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II. Wherein the experience and outward life of saints and sinners may agree.
It is plain that they may be alike in whatever does not consist in or necessarily proceed from the attitude of their will, that is, in whatever is constitutional or involuntary. For example,
1. They may both desire their own happiness. This desire is constitutional, and of course common to both saints and sinners.
2. They may both desire the happiness of others. This also is constitutional and of course common to both saints and sinners. There is no moral character in these desires any more than there is in the desire for food and drink. That men have a natural desire for the happiness of others is evident from the fact that they manifest pleasure when others are happy unless they have some selfish reason for envy, or unless the happiness of others is in some way inconsistent with their own. They also manifest uneasiness and pain when they see others in misery, unless they have some selfish reason for desiring their misery.
3. Saints and sinners may alike dread their own misery and the misery of others. This is strictly constitutional, and has therefore no moral character. I have known that very wicked men and men who had been infidels when they were convinced of the truths of Christianity, manifested great concern about their families and about their neighbors, and in one instance I heard of an aged man of this description who when convinced of the truth, went and warned his neighbors to flee from the wrath to come, avowing at the same time his conviction that there was no mercy for him, though he felt deeply concerned for others. Such like cases have repeatedly been witnessed. The case of the rich man in hell seems to have been one of this description or to have illustrated the same truth. Although he knew his own case to be hopeless, yet he desired that Lazarus should be sent to warn his five brethren lest they also should come to that place of torment. In this case and in the case of the aged man just named it appears that they not only desired that others should avoid misery, but they actually tried to prevent it and used the means that were within their reach to save them. Now it is plain that this desire took control of their will and of course the state of the will was selfish. It sought to gratify desire. It was the pain and dread of seeing their misery and of having them miserable that led them to use means to prevent it. This
was not benevolence, but selfishness. It no doubt increases the misery of sinners in hell to have their number multiplied, that is, they being moral agents can not but be unutterably pained to behold the wretchedness around them. This may and doubtless will make up a great part of the misery of devils and of wicked men, the beholding to all eternity the misery which they have occasioned. They will not only be filled with remorse; but undoubtedly their souls will be unutterably agonized with the misery they will behold around them.
Let it be understood then that as both saints and sinners constitutionally desire, not only their own happiness, but also the happiness of others, they may alike rejoice in the happiness and safety of others and in converts to christianity, and may alike grieve at the danger and misery of those who are unconverted. I well recollect when far from home and while an impenitent sinner I received a letter from my youngest brother informing me that he was converted to God. He, if he was converted, was, as I supposed, the first and the only member of the family who then had a hope of salvation. I was at the time and both before and after one of the most careless sinners, and yet on receiving this intelligence, I actually wept for joy and gratitude that one of so prayerless a family was likely to be saved.
Indeed I have repeatedly known sinners to manifest much interest in the conversion of their friends and express gratitude for their conversion although they had no religion themselves. These desires have no moral character in themselves. In as far as they control the will, the will yielding to impulse instead of the law of the intelligence then is selfishness.
4. Saints and sinners may agree in desiring their own sanctification and the sanctification of others. They may both desire their own sanctification as the condition of their salvation. They may also desire the sanctification of others as the condition of their salvation.
5. Saints and sinners may both desire to be useful as a condition of their own salvation.
6. They may also desire that others should be useful as a condition of their salvation.
7. They may both desire to glorify God as a means or condition of their own salvation.
8. They may also desire to have others glorify God as a means of their salvation. These desires are natural and constitutional when the salvation either of ourselves or others is
desired and when these things are seen to be conditions of salvation.
9. They may both desire and strongly desire a revival of religion and the prosperity of Zion as a means of promoting their own salvation or the salvation of their friends. Sinners have often been known to desire revivals of religion.
10. They may agree in desiring the triumph of truth and righteousness and the suppression of vice and error for the sake of the bearings of these things on self and friends. These desires are constitutional and natural to both under certain circumstances. When they do not influence the will they have in themselves no moral character. But when they influence the will, their selfishness takes on this type. It then manifests zeal in promoting religion. But if desire and not the intelligence, controls the will, it is selfishness notwithstanding.
11. Moral agents constitutionally approve of what is right and disapprove of what is wrong. Of course both saints and sinners may both approve of and delight in goodness. I can recollect weeping at an instance of what at the time I supposed to be goodness, while at the same time I was not religious myself. I have no doubt that wicked men not only often are conscious of strongly approving the goodness of God, but that they also often take delight in contemplating it. This is constitutional both as it respects the intellectual approbation and also as it respects the feeling of delight. It is a great mistake to suppose that sinners never are conscious of feelings of complacence and delight in the goodness of God. The Bible represents sinners as taking delight in drawing near to him. "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.-Isa. 58: 2. "And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not."-Ezek. 33: 32. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”—Romans 7:22.
12. Saints and sinners may alike not only intellectually approve, but have feelings of deep complacency in the characters of good men, sometimes good men of their own time and of their acquaintance, but more frequently good men either of a former age, or if of their own age, of a distant country. The reason is this: Good men of their own day and neighbor
hood are very apt to render them uneasy in their sins, to annoy them by their faithful reproofs and rebukes. This offends them and overcomes their natural respect for goodness. But who has not observed the fact that good and bad men unite in praising, admiring, and loving so far as feeling is concerned, good men of by-gone days, or good men at a distance whose life and rebukes have annoyed the wicked in their own neighborhood? The fact is, that moral agents from the laws of their being, necessarily intellectually approve of goodness wherever they witness it. And when not annoyed by it, when left to contemplate it in the abstract or at a distance, they cannot but feel a complacency in it. Multitudes of sinners are conscious of this and suppose that this is a virtuous feeling in them. It is of no use to deny that they sometimes have feelings of love and gratitude to God, and of respect for and complacency in good men. They often have these feelings and to represent them as always having feelings of hatred and of opposition to God and to good men, is sure either to offend them or to lead them to deny the truths of religion; if they are told that the Bible teaches this. Or again it may lead them to think themselves Christians because they are conscious of such feelings as they are taught to believe are peculiar to Christians. Or again, they may think that although they are not Christians, yet they are far from being totally depraved, inasmuch as they have so many good desires and feelings. It should never be forgotten that saints and sinners may agree in their opinions and intellectual views and judgments. Many professors of religion, it is to be feared, have supposed religion to consist in desires and feelings and have entirely mistaken their own character. Indeed nothing is more common than to hear religion spoken of as consisting altogether in mere feelings, desires and emotions. Professors relate their feelings and suppose themselves to be giving an account of their religion. It is infinitely important that both profes sors of religion and non-professors should understand more than most of them do of their mental constitution and of the true nature of religion. Multitudes of professors of religion have, it is to he feared, a hope founded altogether upon desires and feelings that are purely constitutional, and therefore common to both saints and sinners.
13. Saints and sinners agree in this that they both disapprove of and are often disgusted with and deeply abhor sin. They can not but disapprove of sin. Necessity is laid upon every moral agent, whatever his character may be, by the law
of his being, to condemn and disapprove of sin. And often the sensibility of sinners as well as saints is filled with deep disgust and loathing in view of sin. I know that representations the direct opposite of these are often made. Sinners are represented as universally having complacency in sin, as having a constitutional craving for sin as they do for food and drink. But such representations are false and most injurious. They contradict the sinner's consciousness, and lead him either to deny his total depravity, or to deny the Bible, or to think himself regenerate. As was shown when upon the subject of moral depravity, sinners do not love sin for its own sake; but they crave other things, and this leads to prohibited indulgence, which indulgence is sin. But it is not the sinfulness of the indulgence that was desired. That might have produced disgust and loathing in the sensibility if it had been considered even at the moment of the indulgence. For example: Suppose a licentious man, a drunkard, a gambler, or any other wicked man, engaged in his favorite indulgence, and suppose that the sinfulness of this indulgence should be strongly set before his mind by the Holy Spirit. He might be deeply ashamed and disgusted with himself, and so much so as to feel a great contempt for himself, and feel almost ready, were it possible, to spit in his own face. And yet unless this feeling becomes more powerful than the desire and feeling which the will is seeking to indulge, the indulgence will be persevered in notwithstanding this disgust. If the feeling of disgust should, for the time, overmatch the opposing desire, the indulgence will be, for the time being, abandoned for the sake of gratifying or appeasing the feeling of disgust. But this is not virtue. It is only a change in the form of selfishness. Feeling still governs, and not the law of the intelligence, The indulgence is only abandoned for the time being to gratify a stronger impulse of the sensibility. The will, will of course return to the indulgence again, when the feelings of fear, disgust, or loathing subside. This no doubt accounts for the multitudes of spurious conversions sometimes witnessed. Sinners are convicted, and their fears, and disgust, and loathing excited. These feelings, for the time, become stronger than their desires for their former indulgences, and consequently they abandon them for a time, in obedience, not to the law of God or of their intelligence, but in obedience to their fears, disgust and shame. But when conviction subsides, and the consequent feelings are no more, these spurious converts "return like a dog to his vomit, and like a sow