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jected, that we cannot comprehend the supreme Being, and therefore cannot love him in proportion to what he is in the scale of being. True; and we cannot fully comprehend ourselves; yet we may love ourselves supremely.
"The order of nature," says Mr. Hall, "is evermore from particulars to generals; we advance from private to public affections; from the love of parents, brothers and sisters, to those more expanded regards, which embrace the immense society of human kind." But to this it may be replied
1. Virtuous affection does not consist in natural attachment: if it did, birds and beasts would be virtuous, as well as men. Nor does genuine benevolence arise from those instinctive feelings as their root: if it did, all men, who are not without natural affection,' would be virtuous, benevolent characters. It may imply a high degree of depravity to have obliterated natural affection, though the thing itself has no moral good in it. Natural affection however, if exercised in subserviency to the divine glory, becomes virtuous; as are eating and drinking, and all other natural actions that are capable of being performed to a higher end.
2. The question does not relate to the order in which the human mind comes to the knowledge of objects, and so to the actual exercise of affection towards them; but to the order in which love operates, when the objects are known. If we were free from every taint of original sin, yet we should not love God before we loved our parents; and that because we should not know him first. We cannot love an object before we know it; but it does not follow from hence, that when we know both God and our parents, we must continue to love them first, and God for their sake. That which this writer calls "the order of nature," may indeed be so called, as it is the order established for our being brought to the actual exercise of our powers; but with regard to the argument, it is rather the order of time, than of nature.
"The welfare of the whole system of being must be allowed," says Mr. Hall, "to be in itself the object of all others the most worthy to be pursued; so that, could the mind distinctly embrace it, and discern at every step what action would infallibly promote it, we should be furnished with a sure criterion of right and wrong; an unerring guide, which would supersede the use and necessity of all inferior rules, laws, and principles." p. 55.
But it is not necessary to true virtue, that it should comprehend all being, or "distinctly embrace the welfare of the whole system." It is sufficient that it be of an expansive tendency; and this appears to be Edwards's view of the subject. A child may love God by loving godliness, or godly people, though it has as yet scarcely any ideas of God himself. It may also possess a disposition, the tendency of which is to embrace in the arms of good will," the immense society of human kind;" though at the time it may not be acquainted with but few people in the world. Such a disposition will come into actual exercise, "from particulars to generals," as fast as knowledge extends. This however is not "private affection," or self love, ripening into an "extended benevolence, as its last and most perfect fruit;" but benevolence itself expanding, in proportion as the natural powers expand, and afford it opportunity.
MORALITY NOT FOUNDED IN UTILITY.
IN a late excellent Sermon,* the author combats with great success, the notion of morality being founded in
* Mr. HALL'S, on the "Sentiments proper to the Present Crisis," delivered on occasion of the General Fast, in 1803.
utility. On looking over some loose papers the other day, I found a short conversation on this subject, which took place a few years since between two friends, and which was taken down immediately after they had parted. It will occupy but a small space; and if you think it worthy of insertion, it is at your service.
C. I have been thinking of the reason why we are required to love God, and one another; and why the contrary is forbidden.
F. And what do you conceive it to be?
C. Would there be any such thing as sin in the universe, if it were unproductive of evil consequences?
F. You mean, would there be moral evil, if there were no natural evil arising out of it?
C. I do.
F. I allow that all moral evil tends to natural evil, as disorder in the animal frame tends to pain and misery: but we do not usually consider the effect of a thing as the reason of its existence. Instead of saying, it is wrong because it tends to misery; I should say, it tends to misery because it is wrong.
C. What idéa do you affix to right and wrong, distinct from that of its good or evil tendency?
F. That which is in itself fit or unfit, or which agrees or disagrees with the relations we sustain to other beings, whether Creator or creatures. Thus it is commanded : 'Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.'
C. Yes, it is 'right:' but its being so, I conceive, arises from its tendency to render the universe happy.
F. Then it has no excellency in itself, but merely a relative one. Will you say, that because moral good tends to general happiness, therefore it must needs be what it is on that account?
What if I were to affirm this?
F. By the same mode of reasoning I might affirm, that truth would not be true, if it were not an object of utility and as the first of all truths is the existence of
God, that God would not exist, if it were not for the advantage of the creation that he should exist.
C. This consequence is certainly inadmissible; but I can hardly see how you make it out.
F. Try it again. If moral good be moral good, because it tends to general happiness; why is not truth, truth, because it is of utility?
But farther: An action may tend to natural good, though it be performed from the worst of motives, as the relieving of the needy, from ambition; yet with such a motive there is no moral good in it. If therefore you will maintain your position, you must give up all purity of motive as essential to morality; and maintain, with Volney, that intention is nothing. You will also find your opinion largely defended by Hume, who has written a treatise to prove, that all virtue arises from its utility; and that as "broad shoulders and taper legs are useful, they are to be reckoned among the virtues!" I hope you will not be elated with your company.
NATURE OF INDWELLING SIN.
Query. Is the love of sin eradicated from the regenerate? Though it lives in them, is it not their sorrow and detestation?
Answer. If the question had been, whether the love of sin be the governing, prevailing, and habitual principle in the regenerate; there could be no doubt of its being answerable in the negative. Holiness is represented as 'the law of the believer's mind.' It is the governing and habitual principle of his soul, and that which gives it its leading bias. It is that which rules in the ruling power
of the soul-'the mind;' which is equal to saying that it reigns. If a rightful prince, after being driven from his throne by a rebellion, should so far recover it as to rule in the proper place of rule, and compel his enemies to quit the reins of government, and seek refuge in their private haunts, he is truly said to reign. Thus the grace of God, becoming 'the law of the mind,' and the power of carnality being driven, as it were, to take its main residence in the members,' working not by open daylight, but by deeds of darkness, the former, and not the latter, is truly said to have the dominion over us. And as every being is denominated by his governing disposition, so holiness is that from which believers are denominated in the scriptures: it is that which gives them their charac
There is a sense in which good men, as well as others, are sinners, as every good man will acknowledge: but when the scriptures describe them, it is not as sinners, but as saints. The character of sinners, distinguishes the unregenerate.
Though, strictly speaking, there is no man that doeth good, and sinneth not,' yet believers are described as not doing evil, but good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil is of the wicked one-He that is born of God sinneth not-He that loveth the world, the love of the Father is not in him.' All these modes of speaking are descriptive, not of what is universal, but of what is general and habitual. Sin is the constant course of the wicked, but righteousness of the righteous.
But to say that the love of sin is eradicated from the regenerate,' is saying that sin has no place in their affections, and that their affections are never entangled by its influences and wherein this differs from saying that they are sinless, I do not understand. If sin has no place in the affections, it has no place in the soul; for the affections are the proper seat of good and evil. As the whole of duty is summed up in love, so the whole of sin may be summed up in the contrary.