For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
I. THE SELFISH CLASS. "For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money." Selfishness heads the dreary list. It is regarded by many theologians as the root principle of all sin. As the opposite of love, however, is not selfishness, but hatred, this position cannot be maintained. Yet selfishness is, above all things, the hard represser of love. The "love of money" has been called "the daughter of selfishness."
II. THE CLASS OF ARROGANT BOASTERS. "Boasters, arrogant, railers." The first are ostentatious in speech; the second, full of pride and contempt for others; the third are full of insults to men.
III. THE CLASS WHICH IS DEFIANTLY REGARDLESS OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS. "Disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable." He who is regardless of filial duty will he ungrateful to others, and he that is ungrateful will have no regard for holiness of character; for he will keep covenant with no one who disregards his parent or his benefactor.
IV. THE CLASS DISTINGUISHED BY RECKLESS AND PASSIONATE DEFIANCE OF GOOD. "Slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors." The first term points to the disposition to bring the good down to the level of the base; the second, to the absence of all restraint from law, human or Divine; the third, to the savage temper that delights in cruelty; the fourth, to the spirit that "loves darkness rather than light;" the fifth, to the class of men who could betray their Christian brethren to their persecutors, or behave falsely in any of their existing relationships.
V. THE CLASS OF HEADY AND CONCEITED ACTORS. "Headstrong, puffed up." Rashness and conceit are often allied.
VI. THE CLASS OF PLEASURE SEEKERS. "Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." It represents a dissipated class under a Christian profession, who have no serious pursuits, and prefer the friendship of the world to the friendship of God. Thus, the long catalogue of moral enormity developed by the apostasy began with "the love of self," and ends with "the love of pleasure," to the utter exclusion, first and last, of the "love of God." - T.C.
Men shall be lovers of their own selves.I. SELF-LOVE, CONSIDERED IN THE GENERAL, ABSTRACTING FROM PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES, IS NEITHER A VICE NOR A VIRTUE. It is nothing but the inclination 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. Self-love directed to, and pursuing, what is, upon the whole, and in the last result of things, absolutely best for us, is innocent and good; and every deviation from this is culpable, more or less so, according to the degrees and the circumstances of it.
II. When we blindly follow the instinct of self-love, coveting everything which looks fair, and running greedily upon it without weighing circumstances or considering consequences; or when, to get rid of any present pain or uneasiness, we take any method which first offers, without reflecting how dearly we may pay for it afterwards; I say, when we do thus, THEN IT IS THAT OUR SELF-LOVE BEGUILES US, DEGENERATES INTO A VICIOUS, OR AT LEAST, SILLY APPETITE, and comes under the name of an overweening, excessive, and inordinate self-love. He suffers the natural instinct of self-love to carry him too far after present satisfaction, farther than is consistent with his more real and durable felicity. To understand the nature of this enchantment, and how it comes to pass that those who love themselves so well, can thus consent to ruin themselves, both bodies and souls, for ever; let us trace its progress.
1. To begin with pride. All the happiness of life is summed up in two articles — pleasing thoughts and pleasing sensations. Now, pride is founded in self-flattery, and self-flattery is owing to an immoderate desire of entertaining some kind of pleasing thoughts.
2. Another instance of inordinate, ill-conducted self-love is sensuality. This belongs to the body more than to the mind, is of a gross taste, aiming only at pleasing sensations. It so far agrees with pride that it makes men pursue the present gratification at the expense of the public peace and to their own future misery and ruin.
3. A third instance of blind and inordinate self-love is avarice or self-interestedness. This is of larger and more diffusive influence than either of the former. So great a part of temporal felicity is conceived to depend upon riches, that the men of this world lie under the strongest temptations to this vine of any. If the case be such, that treachery and fraud, guile and hypocrisy, rapine and violence, may be serviceable to the end proposed; the blind self-lover will charge through all rather than he defeated of his covetous designs, or bear the uneasiness of a disappointment. Thus he comes to prefer his own private, present interest, before virtue, honour, conscience, or humanity. He considers not what would be good for him upon the whole and in the last result, but lives extempore, contrives only for a few days, or years at most, looking no farther. The height of his ambition reaches not beyond temporal felicity, and he miscalculates even in that.
III. CONSIDERATIONS PROPER TO PREVENT OR CURE IT. It is very evident that the self-lovers are not greater enemies to others in intention than they are in effect to themselves. Yet it is not less evident that they love themselves passionately all the time, and whatever hurt they do to their own selves they certainly mean none. They run upon it as a horse rushes into the battle, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, and as a bird hasteth to the snare, and know not that it is for their life. It is for want of thinking in a right way that men fall into this fatal misconduct, and nothing but serious and sober thought can bring them out of it. I shall just suggest two or three useful considerations, and then conclude.
1. We should endeavour to fix in our minds this great and plain truth, that there can be no such thing as true happiness, separate from the love of God and the love of our neighbour.
2. A second consideration, proper to be hinted, is, that man is made for eternity, and not for this life only. No happiness can be true and solid which is not lasting as ourselves.
3. To conclude, the way to arrive at true happiness is to take into consideration the whole extent and compass of our being; to enlarge our views beyond our little selves to the whole creation round us, whereof we are but a slender part; and to extend our prospect beyond this life to distant glories. Make things future appear as if they were now present, and things distant as if they were near and sensible.
(D. Waterland, D. D.)1. Self-love is vicious, when it leads us to judge too favourably of our faults.(1) Sometimes it finds out other names for them, and by miscalling them endeavours to take away their bad qualities.(2) Sometimes it represents our sins as weaknesses, infirmities, the effect of natural constitution, and deserving more pity than blame.(3) Sometimes it excuses them upon account of the intent, pretending that some good or other is promoted by them, and that the motive and the end sanctify the means, or greatly lessen the faultiness of them.(4) It leads us to set our good in opposition to our bad qualities, and to persuade ourselves that wharfs laudable in us far outweighs what is evil.(4) It teaches us to compare ourselves with others, and thence to draw favourable conclusions, because we are not so bad as several whom we could name; it shows us the general corruption that is in the world, represents it worse than it is, and then tells us that we must not hope, and need not endeavour to be remarkably and singularly good.
2. Our self-love is irregular, when we think too well of our righteousness, and overvalue our good actions, and are pure in our own eyes.
3. Our self-love is blameable when we overvalue our abilities, and entertain too good an opinion of our knowledge and capacity; and this kind of self-love is called self-conceit. One evil which men reap from it is to be disliked and despised. The reason why self conceit is so much disliked is that it is always attended with a mean opinion of others. From self-conceit arise rash undertakings, hasty determinations, stubbornness, insolence, envy, censoriousness, confidence, vanity, the love of flattery, and sometimes irreligion, and a kind of idolatry, by which a man worships his own abilities, and places his whole trust in them. The unreasonableness of this con ceit appears from the imperfections of the human understanding, and the obstacles which lie between us and wisdom.
4. Our self-love is irregular when we are proud and vain of things inferior in nature to those before mentioned, when we value our selves upon the station and circumstances in which not our own deserts, but favour or birth, hath placed us, upon mere show and outside, upon these and the like advantages in which we surpass others. This conceit is unreasonable and foolish; for these are either things which the possessors can hardly call their own, as having done little or nothing to acquire them, or they are of small value, or they are liable to be irrecoverably lost by many unforeseen accidents.
5. Lastly, our self-love is vicious when we make our worldly interest, convenience, humour, ease, or pleasure, the great end of our actions. This is selfishness, a very disingenuous and sordid kind of self-love. It is a passion that leads a man to any baseness which is joined to lucre, and to any method of growing rich which may be practised with impunity.
(J. Jortin, D. D.)I. I shall endeavour TO TRACE OUT MORE PARTICULARLY THE WORKINGS OF THIS NOXIOUS PRINCIPLE, AS IT RESPECTS MATTERS OF RELIGION; for it is said of these lovers of themselves, that "they have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof."
1. Self-love may carry men out in desires after Christ (see Mark 1:37; John 6:26). Many would partake of Christ's benefits, who reject His government; receive glory from Him, but give no glory to Him. If they can but go to heaven when they die, they care not how little they have of it before; and are unconcerned about the dominion of sin, if they can but obtain the pardon of it; so that their seeking and striving are now over.
2. Self-love may be the sole foundation of men's love to, and delight in, God. And indeed it is so with all hypocrites and formalists in religion. Many mistake a conviction of mind, that God is to be loved, for a motion of the heart towards Him; and because they see it to be reasonable that He should be regarded by them, they imagine that He is so. But the highest regard that a natural man can have to the Divine Being, if traced back to its origin, or followed to its various actings, will be found to be self-love.
3. Self-love may be the principle that first excites, and then puts fervour and ardency into our prayers. How coldly do some put up those requests, "Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come"; but are much more earnest when they come to those petitions in which their present comfort and future happiness are so much inter ested: "Forgive us our trespasses," and "Give us our daily bread," "Let me die the death of the righteous."
4. Self-love insinuates itself into the severer acts of mortification; nay, it often runs through and corrupts the whole course of religious duties. It is like the dead fly which taints the whole box of precious ointment. From this principle some neglect duties as burdensome, and only seek privileges; a reward without labours, victory without fighting.
5. Self-love runs through all their affections, exertions, and actions, with respect to their fellow-creatures. If they rejoice at others' prosperity, it is because they themselves may be benefited by it. If, on the other hand, they grieve at their calamities, it is because they are likely to be sharers in them, or some way or other injured by them.
II. from what has been said, you see THAT SELF-LOVE IS AN INSINUATING PRINCIPLE, APPEARING IN VARIOUS FORMS, EVEN IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD, AND UNDER MANY ARTFUL DISGUISES, HARD TO BE DISCERNED, BUT HARDER STILL TO BE GUARDED AGAINST. To stir you up to this, let me set before you some of the evils resulting from this easily-besetting, and alas, too universally prevailing sin.
1. It is the root of hypocrisy. So far as self-love and self-seeking influence, we are void of sincerity and integrity.
2. It promotes pride, envy, strife, uncharitableness, and an evil temper and conduct towards all with whom we are conversant. A man who loves himself too well, will never love his God or his neighbour as he ought.
3. All evil may, perhaps, be reduced to this one point: All our desires, passions, projects, and endeavours, centred in self. This was the first sin: "Ye shall be as gods"; and it has continued the master-sin ever since. It is the corrupt fountain, sending forth so many impure and filthy streams.
(B. Beddome, M. A.)1. What kind of self-love is it which St. Paul does here so severely censure?
2. By what manner of influence self-love makes times and seasons become perilous.
3. What times the apostle means by the Last Days; and whence it is that self-love operates with such successful prevalence in those days as to render them the Evil Days.
4. What reflections are fit to be made by us, upon occasion of this argument in relation to our age, and to ourselves, and our present affairs, in order to that which all ought to fast and pray, and labour for the stability of our times and the peace of Jerusalem?
I. To consider WHAT KIND OF SELF-LOVE ST. PAUL SPEAKS AGAINST as the fountain of public mischief; for there is a self-love which is a very natural and a very useful principle. No man ever yet hated his own flesh; no man, without the loving of himself, does either preserve or improve himself. If Almighty God would not have suffered men to love themselves, He would not have moved them to their duty by their personal benefit, and especially by so great a recompense as is that of life eternal. It would conduce to the felicity of men, even in this world, if they truly loved themselves; for then they would not waste their fortunes by an unaccountable profuseness, nor destroy their bodies by the extravagances of rage, and luxury, and lust. The self-love here condemned by St. Paul is that narrow wicked affection which either wholly or principally confines a man to his seeming personal good on earth. An affection which either opposeth all public good, or at least all that public good which comes in competition with man's private advantage. Of such lovers of themselves the apostle gives a very ill character in the words that follow the text. He says of them, in ver. 2, that they are covetous; their heart is like the mouth of a devouring gulf, which sucks in all into itself with deep and unsatiable desire. He continues to mark them, in ver. 3, as persons without natural affection, as people who have no bowels for the miserable part of mankind; as such who rejoice at a public wreck, not considering the loss of others, nor the dismal circumstances of it; but minding with their whole intention the profit which they may gather up for their inhuman selves. He adds, in the same verse, that they are despisers of those who are good. They vilify men of a public spirit.
II. This straight and uncharitable affection is of so MALIGNANT AN INFLUENCE, that where it prevails no age can be calm, no government stable, no person secure. And that it is of such perilous consequence may be demonstrated on this manner. God, who is good and does good, designed, that whilst man was here on earth, it should be competently well with him in case of his obedience, though He intended not to give him all his portion in this life. He knew that men could not subsist apart with such conveniences as they might obtain by being knit into regular societies. He, therefore, united them in civil and sacred bodies, that by conjoined strength they might procure those benefits which, in a separate state, and by their single selves, they could not come at. For, consider, how void of comfort a life of entire solitude would have been to man; with what a life of fear would they have been crucified who had stood perpetually by themselves on their own defence; with what a life of labour and meanness would men have been burdened if every one of them must have been his own only servant; if every one had been obliged to build and plant, and till the ground, and provide food and physic and garments for himself by his own solitary power. And how could a man serve himself in any of these necessary offices in times of sickness, lameness, delirium, and decrepit old age? To such a perilous and laborious life as I have been speaking of, indiscreet and vicious self-love tends; for as far as men do mind and seek themselves alone, so far they dissolve society and lessen its benefits, being rather in it than of it. So that the soul which animates society, whose advantages are so considerable, is the great and generous spirit of charity. That violates no compacts, that raises no commotions, that interrupts no good man's peace, that assaults no innocent man's person, that invades no man's property, that grinds no poor man's face, that envies no man, that supplants no man, that submits its private convenience to the public necessities. Concerning this vile affection, St. Paul taught that it would possess the men of the last days.
III. To consider WHAT TIMES HE MEANS BY THOSE DAYS, and in what sense he speaks of self-love as the distemper of the last days, seeing it has been the disease of every age. By the last days he means the last age of the world, the age of the Messiah, not excluding that part of it in which he himself lived. There were several precedent periods: that of the fathers before the flood, that of the patriarchs before the Law, that of Moses and the prophets under the Law. But after the age of the Messiah, time itself shall be no more. To this age all evil self-love cannot be confined, for that dotage had a being in the world from the very beginning of it. The murder of Cain was so early, that he sinned without example; and from his selfishness his murder proceeded. We therefore misunderstand St. Paul, if we interpret him as speaking, not of the increase, but of the being; of self-love; for it is not its existence, but its abundance, which he foretells. What he wrote has been true in fact, from the times of Demas and Diotrephes, to this very hour. Light is come into the world, a glorious gospel which shines everywhere; and men love darkness rather than light, and shut up themselves in their own hard and rough and private shells. Selfishness cannot be the direct natural effect of the gospel of Christ, which, of all other dispensations, depresseth the private under the public good. The age of the Messiah is the best of ages in His design, and in the means of virtue which He gives the world; and if the men of it be worse than those of other generations, the greater is the aggravation of their guilt, whilst, under a gospel of the widest charity, they exercise the narrowest selfishness. But, however, so it is: whether it be that wicked men, by a spirit of contradiction, oppose charity where they are most earnestly pressed to it; or that the devil, having but a short time, is the more passionately industrious in promoting the interests of his kingdom; or that the further men are from the age of Divine revelations, the less firmly they believe them. It concerns us then —
IV. TO MAKE SERIOUS REFLECTIONS UPON THIS ARGUMENT, and to suffer our selves to be touched with such deep remorse for the guilt of our partiality, that God may be appeased, and our sins pardoned, and our lives reformed, and that perilous times may be succeeded by many prosperous days. And —
1. Let us give glory to God, and take shame to ourselves, upon the account of that selfish principle which hath long wrought among us, and still worketh.
2. May we not only bewail but amend this great defect in our nature, and in our civil and Christian duty.(1) The regaining of a public spirit is at all times worthy our care. We can do no greater thing than to "follow God, who is concerned for all, as if they were but one man; and for every single person, as if he were a world." God hath disposed all things in mutual subserviency to one another: the light, the air, the water, are made for common good; and because they are common, they are the less, but they ought, for that reason, to be the more esteemed. There is not an humble plant that grows to itself, or a mean ex that treads out the corn merely for his own service; and shall man be the only useless part of the creation? It is a most unworthy practice, upon the account of self-interest, to multiply the moral perils of the world, whilst there are inconveniences enough in insensible Nature. It is enough that the natural seasons are tempestuous; men's passions should not raise more storms. It is enough that famine can destroy so many; uncharitableness should not do it. What is it that is worthy the daily thoughts and the nightly studies of a man of under standing, and of an excellent spirit? Is it the supplanting of a credulous friend, or the oppressing of an helpless neighbour? Alas! these are designs so base and low, that he who calls himself a man should not stoop to them. But that which is worthy of a man is the service of his God, his Church, his country; the generous exposing of himself when a kingdom is in hazard.(2) A public spirit, as it is worthy our care at all times, so at all times it needs it. For it requires the utmost application of our minds, seeing self-love insinuates with great art and subtlety into all our designs and actions.
(Thomas Tenison, D. D.)
I. THE ODIOUSNESS OF SELF-LOVE.
II. THE AMIABLENESS OF A GENEROUS AND PUBLIC SPIRIT. There is, indeed, a kind or degree of self-love which is not only innocent; but necessary. The laws of nature strongly incline every man to be solicitous for his own welfare, to guard his person by a due precaution from hurts and accidents; to provide food and raiment, and all things needful for his bodily sustenance, by honest industry and labour; to repair as far as he is able, such decays as may attend his bodily constitution, by proper helps and the best means that are afforded him; and much more to make it his grand concern to secure the everlasting happiness of his immortal part. Such a self-love as this goes little farther than self-preservation, without which principle implanted in us the human species would be soon lost and extinguished, and the work of our great Creator be defeated. But that which St. Paul speaks of with abhorrence is a love merely selfish, that both begins and terminates in a man's single person, exclusive of all tender regards for any one else: this is, in the worst and most criminal sense, taking care of one only. If we will but look into our own nature, and reflect on the end and design of our creation, the reach and extent of our faculties, our subordination to one another, and the insufficiency of every man as he stands by himself alone, we shall soon be convinced, that doing good and affording each other reciprocal assistance is that for which we were formed and fashioned, that we are linked together by our common wants, as well as by inclination, and that tenderness of disposition and natural sympathy that is implanted in us. That we are born and educated, that we enjoy either necessaries or comforts, that we are preserved from perils in our greener, or ever arrive at riper years, next under the watchfulness and protection of Almighty God, is owing to the care of others. And can anything be more just and reasonable than that we, too, in our turn, should give that succour we have received, and do, not only as we willingly would, but as we actually have been done unto? There is a certain proportion of trouble and uneasiness, as well as of pleasure and satisfaction, that must of necessity be borne by the race of men; insomuch that he who will not sustain some share of the former, is unworthy to partake of any of the comforts of the latter. But here the selfling will interpose, and say: "It is true I have occasion for the help of others, and the help of others I have. I have occasion for the attendance of servants, and by servants I am attended. I want to be supplied with those conveniences of life which artificers provide in their respective occupations, and I am supplied accordingly. So long as I am furnished with sufficient store to pay them an equivalent, I am in no danger of being left destitute of anything that money can procure. This is the commerce I carry on in the world; thus I approve myself a social member of the commonwealth. But what have I to do in parting with my substance to them who can give nothing to me in return?" And sometimes we see it does please Almighty God to make examples of this sort: to humble such haughty and self-confiding men, by reducing them from their towering height, and all the wantonness of prosperity, to the extremity of want and misery. And whenever this happens to be the case, who are then so pitifully abjected? But the universal hatred which such a person naturally contracts will not always be suppressed, nor his former aversion to doing good offices be covered by a charitable oblivion, nor be lost under the soft relentings and a melting commiseration of his present sufferings. In short, since every man has an equal right to confine all his care and endeavours to the promoting his own separate interest, that any one man has, what must be the consequence if such a narrow way of thinking and acting should become universal? Love and friendship terminate at once if every man were to regard himself alone, and to extend his care no farther! Such a situation would put an end to all intercourse and commerce; men would be destitute of all confidence and security, and afraid to trust each other. And this may suffice to show that odious and malignant quality of selfishness, or mere self-love. Let us now consider —
II. THE AMIABLENESS OF A GENEROUS AND PUBLIC SPIRIT. He who has a heart truly open and enlarged, over and above that reasonable thoughtfulness and contrivance with which every prudent man will be possessed, about providing for his own, and how to proportion his expenses to his revenue, as well as how to obtain more ample acquisitions, if fair and honourable methods of advancing his fortunes present themselves in his way; I say, beyond this domestic care, he will have room enough in his thoughts to let them be employed sometimes in the service of his friends, his neighbours, and his country; which have not only his best wishes and hearty desires for the success of their affairs, but he makes it his study to promote their welfare, and puts himself to a voluntary trouble and expense in order to extricate them from difficulties and free them from dangers. He has the pleasure of reflecting that a beneficial act is done, and that although he has not been able to animate others to promote it in the same degree with himself, he has, however, been instrumental in causing some good to be done, and the receivers are heartily welcome both to his pains and his contributions. This may appear but a poor satisfaction to little and grovelling minds, who have no idea of any joy that can arise from the reflection on anything that is not attended with present profit, and look upon everything as a losing bargain where more is expended than received. But large and capacious souls have far nobler sentiments; they know how to value and enjoy a loss, and find a secret pleasure in the diminution of their fortune when honourably and worthily employed. We are sure that God Almighty, who gives everything, and receives nothing, is a most perfectly blest and happy being; and the nearer we resemble Him in any of our actions, by so much we advance our own happiness. Such a friendly promoter of the good of others may survey the objects of his love with some degree of that satisfaction wherewith God beheld His workmanship when He had finished the several parts of the Creation, and pronounced that they were good. And as for a man's name and character, who would not rather choose not to have it mentioned at all, than not mentioned with respect? This seems to be the only end that is sought after by those who delight in show and pomp; and yet this very end might be much better compassed by another way than by that which they affect. For does it not give a sweeter fragrancy to a man's name? And does not every one speak of him with higher expressions of honour and esteem, who has been a common benefactor, and relieved a multitude of necessitous persons?
(Andrew Snape, D. D.)1. To inquire what this self-love is which the apostle here speaks of, and wherein the nature and evil of it consists.
2. To show that wherever such self-love spreads and becomes general there must needs be perilous or bad times.
3. To use several arguments to prevent men's being poisoned and over-run with this dangerous and pernicious principle of self-love.
I. LET US INQUIRE WHAT THIS SELF-LOVE IS WHICH THE APOSTLE HERE SPEAKS OF, AND WHEREIN THE NATURE AND EVIL OF IT CONSISTS. Now all self-love when taken in an ill sense, as it is plain this is here by the apostle, must come under one or other of these following notions.
1. Self-love may be considered in opposition to a love of God, and a making His glory and the interests of religion the principal and ultimate end of all our designs and actions; to our loving Him with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds, and our seeking first, or before all other things, His kingdom and righteousness. And then we may be properly said to be self-lovers in this sense, when we are so very intent upon ourselves and our own interests as not to concern ourselves at all, or to be sure not much and chiefly about God and religion.
2. Self-love may be considered in opposition to that honest and commendable self-love which every man oweth to himself, which is a love of our whole beings, soul as well as bodies, and of every part of them in due measure and proportion to the excellence and worth of them; and then it signifieth a love only of one part of ourselves, or at least an immoderate and disproportionate love of one part above any or all the rest. And in this sense it is to be feared most men are guilty of self-love. And, agreeably to this notion, we find the word self used in Scripture to signify the sensual and carnal part of man.
3. Self-love may be considered in opposition to charity or a love of our brethren; and then it signifieth such a stinginess and narrowness of soul as will not suffer us to have any concern, or take any care for anybody but ourselves, such a temper as is the exact reverse of that which the apostle commendeth, which seeketh not its own, but the things of another, and hardly ever thinks, much less acts, but for itself. Nature has implanted in us a most tender and compassionate sense and fellow-feeling of one another's miseries, a most ready and prevailing propension and inclination to assist and relieve them; insomuch that pity and kindness towards our brethren have a long time passed under the name of humanity, as properties essential to, and not without violence to be separated from, human nature. And then as to reason, what can possibly be more reasonable than that we who are of the same mass, of one blood, members of each other, and children of the same Father, should love as brethren? That we, who live in a very fluctuating and uncertain state, and though rich to-day, may be poor to-morrow, should act so now towards others as we shall then wish others may act towards us?
4. And then, lastly, as to religion, especially the Christian, besides that this doth acquaint us with a new and intimate relation to each other in Christ Jesus, and consequently a new ground and obligation to love and assist each other. Nay, so great a value do the Scriptures set upon this duty of mercy or charity to our brethren, that wherever they give us, either in the Old or New Testament, a short summary of religion, this is sure to be mentioned, not only as a part, but a main and principal part of it. Nay, farther yet, it sometimes stands for the whole of religion, as that universal name of righteousness given to it is said to be the fulfilling of the law.
5. Self-love may be considered in opposition to a love of the public and a zeal for the common good, and then it signifieth a preferring of our own particular and private interests to those of the whole body.
II. TO SHOW THAT WHEREVER SUCH SELF-LOVE SPREADS AND BECOMES GENERAL THERE MUST NEEDS BE PERILOUS OR BAD TIMES.
1. I say, self-love will make men neglect the public and decline the service of it, especially in times of danger, when their service is most needed. And for this reason we always find it a very difficult task, if not impossible, to engage such men in any public service merely upon a prospect of doing public good. They will use a thousand little shifts and artifices to get themselves excused. Nay, and which is rare in self-lovers, who have always a good stock of self-conceit, rather than fail, they will speak modestly and humbly of themselves, and plead incapacity and want of ability for their excuse. But never is this so plainly to be seen as in times of public danger, when there is most occasion for their assistance. For self-love is constantly attended with a very great degree of self-fear, and this makes mere weather-cocks of such people as are acted by it, continually bandying them about, hither and thither, backwards and forwards, and never suffering them to fix any where till the storm is over, the weather begins to clear up, and they can pretty certainly discern the securest side.
2. That though they do pretend to serve the public, yet it is for their own private ends, and consequently their self-love will suffer them to serve it no farther or longer than these shall be advanced by their so doing. And this but a very poor and uncertain service, and even worse than none at all; for their supreme end being their own private interest, all other ends must of course crouch and become subordinate to this.
3. Their self-love will probably turn them against the public, and instead of preserving and securing it, make them undermine and destroy it; and if so, it is still better they should have no concern with it, because the more concern they have with it the greater will be their opportunity of doing mischief to it. Self-love is a very tyrannical and domineering principle, and generally makes perfect slaves of her subjects, and carrieth them on to all such excesses and extravagances as she shall think fit. For, alas! self-love is the blindest, as well as the greediest, and least able to deny itself of all loves, and will very hardly be brought to see any objections against itself; or at least, if it must see them, it will accept of very easy answers to them, and be a wondrous gentle casuist to itself; so, that, if there but come a good lusty temptation in our way, it is too much to be feared that our self-love will close with it, be it attended with never such hard terms, and that, out of eagerness for the bait, hook and all will go down.
III. TO USE ALL THE ARGUMENTS WE CAN TO PREVENT MEN'S BEING POISONED AND OVERRUN WITH THIS DANGEROUS AND PERNICIOUS PRINCIPLE. And —
1. As to ourselves, there cannot certainly be a better argument than the danger which we were brought into by some men's immoderate love of their private interest in the late reign.
2. Let us consider that this principle of self-love is a very foolish principle, and really defeats its own end. For this, I take it for granted, I may lay down as a maxim, that every man's private good is best secured in the public, and, consequently, whatever weakens the public, doth really weaken every private man's security; and, therefore —
3. This self-love is a most base, pitiful, and mean principle, and will certainly make us odious and contemptible in the sight both of God and man.
(William Dawes, D. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)Jeremiah 31:18, 20).
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)Genesis 13:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 6:7); it will make us condescend to those of the lower sort (Romans 12:16), not seeking our own profit, but the profit of many (1 Corinthians 10:33); yea, and though they be free, yet love will make them servants to all (1 Corinthians 9:19). On the contrary, self-love contracts the soul, and hath an eye still at self in all its undertakings. 'Tis the very hedgehog of conversation, that rolls and laps itself within its own soft down, and turns out bristles to all the world besides.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
1. We are apt to conceit ourselves on presumption of our intellectual endowments or capacities, whether natural, or acquired, especially of that which is called wisdom, which in a manner comprehends the rest, and manages them: on this we are prone to pride ourselves greatly, and to consider that it is presumption, hardly pardonable to contest our dictates: yet this practice is often prohibited and blamed in Scripture. "Be not wise in thine own eyes," saith the wise man; and "Be not wise in your own conceits," saith the apostle. If we do reflect either on the common nature of men, or on our own constitution, we cannot but find our conceits of our wisdom very absurd; for how can we take ourselves for wise, if we observe the great blindness of our mind, and feebleness of human reason, by many palpable arguments discovering itself? if we mark how painful the search, and how difficult the comprehension is of any truth; how hardly the most sagacious can descry any thing, how the most learned everlastingly dispute, about matters seeming most familiar and facile; how often the most wary and steady do shift their opinions; how dim the sight is of the most perspicacious, and how shallow the conceptions of the most profound; how narrow is the horizon of our knowledge, and how immensely the origin of our ignorance is distended; how imperfectly and uncertainly we know those few things to which our knowledge reacheth. If also a man particularly reflected on himself, the same practice must needs appear very foolish; for that every man thence may discover in himself peculiar impediments of wisdom; every man in his condition may find things apt to pervert his judgment, and obstruct his acquisition of true knowledge. Such conceitedness therefore is very absurd, and it is no less hurtful; for many great inconveniences spring from it, such as gave the prophet cause to denounce "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes." It hath many ways bad influence on our souls, and on our lives; it is often our case, which was the case of Babylon, when the prophet said of it, "Thy wisdom and thy knowledge hath perverted thee; for thou hast said in thy heart, I am, and none else beside me." It is a great bar to the receiving instruction about things; for he that taketh himself to be incomparably wise, will scorn to be taught. It renders men in difficult cases unwilling to seek, and unapt to take advice; hence he undertaketh and easily is deceived, and incurreth disappointment, damage in his affairs. It renders us very rash in judging; for the first show of things, or the most slender arguments, which offer themselves, being magnified, do sway our judgment. Hence also we persist incorrigible in error; for what reason can be efficacious to reclaim him whose opinion is the greater reason? It renders men peevish; also insolent in imposing their conceits on others. Hence they become censorious of those who do not agree with their notions.
2. Again, we are apt to prize highly and vainly our moral qualities and performances, taking ourselves for persons of extraordinary goodness, without defects or blemishes; which practice is both foolish and mischievous. It is very foolish; for such is the imperfection and impurity of all men, even of the best, that no man who strictly searches his heart can have reason to he satisfied with himself or his doings. Every man is in some degree sinful; conceit therefore of our virtue is very foolish; and it breeds great mischiefs. Hence springs a great carelessness of correcting our faults, a contempt of any means conducive to our amendment, such as good advice and wholesome reproof. It breeds arrogance even in our devotions to God, like that of the conceited Pharisee; also a haughty contempt of others: it disposes men to expect more than ordinary regard from others; and as it causes a man to behave himself untowardly to them, so thence he behaves unseemingly towards himself, of whom he becomes a flatterer, and profane idolater.
3. Self-conceit is also frequently grounded on other inferior advantages: on gifts of nature, or of fortune; but seeing that these things are in themselves of little value, and serving no great purpose; seeing they are not commendable, as proceeding from chance; seeing they are not durable or certain, but easily may be severed from us, the vanity of self-conceit founded on them is so notorious, that it need not be more insisted on.
1. It is vain, because unprofitable. Is it not a foolish thing for a man to affect that which little concerns him, and by which he is not considerably benefited? Yet such is the opinion of men; for how do we feel the motions of their fancy?
2. It is vain, because uncertain. How easily are the judgments of men altered I how fickle are their conceits!
3. It is vain because unsatisfactory; for how can one be satisfied with the opinion of bad judges, who esteem a man Without good grounds, commonly for things which deserve not regard?
4. It is vain, because fond. It is ugly and unseemly to others, who despise nothing more than acting on this principle.
5. It is vain, because unjust. If we seek glory to ourselves, we wrong God thereby, to whom glory is due: if there be in us any considerable endowment of body or mind, it is from God, the author of our being, who worketh in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure.
6. It is vain because mischievous. It corrupts our mind with a false pleasure that chokes the purer pleasures of a good conscience, of spiritual joy and peace, bringing God's displeasure on us, and depriving us of the reward due to good works performed out of a pure conscience, etc. "Verily they have their reward."
(Isaac Barrow.)1. To reflect on ourselves seriously and impartially, considering our natural nothingness, infirmity, unworthiness; the meanness and imperfection of our nature, the defects and deformities of our souls, the failings and misdemeanours of our lives.
2. To consider the loveliness of other beings superior to us; comparing them with ourselves, and observing how very far in excellency, worth, and beauty they transcend us.(1) If we view the qualities and examples of other men, who in worth, in wisdom, in virtue, and piety, do far excel us; their noble endowments, what they have done and suffered in obedience to God, their self-denial, their patience, how can we but in comparison despise ourselves?(2) If we consider the blessed angels and saints in glory — their purity, their humility, their obedience — how can we think of ourselves without abhorrence?(3) Especially if we contemplate the perfection, the purity, the majesty of God; how must this infinitely debase us in our opinion concerning ourselves, and consequently diminish our fond affection toward things so vile and unworthy?
3. To study the acquisition and improvement of charity toward God and our neighbour. This will employ and transfer our affections; these drawing our souls outward, and settling them on other objects, will abolish or abate the perverse love toward ourselves.
4. To consider that we do owe all we are and have to the free bounty and grace of God: hence we shall see that nothing of esteem or affection is duo to ourselves; but all to Him, who is the fountain and author of all our good.
5. To direct our minds wholly toward those things which rational self-love requireth us to regard and seek: to concern ourselves in getting virtue, in performing our duty, in promoting our salvation, and arriving to happiness; this will divert us from vanity: a sober self-love will stifle the other fond self-love.
(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)
(J. Harris, D. D.)
(A. Monod, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)Matthew 12:34.) What is in the warehouse will appear in the shop, what is in the heart, the tongue tells you. As is the man, such is his language; as we know what countryman a man is by his language; a Frenchman speaks French, etc. So we may guess at men by their language; a good man hath good language, he speaks the language of Canaan; an evil man speaks the language of the world (Isaiah 32:6.), discourse with him of that, and he is in his element; he can talk all day of it, and not be weary: but talk to him of spiritual things, and he is tanquam piscis in arido, out of his element, he hath nothing to say. It is a sure sign men are of the world, when they speak only of the world (1 John 4:5).
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(S. Coley.)Proverbs 18:11; 1 Timothy 6:17), because of the supposed good which they think riches will procure them, as friends, honours, fine clothes, fine buildings. The Greek word is diversely rendered, yet all tend to one and the same thing, and are coincident; for he that is a boaster is usually a vain-glorious, lofty, insolent, arrogant man: it notes one that is inordinately lifted up with a high esteem and admiration of his own supposed or real excellencies; and thereupon arrogates and assumes more to himself than is meet; or, one that boasts of the learning, virtues, power, riches, which he hath not, and brags of acts which he never did. The proud man boasts of what he hath, and the boaster brags of what he hath not. This vice is opposed to verity; and in proper speaking it consists in words, rather than in the heart; for as pride, in exact and proper speaking, hath relation to the heart, rather than the words; so this sin of boasting hath relation to our words, rather than our hearts: so that this sin is the daughter of pride, for when pride lieth hid in the heart, it shows itself by arrogant boastings, and high-flown words.
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
(T. Hall, D. D.)
UnthankfulHospes ingratus. Unthankfulness is a monster in nature, a solecism in manners, a paradox in divinity, a parching wind to dry up the fountain of further favour.
Without natural affection
Contemporary Review.Twice in six months one father had to be sent to prison whom it seemed a shame to send at all. When he had gone his second time, there was found on his table "The Floating Matter of the Air," by Tyndall, With his book-mark at page 240, to which he had read. Had you passed him and his wife together in the street, you would have unconsciously felt a certain pride in the British workman; yet was he not ashamed to express openly a desire to be rid of the tasks and limitations his children set to his life, and twice in one night he gave an infant of fifteen months old a caning for crying of teething. His clenched fist could have broken open a door at a blow, and with it, in his anger, he felled a child three years and a half old, making the little fellow giddy for days, and while he was thus giddy felled him again; and because the terrible pain he inflicted made the child cry, he pushed three of his huge fingers down the little weeper's throat — "plugging the little devil's windpipe," as he laughingly described it. He denied none of the charges, and boldly claimed his right — the children were his own, he said.
Truce breakers— They will make no more of a covenant than a monkey doth of his collar, which he can slip off and on at his pleasure. In the last days, men will not only be sermon-proof and judgment-proof, but covenant-proof; no bonds so strong, so sacred, but they can as easily break them as Samson did the bonds of the Philistines. It is not personal, sacramental, or national vows that can keep the men of the last times within the circle of obedience.
(T. Hall, B. D.)
4. Affectionately, with —
(1) (2) (3) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.)
(2) (3) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.)
(3) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.) (T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)e.g., if a lion or a fox be the charge, we must conceive his quality represented to be wit and courage, not rapine and pilfering. So, and much more, in blazoning my brother's name, I must find out what is best, and mention that; if I meet with a sin of infirmity and humane frailty, I must conceal it; it is the glory of a man to pass it by (Proverbs 19:11.)
(T. Hall, B. D.)