« السابقةمتابعة »
is made and every individual act and volition put forth. Remaining selfish, it is impossible that he should act at all but with reference directly or indirectly to this end. But this end has been chosen and must be pursued, if pursued at all, in the most palpable and outrageous violation of the rights of God and of every creature in the universe. Justice demands that he should devote himself to the promotion of the highest good of God and the universe, that he should love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself. Every sinner is openly and universally and as perfectly unjust as possible at every moment of his impenitence.
It should, therefore, always be understood that no sinner at any time is at all just to any being in the universe. All his paying of his debts, and all his apparent fairness and justice, is only a specious form of selfishness. He has, and if a sinner it is impossible that he should not have, some selfish reason for all he does, is, says, or omits. His entire activity is selfishness, and while he remains impenitent, it is impossible for him to think, or act, or will, or do, or be, or say, any thing more or less than he judges expedient to promote his own interest. He is not just. He can not be just, nor begin in any instance or in the least degree to be truly just either to God or man until he begins life anew, gives God his heart, and consecrates his entire being to the promotion of the good of universal being. This, justice demands. There is no beginning to be just unless the sinner begin here. Begin and be just in the choice of the great end of life, and then you can not but be just in the use of means. But be unjust in the choice of an end, and it is impossible for you, in any instance, to be otherwise than totally unjust in the use of means. In this case your entire activity is, and can be nothing else than a tissue. of the most abominable injustice.
The only reason why every sinner does not openly and daily practice every species of outward commercial injustice, is that he is so circumstanced that upon the whole he judges it not for his interest to practice those things. This is the reason universally, and no thanks to any sinner for abstaining in any instance from any kind or degree of injustice in practice, for he is only restrained and kept from it by selfish considerations. That is, he is too selfish to do it. His selfishness and not the love of God or man prevents.
He may be prevented by a constitutional or phrenological conscientiousness, or sense of justice. But this is only a feeling of the sensibility, and if restrained only by this, he is just
as absolutely selfish as if he had stolen a horse in obedience to acquisitiveness. God so tempers the constitution as to restrain men, that is, that one form of selfishness shall prevail over another. Approbativeness is in most persons so large that a desire to be applauded by their fellow men so modifies the developments of their selfishness that it takes on a type of outward decency and appearance of justice. But this is no less selfishness than if it took on altogether a different type,
ATTRIBUTES OF SELFISHNESS.
WHAT IS IMPLIED IN DISOBEDIENCE TO THE LAW OF GOD.
14. Oppression is another attribute of selfishness.
Oppression is the spirit of slaveholding. It consists in a disposition to deprive others of their rights for the purpose of contributing to our own interest or gratification. To define it comprehensively: it is a disposition to enslave God and all the universe; to make them all give up their interest and happiness and glory and seek and live for ours. It is a willing that all beings should live to and for us; that all interests should bend and be sacrificed to ours. It is a practical denial of all rights but our own, and a practical setting up the claim that all beings are ours, our goods and chattels, our property. It is a spirit that aims at making all beings serve us and all interests subserve our own.
This must be an attribute of selfishness.
the ultimate end; and the whole life and activity and aim and effort is to secure this end. The sinner, while he remains such has absolutely no other end in view and no other ultimate motive in any thing he does. Selfishness or self-gratification under some form is the reason for every volition, action and omission. For this end alone he lives and moves and has his being. This being his only end, it is impossible that oppression should not be an attribute of his character. The whole of oppression is included in the choice of the end of life. Nothing can be more oppressive to the whole universe than for a being to set up his interest as the sole good and .account all other interests as of no value except as they contribute to his own. This is the perfection of oppression, and it matters not what particular course it takes to secure its end. They are all equally oppressive. If he does not seek the good of others for its own sake, but simply as a means of securing his own, which must be the fact, it matters not at all whether he pamper and fatten his slaves or whether he starve them, whether he work them hard or let them lounge, whether he lets them go naked or arrays them in costly, attire. All is done for one and but one ultimate reason, and that is to promote self-interest and not at all for the intrinsic value of any interest but that of self. If such an one prays to God it is because he is unable to command and govern him
by authority, and not at all out of any true regard to the rights or character or relations of God. He desires God's services; and because he can not get them by force, he intreats. God's interests and rights are practically treated as of no value by every sinner in the universe. They care nothing for God except to enslave him, that is, to make Him serve them without wages. They have no design to live to and for Him but that He should live to and for them. They regard all other beings just in the same manner. If there is in any instance the semblance of a regard to their interest for its own sake, it is only a semblance and not a reality. It is not, and it can not be a reality. The assertion that it is any thing more than a hypocritical pretence, is absurd and contradicts the supposition that he is a sinner, or selfish.
There are innumerable specious forms of oppression that to a superficial observer appear very like a regard to the real interest of the oppressed for its own sake.
It may be gratifying to the pride, the ambition or to some other feeling of a slaveholder to see his slaves well fed, well clad, full fleshed, cheerful, contented, attached to their master. For the same reason he might feed his dog, provide him a warm kennel, and ornament his neck with a brazen collar. He might do the same for his horse and for his swine. But what is the reason of all this? Why to gratify himself. God has so moulded his constitution that it would give him pain to whip his slave or his dog or his horse, or to see them hungry or naked. It would trouble his conscience and endanger his peace and his soul. There may often be the appearance of virtue in a slaveholder and in slaveholding; but it can absolutely be only an appearance. If it be properly slaveholding it is and must be oppression; it is and must be selfishness. Can it be that slaveholding is designed to promote the good of the slave for its own sake. But this could not be slaveholding.
Should an individual be held to service for his own benefit; should the law of benevolence really demand it; this could no more be the crime of slaveholding and oppression than it is murder or any other crime. It would not be selfishness, but benevolence, and therefore no crime at all, but virtue. But selfishness embodies and includes every element of oppression. Its end, the means, and its every breath is but an incessant denial of all rights but those of self. All sinners are oppres sors and slaveholders in heart and in fact. They practice continual oppression and nothing else. They make God
serve them without wages, and they, as he says, "make Him to serve with their sins." God, all men and all things and events are as far as possible made to serve them without the return of the least disinterested regard to their interests. Disinterested regard! Why the very term contradicts the supposition that he is a sinner. He has, he can have in no instance any other than selfish aims in appearing, to care for any one's interest for its own sake.
All unconverted abolitionists are slaveholders in heart and so far as possible in life. There is not one of them who would not enslave every slave at the South and his master too and all at the North and the whole universe and God himself so far as he could. Indeed he does, and remaining selfish, he can not but aim to enslave all beings, to make them so far as possible contribute to his interest and pleasure without the least disinterested regard to their interest in return.
Oppression is an essential attribute of selfishness and always develops itself according to circumstances. When it has power, it uses the chain and the whip. When it has not power, it resorts to other means of securing the services of others without disinterested return. Sometimes it supplicates; but this is only because it is regarded as necessary or expedient. It is oppression under whatever form it assumes. It is in fact a denial of all rights but those of self, and a practical claiming of God and of all beings and events as ours. It is to all intents the chattel principle universally applied. So that all sinners are both slaves and slaveholders; in heart and endeavor they enslave God and all men; and other sinners in heart and endeavor enslave them. Every sinner is endeavoring in heart to appropriate to himself all good.
15. War is another attribute of selfishness.
War is strife. It is opposed to peace or amity, Selfishness on the very face of it, is a declaration of war with all beings. It is setting up self-interest in opposition to all other interests. It is an attempt and a deliberate intention to seize upon and subordinate all interests to our own. It is impossible that there should not be a state of perpetual hostility between a selfish being and all benevolent beings. They are mutually and necessarily opposed to each other. The benevolent are seeking the universal good, and the selfish are seeking their own gratification without the least voluntary regard to any interest but that of self. Here is opposition and war of course and of necessity.
But it is no less true that every selfish being is at war with