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tle, chap. iv, ver. 8, says, "God is love :" He then adds, « In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” The mercy of God to sinners, is here brought into view as a mani. festation of his love, and as a striking proof that he is in reality not a selfish, but a most benevolent Being.
But does not the scripture say, 16 The Lord hath made all inings for himself ?” This is true, and yet Jehovah is not a selfish, but a disinterestedly benevolent Being. We have aiready shown, that all love to one's own person, is not of necessity selfish love. in answering the second objection, selfishness was defined to be a sufreme regard to one's-self, not because this object was of such superlative worth in the intellectual system, but decause it was self. The commandment says, “ Love thy neighbor as thyself ;' and it does also in effect say, 'Love thyself as thy neighbor.' Those creatures, in whose heart this law is perfectly written, are as unselfish or disinterested in the love which they exercise towards themselves, as in the love they exercise towards their neighbor. The love, which totally depraved creatures exercise towards themselves, is no part of obedience to the divine law, tho' this law requires some love to be cxercised towards themselves, as well as towards their neighbor'. When the love which we bear to ourselves, is in conformity to the divine law, it will not lead, or permit us, to make war upon the general interests of society, for the sake of acquiring any supposed honor, or advantage to our. selves. But the self-love of a deprared being, will lead him to sacrifice the greatest quantity of general good, even the whole, to promote what he conceives to be his own happiness.
Benevolent beings have thrown all they are worth into a common stock, and unite together in secking the greatest general good. * That which they have thrown
* This communion of interest is totally different from that which exists among a company of robbers, or avaricious mer. chants, or selfish patriots, if such patriots are found among us. In all these cases, there is an appearance of throwing all into a common stock, with a view to promote a common in. into this common stock, they regard in proportion to its worth. All will be able to see, that upon the principles of the most disinterested (or unselfish) love, it will be consistent for the Supreme Being, to exercise some love to himself ; for his existence and capacity for happiness are no less valuable, on account of their being his own. The question will now arise, How much, consistent with the most perfect disinterestedness, may the Deity loye and regard himself? The answer is, He may love and regard himself, according to his worthiness to be loved and regarded. And this he must do, or he would not be perfectly benevolent.
Let us again have allusion to the material system, to illustrate our subject. It behoved the little atom to take its place with its kindred atoms on the surface of the earth ; but it does not behove the Sun to leave the centre of the system, and take the place of an atom. This would be as contrary to the order and harmony of the system, as for the atom to claim to be the centre. The Sun must maintain its own majestic station, and require atoms and worlds to revolve around it, as their comnion centre. But how feeble is the illustration. There is some comparison between the quantity of mat. ter in the sun, and in one of its surrounding planets ; yea, between the quantity of matter in the sun, and the supposed atom : But who can be compared with God ? Behold the nations are but as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance ; behold he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. All nations be.
terest : but the truth is, that each man seeks the promotion of this common interest, merely for the sake of his own private interest which is connected with it. Private interest is all, which, in these cases, gives any value to public interest. But fellowship among benevolent beings is built on an entirely different foundation. Their common interest is not an arbitrary matter; or the result of nice calculations of the gains which will probably arise from the partnership; -No, their com mon interest is dear to them all, considered as a common interest ;-their tellowship is a union of kindred souls, who are made blessed by doing, as well as by receiving good. In this benevolent community, (which resembles the natural body,) when one member suffers, all the members suffer with it ; and when one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. See 1 Cor. chap. xij.
fore him are as nothing, and vanity. Between ali finites there is some comparison : but between all finites in an aggregate, and infinity, there is no comparison. God may therefore love himself supremely, even more than the whole intelligent creation when taken together, and yet have no selfish affection at all. Nay, the most impartial, and disinterested affection requires him to regard bin seif, more than all intelligent existence besides. Such supreme love he claims from us. - Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength : this is the first commandment." He claims from us more love than we are to exercise to any creature, and even to all crcatures, ourselves included. This is made evident by comparing this coin mand ,with what the Sa. viour declares indispensably requisite, to becoming his disciple; even to hate (in a comparative sense,) father and mother, wife and children, and brethren and sis. ters, yea, and our own life also.
If this command, which requires us to love God more than all creatures in mass, is founded in the nature and fitness of things, it is as suitable that it should regulate his affections, as ours.
It would not be consistent for him to require us to love him with all our heari, and soul, 3od mind, and, strength, if he were not worthy of the same supreme regard from himself; and if he is worthy of his own supreme love, then there is nothing contrary to the most disinterested benevolence, in his loving himself with all his heait, and soul, and mind, and strength.
Let it also be remembered, that originally there was no other being in existence, except him who inhabiteth eterniiy ; he must therefore have rade all things for himself, as there was no other, for whom he could make them. But his making all things for himself, does by no means exclude his benevolent regard for the happiness of the creature, as we sball bave occasion to show in answering the next objeciion. There is cne other thing, which may perhaps reflect light upon the disinterestedness of the love which the Most High exercis. es towards himself. If our views of Divine benevolence are correct, the Most High does not love himself any more because it is himself, than he would love anothes being, if there were another such being to be loved. Now, though there is not a plurality of Gods, yet accor. ding to the doctrine, believed in common between us, and our theological antagonists, there is a plurality of Persons in the one only living and true God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the thrce Persons in the Godhead, are represented as possessed each of infinite perfections; and they are represented as one, not only in essence, but by mutual and endearing love. The Father loves the Son with an intinite love, even equal to the love which he bears to his own Person. This love is perfectly reciprocated by the Son, the second Person in the Godhead. Both the Persons are as perfectly united in affection to the Holy Ghost, as to each other; and the Holy Ghost is, by the same infinitely strong affection, united to the Father, and to the Sori. Is not here a display of the most impartial and disinterested love, on a great scale-subsisting betwcen three infiniie Persons in one Godhead ? As it respects their oneness of affection, this is the great pattern for rational creatures to imitate. This appears in the Saviour's prayer to the Father, recorded in the 17th chapter of John: "Neither pray I for these only, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word : that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee ;, that they also may be one in us."
V. It is urged that God himself seeks the creature's good, and therefore the creature need not feel under obligation to be disinterested. After Mr. B. had said, that disinterested benevolence was something to which man was a total “stranger, he adds ; “ It is manifest from the concurrent testimony of holy scripture, that all the designs of God towards fallen man, are not only for the exhibition of his own infinite glory, but also for the happiness of his intelligent creatures." It is a sentiment, in the belief of which we are full, that the Divine Creator, in making an exhibition of his infinite glory, must of necessity do that which will insure the greatest perfection and blessedne38 of the created systein. His infinite glory consists in his all-sufficiency to do what pleases, and in his being infinitely disposed to do good. Such perfections cannot be displayed, without a good çreation's being the result. They cannot be displayed
to the best advantage, without the best possible creation. In our view it would be, either a high impeachment of the character of the Deity; or a denial of the infinite per. fection of his natural attributes, (such as knowledge and power,) to say, there could have been a better created system, than he has produced. The adoring Psalmist cries (ut, “ How manifest are thy works! In wisdom thou hast created them all."*
God's seeking bis own glory, and his promoting the good of his creation, do no doubt go hand in hand. But his seeking his own glory, and the good of every in. dividual creature, are not things inseparably connected, A part of his rational creatures are forever cut off from the society of holy and blessed beings. This is the case with the fallen angels, and with those of the race of Adam, who are now spirits in prison. The greatest general good does not require that these creatures should be made happy ; nor will the general good admit of their happiness. From this it appears, that while the greatest general good of the created system, cannot, on any consideration, be relinquished, the good of many individuals may be given up forever. To seek the glory of God, and to seek the peace of Jerusalem, meet in one,
* We conclude, it is clear to every mind, that it would have been inconsistent with the infinite perfection of the eternal God, to have selected from all possible systems, the very worst, i. e. the one which should have contained in it the least good. But why would it have been inconsistent, only on this ground, that a good Being must prefer a good, to a bad system? But if the mind revolts at the thought, that an all-suficient and good Being should choose the very worst of all possible sys. tems, will it be at rest by a belief, that he did not choose the very worst, but the system which stood next in preference We will suppose, that ten thousand other possible systems, rising one above another in excellence, and all preferable to this, stood full in the view of the Infinite Mind ;-would it be consistent with that perfection, which we ought to ascribe to God, to suppose he should fix his choice on a system so com. paratively undesirable ? If it is scen to be inconsistent with infinite perfection, to select, from all the systems which he had power to originate, one of su inferior a value.--I would ask, wiere would it be consistent for Jehovah to fix his choice? How far short of ine best of all these possible systems can he stop, and still appear to act in character, as a Being of infinite wisdom, of unlimnited power, and perfect goodness?