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in his fight ; and those who are more especially under his care, and to whom he is under advantage, and has more opportunity to do good. And he will feel himself united, in a peculiar degree, and with a more fervent love, to those who appear to him to be benovolent and engaged in defiring and promoting the greatest general good, in the exercise of true love to God, and man. As such who are friends to God and his kingdom, to Jesus Christ, and the greatest public good, appear to the benevolent to have more real existence than others, and to be of much more importance in the scale of being, and are objects of the peculiar benevolence of the Deity ; they are in this view peculiarly dear to them, and excellent in their eyes ; and they embrace them with a distinguishing, strong and sweet, benevolent and complacential love. .
Having given a more general view of conversion, which is the effect of the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, and which consist in the volitions and actions of the regenerate, it is of importance that what has been mentioned, should be more particularly explained ; which will be attempted in the following sections.
On Disinterested Afillion.
IT has been already shown that moral depravitý, or fin, consists in felf love ; and that holiness consists in dilinterested benevolence, which is in the nature of it, and in all its excercises, wholly contrary and opposed to self love. [See Part I. Chap. VIII. page 330, &c. to which the reader is referred.) But as this is a subject so very important, and necessary to be well understood,
in order properly to distiftinguish true religion, and real conversion, from that which is not so, but false religion, and mere delusion, it is thought proper to bring it again into view here, in order farther to explain and confirm this truth, which is overlooked by too many, and oppoled by others.
Not a few have believed and asserted, that there is no such thing in nature as disinterested affections ; and that all factions of men flow from self love, as their foundation and source. Others allow that disintereRed affection may take place in the human heart ; but that it either springs from self love, and is grafted upon it; or so coincides with it, and regulates it, that both these forts of affection, if they do really differ in their nature, are included in the exercises of true holiness; and that self love is the real foundation of all true religion.
These sentiments and pleas in favour of self love, it is believed, are owing, in many instances, to wrong or confused ideas, and not properly distinguishing between self love, and that which is of a different nature and kind.
First. Many do not appear to distinguish between felf love, and a desire or love of happiness ; or a capacity of pleasure and enjoyment, and of being pleased with and choosing one object, rather than another. These are quite diftinct and different things : The latter is really nothing but a capacity or power of will and choice, for without this there could be no such thing as prefering one object to another, or exercise of choice. This therefore is essential to the existence of a moral agent, or to any act of will whatever, and is neither self love, nor disinterested affection, but necessary to both. Self love confills in a moral agent's placing his happiness in what he views as his own private personal interest, and in nothing else, in distinction from the interest or happiness of any other being, and in contradiction to it. This only pleases
him, for its own sake, and is the ultimated object of all his desires and exertions. "
Disinterested benevolence is pleased with the publick interest, the greatest good and happiness of the whole. This is the highest good to the benevolent person. In this he places his happiness, and not in the interest and happiness of any individual, or of himself, any farther than it is consistent with the greatest interest and hapa
piness of the whole and really included in it, and serves - to promote it. In this state of the case, is it not easy to
see the distinction between a capacity of pleasure and choice, or being pleased, and enjoying happiness ; and placing our happiness in our own personal good and interest only; or in the public good, for its own sake ? And who does not see the difference and opposition between the two latter ?
Secondly. By many there is not a proper distinction made, and kept in view, between self love, and that re.
gard which the benevolent person must have for himself - and his interest and happiness, which is necessarily in.
cluded in disinterested affection. Disinterested, impartial benevolence, to being in general that is capable of good and happiness, regards and wishes well to every be. ing and creature in the system, according to the degree of his existence, worth and capacity of happiness, so far as all this comes into the view of the benevolent person, and so far as the good and happiness of each is, or ap. pears to be, consistent with the greatest good of the whole, And as he himself is one individual part of the whole, he mult of necessity be the object of this disinterested impartial benevolence, and his own interest and happiness must be regarded and desired, as much as that of his neighbour, or any individual of the whole society; not because it is him felf, but because he is included in the whole, and his happiness is worth as much, and as defir:ble as that of his neighbour, other circumstances being
equal. This is not self love; but the same universal, disinterested, impartial, public benevolence, which wishes well to being in general, and therefore to himself, because he has an existence, and is one among the rest, and equal to his neighbour. This is loving his neighbour as himfelf; not with the least degree of self love ; but with the same disinterested, public affection, with which he loves being in general. The least spark of self love, will inter. rupt this reasonable and beautiful moral order and harmony, and render him partial and interested in his affection, and so far detach him from the whole and make him set up a selfish, private interest of bis own, in distinction from that of the rest, and in opposition to it.
By not making this distinction, and not attending to the nature of disinterested benevolence, as it regards the interest of the benevolent person himself ; and therefore taking it for granted, that all the regard a person has for himself and desire of his own happiness is self love, in diftin&tion from disinterested benevolence, they have concluded with great assurance, that self love is essential to man, and even his duty. But when the distinction is properly made, and the matter plainly sated, the miltake is discovered, and it appears that disinterelled be. nevolence, will take all proper and sufficient care of every individual in the system, and will defire and seck the best interest and happiness of all, and of the benev. olent person himself, so far as is consistent with the great. est good of the whole : And that this is not self love, but the same disinterested, impartial benevolence, when it takes into view his own happiness, and values and seeks it as much as that of his neighbour. The self love which can be distinguished from this universal, dilinterested benevolence, and is not of this kind, cannot be diftinguished from selfishness; but is the very same affection, and is directly and wholly opposed to disinterested,
boly love : And is, as has been observed, the root and ellence of all sin.
To distinguish between self love and selfishness, is to, attempt to make a distinction where there is no difference ; unless by self love be meant disinterested benev. olence. · Disinterested affection and self love are very distinct and oppofte affections, and the latter, in every degree of it, cannot be distinguished from felfishness : For these are two words, for one and the same thing. Some would distinguish between inordinate, and well. regulated self love ; and suppose the former is selfishness and Gnful; but the latter innocent, and even good and virtuous. But unless by well regulated self love be meant disinterested affection, the distinction is groundless and vain. And to suppose a certain degree of self love, subordinated to a contrary affection, love to God, and to our neighbour, is virtuous, or even innocent; and that the same self love in a higher degree of it, and not subordinated by a different and contrary affection, is linful, is very unreasonable and absurd, and a suppoGition which is utterly impossible. For if holiness and in do not conast in the nature of moral affection and Exercise, there can be no such thing as either fin or holiness. And to suppose these opposites to confift in the legree of the same affe&tion exercised, and not in different kinds of affection, is really to make them not oppoGtes, or not to differ in nature and kind ; but to be one and the same thing, under different modifications. For Che nature and kind of moral exercise and affection is rot changed by there being more or less of it, or by beng under restraints, or not. If the lowest degree of such
ffection be innocent and good, the highest possible degree of it must be fo much better, and have a propor. ionably greater degree of moral goodness. And if the aigheft poffible degree of such affection be înful and Frong ; the least possible degree of the same kind of af, L13