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faces or fancies ; for that is but facility or softness, which taketh an honest mind prisoner. Neither give thou Æsop's cock a gem, who would be better pleased and happier if he had a barleycorn. The example of God teacheth the lesson truly: He sendeth his rain, and maketh his sun to shine upon the just and the unjust;' but he doth not rain wealth nor shine honour and virtues upon men equally: common benefits are to be communicated with all, but peculiar benefits with choice. And beware how in making the portraiture thou breakest the pattern; for divinity maketh the love of ourselves the pattern —the love of our neighbours but the portraiture: 'Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor, and follow me;' but sell not all thou hast, except thou come and follow me—that is, except thou have a vocation' wherein thou mayest do as much good with little means as with great—for otherwise, in feeding the streams thou driest the fountain.
Neither is there only a habit of goodness directed by right reason; but there is in some men, even in nature, a disposition towards it, as, on the other side, there is a natural malignity; for there be that in their nature do not affect the good of others. The lighter sort of malignity turneth but to a crossness, or frowardness, or aptness to oppose, or difficileness, or the like; but the deeper sort to envy, and mere mischief. Such men, in other men's calamities, are, as it were, in season, and are ever on the loading 3 part—not so good as the dogs that licked Lazarus’ sores, but like flies that are still buzzing upon anything that is raw—misanthropi [men-haters], that make it their practice to bring men to the bough, and yet never have a tree for the purpose in their gardens, as Timono had : such dispositions are the very errors of human nature, and yet they are the fittest timber to make great politics of—like to knee-timber, that is good for ships that are ordained to be tossed, but not for building houses that shall stand firm.
i Vocation. See page 23.
? Difficileness. Difficulty to be persuaded. The Cardinal, finding the Pope difficile in granting the dispensation.'— Bacon, Henry VII.
3 Loading. Loaden ; burdened.
The parts and signs of goodness are many. If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them,—if he be compassionate towards the affliction of others, it shows that his heart is like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm,-if he easily pardons and remits offences, it shows that his mind is planted above injuries, so that he cannot be shot, if he be thankful for small benefits, it shows that he weighs men's minds, and not their trash; but, above all, if he have St. Paul's perfection, that he would wish to be an anathema from Christ, for the salvation of his brethren, it shows much of a divine nature, and a kind of conformity with Christ Himself.
• Goodness admits no excess, but error.'
In the present day, we employ the term "good-nature' in reference to the smaller manifestations of kindness, on ordinary occasions. To speak of any one who devoted himself, like Howard, or Wilberforce, to the promotion of some great benefit to Mankind, as a good-natured man, would sound ridiculous. We should call him a philanthropist.
Bacon, however, is speaking, universally, of what is now called benevolence and beneficence; and his remark is very just, that it admits of no excess in quantity, though it may be misdirected and erroneous. For if your liberality be such as to reduce your family to poverty, or-like the killing of the hen that laid the golden eggs—such as to put it out of your power hereafter to be liberal at all; or if it be bestowed on the undeserving; this is rather to be accounted an unwise and misdirected benevolence than an excess of it in quantity. And we have here a remarkable instance of the necessity of keeping the whole character and conduct, even our most amiable propensities, under the control of right principle guided by reason; and of taking pains to understand the subject relating to each duty you are called on to perform. For there is perhaps no one quality that can produce a greater amount of mischief than may be done by thoughtless good-nature. For instance, if any one, out of tenderness of heart, and reluctance to punish or to discard the criminal and worthless, lets loose on society, or advances to important offices, mischievous characters, he will have conferred a doubtful benefit on a few, and done incalculable hurt to thousands. So, also, to take one of the commonest and most obvious cases, that of charity to the poor,-a man of great wealth, by freely relieving all idle vagabonds, might go far towards ruining the industry, and the morality, and the prosperity, of a whole nation. For there can be no doubt that careless, indiscriminate alms-giving does far more harm than good; since it encourages idleness and improvidence, and also imposture. If you give freely to ragged and filthy street-beggars, you are in fact hiring people to dress themselves in filthy rags, and go about begging with fictitious tales of distress. If, on the contrary, you carefully inquire for, and relieve, honest and industrious persons who have fallen into distress through unavoidable misfortune, you are not only doing good to those objects, but also holding out an encouragement, generally, to honest industry.
1 Romans ix. 3.
'You may, however, meet with persons who say, “As long as it is my intention to relieve real distress, my charity is equally virtuous, though the tale told me may be a false one. The impostor alone is to be blamed who told it me; I acted on what he said; and if that is untrue, the fault is his, and not mine.'
“Now this is a fair plea, if any one is deceived after making careful inquiry; but if he has not taken the trouble to do this, regarding it as no concern of his, you might ask him how he would act and judge in a case where he is thoroughly in earnest —that is, where his own important interests are concerned. Suppose he employed a steward or other agent, to buy for him a house, or a horse, or any other article, and this agent paid an exorbitant price for what was really worth little or nothing, giving just the same kind of excuse for allowing his employer to be thus cheated; saying, 'I made no careful inquiries, but took the seller's word; and his being a liar and a cheat, is his fault, and not mine;' the employer would doubtless reply, “The seller indeed is to be condemned for cheating ; but so are you, for your carelessness of my interests. His being greatly in fault does not clear you ; and your merely intending to do what was right, is no excuse for your not taking pains to gain right information.'
Now on such a principle we ought to act in our charities : regarding ourselves as stewards of all that Providence has bestowed, and as bound to expend it in the best way possible, and not shelter our own faulty negligence under the misconduct of another.'
It is now generally acknowledged that relief afforded to want, as mere want, tends to increase that want; while the relief afforded to the sick, the infirm, and the disabled, has plainly no tendency to multiply its own objects. Now it is remarkable, that the Lord Jesus employed His miraculous power in healing the sick, continually, but in feeding the hungry, only twice; while the power of multiplying food which He then manifested, together with His directing the disciples to take care and gather up the fragments that remained that nothing might be lost, served to mark that the abstaining from any like procedure on other occasions was deliberate design. In this, our Lord had probably in view (besides other objects), to afford us some instruction, from His example, as to the mode of our charity. Certain it is, that the reasons for this distinction are now, and ever must be, the same as at that time.
Now to those engaged in that important and inexhaustible subject of inquiry, the internal evidences of Christianity, it will be interesting to observe here, one of the instances in which the superhuman wisdom of Jesus forestalled the discovery of an important principle, often overlooked not only by the generality of men, but by the most experienced statesmen and the ablest philosophers, even in these later ages of extended human knowledge, and development of mental power.
I See Introductory Lessons on Morals, lesson xvi. P. 139.
• It is good to take knowledge of the errors of a habit 80
excellent. As there are errors in its direction, so there are mistakes concerning its nature. For instance, some persons have a certain nervous horror at the sight of bodily pain, or death, or blood, which they and others mistake for benevolence; which may or may not accompany it. Phrenologists have been derided for attributing large destructiveness (which, however, is not inconsistent with large benevolence, though more prominently remarkable when not so combined) to a person who had never killed anything but a flea, or to one who could not bear to crush a wasp or fly that was keeping him awake all night; as if they had meant the organ of killing.' And yet such a person would, according to their own accounts of their own system, bear out their sentence, if he was harsh in admonishing or rebuking, bitter in resentment, trampling without pity on the feelings and the claims of others, &c.
We should not confound physical delicacy of nerves, with extreme tenderness of heart, and benevolence, and gentleness of character. It is also important to guard against mistaking for good-nature, what is properly good-humour-a cheerful flow of spirits, and easy temper not readily annoyed; which is compatible with great selfishness.
It is curious to observe how people who are always thinking of their own pleasure or interest, will often, if possessing considerable ability, make others give way to them, and obtain everything they seek, except happiness. For, like a spoiled child, who at length cries for the moon, they are always dissatisfied. And the benevolent, who are always thinking of others, and sacrificing their own personal gratifications, are usually the happiest of mankind. There is this great advantage also that the benevolent have over the selfish, as they grow old : the latter, seeking only their own advantage, cannot escape the painful feeling that any benefit they procure for themselves can last but a short time; but one who has been always seeking the good of others, has his interest kept up to the last, because he of course wishes that good may befal them after he is gone.