Leighton and Coleridge.

With respect to any final aim or end, the greater part of mankind live at hazard. They have no certain harbour in view, nor direct their course by any fixed star. But to him that knoweth not the port to which he is bound, no wind can be favourable; neither can he who has not yet determined at what mark he is to shoot, direct his arrow aright.

It is not, however, the less true that there is a proper object to aim at; and if this object be meant by the term happiness, (though I think that not the most appropriate term for a state, the perfection of which consists in the exclusion of all hap, that is, chance), I assert that there is such a thing as human happiness, as summum bonum or ultimate good. What this is, the Bible alone shows clearly and certainly, and points out the way that leads to the attainment of it. This is that which prevailed with St. Augustine to study the Scriptures, and engaged his affection to them. "In Cicero, and Plato, and other such writers," says he, "I meet with many things acutely said, and things that excite a certain warmth of emotion, but in none of them do I find these words, Come unto 30

me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." **


Felicity, in its proper sense is but another word for fortunateness, or happiness; and I can see no advantage in the improper use of words, when proper terms are to be found, but, on the contrary, much mischief. For, by familiarizing the mind to equivocal expressions, that is, such as may be taken in two or more different meanings, we introduce confusion of thought, and furnish the sophist with his best and handiest tools. For the juggle of sophistry consists, for the greater part, in using a word in one sense in the premiss, and in another sense in the conclusion. We should accustom ourselves to think, and reason, in precise and steadfast terms, even when custom, or the deficiency, or the corruption of the language will not permit the same strictness in speaking. The mathematician finds this so necessary to the truths which he is seeking, that his science begins with, and is founded on, the definition of his terms. The botanist, the chemist, the anatomist, &c, feel and submit to this necessity at all costs, even at the risk of exposing their several pursuits to the ridicule of the many, by technical terms, hard to be remembered, and alike quarrelsome to the ear and the tongue. In the business of moral and religious reflection, in the acquisition of clear and distinct conceptions of our duties, and of the relations in which we stand to God, our neighbour, and ourselves, no such difficulties occur. At the utmost we have only

** Apud Ciceronem et Platonem, aliosque ejusmodi scriptores, multa sunt acute dicta, et leniter calentia, sed in iis omnibus hoc non invenio, Venite ad me, &c. (Matt. xii, 28). 31 to rescue words, already existing and familiar, from the false or vague meanings imposed on them by carelessness, or by the clipping and debasing misusage of the market. And surely happiness, duty, faith, truth, and final blessedness, are matters of deeper and dearer interest for all men, than circles to the geometrician, or the characters of plants to the botanist, or the affinities and combining principle of the elements of bodies to the chemist, or even than the mechanism (fearful and wonderful though it be!) of the perishable tabernacle of the soul can be to the anatomist. Among the aids to reflection, place the following maxim prominent: let distinctness in expression advance side by side with distinction in thought. For one useless subtlety in our elder divines and moralists, I will produce ten sophisms of equivocation in the writings of our modern preceptors: and for one error resulting from excess in distinguishing the indifferent, I could show ten mischievous delusions from the habit of confounding the diverse.

Whether you are reflecting for yourself, or reasoning with another, make it a rule to ask yourself the precise meaning of the word, on which the point in question appears to turn; and if it may be (that is, by writers of authority has been) used in several senses, then ask which of these the word is at present intended to convey. By this mean, and scarcely without it, you will at length acquire a facility in detecting the quid pro quo. And believe me, in so doing you will enable yourself to disarm and expose four-fifths of the main arguments of our most renowned irreligious philosophers, ancient and modern. For the quid pro quo is at once the rock and quarry, on and with which the strongholds of disbelief, materialism, and (more pernicious still) epicurean morality, are built.




If we seriously consider what religion is, we shall find the saying of the wise king Solomon to be unexceptionably true: Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

Doth religion require any thing of us more than that we live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world? Now what, I pray, can be more pleasant or peaceable than these? Temperance is always at leisure, luxury always in a hurry: the latter weakens the body and pollutes the soul, the former is the sanctity, purity, and sound state of both. It is one of Epicurus's fixed maxims, "That life can never be pleasant without virtue."


In the works of moralists, both Christian and Pagan, it is often asserted (indeed there are few common-places of more frequent recurrence) that the happiness even of this life consists solely, or principally in virtue; that virtue is the only happiness of this life; that virtue is the truest pleasure, &c.

I doubt not that the meaning, which the writers intended to convey by these and the like expressions, was true and wise. But I deem it safer to say, that in all the outward relations of this life, in all our outward conduct and actions, both in what we should do, and in what we should abstain from, the dictates of virtue are the very same with those of self-interest; tending to, though they do not proceed from, the same point. For the outward object of virtue being the greatest producible sum of happiness of all men, it must needs include the object of an intelligent self-love, which is the greatest possible happiness of one individual; for what is true of all must 33 be true of each. Hence, you cannot become better, (that is, more virtuous), but you will become happier: and you cannot become worse, (that is, more vicious), without an increase of misery (or at the best a proportional loss of enjoyment) as the consequence. If the thing were not inconsistent with our well being, and known to be so, it would not have been classed as a vice. Thus what in an enfeebled and disordered mind is called prudence, is the voice of nature in a healthful state: as is proved by the known fact, that the prudential duties, (that is, those actions which are commanded by virtue because they are prescribed by prudence), the animals fulfil by natural instinct.

The pleasure that accompanies or depends on a healthy and vigorous body will be the consequence and reward of a temperate life and habits of active industry, whether this pleasure were or were not the chief or only determining motive thereto. Virtue may, possibly, add to the pleasure a good of another kind, a higher good, perhaps, than the worldly mind is capable of understanding, a spiritual complacency, of which in your present sensualized state you can form no idea. It may add, I say, but it cannot detract from it. Thus the reflected rays of the sun that give light, distinction, and endless multiformity to the mind, give at the same time the pleasurable sensation of warmth to the body.

If then the time has not yet come for any thing higher, act on the maxim of seeking the most pleasure with the least pain: and, if only you do not seek where you yourself know it will not be found, this very pleasure and this freedom from the disquietude of pain may produce in you a state of being directly and indirectly favourable to the germination and up-spring of a nobler seed. If it be true, that men are miserable because they are 34 wicked, it is likewise true, that many are wicked because they are miserable. Health, cheerfulness, and easy circumstances, the ordinary consequences of temperance and industry, will at least leave the field clear and open, will tend to preserve the scales of the judgment even: while the consciousness of possessing the esteem, respect, and sympathy of your neighbours, and the sense of your own increasing power and influence, can scarcely fail to give a tone of dignity to your mind, and incline you to hope nobly of your own being. And thus they may prepare and predispose you to the sense and acknowledgment of a principle differing, not merely in degree but in kind, from the faculties and instincts of the higher and more intelligent species of animals, (the ant, the beaver, the elephant), and which principle is therefore your proper humanity. And on this account and with this view alone may certain modes of pleasurable or agreeable sensation, without confusion of terms, be honoured with the title of refined, intellectual, ennobling pleasures. For pleasure (and happiness in its proper sense is but the continuity and sum total of the pleasure which is allotted or happens to a man, and hence by the Greeks called εὐτυχία, that is, good-hap, or more religiously εὐδαιμονία, that is, favourable providence)--pleasure, I say, consists in the harmony between the specific excitability of a living creature, and the exciting causes correspondent thereto. Considered therefore exclusively in and for itself, the only question is quantum, not quale? How much on the whole? the contrary, that is, the painful and disagreeable, haying been subtracted. The quality is a matter of taste: et de gustibus non est disputandum. No man can judge for another.

This, I repeat, appears to me a safer language than the sentences quoted above (that virtue alone is happiness; 35 that happiness consists in virtue, &c,) sayings which I find it hard to reconcile with other positions of still more frequent occurrence in the same divines, or with the declaration of St. Paul: "If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable."

At all events, I should rely far more confidently on the converse, namely, that to be vicious is to be miserable. Few men are so utterly reprobate, so imbruted by their vices, as not to have some lucid, or at least quiet and sober, intervals; and in such a moment, dum desaeviunt irae, few can stand up unshaken against the appeal to their own experience--what have been the wages of sin? what has the devil done for you? What sort of master have you found him? Then let us in befitting detail, and by a series of questions that ask no loud, and are secure against any false, answer, urge home the proof of the position, that to be vicious is to be wretched: adding the fearful corollary, that if even in the body, which as long as life is in it can never be wholly bereaved of pleasurable sensations, vice is found to be misery, what must it not be in the world to come? There, where even the crime is no longer possible, much less the gratifications that once attended it--where nothing of vice remains but its guilt and its misery--vice must be misery itself, all and utter misery.--So best, if I err not, may the motives of prudence be held forth, and the impulses of self-love be awakened, in alliance with truth, and free from the danger of confounding things (the laws of duty, I mean, and the maxims of interest) which it deeply concerns us to keep distinct, inasmuch as this distinction and the faith therein are essential to our moral nature, and this again the ground-work and pre-condition of the spiritual state, in which the humanity strives after godliness and, in the 36 name and power, and through the prevenient and assisting grace, of the Mediator, will not strive in vain.

The advantages of a life passed in conformity with the precepts of virtue and religion, and in how many and various respects they recommend virtue and religion even on grounds of prudence, form a delightful subject of meditation, and a source of refreshing thought to good and pious men. Nor is it strange if, transported with the view, such persons should sometimes discourse on the charm of forms and colours to men whose eyes are not yet couched; or that they occasionally seem to invert the relations of cause and effect, and forget that there are acts and determinations of the will and affections, the consequences of which may be plainly foreseen, and yet cannot be made our proper and primary motives for such acts and determinations, without destroying or entirely altering the distinct nature and character of the latter. Sophron is well informed that wealth and extensive patronage will be the consequence of his obtaining the love and esteem of Constantia. But if the foreknowledge of this consequence were, and were found out to be, Sophron's main and determining motive for seeking this love and esteem; and if Constantia were a woman that merited, or was capable of feeling, either the one or the other; would not Sophron find (and deservedly too) aversion and contempt in their stead? Wherein, if not in this, differs the friendship of worldlings from true friendship? Without kind offices and useful services, wherever the power and opportunity occur, love would be a hollow pretence. Yet what noble mind would not be offended, if he were thought to value the love for the sake of the services, and not rather the services for the sake of the love!



Though prudence in itself is neither virtue nor spiritual holiness, yet without prudence, or in opposition to it, neither virtue nor holiness can exist.


Art thou under the tyranny of sin? a slave to vicious habits? at enmity with God, and a skulking fugitive from thy own conscience? O, how idle the dispute, whether the listening to the dictates of prudence from prudential and self-interested motives be virtue or merit, when the not listening is guilt, misery, madness, and despair! The best, the most Christianlike pity thou canst show, is to take pity on thy own soul. The best and most acceptable service thou canst render, is to do justice and show mercy to thyself.

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