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trust in them to commit our whole being to be moulded by them. Now who does not see that unbelief is only a selfish withholding of this confidence, this committal? The fact is that faith implies and consists in the yielding up of selfishness; and unbelief is only selfishness contemplated in its relations to Christ and His gospel.
ATTRIBUTES OF SELFISHNESS.
WHAT IS IMPLIED IN DISOBEDIENCE TO THE LAW OF GOD.
9. Efficiency is another attribute of selfishness.
Desire never produces action until it influences the will. It has no efficiency or causality in itself. It can not without the concurrence of the will, command the attention of the intellect, or move a muscle of the body. The whole causality of the mind resides in the will. In it lies the power of accomplishment.
Again. The whole efficiency of the mind as it respects accomplishment, resides in the choice of an end or in the ultimate intention. All action of the will or all willing must consist in choosing either an end or the means of accomplishing an end. If there is choice, something is chosen. That something is chosen for some reason. To deny this is a denial that any thing is chosen. The reason for the choice and the thing chosen are identical. This we have repeatedly
Again: We have seen that the means can not be chosen until the end is chosen. The choice of the end is distinct from the volitions or endeavors of the mind to secure the end. But although the choice of an end is not identical with the subordinate choices and volitions to secure the end, yet it necessitates them. The choice once made, secures or necessitates the executive volitions to secure the end. By this it is not intended that the mind is not free to relinquish its end, and of course to relinquish the use of the means to accomplish it; but only that, while the choice or intention remains, the choice of the end is efficient in producing efforts to realize the end. This is true both of benevolence and selfishness. They are both choices of an end, and are necessarily efficient in producing the use of the means to realize this end. They are choices of opposite ends, and of course will produce their respective results.
The bible represents sinners as having eyes full of adultery and that can not cease from sin; that while the will is committed to the indulgence of the propensities, they can not cease from the indulgence. There is no way therefore for the sinner to escape from the commission of sin, but to cease to be selfish. While selfishness continues you may change the
form of outward manifestation, you may deny one appetite or desire for the sake of indulging another; but it is and must be sin still. The desire to escape hell and to obtain heaven may become the strongest, in which case selfishness will take on a most sanctimonious type. But if the will is following desire, it is selfishness still; and all your religious duties as you call them, are only selfishness robed in the stolen habiliments of love.
Be it remembered then that selfishness is choice. It is ultimate intention. It is and must be efficient in producing its effects. It is cause; the effect must follow. The whole life and activity of sinners is founded in it. It constitutes their life, or rather their spiritual death. They are dead in trespasses and in sins. It is in vain for them to dream of doing any thing good until they relinquish their selfishness. While this continues, they can not act at all except as they use the means to accomplish a selfish end. It is impossible while the will remains committed to a selfish end or to the promotion of self-interest or self-gratification that it should use the means to promote a benevolent end. The first thing is to change the end, and then the sinner can cease from outward sin. Indeed, if the end be changed, the same acts which were before sinful will become holy. While the selfish end continued whatever the sinner did, was all selfish. Whether he ate, or drank, or labored, or preached, or in short whatever he did, was to promote some form of self-interest. The end being wrong, all was and must have been wrong.
But let the end be changed; let benevolence take the place of selfishness, and all is right. With this end in view the mind is absolutely incapable of doing any thing or of choosing any thing except as a means of promoting the good of the universe.
I wish to impress this truth deeply upon the mind. Let me therefore give the substance of the preceding remarks in the form of definite propositions.
1. All action consists in or results from choice.
2. All choice must respect or consist in the choice of an end or of means. The mind is incapable of choosing unless it has an object of choice, and that object must be regarded by the mind either as an end or as a means.
3. The mind can have but one ultimate end at the same time. 4. It can not choose the means until it has chosen the end. 5. It can not choose one end and use means to accomplish another, at the same time.
6. Therefore, while the will is benevolent or committed to the glory of God and the good of being, it can not use the means of self-gratification, or in other words it can not put forth selfish volitions.
7. When the will is committed to self-indulgence "it can not use the means designed to glorify God and promote the good of men as an end. This is impossible.
8. The carnal heart or mind can not but sin; it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be," because it is "enmity against God."
9. The new or regenerate heart can not sin. It is benevolence, love to God and man. This can not sin. These are both ultimate choices or intentions. They are from their own nature efficient each excluding the other, and each securing for the time being, the exclusive use of means to promote its end. To deny this, is the same absurdity as to maintain, either that the will can at the same time choose two opposite ends, or that it can choose one end only, but at the same time choose the means to accomplish another end not yet chosen. Now either alternative is absurd. Then holiness and sin can never co-exist in the same mind. Each as has been said, for the time being, necessarily excludes the other. Selfishness and benevolence co-exist in the same mind! A greater absurdity and a more gross contradiction was never conceived or expressed. No one for a moment ever supposed
that selfishness and benevolence could co-exist in the same mind, who had clearly defined ideas of what they are. When desire is mistaken on the one hand for benevolence, and on the other for selfishness, the mistake is natural that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind. But as soon as it is seen that benevolence and selfishness are supreme ultimate opposite choices, the affirmation is instantaneous and irresistible that they can neither co-exist, nor can one use means to promote the other. While benevolence remains the mind's whole activity springs from it as from a fountain. This is the philosophy of Christ. "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things."-Matt. 12: 33, 35. "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh."-James 3: 11, 12.
"For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit: for of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."-Luke 6: 43, 44, 45.
10. Opposition to benevolence or to virtue, or to holiness and true religion, is one of the attributes of selfishness.
Selfishness is not, in its relations to benevolence a mere negation. It can not be. It is the choice of self-gratification as the supreme and ultimate end of life. While the will is committed to this end, and benevolence or a mind committed to an opposite end is contemplated, the will can not remain in a state of indifference to benevolence. It must either yield its preference of self-indulgence, or resist the benevolence which the intellect perceives. The will can not remain in the exercise of this selfish choice without as it were bracing and girding itself against that virtue which it does not imitate. If it does not imitate it, it must be because it refuses to do so. The intelligence does and must strongly urge the will to imitate benevolence and to seek the same end. The will must yield or resist, and the resistance must be more or ⚫less resolute and determined as the demands of the intelligence are more or less emphatic. This resistance to benevolence or to the demands of the intelligence in view of it, is what the bible calls hardening the heart. It is obstinacy of will under the light of the presence of true religion and the claims of benevolence.
This opposition to benevolence or true religion must be developed whenever the mind apprehends true religion, or selfishness must be abandoned. Not only must this opposition be developed, or selfishness abandoned under such circumstances, but it must increase as true religion displays more and more of its loveliness. As the light from the radiant sun of benevolence is poured more and more upon the darkness of selfishness, the opposition of the heart must of necessity increase in the same proportion, or selfishness must be abandoned. Thus selfishness remaining under light, must manifest more and more opposition just in proportion as light increases and the soul has less the color of an apology for its ❤opposition.
This peculiarity of selfishness has always been manifested