Imágenes de páginas

applied, through a total inattention to the

particular object for which it was implanted. It has been frequently known, in human life, to confer exalted and permanent honours upon the worthless, simply because they had the advantage of being descended from worthy ancestors, to whom they were a disgrace ; and


descendants whose vicious courses may have been destructive of that good, which rendered their predecessors so worthy of complacential affection. By such mistakes, virtue and vice are strangely blended. The same rewards are given to the wicked as to the righteous; attempts are made literally to impute merit, and to transfer a worthy character to the unworthy, without changing their natures ; which is to confound identities where there is no resemblance.

But the due application of this principle, is an exalted reward, and an encouragement to virtue.

The love of parents to their offspring is proximate to self-love; nay it is a species of selflove. It is the great object of good parents, through every stage of life, to promote the welfare of their progeny. For this they are often willing to sacrifice every personal enjoyment, and personal advantage. Nothing therefore can be more pleasing than the expectations, or per

ceptions, that the honours which they have been assiduous to merit, should, to a certain degree, be reflected upon their offspring. Parental fondness will also cherish the expectation, that the respect shown to their children, will be an encouragement to imitate the example which obtained it; and the worthy offspring of such parents, will be ambitious to acquire a real title to that which has been bestowed by courtesy, instead of becoming proud and supercilious, sleeping upon their laurels, or sullying them in the dirt.

The supreme Being, who has placed this principle of complacential benevolence in our bosoms, himself acts upon

and he has set us an example, in what manner it can be invariably acted upon for good. In all those instances upon record, where favours have been extended to those whose personal merits have not attracted them, we may perceive that this extension of kindness, sometimes consists in appointing the successor of his approved servants to the hopourable station of being the means, instri ments, or mediums of conveyance of some essensential good to others, in preference to the instrumentality of those whose parents have not merited this honourable distinction; sometimes in acts of clemency to the undeserving, that the


righteous may not be afflicted by their punishment. Thus it was that after the destruction of an irreclaimable race of men, the family of Noah was chosen to renovate the world ; and to them was the opportunity conferred of disseminating those principles of righteousness, upon which its existence and welfare was to depend; for “ Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Thus would the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah have been spared from total destruction, out of respect to the character, and the compassionate feelings of Lot, had not their degeneracy been so universal. The exemplary piety of Abraham, amidst an idolatrous people, his ready obedience to the Divine commands, and submission to the severest trial to which an affectionate parent could be exposed, were peculiarly acceptable to God; and were remunerated by the peculiar privileges promised to his posterity. He had assurances that they should become a great nation; that they should finally possess the land of Canaan; and that "in him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” They were accordingly selected from a wicked and ignorant race of men, to be initiated in the principles of religion and virtue; to be a deposit of sacred truths, which were hidden from the rest

of the world; and to be the channel of communication of spiritual' blessings to mankind.While other nations continued in palpable darkness, the light of Divine truths shone around them: They had the first offer to become pious, moral, and happy, to a degree not to be obtained by natural means : They were promised the peculiar patronage and protection of heaven, upon the condition of their obedience to the commands of heaven, which they were enabled by a peculiar revelation to accomplish. Nor was there a single act of piety unrewarded, or mark of sincere contrition rejected.

Similar to these privileges, which were common to the whole nation of the Hebrews, we are presented with some other evidences, of the effects of Divine complacency being extended beyond the person of the agent. The distinguished virtue and piety of Joseph, procured to him the gratifying assurance, that his two sons, although born of an Egyptian woman, should participate in the honour of forming tribes in Israel. When Solomon encouraged idolatrous worship, although “ the Lord was angry because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel;” and it was the determination of heaven to rend the kingdom ; « In thy

yet the suspension of so great an evil was ascrib: ed to the piety of his father David, days I will not do it for David thy father's sake, neither will I send away all thy kingdom, but will give one tribe to thy son, for David my servant's sake, and for Israel's sake whom I have chosen.”

Thus far did distinguished and honourable advantages extend, by the influence of complacency, from those who possessed singular merit,

those who had no personal claim; but no further. The Jewish people were warned, from the earliest period, and through every stage of their political existence, that permanent prosperity, and permanent happiness, were alone to be the result of their personal qualifications. These were alone to be procured by the purity of their worship, and the strictness of their morals.Accordingly, the whole of their history informs us, that they were rewarded or punished, enjoyed national honours, and suffered national disgrace, in a manner correspondent to the state of their religious and moral characters.

Favours thus conferred upon the descendants of those who were eminently pious and good, insulted no one; were an injury to no one. There was not a privation to any one of a single privilege or right, to which he was naturally entitled. The chief object of envy in their state, was the power of communicating blessings; and there

« AnteriorContinuar »