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can stoop to give preference to the interest, the reputation, the authority of no one, no not of God himself. His practical language is, Who is Jehovah that I should bow down to him? It is impossible that a selfish soul should be humble. Pride is an essential modification or attribute of selfishness. Sinners are represented in the bible as proud, as "flattering themselves in their own eyes."
Pride is not a vice distinct from selfishness, but is only a modification of selfishness. Selfishness is the root or stock in which every form of sin inheres. This it is important to show. Selfishness has been scarcely regarded by many as a vice, much less as constituting the whole of vice; consequently, when selfishness has been most apparent, it has been supposed and assumed that there might be along with it many forms of virtue. It is for this reason that I take up your time and my own in showing what are the essential elements of selfishness. So it has been supposed that selfishness might exist in any heart without implying every form of sin; that a man might be selfish and yet not proud. In short, it has been overlooked that where selfishness is, there must be every form of sin, that where there is one form of selfishness manifested, it is a breach of every commandment of God and implies in fact the real existence of every possible form of sin and abomination in the heart. My object is to pursue this course of instruction so far and no farther than will fully develop in your minds the great truth that where selfishness is, there must be in a state either of development or of undevelopment every form of sin that exists in earth or hell; that all sin is a unit, and some form of selfishness; and that where this is, all sin must be.
The only reason that pride, as a form of selfishness, does not appear in all sinners in the most disgusting forms is only this, that their constitutional temperament and providential circumstances are such as to give a more prominent development to some other attribute of selfishness. It is important to remark that where any one form of unqualified sin exists, there selfishness must exist, and there of course every form of sin must exist, at least in embryo, and waiting only for providential circumstances to develop it. When therefore you see any form of sin, know assuredly that selfishness, the root, is there, and expect nothing else, if selfishness continues, than to see developed, one after one, every form of sin as the providence of God shall present the occasion. Selfishness is a volcano, sometimes smothered, but which must have vent. The prov
idence of God cannot but present occasions upon which its lava-tides will burst forth and carry desolation before them.
That all these forms of sin exist has been known and admitted. But it does not appear to me that the philosophy of sin has been duly considered by many. It is important that we should get at the fundamental or generic form of sin, that form which include sand implies all others, or more properly, which constitutes the whole of sin. Such is selfishness. "Let it be written with the point of a diamond and engraved in the rock forever," that it may be known that where selfishness is, there every precept of the law is violated, there is the whole of sin. Its guilt and ill desert must depend upon the light with which the selfish mind is surrounded. But sin, the whole of sin, is there.
ATTRIBUTES OF SELFISHNESS. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN DISOBEDIENCE TO THE LAW OF GOD.
19. Enmity against God is also an attribute of selfishness. Enmity is hatred. Hatred may exist either as a phenomenon of the sensibility or as a state or attitude of the will. Of course I am now to speak of enmity of heart or will. It is selfishness viewed in its relations to God. That selfishness is enmity against God will appear,
(1.) From the Bible. The Apostle expressly says that "the carnal mind (minding the flesh) is enmity against God." It is fully evident that the Apostle by the carnal mind means obeying the propensities or gratifying the desires. But this is selfishness as I have defined it.
(2.) Selfishness is directly opposed to the will of God as expressed in his law. That requires benevolence. Selfishness is its opposite, and therefore enmity against the lawgiver.
(3.) Selfishness is as hostile to God's government as it can be. It is directly opposed to every law and principle and measure of his government.
(4.) Selfishness is opposition to God's existence. Opposition to a government, is opposition to the will of the governor. It is opposition to his existence in that capacity. It is and must be enmity against the existence of the ruler as such. Selfishness must be enmity against the existence of God's government, and as He does and must sustain the relation of Sovreign Ruler, selfishness must be enmity against his life. Selfishness will brook no restraint in respect to securing its end. There is nothing in the universe it will not sacrifice to self. This is true, or it is not selfishness. If then God's happiness, or government, or life come into competition with it, they must be sacrificed.
(5.) But God is the uncompromising enemy of selfishness. It is the abominable thing his soul hateth. He is more in the way of selfishness than all other beings. The opposition of selfishness to Him is and must be supreme and perfect.
(6.) That selfishness is mortal enmity against God, is not left to conjecture nor to a mere deduction or inference. God once took to himself human nature and tried the experiment. Men could not brook his presence upon earth, and they rested not until they had murdered him.
(7.) Again. Selfishness is supreme enmity against God. That is, it is more opposed to God than to all other beings.
[1.] This must be because God is more opposed to it and more directly and eternally in its way. Selfishness must be relinquished or put itself in supreme opposition to God.
[2.] Enmity against any body or thing besides God can be overcome more easily than against him. All earthly enmities can be overcome by kindness and change of circumstances; but what kindness, what change of circumstances can change the human heart, can overcome the selfishness and enmity that reigns there?
(8.) Selfishness offers all manner and every possible degree of resistance to God. It disregards God's commands. It contemns his authority. It spurns his mercy. It tramples on his feelings. It tempts his forbearance. Selfishness in short is the universal antagonist and adversary of God. It can no more be reconciled to God or subject to his law than it can cease to be selfishness.
20. Madness is another attribute of selfishness.
Madness is used sometimes to mean anger, sometimes to mean intellectual insanity, and sometimes to mean moral insanity.
I speak of it now in the last sense.
Moral insanity is not insanity of the intelligence, but of the heart. Insanity of the intelligence destroys for the time being moral agency and accountability.
Moral insanity is a state in which the intellectual powers are not deranged, but the heart refuses to be controlled by the intelligence and acts unreasonably as if the intellect were deranged. That madness or moral insanity is an attribute of selfishness or of a sinful character is evident,
(1.) From the bible. "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live.”—Eccles. 9: 3.
(2.) It has been shown that sinners or selfish persons act in every instance directly opposite to right reason. Indeed, nothing can be plainer than the moral insanity of every selfish soul. He prefers to seek his own interest as an end and prefers a straw to a universe. But not only so: he does this with the certain knowledge that in this way he can never secure his own highest interest. What an infinitely insane course that must be, first to prefer his own petty gratification to the infinite interests of God and of the universe, and secondly, to do this with the knowledge that in this way nothing
can be ultimately gained even to self, and that if the course is persisted in, it must result in endless evil to self, the very thing which is supremely dreaded! Sin is the greatest mystery and the greatest absurdity, and the greatest contradiction in the universe.
But madness is an essential element or attribute of selfishAll sinners, without any exception, are and must be mad. Their choice of an end is madness. It is infinitely unreasonable. Their pursuit of it is madness persisted in. Their treatment of every thing that opposes their course is madness. All, all is madness infinite. This world is a moral Bedlam, an insane hospital where sinners are under regimen. If they can be cured, well. If not, they must be confined in the mad-house of the universe for eternity.
The only reason why sinners do not perceive their own and each other's madness is, that they are all mad together and their madness is all of one type. Hence they imagine that they are sane, and pronounce Christians mad. This is no wonder. What other conclusion can they come to unless they can discover that they are mad?
But let it not be forgotten that their madness is of the heart, and not of the intellect. It is voluntary and not unavoidable. If it were unavoidable it would involve no guilt. But it is a choice made and persisted in in the integrity of their intellectual powers, and therefore they are without ex
Sinners are generally supposed to act rationally on many subjects. But this is an evident mistake. They do every thing for the same ultimate reason and are as wholly irrational in one thing as another. There is nothing in their whole history and life, not an individual thing, that is not entirely and infinitely unreasonable. The end is mad; the means are mad; all, all is madness and desperation of spirit. They no doubt appear so to angels, and so they do to saints; and were it not so common to see them their conduct would fill the saints and angels with utter amazement.
21. Impatience is another attribute of selfishness.
This term expresses both a state of the sensibility and of the will. Impatience is a resistance of Providence. When this term is used to express a state of the sensibility, it designates fretfulness, ill temper, anger in the form of emotion. It is an unsubmissive and rebellious state of feeling in regard to those trials that occur under the administration of the providential government of God.