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Thirdly, Outward force and violence injuriously offered to them by those in whose power they are.
Fourthly, Civil or arbitrary punishments inflicted on them for injuries received.
Fifthly, Want of outward necessaries.
1. One of the miseries which affect men's bodies is their natural blemishes and defects, such as lameness or crookedness, the want of our senses, or the disproportion of our parts or features; all which are real infelicities, forasmuch as they render our bodies either less useful to ourselves, or less graceful and amiable to others. And indeed our body, being an object of sense, is usually much more remarked and
, taken notice of than our soul, which is an invisible being; and consequently, the defects and blemishes of our bodies lying more in view, are much more liable to be reflected on, both by ourselves and those we converse with, than the stains and deformities of our minds and wills; which, being placed out of sight, are less exposed to observation : which is the reason that our corporeal defects are so grievous to us, because being so apparent as they are, both to our own and others' senses, they do not only upbraid us to ourselves, who, being led by sense, are apt to value ourselves by sensible graces and perfections, but are also prone to create a mean and contemptible opinion of us in the minds of others; the very suspicion of which, if we are not raised above such mean considerations, will be exceeding apt to grieve and afflict us. In this case therefore the law of mercy requires us not to contemn or undervalue men, not to upbraid or reproach them, upon the account of any bodily blemish or defect; but to overlook these, as inconsiderable flaws of their case and outside, and ren
der them all those honours and respects which the graces and virtues of their minds deserve: considering that the body is not the man, but the immortal mind that inhabits it; and that many times the richest diamonds wear the roughest coats and outsides; that those natural blemishes are infelicities which men could not prevent, and which they cannot rectify; that it was not in their power to order nature in their own composure, but that what they had there was such as they could neither give themselves, nor yet refuse when it was bequeathed to them; and that therefore to deride and expose them for any mishap or blemish in their composition is to fling salt into their wounds, to fret and inflame their misery. And yet, alas ! how common a practice is this, to sport with the deformities of men, as if God and nature had designed them for so many fingerbutts of scorn and derision; to make them the themes of our jests and laughter; which is a lamentable instance of the foul degeneracy of human nature, that can thus play upon misery, and turn that, which is an object of pity and compassion, into a triumph of mirth and drollery : for certainly, how light and trifling soever it may appear through the common practice of it, it is a sign of barbarous illnature for men to deride those defects and blemishes in another, which he is too prone to grieve at, but yet cannot help, as being his infelicities, and not his faults.
2. Another of the miseries which affect men's bodies is sicknesses and diseases; by which the strength of our nature is gradually exhausted, the vigour of our spirits wasted, the activity of our parts cramped and abated, and our bodies are rendered through incessant pains and weakness, not only useless, but burdensome to our souls. In this case therefore the law of mercy requires of us to render to our sick friends, neighbours, and acquaintance all such good offices as do any way conduce to their support, refreshment, or recovery. As, first, if their sickness be such as will safely admit of discourse and conversation, we are obliged in mercy to visit them, provided that our company will be acceptable : and to endeavour by our discourse to cheer their drooping spirits, to intermix their sorrowful hours with the pleasures of good conversation, and to administer to their wearied thoughts the supports and comforts of religion. For cheerful and good discourse is many times better than the richest cordial; it makes the patient to forget his pain, or at least allays and mitigates his sense of it; it diverts his thoughts from their sorrowful themes, and entertains them with brisk and sprightful ideas; it raises the languishing heart, and, like David's music, charms the rage of those evil spirits which infest it with their unnatural heats. So that by visiting our sick friends, when they are willing to admit of our conversation, and able to bear it, we many times prove their best physicians, and administer to them the greatest relief and ease; and therefore, if, when we might do them so much good by our company, we needlessly withdraw or absent ourselves from them, we are very much wanting in our charity and mercy towards them.
But then, as we are obliged in mercy to visit them, when their case will safely and conveniently admit of it, so we are also obliged by the same mercy to render them all those necessary assistances, which either their souls or bodies do require and need ; to endeavour to awaken their minds into serious thoughts and purposes, to advise them of their duty, and to resolve their doubts, to comfort and support them with the blessed hopes of religion, and to take all fair opportunities to prepare their souls for a happy death and a glorious eternity; that so, whether they recover or no, this temporary sickness of their bodies may contribute to the eternal health of their souls. And then, in order to their recovery, we stand bound by the laws of mercy to contribute what we are able to their bodily ease and refreshment; to be ready to serve them in all their necessities, and to help them when they cannot help themselves; to compassionate their griefs, and bear with their peevishnesses, and to the best of our knowledge to direct them to the ablest physicians or the most suitable means; and if they are poor and indigent, to supply them with all such remedies as are necessary to their health and recovery: and lastly, to be their earnest advocates at the throne of grace, that the God of all power and goodness, in whose hands are the issues of life and death, would commiserate their sorrows and refresh their weariness, and either remove their sickness, or sanctify it to their eternal health.
3. Another of the miseries which affect men's bodies is outward force and violence from those in whose power they are; such as captivity and imprisonment, persecutions, or cruel torments; all which do importunately solicit the timely succours of our mercy and compassion. For so for the first of them, viz. bondage and captivity, it is a sore and comprehensive misery, that commonly draws a long and heavy chain of calamities after it: for it is not only a deprivation of our liberty, which is one of the dearest of all our temporal blessings, but also a confiscation of it into the hands and disposal of our enemies : and when our persons are exposed to the will and tyranny of our enemies, what can be expected from them, in this degenerate state of human nature, but a cruel and barbarous usage; to be worn out with stripes and hunger and intolerable labour, and to be forced to pine away our wretched lives in unpitied anguish and vexation of soul; especially if those whom we are enslaved to happen to be enemies to our religion as well as country: which is the case of those miserable captives with whom our mercy is most concerned; who being under the power of those that are sworn enemies to the name of Christ, must upon that account expect to be treated with much more rigour and severity; there being no enmity so fierce and cruel, as that which is backed and set on by conscience, and enraged with zeal for religion. And when men are ill treated, not only as they are slaves, but as they are Christians, what a hazardous temptation are they under to renounce their Christianity, and to exchange their hopes of heaven for their liberty, and to enslave their souls to ransom their bodies! And when both their souls and bodies are thus exposed to wretchedness and misery, what woful circumstances can render them more proper objects of our mercy? Wherefore, in this case, we are obliged in mercy, when any fair opportunity is proposed to us, to contribute to their ransom proportionably to our ability; and so far as it is consistent with the public benefit, to solicit their cause both with God and men; to beseech him to support and