou shalt see thy Childrens Chil-
dren, and Peace upon Ifrael: in which con-
cluding Part of this most pleasing View even
of the present Condition of religious and virtu-
ous Persons, we have it signified to us,
I. That a large Portion of their Happi-

ness consists in the flourishing State

of their Country. II. That this Happiness is greatly in

creased by a Prospect, that their own Posterity will continue to flourish

with it. III. That both these Things depend on,

and are to be expected from, the di

vine Benediction.
I. That a large Portion of their Happiness
consists in the flourishing State of their Country.

Every Thing hath an Influence on our En-
Vol. V.

T

joyments

joyments, in Proportion to the Share which it hath in our Affections. And Affection to the Public never fails to be remarkably strong in worthy Breasts. The complete Character indeed of social Virtue, if confidered in Theory, is good Will towards all Men. And no Concern for a part deserves Praise, if it be inconsistent with Benevolence to the Whole. But the Whole, even of this Earth, is an Object fo vast, that few, if any, can preserve in their Minds a fixed Regard to it, or entertain the smallest Hope of doing it Service. Therefore Mankind is advantageously divided into many particular Societies. And a Zeal in the Members of each for the Benefit of their own de-, serves, not only to be encouraged as a most useful Quality, but honoured, as a moft laudable one.

It shews a Rightness and Greatness of Mind, capable of being affected by a common Interest: it shews the most amiable of Virtues, Love, towards a large part of our Fellow-creatures, and implies Nothing contrary towards the rest. For the real Good of every People in the World is compatible with the real Good of every other. To rule and to oppress is no Good to any: and Peace and Liberty and friendly Intercourse for mutual Con

venience

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

venience all the Nations of the Earth may enjoy at once. The Happiness of Individuals, (we experience it) depends, not on rising above others, but on being easy and well within themselves, and reasonably secure of continuing so. In like Manner the Happiness of Kingdoms and States depends, not on extended Dominion or Superfluity of Wealth, (whence often proceeds every Kind of Evil) but on inward good Order and outward Safety. These Things we may and must rejoice to see our Country possess: and these are the only Things, which the Love of it requires us to have at Heart.

This Virtue indeed, as well as others, hath been frequently misunderstood : and false Appearances of it unhappily pursued. Yet even then so much Rightness of Intention towards their own Community was mixed in the Minds of Men with wrong Behaviour towards the Nations round them, that their Injustice, though monstrous, hath been always considered with Indulgence, nay often admired as Heroism. And the only People, too severely censured on this Head, hath been the Jewish : whose very Law some have charged with teaching ill' Will to the rest of the World, though it hath

[ocr errors]

T2

more

more Precepts of Compassion and Tenderness towards them, than perhaps any other. They were indeed commanded to set out with extirpating the Canaanites, and planting themfelves in their Land. But well might Heaven decree, after a Forbearance of several Ages, the Destruction of these Wretches, abandoned at once to the most unnatural Lusts, and the most shocking Barbarities ; and (which made their Recovery hopeless) both of them practised, as Acts of their Religion. Nor could the Jews be more strongly warned against committing such Enormities, than by being appointed to punish them; as God may certainly punish, either by his own Hand, or by whom he will. But with all Mankind ever after, they were to live in Peace : only avoiding Intimacies likely to corrupt them, and extinguish that Profession of Faith in the one true God, which they were designed to preserve for the general Benefit. Accordingly they were, when free, as good Neighbours, and when conquered, as good Subjects, as other Men; till heathen Persecution provoked them to hate even those Heathens, who were no Persecutors : and then it was Time for our Saviour to teach them, not the Love of their Country,

(for

[ocr errors]

(for of that, such as it was, they had too
much) but the universal Love of all Men: a
Doctrine equally needful, though on different
Accounts, for the Romans also. Yet he, and
his great Apostle St. Paul, were shining Exam-
ples of most affectionate Concern for their
Brethren of the House of Israel, even while
they received the cruellest Treatment from
them. And, though the first Disciples were
chiefly private Persons, under one absolute
Dominion, and that, of unbelieving Magis-
trates, and consequently no other political In-
junctions, than those of dutiful Obedience and
uniformly moral Behaviour, could with Pro-
priety be laid
upon

these are inculcated with such Diligence, and grounded on such Principles in the New Testament, that as ample a Provision is made by them for the public Welfare as then was feasible : and whoever will seriously consider the Gospel Rules, will be far from asserting, with a late Author”, that the Love of his Country is a Virtue purely voluntary in a Christian.

If the Love of all Men be required by our Religion, the Love of those, whom we are most able to serve, must be understood as peLord Shaftesbury.

culiarly

them ; yet

T 3

« AnteriorContinuar »