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themselves to the same peril, and if we could be made to understand, that the one had no other motive for this apparently generous exposure, than the wish of securing a certain amount of happiness to himself, at some time, either near or remote; the other, no motive but that of saving a life which was dearer to him than his own ;-the action in both cases is the same,-but in which case would our feelings of moral approbation more strongly arise ?”
“ The miser, whose sordid parsimony we scorn, exhibits in his whole life, at least, as much mortification of sensual appetite, as the most abstemious hermit, whose voluntary penance we pity and almost respect. The seeming patriot, who, even in the pure ranks of those generous guardians of the public who sincerely defend the freedom and happiness of the land which they love, is a patriot, perhaps, most unwillingly, because he has no other prospect of sharing that public corruption at which he rails, will still expose the corruption with as much ardour as if he truly thought the preservation of the liberty of his country a more desirable thing than an office in the treasury. If we were to watch minutely the external actions of a very skilful hypocrite for half a day, it is possible that we might not discover one, in which the secret passion within burst through its disguise; yet, if we had reason before to regard him as a hypocrite, the very
closeness of the resemblance of his actions, in every external circumstance, to those of virtue, would only excite still more our indignation *." The action is either virtuous or vicious just as the
* Brown's Lectures, vol. iii. p. 575.
mind of the agent is virtuous or vicious in its performance. The action takes its character from the motives and dispositions which lead to its accomplishment. This is a fundamental, and I may add, an incontrovertible axiom in morals.
What are the motives and dispositions which are necessary to constitute an agent and his conduct virtuous ! Love to God and to our fellow-creatures is all that the divine law requires, and, consequently, when exercised to the extent which is due, is sufficient to render us pure and holy, or rather, is itself purity and holiness; but as God claims to be loved with the whole heart, and above all other objects, his glory must be the leading, the chief end which we propose to ourselves in our pursuits and conduct. It is only when a moral agent voluntarily aims at this as the great purpose of his being, and designs its advancement in all that he does, that he fulfils the end for which he was made, or, in other words, that he is truly virtuous.
It is not necessary here to define what is meant by the glory of God. It is the riches, the infinite fulness of the divine nature, which God himself contemplates with complacency, and which, we are assured, is closely connected with his blessedness. He has manifested the inexhaustible riches of his power, wisdom, justice, goodness, and mercy, in giving being and happiness to the universe; and, more especially, in the restoration of being and happiness in a peculiar way to sinful creatures. The excellences of God, either in himself, or as displayed to the view of intelligent beings, are his glory, in comparison of which, the whole creation is less than nothing, and vanity.
Revelation affirms that this is the ultimate end for which all things have been made; which the dispensations of providence are to subserve ; and which the new creation, the work of redeeming mercy, is designed to illustrate. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Every part of the divine procedure, whether it be the exercise of creating, of preserving, or of redeeming power and goodness, has for its final object the manifestation and the furtherance of the glory of God. This is the object for which man has been so richly endowed, and which he is commanded voluntarily to promote. This design he is ever to keep in view in the minutest parts of his conduct. " Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.—Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.-Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN ACTING FROM A SUPREME REGARD TO
THE GLORY OF GOD.
If it be the duty of man to have a supreme regard in all his conduct to the glory of God, it may be asked, what is included in his acting thus, or what are the things implied in his being influenced by this as a
leading principle? It is clear, that it implies love to God,--an uniform reference to his will as our rule, and a designed subserviency to his glory as our end.
I. Love to God is essentially necessary to our being properly affected with a concern for his glory; so much so, that the possession of it in the degree required, would ensure the exercise of the principles of a pure and holy conduct. When the heart is filled and regulated by the love of delight and complacency in God as the most holy and the best of Beings;-and of good will to him as infinitely deserving of all the benevolent and reverential affection of which we are capable ; and of gratitude to him as the Author of our being, of our powers, of our mercies, and of the eternity of happiness which he has taught us to look for ;-it is need. less to say, that the honour of God, in his character, authority, and government, will exert, as a principle of action, an entire supremacy over the man. What, indeed, is zeal for the divine glory but love to God, in some measure corresponding to the infinitude of his excellences, and of his claims, and leading to a cordial co-operation with him in advancing the happiness of the universe? In proportion as this love predominates, will the motives and dispositions be pure, and the nature and conduct be virtuous.
II. The supremacy of the principle in question, implies an uniform reference to the will of God as our rule. This alone is the infallible standard and measure of all virtuous feeling and conduct. It is only by an appeal to this, therefore, that we can ascertain whether our dispositions and actions come under this character.
Before we feel concern in the honour of any one, there must be a similarity of views, and some conformity of will. We cannot glorify God unless his will, in whatever way that is revealed, be the delight of our heart, and the rule of our lives. All outward services, though they may unintentionally, on the part of the agent, tend to the furtherance of the divine glory, or be overruled for its advancement, are, of course, nothing in his sight, without the inward prin. ciple of obedience. Without this, to give character to the action, the possession of the most amiable disposition, and the constitutional benevolence of a whole life, will not vindicate us from the charge of living without God. If there be not in the heart an habitual desire to submit to the will of God as our Maker and Owner, and to obey him as our great Lord and Governor, and to rest in Him as our ultimate end and object, we are neglecting the design of our being, and consequently are not acting virtuously.
The man who believes that the will of God is wise and good, and who places himself and all that concerns him for time and eternity at its disposal, regulates his powers, talents, relations, and prospects, according to its decisions. He endeavours to bring the thoughts and affections of his heart, and the whole course of his life into obedience to this authority; and aims both at the doing and the suffering all that it may please God to appoint for him. In consequence of this habitual reference to the divine will, he lives as in the immediate presence of God, and looks to his glory as the ultimate end of all that he does.
III. Before we can supremely seek the advance