« ПредишнаНапред »
love our neighbour as ourselves, is, not to despise him in comparison with ourselves, but to deal justly with him, and not to judge evil concerning him. The law of charity prescribed and given by the Lord is this : “ Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do unto them ; for this is the law and the prophets,” Matt. vii. 12, Luke vi. 31, 32: They who are influenced by the love of heaven, love their neighbour according to this law; but they who are influenced by the love of the world, love their neighbour from worldly motives, and for the sake of worldly interests; and they who are influenced by the love of self, love their neighbour from selfish motives, and for selfish ends. IV. That Man, conSIDERED COLLECTIVELY, THAT IS,
AS A LESSER OR LARGER SOCIETY, AND CONSIDERED UNDER THE IDEA OF COMPOUND SOCIETIES, THAT 18, AS OUR COUNTRY, IS THE Neighbour who ought TO BE LOVED *.
412. They who are unacquainted with the meaning of the word neighbour, in its genuine sense, are apt to imagine, that it is only applicable to man as an individual, and that love towards our neighbour consisteth in doing acts of beneficence towards individuals : but there is a more extensive signification of the term neighbour, and the love of our neighbour is much more widely extended, being exalted in proportion to the greater number of men towards whom it is exercised. Who cannot apprehend, that to love a body of men, consisting of many individuals, is a greater instance of love towards our neighbour, than to love a single individual of that body? The reason therefore why a lesser or greater society is to be considered as our neighbour, is, because every such society is a collective man, and consequently, whosoever loveth such a society, loveth all the individuals which compose it, and by his good-will and good works, shewn and done to the society, he provideth for the good of all its members. A society is as a single man, and the individuals that compose it form, as it were, one body, and are distinguished one from another like the members in one body. The Lord, and from Him the angels, when they look down upon the earth, see a whole society of men under no
* The ascent, and different degrees of the signification of the term neighbour, as here explained by our author, is a subject which deserves our most serious attention. By the word neighbour we are but too apt to understand merely those individuals, with whom we stand more immediately connected, as living in the same neighbourhood, or in the same society with ourselves. But our author shews, according to the spirit of wisdom with which he was gifted, that the word neighbour hath a more enlarged signification, reaching from individuals to societies, from societies to states, from states to the whole body of the church, from the church on earth to the Lord's kingdom in heaven; nay, that it is even still more general in its meaning, including in it all the varieties of good and truth wbich proceed from the Lord, and even the Lord Himself, in its highest and universal sense. From this explication of the word neighbour, the intelligent reader's ideas of charity will be much enlightened and enlarged ; he will see that this grace ascendeth in the same degrees with the term neighbour, or the object on which it is exercised, and that therefore it becometh more blessed and perfect, according to the universality to which it is extended, consequently as it approacheth interiorly more towards truth, good, and the
Lord. It is not however here to be understood, that he hath a capacity to exercise most charity, whose sphere of action is most enlarged, as is the case with kings, princes, and those who enjoy power and authority; but he exerciseth most charity, who in the sincere discharge of the duties of his station, be it ever so low and confined, regardeth the most universal end or object. Now the most universal end or object is the Lord, whom all may regard in all their actions; all therefore have a capacity to exercise the same degrees of charity; for if the Lord be so regarded, then let the sphere of action be ever so confined, if it be only giving a cup of cold water to a disciple, the charity is the same, and bringeth with it the same reward, as if the sphere of action were ever so enlarged, because it proceedeth internally from the same heavenly ground and principle. Yet it must be well observed, that these different degrees of charity are not to be placed in contradiction to each other, but to be preserved and practised in the completest harmony: thus it is in vain for a man to call himself a citizen of the world, as an excuse for the neglect of those duties which are incumbent on him as a citizen of a particular country and a member of private and domestic society. VOL 11.
other view than as a single man, and under no other form than what resulteth from the qualities of the members which compose it; I myself also have been permitted to see a particular society in heaven altogether as one man, of the same stature with a man here on earth. That love shewn towards a society is love towards our neighbour in greater fulness than when it is shewn only towards a single or individual man, is evident from this circumstance, that dig. nities are assigned to governors in proportion to the number of societies subject to their government, and that honours are annexed to them according to extent of the uses, which they perform. For there are in the world superior and inferior offices, subordinate to each other, as their authority over societies is more or less universal, and he whose authority is most universal is called the king; and every one receiveth recompence, glory, and the love of the community, in proportion to the extent of his office and the good uses which he performeth. It is possible however for governors here below to perform uses, and provide for the welfare of society, and yet have no real love towards their neighbour, as is the case with those, who, in the exercise of their public functions, regard only the world and themselves, and do good merely to appear good, or to deserve further distinction and pre-eminence; but such, although they are not discerned in this world, are yet discerned in heaven, where they are rejected from holding any office or dignity; whilst they, who had done and promoted uses, from a principle of love towards their neighbour, are exalted as rulers over heavenly societies, and enjoy proportionable honour and magnificence; these however do not place their hearts and affections in honour and magnificence, but in the uses which they are thus enabled to effect.
413. Love towards our neighbour, exercised towards an individual man, differs from the same love, when exercised towards a society of men, as the office of a private citizen
differs from that of a public magistrate, and as the office of a magistrate differs from that of a king; the difference also is the same as between him who traded with two talents and him who traded with ten talents, Matth. xxv. 14 to 31; or as between the value of a shekel and the value of a talent; or as between the fruit produced by a single vine, and by a whole vineyard, or by a single olive-tree and a whole oliveyard, or by a single fruit-tree and a whole orchard. Love towards our neighbour also ascendeth in man to a sphere more and more interior, and in proportion to its ascent, he loveth a society more than an individual man, and his country more than a society. Now since charity consisteth in good-will, and in good deeds thence derivedl, it follows, that the exercise of them ought to be directed in nearly the same manner towards a society of men, as towards an individual : a distinction however must be made, in this case, between a society of good, and a society of wicked men; for towards the latter charity ought to be exercised according to natural equity, but towards the former according to spiritual equity; of which two kinds we shall speak elsewhere.
414. The reason why a man's country is his neighbour more than a single society, is, because it consisteth of several societies, so that the love he bears towards it is of a more extensive and superior kind; moreover to love one's country is to love the public welfare. Every man's country stands in the relationship of neighbour, by reason of its resemblance to a parent; for the country which gave him birth is ever giving him support also, and affording him security from injuries. Men are bound, from a principle of love, to do good to their country according to its wants, of which some are natural, and some spiritual; natural wants regard civil life and order, and spiritual wants regard spiritual life and order. That every man is bound to love his country, not as he loves himself, but in preference to himself, is a law inscribed on the human heart, whence the universal say
BOUND TO LOVE IN
ing, to which every upright man subscribes, that when in danger of destruction, whether from an enemy or from any other source, it is honourable for any one to die in his country's cause, and that it is glorious for a soldier to shed his blood in her defence : and these expressions are used to mark the very great love, which should bind us to our country. It is to be observed, that they who love their country, and render it good services from a principle of good-will, after death love the kingdom of the Lord, for then that kingdom is their country; and they who love the kingdom of the Lord, love the Lord Himself, because the Lord is the all in all of His kingdom. V. That the CHURCH is our Neigh BOUR, WHOM
A higher Degree; AND THAT THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD IS our NEIGHBOUR, AND OUGHT TO
THE HIGHEST Degree.
415. As man is born to eternal life, and is introduced into it by the church, therefore the church ought to be loved by him as his neighbour in a higher degree : for she teaches the means that lead to eternal life, and introduces him into it, leading him to it by the truths of doctrine, and introducing him into it by the goods of life. We do not mean by this, that the priesthood is to be loved in a superior degree, and the church subordinately, but that the good and truth of the church should be loved, and the priesthood on their account, since the priesthood is designed only to act as a servant to such good and truth, and should be respected in proportion to the service which it yields. There is also a further reason why the church is our neighbour, and entitled to a superior degree of love, and consequently to be ranked above our country, and this is, because man, by his country, is initiated into civil life, but by the church into spiritual life, which latter distinguishes man from a mere animal; besides, civil life is but temporal, and hath termination,