“As it is on earth I must do good to others, so it must be in a manner suited to their earthly state. Souls are here closely united to bodies, by which they must receive much good or hurt. Do good to men’s bodies, if thou wouldest do good to their souls. Say not—Things corporeal are worthless trifles, for which the receivers will be never the better. They are things that nature is easily sensible of, and sense is the passage to the mind and will. Dost thou not find what a help it is to thyself, to have at any time any ease and alacrity of body; and what a burden and hinderance pains and cares are?
Labour then to free others from such burdens and temptations, and be not regardless of them. If thou must ‘rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep,’ promote then thy own joy by helping theirs; and avoid thy own sorrows, in preventing or curing theirs.
But, alas! what power has selfishness in most? How easily do we bear our brethren’s pains and reproaches, wants and afflictions, in comparison of our own! How few thoughts, and how little cost and labour, do we use for their supply, in comparison of what we do for ourselves! Nature indeed teaches us to be sensible of our own case; but grace tells us, that we should not make so great a difference as we do, but should love our neighbour as ourselves.
”Richard Baxter, Dying Thoughts