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this selfish choice. This choice is the foundation of, and the reason for all their activity. They do all that they do and omit all that they omit; for one and the same reason, and that is to gratify either directly or indirectly, either presently or remotely, themselves.
The regenerate heart is disinterested benevolence. In other words it is love to God and our neighbor. All regenerate hearts are precisely similar. All true saints, whenever they have truly the heart of saints of God, are actuated by one and the same motive. They have only one ultimate reason for all they do, and are, and suffer, or omit. They have one ultimate intention, one end. They live for one and the same object, and that is the same end for which God lives.
Now the thing after which we are inquiring is what must be the necessary developments and manifestations of these opposite states of mind. These opposite states are supreme and opposite and ultimate choices. They are states of supreme devotion to ultimate and opposite ends. In whatever they do, the saint, if he acts as a saint, and the sinner, have directly opposite ends in view. They do, or omit what they do, for entirely different and opposite ultimate reasons. Although, as we have seen, in many things their opposite ends may lead them to attempt to secure them by similar means, and may therefore often lead to the same outward life in many respects, yet it is always true that even when they act outwardly alike, they have inwardly entirely different ultimate reasons for their conduct. As it often happens that the saint in pursuing the highest good of being in general as an end, finds it necessary to do many things which the sinner may do to secure his selfish end; and as it often happens that the sinner in his endeavors to compass his selfish end, finds it necessary to use the same outward means that the saint does in his efforts to secure his end, it requires not unfrequently a good degree of candor and of discrimination to distinguish between them. And as saints and sinners possess the same or similar constitutions and constitutional propensities, their desires and feelings are often so much alike as to embarrass the superficial inquirer after their true spiritual state. As has been said, the sinner often in seasons of strong religious excitement, not only has desires and feelings resulting from the laws of his constitution similar to those that are experiencd by the saints, but he also for the time being gives up his will to follow these impulses. In this case it requires the nicest discrimination to distinguish between the saint and the sinner; for at such
times they not only feel alike but they also act alike. The difficulty in such cases is to distinguish between the action of a will that obeys the intelligence and one that obeys a class of feelings that are so nearly in harmony with the dictates of the intelligence. To distinguish in such cases between that which proceeds from feeling and that which proceeds from the intelligence requires no slight degree of attention and discrimination. One needs to be a close observer and no tyro in mental philosophy to make just discriminations in cases of this kind.
Let it be understood that the fundamental difference between saints and sinners does not consist in the fact that one has a sinful nature and the other has not, for neither of them has a sinful nature.
(2.) Nor does it consist in the fact that the saint has had a physical regeneration and therefore possesses some element of constitution which the sinner has not.
(3.) Nor does it consist in this, that saints are aiming or intending to do right while sinners are aiming and intending to do wrong. The saint loves God and his neighbor, that is, chooses or intends their highest good for its own sake. This choice or intention is right, though right is not the thing intended. The good, that is, the valuable to being, and not the right, is that upon which the intention terminates. The sinner chooses his own gratification as an end. This choice or intention is wrong, but wrong is not the end chosen or the thing upon which the intention terminates. They are both choosing what they regard as valuable. The saint chooses the good of being impartially. That is, he chooses the highest good of being in general for its own sake and lays no greater stress upon his own than is dictated by the law of his own intelligence. His duty is to will the greatest amount of good to being in general, and promote the greatest amount of good within his power. From the relation of things every one's own highest well-being is committed to his particular keeping and promotion in a higher sense than that of his neighbor is. Next to his own well-being that of his own family and kindred is committed to his particular keeping and promotion in a higher sense than that of his neighbor's family and kindred. Next the interest and well-being of his immediate neighborhood and of those more immediately within the sphere of his influence, is committed to his keeping and promotion. Thus while all interests are to be esteemed according to their intrinsic and relative value, the law of God re
quires that we should lay ourselves ont more particularly for the promotion of those interests that lie so much within our reach that we can accomplish and secure a greater amount of good by giving our principal attention and efforts to them than could be secured by our practically treating the interests of every individual, of every family and of every neighborhood as of equal value with our own. The practical judgment of all men always was, and necessarily must be that the law of God demands that every one should see to his own soul and should provide for his own household, and that the highest good of the whole universe can best be promoted only by each individual, each family, cach neighborhood, and each nation taking care to secure those interests more immediately committed to them, because more immediately within their reach. This is not selfishness if the intention is to secure the highest good of being in general, and of these particular interests as a part of the general good, and because it falls particularly to us to promote these particular interests inasmuch as their promotion is particularly within our reach. The law of God, while it demands that I should will the highest good of being in general for its own sake, and esteem every interest known to me according to its intrinsic and relative value, demands also, that as a pastor of a church, I should give my time and influence and energies more particularly to the promotion of the good of the people of my own charge. More good will upon the whole result to the world from pastors taking this course than any other. The same is truc of the family relation and of all the relations of life. Our relations give us peculiar facilities for securing good, and impose on us peculiar responsibilitics. Our relation to our own highest well-being imposes peculiar responsibilities on us in regard to our own souls. So of our families, neighborhoods, &c. It should be well considered then, that the precept, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," does not require every one to pay just the attention to his neighbor's soul that he does to his own, nor the same attention to his neighbor's children and family that he does to his own. He is bound to esteem his neighbor's interest according to its relative value, and to pursue his own interest and the interest of his family and neighborhood and nation in a manner not inconsistent with the interests of others, but in a manner as highly conducive to the promotion of their interests as in his judgment will upon the whole secure the greatest amount of good. If I have a life to live, and a certain amount of time
and talent and money and influence to lay out for God and souls, I am bound to use all in that manner that in my honest judgment will upon the whole secure the greatest amount of good to being. I am not, certainly, to divide the pittance of my possessions among all men of present and coming generations. Nor am I to scatter my time and talents over the face of the whole globe. But on the contrary, benevolence dictates that I should lay out my time and talents and influence and possessions where and when and in a way, in my honest estimation calculated to secure to being the greatest amount of good.
I have said thus much, as might seem, by way of episode; but in fact it is necessary for us to have these thoughts in mind when we enter upon the discussion of the question before us; to wit: What are evidences of a truly benevolent state of mind? For example; suppose we should enter upon the inquiry in question, taking along with us the assumption that true benevolence, that is, the disinterested love of God and our neighbor, implies that we should not only esteem but also treat all other interests of equal intrinsic value with our own, according to their intrinsic and relative value. I say, should we in searching after evidence of disinterested benevolence, take along with us this false assumption, where should we find any evidence of benevolence on earth? No man does or can act upon such a principle.. God has never acted upon it. Christ never acted upon it. Why did God select the particular nation of the Jews and confine His revelations to them? Why did Christ preach the gospel to the Jews only, and say that he was not sent, save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Why has God always acted upon this principle of accomplishing the greatest practicable good? He esteems the good of all and of each of his creatures according to its intrinsic and relative value, but does good when and as He best can. If the greatest amount of ultimate good can be secured by choosing Abraham from all other men, and making him and his posterity the objects of peculiar effort and spiritual cultivation, and the depositories of the holy oracles which He intended should ultimately bless all nations, why, He does it. He exercises His own discretion in His efforts to accomplish the greatest amount of good. Good is his end and He does all the good He can. In securing this He does many things that might appear partial to those who take but a limited view of things. Just so with all truly benevolent creatures. Good is their end. In promoting it, their intelli
gence and the law of God dictate that they should bestow their particular efforts, attention, influence, and possessions upon those particular interests and persons that will, in their judgment, result in the highest good of being in general as a whole. The whole Bible every where assumes this as the correct rule of duty. Hence it recognizes all the relations of life, and the peculiar responsibilities and duties that grow out of them, and enjoins the observance of those duties. The relation of husband and wife, of parent and child, of ruler and subject, and indeed all the relations incident to our highest well-being in this life, are expressly recognized and their corresponding obligations assumed by the inspired writers; which shows clearly that they understood the law of supreme love to God and equal love to our neighbor to imply an obligation to give particular attention to those interests which God had placed more particularly within the reach of our influence; always remembering that those interests are to be pursued impartially; that is, in consistency with the promotion of all other interests, by those to whom their promotion is particularly committed. For example: I am not to pursue my own good and that of my family or my neighborhood or my nation, in a manner inconsistent with the interests of my neighbor or his family or neighborhood or nation. But I am to seek the promotion of all the interests particularly committed to me, in harmony with, and only as making a part of the general interests of being.
Now let it be remembered that the saint is benevolent, and all his life as a saint is only the development of this one principle; or his outward and inward activity is only an effort to secure the end upon which benevolence fastens, to wit, the highest good of God and of being in general.
The sinner is selfish, all his activity is to be ascribed to an intention to secure his own gratification. Self-interest is his end. It is easy to see from what has been said that to an outward observer a benevolent saint may and often must appear to be selfish, and the selfish sinner may and will appear to be disinterested. The saint pursues his own good and the happiness and well-being of his family as a part of universal good and does it disinterestedly. The sinner persues his own gratification, and that of his family, not as parts of universal good and disinterestedly, but as his own and as the interest of those who are regarded as parts of himself and whose interest he regards as identified with his own.
They are both busy in promoting the interests of self and