2 Timothy 3:2-5
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,…
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,