Imágenes de páginas

diately to the latter, conspire in the end to " the promotion of the former.” .

But since the interest “ of any limited “ number of persons may not only not con< tribute, but may possibly be directly “ opposed to the general good, (the interest “ of a family, for example, to that of a pro• vince, or of a nation to that of the world) "s providence has so ordered it, that in a “ well-regulated mind there springs up, be« sides particular attachments, an extended * regard to the species, whose office is two" fold: not to destroy and extinguish the 66 more private affections, which is mental “ parricide ; but first, as far as is consistent cs with the claims of those who are imme“6 diately committed to our care, to do good " to all men ; secondly, to exercise a juris“6 diction and control over the private affec“ tions, so as to prohibit their indulgence, “ whenever it would be attended with manifest detriment to the whole. Thus “ every part of our nature is brought into 66 action; all the practical principles of the 5 human heart find an element to move in, 5s each in its different sort and manner con< spiring, without mutual collisions, to main

“ tain the harmony of the world and the 6 happiness of the universe*.”

Since then it is obviously impracticable to ascertain the precise value of different persons, why should we tamper with the moral sensibilities of our nature, by making our impartial love to them the test and evidence of a gracious state? It is granted, without hesitation, that supreme love to God chiefly for his own sake, as he has revealed himself to sinful men, constitutes the discriminating feature of character in believers. Whenever this is wanting, though there may be a profession of godliness, its power is wanting; and without the power the profession leaves him who makes it a slave of unrighteousness, sold under sin.

But I ask, is this supreme love to God inconsistent with a desire to promote our personal happiness? Are we bound, in seeking our personal happiness, first to ascertain the value of other beings, so that we may not

* R. Hall's Sermon on Modern Infidelity. This subject is more particularly examined in a note to the sermon, in which the acute and able author, aster stating the similarity between this definition of virtue and that which Godwin and other skeptics give, proves its incorrectness.

give an undue preference to ourselves above them? Why then is the principle of selfpreservation interwoven in our very frame? Why does God allow us to use means for the continuance of life, though it may be at the expense of the lives of others, as in cases of defensive war, or sudden attacks of murderers? Why does God, in his own word, address our hopes and fears, thus directing his instruetions, his warnings, his invitations, to the principle of self-preservation, which he himself has implanted in us? Self-preservation is a natural right which we possess, and it is our duty and privilege to promote it. Sin has caused us to seek its promotion in ways where we meet with constant disappointment, and which God condemns. Having forsaken the fountain of living waters, we have hewn out unto ourselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water. In this consist our error and crime, that we look to the creature for our happiness, and not to the Creator; not in our seeking after our own happiness apart from the happiness of other persons. I say apart from, not opposed to, the happiness of others; for opposition cannot take place where the nature of happi

. XI

. XI. ness is understood. It does not, and it cannot consist in any thing but the favour of God, which is life, and his loving kindness, which is better than life. We cannot be happy so long as we do not glorify God, and we cannot glorify God without being happy. How then can they who glorify God be opposed to each other in their pursuit after their individual happiness? There are no points of collision to produce opposition among them. Aiming at the same object, they cannot in their course delay to ascertain which of them promotes this object most; but are in their places, without speculating, doing, so far as they can, the will of God. All cannot equally glorify God; but on that account he who cannot glorify God to the same degree with another, is not to cease glorifying God as he can, in order that he may give precedence to the other. And besides, as we are speaking of believers, he cannot relinquish his own happiness, which is only obtained and preserved in glorifying God, for the sake of any who may possess more value in the scale of being. He who is willing to sacrifice that happiness which he has experienced in glorifying God, even

tem for the glory of God, commits a moral and

spiritual suicide, which is as condemnable as natural suicide.

To glorify God and to seek our own happiness, distinct from, but not opposed to, the happiness of others, is not contradictory. The Redeemer sought not his own glory, but that of his Father; yet for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross. Moses, seeing him who was invisible, and regarding his glory, had respect to the recompense of the reward. The apostles, acting according to the example of their master, whilst they exerted themselves to advance his cause, looked to, and were influenced by, the exceeding and eternal weight of glory which awaited them. And in this regard which the saints of old and the apostles had to the reward before them, it appears that they acted upon the principle of self-preservation, They had respect to their own happiness ; their personal enjoyment abstracted from, but not hostile to, the happiness and enjoyment of others. It is true their temper of mind prompted them to desire, and so far as they could effect it, to produce the happiness of others. But this feeling was the re

« AnteriorContinuar »