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OF SELF-CONFIDENCE, SELF-COMPLACENCE, SELF-WILL, AND SELF-INTEREST.
II TIMOTHY, CHAP. III.-VERSE 2.
For men shall be lovers of themselves, &c.
II. ANOTHER like culpable kind of self-love is that of selfconfidence; when men beyond reason, and without regard unto God's providence, do rely on themselves and their own abilities, imagining that, without God's direction and help, by the contrivances of their own wit and discretion, by the prevalency of their own strength and courage, by their industrious care, resolution, and activity, they can compass any design, they can attain any good, they can arrive to the utmost of their desires, and become sufficiently happy; not considering that of God (in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways;' in whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind') all our being and all our ability do absolutely depend; that he manageth and turneth all things, dispensing success according to his pleasure; that no good thing can be performed without the supply and succor of his grace, nothing can be achieved without the concurrence of his providence; that, the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;' that the preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord; that, although a man's heart deviseth his way, yet the Lord directeth his steps;' that no king is saved by the
multitude of an host,' a mighty man is not delivered by much strength,'' a horse is a vain thing for safety;' The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong;' that (as St. Paul, one abundantly furnished with abilities suiting his designs as any man can be, doth acknowlege)' we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing, but our sufficiency is of God:' these oracles of truth, and even dictates of reason, no less than principles of religion, they consider not, who confide in their own abilities, with which nature or fortune do seem to have furnished them.
This is that instance of self-love, which the wise man biddeth us to beware of: Trust,' saith he, in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowlege him, and he shall direct thy paths.' This is that which he condemneth as foolish, and opposite to wise proceeding: He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely shall be delivered.'
This is that which smothereth devotion, and keepeth men from having recourse to God; while they think it needless to ask for that which they have in their power, or have means of obtaining; this consequently depriveth them of divine aid, which is afforded only to those who seek it, and confide therein.
This often engageth men to attempt things rashly, and causeth them to come off unhappily; God interposing to cross them, with purpose to cure their error, or confound their presumption. From hence, if God ever suffereth their attempt to prosper, they sacrilegiously and profanely arrogate to themselves the success, sacrificing to their own net,' and saying with him in the prophet, By the strength of my hand have I done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent.'
This causeth most men to fail of true content here, and of happiness finally; while taking them to be, where they are not, at home, within their own hand or reach, they neglect to search after them abroad, there where they only do lie, in the hand and disposal of God.
III. A like act of blameable self-love is self-complacence, that is, greatly delighting in one's self, or in the goods which
he fancieth himself to enjoy, or in the works which he performeth; when men, in contemplation of their works and achievements, go strutting about, and saying with that vain prince, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built?' when, reflecting on their possessions, they applaud and bless themselves, like the rich man in the gospel, Soul,' (saith he, looking on his accumulated store,) thou hast much goods laid up for many years.' Such vain soliloquies do men ordinarily make. Thou hast (saith a man to himself) rare endowments of soul; a wonderful skill and ability in this and that matter; thou art master of excellent things; thou hast managed very important business, hast accomplished hard designs, hast achieved brave feats, with great dexterity and admirable success, by thy wit and industry; thou hast framed and vented very curious orations, very facetious speeches, very nervous and pithy discourses; thou hast put obligations on this man and that; thou hast got much credit and interest amongst men; the world much looketh on thee, loveth and prizeth thee hugely, resoundeth with thy fame and praise; surely thy worth is notable, thy deserts are egregious; how happy art thou in being such a person, in performing such things, in enjoying such advantages! Thus with a spurious and filthy pleasure do men reflect on and revolve in their minds the goods they deem themselves to possess, and the favorable occurrences that seem to befal them; being fond of their own qualities and deeds as of their children, which, however they are in themselves, do always appear handsome and towardly unto them; any little thing is great and eminent, any ordinary thing is rare, any indifferent thing is excellent to them, because it is theirs; out of any thing, how dry and insipid soever it is in itself, they suck a vain and foolish pleasure.
Hence is that honest and pure delight which they should taste in faith and love toward God, in the hope of future celestial things, in the enjoyment of spiritual blessings, in the conscience of virtuous practice, quite choked or greatly damped.
Hence also that hearty contrition and sober sadness, which, by reflection on their great defects and frequent miscarriages, they should continually maintain in their souls, is utterly stifled. Hence also that charitable complacency in the welfare, and
condolency with the adversities of their brethren, is suppressed; hence cannot they be satisfied with any thing done by others, they cannot apprehend the worthy deserts, they cannot render due commendation to the good deeds of their neighbor; for while men are so pleased with their own imaginary felicities, they cannot well discern, they will not be duly affected with, the real advantages or disasters of themselves or of others.
IV. Another culpable kind of self-love is self-will, (avOádela, pleasing one's self in his choice, and proceeding without or against reason;) when a man unaccountably or unreasonably, with obstinate resolution, pursueth any course offensive to others or prejudicial to himself, so that he will not hearken to any advice, nor yield to any consideration diverting him from his purpose, but putteth off all with a-Stat pro ratione voluntas: Say what you can, let what will come on it, I will do as I please, I will proceed in my own way; so I am resolved, so it shall be.
This is that generally which produceth in men the wilful commission of sin, although apparently contrary to their own interest and welfare, depriving them of the best goods, bringing on them most heavy mischiefs; this causeth them irreclaimably to persist in impenitence. Hence do they stop their ears against wholesome counsel; they harden their hearts against most pathetical and softening discourses; they withdraw their shoulder; they stiffen their neck' against all sober precepts, admonitions, and reproofs; they defeat all means and methods of correction; they will not hear God commanding, entreating, promising, threatening, encouraging, chastising; they will not regard the advices and reprehensions of friends; the most apparent consequences of damage, disgrace, pain, perdition, on their ill courses will not stir them; their will is impregnable against the most powerful attempts to win and better them: let all the wisdom in the world solicit them, with a Turn at my reproof; it shall have occasion to complain, 'They would none of my counsel, they despised all my reproof.'
This is that also more particularly, which breedeth so much mischief to the public, which pestereth and disturbeth private
conversation this maketh conversation harsh, and friendship intolerable.
Hence are men in their demeanor so peevish and froward, so perverse and crossgrained, so stiff and stubborn; with much inconvenience to others, and commonly with more to themselves.
Hence will they not submit to the commands of their superiors, they will not comply with the customs of their country, they will not be complaisant in conversation; but everywhere raise factious oppositions, kindle fierce contentions, maintain disorderly singularities: they care not how for enjoying their humor they break the peace of the world, they disturb the order of things, they create tumults and troubles in any society, they bring vexations and mischiefs on others, on themselves. They do not consider or value the great harm they bring on the public, nor how much themselves do suffer by it; so they have their will, what if the state be plunged into confusion and trouble; what if their neighbors be sorely incommoded; what if themselves lose their ease and pleasure?
It must be just as they will have it; what if ten to one think otherwise; what if generally the wisest men are agreed to the contrary; what if the most pressing necessity of affairs do not admit it; what if public authority (those whom all equity doth constitute judges, and to whom God himself hath committed the arbitration thereof) do not allow it; yet so it must be, because they fancy it, otherwise they will not be quiet so do they sacrifice the greatest benefits of society (public order and peace, mutual love and friendship, common safety and prosperity) to their private will and humor.
This is that which St. Paul so often did forbid in word, and discountenanced in practice: for the edification of others, to procure advantage to his endeavors, to shun offence, to preserve concord and amity, he waved pleasing his own desire and fancy, he complied with the conceits and humors even of those who were most ignorant and weak in judgment; he even subjected and enslaved himself to the pleasure of others, directing us to do the like: We then,' saith he, that are strong, ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves : let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification;