Page images
PDF
EPUB

LETTER XII.

ON THE INABILITY OF MAN NATURALLY TO LOVE

AND OBEY GOD.

LETTER XII.

. DEAR SIR,

1824: Whilst men are willing to assent to the truth, that both Jews and Gentiles were desperately wicked; they evince a backwardness to apply the cause of that wickedness to themselves. They will even acknowledge the grounds of a general imputation of sin, but are ever averse from its personal application. They plead their motives; their comparative goodness; nay, they will advance their absolute virtue. But these pleas are irrelative to the question. The standard of virtue which thus advance, is fixed by another's vice; and their motive to virtue is generally the negative intention of not doing harm. To the operation of moral philosophy we are to look for this cold and heartless test of goodness. Compare it with religion. Religion demands a positive desire to do good in all cases; to return good for evil ; to love our enemies; and refers the virtue of the heart (godliness), as well as of the action (righteousness) to the law of God (the Gospel) for both their motive and character. I here use the word virtue in its generic sense, to imply

LETTER XII.

DEAR SIR,

1824.

Whilst men are willing to assent to the truth, that both Jews and Gentiles were desperately wicked; they evince a backwardness to apply the cause of that wickedness to themselves. They will even acknowledge the grounds of a general imputation of sin, but are ever averse from its personal application. They plead their motives; their comparative goodness; nay, they will advance their absolute virtue. But these pleas are irrelative to the question. The standard of virtue which men thus advance, is fixed by another's vice; and their motive to virtue is generally the negative intention of not doing harm. To the operation of moral philosophy we are to look for this cold and heartless test of goodness. Compare it with religion. Religion demands a positive desire to do good in all cases; to return good for evil; to love our enemies, and refers the virtue of the heart (godliness), as well as of the action (righteousness) to the law of God (the Gospel) for both their motive and character. I here use the word virtue in its generic sense, to imply

« PreviousContinue »