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difference between these two sorts of contemplation, vision of an object as present, and the dark knowledge of it as absent. In desiring any mental enjoyment, desire supposes, that we have some knowledge of the beloved object already; which knowledge is the cause of desire and desire likewise supposes another quite different knowledge of the same object, which we call presence, or enjoyment, and which is wanting when we desire it.
Desire of knowledge, or contemplation of any object, supposes a mixture of knowledge and ignorance of it; for if we had no knowledge of it at all, we could not desire it.
Let us suppose a man seeing a machine, building, city, or beautiful country, he sees in one simultaneous view more than he can imagine at once. man remembers, and imagines by parts, what he sees in one view. Besides, active producing of ideas, because it requires effort, is oft times uneasy in comparison of vision, which is a contemplation of an object more comprehensive, easy, bright, stedfast, and consequently more delightful, than any other.
Let us reflect on some of the most extraordinary effects of friendship, (and there is nothing in history has had more extraordinary effects), particularly the greatest sorrow and melancholy that ever any man felt for the absence or death of the most virtuous friend; his thinking on him when dead, or absent, and seeing him when present, are contemplations of the same object; but so different, that the same reason that makes the one pleasant, makes the other proportionably sorrowful.
The presence of a material object is that which gives us the clearest perception and contemplation of it, and in some sense admits of degrees.
The presence of a rational being is when we have, not only the clearest view of his state, and qualities, and disposition, of which the face is a
mysterious representation; but also are within reach of mutual and reciprocal communication. If a rational being were present to us, so as to know all we think and do, but would make no return to us, nor give any intimation of affection and inclination to our good, or to answer our desires; as it would not be mutual presence, so, as to our comfort, it would be in effect absence and distance.
The more a rational being communicates to us, and particularly the more clear view we have of him, he is the more present to us; so that presence admits of degrees.
The favourable presence of a rational being is when we enjoy his presence with signs of good-will to us; and the joy of it is proportionable to our love of him, and his power to do us good.
SECT. II.-Of affection.
Besides the beauty of an object, and the degree or kind of contemplation of it, the affection with which we contemplate it, has no small influence on the joy that results from it. Two persons may have the same view, or the same thoughts, concerning the same object; and yet difference of affection may make the same view far more pleasant to the one than to the other; yea, may make it pleasant to the one, and painful to the other.
Curiosity is the inclination we satisfy, when we delight in the view of a lifeless object, without any regard to any advantage by it, different from the pleasant view of it. Love is the affection which is the internal or subjective cause of delight, in contemplating an intelligent being; but a man may incline, and take pleasure, in contemplating even an intelligent being, without the affection of love; and then he takes merely the pleasure of curiosity. Herod was desirous to see the most amiable person that ever was in the world, with
out loving him; and vicious persons, or perhaps even Atheists, may take some kind of pleasure even in theological contemplations, merely from curiosity.
We cannot love the presence or society of any person, without love to the person himself, unless it be for the sake of some advantage different from his presence; and then it is not properly his presence we love, or delight in, but some other interest we propose by it.
We cannot delight in contemplating any person as happy, without loving him; and we cannot perfectly love any person, without making his happiness, in a manner, our own. If we had a perfect love of an infinitely happy being, it would be an inexhaustible source of joy, though we are incapable of knowing all his blessedness, and consequently incapable of infinite happiness.
It would take a treatise to show the influence of a just and well-grounded love on happiness. The pleasure of society depends on it; and the exercise of that lovely affection has an elevated noble pleasure in it, even in sorrow, in pity, in sympathising with distressed virtue, though it were but in a fable. An affection which even when exercised towards inferior objects, and when disappointed and sorrowful, retains still a noble mixture of delight in the subject of it, and is amiable to those who contemplate it, when it is in the most perfect degree directed towards the most perfect object, must be considered as a principal ingredient necessary te beatitude.
When the reason of our love to a person is his physical perfections, it is esteem; when the reason of it is his favours, or some relation to ourselves, which is a durable source of favours, it is gratitude to delight in his happiness, is benevofence; and that love which has for its special ob
ject and reason, his moral perfections, is approbation or complacence; though this last term is sometimes taken in a larger sense: and all these contribute to that love which consists in desire of enjoying, of having the view, presence and society, and favour of a lovely object.
A just love is when the reason of it is true, or when the object is really endued with those perfections, or causes and reasons of love, which are supposed to be in it.
Experience shews, that approbation heightens benevolence; and therefore the want of it naturally lessens it; and the greater the physical perfections of an object are, if they be joined with moral deformity, they make the object the more odious, and its presence and society the more unpleasant.
When we contemplate objects of unequal perfection and loveliness, it is just to have unequal love to them, or to love them in proportion to their loveliness, and to give the preference to the highest.
We may conceive several orders of justice in love and affection, according to the several orders of the objects of affection. The highest justice we are capable of, is to have a just affection or to give just preference to the highest perfection: where there are many objects of affection equally lovely, to love them equally; and consequently to have more love to many of them, or to a greater number, than to a less; because whatever reason there is in one of them, or any smaller number, to make us love them, there is still more reason for love in a greater number of them.
We cannot be happy in any company, not even in our own, without love and approbation; the more complacence, approbation, and esteem, the more benevolence. Infinite happiness can want no degree of any thing necessary to the highest appro
bation and love of the subject of it. These things are necessarily connected together: a being of infinite perfection, of infinite esteem, love, and complacency in himself, which is infinite love, and infinite justice and truth.
We cannot conceive the Supreme Being, either as infinitely perfect, or just, or happy, without an infinite love and preference of himself above all other things; which is one way of conceiving with due reverence divine essential holiness.
No other being can be perfect, just, or happy, without the same moral perfection, holiness, or preferring and loving God above all things; and, as was shewn before, what we love, or what we love chiefly, we must chiefly delight in contemplating it, in rejoicing in its happiness, or we must chiefly delight in loving it.
All actions flow from the moral disposition of the agent, or his will and inclination. An agent infinitely lovely, can do nothing but what is most lovely, and nothing but what is a just reason for the greatest love to himself. He cannot appear unlike himself. Creatures can see nothing but his works, and their own; and if perfectly lovely actions cannot be a temptation, a reason, or excuse, for despising the agent, then all want of holiness in a being capable of it is inexcusable.
We cannot be holy, without approving and loving that moral disposition in ourselves, and all others; yea, the more holy a being is, the more it loves and approves of it wherever it is; and the same reason that is for love of holiness, is for want of love, that is, for aversion and hatred of the contrary disposition.
If holiness be the highest justice, ungodliness is the highest injustice; and if the highest degree of it be hateful, any degree of it, in any person, at any time, must be so proportionably.