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a Society, is necessary to the Publick, and either doth, or may serve the Weal of it, and fo do Good in his Life, is a Task too great
for me to undertake at this Time; let it suffice at the present, to propose to you these General Heads, First of all
, None can want Opportunities of doing Good that is in a Capacity of performing any Acts of Mercy or Charity, strictly so called, whether that Charity be thew'd to the Bodies or Souls of Men. Now the Instances and Expressions of this way of doing Good are infinite, as infinite as are the Wants and Necessities of Mankind.
To the Bodies of Men we do Good, when: ever we contribute to the relieving and eafing them of the outward Pressures, and Wants, and Necessities they lie under : Such as Sickness, Pain, Poverty, Hunger, Nakedness, Debts, Imprisonment, or any other outward Affiliation that falls upon them; whether that Ease and Relief be effected by our Purse, or by our Counsel and Advice, or by our Labour and Pains.
And sure some of these Three Things, there is none so mean or inconsiderable in the World, but it is in his power to benefit his poor Neighbour with.
To the Souls of Men we do good, whenever by our Discourses or other Endeavours, we make Men better or wiser; when we infruct the Ignorant, when we satisfie the Doubtful, when we reduce thofe that are milled by Error, when we establish the Weak, G 2
when we reprove those that do amiss; in à Word, all our Attempts and Endeavours, in what way foever, to reclaim from Vice, and to bring them to Wisdom and Sobriety, is a Charity to their Souls; and whether our Des signs succeed or not, we shall be rewarded as those that have done Good in the World.
Secondly, All the Acts of Beneficence and Kindness, nay, even of Civility and Goodnature, are to be accounted among the Instances of doing Good. A Man doth Good, not only by Acts of Charity properly so called, but by every Courtesie that he doth to another; he doth Good, by shewing his Respect and good will to all about him, by reconciling Differences among Neighbours, and promoting Peace, Friendship and Society, as much as he can; by being Generous, and Liberal, and Hospitable, according to his Ability; by forgiving Injuries, and, if it be poffible, making Friends of those that did them; by being easy of Access, and sweet and obliging in his Carriage; by complying with the In. firmities of those he converseth with; and, in a Word, by contributing any way to make the Lives of others more easy and comfortable to them.
Thirdly, A Man also doth Good, when he makes use of that Acquaintance, or Friendship, or Interest that he hath with others, to ftir them up to the doing of that Good, which he by the Narrowness of bis Condition, or for want of Opportunity, cannot do himself. This is, a very considerable Instance of doing Good,
how flight foever it may seem; the Man that exercises himself this way, is doubly a Benefactor; for he is not only an Instrument of Good to the Person or Persons for whom he begg’d the Kindness or the Charity ; but he does also a real Kindness to the Man himself, whom he puts upon the Benefaction; for God will not less reward his good Will, for being excited by another.
Fourthly, Another Way to do Good, is to be careful and diligent, and conscientious in the Discharge of all those Publick Offices, which we are called upon to execute in the Place where we live. How burthensome soever these be, and how much soever of our Time they rob us of, yet God, by calling us to them, hath put a Prize into our Hands, (as the Wise Man speaks) to do much Good, if we have Hearts to make use thereof.
Fifthly, We do Good when being in a private Capacity, we so carry ourselves in all the Relations in which we stand, as the Nature of the Relation requireth. As for Instance, when being Subjects, we conscientiously obey the Laws of the Kingdom, and submit to our Governours, and promote what we can the publick Peace both of Church and State. When being Masters of Families, we take care of those under our Charge, making sufficient Provision both for their Souls and Bodies. When being Husbands or Wives, we discharge faithfully all the Conjugal Duties : When being Parents we love our Children, and bring them up in the Fear and Nurture of the
Lord. When being Children, we obey our Pac rents in all Things. When being Servants, we do our Work in fongleness of Heart, not as Men-> pleasers, but as those that account they have a Master in Heaven.
When having contracted Friendships, we are secret and faithful, and prudent in the maintaining and preserving of them; and proportionably in all the other Relations that we stand in. All these Things, tho' they appear little, yet are they in their Degree a real Good and Benefit to Mankind, and so necessary, that there is no living tolerably without them.
Sixthly, We also do Good by an honest and a diligent Pursuit of our Calling and Employ. ment. There is no Art or Trade that we are bred to, but if it be a lawful one, it may be of great Use to the Publick, and by well minding it, and fairly managing it, we may render ourselves very profitable Members of the Common-wealth.
Seventhly and Lastly, We may do a great ; deal of Good by our good Examples, by being to others Patterns of Piety and Prudence, of Diligence and Industry, of Peaceableness and Loyalty, of Humility and Meekness, and Temperance. In a Word, every Man that will make himself Eminent in any Vertue, will be a Light to the World, bis Life will be a constant Sermon, and he will often prove as effectual a Benefactor to those about him by his Example, as others are by their Counsels and Exhortations.
And now all these Things considered, who is there among us in such deplorable Circumstances, that he can reasonably pretend to want Ability or Opportunity to do Good in his Life? Sure I am, he must live in a Desart, and have no Communication with Mankind, that cannot some or other of these Ways be useful and beneficial to them. · And thus much of our Second Head of Discourse.
I now come, in the Third and Last Place, to make some Application of what hath been spoken.
And First, Since every Man is so highly concern'd, as we have seen, to do Good in his Life, let us all be persuaded seriously and heartily to apply our Minds hereunto. Let us look upon it, not as a By-work, a Thing to be done now and then, as there is Occasion, after our own Turns are served : But let us lay out ourselves upon it, let us propose it to ourselves, as the great Business of our Lives. Let us take all Opportunities for it, let us contrive and manage all our Affairs so, that they may some way or other be subservient to the carrying on this great Work. .
Let this be the End of our gathering Riches, and the Measure of our expending them. To heap up Riches that we may be rich, or to throw them away upon our Lusts, are both equally intolerable; it is the doing Good with them, that sanctifies both the getting and the spending them.
Let this be the Compass to steer and direct us in our Pursuit after Knowledge, in our