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olence. While they love sin, they cannot love holiness.
While they love Christ for his favours, they cannot love him for his truly holy and amiable character. But there is no difficulty in their turning about, and exercising benevolence instead of selfishness. They are altogether as capable of exercising supreme affection to Christ, as to themselves. Their impotency is
, moral, and lies wholly in their free, voluntary exereises. Upon this ground, God commands them to love him with all the heart, and to make them a new heart and new spirit. Upon this ground, he not only commands but expostulates with them. "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die? Are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal?” And upon this ground, he threatens to destroy them. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but he have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you: then shall ye call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. Therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” This sentence
." is so perfectly just, that when it is executed, evey impenitent sinner's mouth must be stopped, and every holy being must say, “Let him be anathema, maranatha.” Let him perish forever.
MEN HAVE NO RIGHT TO MISTAKE THE NATURE
OF THEIR MORAL EXERCISES.
LUKE ix, 55, But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know
not what manner of spirit ye are of.
ALL men are naturally disposed to think, that their hearts are better than they are, and to mistake the nature of their moral exercises. To rectify this dangerous error, our Saviour took a great deal of pains, in his preaching and private discourses. In his sermon on the mount, he exposed the self-deception of the Scribes and Pharisees, who mistook their selfish feel. ings for true benevolence. Nor was he less plain and pointed upon this subject, in his more private discourses with his disciples. Whenever he perceived them to be blind to their own hearts and unacquainted with the real motives of their own conduct, he never failed to reprove them for their criminal ignorance. Many instances of this kind might be mentioned, but that to which our text refers is the most remarkable. “It came to pass when the time was come that Jesus should be received up, he steadfastly
, set his face to go to Jerusalem; and sent messengers before his face: and they went and entered into a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” Though the disciples sometimes loved Christ with a pure, disinterested affection, yet they sometimes exercised a false and selfish affection towards him. In this case, it was their false love, which kindled into vengeance, and they resented the conduct of the Samaritans, because they thought it cast contempt upon them as well as upon their divine Master. They mistook, however, their love to themselves, for their love to their Redeemer, and really thought they felt and expressed a zeal for his honour,while they really felt and expressed a spirit of revenge for personal abuse. Notwithstanding they had been so long and intimately acquainted with Christ, yet they still entertained some wrong apprehensions of his true design in coming into the world. They flattered themselves, that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, and make them and their nation his peculiar favourites. They supposed what the Samaritans supposed, that he was partial to the Jews, and therefore they loved him for the same reason, for which the Samaritans hated him. Yet they were so unacquainted with their own hearts, that they mistook their selfish love for holy love to Christ, and their selfish hatred of the Samaritans, for holy hatred of sin. But Christ knew what was in their hearts better than they did themselves, and kindly reproved them for their criminal ignorance and self-deception. Hence we may justly conclude, that Christ meant to teach us this important truth,
That men have no right, in any case, to mistake their selfish feelings for benevolent affections. I shall,
I. Show that men are apt to do this in some cases; And,
II. Show that they have no right to do it, in any
1. I am to show, that men are apt, in some cases, to mistake their selfish feelings for benevolent affections.
Notwithstanding their strong propensity to mistake the nature of their moral exercises, they are often placed under such circumstances, and have such lively exercises of mind, that they cannot help knowing what manner of spirit they are of. Sinners sometimes have such clear views of divine objects and such sensible opposition towards them, that they know their hearts are not right with God. And sometimes saints have such lively exercises of grace, that they can clearly and certainly distinguish them from all selfish and sinful affections. But yet there are many cases, in which both saints and sinners are extremely apt to deceive themselves in respect to the nature of their moral exercises. And the question now before us is, when they do really mistake sin for holiness, and selfishness for true benevolence. And here it is plain,
1. That they often make this mistake, when their selfishness leads them to do the same things, which benevolence would lead them to do. Selfishness in a sinner will often make him act just like a saint; and selfishness in a saint will often make him act just as he would do under the influence of pure benevolence, There is no external action which can proceed from a good heart, but what may proceed from a heart totally destitute of goodness. Will benevolence lead men to observe the Sabbath, to read the Bible, to call upon God, to relieve the distressed, to speak the truth, and to pay an external obedience to the divine will? Selfishness, under certain circumstances, will lead men to do all these things, and to appear possessed of true benevolence. The Pharisees, who acted entirely from mercenary motives, performed the same external acts