Page images

These affections are all amiable and useful in their place, and when duly subordinated materially aid the local operations of holy love. And being not destructible but by an uncommon domination of selfishness, their extinction becomes a mark of the last stages of degeneracy.* But their grand defect is that they are limited in their very nature to a contracted circle. They do not go up to God, and breathe through Him good wishes to the whole intellectual system. They brood exclusively over a private interest, and are ready to fly in the face of the whole universe that comes to disturb that. In their greatest enlargement they still exclude the Creator. They stop at the threshold of being. They fix on a drop of the ocean. Should they love a world as tenderly as a parent loves his child, and stop there, they would still be hostility to infinitely the greatest portion of existence. A limited affection, (limited I mean, not by the contracted view or capacity of the subject, but by its own nature,) necessarily contains a principle of hostility to the universe. The parent rises against God for taking away his child.f The patriot sets his country in array against all the rest of the world. The most extended of all these private affections regards but an infinitely small part of universal being, and sets up the interest of that portion in opp0sition to the rest. Till they are subdued, and bound, and subjected by religion, they are all as really hostile to the universe as the most contracted selfishness.

* Rom. i. 31. 2 Tim. iii. 3. # If you ascribe this effect to self-love it does not weaken the argument. As far as the parent feels a personal calamity, it is because he loved his child. Now if you are disposed to put the love of his child on a level with the love of wealth, it renders the affection no less hostile. But where the parent fears for the happiness of the dead, he certainly mourns for another as well as for himself. I admit that if self-love were subjected he would not murmur, for then his parental love would be subjected also. But the two still appear to be distinct grounds of unsubmission.

Of all these instincts that which most resembles holy love is humanity. Yet even here the difference is easily traced. In the operations of humanity which we call compassion, men are generally satisfied with relieving the object from misery, with little or no thought for his positive happiness. In some cases, (as where an enemy suffers,) they do not wish the positive happiness of the object, nor even his complete relief, but only some alleviation of his misery. In no case do they wish him the highest prosperity even of an earthly nature, and during the greatest commotion of their pity would be grieved to know that he was destined one day to outshine themselves. But holy love knows no such limits : it wishes its object the greatest happiness that his capacity will admit.

In cases where humanity desires the positive happiness of a wide extent of society, this principle makes, of all the natural affections, the nearest approaches to universal benevolence. This is the hardest case of all. But even here the difference may be plainly perceived. If in this shape humanity were holy love, it would in all its subjects stand connected with the love of God, and Christ, "and the Gospel. But some of its highest actings I have seen in a sweet tempered infidel, who never discovered malice against any object but the Gospel of Christ. Further, if humanity were holy love it would in all persons wish its objects the best kind of happiness, that of communion with God. And lastly, it would take the highest complacency in that benevolence which makes God its centre, and would long to see this temper universal. But in these three important respects it fails. It acts vigorously in many an infidel without exciting one solitary wish that men may enjoy communion with God, without producing the least complacency in religion, or any desire to see it prevail, without checking à violent opposition to the religion of Christ in every form.

This decisive proof of unholiness lies against all these natural principles. You will find them all in violent opposers of God and the Gospel. You might have found them all in the Jews, of whom our Saviour said, that they had both seen and hated both Him and His Father. You might have found them all in Adam immediately after the fall, before he began to be restored by grace, when it will be acknowledged that he was totally depraved. Indeed in a slavish subjection to these and other limited affections, which had raised their objects to the place of God, his whole depravity consisted.

Further, if these principles were holy, we should expect to see the love of God and real godli

[ocr errors]

ness prevail exactly in proportion to their strength. But so far from this you often find most of them in greater strength in infidels and libertines of mild and generous dispositions, than in others who, with tempers naturally contracted and sour, are real Christians.

It is another conclusive proof of the unholiness of all these principles, that they not only are unaccompanied with the love which the divine law requires, but have no tendency to produce it. The instincts, for instante, have no tendency to carry forth the heart to God and His Kingdom, because affections limited in their very nature have no tendency to become unlimited. And no love to God can enter into an affection that is not universal benevolence, because to love God is to be like Him, and God is universal love. If these instincts restrain selfishness, they do not diminish the whole strength of the limited affections that oppose God. Of course they have no tendency to weaken the body

They may garnish that body, they may vary its forms, but they still leave it in full life. Show me an unsanctified worldling who possesses all these principles in the highest degree, and has cultivated them with the most studious care, and I will show you one who loves himself as inordinately as any other sinner, though his pride, and education, and the manners of cultivated society, may have thrown that selfishness into new forms, and drawn over it the vail of good breeding. I will show you one whose pride is in full strength, whose

of sin.

idolatrous love of the world is not a whit abated, and
whose unbelief has never opened its eyes. And
with these four grand sins of a depraved soul in
full vigour, what has he gained, in point of real
sanctification, by all his natural principles? A little
paring and polishing of the extremities, but the
pulse of sin still beats strong at the heart. The
most that he can boast is love to man. But is that
love such as the divine law requires ? The love con-
templated in the Second Table is not natural, but
- the fruit of the spirit,” the offspring of regenera- .
ting grace : “Beloved let us love one another, for
love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of
God, and knoweth God.” “We know that we
have passed from death unto life because we love
the brethren.“By this we know that we love the
children of God, when we love God and keep His
commandments."'* So long as men retain the
carnal mind” that is enmity against God," they
exercise none of that charity to their fellow men, not
even to good men, which is required. In every
point of view they want that "love" which is the
fulfilling of the law.” And this wanting, what are
all their natural affections ? This wanting, mira-
culous powers are nothing; to give all their goods
to feed the poor and their bodies to be burned, is
nothing.t Still their inscription is, Destitute of
that "holiness without which no man shall see the


* Gal. v. 22. 1 John iii. 14. and iv. 7. and v. 2.

f 1 Cor. xi. 1-3.

« PreviousContinue »