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SER MON LX.
OF SELF-LOVE IN GENERAL.
2 Tim. iii. 2.
For men shall be lovers of themselves. ST. PAUL in this place out of a prophetical spirit SERM.
LX. instructing or warning his disciple Timothy, concerning difficult times, or the calamitous state of Kaspod zasthings, which should ensue, induced upon the world, as it useth to happen, by a general prevalency of vicious dispositions and practices among men, doth thence take occasion, by a specification of their vices, to characterize the persons who should concur to produce that hard state.
Among those vices he placeth self-love in the van, as the capital and leading vice; intimating thereby, that it is of all in its nature most heinous, or in its influence most noxious a.
This indeed is of all vices the most common, so deeply radicated in our nature, and so generally overspreading the world, that no man thoroughly is exempted from it, most men are greatly tainted with it, some are wholly possessed and acted by it: this is the root from which all other vices do grow, and without which hardly any sin could subsist; the
a Hæc omnia mala ab eo velut fonte manantia, quod primum posuit, seipsos amantes. August. in Joh. Tract. 123.
BARROW, VOL. III.
SERM. chief vices especially have an obvious and evident LX.
All impiety doth involve a loving ourselves in undue manner and measure; so that we set ourselves in our esteem and affection before God; we prefer our own conceits to his judgment and advice; we raise our pleasure above his will and authority;
we bandy forces with him, and are like the profane Dan. v. 23. Belshazzar, of whom it is said, Thou hast lifted up
thyself against (or above) the Lord of heaven.
From hence particularly, by a manifest extraction, are derived those chief and common vices, pride, ambition, envy, avarice, intemperance, injustice, uncharitableness, peevishness, stubbornness, discontent, and impatience. For
We overvalue ourselves, our qualities and endowments, our powers and abilities, our fortunes and external advantages; hence are we so proud, that is, so lofty in our conceits, and fastuous in our demeanour.
We would be the only men, or most considerable, in the world; hence are we ambitious, hence continually with unsatiable greediness we do affect and strive to procure increase of reputation, of power, of dignity.
We would engross to ourselves all sorts of good things in highest degree; hence enviously we become jealous of the worth and virtue, we grudge and repine at the prosperity of others; as if they defalked somewhat from our excellency, or did eclipse the brightness of our fortune.
We desire to be not only full in our enjoyment, but free and absolute in our dominion of things; not only secure from needing the succour of other men, but independent in regard to God's providence; SERM.
LX. hence are we so covetous of wealth, hence we so eagerly scrape it, and so carefully hoard it up.
We can refuse our dear selves no satisfaction, although unreasonable or hurtful; therefore we so readily gratify sensual appetites in unlawful or excessive enjoyments of pleasure.
Being blinded or transported with fond dotage on ourselves, we cannot discern or will not regard what is due to others; hence are we apt upon occasion to do them wrong.
Love to ourselves doth in such manner suck in and swallow our spirits, doth so pinch in and contract our hearts, doth according to its computation so confine and abridge our interests, that we cannot in our affection or in real expression of kindness tend outwards; that we can afford little good-will, or impart little good to others.
Deeming ourselves extremely wise and worthy of regard, we cannot endure to be contradicted in our opinion, or crossed in our humour; hence upon any such occasion our choler riseth, and easily we break forth into violent heats of passion.
From the like causes it is, that we cannot willingly stoop to due obeisance of our superiors, in reverence to their persons, and observance of their laws; that we cannot contentedly acquiesce in the station or portion assigned us by Providence; that we cannot patiently support our condition, or accept the events befalling us.
In fine, if surveying all the several kinds of naughty dispositions in our souls, and of miscarriages in our lives, we do scan their particular nature, and search into their original causes; we shall
SERM. find inordinate self-love to be a main ingredient and LX.
a common source of them all: so that a divine of great name had some reason to affirm, that original sin (or that innate distemper from which men generally become so very prone to evil and averse to good) doth consist in self-love, disposing us to all kinds of irregularity and excess b: St. Paul therefore might well set this in the front of all those sins which depraved the age he spake of; they having all such a dependance on it.
It is therefore very requisite that we should well understand this fault, that we may be the better able to curb and correct it; to which purpose I shall endeavour, by God's help, somewhat to declare its nature.
The word self-love is ambiguous; for all self-love is not culpable; there is a necessary and unavoidable, there is an innocent and allowable, there is a worthy and commendable self-love.
There is a self-love originally implanted by God himself in our nature, in order to the preservation and enjoyment of our being ; the which is common
to us with all creatures, and cannot anywise be exEph. v. 29. tirpated; for no man, as St. Paul saith, ever yet
hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it: every man living, by a natural and necessary instinct, is prompted to guard his life, shunning all dangers threatening its destruction; to purvey for the support and convenience of it; to satisfy those natural appetites, which importunately crave relief, and without intolerable pain cannot be denied it; to repel or decline whatever is very grievous and offen
+ Est ergo ista ad peccandum amore sui propensio, peccatum originale, &c. Zuingl. apud Bell. de Amiss. Grat. iv. 2.
sive to nature C; the self-love that urgeth us to do SERM.
LX. these things is no more to be blamed than it can be shunned.
Reason further alloweth such a self-love, which moveth us to the pursuance of any thing apparently good, pleasant, or useful to us, the which doth not contain in it any essential turpitude or iniquity ; doth not obstruct the attainment of some true or greater good ; doth not produce some overbalancing mischief; doth not infer harm to the world, or wrong to other men d.
Reason dictateth and prescribeth to us, that we should have a sober regard to our true good and welfare ; to our best interest and solid content; to that, which (all things being rightly stated, considered, and computed) will in the final event prove most beneficial and satisfactory to us : a self-love working in prosecution of such things common sense cannot but allow and approve .
God himself hath to these suggestions of nature, and dictates of reason, adjoined his own suffrage, having in various ways declared it to be his will and pleasure, that we should tender our real and final good. He, as the Author of nature, and Fountain of reason, may be supposed to ordain that, unto which nature doth so potently incline, and which reason so clearly prescribeth. He plainly hath to every man Quia tutela
certissima committed himself in charge, so as to preserve his ex proximo
Panis ematur, olus, vini sexlarius ; adde Queis humana sibi doleat natura negatis. Hor. Serm. i. 1. d Τον μεν αγαθόν δεϊ φίλαυτον είναι και γάρ αυτός ονήσεται τα καλά πράττων, και τους άλλους ωφελήσει τον δε μοχθηρόν ου δεί, βλάψει γάρ και εαυτόν και τους πέλας, φαύλοις πάθεσιν επόμενος. Αrist. Eth. ix. 8.
• Πάς γαρ νούς αιρείται το βέλτιστον εαυτώ, ο δε επιεικής πειθαρχεί το