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the fruit of their mistaken notions about the witness of the Spirit? Their converts all have the direct witness of the Spirit, which does not depend on any obedience of the heart or life; and this is the most material witness, without which, according to their doctrine, the other kinds of witness cannot exist. If any one declare that he has this witness, we do not see how we can reason with him concerning its genuineness, for it is nothing which is described in the word of God, or which can be defined by man: It is neither holiness in the heart, nor holiness in the life. If any of their converts utterly apostatize, even then there are no doubts entertained of the genuineness of their conversion. They are all represented as having fallen from a state of real grace; none of them are considered, as even now making it manifest, that they took lamps with out oil. And all this appears to us, to be the natural result of their mistake about the witness of the Spirit.
We hope these remarks will not be considered, as prompted by an unkind and contentious spirit. How could we say less, and clear our skirts of the blood of souls? We are not seeking to destroy our antagonists, but to save them. We hope they will candidly review this matter, and that if they become convinced, that their sentiments on this point are of a dangerous tendency, they will renounce them. If their experimental religion should prove to be essentially defective, how great will be the defect?
3. We would add another remark, which shall close the section: The remark is this; That if the witness, and the fruits of the Spirit, are the same, it is natural to expect, that the evidences of our justified state should increase, or diminish, according to the degrees of sanctification of which we partake. Hence the exhortation, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure." The Spirit's witness in our favor, is in proportion to his gracious work on our hearts, for it is by this alone that he bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. In proportion therefore, as our hearts and lives are brought into a conformity to the attested and indubitable wit
ness of the Spirit, in the written word, we have well grounded evidence, that we are born of God. By bringing forth much of the fruits of the Spirit, we not only glorify our heavenly Father, but make it evident that we are the disciples of Christ. In this, and in no other, way, may we all seek to enjoy a full assurance of hope unto the end!
A VINDICATION OF THE DOCTRINE OF DISINTERESTED LOVE OR BENEVOLENCE; BEING A REPLY TO OBJECTIONS MADE AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE BY MR. BANGS, IN HIS SIXTH LETTER.
IF the reader has become convinced, that the witness of the Spirit is to be looked for in the holy change, which takes place in the heart of the convert; he will naturally inquire, What is the nature of that change? what is there imparted which is new? To this inquiry we answer, The love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. We also say, it is a love which may be known by this, that it is not selfish, but disinterested.
The first inference drawn from the seventh Sermon, in the volume which called forth Mr. B's animadversions, was this, That selfishness, and disinterested love, are the sources of all the sin, and of all the holiness in the universe. From the Letters before me, I find that my antagonist denies the very existence of that principle, which in the sermon was considered as the source of all the holiness in the universe," Disinterested benevolence," says Mr. B. " is a phrase often used by Hopkinsian writers, and it sounds very pleasing to the ear, but is something to which man is a total stranger," P. 269. His principal objections against the doctrine
of disinterested love or benevolence, will now be noticed.
I. He objects, that it is inconsistent in the very nature of things, to be actuated by disinterested motives; since it supposes us to be interested, and disinterested at at the same time. "" "No man," says our author, can be actuated by a principle that he does not possess.And to be disintereste is to have no interest in our welfare. But to have no interest in a thing, is to be wholly indifferent about it, that is, to have no concern about it. And can a man act from a principle in which he takes no interest, concerning which he is entirely indifferent, and which he feels not to operate in his heart ?" p. 172. This objection is a mere play upon words. Our opponents must know, that we do not use the word disinterested, as being synonymous with indifferent. The word selfish is pretty generally understood to con vey a bad idea, an idea of something criminal; and it is common to use the word interested, as conveying the same idea with selfish. Thus we say, a man is governéd by interest; or he is actuated by interested motives, when we mean that he is selfish. Now it is convenient to have some word to express the opposite of a selfish temper, and as the word interested is used to imply the same thing as selfish, it was not at all unnatural, that the word disinterested should come into use, as expressing the opposite of selfishness. When it is used in opposition to selfishness, it is evident that it cannot mean the same as no interest, but rather as pointing out another sort of interest, totally different from the interest sought by a selfish being. When Moses would not accept the offer of being made into a great nation himself, in distinction from the twelve tribes; but preferred to have his name blotted from God's book, räther than to see Israel destroyed, and their God dishonored, he seemed nobly to rise above selfish considerations. This we express by saying, that he manifested a disinterested spirit: but we would by no means be understood to say, that he felt indifferent about the glory of God, and the good of Israel, which was the interest or good, which he preferred to his own honor and prosperity. He did not feel uninterested in the glory of Jehovah, or in the good of his people. But
as this great interest drew his heart away from his selfish interest, or from that interest which a selfish heart would naturally prize, we describe this excellency by calling it disinterestedness.
It is said of Jesus Christ, that he pleased not himself; therefore we say that he was not selfish, he was not governed by interested motives, but was disinterested in all which he did, and suffered; and yet it is most manifest, that he took a most lively interest in that good which he sought, even the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. Of him it was written, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." Let our opponents then, once for all, understand, that by disinterested affection we do not mean apathy, or stoical indifference and stupidity: we do not mean the same as no affection; nor do we design to say, that the disinterested have any less interest in the object which they seek ; than the selfish have in the object which they seek; but we mean to say; that the object itself is a different one, even so fundamentally different, that selfish creatures do not seek it at all; but are really opposed to it with all their heart.
II. It is objected, that the doctrine of a disinterested love, requires to annihilate ourself, or to hate ourself, whereas God has "commanded to love our neighbor only as we love ourselves;" and "the apostle saith, For no man ever yet hated his own flesh." See p. 272. Let it be understood, that by disinterested love, we mean the moral opposite of selfishness. By selfishness is meant a supreme regard to one's self, not because this object is of such superlative worth in the intellectual system, but because it is self. In this sense self ought to be annihilated; that is, considered as the supreme good: but such an annihilation of self, would imply nothing more than reducing one's self to his own proper place in the system.
If a single atom were to take state to itself, and fly from the surface of the earth high into the firmament of heaven, and claim to be the center of the material system, and require suns and planets to revolve around it, as the acknowledged center of attraction ;this would resemble a rational creature who makes himself his supreme object, and who wishes the Creator