Youth is the proper season for cultivating the benevolent and humane affections. As a great part of your happiness is to depend on the connections which you may form with others, it is of high importance that you acquire betimes the temper and the manners which will render such connections comfortable. May a sense of justice be the foundation of all your social qualities. In your most early intercourse with the world, and even in
True benevolence ought to reign in every person; it does not shut our eyes to the distinction between good and bad persons, or between one nation and another, or between two stations; or to warm the heart unequally to those who befriend us, and those who injure us. It reserves our esteem for good and bad men, and our complacency for our friends.
Towards our enemies it inspires forgiveness, humanity, and a solicitude for their welfare. It breathes universal candor, and liberality of sentiment. It forms gentleness of temper, and dictates affability of manners. If human understanding apprehends any thing according to truth and right, the benevolent character is the proper object of the love of every rational mind, as the contrary is the natural object of aversion. Every human, or other finite mind, is more or less amiable, according as it has more or less of this excellent disposition; it is evident that infinite goodness is infinitely amiable.
True benevolence and humility are always acceptable, and always knows. We ought not to do any thing benevolently, from vanity, or a desire of having our deeds known or applauded. Strive to remember those benevolent and immortal men who have done so much good in our country, and are still doing, and perhaps will not stop until
Think of the benevolent and immortal John Howard, putting pleasure far from him, to the intention of promoting good. John Elliot devoted his days to the instruction of the poor Indians. And ever regardless of his own wants, supplied others, and neglected himself.
We ought not one of us ever to be weary in well doing. But feel, and esteem it necessary for us to do good, in what shape soever it calls upon us. It is the duty of the young, as well as those who are grown up, to study the best means of relieving the destitute.
To remove ignorance is an important branch of benevolence. To distribute or lend useful, and religious books, is an important branch of benevolence. For what is better than instructing the mind: it is certainly better than giving money or clothes, which soon pass away, and may be misused.
I have known Ladies forming themselves into a society, for the purpose of assisting the poor; and have done much good in the undertaking. The young should always solicit the advice of their parents, or older friends, in their charities; for they may bestow charity without consideration. The relief of the poor require more knowledge of mankind, than those whose years are few, can be expected to possess.
There was a gentleman, who was esteemed high in the Courts of our land, who was rich in possessions, yet refused an aged, and tattered beggar, who asked alms of him. Said he, "if I had authority,
I should think this very improper, and very unnatural for a person to say who was not wealthy, much more, for a person who has a plenty of this world's goods, and professes Christianity. I ask any one, "hoarded up, what is wealth?" It certainly can afford no real comfort to themselves, or others.
Says a writer, "Integrity, or the observance of justice, then, is essential to private and public happiness. It is the fundamental principle in all the numerous concerns of society. Every deviation from justice and rectitude among men, is a violation of the divine commands."
It is beautifully observed by a British author, that, "there is happiness in the very wish to make others happy." It is thus that the pleasures derived from good actions comes in aid of moral precepts. We are excited by our own happiness to do what conscience dictates, and the laws of God require. In all cases of this kind, our happiness coincides with our duty. And it is thus that man becomes a miniature likeness of his Maker, in whom are inseparably united supreme moral excellence and supreme felicity!
Let not ease and indulgence contract our affections, and wrap us up in selfish enjoyment. Let us ever accustom ourselves to think of the distresses of human life: of the solitary cottage, the dying parent, and the weeping orphan. Never sport with pain or distress in any amusement, nor treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty.