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in this world is consistent with the good of others. Whenever it is promoted therefore there is a direct increase of the general happiness. To produce this effect is the great duty and dictate of benevolence, and must of course be right.


Our eternal good cannot fail to be consistent with the good of the universe. God has no pleasure in the death of the sinner; but would rather that he would repent and live.' Accordingly he hath commanded all men everywhere to repent.' What he has thus commanded cannot but be right in itself. Accordingly he hath directed that our prayers and supplications should be made for all men.'


What the Scriptures thus teach, reason wholly approves. We are all made capable of happiness. This capacity was not given in vain, but was intended to be supplied. Every man who thinks soberly at all feels, and acknowledges accordingly, that he is bound to promote as much as in him lies the happiness of every other man, both present and future; and no man would fail to be self-condemned if he were to indulge a wish, or even a willingness, that any one of his fellow creatures should be miserable hereafter. Nay, indifference to this subject would not fail of being followed by severe reproaches of conscience. But what it is the duty of all men thus to wish and to seek, what no man can oppose, or regard with indifference without guilt, it is peculiarly his duty to wish and seek for himself; both because the accomplishment of this work is committed to him by his Maker, and because this work can be done by him more effectually than by any other.

3. We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves ;' that is, generally and indefinitely, as well as ourselves; and of course are at least equally required to love ourselves as we love our neighbour.

The rectitude of this law cannot be questioned even by Lord Shaftesbury; nor can he or any other man deny that it exhibits to us disinterested love in the fairest form, and the strongest manner. But, as has been already shown, we are bound by the dictates both of reason and Revelation to seek the future and eternal good of our neighbour.; to "desire it, and to promote it as far as is in our power. By this very command then, the law originally enjoining benevolence as the great duty of intelligent beings, a law to which reason uncon

ditionally subscribes, we are absolutely obliged to seek our own eternal life.

4. Our eternal life is in itself an immense good.

The endless happiness of a rational being is of more value than can be conceived by any finite mind. Within a moderate period it will amount to more than all the happiness which in this world has been enjoyed, or will ever be enjoyed here by all its inhabitants. Whatever is endless admits of no definite comparison with that which is not. But the happiness of a future state is not endless merely, it is also endlessly increasing, and will soon rise in degree, as well as duration, above the highest human comprehension. Such of course is the addition made to the common good of the universe, whenever the eternal life of an individual is secured. To neglect the pursuit of such happiness as this is madness; to oppose it is malignity, which no words can describe.

5. Eternal happiness consists in eternal disinterestedness, and its consequences.

The happiness of heaven arises from the disinterested love of God, communicated in various blessings to his children; in their disinterested communications of good to each other; and in the enjoyment derived by their minds from the exercises of virtue. It is acknowledged on all hands that it is desirable to live virtuously here. All the reasons which operate in this case render it at least equally desirable to live virtuously hereafter, throughout any and every period of duration in which such a life may be enjoyed. It is by all men acknowledged that it is useful to do good here and at the present time. He, who makes this acknowledgment cannot without gross self-contradiction deny that it is equally useful to do good, wherever it may be done, and at every future period. If then it is proper, if it is virtuous, to desire and to seek to live a virtuous life, or to do good, in the present world, it is equally virtuous and equally proper to desire and seek to do the same things in a future state of being. All the labours then by which we may possess ourselves of such a life in the present world, must with equal propriety be directed to the attainment of such a life in the world to


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But it is not only desirable and proper that we should do this in the present world; it is a plain, high, and indispensable duty; and, in a sense, the sum of all our duty, so far as this world is concerned. It cannot but be perceived that it is in the same sense the sum of all our duty with respect to the future world.

This however is far from being the amount of the whole truth concerning this subject. As much as eternity exceeds time, as much as perfect virtue excels the present frail character of good men here, as much as endless virtue, as much as endlessly increasing virtue, outruns in its importance the transient virtue of this momentary life, so much more is it our duty to seek the good of a future life than that of the present. Indeed, man lives here only to become prepared to live hereafter. Our whole duty therefore ought, during the present life, to be performed with a supreme reference to that which is to come.

Thus the pursuit of eternal good is so far from being opposed to disinterestedness, from being mercenary, mean, and selfish, so far from destroying the nature of virtue, or lessening its obligations, that it is its genuine dictate, its spontaneous tendency, its most exalted aim. No virtuous mind, if properly informed, can fail of pursuing this object; and no object which respects ultimately the present world can call forth virtuous exercises of so elevated and excellent a nature.

6. By our eternal life the happiness of all virtuous beings is greatly increased.

"There is joy in heaven,' saith our Saviour, over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance.' Whatever else may be the meaning of Christ in this passage, it is unquestionable that the inhabitants of heaven experience a real joy in the repentance of a sinner. Reason, as well as Revelation, clearly teaches us, that virtuous beings cannot fail to find enjoyment in this subject, because repentance is an exercise of virtue, and the means of securing happiness. In the future virtue and future happiness of such a sinner, the same beings will at all times find similar enjoyment; increasing continually in degree as these objects of it increase. As these will at the commencement of a future existence be perfect, and will rise

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higher and higher in the same perfection for ever; so, it is plain, the enjoyment found in them will increase throughout every succeeding period. Thus every inhabitant of this world who secures his own eternal life becomes an everlasting and perpetually increasing benefit to the virtuous universe; a blessing which no words can describe, and whose value no numbers can reckon. Can it be necessary to ask, whether it is virtuous to aim at this character?

7. God is glorified whenever we seek and obtain eternal life.


When Christ was born a multitude of the heavenly host sung, Glory to God in the highest,' because there was peace on earth, and good will towards men.' But if none of the human race should experience this good will, that is, if none of them should obtain eternal life, the glory otherwise springing from this source would be prevented. To this glory of God every person then who secures eternal life contributes, by accomplishing in one instance that out of which the glory arises. The glory of God in this case is a whole made up of the individual instances in which he is glorified. If, therefore, no individual sought his salvation, none would obtain it; and if none obtained it, the work would not be done, and the glory of God in this important particular would not be accomplished. How important it is may in some measure be discerned from these facts; that God sent his own Son to die that we might live; and his Spirit to renew us, that we might become heirs of life..

Thus have I endeavoured to show that the pursuit of eternal life is so far from being opposed to the nature of disinterested love, that it is one of its primary dictates; a conduct invariably springing from its influence; and that the Scriptures, instead of lessening or destroying virtue, by requiring this conduct of us, have increased the obligations to it, and directed it to its proper end.

Those who make the objections contended against in this Discourse, have in my view always failed of distinguishing between disinterestedness and uninterestedness. The distinc tion between them is, however, perfectly clear and incalculably important. To be disinterested is to be without a selfish interest in any given thing or things; to be uninterested is to

have no interest in them at all. A disinterested man may take the deepest interest in any subject; and the deeper the interest, the more disinterested he may be. The uninterested man can have no interest in that subject, either selfish or benevolent. To be absolutely disinterested is to be absolutely free from selfishness. To be absolutely uninterested is to be absolutely without any interest or concern in any thing. A perfectly disinterested man would experience a supreme delight in the perfect happiness of the universe. A perfectly uninterested man, if we can suppose such an one to exist, would feel no concern in any happiness whatever. The reason why these terms have been supposed to denote the same thing may have been, that the word interested is frequently opposed to each of them. This word originally denotes the concern which we feel in any thing; but has long been figuratively and very commonly used to denote a selfish concern ; probably, because the interest which the human heart feels in most things is so generally a selfish interest.

It is not my design to contend that there is not a real and great pleasure found in the exercises of virtue; nor that the virtuous man does not always experience this pleasure in such exercises, and that in exact proportion to his virtue; nor that this is not a proper motive to engage him to these exercises.

The true nature of virtue is well described in this definition: the love of doing good; or the love of promoting happiness. In all the good therefore which is done by ourselves or others, and of course in all that is enjoyed by ourselves or others, whenever it is not inconsistent with some greater good, virtue delights of course. In its own proper nature it aims at such good, and for such it labours, whoever is to be the recipient. Its true excellence lies in this; that it is the voluntary and only source of happiness in the universe. In aiming at our own happiness there is no necessary selfishness. Selfishness consists in a preference of ourselves to others, and to all others; to the universe, and to God. This is sin, and all that in the Scripture is meant by sin. In every individual sin this will invariably be found to be the essential and guilty character. Thus sensuality is the desire of self-gratification, at the expense of any and all other happiness. Thus ambition is the desire of aggrandizing, and avarice the desire of enrich

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