Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. V.

OF THE REGULATION OF HATRED.

SECT. I.

Of the object of hatred. HAVING in the foregoing chapters shewn at large the nature, proper objects, and due regulation of the leading passion of love, and which he that hath placed well, and learned to govern as he ought, hath made the main step to the government of all the other passions with a commanding sway, which of course will be guided by love; we proceed to consider the opposite passion to it, hatred.

Now, as good is the object of love and desire, so evil is the proper object of hatred and aversion; and as God, being the supreme good, is the great object of our most intense and interest-love, and of our most ardent and incessant desires, and to which our love and desire of every thing else must give place and be subservient, as we have shewn before; so of all evils, moral evil or sin being the greatest, and in which there is no mixture of good, and which consequently can never in any circumstances become the object of our choice, it should be hated with a perfect hatred : that is, we should avoid it with the greatest and a perpetual aversion, and fly from the least appearance of it with the utmost horror, and be always upon our watch against its open assaults

or more plausible insinuations and impostures, and keep up an irreconcilable enmity to it, as that which, if we entertain any kindness and affection for, will render us infinitely miserable.

Other evils there are, which, though in some measure they may be the objects of our aversion, and it is natural for us to fly from and avoid them, such as are sickness and pain and want, and the like, and those things to which we have natural antipathies, which are so various, unaccountable, and generally incurable too, yet they cannot be said to be the objects of our hatred, because they are not purely evil, but may in some cases contribute to our happiness. Thus, that to which one man has an antipathy may be very good and agreeable and useful to most other people; and pain and sickness and want, how grievous soever to us, yet in some cases may be objects of our choice, and tend to our great good and advantage.

And as of things, so of persons, though some are to be shunned and avoided by us with the greatest caution and care, such as the profane and wicked, the false and treacherous and deceitful, who are the very pests of society, and their conversation to be fled from as one would fly from the plague itself; yet no man, how injurious soever to us, or how vile soever in himself, is to be hated by us, because not perfectly evil, but good in some respect; and if for no other qualification, yet as a creature of God, endowed with reason and an immortal soul.

And upon the same account no other creature, how foul or hurtful soever, deserves our hatred, because, as the workmanship of God, it is good, and serves to some good use or other, though to us unknown. So

that nothing is properly the object of hatred, but moral evil, or sin ; and which indeed is so infinitely odious and detestable, that no degree of our hatred and aversion can be more than it deserves, as we shall now proceed to shew. And it will deserve and should have it eternally, as will appear from the following consideration.

For first, St. Paul has defined sin to be the transgression of the law, or those rules of life which God at any time or in any manner has been pleased to give the world to go by, whether natural or revealed : all which, as the Psalmist says, are founded in truth and equity, perfectly wise and purea ; and as St. Paul assures us, holy, just, and good, and our reasonable serviceb; and as our Lord himself affirms, a yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light. Sin therefore being the violation of such laws as these, which the supreme good Being hath given us to make us happy, and directly contrary to all that is wise and holy and just and good, must needs in its own nature be infinitely hateful, and utterly to be detested and abhorred, as a most cursed thing d. And indeed a most cursed thing it has been to us, and still will be, and is the great reproach and unhappiness of human nature. It makes us vile, to the lowest degree of contempt and shame; vile in the sight of God and his holy angels, and all wise, good men, and in our own sight too, whenever we reflect upon that wretched change it has made in our whole man.

What ignorance and confusion has it brought upon our understandings ! what unaccountable pera Psalm cxi. 8; xix. 7, &c.

b Rom. vii. 12. c Matt. xi. 30.

d Deut. vii. 26. BRAGGE, VOL. V.

G

verseness has it caused in our wills ! what strange disorders in our passions and affections ! whereby the condition of mankind since the fall, and whilst under the dominion of sin, is degraded even to brutality; and reason, which is our glory, is so deep sunk in sensuality, that were it not for the grace of God, the helps of religion, and the continual assistances of the Holy Ghost, mankind would differ very little from the beasts. And notwithstanding this infinite mercy and compassion shewn to us by God in Jesus Christ, how difficult do we find it to recover ourselves to that degree as to live according to reason, and perform the duties of religion, and keep on in such a steady course, though of imperfect virtue, as to give tolerable satisfaction to our own minds, and preserve our conscience in quiet ! This is the best of our condition since sin came into the world, and to do amiss, and then to be ashamed and confounded, and bitterly to repent of it, and loathe and abominate ourselves for it, and to confess and beg pardon and repent, is a great part of the employment even of good men now.

But what infinite numbers are there whom sin hath enslaved to that degree, as that they commit all manner of uncleanness even with greediness, as the apostle expresses it; and, having their understanding darkened, being past feeling, and alienated from the life of God, give themselves over to lasciviousness, so that it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secrete : and then with a hardened and impenitent heart glory in this their shame! And what is the consequence of this most deplorable condition at present, but a world

Ephes. iv. 18, 19; V. 12.

e

of misery and confusion, both of body and soul and estate ; and after death, which is both the wages and natural product of sin, the eternal torments of hell!

So that, in short, all that a man can possibly dread is brought upon him by this greatest of evils: it degrades and it ruins him; it is the cause of all the misery that mankind ever did or ever shall suffer in this world and the next; it tends to make him even worse than a brute now, and will turn him into a devil hereafter.

What a perfect hatred therefore does this abominable thing deserve ! how should it cause in us a fixed, immovable antipathy to it, and a most permanent, irreconcilable aversion! We should hate it mortally, (as we use to say when we should not,) and never rest till we have killed and utterly destroyed it, and all those vile inclinations within us which prompt us to commit it. And though so perfect a victory over it may not be attainable here below, yet we must be always endeavouring it, always fighting this good fight, and daily gaining new advantages of this our deadly enemy, till at length we weaken its power to that degree, as to prevent any violent assaults of it for the future, and continue in a state of safety, though not of triumph, so long as we make use of our ordinary watchfulness against it.

Nor is sin only thus hateful in its own nature, and with respect to ourselves, but also with respect to society and the public, even the whole common interest of mankind.

What havoc does it make of the peace and happiness of private families; putting a stop to

« PreviousContinue »