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only his own views and wishes, society would be dissolved, and its separate parts embroiled in a state of mutual conflict. In the various discussions which come before a public body, Selfishness says, “I am sure my opinion is correct; and I will, if possible, have my way:" but the language of Love is, "I have stated my opinion and my wishes; if the former does not carry conviction, I by no means wish it to be adopted, nor my desires to be gratified. I am anxious for the comfort of my brethren, and I yield my wishes to theirs."
Some persons have acquired habits in their general conduct, which are exceedingly annoying to others; they have sources of personal gratification, peculiarities of humour, in which it is impossible to indulge, without greatly incommoding those around them: but so detestably selfish is their disposition, at least with regard to these practices, that let who will be disturbed, offended, or put to serious inconvenience, they will not forego, in the least degree, their accustomed indulgence. When the unfortunate sufferers were expiring in the Black Hole at Calcutta, and entreated the centinels to represent their agonizing and fatal condition to the tyrant who had imprisoned them, the guards answered, "No; he is enjoying his repose, and it will be certain death to us if we disturb him, even for your relief." And what better in principle, though certainly a less degree of its operation, is that regard to their appetite, ease, or humour, which many indulge to the annoyance of their neighbours, and which they indulge against the remonstrances of those who suffer? In short, that regard to our comfort which leads us to neglect
or sacrifice the felicity of another, let the object to which it is directed be what it may, is the selfishness which kindness opposes and destroys.
This hateful disposition has contrived to conceal itself under many false names and disguises, and thus to find protection from much of the obloquy which it deserves, and which would otherwise be more unsparingly heaped upon it.
The plea of frugality, or a just regard to the claims of a family, has often been urged as an excuse for the selfishness of avarice. A man certainly must take care of his own, but not to the injury, or even to the neglect, of all besides. "I have no more," it is often said, "than I want for my style of living; and that style I think necessary for my rank in life. I spend all I get upon my family, and hoard nothing; how, then, can I be selfish?" Mistaken mortal! do you forget that a man's family, is himself multiplied himself reflected. Selfish! yes, you are detestably so, if you spend all upon yourself and family, however lavish and unsparing you may be
No expression, no sentiment, has ever been more abused than that of the apostle-" Do all to the glory of God." It has been employed to disguise the most improper motives, and never more frequently, nor more profanely employed, than when it has been used to give a character of religious zeal to actions which every eye could discern originated in an unmixed selfishness. It is to be feared, that when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, it will be found that, while much has been professedly done for the glory of God in the affairs of religion, pure
zeal for God's glory is a very rare thing. Certain it is, that much of what has been carried on under the authority of this truly sublime phrase, has emanated from a far less hallowed principle. The Gospel has been preached by ministers; places of worship have been built by hearers; distant lands have been visited by missionaries; yea, imprisonment and death may have been sought by martyrs, in some cases, not from pure zeal for God's glory, but under the influence of selfishness. All sorts of artful practices have been supported, all kinds of stormy passions have been indulged, all kinds of injuries have been inflicted,-under the pretence of glorifying God; but which, in fact, are to be ascribed to this disposition. When a man is identified with a party, that party is himself, and what he does for the one, he does for the other.
The same remarks will apply to many of those actions which are performed on the professed ground of regard for the public good. Pure patriotism is a scarce virtue, and is found but rarely in the breasts of those who are loudest in their praises and professions of it. Many a noisy and self-eulogized patriot-many a zealous supporter of public institutions-many an active reformer of popular errorsmany a liberal contributor to humane or religious societies could their motives be exposed, would be. found to act from no higher aims. than to get a name for themselves, and to be praised by their fellow creatures.
Some indulge this disposition under the pretext of regard for the truth. Attaching an overweening importance to their own opinions, as if they
possessed the attribute of infallibility, overbearing in debate, impatient of contradiction, determined to crush the opinions and resist the influence of those who are opposed to theirs, they quiet their conscience, and silence the voice of remonstrance, with the plea that their vehemence is pure zeal for the interests of truth. They should be less anxious, they say, if it were their personal interest at stake; but they have a right to be earnest, yea, even contentious, in defence of the faith. But they know not themselves, or they would discern that their conduct springs from a proud, imperious, and selfish spirit.
It is time to contemplate the evil of selfishness. It is a direct opposition to the divine benevolence, and is contrary to the habitual temper of our Lord Jesus Christ, "who pleased not himself.” It is the cause of all sin, the opposite of all holiness and virtue; is the source of innumerable other sins, and is placed by the apostle as the head and leader of the eighteen vices which he enumerates as the marks of perilous times, "Men shall be lovers of themselves." This was the sin which introduced all guilt and misery into the world; for the first transgression, by which Adam fell from innocence, and by which his posterity fell with him, was an effort to raise himself into a state of independence; by selfishness, he laid the world under the burden of the divine condemnation. It is a rejection of all the claims, and an opposition to all the ends and interests, of society; for if all persons were under the influence of predominant selfishness, society could scarcely exist; let each one covet and grasp his own, to the
injury or neglect of the rest, and the world becomes a den of wild beasts, where each ravins for his prey, and all worry one another. This disposition defeats its own end. God has endowed us with social affections, in the indulgence of which there is real pleasure the exercise of kindness and the enjoyment of delight are inseparable. "If there be any comfort of love," says the apostle: by which he implied, in the strongest manner, that there is great comfort in it; and, of course, in proportion as we extend the range and multiply the objects of our love, we extend the range and multiply the sources of our happiness. He that loves only himself, has only one joy; he that loves his neighbours, has many. To rejoice in the happiness of others, is to make it our own; to produce it, is to make it more than our own. Lord Bacon has justly remarked, that our sorrows are lessened, and our felicities multiplied, by communication. Mankind had been labouring for ages under the grossest mistake as to happiness, imagining that it arose from receiving; an error which our Lord corrects, by saying, "That it is more blessed to give, than to receive." A selfish man who accumulates property, but diffuses not, resembles not the perennial fountain, sending forth fertilizing streams; but the stagnant pool, into which, whatever flows remains there, and whatever remains, corrupts: miser is his name, and miserable he is in disposition. Selfishness often brings a terrible retribution in this world: the tears of its wretched subject fall unpitied; and he finds, in the gloomy hour of his want or his woe, that he who determines to be alone in his fulness, will generally