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make a practice of affronting or defaming, of insulting or ridiculing, of defrauding or over-reaching, of molesting, oppressing, persecuting, without shame or remorse, and even without so much as any sense or feeling of what others endure: but if any one should but attempt in like manner to affront, or defame, or molest, or any way injure them, they have then their sense of feeling to an exquisite degree, and are impatient to fill the ears of as many as they can apply to, with loud clamours and complaints. Such is the manner of self-lovers ; and if any thing can ever cure them of that sad disease, it must be self-reflection, accompanied with Divine grace ; that, by considering their own pains and uneasinesses, as often as they are themselves injured, they may learn to be compassionate and tender-hearted in their dealings with others, so as never to do them an injury of any kind, either as to their persons or property, estate or good
If they can once learn to be as tender and as sensible in their neighbour's case, as they are in their own ; and if they can be content to take no greater liberties with others, than they are willing that others in like circumstances should take with them; then may they be truly said, and not till then, to “ love their neighbours as themselves,” according to our Lord's commandment.
III. Having thus competently explained the precept of the text, it remains now only, that, in the third and last place, I lay down some considerations proper to enforce it.
1. First, Let it be considered, that this second commandment, relating to the love of our neighbour, is so like the first, relating to the love of God, and so near akin to it, and so wrapped up in it, that they are both, in a manner, but one commandment. He that truly, sincerely, consistently loves God, must of course love his neighbour also: or if he does not really love his neighbour, he cannot, with any consistency or truth, be said to love God. For, if we truly love God, we must of consequence be supposed to love what God loves : and since God is a lover of mankind, the love of God, rightly understood, must inevitably include and imply the love of man. It is very natural, for persons of corrupt minds, to form to themselves some imaginary notion of a love of God, separate from a love of man. They are tempted to it by their passions, by their humours, and by their interests; being very desirous of God's favour at a cheap and easy rate, and
willing to express their love of him by caresses, compliments, and endearments to him, rather than by real and painful services done to mankind for his sake. They will be religious and devout; will offer up their prayers, praises, and thanksgivings; will be hearers of his word, but not doers of it; will wait upon him at his altar, perhaps with a warm devotion, and yet not remember or not consider, that they are all the while greatly defective in point of love and charity towards their brethren. But, after all, religion without righteousness, or deootion and godliness without brotherly kindness, is an inconsistent, romantic notion, a contradiction in terms. For, as St. James says, “ If any man seem to “ be religious, and bridleth not his tongue—this man's religion “ is vain i:" so it may be justly, and by parity of reason, said in general, that if any man“ seem to be religious," and bridleth not his resentments, his malice, his rancour, his ambition, his pride, and in short his selfishness, that man's religion is vain. St. John is very express to this purpose, where he teaches thus:
any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a “ liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, o how can he love God whom he hath not seen k?” As much as to say, If men do not their kind offices to God's appointed receivers, who are visibly present with them ; how can they be presumed to have any true love or good-will towards God, who is absent and invisible, and can receive no kindness from us but in and by his receivers so present with us ? So our blessed Lord, elsewhere, interprets this matter, shewing by what marks and tokens, chiefly, he judges of our love towards him. 66 Inasmuch
have done a kind office unto one of the least of these my “ brethren, ye have done it unto me :” and again ; “ Inasmuch
did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to “ mel.” So then, for the enforcing the love of our neighbours, let it be duly considered, that it is the proof and the perfection of our love to God. He that really has the first, has the second also : and he that has not the second, has neither. His disaffection towards his neighbour shews, that he has no true affection towards God: for “ this commandment have we from “ him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also m.” What God hath so joined and made inseparable, let not man put asunder.
2. It may further be considered, (which indeed is but the i James i. 26. ki John iv. 20. i Matt. xxv. 40, 45.
1 John iv, 21.
consequence of the former,) that by this very rule will the righteous Judge of all men proceed at the last day; as our Lord himself has sufficiently intimated in the twenty-fifth of St. Matthew. It will be in vain to plead at that day, how holy, how religious, how devout we have been ; how frequent or constant in our attendance upon God in his house or in our closets ; how zealous for the honour of his name, or how unwearied in contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints: all these things are good and commendable, if accompanied with true brotherly love and Christian charity : but without it, they are nothing in God's sight, not so much as deserving the names of devotion, or piety, or godly zeal ; because godliness without charity is not really godliness, but a semblance only, or a shadow of it. The duties of the first table must take in with them the duties of the second also : otherwise, they will be construed, by an all-seeing God, as compliments only, or empty ceremonies, rather than as acts of love towards him. Therefore, if ever we hope to steer our Christian course aright here, and to be accepted at the mercyseat hereafter, let us“ give all diligence to add to our faith « virtue ; and to virtue knowledge ; and to knowledge temper“ance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; " and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kind“ness charityn."
2 Pet. i. 5, 6, 7.
The Nature and Kinds of Self-love explained and dis
tinguished; and the Boundaries of an innocent and culpable Self-love limited and ascertained.
2 Tim. iii. 1, 2.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come :
for men shall be lovers of their own selves. THE great Apostle, in these words, reminds his disciple
Timothy of the danger and difficulty of the times into which he was fallen. “In the last days,” saith he, that is, at the conclusion of the Jewish state, and upon the commencing of the last and best dispensation, the age of the Messias,“ perilous “ times shall come,” perilous especially to good men; "for men " shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,
blasphemers,” &c. “ From such” he advises Timothy" to turn
awaya;" which makes it evident that the persons there characterised by St. Paul were the men of the then present age.
It is observable, that the phrase of “ lovers of their own "selves,” which may sometimes bear a good sense, is here plainly intended in a bad one. It stands first among the many black characters recited by the Apostle: probably because it is the root and principle of other vices, the source and fountain of all the evils and disorders of the moral world.
It is not every self-love, but self-love ill conducted and misapplied, self-love emphatically so called, centering in self only, and standing in opposition to the love of God and the love of our neighbour. There is a just and rational self-love, which is found
very wisest and best of men : there is also a natural and necessary self-love, common both to good and bad : and there is an irregular, inordinate self-love, peculiar to wicked men, the same that is condemned in the text. These three kinds of self-love ought to be carefully distinguished from each other, for the information of our judgment, and direction of our practice. I know not any subject that is of nearer concern to us, or that better deserves to be set in a true light: none more apt to be confounded and misunderstood than this is : and no greater mischiefs can there be than those which commonly arise from any mistakes or confusion about it.
My design then is to state and clear the notion of self-love, that we may perceive distinctly how far and in what instances it is innocent or commendable, and likewise in what cases and instances it becomes culpable and vicious, and how it does so. In the prosecution of this subject I shall choose the method following:
I. I shall consider what self-love in the general is, the nature, design, and purport of it; and how far we innocently may, or reasonably ought to pursue the dictates of it.
II. I shall proceed, secondly, to consider the nature and tendency of a vicious self-love, and illustrate it by proper instances.
III. I shall offer a few brief considerations, proper to prevent or cure it.
I. I shall consider what self-love, in the general, is, the nature, design, and purport of it; and how far we may innocently pursue the dictates of it.
Self-love, considered in the general, abstracting from particular circumstances, is neither a vice nor a virtue. It is nothing but the inclination or propension of every man to his own happiness. A passionate desire to be always pleased and well satisfied ; neither to feel nor fear any pain or trouble, either of body or mind. It is an instinct of nature common to all men, and not admitting of any excess or abatement. Every man loves himself infinitely, or in the highest degree possible. There is no difference, in this respect, between the rich and the poor, the wise and the unwise, or the saint and the sinner. The same principle glows incessantly in every breast, and with equal fervency and intenseness. All our pursuits, practices, and endeavours flow