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long before, and perhaps near the place where he now was,-of a Jew that had been robbed in coming from Jerusalem to Jericho, and left in a miserable condition, nearly expiring upon the road; whom a priest and a Levite, one after the other, passed by without giving the least relief, barely casting their eyes upon him. But a Samaritan, happening to be travelling that way, was moved with pity for the wretched object, and did not leave him till he had taken all possible care of him. Upon which our Lord putting the question to him, in turn, to decide upon the case for himself, which of these three fulfilled their divine law of loving his neighbour, he draws a confession from his own mouth approving the humanity of the Samaritan, and thereby acknowledging that the like would be the duty of a Jew towards a Samaritan, or any other person in di
I proceed now to make some remarks for our improvement from it, according to Christ's direction, "Go and do thou likewise." And,
Our Lord's principal scope and design in this beautiful affecting story, was to recom
mend universal love and kindness, by an exchange of friendly good offices amongst all men over the face of the whole earth.
His countrymen, the Jews, were notoriously defective in this virtue, which he ranks, and their divine law taught them to rank, next to that of loving God himself, who gave them their being, and continually sustained them. The learning and refinement of the polished Greeks and Romans had served only to fill them with conceit of their superiority over other nations, and not to make them more humane towards them.
It was indeed a lesson highly needful to be taught, not only at that time, but at all times, that we ought to love and endeavour to do good to all men, as the creatures of God, and partakers of the same common nature, the subjects of the same wants and feelings with ourselves.
For although we have capacities and dispositions implanted in us by our Maker, to carry us out of ourselves to seek the happiness of others, we may smother and extinguish these kind affections, as we may every spark of conscience, honesty, and every thing that is good. in us, by neglecting to act as they would lead
us, by excessive indulgence of ourselves, or by a sordid selfishness and growing narrowness of heart and mind. Almighty God has sowed within us the seeds of benevolence; but we ourselves must water and cultivate them, and make them to grow by such generous exertions as our Lord prescribes, or they will come to nothing.
Very fitly, therefore, does our Lord bid this learned man to follow his convictions; the virtue that he approved in another to practise himself:-"Go and do thou likewise."
We must actually set ourselves to do the good that it is in our power to do, because otherwise we may contract such a callous disposition, and be so lost in a supine indolence, avarice, and in what regards our own interests and enjoyments, as not to be moved at all with the miseries and wants of others; and to take up with any slight pretence to excuse ourselves, and turn away from them, whenever they are likely to put us to any trouble or expense.
The priest and the Levite refused to give assistance to the poor creature that lay weltering in his blood before them. Both of them, if we may guess at what passed within them, might excuse themselves, either on account of
of the necessity of hastening to attend the temple-service, forgetting that mercy was to be preferred before sacrifice: or they might be afraid themselves of falling into the hands of robbers, -as if in such extremities we must not, if needful, hazard our own lives for the preservation of another.
Much more might the charitable Samaritan have to allege of urgent business, (perhaps to appear before the Roman governor,) of danger to himself, as he was a stranger, of a hated nation, and in little likelihood of obtaining relief if any misfortune should happen to him. But instead of showing any backwardness on these accounts, the moment he saw the wounded man he hastened to his assistance, and left him not till he had contributed all he could to his cure and recovery.
All virtue, all true goodness and benevolence consists in action; not merely in commending and approving what is the kind and right part, but in doing it. "What doth it profit, my brethren, (saith the apostle James ii. 14,) though a man say he hath faith, and hath not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of
daily food, and one of you saith unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and be ye filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body; What doth it profit?"
We must beware, then, of hearkening to the excuses of a slothful or covetous temper, to stop the current and exercise of our compassion towards others; or of suffering our time or fortunes, for which we are accountable, to be wasted in superfluous and expensive vanities, instead of employing them both in the various methods of doing good, which Providence puts in our way, and the gospel of Jesus directs and demands of us.
It is easy to say in words, and to fancy, that we love God with all our souls, and with all our strength; but we deceive ourselves, unless we show it by loving men, and doing good to them. "For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" "And whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" 1 John iv. 20; iii. 17.