“I take it for granted that it is the intention of every good government, human or Divine, to unite its subjects, and not to set them at variance. But there can be no union without a common object of regard. Either a character whom all love and venerate, or an end which all pursue, or both, is that to a community which a head-stone is to an arch; nor can they keep together without it. It is thus that the love of God holds creation together. He is that lovely character to whom all holy intelligences bear supreme affection; and the display of his glory, in the universal triumph of truth and righteousness, is that end which they all pursue. Thus united in their grand object, they cannot but feel a union of heart with one another, arising from what is common to every other voluntary union—a congeniality of sentiments and pursuits.
But if our supreme affection terminate on ourselves, and no being, created or uncreated, be regarded but for our own sakes, it is manifest there can be no union beyond the sphere in which other beings become voluntarily subservient to our wishes. The Supreme Being, if our plan do not comport with his, will be continually thwarting us; and so we shall be always at variance with him. And as to created beings, those individuals whom we desire to be subservient to our wishes, having the same right, and the same inclination, to require that we should be subservient to theirs, will also be continually thwarting us; and so we shall always be at variance with them. In short, nothing but an endless succession of discord and confusion can be the consequence. Every one setting up for pre-eminence, every one must, of course, contribute to the general state of anarchy and misery which will pervade the community. Such is, in fact, the state of this apostate world; and but for Divine Providence, which for wise ends balances all human affairs, causing one set of evils to counteract the influence of another, and all to answer ends remote from the intention of the perpetrators, it must be overset by its own disorders.
To regard every other being, created or uncreated, only for our own sakes, is supreme self-love; and, instead of being a source of virtue, is itself abominable, and the source of all the mischief and misery in the universe. All the evils just enumerated are to be traced to this principle as their common parent; nor is there any ground of hope that it will ever produce effects of a different nature. Some persons have talked much of ” self-love ripening into benevolence.” Had it been said malevolence, it had been nearer the truth; for it is contrary to all experience that any thing should change its nature by becoming more mature.”
Excerpt From “The Gospel Its Own Witness”, 1799
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.