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pecially under his care, and to whom he is under advantage, and has more opportunity to do good. And he will feel bimself united, in a peculiar degree, and with a more fervent love, to those who appear to him to be benevolent and engaged in desiring and promoting the greatest general good, in the exercise of true love to God and man. As such who are friends to God and his kingdom, to Jesus Christ, and the greatest public good, appear to the benevolent to have more real exist. ence than others, and to be of much more importance in the scale of being, and are objects of the peculiar benev. olence of the Deity ; they are in this view peculiarly dear to them, and excellent in their eyes ; and they embrace them with a distinguishing, .strong and sweet, benevolent and complacential love.
Having given a more general view of conversion, which is the effect of the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, and which consists in the volitions and actions of the regenerate, it is of importance that what has been mentioned, should be more particularly explained ; which will be attempted in the following sections.
On Disinterested Affection. IT has been already shown that moral depravity, or sin, consists in self love; and that holiness consists in disinterested benevolence, which is, in the nature of it, and in all its exercises, wholly contrary and opposed to self love. (See Part I. Chap. VIII. page 277, &c. to which the reader is referred.) But as this is a subject so very important, and necessary to be well understood, in order properly to distinguish true religion, and real conversion, from that which is not so, but fillse religion, and mere delusion, it is thought proper to bring it again into view here, in order farther to explain and confirm this truth, which is overlooked by too many, and opposed by others.
Not a few have believed and asserted, that there is no such thing in nature as disinterested affections; and that
all the actions of men flow from self love, as their foundation and sourse. Others allow that disinterested affection may take place in the human heart ; but that it either springs from self love, and is grafted upon it; or so coincides with it, and regulates it, that both these sorts of affection, if they do really differ in their nature, are included in the exercises of true holiness; and that self love is the real foundation of all true religion.
These sentiments and pleas in favour of self love, it is believed, are owing, in many instances, to wrong or confused ideas, and not properly distinguishing between self love, and that which is of a different nature and kind.
First. Many do not appear to distinguish between self love, and a desire or love of happiness ; or a capacity of pleasure and enjoyment, and of being pleased with and choosing one object, rather than another. These are quite distinct and different things : The latter is really nothing but a capacity or power of will and choice, for without this there could be no such thing as preferring one object to another, or exercise of choice. This therefore is essential to the existence of a moral agent, or to any act of will whatever, and is neither self love, nor disinterested affection, but necessary to both. Self love consists in a moral agent's placing his happiness in what he views as his own private personal interest, and in nothing else, in distinction from the interest or happiness of any other being, and in contradiction to it. This only pleases him, for its own sake, and is the ultimated object of all his desires and exertions.
Disinterested benevolence is pleased with the public interest, the greatest good and happiness of the whole. This is the highest good to the benevolent person. .
In this he places his happiness, and not in the interest and happiness of any individual, or of himself, any farther than it is consistent with the greatest interest and happiness of the whole, and really included in it, and serves to promote it.
In this state of the case, is it not easy to see the distinction between a capacity of pleasure and choice, or being pleased, and enjoying happiness; and placing our happiness in our own personal good and interest only; or in the public good for its own sake ?
And who does not see the difference and opposition be. tween the two latter ?
Secondly. By many there is not a proper distinction made, and kept in view, between self-love, and that regard which the benevolent person must have for himself and his interest and happiness, which is necessarily included in disinterested affection. Disinterested, impartial benevolence, to being in general that is capable of good and happiness, regards and wishes well to every being and creature in the system, according to the degree of his existence, worth and capacity of happiness, So far as all this comes into the view of the benevolent person, and so far as the good and happiness of each is, or appears to be, consistent with the greatest good of the whole. And as he himself is one individual part of the whole, he must of necessity be the object of this disinterested, impartial benevolence, and his own interest and happiness must be regarded and desired, as much as that of his neighbour, or any individual of the whole society; not because it is himself, but because he is included in the whole, and his happiness is worth as much, and as desirable as that of his neighbour, other circumstances being equal. This is not self love ; but the same universal, disinterested, impartial, public benevolence, which wishes well to being in general, and therefore to himself, because he has an existence, and is one among the rest, and equal to his neighbour. This is loving his neighbour as himself; not with the least degree of self love ; but with the same disinterested, public affection, with which he loves being in general. The least spark of self love will interrupt this reasonable and beautiful moral order and harmony, and render him partial and interested in his affection, and so far detach him from the whole and make him set up a selfish, private interest of his own, in distinction from that of the rest, and in opposition to it.
By not making this distinction, and not attending to the nature of disinterested benevolence, as it regards the interest of the benevolent person himself; and therefore taking it for granted, that all the regard a person has for himself and desire of his own happiness is self love, in distinction from disinterested benevolence, they have concluded with great assurance, that self love is essential to man, and even his duty. But when the distinction is properly made, and the matter plainly stated, the mistake is discovered, and it appears that disinterested benevolence will take all proper and sufficient care of every individual in the system, and will desire and seek the best interest and happiness of all, and of the benevolent person himself, so far as is consistent with the greatest good of the whole : And that this is not self love, but the same disinterested, impartial benevolence, when it takes into view his own happiness, and values and seeks it as much as that of his neighbour. The self love which can be distinguished from this universal, disinterested benevolence, and is not of this kind, cannot be distinguished from selfishness; but is the very same affection, and is directly and wholly opposed to disinterested, holy love : And is, as has been observed, the root and essence of all sin.
To distinguish between self love and selfishness, is to attempt to make a distinction where there is no difference ; unless by self love be meant disinterested benerolence. Disinterested affection and self love are very distinct and opposite affections, and the latter, in every degree of it, cannot be distinguished from selfishness : For these are two words, for one and the same thing. Some would distinguish between inordinate and well regulated self love ; and suppose the former is selfish. ness and sinful ; but the latter innocent, and even good and virtuous. But unless by well regulated self love be meant disinterested affection, the distinction is groundless and vain. And to suppose a certain degree of self love, subordinated to a contrary affection, love to God, and to our neighbour, is virtuous, or even innocent ; and that the same self love in a higher degree of it, and not sub
a ordinated by a different and contrary affection, is sinful, is very unreasonable and absurd, and a supposition which is utterly impossible. For if holiness and sin do not consist in the nature of moral affection and exercise, there can be no such thing as either sin or holiness. And to suppose these opposites to consist in the degree of the same affection exercised, and not in different kinds of affection, is really to make them not opposites,
or not to differ in nature and kind; but to be one and the same thing, under different modifications. For the nature and kind of moral exercise and affection is not changed by their being more or less of it, or by being under restraints or not. If the lowest degree of such affection be innocent and good, the highest possible degree of it must be so much better, and have a proportionably greater degree of moral goodness. And if the highest possible degree of such affection be sinful and wrong, the least possible degree of the same kind of affection must in the nature of it be sinful, though less in degree. If ten or a hundred degrees of self love be enmity against God, and contrary to uprightness and disinterested benevolence to men, and a disposition of mind to injure them ; then one degree of this same self love is enmity against God, and opposite to benevolence to men in its nature, and in proportion to the degree of it. And though it may be under restraints, and counteracted by opposite affection, it is yet of the same nature, and the same kind of affection, and as really opposes the general good, which dişinterested benevolence seeks, as that same self love, when it is under no restraint, and reigns as the only moral affection of the heart.
Therefore in the scriptures we find no such distinction between self love and selfishness ; or between well regulated self love, and that which is inordinate, or between a less and greater degree of this same affection, representing one as innocent and good, and the other sinful : But self love is condemned in every degree of it, in all its exercises and fruits. No worse character is given of men than this, that they are lovers of their own selves.
And men are commanded not to seek their own wealth, and mind their own things, in distinction from those of others, and of Jesus Christ, and condemned for doing it. And that love, which seeketh not her own, is recommended as that only in which true religion or real holiness does consist : And surely there can be no self love in that love which seeketh not her own.
This leads to what is chiefly designed in this section, viz. to prove from scripture that disinterested affection, or benevolence to being in general, and all the affection