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able to the holy scripture ; and that it does not imply any thing unreasonable and absurd, or injurious to mankind ; but is the result of a constitution which is perfectly agreeable to the nature of things, reasonable, wise and good ; that the children of Adam are not guilty of his sin, are not punished, and do not suffer for that, any farther than they implicitly or expressly approve of his transgression, by sinning as he did : And that their total moral corruption and sinfulness is as much their own sin, and as criminal in them, as it could be if it were not in consequence of the sin of the first father of the human race, or if Adam had not first sinned: And that they are under no inability to obey the law of God, which does not consist in their sinfulness and opposition of heart to the will of God : Therefore are wholly inexcusable, and may justly suffer the wages of sin,' which is the second death.

III. This subject of the introduction of sin into the world, and the total moral corruption of all the natural posterity of Adam, cannot be properly finished without observing, and more particularly considering, what is the nature of sin, and wherein it consists.

The most express and concise definition of sin, which, perhaps, we have in the Bible, is in the following words, “ Sin is the transgression of the law.” Or, as it might perhaps more properly be rendered, Sin is a violation of the law; or a deviation from law. Sin supposes a law; “ For where no law is, there is no transgression." And every motion or exercise of the heart of a moral agent, which is not perfectly conformed to the law of God, which requires all love to God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbour as themselves, is sin, as it is a deviation from this law. As the law requires love, and nothing but love, it may be determined with great certainty that sin consists in that which is contrary to that love which the law requires, be it what it may. There can be no neutral moral ex- . ercises, which are neither conformable to the law of God, nor contrary to it; therefore every exercise of the heart of a moral agent, which is not agreeable to the law of God, is contrary and opposed to it. It must be also observed, and kept in mind, that sin, as does holiness,



consists in the motions or exercises of the heart or will, and in nothing else. Where there is no exercises of heart, nothing of the nature of moral inclination, will or choice, there can be neither sin nor holiness. Nothing external or out of the heart, or will, and which has no connection with that, can be of the nature of morality, either virtue or sin : External motions or exertions, in words and actions, are virtuous or sinful, only as they are connected with the heart, and are the expressions, fruits or effects of inclination, design and choice ; and all the virtue or sin consists wholly in the latter. This observation, the truth of which none can dispute, is made in order to direct us where to look for sin, even into the heart, and no where else ; when we are inquiring after the nature of it, and wherein it consists.

Therefore if we would find what sin is, and what is that in which it consists, we must look for these exercises of heart, that disposition, inclination or choice, in which there is no love to God and our neighbour ; and which are contrary to loving God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. And if we can find, and on sure ground determine, what these are, we shall know what is the nature of sin, and wherein it essentially consists.

Love to God, and love to our fellow creatures, is of the same nature and kind, and differs only as it is exercised towards different objects. It consists most essentially in benevolence or good will to being in general : In this is necessarily included all virtuous love, or all the love which the law of God requires, such as love of complacency in moral beauty and excellence, and love of gratitude to benevolent beings, &c. Love to God, who is infinitely the greatest, and the sum of all being, consists primarily and essentially in good will or friendship of heart towards him, in acquiescing and rejoicing in his existence, glory, and infinite felicity, and in seeking the promotion of his interest and honour, &c. And this implies all the virtuous love required in the divine law : Ind where there is no degree of this kind, disinterested tion, there is no virtuous love to God or man.

If vere not so evident from the nature of things, it is

of ! ing proved from scripture many ways.

The apostle John says, “ God is love.” And then pro-' ceeds immediately to say, “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.” This is love of pure, disinterested benevolence, to creatures infinitely odious and guilty. This is the love meant when he said, “God is love ;" for this is

" introduced to illustrate that assertion. Hence it follows with certainty, that disinterested benevolence is primary and essential in the divine moral character. Consequently, this is the love which is required of creatures in the divine law: For the law of God is a transcript of his own moral perfection; and so far as creatures are conformed to this, they are like God in his moral character, and partakers of the divine nature ; and exercise the same kind of love and holiness which forms the moral character of God. St. Paul gives a particular de. scription of the love in which holiness consists ;* and he says, " It is kind,that is, it is benevolent, and good will to others, consequently to being in general, and to God, the first and sum of all being. He also says, “ It seeketh not her own,” by which assertion he sets it in direct opposition to self love, for in the exercise of this a man seeketh his own, and nothing else ; and he makes it wholly a disinterested affection ; for if holy love seeketh not her own, it seeketh the good of being in gene. ral, as her only object, and cannot have the least degree of selfishness in its nature ; but is directly opposed to it.

That the love to our fellow creatures required in the law of God, is love of benevolence, which is disinterested, is certain, as it is a love which will extend to those who have no moral excellence, even those of the worst moral character, and to our greatest enemies, towards , whom a virtuous love either of complacence or gratitude cannot be exercised. And it follows from this also, that the love to God which is required, is love of disinterested benevolence : for, as has been observed, the love to God, and to our neighbour, which the law of God requires, is of the same nature and kind, and the one implies and involves the other. And this is the farther

* I Cor. xiii.


evident and certain, from the apostle's considering the love of christians, as of the same nature and kind with this disinterested love of God, in this passage ; and from his exhorting them to imitate God in this his disinterested benevolence, by loving as he does. “ Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Ít being thus evident that the love required in the divine law, in which holiness consists, is disinterested benevolence, which is primary and most essential in all virtuous love ; and in which all is included ; it appears from what has been observed, that sin consists in that affection and those exercises, which are directly opposed to disinterested benevolence to being in general, and all those affections and exercises which are implied in true benevolence or good will to others. And this must be self love, or selfish affection and exercises ; for this, and this only is, or can be opposed to disinterested regard and good will to other beings; and to all those exercises which are implied in true benevolence. If a person has no other exercises but self love, or the love of his own self, and those moral inclinations and affections which are implied in this, he does by the supposition regard himself only, and has respect to nothing but his own supposed good or interest; and cannot exercise the least degree of disinterested affection to any other being. And as that heart whose exercises may be all resolved into self love, being implied in it, and flowing from it, does not, and cannot exercise any true benevolence to other beings, but is wholly opposed to it; so every degree of self love, be there more or less, is in its own nature opposed to the love required in the divine law : And therefore is in its nature, and in every degree of it, sin, being contrary to true holiness. And if a person be not wholly selfish, but exercises some degree of disinterested regard and good will to other beings; yet every degree of self love which he exercises is as opposite to disinterested affection, as if he had no benevolence ; and therefore as sinful. The nature of self love is not changed from sin to holiness, nor does it become an innocent affection, by the exercise of a degree

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of opposite disinterested affection, or by being diminished, as to the degree of it, so as to be exerted with less strength and vigour, and in a measure counteracted by opposite affection. Still every exertion of self love is as really sin, as if it were exercised in a higher degree, and were not restrained and counteracted by opposite, disinterested love. No one does or can suppose that benevolent affection changes its nature, and becomes wrong and sinful, by being exercised in a low degree, and counteracted, and kept very much under by selfish. ness : But this might be as reasonably supposed, as that selfishness does become innocent and virtuous, when exercised in a small degree, and under the restraints of benevolence to being in general. Yea, if the latter be true or possible, the former must be so too.

Hence it is evident, that sin consists in self love, and those affections and exercises which are implied in this, and naturally Aow from it as their root. This is in its own nature opposite to all virtuous, holy affection, to all truth and reason; and is of a criminal nature, in every degree of it, wherever it is found ; and where there is nothing of this, there is nothing criminal or wrong. Self love pays a supreme and sole regard to an infinitely small and inconsiderable part of existence, and the feeling and language of all the exercises of it is, “I am, and there is none else! There is no other being worthy of any regard, but myself.Seli love regards nothing but self, as such, and subordinates every being and every thing to this ; and opposes every thing which, in the view of the selfish person, opposes him, and his selfish interest. He who is under the government of this affection, takes all to himself, and gives nothing to any other being, as if he was the greatest, the best, and only worthy and important being in the universe.

Self love is the root of all pride ; or rather is pride itself, as there is no distinction to be made of which there can be any conception. Pride is self love exercised in self esteem, and desire to exalt self, &c. Self love is blindness and delusion itself, as it is a contradiction to all truth; and is the source of all the blindness and delusions with respect to things temporal and spiritual, which have or can ever take place. This sets man


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