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purposes, to transform himself into an angel of light.. Total selfishness will account as well for the best, as the worst actions of sinners. The same selfishness, that led the Priest and Levite to neglect their duty, led others to steal and rob and murder. If men did but only understand the nature and tendency of selfish. ness, which is the essence of all sin, they never would deny the total depravity of sinners, on account of any difference they discorer in their external conduct.
3. It appears from the different conduct of the Priest, Levite and Samaritan, that there is an essential difference between saints and sinners, or between selfishness and pure disinterested benevolence. Many imagine and maintain, that there is no such thing asdisinterested benevolence ; and that all men always act from selfishness and cannot act from any higher or better principle. They say every man ought to love himself and his own interest supremely ; and that he ought not to love another man, nor another man's interest more than his own. And therefore they suppose a saint and a sinner only pursue their own interest in
a different ways, while both pursue the same object, from the same selfish motives. On this supposition, there would be indeed only an apparent and circumstantial difference between them. But there is no ground to make this supposition, for it is as easy to conceive, that a man may act from disinterested love, as from selfish love. And when one man acts from disinterested love and another from selfish love, there is an essential and not merely, an apparent and circumstantial difference in their characters and conduct.---There was an essential difference in the characters and conduct of the Priest and Levite and the good Samaritan. Their circumstances were precisely alike.. The Priest came to the wounded man alone and left him to die. The Levite came to the wounded man alone and left him to die. And the good Samaritan came to the wounded man alone, but stopped and ex-amined his case, pitied his condition and nobly exerted himself to afford him relief. How came he to conduct
so differently from the Priest and Levite ? It could not be owing to different circumstances ; for they were all three in exactly the same circumstances.
What reason, or right, has any one to think or say, that the Samaritan acted from the same selfish motives, that the Priest and Levite did ? They acted out selfishness, but he acted out pure, disinterested benevolence. They pursued their own interest, but he pursued the interest of another man. They placed their happiness in their own interest, but he placed bis happiness in the interest of another man. And was it possible that he should place his happiness in the interest of another man, from a purely selfish motive? It is extremely absurd to say, that good men are selfish, because they take as much pleasure in doing good to others, as sinners do in doing mischief to others. If it be true, that saints do place their happiness in the happiness of others ; then it is absolutely certain, that they actually exercise disinterested love, which is the essence of vir tue or true holiness, in distinction from selfish love, which is the essence of all sin or moral evil. There is no truth more certain from reason and scripture than this, that there is an essential difference between virtue and vice, sin and holiness, saints and sinners.
4. It appears from what has heen said, that all men are capable of seeing the essential difference between saints and sinners. Our Savior spake the parable of the good Samaritan for the very purpose of illustrating the essential distinction between sinners and saints, sin and holiness. A certain man to justify himself for
A neglecting to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, put this question to Christ, “Who is my neighbor ? Jesus answering, said, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho,” foc. And as soon as he had finished his parable, he questioned the questioner, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves ? And he said, he that shewed mercy on him, Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise." He
Не was fully convinced, that the Samaritan did right, but
the Priest and Levite did wrong, or in other words, he was fully convinced, that there was an essential difference in the character and conduct of the Samaritan and the character and conduct of the Priest and Levite. And it is hard to conceive, that any man should read the parable, without receiving the same conviction and making the same acknowledgment. But many have denied the essential distinction between saints and sinners. Satan denied this distinction in respect to Job. He asked the Lord, “Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made an hedge about him and about his house and about all he hath on every side? but put forth thine hand now and touch all that he hath and he will curse thee to thy face.” This was a plain insinuation, that Job did not differ essentially from sinners, notwithstanding all God had said in his favor. Satan also indirectly called the disinterested and supreme love of Christ to bis Father in question, when he addressed a selfish motive to his mind to induce him to fall down and worship him. However, be that as it may, we know that not a few, who call themselves Christians, deny that there is any essential distinction between saints and sinners. Some deny this distinction one way and some another.
Some deny it, by maintaining, that we ought not to love God, until we know that he loves
Some deny it, by maintaining, that we ought not to love God more than ourselves. And some by maintaining, that God requires self love of us and that when we exercise self-love, we actually obey his commands. But if saints do not love God for what he is in himself ; if they do not love him more than themselves and if they do obey him by exercising self-love, they do nothing more than others. Sinners love those, who love them, they love God for his favors; and they externally obey him from selfish motives. But it is 'vain to deny and dispute the essential distinction between saints and sinners, which is kept up through the Bible and which cannot be denied, without denying that there are such persons as either saints or sinners, or any such thing as either sin or holiness. If sin does not consist in selfishness, it cannot exist in any thing else ; for there is nothing else, that is morally evil or criminal. And if holiness does not consist in disinterested love, it cannot exist in any thing else ; for there is nothing else that is morally excellent or virtuous. If there be any saints, they possess disinterested love: and if there be any sinners, they are totally destitute of disinterested love. And if saints possess that disinterested love, of which sinners
, are entirely destitute, then there is an essential and not merely an apparent and circumstantial distinction between them. And this essential distinction Christ meant to illustrate and did illustrate in a manner level to the lowest capacity. There is no man, who does not condemn selfishness, when he sees it in himself, or others; and there is no man but approves of disinterested love when he finds it in himself, or sees it in others.
5. We learn from what has been said, why the scripture represents good men as the excellent of the earth. It is because they possess that pure, holy and universal love in which all true holiness and moral excellence consists. They are as much more excel. lent than sinners, as benovolence is more excellent than selfishness. They are holy as God is holy, just as God is just, and merciful as God is merciful. They love God for the same reasons, that he loves himsell. They love his friends with the same complacency, with which be loves them. And they love bis enemies with the same benevolence, with which he loves them. They feel towards all creatures, objects and events, so far as their knowledge extends, as he feels. They love all the designs of God, so far as they are acquainted with them and desire to be instrumental in carrying them into execution. They have no interests but what they are willing should be made subservient to the higher interests of others, in which they take a sincere and peculiar pleasure. T'hey are as much superior, in moral excellence, to those who seek their own interests supremely and solely, as they are different from them,
in their views, desires, and happiness. Was not Abel more excellent than Cain? Were not Seth, Enock and the patriarchs more excellent than those, who filled the earth with violence ; Was not Moses more excellent than Pharaoh ? Was not David more excellent than Saul ? Was not Solomon more excellent than Jeroboam? Was not the Samaritan more excellent than the Priest and Levite ? In a word, if there be any benevolent men, are they not more excellent than those, who are entirely selfish? If this be true, then
? saints are certainly more excellent than sinners; and the representation, which the scripture gives of good men, in respect to moral excellence, is perfectly agreeable to the common sense of all mankind.
6. We learn from what has been said, that those, who are destitute of true benevolence to men, are equal. ly destitute of true love to God. True love to God is precisely of the same nature as true love to men.--All true love to men is disinterested ; and all true love to God is disinterested. True disinterested be. nevolence is always the first exercise of a new heart. It is difficult to conceive how a man can take complacency in benevolence before he has exercised benevolence and knows by experience how it feels.--God first sheds abroad the love of benevolence in the heart of a sinner and then the love of complacence, How often do those, who relate their experiences, tell us, that the first change they perceived in their minds, was the love of benevolence to every person they saw; and the love of complacence to all good men in particular; and then love to the goodness or benevolence of God, which shone in every person, creature and object around them. But though every convert may not ac. curately distinguish the difference that actually existed in his first holy exercises ; yet it is very certain, that his love of benevolence was prior to his love of complacence towards God. But whether the first ex. ercises of the renewed heart follow one another in this order, or not, it is certain that those, who are destitute of true love to men, are destitute of true love to God. The apostle John has decided this point. “Whoso