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cute the latter design may evince a different quality of intellect, from what is shown by concerting and prosecuting the former. It may discover more penetration and fore. thought. But as indications of moral qualities, they are precisely on a level. Though both are consistent with virtue, neither implies it. That forethought does not constitute an action virtuous, will be further evident from this consideration, that much of it is sometimes employed by the worst men in forming their worst designs. The purpo. ses of ambitious men are never confined to the present year, they relate to the whole space of mortal life; and even to events beyond it. When Cæsar died, he had formed designs, which could scarcely be executed in the ordinary age of man.
So had Charles XII. of Sweden. (Big. 3, v. 437.) The present emperor of France has been solicitous not for his own security and aggrandizement only, but for the splendor of his family after his decease.
But secondly, though it should be allowed, that the character of an action, the principal motive to which is one's own advantage, is not materially changed by the proximity or distance of that contemplated advantage, there may be supposed to exist an important difference between an action, to which we are influenced by the hope of temporal enjoyments, and by the hope of. enjoyments beyond the grave, because these last are of a highly superior nature.
I acknowledge at once, that any person susceptible of happiness from those objects, which yield the bliss of heaven, possesses real virtue. That taste, which is implied in such susceptibility, is peculiar to the virtuous, or the renewed. But wherever that taste exists, there is a love to virtue as such, and independently of its rewards. The strongest incentive to upright actions, in the case supposed, is not personal advantage, but inherent affection to moral rectitude. It does, by no means, follow however, that all persons, who are influenced by the hopes of future enjoyment,
possess that moral'relish, which has now been mentioned. The pharisee, noticed in our Saviour's parable, who fasted twice a week, gave tithes of all he possessed, and thanked God, that he was not as other men, appears not to have been actuated exclusively by a regard to human applause; but partly by the hope of remuneration after death. Yet it would be preposterous to believe him to have been susceptible of happiness from the objects and exercises of the christian paradise. To act from a general expectation of advantage or reward to be obtained hereafter, without considering in what that advantage or reward is to consist, implies no moral taste, superior to theirs, whose object is present wealth, reputation, or influence.
II. It is the moral character of the heart renewed, to love virtue or holiness for its own sake. This implies supreme affection for the Deity, as that being, in whom there is perfect moral rectitude. It implies obedience to the commands, and submission to the dispensations of God, as these are the result of such rectitude. For the same reason, it implies complacency in the virtuous, and benevolence to all sentient beings.
This state of the heart is occasionally expressed in the Scriptures, by each of the following terms, love to God, love lo men, and love to both.
Righteous persons are described as those who love God, “ All things shall work together for good to them who love God.” Again, “ Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Every one, that loveth, is born of God and knoweth God: and he, that loveth God, loveth his brother also. Love is the fulfilling of the law.” When one of the Jewish doctors inquired of Christ, which was the greatest commandment in the law; he received in reply, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great command. And the second is like unto
it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commands hang all the law and the prophets."
The complacency, which the regenerate feel in contemplating the moral perfections of God, is felt in a proportionable degree, when qualities of a similar kind are witnessed in his creatures. Nor is their benevolence confined to the one in exclusion of the other. Virtuous or renewed men feel benevolence toward the Deity, as well as complacency and admiration. A being does not cease to be an object of good will, because his happiness is secure, and independent of our efforts and choice. A pious friend, whom death has translated to the eternal kingdom of God, does not cease to inherit our affection. The same good will, which during the state of his probation, while his happiness might in some degree, depend on our exertions, prompted us to make such exertions, will now be evinced by the pleasure, which we feel, at contemplating the honor and felicity, to which he is raised: and which are henceforward as independent of us, as are the honor and felicity of God himself.
We are next to inquire, whether this love of virtue for its own sake, which implies complacency in the virtuous, and benevolence to all sentient beings, originates when the heart is renewed, or whether at that time, it only acquires a preponderating power: in other words, whether regenerated persons are distinguished from others by a new quality of the heart, or only by a greater degree of the same quality.
On this question, the christian church has been long divided.
The opinion, that regenerated persons are distinguished from others by a new moral quality, is supported by the following arguments.
1. The language of scripture, in which, this change is de. scribed, corresponds much better with this supposition, than with the other.
If nothing but the increase of a good disposition previously existing, is meant by the term regeneration, it is evident,
that the difference between a renewed, and an unrenewed person, will generally, if not universally, be exceedingly small. There must be some where a dividing line. According to the supposition, we are investigating, there must be a certain number of degrees of good disposition, which the unrenewed person may rossess, more than which he cannot possess, and yet retain his unrenewed character. The smallest increase of this number must change his standing, and place him among the regenerate. Designate if you please, the greatest quantum of good disposition, possible to a man remaining unregenerate, by the number of five hundred. The moment, at which he comes into possession of one additional degree, he becomes of course a renewed man, entitled to all the privileges of such a character. Yet the change produced is extremely small. But the language, applied to regeneration by the sacred writers, is not suited to express a change, so inconsiderable. Were no greater alteration than this designed, would men be said to be born anew,-to be born from above,—to pass from death unlo life,—to have old things done away, and all things become new,—to be raised from the dead,
from being the enemies of God, would they be said to become his friends; and would the power, by which such a change is effected, be compared to that which was wrought in Christ, when he was raised from the dead?
II. The scriptures seem very clearly to represent the difference between the saint and the sinner, as consisting in a new disposition, and not in higher degrees of disposition, previously existing. “Every one, that loveth is born of God." St. John does not say, that he, who loveth to such a degree, is born of God: nor is it easy to perceive the truth of his declaration, if many, who are not born of God, possess the quality here mentiored.
Our Lord said concerning the Jews, “ I know you, that
have not the love of God in you.” It was the quality itself, you perceive, and not merely a high degree of it, of
which they were destitute. Had they possessed this love, however deficient in degree, I see not how the declaration could be defended. At least, it will be allowed, that the language is precisely what it would be, were our doctrine true : and such as it probably would not be, were the doctrine false. The same infallible teacher, on another occasion, used an expression, still more forcible; “Ye have seen, and hated both me and my father.” If Christ did not by these words deny, that those to whom they were spoken, possessed any degree of love for ther Creator and their Saviour, it is difficult to perceive how such a denial could be expressed.
But how, you may ask, can we argue from the character of the Jews to that of all unrenewed men ? An assertion might be true in regard to the former; and yet not universally true, as it respects the latter. I answer, that there is no reason for supposing Jewish sinners to have been essentially «lifferent from others. But the matter appears to be placed above all doubt by other expressions of a more general import; and that which is here said of the Jews, is said to be common to mankind, “If the world hate you, ye know, that it hated me, before it hated you :-the world hath hated them because they are not of the world.” It is rot necessary to our present purpose, to understand by the term hatred, any thing more, than destitution of love; as our object is to prove merely, that unrenewed men are thus destitute.
Ill. If the difference between the righteous and the wicked consists only in the degrees of a quality, common to both, this difference is much less, than that which exists, between many, of the latter description. In their characters there is great variety. Some will be beaten with many stripes,our Lord has informed us, and some with comparatively few. But their punishment will be exactly proportionate to their demerit. It must be true, therefore, that their char acters, or their demerits are various. This is undeniably