« PreviousContinue »
consequences resulting from what has been advanced. Some rules of action belong to the object of hatred, and others to him who feels the passion in his own breast, Any man may conceive himself in either of these cha. racters; for any man may
be hated, and any man may hate. (k.)
38. A man may become the object of hatred, either by his own faults, or by the faults of others. In order to avoid becoming such by his own faults, he should make it his study to please, He should watch thię means by which he at any time grows unpleasing, and the circumstances by which he seems to recominend himself to favour. Men who are very seriousiy and passionately pious and virtuous, are apt sometimes to neglect this part of their duty; but such negligence is very hurtful to the cause of piety and virtue; as well as to their own particular happiness. And it is by no meaņs encouraged in the holy Scriptures. St. Paul tells us, that we must not let our“ good be evil spoken of.". Rom, xiv. 16. That we must “provide things hva pest," that is decent, honourable, " in the sight of all men,” Rom. xii. 17.
That every one of us inust please his neighbour for his good, to edification," Rom. xv. 2. And he sets forth himself as an example of endeavouring to please, not with interested views, but with a view to promoting the cause of religion. [ please all men,” says he, 1 Cor. x. 33. “ in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, th:t they may be saved." St. Peter, also, i Pet. iii. 8. enjoins the Christians not only to be of one ni nl, to love as brethren, and to be pitiful, but also to be courteous, Men must not then think an amiable behaviour and ap). pearance a thing beneath the notice of a devotit aid religious character; nor must the devout be forwardi) accuse all who dislike them, of hating religion. Our Saviour warmly reproved the Pharisees ; they would say that he disliked whatever was good and venerabe; he reproved nothing but hypocrisy and spiritual pride.
It would be natural for any one who agreed to what has been said, and was desirous of doing his duty, to ask, by what methods am I to avoid being an object of hatred, and render myself picasing to any le.ghtowa?
We can only answer, that the methods of forining an amiable character are numerous, complicated and refined: they must constitute a separate subject of investigation. A considerable progress may be made by a sincere desire to please, founded, not on vanity or selfinterest, but on truly virtuous and religious principles; by a high sense of the importance of the duty; and above all, by that which has the sanction both of reason and revelation, by perpetual attention to the feelings of others; by entering into their views and wishes; and endeavouring, without ostentation, to promote them in the most easy and effectual manner.
Common men may do much good by acting after the best models, and according to their best feelings; and the more improved may do more by scrutinizing the mind, and analysing the principles of pleasing. (1.)
39. But a man may become an object of hatred chiefly or entirely by the faults of others ; I mean by the faults of those who dislike him ; or by their prejudices. No man therefore will be perfect, who after all his endeavours to please, has not fortitude enough to bear to be disliked, without wavering in his duty: We have before (13.) said so much of the virtuous being hated by by the vicious, that we need not dwell long on our present topic. If the poor man finds that he " is hated of his own neighbour;” if the deformed perceives himself to be regarded with some degree of aversion ; if the magistrate, or the parent, or the preceptor, finds, that in order to prevent evil he must be contented to appear to those whom he loves, in an odious light; there is but one sort of conduct that is right; to pardon the effect of prejudice, and of first impression on the inconsiderate to enter into their feelings; and to wait with patience for the hour of returning kindness: forwarding such a happy return by assisting them in every method of overcoming their aversions. And yet the fortitude here recommended should not be such as to admit of no diffidence. Whilst a man is the most resolute in bearing up up against what seems unmerited hatred, he ought frequently to ask himself whether it may not be merited, And he ought to take particular care, that a false shame about yielding does not make him obstinate in retaining his faults, whilst he means only to be inflexible in adhering to his duty, in spite of the groundless prejudices of others against him.
40. But the duties of him who is the object of hatred, seem to lie in less compass than those of the man who is agitated and impelled by that passion. Although it does not seem needful for a good man to dread the displeasure of God upon every emotion of dislike, yet it should be remembered, that those who have laid down precepts for restraining hatred, have adapted their instructions to the ordinary state of things. What has been their state is so still, in a degree sufficient to make such precepts eminently and principally useful. Our great danger is, that our hatred will be excessive ; our chief concern is to restrain it.
It is not indeed out of the reach of our conception that a man may have disciplined and tamed his passions in such a degree, as to allow of his giving them the rein for a while, of his even making use of their impetuosity ; and applying it to his own purposes, according to a settled plan; but in order to have this done with safety, there must be a very clear and distinct view of the particular good ends to be attained; and a perfect facility of guiding and stopping headstrong passions with the greatest exactness. I know not that Hatred would be more difficult than another passion to manage in this way; but few men are skilful enough, or have sufficiently broken and subdued their passions to venture upon such an experiment: the generality must continually keep the rein tight, and the pace temperate, if they would be sure to proceed on in safety.
Some men are so far from attempting such feats, that they say they are unable to get the better of their passions. With regard to that now before us, they will tell us, that to some certain men they have a distaste which is invincible. And it may be true enough, that the more strongly any one feels hatred the less is he disposed to attempt to conquer it : but we cannot allow of any one's giving himself up to such a state of mind as this.
The evil effects of hatred are important enough to engage any well-ineaning man in a hearty attempt to obviate them; though he may feel himself somewhat at a loss' when he looks out for particular expedients. These therefore it shall be our next endeavour to suggest.
A man might begin such an attempt with something in the way of general preparation. He might think and learn beforehand what a great probability there is, that every one will frequently hate without a cause, who only follows his feelings. A due sense of this would naturally engage him to store his mind with observations, marims, rules of conduct; formed in a dispassionate temper, under the guidance of calm reason. Such rules would be much more useful and effica: cious than any which he could afterwards form when he came to be agitated and confused. A man during the influence of passion, may have command of himself sufficient to apply a maxim or rule already formed, who would be wholly impotent as to devising and settling any new resolutions.
42. It would greatly assist towards rendering the method now mentioned effectual, if a man, who found himself strongly impelled to do some act of hatred, were to determine to suspend for a time, not only ill offices, but even his judgment, that the person in question was really hateful. Such an interval would be extremely useful. It would afford opportunity for reason, benevolence, prudence to plead; and to point out any absurd, cruel, or hurtful consequences, which were likely to follow from indulgence of passion. He who adopted the expedient of-suspending, would of course apply it to good purpose. He would summon all his candour, he would search for good qualities to counterbalance those which had appeared odious. He would contrive means of setting the object in a pleasing light: he would connect that object in his imagination with something pleasing. He would endeavour to hope all things ; he would recollect how often he had wondered at himself for having taken up prejudices against those whom he afterwards regarded, not only as reasonable and worthy, but in the end, even as pleasing and amiable.
43. Should any man be too impatient to suspend his judgment and his acts of hatred for a time, it might bevery useful that he should have accustomed himself to know mankind; that he should have acquired an insight into the real characters of men; and have learned to estimate them according to their intrinsic worth and importance. Nor is this direction to be confounded with the first : for it is one thing to form general maxims and resolutions by means of meditation and reading; and another to catch the tone of the day, the fashionable affectations, the living manners as they rise. The former tends to regulate the mind according to the universal principles of human nature ; the latter to hinder us from being dazzled by a specious exterior and fair pretensions, in particular men. It is the weakness of Love and Hatred that they are apt to be too much attracted, or hurried away, by first appearances. Not that they are unmoved by solid merit and demerit; but if a good quality does not appear, it has no effect.
difference between those who can discern men's real characters, and those who are guided merely by the eye. If we applied ourselves to study, and learned to distinguish instantly superficial from substantial virtue, our love and hatred would then be guided by solid worth: first appearances would not mislead us, nor should we have occasion to repent of trusting to them: our first judgments would be approved and confirmed by reflexion. And the play and bias of our fancy, our taste and our sentiments, would coincide with the decisions of our reason and understanding.
44. Suppose a person to make some progress in softening his hatred, but not entirely to overcome it : he is determined not to indulge a decided disgust, but yet his mind continues in some degree embittered; his prejudice does not wholly quit its hold : let such a one try the expedient of doing good : let him endeavour to confer such benefits on the object of his prejudice as opportunities may allow. Our Lord tells us, we must do good to those that hate us; it would be productive of kindness to do good to those we hate. There is no consciousness so pleasing to us as that of our Benefi