— The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 5.
The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Selfishness is Morally Wrong
But there is another view of the principle of self-love, or the natural desire of happiness, which requires our attention. We refer to that inordinate and unsanctified modification of it, which, in order to distinguish it from a properly regulated and sanctified action, is denominated SELFISHNESS. Whatever may be true of the properly regulated desire, it is certain that selfishness is morally wrong, and can never be otherwise than wrong. In a certain sense, I think we may truly say, that we find the root and center of all moral evil in selfishness; meaning by the term here, the inordinate action of the principle of self-love. It is true, that other principles of our nature are susceptible of an inordinate action, and that such obliquity of action always implies guilt. But there seems to be ground for saying, that the inordinate action of other principles results from the inordinate action of the principle of self-love. From this strong root of evil, an influence goes out, which is not more virulent than it is pervasive; and which, by a secret insinuation of itself in every direction, at length reaches and poisons every part of the mind. Examine, for instance, the social propensity, which is a principle good in itself, and we shall find, that, stimulated by a secret influence from the pernicious root of selfishness, it will often become inordinate and evil. The same may be said of the principle of curiosity; a principle entirely innocent in itself, and very important; but which, when unrestrained by sentiments of right and. duty, becomes divergent and capricious in its applications, and insatiable in strength. I think we may reasonably assert, that every active principle of our nature, even those which are embraced under the head of the benevolent and domestic affections, and which are so amiable and beautiful when free from contamination; are liable to be perversely affected by an evil influence going out from this source.