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to topics of a less abstract and metaphysical nature, to subjects which come home to the bosoms and the business of his fellow men, his mode of illustration is often such, as from his choice of imagery and unhesitating openness of communication, may excite trains of ideas of a character little correspondent with the weighty and solemn import of his theme.
Amid these defects, however, which stand prominent on his pages, are scattered with no sparing hand, passages, whose beauty, sublimity, and moral wisdom, have never been exceeded; and of which, the diction can boast a purity and vigour, that would give added strength and power to any combination of thought however lofty and transcendant.
I feel, therefore, satisfied, that in recurring, on my former plan, to the pages of the Religio Medici, I shall be considered as prosecuting an attempt, which, if executed with any share of judgment, cannot fail of being in a high degree both useful and interesting; more especially, as I am about to introduce to my readers, that part of the work which is dedicated to the
object of Charity, a virtue which may be said to include almost every other which falls within the province of humanity.
After a few preliminary remarks, the author takes such a view of the foundation on which charity should be built, as proves him not only well acquainted with what constitutes the vital principle of religious duty; but with what too generally actuates the human heart, whilst employed in the office of extending relief to others.
66 It is a happiness,” he observes, “ to be born and framed unto virtue, and to grow up from the seeds of nature, rather than the inoculation and forced grafts of education; yet, if we are directed only by our particular natures, and regulate our inclinations by no higher rate than that of our reasons, we are but moralists; Divinity will still call us heathens. Therefore, this great work of charity must have other motives, ends, and impulsions; I give no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfil and accomplish the will and command of my God; I draw not my purse for his sake that demands it, but his that enjoined it; I relieve no man upon the rhetoric of his miseries, nor to
content mine own 'commiserating disposition, for this is still but moral charity, and an act that oweth more to passion than reason. He that relieves another upon the bare suggestion and bowels of pity, doth not this so much for his sake as for his own; for by compassion, we make others' misery our own, and so, by relieving them, we relieve ourselves also. It is as erroneous a conceit to redress other men's misfortunes upon the common considerations of merciful nátures, that it may be one day our own case; for this is a sinister and politic kind of charity; whereby we seem to bespeak the pities of men on the like occasions."
He then proceeds very justly to observe, that charity does not consist in the mere extension of pecuniary relief, but is often most efficient when applied not to the wants of the body, but to those of the soul. “I hold not so narrow a conceit of this virtue," he remarks, 66 as to conceive that to give alms, is only to be charitable, or think a piece of liberality 'can comprehend the total of charity. Divinity hath wisely divided the act thereof into many branches, and hath taught us in this narrow
way, many paths unto goodness; as many ways as we may do good, so many ways we may be charitable; there are infirmities, not only of body, but of soul, and fortunes, which do require the merciful hand of our abilities. I cannot contemn a man for ignorance, but behold him with as much pity as I do Lazarus. It is no greater charity to clothe his body, than apparel the nakedness of his soul. It is the cheapest way of beneficence, and like the natural charity of the sun illuminates another without obscuring itself. To be reserved and caitif in this part of goodness, is the sordidest piece of covetousness, and more contemptible than pecuniary avarice. To this, as calling myself a scholar, I am obliged by the duty of my condition. I study not for my own sake only, but for their's that study not for themselves. I envy no man that knows more than myself, but pity them that know less.”
Of friendship, as a part of charity in its best and most delightful sense, our author has spoken in terms which paint without reserve the natural amiableness of his disposition, and which impress us, at the same time, with a forcible conviction of the sincerity of his religious sentiments, and of the high and correct estimate which he had formed of the value and efficiency of private prayer. There is also in this part, as in many other portions of the work, when speaking of his own feelings, a degree of naiveté and engaging openness of communication, which though it may sometimes lead him into confessions of a nature liable to ridicule, is often productive of effects more truly suasive and striking in their appeal, than could have resulted from a more stately and didactic mode of composition. Thus, in the latter part of the passage which I am about to quote, wbat a pleasing devotional and interesting picture has the author given of himself, whilst in the exercise of his religious and professional duties.
“ I love my friend,” he declares, “ before myself, and yet methinks, I do not love him enough; some few months hence my multiplied affection will make me believe I have not loved him at all; when I am from him, I am dead till I be with him; when I am with him, I am not satisfied, but would still be nearer him: