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just in proportion as it has been dragged into the light of true religion. This accounts for all the opposition that has been made to true religion since the world began. It also proves that where there are impenitent sinners, and they retain their impenitence and manifest no hostility to the religion which they witness, that there is something defective in the professed piety which they behold, or at least they do not contemplate all the attributes of true piety. It also proves that persecution will always exist where much true religion is manifested to those who hold fast their selfishness.
The fact is, that selfishness and benevolence are just as much opposed to each other, and just as much and as necessarily at war with each other as God and Satan, as heaven and hell. There can never be a truce between them; they are essential and eternal opposites. They are not merely opposites, but they are opposite causes. They are essential activities. They are the two, and the only two great antago nistic principles in the universe of mind. Each is heaving and energizing like a volcano to realize its end. A war of mutual and uncompromising extermination necessarily exists between them. Neither can be in the presence of the other without repellance and opposition. Each energizes to subdue and overcome the other; and already selfishness has shed an ocean of the blood of the saints, and also the precious blood of the Prince of life. There is not a more gross and injurious mistake than to suppose that selfishness ever, under any circumstances, becomes reconciled to benevolence. The supposition is absurd and contradictory; since for selfishness to become reconciled to benevolence, were the same thing as for selfishness to become benevolence. Selfishness may change the mode of attack or of its opposition, but its real opposition it can never change while it retains its own nature and continues to be selfishness.
The opposition of the heart to benevolence often begets deep opposition of feeling. The opposition of the will engages the intellect in fabricating excuses, and cavils, and lies, and refuges, and often greatly perverts the thoughts, and begets the most bitter feelings imaginable toward God and toward the saints. Selfishness will strive to justify its opposition and to shield itself against the reproaches of conscience, and will resort to every possible expedient to cover up its real hostility to holiness. It will pretend that it is not holiness, but sin that it opposes. But the fact is, it is not sin but holiness to which it stands forever opposed. The opposi
tion of feeling is only developed when the heart is brought into a strong light and makes deep and strong resistance. In such cases the sensibility sometimes boils with feelings of bitter opposition to God and Christ and to all good.
The question is often asked, may not this opposition exist in the sensibility, and those feelings of hostility to God exist when the heart is in a truly benevolent state? To this inquiry I would reply: If it can it must be produced by infernal or some other influence that misrepresents God and places His character before the mind in a false light. Blasphemous thoughts may be suggested, and as it were injected into the mind. These thoughts may have their natural effect in the sensibility, and feelings of bitterness and hostility may exist without the consent of the will. The will may all the while be endeavoring to repel these suggestions, and divert the attention from such thoughts, yet Satan may continue to hurl his fiery darts, and the soul may be racked with torture under the poison of hell, which seems to be taking effect in the Sensibility. The mind, at such times, seems to itself to be filled, so far as feeling is concerned, with all the bitterness of hell. And so it is, and yet it may be that in all this there is no selfishness. If the will holds fast its integrity; if it holds out in the struggle, and where God is maligned and misrepresented by the infernal suggestions, it says with Job, "Although He slay me yet will I trust in Him." However sharp the conflict in such cases, we can look back and say, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. In such cases it is the selfishness of Satan and not our own selfishness that kindled up those fires of hell in our sensibility. "Blessed is he that endureth temptation; for when he is tried he shall have a crown of life."
11. Cruelty is another attribute of selfishness.
This term is often used to designate a state of the sensibility. It then represents that state of feeling that has a barbarous or savage pleasure in the misery of others.
Cruelty, as a phenomenon of the will, or as an attribute of selfishness, consists, first, in a reckless disregard of the wellbeing of God and the universe, and, secondly, in persevering in a course that must ruin the souls of the subjects of it, and so far as they have influence, ruin the souls of others. What should we think of a man who was so intent on securing some petty gratification that he would not give the alarm if a city were on fire, and the sleeping citizens in imminent danger of perishing in the flames? Suppose that sooner than deny him
self some momentary gratification, he would jeopard many lives. Should we not call this cruelty? Now there are many forms of cruelty. Because sinners are not always brought into circumstances where they exercise certain forms of it, they flatter themselves that they are not cruel. But the fact is, that selfishness is always and necessarily cruel-cruel to the soul and highest interests of the subject of it; cruel to the souls of others in neglecting to care and do for their salvation what may be done; cruel to God in abusing Him in ten thou sand ways; cruel to the whole universe. If we should be shocked at the cruelty of him who should see his neighbor's house on fire, and the family asleep, and neglect to give them warning because too self-indulgent to rise from his bed, what shall we say of the cruelty of one who shall see his neighbor's soul in peril of eternal death, and yet neglect to give him warning?
Sinners are apt to possess very good dispositions, as they express it. They suppose they are the reverse of being cruel. They possess tender feelings, are often very compassionate in their feelings toward those who are sick and in distress, and who are in circumstances of any affliction. They are ready to do many things for them. Such persons would be shocked, should they be called cruel. And many professors would take their part, and consider them abused. Whatever else, it would be said, is an attribute of their character, surely cruelty is not. Now it is true that there are certain forms of cruelty with which such persons are not chargable. But this is only because God has so moulded their constitution that they are not delighted in the misery of their fellow men. However, there is no virtue in their not being gratified at the sight of suffering, nor in their painstaking to prevent it while they continue selfish. They follow the impulses of their feelings, and if their temperament were such that it would gratify them to inflict misery on others; if this were the strongest tendency of their sensibility; their selfishness would instantly take on that type. But notwithstanding cruelty in all its forms is not common to all selfish persons; it is still true that some form of cruelty is practised by every sinner. God says: "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." The fact that they live in sin, that they set an example of selfishness, that they do nothing for their own souls or for the souls of others; these are really most atrocious forms of cruelty, and infinitely exceed all those comparatively petty forms that relate to the miseries of men in this life.
12. Unreasonableness is another attribute of selfishness. The very definition of selfishness implies that unreasonableness is one of its attributes. Selfishness consists in the will's yielding itself to the impulses of the sensibility in opposition to the demands of the intelligence. Therefore, every act or choice of the will is necessarily altogether unreasonable. The sinner, while he continues such, never says or does one thing that is in accordance with right reason. Hence the Bible says that "madness is in their heart while they live." They have made an unreasonable choice of an end, and all their choices of means to secure their end are only a carrying out of their ultimate choice. They are, every one of them, put forth to secure an end contrary to reason. Therefore, no sinner who has never been converted, has, even in a single instance, chosen otherwise than in direct opposition to rea
They are not merely sometimes unreasonable, but uniformly, and while they remain selfish, necessarily so. The very first time that a sinner acts or wills reasonably, is when he turns to God, or repents and becomes a christian. This is the first instance in which he practically acknowledges that he has reason. All previous to this, every one of the actions of his will and of his life, is a practical denial of his manhood, of his rational nature, of his obligation to God or his neighbor. We sometimes hear impenitent sinners spoken of as being unreasonable, and in such a manner as to imply that all sinners are not so. But this only favors the delusion of sinners by leaving them to suppose that they are not all of them at all times altogether unreasonable. But the fact is, that there is not, and there never can be in earth or hell one impenitent sinner who in any instance acts otherwise than in direct and palpable opposition to his reason.
It had, therefore, been infinitely better for sinners if they had never been endowed with reason. They do not merely act without consulting their reason, but in stout and determined opposition to it.
Again: They act as directly in opposition to it as they possibly can. They not only oppose it, but they oppose it as much and in as aggravated a manner as possible. What can be more directly and aggravatedly opposed to reason than the choice which the sinner makes of an end? Reason was given him to direct him in regard to the choice of the great end of life. It gives him the idea of the eternal and the infinite. It spreads out before him the interests of God and of
the universe as of absolutely infinite value. It affirms their value and the infinite obligation of the sinner to consecrate himself to these interests and it promises him endless rewards if he will do so. On the contrary it lays before him the consequences of refusal. It thunders in his ear the terrible sanctions of the law. It points him to the coming doom that awaits his refusal to comply with its demands. But behold in the face of all this the sinner, unhesitatingly in the face of these affirmations, demands and threatens, turns away and consecrates himself to the gratification of his desires with the certainty that he could not do greater despite to his own nature than in this most mad, most preposterous, most blasphemous choice. Why do not sinners consider that it is impossible for them to offer a greater insult to God who gave them reason, or more truly and deeply to shame and degrade themselves, than they do in their beastly selfishness. Total, universal, and shameless unreasonableness is the universal characteristic of every selfish mind.
13. Injustice is another attribute of selfishness.
Justice is a disposition to treat every being and interest according to its intrinsic worth.
Injustice is the opposite of this. It is a disposition to give the preference to self-interest, regardless of the relative value of the interests. The nature of selfishness demonstrates that injustice is always and necessarily one of its atttributes, and one that is universally and constantly manifested.
(1.) There is the utmost injustice in the end chosen. It is the practical preference of a petty self-interest over infinite interests. This is injustice as great as possible. This is universal injustice to God and man. It is the most palpable and most flagrant piece of injustice possible to every being in the universe. Not one known by him to exist has not reason to bring against him the charge of most flagrant and shocking injustice. This injustice extends to every act and to every moment of life. He is never in the least degree just to any being in the universe. Nay he is perfectly unjust. He cares nothing for the rights of others as such, and never even in appearance regards them except for selfish reasons. This, then, is and can be only the appearance of regarding, while in fact no right of any being in the universe is or can be respected by a selfish mind any farther than in appearance. To deny this, is to deny his selfishness. He performs no act whatever but for one reason, that is, to promote his own gratification. This is his end. For the realization of this end every effort