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took place ; perhaps the pure fancy of our Lord supplied the picture on the moment. A lawyer, whose attention had been turned by our Lord to the importance of the command, « Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” fearing, perhaps, that he might be suspected of having disobeyed this excellent injunction, asked the question, “ Who is my neighbor ?" It was to enlighten the lawyer on this point, 'that the parable was spoken. A certain Jew was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and on his journey, he fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and left him to die at the road-side. Who shall come to his help? Who shall staunch his bleeding wounds ? Who shall bear him to a place of rest? The first traveller who passes is a Jewish priest, most fortunately, we should think, at the first sight. Surely the priest will help this poor bleeding fellow-countryman.
The account assures us, that “ by chance there came down a certain priest that way.” He did not choose the road because the poor wounded man was there, and because he desired to afford him relief; it was altogether a matter of chance, that he came
to the spot. He sees the wounded man, and perhaps he hears his moans. It
may be, that the sufferer puts forth a cry for assistance; but the priest turns and passes by him upon the other side ; and so far as he knows, leaves him there to die. The next traveller who comes is a Levite ; and if not a priest, he is certainly one of that tribe from whom all the priests are taken. Does he offer assistance to the dying Jew? No; but, like his predecessor, he turns away, and leaves the poor man to his fate. Oh! who shall help him ? Deserted by two of his own countrymen, what may he expect from strangers ? Must not his heart sink within him, when he sees himself so neglected ? But behold, a third traveller comes.
He is not a Jew, alas! but a stranger,-a Samaritan, with whom the Jews will have no dealings. Can any act of kindness be expected from him? Ah! he catches sight of the fainting creature. He has compassion on him. He approaches him. He first essays to bind up his wounds, that the ebbing current may be stayed. He applies the best remedies he has about him; and having, in this way, prepared him for removal, he lifts him upon his own beast,
and conducts him to an inn, and takes care of him through the day and night; and when upon the next day he is obliged to leave him, he gives the landlord a sacred charge—“ take care of him;" and assures him of a full compensation for all his troubles. When Jesus had thus stated the parable, he said to the lawyer, who had given occasion for it, “Who was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves ?" and drew from him the following answer, “He that showed mercy on him.” But this was not a man of the same nation, or of the same religion ; he was a heretic in the sight of the Jews. Still, he was a better man than the Priest or the Levite. They may have had faith, or hope; but he had charity. He fulfilled the divine command, by loving his neighbor as he loved himself. Who does not see, that his act is worthy to be commended to the attention of all men; while that of the Priest and Levite only induces our disgust. How true is it, that charity is greater than faith or hope.
Second. Charity is greater than faith or hope, because it is a divine, a god-like excellence. By having charity, we become like God. Now, faith
and hope do not make us to resemble God. God has no faith, in the sense in which the word is used in the text. Neither can he be said to have hope. We are aware that in the New Testament we find mention made of “ the faith of God;" but his promise, his faithfulness is thereby intended. He is also called “the God of hope.” It is not, however, because he exercises hope, as frail and imperfect man does; but because he is the source of hope to his creatures. We call the sun the orb of light, not because he is shined upon, but because he is the source of light to the whole solar system. • Faith” and 56 Hope” are the attributes of imperfect
, beings. A God, like our God, who knows all things from the beginning, cannot have faith, in the sense in which his creatures cherish it. Faith and hope belong to a being, who cannot penetrate the future, and who is obliged to put trust in what some wiser being has declared to him. It is clear, then, that neither faith, nor hope, will make a man resemble God. Not so charity. Charity makes us like God; or, to put the syllables in the usual order, God-like. God is love, charity; and he who dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John iv. 16. The sacred writers call upon us to cultivate those moral qualities, which will cause us to resemble God. He, the Omnipotent, the Holy One, calls on us to imitate him ; and it certainly is not impossible to obey the command, for God gives no commands to man, which man cannot obey. Hear the word of the Lord by Moses : "Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, ye shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” Lev. xix. 2. Our obligation to be holy, arises from the fact, that God commands it; and God commands it, because He is holy, and because He desires his moral creatures to become more and more like Ilimself. Our blessed Lord, in his Sermon on the Mount, called on men to be “perfect, even as their Father in Heaven is
perfect." Matt. v. 48. The moral perfection of God consists in impartial, unchangeable goodness, as any person will see, who will examine carefully, Matthew v. 43–48, and Luke vi. 35, 36. God loves his enemies, blesses those who curse Him, does good to those that hate Him, Matt. v. 44, and to use the words of Luke, “He is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil,” Luke vi.