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all things be humored and cockered, otherwise you greatly wrong them.
Hence also such men easily become discontented and impatient; for if they be crossed in any thing, if any misfortune toucheth them, they take it very ill; supposing they deserve it not, but are worthy of better usage and fortune.
In fine, as this causeth a man to behave himself untowardly in respect to all others, (toward God and toward his neighbor,) so thence he most unbeseemingly carrieth himself toward himself; he is no faithful friend, no good companion to himself, but a fond minion, a vile flatterer, or a profane idolater of himself: for (like Narcissus) being transported with conceit of his own incomparable beauty or excellency, he maketh love to and courteth himself; finding delight in such conceit, he by all means cherisheth it, glozing and 'flattering himself (as the psalm hath it) in his own eyes;' representing his qualities to his imagination in false shapes, he devoutly adoreth those idols of his brain. Farther,
3. Self-conceit is also frequently grounded on other inferior advantages; on gifts of nature, (as strength, activity, beauty;) on gifts of fortune, (so called,) as birth, wealth, dignity, power, fame, success; on these things men ordinarily much value themselves, and are strangely puffed up with vain opinion, taking themselves from them to be great and happy persons: but seeing (as we touched before) these things are in themselves little valuable, (as serving no great purpose, nor furthering our true happiness ;) seeing they are not commendable, (as not depending on our free choice, but proceeding from nature or chance ;) seeing they are not durable or certain, but easily may be severed from us; the vanity of self-conceit founded on them is very notorious, and I shall not insist more to declare it; I shall only recommend the prophet's advice concerning such things; Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth :' that is, nothing within us or about us should elevate our minds,
excepting the assurance that God doth govern the world, being ready to protect and succor us, to dispense mercy and justice to us; so that how weak and helpless soever in ourselves, yet, confiding in him, we shall never be overwhelmed by any wrong or misfortune.
So much concerning self-conceit; the other parts of vicious self-love may be reserved to another occasion.
SUMMARY OF SERMON LXII.
II TIMOTHY, CHAP. III.—VERSE 2.
II. Another like culpable self-love is that of self-confidence; when men beyond reason, and without regard to God's providence, rely on themselves and their own abilities, imagining that without God's direction and help, by contrivances of their own wit and discretion, strength and resolution, they can compass any design, or attain any good; not considering that on God all being and ability depends. This is that instance of selflove which the wise man bids us to beware of: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding, &c. This smothers devotion, and engages us to attempt things rashly: this causes most men to fail of true content here, and of happiness hereafter.
III. Another act of blameable self-love is self-complacency, that is, greatly delighting in one's self, or in the goods which one fancies himself to enjoy, or in the works which he performs; like the vain prince, who asked, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built? Hence that pure delight which men should feel in faith and love to God in the hope of future spiritual blessings, is choked or damped: hence that contrition and sadness, which should flow from reflection on their defects and miscarriages, is stifled: hence also is that charitable complacency in the welfare, and sympathy with the adversities of their brethren, suppressed; &c.
IV. Another culpable kind of self-love is self-will; when a man unaccountably or unreasonably, with obstinate resolution, pursues any course, offensive to others, or prejudicial to him
self, so that he will not hearken to any advice or consideration diverting him from his purpose. This is that which generally produces in men the wilful commission of sin, although apparently contrary to their own interest, and bringing on them heavy mischiefs this makes conversation harsh, and friendship intolerable hence men will not submit to their superiors, or comply with the customs of society; &c. This is what St. Paul so often forbade in word, and discountenanced in practice.
V. Another culpable sort of self-love is that of self-interest; when men inordinately or immoderately covet and strive to procure for themselves worldly goods, merely because they are profitable or pleasant to themselves, not considering or regarding the good of others, according to the rules of justice and the Christian character. They look on themselves as if they were all the world: nor does the good of their brethren, of their friends, or of their country come into their consideration. This is the great spring of injustice, the great source of uncharitableness; this is the great root of all the disorders and mischiefs in the world, engaging men to desert their stations and transgress their bounds, in order to invade and encroach on others; &c.
Self-interest therefore is the great enemy of the commonweal, though it be a practice cried up as a sure point of wisdom by men of the world. For in reason is it not absurd that any man should look on himself as more than a single person? or prefer himself before another who is in no respect inferior to him? or advance his own interest above that of the public, in which his own is comprehended?
Might not any man reasonably have the same inclination, and act in the same manner? and if all did so, would not inextricable confusion ensue?
Again, does not nature, by implanting in our constitution a love of society, an inclination to humanity, &c., teach us that our good is inseparably connected with that of others?
Is there not in all men some generosity, though in various degrees?
The frame of our nature indeed speaks, that we are not born for ourselves alone: this point enlarged on.
Nay, even a true regard to our own private interests will engage us not to pursue self-interest inordinately this shown according to the dictates of reason.
The same also discovered with still clearer evidence, and greater advantage by religion.
Its precepts, charges, recommendations, and representations, on this head, brought forward.