I / will state briefly what constitutes obedience.
II. What is not implied in it.
I. What constitutes obedience to moral law.
1. We have seen that all that the law requires is summarily expressed in the single word love; that this word is synonymous with benevolence; that benevolence consists in the choice of the highest well-being of God and of the universe as an end, or for its own sake; that this choice is an ultimate intention. In short we have seen that good will to being in general is obedience to the moral law. Now the question before us is, what is not implied in this good will or in this benevolent ultimate intention? I will here introduce, with some alteration, what I have formerly said upon this subject .
As the law of God, as revealed in the Bible, is the standard and the only standard by which the question in regard to what is not, and what is implied in entire sanctification is to be decided, it is of fundamental importance that we understand what is and what is not implied in entire obedience to this law. It must be apparent to all that this inquiry is of prime importance. And to settle this question is one of the main things to be attended to in this discussion. The doctrine of the entire satisfaction of believers in this life can never be satisfactorily settled until it is understood. And it can not be understood until it is known what is and what is not implied in it. Our judgment of our own state or of the state of others, can never be relied upon till these inquiries are settled. Nothing is more clear than that in the present vague unsettled views of the Church upon this question, no individual could set up a claim of having attained this state without being a stumbling block to the church. Christ was perfect, and yet so erroneous were the notions of the Jews in regard to what constituted perfection that they thought him possessed with a devil instead of being holy as he claimed to be. It certainly is impossible that a person should profess to render entire obedience to the moral law without being a stumbling block to himself and to others unless he and they clearly understand what is not and what is implied in it. I will state then what is not implied in entire obedience to the moral law as I understand it. The law as epitomized by
Christ, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and thy neighbor as thyself," I understand to lay down the whole duty of man to God and to his fellow creatures. Now the questions are what is not, and what is implied in perfect obedience to this law? Vague notions in regard to the proper answer to be given to these questions seem to me to have been the origin of much error. To settle these questions it is indispensable that we have distinctly before our minds just rules of legal interpretation. I will therefore lay down some first principles in regard to the interpretation of law, in the light of which, I think we may safely proceed to settle these questions. .
Rule 1. Whatever is inconsistent with natural justice is not and can not be moral law.
2. Whatever is inconsistent with the nature and relations of moral beings, is contrary to natural justice and therefore can not be moral law.
3. That which requires more than man has natural ability to perform, is inconsistent with his nature and relations and therefore is inconsistent with natural justice, and of course &is not moral law.
4. Moral law then must always be so understood and interpreted as to consist with the nature of the subjects, and their relations to each other and to the lawgiver. Any interpreta- , tion that makes the law to require more than is consistent with the nature and relations of moral beings, is the same as
to declare that it is not law. No authority in heaven or on earth can make that law, or obligatory upon moral agents, which is inconsistent with their nature and relations.
5. Moral law must always be so interpreted as to cover the whole ground of natural right or justice. Jt must be so understood and explained as to require all that is right in itself, and therefore immutably and unalterably right.
6. Moral law must be so interpreted as not to require any thing more than is consistent with natural justice or with the nature and relations of moral beings. *
7. Moral law is never to be so interpreted as to imply the / possession of any attributes or strength and a perfection of attributes which the subject does not possess. Take for illustration the second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy V neighbor as thyself." Now the simple meaning of this commandment seems to be that we are to regard and treat every person and interest according to its relative value. We are
not to understand this commandment as expressly or impliedly requiring us to know in all cases the exact relative value of every person and thing in the universe; for this would imply the possession of the attribute of omniscience by us. No mind short of an omniscient one can have this knowledge. The commandment then must be so understood as only to require us to judge with candor of the relative value of different interests, and to treat them according to their value, and our ability to promote them, so far as we understand it. I repeat the rule therefore; Moral law is never to be so interpreted as to imply the possession of any attribute or a strength and perfection of attributes which the subject does not possess.
8. Moral law is never to be so interpreted as to require that which is naturally impossible in our circumstances. Example: The first commandment, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," &c., is not to be so interpreted as to require us to make God the constant and sole object of our attention, thought, and affection, for this would not only be plainly impossible in our circumstances, but manifestly contrary to our duty.
9. Moral law is never to be so interpreted as to make one requirement inconsistent with another. Example: If the first commandment be so interpreted as to require us to make God the only object of thought, affection, and attention, then we cannot obey the second commandment which requires us to love our neighbor. And if the first commandment is to be so understood that every faculty and power is to be directed solely and exclusively to the contemplation and love of God, then love to all other beings is prohibited, and the second commandment is set aside. I repeat the rule therefore: commandments are not to be so interpreted as to conflict with each other.
10. A law requiring perpetual benevolence must be so construed as to consist with and require all the appropriate and essential modifications of this principle under every circumstance; such as justice, mercy, anger at sin and sinners, and a special and complacent regard to those who are virtuous.
11. Moral law must be so interpreted as that its claims shall always be restricted to the voluntary powers in such a sense that the right action of the will shall be regarded as fulfilling the spirit of the law, whether the desired outward action or inward emotion follow or not. If there be a willing mind, that is, if the will or heart is right, it is and must in justice be accepted as obedience to the spirit of moral law. 'For whatever does not follow the action of the will, by a law of necessity, is naturally impossible to us and therefore not obligatory. To attempt to legislate directly over the involuntary powers would be inconsistent with natural justice. You may as well attempt to legislate over the beating of the heart, as directly over any involuntary mental actions.
12. In morals, actual knowledge is indispensable to moral obligation. The maxim, "ignorantia legis noncxcusaf (ignorance of the law excuses no one)—applies in morals to but a very limited extent. That actual knowledge is indispensable to moral obligation, will appear,
(1.) From the following Scriptures:
James 4: 17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Luke 1*2: 47,48: "And that servant, which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." John 9:11: "• Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." In the first and second chapters of Romans, the Apostle reasons at large on this subject. He convicts the heathen of sin, upon the ground that they violate their own consciences, and do not live according to the light they have.
(2.) The principle is every where recognized in the Bible, that an increase of knowledge increases obligation. This impliedly, but plainly recognizes the principle that knowledge is indispensable to, and commensurate with obligation. In sins of ignorance, the sin lies in the state of heart that neglects or refuses to be informed, but not in the neglect of what is unknown. A man may be guilty of present or past neglect to ascertain the truth. Here his ignorance is sin, or rather the state of heart that induces ignorance is sin. The heathen are culpable for not living up to the light of nature; but are under no obligation to embrace Christianity until they have the opportunity to do so.
13. Moral law is to be so interpreted as to be consistent with physical law. In other words the application of moral law to human beings, must recognize man as he is, as both a corporeal and intellectual being; and must never be so interpreted as that obedience to it would violate the laws of the physical constitution, and prove the destruction of the body.
14. Moral law is to be so interpreted as to recognize all the attributes and circumstances of both body and soul. In the application of the law of God to human beings, we are to regard their powers and attributes as they really are, and not as they are not.
y 15. Moral law is to be so interpreted as to restrict its obligation to the actions, and not to extend them to the nature or constitution of moral beings. Law must not be understood as extending its legislation to the nature, or requiring a man to , possess certain attributes, but as prescribing a rule of action. It is not the existence or possession of certain attributes which the law requires, or that these attributes should be in a certain state of perfection; but the right use of all these attributes as they are, is what the law is to be interpreted as (, requiring.
16. It should be always understood that the obedience of the heart to any law, implies, and includes general faith, or confidence in the lawgiver. But no law should be so construed as to require faith in what the intellect does not perceive. A man may be under obligation to perceive what he does not; that is, it may be his duty to inquire after and ascertain the truth. But obligation to believe with the heart, does not attach until the intellect obtains perception of the things to be believed.
Now, in the light of these rules let us proceed to inquire:
II. What is not implied in entire obedience to the law of God.
1. Entire obedience does not imply any change in the substance of the soul or body, for this the law does not require, and it would not be obligatory if it did, because the requirement would be inconsistent with natural justice and therefore not law. Entire obedience is the entire consecration of the powers, as they are, to God. It does not imply any change in them, but simply the right use of them.
2. It does not imply the annihilation of any constitutional traits of character, such as constitutional ardor or impetuosity. There is nothing certainly, in the law of God that requires such constitutional traits to be annihilated, but simply that they should be rightly directed in their exercise.
3. It does not imply the annihilation of any of the constitutional appetites, or susceptibilities. It seems to be supposed by some, that the constitutional appetites and susceptibilities, are in themselves sinful, and that a state of entire conformity to the law of God implies their entire annihilation. And I have often been astonished at the fact that those who array themselves against the doctrine of entire conformity to the law of God in this life, assume the sinfulness of the constitution of man. And I have been not a little surprised to find that some persons who I had supposed were far enough from embracing the doctrine of physical moral depravity, were, after all, resorting to this assumption to set aside the doctrine of entire sanctification in this life. But let us appeal to the law. Does the law any where, expressly or impliedly, condemn the constitution of man, or require the annihilation of any thing that is properly a part of the constitution itself? Does it require the annihilation of the appetite for food, or is it satisfied merely with regulating its indulgence? In short, does the law of God any where require any thing more than the consecration of all the powers, appetites, and susceptibilities of body and mind to the service of God?
Entire obedience does not imply the annihilation of natural affection, or natural resentment. By natural affection I mean that certain persons may be naturally pleasing to us. Christ appears to have had a natural affection for John. By natural resentment I mean, that, from the laws of our being, we must resent or feel opposed to injustice or ill-treatment. Not that a disposition to retaliate or revenge ourselves is consistent with the law of God. But perfect obedience to the law of God does not imply that we should have no sense of injury and injustice, when we are abused. God has this, and ought to have it, and so has every moral being. To love your neighbor as yourself does not imply, that if he injure you, you feel no sense of the injury or injustice, but that you love him and would do him good, notwithstanding his injurious treatment.
5. It does not imply any unhealthy degree of excitement of the mind. Rule 13 lays down the principle that moral law is to be so interpreted as to be consistent with physical law. God's laws certainly do not clash with each other. And the moral law can not require such a state of constant mental excitement as will destroy the physical constitution. It can not require any more mental excitement than is consistent with all the laws, attributes, and circumstances of both soul and body, as stated in rule 14.
6. It does not imply that any organ or faculty is to be at all times exerted to the full measure of its capacity. This would soon exhaust and destroy any and every organ of the body. Whatever may be true of the mind when separated ^rom the body, it is, certain, while it acts through a material organ, that a constant state of excitement is impossible. When the mind is strongly excited, there is of necessity a great determination of blood to the brain. A high degree of excitement cannot long continue, certainly, without producing inflammation of the brain, and consequent insanity. And the law of God does not require any degree of emotion or mental excitement, that is inconsistent with life and health. Our Lord Jesus Christ does not appear to have been in a state of continual mental excitement. When he and his disciples had been in a great excitement for a time, they would turn aside, "and rest a while."
Who that has ever philosophized on this subject, does not know that the high degree of excitement which is sometimes witnessed in revivals of religion, must necessarily be short, or that the people must become deranged? It seems sometimes to be indispensable that a high degree of excitement should prevail for a time to arrest public and individual attention, and draw off people from other pursuits, to attend to the concerns of their souls. But if any suppose that this high degree of excitement is either necessary or desirable, or possible to be long continued, they have not well considered the matter. And here is one grand mistake of the Church. They have supposed that the revival consists mostly in this state of excited emotion, rather than in conformity of the human will to the law of God. Hence, when the reasons for much excitement have ceased, and the public mind begins to grow more calm, they begin immediately to say, that the revival is on the decline; when, in fact, with much less excited emotion, there may be vastly more real religion in the community.
Excitement is often important and indispensable, but the vigorous actings of the will are infinitely more important. And this state of mind may exist in the absence of highly excited emotions.
7. Nor does it imply that the same degree of emotion, volition, or intellectual effort, is at all times required. All volitions do not need the same strength. They cannot have equal strength, because they are not produced by equally influential reasons. Should a man put forth as strong a volition to pick up an apple, as to extinguish the flames of a burning house? Should a mother watching over her sleeping nursling, when all is quiet and secure, put forth as powerful voli the blood through all the physical system. Now there is a striking analogy between this and the moral heart. And the analogy consists in this, that as the natural heart, by its pulsations, diffuses life through the physical system, so the moral heart, or the supreme governing preference, or ultimate intention of the mind, is that which gives life and character to man's moral actions. Example, suppose that I am engaged in teaching Mathematics; in this, my ultimate intention is to glorify God, in this particular calling. Now, in demonstrating some of its intricate propositions, I am obliged, for hours together, to give the entire attention of my mind to that object. Now, while my mind is thus intensely employed in one particular business, it is impossible that I should have any thoughts directly about God, or should exercise any direct affections, or emotions, or volitions, towards him. Yet if, in this particular calling, all selfishness is excluded, and my supreme design is to glorify God, my mind is in a state of entire obedience, even though, for the time being, I do not think of God.
It should be understood that while the supreme preference or intention of the mind has such efficiency, as to exclude all selfishness, and to call forth just that strength of volition, thought, affection, and emotion, that is requisite to the right discharge of any duty, to which the mind may be called, the heart is in a right state. And this must always be the case while the intention is really honest, as was shown on a former occasion. By a suitable degree of thought, and feeling as to the right discharge of duty, I mean just that intensity of thought, and energy of action, that the nature and importance of the particular duty to which, for the time being, I am called, demand, in my honest estimation.
In this statement, I take it for granted, that the brain, together with all the circumstances of the constitution are such that the requisite amount of thought, feeling, &c., are possible. If the physical constitution be in such a state of exhaustion as to be unable to put forth that amount of exertion which the nature of the case might otherwise demand, even in this case, the languid efforts, though far below the importance of the subject, would be all that the law of God requires. Whoever, therefore, supposes that a state of entire obedience implies a state of entire abstraction of mind from every thing but God, labors under a grievous mistake. Such a state of mind is as inconsistent with duty, as it is impossible, while we are in the flesh.
The fact is that the language and spirit of the law have
been and generally are grossly misunderstood, and interpreted to mean what they never did, or can mean consistently with natural justice. Many a mind has been thrown open to the assaults of satan, and kept in a state of continual bondage and condemnation, because God was not, at all times, the direct object of thought, affection, and emotion; and because the mind was not kept in a state of perfect tension, and excited to the utmost at every moment.
9. Nor does it imply a state of continual calmness of mind. Christ was not in a state of continual calmness. The deep peace of his mind was never broken up, but the surface or emotions of his mind were often in a state of great excitement, and at other times in a state of great calmness. And here let me refer to Christ as we have his history in the Bible in illustration of the positions I have already taken. Example: Christ had all the constitutional appetites and susceptibilities of human nature. Had it been otherwise, he could not have been "• tempted in all points like as we;" nor could he have been tempted in any point as we are, any further than he possessed a constitution similar to our own. Christ also manifested natural affection for his mother and for other friends. He also showed that he had a sense of injury and injustice, and exercised a suitable resentment when he was injured and persecuted. He was not always in a state of great excitement. He appears to have had his seasons of excitement and of calm—of labor and rest—of joy and sorrow, like other good men. Some persons have spoken of entire obedience to the law as implying a state of uniform and universal calmness, and as if every kind and degree of excited feeling, except the feelings of love to God were inconsistent with this state. But Christ often manifested a great degree of excitement when reproving the enemies of God In short his history would lead to the conclusion that his calmness and excitement were various, according to the circumstances of the case. And although he was sometimes so pointed and severe in his reproof, as to be accused of being possessed of a devil, yet his emotions and feelings were only those that were called for and suited to the occasion.
10. Nor does it imply a state of continual sweetness of mind without any indignation or holy anger at sin and sinners.
Anger at sin is only a modification of love. A sense of justice^ or a disposition to have the wicked punished for the benefit of the government, is only another of the modifications of love. And such dispositions are essential to the ex
s istence of love, where the circumstances call for their exer-cise. It is said of Christ that he was angry. He often manifested anger and holy indignation. "God is angry with the wicked every day." And holiness or a state of obedience, instead of being inconsistent with, always implies the existence of anger, whenever circumstances occur which demand its exercise. Rule 10.
11. It does not imply a state of mind that is all compassion, and no sense of justice. Compassion is only one of the modifications of love. Justice or willing the execution of law and the punishment of sin, is another of its modifications. God, and Christ, and all holy beings, exercise all those dispositions that constitute the different modifications of love under every possible circumstance.
12. It does not imply that we should love or hate all men alike irrespective of their value, circumstances and relations. One being may have a greater capacity for well-being, and be of much more importance to the universe than another. Impartiality and the law of love require us not to regard all beings and things alike, but all beings and things according to their nature, relations, circumstances and value.
13. Nor does it imply a perfect knowledge of all our relations: Rule 7. Now such an interpretation of the law as would make it necessary, in order to yield obedience, for us to understand all our relations, would imply in us the possession of the attribute of omniscience; for certainly there is not a being in the universe to whom we do not sustain some relation. And a knowledge of all these relations plainly implies infinite knowledge. It is plain that the law of God can not require any such thing as this; and that entire obedience to the law of God therefore implies no such thing.
14. Nor does it imply perfect knowledge on any subject. Perfect knowledge on any subject, implies a perfect knowledge of its nature, relations, bearings, and tendencies. Now as every single thing in the universe, sustains some relation to, and has some bearing upon every other thing, there can be no such thing as perfect knowledge on any one subject, that does not embrace universal or infinite knowledge.
15. Nor does it imply freedom from mistake on any subject whatever. It is maintained by some that the grace of the gospel pledges to every man perfect knowledge, or at least such knowledge as to exempt him from any mistake. I cannot stop here to debate this question, but would merely say the law does not expressly or impliedly require infallibility of judgment in us. It only requires us to make the best use we can of all the light we have. V
16 Nor does entire obedience imply the knowledge of the exact relative value of different interests. I have already said in illustrating Rule 7, that the second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," does not imply that we should, in every instance, understand exactly the relative value and importance of every interest. This plainly can not be required, unless it be assumed that we are omniscient. • o
17. It does not imply the same degree of knowledge that we might have possessed, had we always improved our time in its acquisition. The law can not require us to love God or man as well as we might have been able to love them, had we always improved all our time in obtaining all the knowledge we could, in regard to their nature, character, and interests. If this were implied in the requisition of the law, there is not a saint on earth or in heaven that does, or ever can perfectly obey. l What is lost in this respect is lost, and past neglect can never be so atoned for that we shall ever be able to make up in our acquisitions of knowledge what we have lost. It will no doubt be true to all eternity, that we shall have less knowledge than we might have possessed, had we filled up all our time in its acquisition. We do not, can not, nor shall we ever be able to love God as well as we might have loved him, had we always applied our minds to the acquisition of knowledge respecting him. And if entire obedience is to be understood as implying that we love God as much as we should, had we all the knowledge we might have had, then I repeat
it, there is not a saint on earth or in heaven, nor ever will be, that is entirely obedient. y
18. It does not imply the same amount of service that we might have rendered, had we never sinned. The law of God does not imply or suppose that our powers are in a perfect state; that our strength of body or mind is what it would have been, had we never sinned. But it simply requires us to use what strength we have. The very wording of the law is proof conclusive, that it extends its demands only to the full amount of what strength we have. And this is true of every moral being, however great or small.
The most perfect development and improvement of our powers, must depend upon the most perfect use of them. And every departure from their perfect use, is a diminishing of their highest development, and a curtailing of their capabilities to serve God in the highest and best manner. All sin then does just so much towards crippling and curtailing the powers of body and mind, and rendering them, by just so much, incapable of performing the service they might otherwise have rendered.
To this view of the subject it has been objected that Christ taught an opposite doctrine, in the case of the woman who washed his feet with her tears, when he said, "To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much." But can it be that Christ intended to be understood as teaching, that the more we sin the greater will be our love and our ultimate virtue t If this be so, I do not see why it does not follow that the more sin in this life, the better, if so be that we are forgiven. If our virtue is really to be improved by our sins, I see not why it would not be good economy both for God and man, to sin as much as we can while in this world. Certainly Christ meant to lay down no such principle as this. He undoubtedly meant to teach, that a person who was truly sensible of the greatness of his sins, would exercise more of the love of gratitude, than would be exercised by one who had a less affecting sense of ill-desert .
19. Entire obedience does not imply the same degree of faith that might have been exercised but for our ignorance and past sin.
We can not believe any thing about God of which we have no evidence or knowledge. Our faith must therefore be limited by our intellectual perceptions of truth. The heathen are not under obligation to believe in Christ and thousands of other things of which they have no knowledge. Perfection in a heathen would imply much less faith than in a christian. Perfection in an adult would imply much more and greater faith than in an infant. And perfection in an angel would imply much greater faith than in a man, just in proportion as he knows more of God than man does. Let it be always understood that entire obedience to God never implies that which is naturally impossible. It is certainly naturally impossible for us to believe that of which we have no knowledge. Entire obedience implies in this respect nothing more than the heart's faith or confidence in all the truth that is perceived by the intellect .
20. Nor does it imply the conversion of all men in answer to our prayers. It has been maintained by some that entire obedience implies the offering of prevailing prayer for the conversion of all men. To that I reply,
(1.) Then Christ did not obey, for he offered no such prayer.
(2.) The law of God makes no such demand either expressly or impliedly.
(3.) We have no right to believe that all men will be converted in answer to our prayers, unless we have an express or implied promise to that effect. >
(4.) As therefore there is no such promise, we are under no obligation to offer such prayer. Nor does the non-conversion of the world imply that there are no saints in the world who fully obey God's law.
21. It does not imply the conversion of any one for whom there is not an express or implied promise in the word of God. The fact that Judas was not converted in answer to Christ's prayers does not prove that Christ did not fully obey.
22. Nor does it imply that all those things which are expressly or impliedly promised, will be granted in answer to our prayers, or in other words, that we should pray in faith for them, if we are ignorant of the existence or application of those promises. A state of perfect love implies the discharge of all known duty. And nothing strictly speaking can be duty, of which the mind has no knowledge. It can not therefore be our duty to believe a promise of which we are entirely ignorant or the application of which to any specific object we do not understand.
If there is sin in such a case as this, it lies in the fact that the soul neglects to know what it ought to know. But it should always be understood that the sin lies in this neglect to know, and not in the neglect of that of which we have no knowledge. Entire obedience is inconsistent with any present neglect to know the truth; for such neglect is sin. But it is not inconsistent with our failing to do that of which we have no knowledge. James says: "He that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." "If ye were blind," says Christ, "ye should have no sin, but because ye say we see, therefore your sin remaineth."
23. Entire obedience to the Divine law does not imply that others will of course regard our state of mind and our outward life as entirely conformed to the law.
It was insisted and positively believed by the Jews, that Jesus Christ was possessed of a wicked, instead of a holy spirit. Such were their notions of holiness, that they no doubt supposed him to be actuated by any other than the Spirit of God. They especially supposed so on account of his opposition to the current orthodoxy, and the ungodliness of the religious teachers of the day. Now, who does not see that when the Church is in a great measure conformed to the world, a spirit of holiness in any man would certainly lead him to aim the sharpest rebukes at the spirit and life of those in this state, whether in high or low places? And who does not see that this would naturally result in his being accused of possessing a wicked spirit? And who does not know that where a religious teacher finds himself under the necessity of attacking a false orthodoxy, he will certainly be hunted, almost as a beast of prey, by the religious teachers of his day, whose authority, influence, and orthodoxy are thus assailed?
The most violent opposition that I have ever seen manifested to any persons in my life, has been manifested by members of the Church, and even by some ministers of the gospel, towards those who I believe were among the most holy persons I ever knew. I have been shocked, and wounded beyond expression, at the almost fiendish opposition to such persons that I have witnessed. I have several times of late observed that writers in newspapers were calling for examples of Christian Perfection or entire sanctification, or which is the same thing, of entire obedience to the law of God. Now I would humbly inquire, of what use is it to point the Church to examples, so long as they do not know what is, and what is not implied in entire obedience to moral law? I would ask, are the church agreed among themselves in regard to what constitutes this state? Are any considerable number of ministers agreed among themselves as to what is implied in a state of entire obedience to the law of God? Now does not every body know that the Church and the ministry are in a great measure in the dark on this subject? Why then call for examples? No man can profess to render this obedience without being sure to be set at nought as a hypocrite and a selfdeceiver.
24. Nor does it imply exemption from sorrow or mental suffering.
It was not so with Christ. Nor is it inconsistent with our sorrowing for our own past sins, and sorrowing that we have not now the health, and vigor, and knowledge, and love, that we might have had, if we had sinned less; or sorrow for those around us—sorrow in view of human sinfulness, or suffering. These are all consistent with a state of joyful love to God and man, and indeed are the natural results of it .
25. Nor is it inconsistent with our living in human society
—with mingling in the scenes, and engaging in the affairs of this world, as some have supposed. Hence the absurd and ridiculous notions of papists in retiring to monasteries, and convents—in taking the veil,and as they say, retiring to a life of devotion. Now I suppose this state of voluntary exclusion from human society, to be utterly inconsistent with any degree of holiness, and a manifest violation of the law of love to our neighbor.
26. Nor does it imply moroseness of temper and manners. Nothing is farther from the truth than this. It is said of Xavier, than whom, perhaps, few holier men have ever lived, that u he was so cheerful as often to be accused of being gay." Cheerfulness is certainly the result of holy love. And entire obedience no more implies moroseness in this world than it does in heaven.
In all the discussions I have seen upon the subject of Christian holiness, writers seldom or never raise the distinct inquiry: What does obedience to the law of God imply, and what does it not imply? Instead of bringing every thing to this test, they seem to lose sight of it. On the one hand they bring in things that the law of God never required of man in his present state. Thus they lay a stumbling block and a snare for the saints, to keep them in perpetual bondage, supposing that this is the way to keep them humble, to place the standard entirely above their reach. Or, on the other hand, they really abrogate the law, so as to make it no longer binding. Or they so fritter away what is really implied in it, as to leave nothing in its requirements, but a sickly, whimsical, inefficient sentimentalism, or perfectionism, which in its manifestations and results, appears to me to be anything else than that which the law of God requires.
27. It does not imply that we always or ever aim at or intend to do our duty. That is, it does not imply that the intention always or ever terminates on duty as an ultimate end.
It is our duty to aim at or intend the highest well-being of God and the universe as an ultimate end, or for its own sake. This is the infinitely valuable end at which we are at all times to aim. It is our duty to aim at this. While we aim at this, we do our duty, but to aim at duty is not doing duty. To intend to do our duty is failing to do our duty. We do not, in this case, intend the thing which it is our duty to intend. Our duty is to intend the good of being. But to intend to do our duty, is only to intend to intend.
38. Nor does it imply that we always think at the time of its being duty, or of our moral obligation to intend the good of being. This obligation is a first truth and is always and necessarily assumed by every moral agent, and this assumption or knowledge is a condition of his moral agency. But it is not at all essential to virtue or true obedience to the moral law that moral obligation should at all times be present to the thoughts and the object of attention. The thing that we are bound to intepd is the highest good of God and of being in general. The good, the valuable, must be before the mind. This must be intended. We are under moral obligation to intend this. But we are not under moral obligation to intend moral obligation or to intend to fulfil moral obligation as an ultimate end. Our obligation is a first truth and necessarily assumed by us at all times, whether it is an object of attention or not, just as causality or liberty is.
29. Nor does it imply that the rightness or moral character of benevolence is at all times the object of the mind's attention. We may intend the glory of God and the good of our neighbor without at all times thinking of the moral character of this intention. But the intention is not the less virtuous on this account. The mind unconsciously but necessarily assumes the rightness of benevolence or of willing the good of being, just as it assumes other first truths, without being distinctly conscious of the assumption. First truths are those truths that are universally and necessarily known to every moral agent, and that arc therefore always and necessarily assumed by him, whatever his theory may be. Among them, are the law of causality—the freedom of moral agents—the intrinsic value of happiness or blessedness—moral obligation to will it for or because of its intrinsic value—the infinite value of God's well-being and the moral obligation to will it on that account—that to will the good of being is duty and to comply with moral obligation is right—that selfishness is wrong. These and many such like truths are among the class of first truths of reason. They are always and necessarily taken along with every moral agent at every moment of his moral agency. They live in his mind as intuitions or assumptions of his reason. He always and necessarily affirms their truth whether he thinks of them, that is, whether he is conscious of the assumption, or not. It is not therefore at all essential to obedience to the law of God that we should at all times have before our minds the virtuousness or moral character of benevolence.
30 Nor does obedience to the moral law imply that the law
itself should be at all times the object of thought or of the mind's attention. The law lies developed in the reason of every moral agent in the form of an idea. It is the idea of that choice or intention which every moral agent is bound to exercise. In other words, the law as a rule of duty is a subjective idea always and necessarily developed in the mind of every moral agent. This idea he always and necessarily takes along with him, and he is always and necessarily a law to himself. Nevertheless this law or idea is not always the object of the mind's attention and thought. A moral agent may exercise good will or love to God and man without at the time being conscious of thinking that this love is required of him by the moral law. Nay, if I am not mistaken, the benevolent mind generally exercises benevolence so spontaneously as not very much of the time so much as to think that this love to God is required of him. But this is not the less virtuous on this account. If the infinite value of God's well-being and of His infinite goodness constrain me to love Him with all my heart, can any one suppose that this is regarded by Him as the less virtuous because I did not wait to reflect that God commanded me to love him and that it was my duty to (y do so?
The thing upon which the intention must or ought to terminate is the good of being, and not the law that requires me to will it. When I will that end I will the right end, and thi willing is virtue, whether the law be so much as thought of or not. Should it be said that I may will that end for a wrong reason and therefore thus willing it is not virtue; that unless I will it because of my obligation and intend obedience to moral law or to God it is not virtue; I answer, that the objection involves an absurdity and a contradiction. I can not will the good of God and of being as an ultimate end, for a wrong reason. The reason of the choice and the end chosen are identical, so that if I will the good of being as an ultimate end; I will it for the right reason.
Again: to will the good of being, not for its intrinsic value, but because God commands it, and because I am under a moral obligation to will it, is not to will it as an ultimate end. It is willing the will of God or moral obligation as an ultimate end and not the good of being as an ultimate end. This willing would not be obedience to the moral law.
Again: It is absurd and a contradiction to say that I can love God, that is, will his good out of regard to his authority, rather than out of regard to the intrinsic value of his wellbeing. It is impossible to will God's good as an end out of regard to his authority. This is to make his authority the end chosen, for the reason of a choice is identical with the end chosen. Therefore, to will anything for the reason that God requires it, is to will God's reqirement as an ultimate end. I can not, therefore, love God with any acceptable love primarily because He commands it. God never expected to induce His creatures to love Him or to will His good by commanding them to do so. "The law" says the apostle "was not made for a righteous man but for sinners." If it be asked then "wherefore serveth the law?" I answer,
(1.) That the obligation to will good to God exists antecedently to His requiring it.
(2) He requires it because it is naturally obligatory.
(3.) It is impossible that He, being benevolent, should not will that we should be benevolent.
(i) His expressed will is only the promulgation of the law of nature. It is rather declaratory than dictatorial.
(5.) It is a vindication or illustration of His righteousness.
(6.) It sanctions and rewards love. It can not as a mere authority beget love, but it can encourage and reward it.
(7.) It can fix the attention on the end commanded and thus lead to a fuller understanding of the value of that end. In this way, it may convert the soul.
(8.) It can convince of sin in case of disobedience.
(9.) It holds before the mind the standard by which it is to judge itself and by which it is to be judged.
But let it be kept in constant remembrance that to aim at keeping the law as an ultimate end is not keeping it. It is a legal righteousness and not love.
31. Obedience to the moral law does not imply that the mind always or at any time intends the right for the sake of the right. This has been so fully shown in a former lecture that it need not be repeated here.
32. Nor does it imply that the benevolent mind always so much as thinks of the rightness of good willing. I surely may will the highest well-being of God and of men as an end or from a regard to its intrinsic value, and not at the time or at least at all times be conscious of having any reference to the rightness of this love. It is, however, none the less virtueous on this account. I behold the infinite value of the wellbeing of God and the infinite value of the immortal soul of my neighbor. My soul is fired with the view. I instantly consecrate my whole being to this end and perhaps do not so much as think at the time either of moral obligation or of the rightness of the choice. I choose the end with a single eye to its intrinsic value. Will any one say that this is not virtue, that this is not true and real obedience to the law of God? And here I must repeat in substance what I have said on a former occasion.
33. Obedience to the moral law does not imply that we should practically treat all interests that are of equal value according to their value. For example, the precept, Love thy neighbor as thyself, can not mean that I am to take equal care of my own soul and the soul of every other human being. This were impossible. Nor does it mean that I should take the same care and oversight of my own and of all the families of the earth. Nor that I should divide what little of property or time or talent I have equally among all mankind. This were,
(2.) Uneconomical for the universe. More good will result to the universe by each individual's giving his attention particularly to the promotion of those interests that are within his reach and so under his influence that he possesses particular advantages for promoting them. Every interest is to be esteemed according to its relative value, but our efforts to promote particular interests should depend upon our relations and capacity to promote them. Some interests of great value we may be under no obligation to promote for the reason that we have no ability to promote them, while we may be under obligation to promote interests of vastly less value for the reason that we are able to promote them. We are to aim at promoting those interests that we can most surely and extensively promote, but always in a manner that shall not interfere with others promoting other interests according to their relative value. Every man is bound to promote his own and the salvation of his family, not because they belong to. self, but because they are valuable in themselves and because they are particularly ' committed to him as being directly within his reach. This is a principle every where assumed in the government of God; (and I wish it to be distinctly borne in mind as we proceed in our investigations, as it will on the one hand prevent misapprehension, and on the other avoid the necessity of circumlocution when we wish to express the same idea,) the true intent and meaning of the moral law no doubt is that every interest orgood_known to a moral being shall be esteem ed according to its intrinsic value, and that m our efforts to "' promote good we are to aim at securing the greatest practice
ble amount and to bestow our efforts where and as it appears from our circumstances and relations we can accomplish the greatest good. This ordinarily can be done, beyond all question, only by each one attending to the promotion of those particular interests which are most within the reach of his influence.
What Is Implied In Obedience To The Moral Law.
It has been shown that the sum and spirit of the whole law is properly expressed in one word, Love. It has also been shown that this love is benevolence or good willing; that it consists in choosing the highest good of God and of universal being as an ultimate end, or for its own intrinsic value; in a spirit or state of entire consecration to this as the ultimate end of existence. Although the whole law is fulfilled in one word, love, yet there are many things implied in the state of mind expressed by this term. It is, therefore, indispensable to a right understanding of this subject, that we inquire into the characteristics or attributes of this love. We must keep steadily in mind certain truths of mental philosophy. I will, therefore,
I. Call attention to certain facts in mental philosophy which are revealed to us in consciousness, and
II. Point out the attributes of that love that constitutes obedience to the law of God; and as I proceed, I will call attention to those states of the Intelligence and of the Sensibility, and also to the course of outward conduct implied in the existence of this love in any mind, implied in it as necessarily resulting from it as an effect does from its cause.
I. Call attention to certain facts in mental philosophy as they are revealed in consciousness.
1. Moral agents possess Intelligence or the faculty of knowledge.
2. They also possess Sensibility, or Sensitivity, or in other words, the faculty or susceptibility of feeling.
3. They also possess Will, or the power of choosing or refusing in every case of moral obligation.
4. These primary faculties are so correlated to each other that the Intellect or the Sensibility may control the will, or the will may, in a certain sense, control them. That is, the will is free to choose in accordance with the demands of the intellect, or with the desires and impulses of the sensibility. It is free to be influenced by the impulses of the sensibility, or by the dictates of the intelligence, or to control and direct them both. It can directly control the attention of the intellect, and consequently its perceptions, thoughts, &c. It can indirectly control the states of the sensibility, or feeling faculty, by controlling the perceptions and thoughts of the intelligence. We also know from consciousness, as was shown in a former lecture, that the voluntary muscles of the body are directly controlled by the will, and that the relation of outward action, as well as the states of the intelligence and the sensibility, to the action of the will, is that of necessity. That is, the law which obliges the attention, the feelings, and the actions of the body to obey the decisions of the will, is physical law or the law of necessity. The attention of the intellect and the outward actions are controlled directly, and the feelings indirectly, by the decisions of the will. The will Can either command or obey. It can suffer itself to be enslaved by the impulses of the sensibility, or it can assert its sovereignty and control them. The will is not influenced by either the intellect or the sensibility, by the law of necessity or force; so that the will can always resist either the demands of the intelligence or the impulses of the sensibility. But while they can not lord it over the will through the agency of any law of force, the will has the aid of the law of necessity or force by which to control them.
Again: We are conscious of affirming to ourselves our obligation to obey the law of the intelligence rather than the impulses of the sensibility; that to act virtuously we must act rationally or intelligently, and not give ourselves up to the blind impulses of our feelings.
Now, inasmuch as the love required by the moral law consists in choice, willing, intention, as has been repeatedly shown, and inasmuch as choice, willing, intending, controls the states of the intellect and the outward actions directly by a law of necessity, and by the same law controls the feelings or states of the sensibility indirectly, it follows that certain states of the intellect and the sensibility and also certain outward actions must be implied in the existence of the love which the law of God requires. I say implied in it, not as making a part of it, but as necessarily resulting from it. The thoughts, opinions, judgments, feelings, and outward actions must be moulded and modified by the state of the heart or will.
Here it is important to remark that in common parlance, the same word is often used to express either an action or state of the will, or a state of the sensibility, or both. This is true of all the terms that represent what are called the christian graces or virtues, or those various modifications of virtue of which Christians are conscious and which appear in their life and temper.
Of this truth we shall be constantly reminded as we proceed in our investigations, for we shall find illustrations of it at every step of our progress. Before I proceed to point out the attributes of benevolence, it is important to remark that all the moral attributes of God and of all holy beings, are only attributes of benevolence. Benevolence is a term that comprehensively expresses them all. God is love. This term expresses comprehensively God's whole moral character. This love, as we have repeatedly seen, is benevolence. Benevolence is good willing, or the choice of the highest good of God and the universe as an end. But from this comprehensive statement, accurate though it be, we are apt to receive very inadequate conceptions of what really belongs to as implied in benevolence. To say that love is the fulfilling of the whole law; that benevolence is the whole of true religion; that the whole duty of man to God and his neighbor, is expressed in one word, love —these statements, though true, are so comprehensive as to need with all minds much amplification and explanation. The fact is, that many things are implied in love or benevolence.* By this is intended that benevolence needs to be viewed under various aspects and in various relations, and its dispositions or willings considered in the various relations in which it is called to act. Benevolence is an ultimate intention, or the choice of an ultimate end. Now if we suppose that this is all that is implied in benevolence we shall egregiously err. Unless we inquire into the nature of the end which benevolence chooses, and the means by which it seeks to accomplish that end, we shall understand but little of the import of the word benevolence. Benevolence has many attributes or characteristics. These must all harmonize in the selection of its end, and in its efforts to realize it. Wisdom, justice, mercy, truth, holiness, and many other attributes, as we shall see, are essential elements or attributes of benevolence. To understand what true benevolence is, we must inquire into its attributes. Not every thing that is called love has at all the nature of benevolence. Nor has all that is called benevolence any title to that appellation. There are various kinds of love. Natural affection is called love. The affection that exists between the sexes is also called love. Our preference of certain kinds of diet is called love. Hence we say we love fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, &c. Benevolence is also called love, and is the kind of love, beyond all question, required by the law of God. But there is more than one state of mind that is called benevolence. There is
a constitutional or phrenological benevolence, which is often mistaken for and confounded with the benevolence which constitutes virtue. This so called benevolence is in truth only an imposing form of selfishness; nevertheless it is called benevolence. Many of its manifestations are like those of true benevolence. Care, therefore, should be taken in giving religious instruction, to distinguish accurately between them. Benevolence, let it be remembered, is the obedience of the will to the law of the reason. It is willing good as an end, for its own sake, and not to gratify self. Selfishness consists in the obedience of the will to the impulses of the sensibility. It is a spirit of self-gratification. The will seeks to gratify the desires and propensities for the pleasure of the gratifica-tion. Self-gratification is sought as an end and as the supreme end. It is preferred to the claims of God and the good of being. Phrenological or constitutional benevolence is only obedience to the impulse of the sensibility—a yielding to a feeling of compassion. It is only an effort to gratify a desire. It is, therefore, as really selfishness, as is an effort to gratify any constitutional desire whatever.
It is impossible to get a Just idea of what constitutes obedience to the Divine law, and what is implied in it, without considering attentively the various attributes or aspects of benevolence, properly so called. Upon this discussion we are about to enter. But before I commence the enumeration and definition of these attributes, it is important further to remark that the moral attributes of God, as revealed in his works, providence, and word, throw much light upon the subject before us. Also the many precepts of the Bible, and the developments of benevolence therein revealed, will assist us much as we proceed in our inquiries upon this important subject. As the Bible expressly affirms that love comprehends the whole character of God—that it is the whole that the law requires of man—that the end of the commandment is charity or love—we may be assured that every form of true virtue is only a modification of love or benevolence, that is, that every state of mind required by the Bible, and recognized as virtue is, in its last analysis, resolvable into love or benevolence. In other words, every virtue is only benevolence viewed under certain aspects, or in certain relations. In other words still, it is only one of the elements, peculiarities, characteristics, or attributes of benevolence. This is true of God's moral attributes. They are, as has been said, only attributes of benevolence. They are only benevolence
viewed in certain relations and aspects. All his virtues are only so many attributes of benevolence. This is and must be true of every holy being.
II. I will now proceed, agreeably to my purpose, to point out the attributes of that love which constitutes obedience to the law of God.
As I proceed I will call attention to the states of the intelligence and of the sensibility, and also to the courses of outward conduct implied in the existence of this love in any mind—implied in its existence as necessarily resulting from it by the law of cause and effect. These attributes are,
1. Voluntariness. That is, it is a phenomenon of the will. There is a state of the sensibility often expressed by the term love. Love may, and often does exist, as every one knows, in the form of a mere feeling or emotion. The term is often used to express the emotion of fondness or attachment as distinct from a voluntary state of mind or a choice of the will. This emotion or feeling, as we are all aware, is purely an involuntary state of mind. Because it is a phenomenon of the sensibility, and of course a passive state of mind, it has in itself no moral character. The law of God requires voluntary love or good will, as has been repeatedly shown. This love consists in choice, intention. It is choosing the highest well-being of God and the universe of sentient beings as an end. Of course voluntariness must be one of its characteristics.
If it be voluntary, or consist in choice, if it be a phenomenon of the will, it must control the thoughts and states of the sensibility as well as the outward action. This love, then, not only consists in a spirit or state of consecration to God and the universe, but also implies deep emotions of love to God and man. Though a phenomenon of the will, it implies the existence of all those feelings of love and affection to God and man that necessarily result from the consecration of the heart or will to their highest well-being. It also implies all that outward course of life that necessarily flows from a state of will consecrated to this end. Let it be borne in mind that when these feelings do not arise in the sensibility, and when this course of life is not, then the true love or voluntary consecration to God and the universe required by the law, is not. These follow from this by a law of necessity. Those, that is, feelings or emotions of love and a correct outward life, may exist without this voluntary love, as I shall have occasion to show in its proper place; but this can not exist without those, as they follow from it by a law of necessity. These emotions will vary in their strength as constitution and circumstances vary, but exist they must in some sensible degree whenever the will is in a benevolent attitude.
2. Liberty is an attribute of this love. The mind is free and spontaneous in its exercise. It makes this choice when it has the power at every moment to choose self-gratification as an end. Of this'every moral agent is conscious. It is a free and therefore a responsible choice.
3. Intelligence. That is, the mind makes choice of this end intelligently. It not only knows what it chooses, and why it chooses, but also that it chooses in accordance with the dietates of the intelligence; that the end is worthy of being chosen, and that for this reason the intelligence demands that it should be chosen; and also, that for its own intrinsic value it is chosen.
Because voluntariness, liberty, and intelligence are natural attributes of this love, therefore the following are its moral attributes.
4. Virtuousness or rightness is an attribute of it . Moral rightness is moral perfection, righteousness, or uprightness. Virtuousness must be a moral element or attribute. The term marks or designates its relation to moral law and expresses its conformity to it.
In the exercise of this love or choice, the mind is conscious of uprightness or of being conformed to moral law or moral obligation. In other words, it is conscious of being virtuous or holy; of being like God; of loving what ought to be loved, and of consecration to the right end.
Because this choice is in accordance with the demands of the intelligence, therefore the mind in its exercise is conscious of the approbation of that power of the intelligence which we call conscience. The conscience must approve this love, choice, or intention.
Again: Because the conscience approves of this choice, therefore there is and must be a corresponding state of the sensibility. There is and must be in the sensibility a feeling of happiness or satisfaction, a feeling of complacency or delight in the love that is in the heart or will. This love, then, always produces self-approbation in the conscience, and a felt satisfaction in the sensibility, and these feelings are often very acute and joyous, in so much that the soul in the exercise of this love of the heart is sometimes led to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. This state of mind does not always and necessarily amount to joy. Much depends in this respect on the clearness of the intellectual views, upon the state of the sensibility, and upon the manifestation of Divine approbation to the soul. But when peace or approbation of conscience, and consequently a peaceful state of the sensibility are not, this love is not. They are connected with it by a law of necessity, and must of course appear on the field of consciousness where it exists. These, then, are implied in obedience to the law of God. Conscious peace of mind and conscious joy in God must be where true love to God is. 5. Disinterestedness is another attribute of this love. By disinterestedness is not intended that the mind takes no interest in the object loved, for it does take a supreme interest in it. But this term expresses the mind's choice of an end for its own sake, and not merely upon condition that the good belongs to self. This love is disinterested in the sense that the highest well-being of God and the universe is chosen, not upon condition of its relation to self, but for its own intrinsic and infinite value. It is this attribute particularly that distinguishes this love from selfish love. Selfish love makes the relation of good to self the condition of choosing it. The good of God and of the Universe, if chosen at all, is only chosen as a means or condition of promoting the highest good of self. But this love does not make good to self its end; but good to God and being in general is its end.
As disinterestedness is an attribute of this love, it does not seek its own but the good of others. "Charity (love) seeketh not her own." It grasps the good of being in general, and of course, of necessity, secures a corresponding outward life and inward feeling. The intelligence will be employed in devising ways and means for the promotion of its end. The sensibility will be tremblingly alive to the good of all and of each, will rejoice in the good of others as in its own, and will grieve at the misery of others as in its own. It "will rejoice with them who do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." There will not, can not be envy at the prosperity of others, but unfeigned joy, joy as real and often as exquisite as in its own. Benevolence enjoys every body's good things, while selfishness is too envious at the good things of others even to enjoy its own. There is a Divine economy in benevolence. Each benevolent soul not only enjoys his own good things but also enjoys the good things of all others so far as he knows their happiness. He drinks at the river of God's pleasure. He not only rejoices in doing good to others, but also in beholding their enjoyment of good things. He joys in God's joy and in the joy of angels and of saints. He also rejoices in the good things of all sentient existences. He is happy in beholding the pleasure of the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea. He sympathizes with all joy and all suffering known to him. Nor is his sympathy with the suffering of others a feeling of unmingled pain. It is a real luxury to sympathize in the woes of others. He would not be without this sympathy. It so accords with his sense of propriety and fitness, that mingled with the painful emotion there is a sweet feeling of self-approbation, so that a benevolent sympathy with the woes of others is by no means inconsistent with happiness, and with perfect happiness. God has this sympathy. He often expresses and otherwise manifests it. There is, indeed, a mysterious and an exquisite luxury in sharing the woes of others. God and angels and all holy beings know what it is. Where this result of love is not manifested, there love itself is not. Envy at the prosperity, influence, or good of others, the absence of sensible joy in view of the good enjoyed by others, and of sympathy with the sufferings of others, prove conclusively that this love does not exist. There is an expansiveness, an ampleness of embrace, a universality and a Divine disinterestedness in this love that necessarily manifests itself in the liberal devising of liberal things for Zion, and in the copious outpourings of the floods of sympathetic feeling, both of joys and sorrows, as their occasions present themselves before the mind.
5. Impartiality is another attribute of this love. By this term is not intended that the mind is indifferent to the character of him who is happy or miserable; that it would be as well pleased to see the wicked as the righteous eternally and perfectly blessed. But it is intended that, other things being equal, it is the intrinsic value of their well-being which is alone regarded by the mind. Other things being equal, it matters not to whom the good belongs. It is no respecter of persons. The good of being is its end and it seeks to promote every interest according to its relative value. Selfish love is partial. It seeks to promote self-interest first, and secondarily those interests that sustain such a relation to self as will at least indirectly promote the gratification of self. Selfish love has its favorites, its prejudices, unreasonable and ridiculous. Color, family, nation, and many other things of like nature modify it. But benevolence knows neither Jew
nor Greek, neither bond nor free, white nor black, Babarian, Cythian, European, Asiatic, African, nor American, but accounts all men as men, and by virtue of their common manhood calls every man a brother, and seeks the interest of all and of each. Impartiality being an attribute of this love, will of course manifest itself in the outward life and in the temper and spirit of its subject. This love can have no fellowship with those absurd and ridiculous prejudices that are so often rife among nominal Christians. Nor will it cherish them for a moment in the sensibility of him who exercises it. Benevolence recognizes no privileged classes on the one hand, nor proscribed classes on the other. It secures in the sensibility an utter loathing of those discriminations so odiously manifested and boasted of and which are founded exclusively in a selfish state of the will. The fact that a man is a man, and not .that he is of our party, of our complexion, or of our town, state or nation—that he is a creature of God, that he is capable of virtue and happiness, these are the considerations that are seized upon by this divinely impartial love. It is the intrinsic value of his interests, and not that they are the interests of one connected with self, that the benevolent mind regards.
But here it is important to repeat the remark that the economy of benevolence demands that where two interests are, in themselves considered, of equal value, in order to secure the greatest amount of good, each one should bestow his efforts where they can be bestowed to the greatest advantage. For example: Every man sustains such relations that he can accomplish more good by seeking to promote the interest and happiness of certain persons rather than of others. His family, his kindred, his companions, his immediate neighbors and those to whom, in the providence of God, he sustains such relations as to give him access to them and influence over them. It is not unreasonable, it is not partial, but reasonable and im
Jtartial to bestow our efforts more directly upon them. Thereore, while benevolence regards every interest according to its relative value, it reasonably puts forth its efforts in the direction where there is a prospect of accomplishing the most good. This, I say, is not partiality, but impartiality; for be it understood, it is not the particular persons to whom good can be done, but the amount of good that can be accomplished that directs the efforts of benevolence. It is not because my family is my own, nor because their well-being is, of course, ) more valuable in itself than that of my neighbors' families,
but because my relations afford me higher facilities for doing them good, I am under particular obligation to aim first at promoting their good. Hence the apostle says: "If any man provide not for his own, especially for those of his own household, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." Strictly speaking, benevolence esteems every known good according to its intrinsic and relative value; but practically treats every interest according to the perceived probability of securing on the whole the highest amount of good. This is a truth of great practical importance. It is developed in the experience and observation of every day and hour. It is manifest in the conduct of God and of Christ, of apostles and of martyrs. It is every where assumed in the precepts of the Bible, and every where manifested in the history of benevolent effort. Let it be understood, then, that impartiality, as an attribute of benevolence, does not imply that its effort to do good will not be modified by relations and circumstances. But, on the contrary, this attribute implies that the efforts to secure the great end of benevolence, to wit, the greatest amount of good to God and the universe, will be modified by those relations and circumstances that afford the highest advantages for doing good.
The impartiality of benevolence causes it always to lay supreme stress upon God's interests, because His well-being is of infinite value, and of course benevolence must be supreme to Him. Benevolence being impartial love, of course accounts God's interests and well-being, as of infinitely greater value than the aggregate of all other interests. Benevolence regards our neighbor's interests as our own, simply because they are in their intrinsic value as our own. Benevolence, therefore, is always supreme to God and equal to man.
6. Another attribute of this love is Universality. Benevolence chooses the highest good of being in general. It excludes none from its regard; but on the contrary embosoms all in its ample embrace. But by this it is not intended that it seeks to promote the good of every individual. It seeks the highest practicable amount of good. The interest of every individual is estimated according to its intrinsic value, whatever the circumstances or character of each may be. But character and relations may and must modify the manifestations of benevolence, or its efforts in seeking to promote this end. A wicked character and governmental relations and considerations may forbid benevolence to seek the good of some. Nay, they may demand that positive misery shall be
inflicted on some as a warning to others to beware of their destructive ways. By universality, as an attribute of benevolence, is intended that good will is truly exercised towards all sentient beings, whatever their character and relations may be; and that when the higher good of the greater number does not forbid it, the happiness of all and of each will be pursued with a degree of stress equal to their relative value and the prospect of securing each interest. Enemies as well as friends, strangers and foreigners as well as relations and immediate neighbors will be enfolded in its sweet embrace. It is the state of mind required by Christ in the truly Divine precept, "I say unto you, love your enemies, pray for them that hate you, and do good unto them that despitefully use and persecute you." This attribute of benevolence is gloriously conspicuous in the character of God. His love to sinners alone accounts for our being to-day out of hell. His aiming to secure the highest good of the greatest number is illustrated by the display of his glorious justice in the punishment of the wicked. His universal care for all ranks and conditions of sentient beings manifested in His works and providence, beautifully and gloriously illustrates the truth that "His tender mercies are over all His works."
It is easy to see that universality must be a modification of true benevolence. It consists in good willing, that is, in choosing the highest good of being as such and for its own sake. Of course it must, to be consistent with itself, seek the good of all and of each, so far as the good of each is consistent with the greatest good upon the whole. Benevolence not only wills and seeks the good of moral beings, but also the good of every sentient existence, from the minutest animalculum to the highest order of beings. It of course begets a state of the sensibility that is tremblingly alive to all happiness and to all pain. It will be pained with the agony of an insect, and also rejoice in its joy. God does this and all holy beings do this. Where this sympathy with the joys and sorrows of universal being is not, there benevolence is not . Observe, good is its end; where this is promoted by the proper means the feelings are gratified. Where evil is witnessed the benevolent spirit deeply and necessarily sympathizes.