תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

selfishness which causeth all covetousness, all pride and ambition, all luxury and voluptuousness, all surfeiting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness, time-wasting and heart-corrupting sports, and all the riots and revelling of the sensual: all the contendings for honours and preferments, and all the deceit in buying and selling, the stealing and robbing, the bribery and simony, the lawsuits which are unjust, the perjuries, false witnessing, unrighteous judging, the oppressions, the revenge, and in one word all the uncharitable and unjust actions in the world. This is the true nature of carnal selfishness, and it is no better.

3. Selfishness is the corruption of all the faculties of the soul. It is the sin of the mind, by selfconceitedness and pride ; it is the sin of the will and affections, by self-love, and all the selfish passions which attend it: selfish desires, angers, sorrows, discontents, jealousies, fears, audacities, &c. It is the corruption of all the inferior faculties, and the whole conversation by self-seeking, and all the forementioned evils.

4. Selfishness is the commonest sin in the world. Every man is now born with it, and hath it more or less : and therefore every man should fear it.

5. Selfishness is the hardest sin in the world to overcome. In all the unregenerate it is predominant: for nothing but the sanctifying Spirit of God can overcome it. And in many thousands that seem very zealous in religion, and very mortified in all other respects, yet in some way or other selfishness doth so lamentably appear, yea, and is so strong in many that are sincere, that it is the greatest dishonour to the church of Christ, and hath tempted many to infidelity, or to doubt whether there be any such thing as true sanctification in the world. The persons that seemed the most mortified saints, if you do but cross them in their self-interest, or opinion, or will, or seem to slight them, or have a low esteem of them, what swellings, what heart-burnings, what bitter censurings, what proud impatience, if not schisms and separations will it cause ! God hath better servants; but too many which seem to themselves and others to be the best, are no better. How then should every Christian abhor and watch against this universal evil.

Direct. 11. ‘Consider oft how amiable a creature man would be, and what a blessed condition the world and all societies would be in, if selfishness were but overcome.’ There would then be no pride, no covetousness, no sensuality, no tyranny or oppressing of the poor, no malice, cruelty or persecution: no church-divisions, no scandals, nothing to dishonour religion, or to hinder the saving progress of the Gospel: no fraud or treacheries, no over-reaching or abusing others: no lying nor deceit, no neglect of our duty to others: in a word, no injustice, or uncharitableness in the world. Direct. 111. ‘Judge of good and evil by sober reason, and not by brutish sense. And then oft consider, whether really there be not a more excellent end than your selfish interest? Even the public good of many, and the pleasing and glorifying of God. And whether all mediate good of evil should not be judged of principally by those highest ends?” Sense leadeth men to selfishness and privateness of design; but true reason leadeth men to prefer the public, or any thing that is better than our self-interest. Direct. Iv. “Nothing but returning by converting grace to the true love of God, and of man for his sake will conquer selfishness.” Make out therefore by earnest prayer for the Spirit of sanctification: and be sure that you have a true apprehension of the state of grace; that is, that it is indeed the love of God and man. Love is the fulfilling of the law; therefore love is the holiness of the soul: set your whole study upon the exercise and increase of love, and selfishness will die as love reviveth. Direct. v. “Study much the self-denying example and precepts of your Saviour.” His life and doctrine are the liveliest representation of self-denial that ever was given to the world. Learn Christ, and you will learn self-denial. He had no sinful selfishness to mortify, yet natural self was so wonderfully denied by him, for his Father's will and our salvation, that no other book or teacher in the world will teach us this lesson so perfectly as he. Follow him from the manger, or rather from the womb to the cross and grave: behold him in his poverty and contempt; enduring the contradiction and ingratitude of sinners, and making himself of no reputation : behold him apprehended, accused, condemned, crowned with thorns, clothed in purple with a reed in his hand, scourged, and led away to execution, bearing his cross, and hanged up among thieves : forsaken by his own disciples, and all the world, and in part by him who is more than all the world : and consider why all this was done. For whom he did it, and what lesson he purposed hereby to teach us : consider why he made it one half the condition of our salvation, and so great a part of the Christian religion, to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him: and will have no other to be his disciples". Were a crucified Christ more of our daily study, and did we make it our religion to learn and follow his holy example, self-denial would be better known and practised, and Christianity would appear as it is, and not as it is misunderstood, adulterated and abused in the world. But because I have long ago written a “Treatise of Self-denial,” I shall add no more.

CHAPTER XXVII.

Cases and Directions for Loving our Neighbour as ourselves. Tit. 1. Cases of Conscience about Loving our Neighbour.

Quest. 1. ‘IN what sense is it that I must love my neighbour as myself? Whether in the kind of love, or in the degree, or only in the reality.’ Answ. The true meaning of the text is, you must love him according to his true worth, without the diversion and hindrance of selfishness and partiality. As you must love yourself according to that degree of goodness which is in you, and no more; so must you as impartially love your neighbour according to that degree of goodness which is in him. So that it truly extendeth to the reality, the kind, and the degree of love, supposing it in both proportioned to the goodness of the object. But before this can be understood, the true nature of love must be well understood. Quest. 11. “What is the true nature of love, both as to myself and neighbour?" Answ. Love is nothing but the prime motion of the will * Luke xiv. 26. S1. 33.

to its proper object; which is called complacence ; the object of it is simple goodness, or good as such : it ariseth from suitableness between the object and the will, as appetite doth from the suitableness of the appetent faculty and food. This good as it is variously modified, or any way differeth, doth accordingly cause or require a difference in our love; therefore that love which in its prime act and nature is but one, is diversely denominated, as its objects are diversified. To an object as simply good in itself, it followeth the understanding's estimation, and is called, as I said, mere complacence or adhesion: to an object as not yet attained, but absent, or distant, and attainable, it is called desire or desiring love : and as expected, hope, or hoping love, (which is a conjunction of desire and expectation): to an object nearest, and attained, it is called fruition, or delight, or delighting love. To an object which by means must be attained, it is called seeking love, as it exciteth to the use of those means: and to an object missed, it is, by accident, mourning love. But still love itself in its essential act is one and the same. As it respecteth an object which wanteth something to make it perfect, and desireth the supply of that want, it is called love of benevolence; denominated from this occasion, as it desireth to do good to him that is loved. And it is a love of the same nature which we exercise towards God, who needeth nothing, as we rejoice in that perfection and happiness which he hath; though it be not to be called properly by the same name. Goodness being the true object of love, is the true measure of it: and therefore God as infinitely and primitively good, is the prime and only simple object of our absolute, total love. And therefore those who understand no goodness in any being, but as profitable to them, or to some other creature, do know no God, nor love God as God, nor have any love but selfish and idolatrous. By this you may perceive the nature of love. Quest. 111. “But may none be loved above the measure of his goodness? How then did God love us when we were not, or were his enemies? And how must we love the wicked And how must an ungodly person love himself?’ Answ. If only good as such be the object of love, then certainly none should be loved but in proportion to his

goodness. But you must distinguish between mere natural and sensitive love or appetite, and rational love; and between love, and the effects of love; and between natural goodness in the object, and moral goodness. And so I further answer, 1. There is in every man a natural and sensitive love of himself and his own pleasure and felicity, and an averseness to death, and pain, and sorrow, as there is in every brute; and this God hath planted there for the preservation of the creature. This falleth not under commands or prohibitions directly, because it is not free but necessary: as no man is commanded or forbidden to be hungry, or thirsty, or weary, or the like: it is not this love which is meant when we are commanded to “love our neighbour as ourselves:” for I am not commanded to feel hunger, and thirst, nor to desire meat or drink by the sensitive appetite for my neighbour: nor sensitively to feel his pain or pleasure, nor to have that natural aversation from death or pain, nor sensitive desire of life and pleasure, for him as for myself. But the love here spoken of, is that volition with the due affection conjunct, which is our rational love; as being the act of our highest faculty, and falling under God's command. As to the sensitive love, it proceedeth not upon the sense or estimate of goodness in the person who loveth himself or any other (as beasts love their young ones without respect to their excellency). But it is rational love which is proportioned to the estimated goodness of the thing beloved. 2. Physical goodness may be in an object which hath no moral goodness; and this may contain a capacity of moral goodness; and each of them is amiable according to its nature and degree. 3. Beneficence is sometimes an effect of love, and sometimes an effect of wisdom only as to the object, and of love to something else; but it is never love itself. Usually benevolence is an act of love, and beneficence an effect, but not always. I may do good to another without any love to him, for some ends of my own, or for the sake of another. And a man may be obliged to greater beneficence, where he is not obliged to greater love.

And now to the instances, I further answer, 1. When we had no being, God did not properly love us “in esse reali” (unless you will go to our co-existence in etermity; for we were not ‘in esse reali’); but only as we were “in esse cog

« הקודםהמשך »