Do we not much esteem and set by ourselves? Do we strive to maintain in our minds a good opinion of ourselves? Can any mischances befalling us, any defects observable in us, any faults committed by us, induce us to slight or despise ourselves?This may teach us what regard and value we should ever preserve for our neighbour.
Do we not sincerely and earnestly desire our own welfare and advantage in every kind? Do we not heartily wish good success to our own designs and undertakings? Are we unconcerned or coldly affected in any case touching our own safety, our estate, our credit, our satisfaction or pleasure? Do we not especially, if we rightly understand ourselves, desire the health and happiness of our souls?This doth inform us, what we should wish and covet for our neighbour.
Have we not a sensible delight and complacency in our own prosperity? (Do we ever repine at any advantages accruing to our person or condition?) Are we not extremely glad to find ourselves thriving and flourishing in wealth, in reputation, in any accommodation or ornament of our state? Especially if we be sober and wise, doth not our spiritual proficiency and improvement in virtue yield joyous satisfaction to us? Are we not much comforted in apprehending ourselves to proceed in a hopeful way towards everlasting felicity?This may instruct us what content we should feel in our neighbours prosperity, both temporal and spiritual.
Do we not seriously grieve at our own disasters and disappointments? Are we not in sad dumps, whenever we incur any damage or disgrace? Do not our diseases and pains sorely afflict us? Do we not pity and bemoan ourselves in any want, calamity, or distress? Can we especially, if we are ourselves, without grievous displeasure apprehend ourselves enslaved to sin and Satan, destitute of Gods favour, exposed to endless misery?Hence may we learn how we should condole and commiserate the misfortunes of our neighbour.
Do we not eagerly prosecute our own concerns? Do we not with huge vigour and industry strive to acquire all conveniences and comforts to ourselves, to rid ourselves of all wants and molestations? Is our solicitous care or painful endeavour ever wanting towards the support and succour of ourselves in any of our needs? Are we satisfied in merely wishing ourselves well? are we not also busy and active in procuring what we affect? Especially, if we are well advised, do we not effectually provide for the weal of our soul, and supply of our spiritual necessities; labouring to rescue ourselves from ignorance and error, from the tyranny of sin, from the torture of a bad conscience, from the danger of hell?This showeth how ready we should be really to further our neighbours good, ministering to him all kinds of assistance and relief suitable to his needs, both corporal and spiritual.
Are we so proud or nice, that we disdain to yield attendance or service needful for our own sustenance or convenience? Do we not indeed gladly perform the meanest and most sordid offices for ourselves?This declareth how condescensive we should be in helping our neighbour, how ready even to wash his feet, when occasion doth require.
Do we love to vex ourselves, or cross our own humour? do we not rather seek by all means to please and gratify ourselves?This may warn us how innocent and inoffensive, how compliant and complacent we should be in our behaviour toward others; endeavouring to please them in all things, especially for their good to edification.
Are we easily angry with ourselves, do we retain implacable grudges against ourselves, or do we execute upon ourselves mischievous revenge? are we not rather very meek and patient toward ourselves, mildly comporting with our own great weaknesses, our troublesome humours, our impertinences and follies; readily forgiving ourselves the most heinous offences, neglects, affronts, injuries, and outrages committed by us against our own interest, honour, and welfare?Hence may we derive lessons of meekness and patience, to be exercised toward our neighbour, in bearing his infirmities and miscarriages, in remitting any wrongs or discourtesies received from him.
Are we apt to be rude in our deportment, harsh in our language, or rigorous in our dealing toward ourselves? do we not rather in word and deed treat ourselves very softly, very indulgently? Do we use to pry for faults, or to pick quarrels with ourselves, to carp at anything said or done by us, rashly or upon slight grounds to charge blame on ourselves, or to lay heavy censures on our actions, to make foul constructions of our words, to blazon our defects, or aggravate our failings? do we not rather connive at and conceal our blemishes? do we not excuse and extenuate our own crimes?
Can we find in our hearts to frame virulent invectives, or to dart bitter taunts and scoffs against ourselves; to murder our own credit by slander, to blast it by detraction, to maim it by reproach, to prostitute it, to be defloured by jeering and scurrilous abuse? Are we not rather very jealous of our reputation, and studious to preserve it, as a precious ornament, a main fence, an useful instrument of our welfare?
Do we delight to report, or like to hear ill stories of ourselves? do we not rather endeavour all we can to stifle them; to tie the tongues and stop the ears of men against them?Hence may we be acquainted how civil and courteous in our behaviour, how fair and ingenuous in our dealing, how candid and mild in our judgment or censure, we should be toward our neighbour; how very tender and careful we should be of anywise wronging or hurting his fame.
Thus reflecting on ourselves, and making our practice toward ourselves the pattern of our dealing with others, we shall not fail to discharge what is prescribed to us in this law: and so we have here a rule of charity.