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The Duty of Mercy.

The Duty of Mercy.

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Published by glennpease

Matth. v. 7. « Blessed are the merciful ; for they shall obtain

Matth. v. 7. « Blessed are the merciful ; for they shall obtain

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 03, 2013
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THE DUTY OF MERCY.JOH BUDD PITKIMatth. v. 7. « Blessed are the merciful ; for they shall obtainmercy.'I propose this morning, Christian friends, to treat of that portion of our Lord's sermon on the mount, whichrelates to the duty of mercy. It will be ray object, inthe first place, to exhibit a broad view of the natureand operations of this Christian virtue ; secondly, totreat of the blessing pronounced upon it; and, thirdly,to give a few hints upon the most effectual man-ner of cultivating it. I am first to exhibit a broadview of the nature and operations of the virtue com-mended in the text.What then is Christian mercy ? and how is it man-ifested ?Christian mercy is the exercise of kindness towardsthose who are in any respect in an evil or unhappycondition. It displays itself in a tender sympathy forthe several objects of compassion, and by doing whatis in our power to mitigate or remove the evils underwhich they labor. It is a broad and comprehensivevirtue, which, in a world of weakness, imperfection and184 SERMO VIII.suffering like this, has an ample field to range in.Every individual of the human family in some way orother stands in need of mercy from his fellow-creatures,and every one is called upon by many occasions topractise it towards others.It is to be manifested in our treatment of the brutecreation. Man is made the lord of the animal tribes,not to abuse his dominion over them. He that need-lessly sets foot upon a worm, violates a solemn duty.Children should be early cautioned against every spe-cies of cruelty. Parents and guardians who are accus-tomed to see them indulging a cruel disposition towards
animals, without reproving them, ought to reflect thatthey are acting towards those under their charge a verynegligent, unmerciful and reprehensible part. Theyare suffering by such negligence the seeds of inhumanityto obtain root and acquire growth in the bosoms of their children, that may spring forth and ripen intogreat insensibility and cruelty in after life. The mantoo, who overworks the laboring animals, or inflicts onthem unnecessary pain, is guilty of a great sin. Hetoo that amuses himself with the suffering of the brutecreation, in inhuman sports, violates the duty of mercyand will assuredly be called by his God to an accountfor the act. We should be merciful then towards thebrute creation.We are required to be merciful towards ourfellow-creatures under a great variety of circum-stances. All ill-natured or thoughtless remarks up-on any natural deformity of person, such as are of SERMO VIII. 185n nature to draw ridicule on the important subject of ihem, are opposed to the duty of mercy, and indeedare impious reflections upon the Creator, who hasgiven to each of us just such a face and form as itpleased him to bestow.Beauty is an accident for which its possessor canclaim no merit, and the want of it imputes no fault.For this reason, it may be urged, an individual shouldnot suffer his feelings to be painfully excited on ac-count of any judgment which is passed upon such of his properties as his own agency had no concern inproducing. However true this may be, we know thatmen cannot avoid regarding their external propertiesas parts of themselves, and that they are in many casesalmost as painfully affected by the expression of anunfavorable opinion concerning these, as they are bybeing charged with immoral practices.When our knowledge is thrown into the shade bythe superior attainments of another person, and ourstanding in the community cast into the back-groundby his pre-eminence above us, we are liable to be
affected by the mean passion of envy, and to commencethe work of depreciating his merits. It requires vastlabor to approach very nearly to perfection in any artor science, but no industry is requisite to discover thewant of it in other?. There is no great difficulty inknowing that our fellow-man fells short of the excel-lence to which he aspires, though it might be verydifficult for us to do as well as he. It is easier to per-ceive defects in others than to correct them in our-16196 SfeHMO Vtlf.selves. It is far easier to rear in our minds a stalncfafcf of perfection, and to depreciate the attainments of allwho do not attain to it, than to reach it ourselve ; sandhence it is, that we so frequently hear that paintercalled a mere dauber, or that poet a mere rhymer, thismechanic a bungler, that orator a declaimer. Andwe are even prone to pronounce upon the most splen-did exhibitions of genius and labor, that in many res-'pects they certainly merit praise, yet that in manypoints they are still so obnoxious, in the eye of a niceCritic, to censure*In the next place, we are called upon to practisemercy towards others in respect to their infirmities of understanding. ot only actual idiocy, and unequiv-ocal insanity, but also those partial disorders of themind which often render individuals miserable in them-selves and troublesome to those around them, demandthe exercise of our tenderness, compassion and sympa-thetic efforts, to soothe and relieve the unfortunatesubjects of them. Still farther, such persons as are la-boring under no derangement of their mental faculties,but who yet fall somewhat below the ordinary level of intellectual capacity, such as betray uncommon weak-ness of perception or dullness of apprehension, are pro-per objects of tenderness from those whom naturehas endued with quicker and sounder understandings.The same is true of those who betray a want of pru-dence and discretion in the transaction of their ordina-ry affairs, or who manifest a very defective sense o f propriety and judgment in their conversation. Such

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