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