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and terminate in the same thing: But seeking my own individual happiness, is not the same thing as seeking the glory of God. He does not seek the happiness of an individual, as he seeks his own glory, for his own glory he will not relinquish ; but he seeks the good of his church, as invariably as he seeks his own glory.It is his own cause. When the God of peace takes any of his creatures into an everlasting covenant, which, all will grant, is the case with those already arrived in glory, then their individual happiness is made as sure, as his own glory. All things work together for good to them that love God. But certainly this does not make it right for a creature to regard his own happiness, as being of equal value with the glory of God; or of equal value with the happiness of all the rest of the creation. And if it were possible for one of those blessed creatures which are in heaven, to make a chief end of his own happiness, there would be nothing in his hallelujahs any more acceptable to the thrice holy One, than in the blasphemies of the spirits in prison:"For the sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord." And that creature who makes himself, and only himself, his chief end, let him be in what world he will, is completely wicked. The whole of our unconverted state is described by the apostle, (2 Cor. v. 15,) by men's living unto themselves. We know that God has connected the eternal good of the elect world, including angels and men, with his own glory; but will it follow hence, that every one of these creatures may make a chief end of his own happiness? Nothing can preserve the purity, peace, and blessedness of the heav enly society, short of a perfection of that charity, which "seeketh not her own." This is the only "bond of perfectness." Every inhabitant of heaven will eternally have a supreme regard to the Divine Being, in all which he does; and each will love the other as himself.
We have shown how the inhabitants of heaven will feel; we would now ask, How ought the inhabitants of hell to feel? Or is there no cught, no obligation, on them? Has it become innocent for them to hate God and disregard the good of the universe? All their enjoyment is righteously taken away from them; and they
are imprisoned, that their punishment might promote the glory of God, and the good of his eternal kingdom; which great object they disregarded.
"The wealth of
the sinner is laid up for the just." Their talents are taken away, and given to those whose talents were improved. It had been better for them, not to have been born; but it would not have been so well for the uniTheir glory is turned into shame and everlasting contempt; but God's glory is brightened by their condemnation: For "the Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”Their laughter is turned into weeping, and their joy into eternal heaviness; but they will know, that there remains an innumerable multitude of creatures who are holy and blessed. They will doubtless know, that all the natural and moral evil in the creation, will through the great power and goodness of God, turn out to the advancement of general good. Now, will it be right for these reprobates to feel, that all this display of the Creator's glory, and all this holiness and blessedness in the creation, are nothing? It will be right, if this principle be correct, That every being has a right to make his own good, his chief end' But if general good, or, what is the same, the glory of God, ought to be the chief end, then reprobates have no right to feel indifferent about the good of the universe, on account of their having no part nor lot in this matter,
VI. It is objected to the doctrine of disinterested love; That good is promised and evil threatened, to induce men to do their duty." That a christian," says the author of the Letters, " may have an eye to his eternal reward in all he does, is abundantly demonstrared from scripture." We are not disposed to invalidate the use of the promises, and threatenings of God's word, but we believe them to be in harmony with the doctrine, which was advanced in the Sermons. We have already shown, that perfect disinterestedness does no more, than to bring us to take our own place in the system. It only preserves us from thinking of ourselves "more highly than we ought to think. As it is right to seek the good of our neighbors, so it is right to seek our own. As it is suitable for Christ to say to one of his ministers, "Take heed unto thyself, and un
to thy doctrine; continue in them for in doing this thou shalt save them that hear thee;" so it is equally suitable to say, "For in doing this thou shalt save thyself." The doctrine which we advocate, has no tendency to make men indifferent, and stupid about their own happiness. It has no tendency to make eternal felicity in heaven, or eternal misery in hell, appear like trifles. It has no tendency to make men neglect the great salvation. The doctrine, it is true, supposes there is a greater good than the eternal blessedness of an individual, and that there is a greater evil than even the loss of a soul. Therefore we believe, that in the exercise of holy, unselfish love, a sinner may accept of the punishment "of his sins, and feel reconciled to God, while he does not know but that this deserved punishment will be actually inflicted upon himself. Even now he does not love his misery, but he loves justice; he loves the general good. If God can be glorified, and the good of his kingdom be secured, and he saved; his personal salvation from sin and misery, will appear like a great favor; otherwise it will appear, on the whole, to be undesirable. As the Saviour, in his agóny, said, Father, glorify thy name; so have his disciples in their distresses, resolved all their petitions into this one, The will of the Lord be done! “Behold, here am 1, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him." Acts xxi. 14: 2 Sam. xv. 26.
Although personal rewards are held up to view, to encourage obedience; yet they are not proposed as the chief end. It is true, that God by his word makes this known to us; that the line of conduct which he requires of us, and which is pleasing to him, will also insure our own well-being. Yet this does not give us a right to make as great an object of our own well-being, as of his glory.*
*In the Assembly of Divines' Shorter Catechism, the first question is, "What is the chief end of man ?" The answer is, "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.”... They probably meant, that if we did make God's glory our chief end, we should enjoy him forever: or else; that the greatest good which we could seek for ourselves, was the eternal enjoyment of God. But it ought not to be understood
But in answering this objection, it is of unspeakable importance, that we do not lose sight of the nature of those rewards, which God promises to them who love him. Let us make the supposition, that Moses had arrived to a mature age before he became an "Israelite indeed." In this case, we must conceive of him, as once having respect to earthly honors. Now let the supposition be made, that he relinquished fair prospects in the court of Egypt, for fairer prospects in the court of Heaven, without changing his supreme object, namely, his own aggrandizement: would there in realdty have been any change in his character? Is selfishness any better when it relates to eternity, than when it is confined to time? It is true, that Moses, when considered as an Israelite indeed, " had respect to the accompense of reward;" but it was such a reward as a selfish creature could not enjoy. Christ encourages his disciples, that they shall hereafter be with him where he is, to behold his glory. But those disciples of his, whose love is selfish, would not be entertained by be. holding his glory. In heaven there will be the most perfect humility, therefore proud spirits cannot desire such a heaven. There they will serve him day and Light, not for the sake of retaining their exalted station, but from the most unfeigned love.
If a servant should be induced to be very faithful to his master, during a specified time of trial, not only from present delight in his service, but with the hope that if he is faithful now he shall be confirmed in this service, and have liberty to serve, and please, and enjoy his dear master as long as he lives, it would prove him to be something more than an eye-servant. If the servant should be induced to do well through his time of probation, thinking, that if he can only get confirm ed as a servant, he shall have a master who will be obliged to take care of him, and that then he will be able to reJax his exertions, and not be so attentive to his master's interest; this would look like seeking his own interest his chief end. But if he did actually look upon it as a great privilege, to be confirmed in the service of this
that the eternal happiness of any man is to be sought, as his chief end, equally with the glory of God.
master, not principally for the sake of his own support, but rather that he might be in the best situation, to promote the interest of a master, whom he esteemed as worthy of all his most devoted services, and that he might have the best advantages to receive new evidences of the excellency of his character ;————if with these things in view he should be stimulated to acquit himself well, during the term of trial, it would be proper to say, that he did not appear like a selfish servant; but that even in his respect to the promised reward, he manifested much disinterestedness.
The pure nature of heavenly felicity, and the disinterestedness of the saints, in having respect to such reward, may in some measure be learned from the following sketches, which are taken from the private writings of Mr Brainerd, the Indian Missionary: "I viewed," says this good man, "the infinite excellency of God, and my soul even broke with longings, that God should be glorified. I thought of dignity in heayen; but instantly the thought returned, I do not go to heaven to get honor, but to give all possible glory and praise. O, 1 was made for eternity, if God might be glorified! My heaven is to please God, and glorify him, and give all to him, and to be wholly devoted to his glory; that is the heaven I long for, that is my religion, and that is my happiness; and always was ever since I supposed I had any true religion and all those that are of that religion shall meet me in heaven. I do not go to heaven to be advanced, but to give honor to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high or a low seat there; but to love and please and glorify God is all- -It is impossible for any rational creature to be happy without acting all for God: God himself could not make him happy any other way. I long to be in heaven praising and glorifying God with the holy angels. All my des sire is to glorify God."
These were some of the views and feelings of that eminent christian, near the time when he was about to leave this world. The heaven which he seemed to pant after, was a heaven of disinterested enjoyment. The same holy blessedness Paul panted after, when he said; "I desire to depart, and be with Christ; which