It is a common principle, Every one for himself. Proximus egomet mihi—None so near to me as myself. Now, if this be rightly understood, it will be a reason for the cherishing of gracious dispositions in ourselves and the crucifying of corrupt ones. We are friends or enemies to ourselves, even in respect of present comfort, according as we are or are not governed by religious principles. 1. A merciful, tender, good humoured man, does good to his own soul, makes and keeps himself easy. He has the pleasure of doing his duty, and contributing to the comfort of those that are to him as his own soul; for we are members one of another. He that waters others with his temporal good things shall find that God will water him with his spiritual blessings, which will do the best good to his own soul. See Isa. 58:7If thou hide not thy eyes from thy own flesh, but do good to others, as to thyself, if thou do good with thy own soul and draw that out to the hungry, thou wilt do good to thy own soul; for the Lord shall satisfy thy soul and make fat thy bones. Some make it part of the character of a merciful man, that he will make much of himself; that disposition which inclines him to be charitable to others will oblige him to allow himself also that which is convenient and to enjoy the good of all his labour. We may by the soul understand the inward man, as the apostle calls it, and then it teaches us that the first and great act of mercy is to provide well for our own souls the necessary supports of the spiritual life. 2. A cruel, froward, ill-natured man, troubles his own flesh, and so his sin becomes his punishment; he starves and dies for want of what he has, because he has not a heart to use it either for the good of others of for his own. He is vexatious to his nearest relations, that are, and should be, to him as his own flesh, Eph. 5:29. Envy, and malice, and greediness of the world, are the rottenness of the bones and the consumption of the flesh.
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