The Unfailing Moral Standard

- from "Toleration" by John Bigelow

CHAPTER I - Part 4
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There is a distinction made here in the loves we are to cultivate which many devout Christians are prone to lose sight of. We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, but we are to love our neighbor only as ourselves. It has been in all ages but too common a notion that if it is a good thing to love our neighbor as ourselves, the more we love him better than ourselves, so much the better person we shall deserve to be esteemed. There is apt to be a conceit in this putting ourselves last; in ever trying to appear outwardly and externally laying down our lives. To make one's self last outwardly in order to make one's self first spiritually is just as unjust and selfish as to insist on being made first for whatever earthly glory there might be to that position. Others have as much right to this distinction of being last as we have.

An ambition to excel our neighbors in heavenliness is even more satanic than to strive to excel them in wealth, in worldly power and position. If we avoid taking positions of prominence in the world because they are liable to stimulate worldly pride, we have no right to subject one of our neighbors to such temptations. If in our manners we seem to love our neighbor more than we love ourselves, beside cultivating in ourselves the conceits of self-righteousness, we wrong our neighbor by depriving him of the privilege of being the last and the most self-effacing himself. The struggle to be first is the expression of earthly pride; the struggle to be last is the expression of self-righteous conceit. To love yourself as you love others is the proper observance of the Divine law of love to the neighbor. There is always more or less worldly pride lurking in efforts to wear the garb and countenance of exceptional humility, while there can be no conceit in claiming no spiritual superiority over our neighbors.

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