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towards God and our fellow-creatures. Our pride, impiety, rebellion, and ingratitude; our self-dependence, our impatience, and murmuring, under the government of God; are all only different forms of this disposition. The parsimony, fraud, and oppression, of the Miser; the envy, intrigues, conquests, and butcheries, of Ambition; the rapacity, injustice, and cruelties, of Despotism; the sloth, lewdness, gluttony, and drunkenness of the Sensualist; the haughtiness, wrath, revenge, and murders, of the Duellist; are nothing but selfishness, appearing in its true nature, and genuine operations.
REMARKS. In these observations we have another specimen of the havoc, which philosophy has made of divine subjects, and of the great interests of
Few writers have been more admired, and applauded, than Lord Shaftsbury; and, among all his writings, none have been more applauded, than the Work, in which the doctrine, opposed by me, is taught. Yet in this work we are informed, that to have any regard either to future rewards or punishments, is mean and mercenary; and, of course, instead of being virtuous, or consisting with virtue, is only criminal. It must, threrefore, be odious in the sight of God; and the proper object of his wrath and punishment. Accordingly, this writer informs us directly, that all reference, either to future rewards or punishments, lessens and destroys virtue, and diminishes the obligations to be virtuous." The anger of God against a sinner is a dreadful punishment. The approbation of God, and his consequent love, are glorious rewards. But to regard this anger, to be afraid of it, to seek to avoid it, is, according to Lord Shaftsbury, mean and mercenary, odious and wicked. The contrary conduct must, of course, bear the contrary character. It must be honourable and generous, spirited, amiable, and virtuous, to disregard the divine anger; to have no fear of God before our eyes; and willingly to become the objects of Infinite indignation. Equally mean and mercenary, and therefore equally hateful and guilty, is it, in the eyes of this writer, to prize the approbation of God; to desire an interest in his love; or to seek the attainment of either. Of course, to disregard both must, according to this scheme, be virtuous, honourable, and deserving of commendation. The real nature of all conduct God cannot but know intuitively; and, without injustice, cannot fail to regard it according to its real nature, and treat the subjects of it as they actually merit. Hence, as he cannot but discern the meanness and mercenariness, the odiousness and guilt, of those who dread his anger, and seek to avoid it; who prize his approbation; and love, and labour, to obtain them; he is bound, he cannot fail, to punish them for this criminal conduct. As he equally discerns the virtue of those, who
disregard his anger, approbation, and love; he cannot fail to reward them.
If God is angry with any of his Intelligent creatures ; it is undoubtedly with those, who have broken his law. That he has given a law to mankind, Lord Shaftsbury himself acknowledges; nor does he deny, that mankind have, in some instances, broken this law. Indeed, it could not he denied with common decency. In this law, whatever it be, his pleasure is expressed, and enjoined, as the rule of duty to rational beings. This rule is, in his view, and therefore in fact, a wise, just, and good rule for the direction of their conduct. Conformity to it is conformity to what is wise, just, and good ; or, in other words, is virtue, or excellence of character: while disobedience to it is opposition to what is wise, just, and good; or, in other words, sinfulness and turpitude of character. Every law, and this as truly as any other, annexes a reward to obedience, and a punishment to disobedience ; otherwise it could not be a law. But to regard either this reward, or this punishment, is, according to Lord Shaftsbury, to be mean and mercenary; and so far, therefore, ceasing to be virtuous. If this reward and punishment are to have no influence on mankind; they are nugatory; and God has merely trifled with his creatures, in annexing them to his law. If they are to have influence on mankind; the influence is merely such, as to destroy, or at least lessen, both virtue, and the obligations to it. God, who sees this to be true, if it be truth, has, therefore, in annexing them to his law, and in endeavouring to influence mankind by them, attempted to destroy, or lessen, virtue, and to diminish their obligations to be virtuous.
Further; as without rewards and penalties no law can exist; it is evident, that God cannot make a law, in which he must not, of course, either merely trifle with his creatures, or destroy, or lessen virtue, and diminish their obligations to be virtuous.
The reward, promised to obedience in this and every other law, is happiness; and the punishment threatened to disobedience, is suffering, or misery. To desire the happiness of every rational being, and our happiness, as truly as that of others, is the genuine dictate of virtue; and the indispensable duty of all such beings. It is the duty, then, of every other rational being to desire our happiness ; and for this plain reason : it is in itself desirable. According to Lord Shaftsbury, then, we cannot, without being mean and mercenary, desire that, which all other rational beings are bound to desire, and which in itself is desirable.
To be virtuous, is the same thing as to be meritorious, or to deserve a reward; and is the only real desert in the universe. The reward which virtue deserves, is such treatment, as is a proper retribution to virtuous conduct; such a kind, and measure, of happiness, as it becomes the wisdom, justice, and goodness, of the lawgiver to communicate, as a proper expression of his approbation of that conduct. To be influenced by a regard to this happiness, although
the very thing which his virtue has deserved, and which God has pronounced to be its proper reward, is, according to this scheme, to become mean, and mercenary, and undeserving of the reward itself. The reward is holden out by God, to encourage his creatures to be virtuous. In doing this, according to Lord Shaftsbury, he discourages virtue, and lessens their obligations to be vir
There are two kinds of original good ; enjoyment, and deliverance from suffering; or, as the case may be, from the danger of suffering. These two are the only possible objects of desire to percipient beings; and to Intelligent beings, as truly as any others. When virtue itself is desired, it is desired only for the enjoyment which it furnishes. Were there no such objects in the universe, there would be no such thing as desire; and consequently no such thing as volition, or action. Percipient beings, and, among them, Intelligent beings, would be as absolutely inactive, as so many lumps of matter. But, according to Lord Shaftsbury, to regard future enjoyment, or misery, and, for the very same reasons, to regard them when present, is to be mean and mercenary, and to cease from being virtuous. He, who regards them, therefore, cannot be virtuous : he, who does not, must of course be a block.
In the mean time, not to regard enjoyment and suffering, when present to our view, is physically impossible. In order to be virtuous, then, we must, in every instance, accomplish a physical impossibility.
Finally; a moral government is entirely founded on motives. All motives are included in the two kinds of good, mentioned above. In every moral government these motives are presented to the subjects of it, by the law on which it is founded, in the forms of reward and punishment; both necessarily future to obedience, or disobedience. On the influence, which these motives have upon the moral character and conduct of subjects, all moral government rests; nor can any such government exist, for a moment, without them. But to be influenced by them is, in every subject of such government, according to this scheme, mean and mercenary. God, therefore, in establishing a moral government over intelligent creatures, has directly endeavoured, by his authority, to render them mean and mercenary; and, so far as this influence extends, has prevented them from being virtuous.
It is, I presume, unnecessary to add any thing further. More striking, or more conclusive, evidence cannot be given of the havoc made by Philosophy in the moral system. If the doctrines of one of her most admired votaries end in these consequences; what absurdities are we not to expect from Philosophers of every inferior order?
REGENERATION.-ITS ATTENDANTS.-BROTHERLY LOVE.
JOAN xiii. 34.--A nero commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.
IN the three preceding discourses, I have considered the Nature of Evangelical Benevolence; and the two principal Objections against the doctrine, which teaches the eristence, and explains the nature of this attribule. At the present time, I propose to examine the Last of those characteristics, which were mentioned as Attendants on Regeneration : viz. Brotherly Love ; or the Love, which is due to the disciples of Christ.
Commentators have, to a considerable extent at least, considered this command of Christ as merely enjoining benevolence. They observe, that it is called new, not because it had not been given before; for, they say, it had been published by Moses, and other writers of the Old Testament; but because of its peculiar excellence: remarking, at the same time, that the Hebrews customarily denoted the peculiar excellence of a thing by styling it new. With this view of the subject I cannot accord. The cornmand, given to the Apostles, and by consequence to all the followers of Christ, to love one another, was not, in my view, published by Moses, nor by any of the succeeding Prophets. Certainly it was not published in form. There is not in the Old Testament, at least I have not been able to find in it, any command, requiring good men to love each other as good men.
The general benevolence of the Gospel towards all men, whether friends or enemies, is, indeed, abundantly enjoined both by Moses and the prophets. But this benevolence regards men merely as Intelligent beings, capable of happiness; and is itself the love of happiness, as heretofore explained. The Love, required in the text, is the Love of good men, as such; as the followers of Christ; as wearing his image; as resembling him in their moral character. This Love, in modern language, is called Complacency, or the Love of virtue. Instead of being Benevolence, it is a delight in that benevolence; and is directed not towards the happiness of Intelligent beings, but towards the virtue of good beings.
A command, enjoining this Love, was, I think, never given in form, before Christ gave it in the text; and was, therefore, new in the proper sense at that time. That it is not called new on account of its superior excellence, will be reasonably believed, if we remember, that Christ in no other case applies the epithet in this manVol. II.
ner; that the first and great command of the law is still more excellent; as is also the second; which, while it may be considered as implying this affection, enjoins directly that universal good-will, which is the object of brotħerly love, and the voluntary source of all happiness.
“ But,” it is said, “St. John expressly declares this commandment of Christ not to be new in the proper sense.” 1 John ii
. 7, Brethren, I write unto you no new commandment; but an old Commandment, which ye had from the beginning. Without inquiring what St. John intends here by the phrase, from the beginning, it may be justly observed, that this passage has no reference to the subject in question. The command, of which he speaks, is in the preceding verse expressed in these words : He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. It will not be pretended, that this is the command in the text.
In the eighth, that is, the following verse, St. John declares the command in the text to be a new commandment. Again, a new commandment write I unto you. What the new command is, to which he here refers, is evident from the two following verses. He that saith, he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light; and there is none occasion of stumt ling in him. The Apostle does not, indeed, recite any command in form; but, in the phrases, he that hateth, and he that loveth, his brother, he shows decisively, that he refers to the command, enjoining this love, and forbidding this hatred; or, in other words, to the command in the text. But the command, to which he refers, he declares to be a new commandment.
There is, however, another passage in this writer, which, at first view, appears to be less easily reconcileable with my assertions. It is this : And now I beseech thee, Lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the begin. ning, that we love one another. 2 John 5. That St. John here referred to the general benevolence, required in the second command of the moral law, is, I think, clearly evident from the following verse : And this is love, that we keep his commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. The love, of which he had spoken to the Elect lady, in the preceding verse, he himself explains in this. And this is love, that we keep his commandments. As if he had said, “The love, which I have mentioned, is the disposition, with which we keep the commandments of God; or, in other words, the general benevolence, enjoined by the law." St. Paul, speaking of the same thing, has expressed the same sentiment more clearly, as well as more concisely; Rom. xiii. 10, Love is the fulfilling of the law.
Having, as I hope, removed all the objections, of any import ance, against the interpretation of the text, adopted above ; I shall now proceed to a more particular consideration of this attribute.