« PreviousContinue »
opposite classes of spiritual and intellectual essentials on which they are founded. Even homogeneous pleasures, as the corporeal, e. g. may be more exquisite in one subject than in another, being polished by higher endowments : which
proves A CONNEXION BETWEEN PLEASURE AND MORALITY THAT IS NOT ALWAYS SUSPECTED.
Indeed it is of more consequence to distinguish morally than metaphysically, in this case, and to find which are the pleasures to be most desired, than where they are felt or where they originate. It may be enough to have, as is generally had, a superficial idea of the difference between spiritual and corporeal pleasures and pains, or any other subject of both kinds, v. g. spiritual and corporeal. For then it may be further understood, how there are also two ways of enjoying life, corporeal and spiritual, and two ways, it may also be added, of resigning the same. They who understand the first mentioned corporeal enjoyment only may be loath to depart this transitory life when summoned, because they leave their all, little as it is, behind them; but they who understand the spiritual likewise may be glad to depart, because they do not leave their happiness, but greatly augment it, great as it is, by passing on to a more spiritual condition. And thus it may also be seen which is the truest pleasure, and the pleasure for choice, the spiritual or the corporeal, v.g. by endurance. For the latter is proverbially short and uncertain, even in this uncertain state; while in the next, they say, there is no room for it: but spiritual pleasure, or pleasure intellectually spiritual, is sterling everywhere; and the pleasure of a truly intellectual spirit always will be; the same being true happiness, and in effect the same as our Saviour describes it, -that on eating thereof we shall not hunger again, as we do, and that almost immediately, after partaking of false or inferior pleasures. “I am the bread of life (said he). He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John vi. 35).
The choice or appetite must needs be directed to one of
these two sorts of pleasure, the spiritual and corporeal, since we cannot choose both any more than we can serve the masters of both, being God supremely for both, and for one more immediately Mammon. The matter is therefore, where will we have our pleasure or treasure,-above or below ? - with God or with Mammon? Christian modes encourage us to have our treasure in heaven; i. e. in spiritual rather than in corporeal enjoyments. your affections on things above (says a teacher of these modes) not on things on the earth” (Col. iii. 2). “For (as the Master himself observes) where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Therefore it may be one good rule in making this choice, to take him sincerely for our Master, and God in him, looking for pleasure only in the discharge of our duty, as there is no substantial pleasure out of it. And a good line of duty may be taken from a combination of these two grand requisites, pleasure and profit, because where there is no profit there can be no lasting pleasure.“ The unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. v. 11) may please for a season with men of corrupt imaginations; but should they be afterwards questioned, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ?” (Rom. vi. 21) they might own, truly, no fruit, consequently no lasting pleasure ; but shame for our present recompence, and it may be something worse for us in reversion. “For (adds the apostle) the end of those things is death” (Ibid.).
Our greatest pleasure, therefore, should always be the greatest good. But a man of the earth, i. e. a voluptuary, does not think much of any good, but the gratifying and preparing gratifications for his inferior appetites. He makes the pleasure his primary object, and not the good which his bountiful Creator has annexed for its encouragement; nor Him either, as he might, without any real diminution of his corporeal enjoyment. For the Creator has made a duty of every pleasure honestly enjoyed : though he does not intend, that we should make idols of our pleasures, being “ lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (Tim. II. ij. 4); to serve them instead of Him. This He could never intend; but "in the day that God created man (Gen. v. 1), male and female created he them.” “ God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Ib. i. 28, 29).
This may be regarded as a divine license for every honest and fruitful enjoyment, both at bed and at board: being likewise only one among many instances in which the Creator appears affectionately solicitous (if it may be so said) for the lowest as well as for the highest enjoyments of his creatures. At the same time, however, he requires such enjoyments to be taken with faith (Heb. xi. 6) and moderation by those which have a sense of duty, as its proper consequence; and then they may enjoy them as its reward. But to be doating and dreaming on such enjoyments beforehand, or to desire the same immoderately, would be the way to debase in time our appetitive constituents, and likely to disqualify us for higher enjoyments accruing by right, i.e. by God's allowance, to those who look higher, as they ought.
Before we proceed to the particulars of pleasure, or of the sensitive division, of good spiritual subjective characteristics, it may finally be observed how the Christian modes, concerning these particulars, apply chiefly to persons of a middle age, or to those who do not seem to be going from them immediately, according to the course of nature; but who would do well nevertheless to follow the heathen precept of considering pleasures as on their departure, and to reckon on them accordingly; also, as delivered to every man by tale, and manage them with
suitable frugality. While to those from whom pleasure is departed, a retirement from its neighbourhood may be recommended with the example of a loyal veteran in king David's days, and one who had been instrumental to bis preservation when he fled before Absalom. “And the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem. And Barzillai said unto the king, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? Wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord, the king? Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it with such a reward? Let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father, and of my mother” (Sam. II. xix. 33, &c.) For admitting a man's glass to have run nearly to the extent of this worthy veteran's, the remainder would afford, one should think, but a small space for pleasure.
The different sorts or varieties of the moral property now defined
may be numerous, or more numerous however than interesting, some of them being very low; as jesting, frolic, fun, &c.: but all that are worth enumerating may be distinguished under two heads by the criterion of endurance before mentioned ; being 1, the transient; 2, permanent species of pleasant or good subjective spiritual sensitive characteristics : the first containing such sorts or varieties as joy, mirth, gladness, delight, enjoyment, ecstasy : the second, such as good humour, gaiety, cheerfulness, tranquillity, peace, happiness, properly so called, and bliss ; the said sorts or varieties being, however, scarcely distinguishable in many instances. For though they may formally distinguished by the different modes of indication or expression of which the general property is susceptible pro tempore, in the voice, the countenance, the action,
and gesticulation ; yet such distinction would be always more formal than real, more subtle than significant; and in fact as incomprehensible almost as it is uncertain. The only considerable distinction, and much to be relied on is, the specific distinction perhaps above given : and even that must depend on circumstances or contingents more than on facts or essentials; the first mentioned species being only a casual display or manifestation of the second; as individually, joy for example, of good humour; and mirth of cheerfulness, &c. In other words; it may be said, that joy, mirth, &c., are good humour, cheerfulness, &c., unrestrained by their antagonist properties, moroseness, care, &c., and too often preponderating also against discretion. For the certain though latent effort of permanent properties will break out. and appear
in the transient of one element as well as of another and also of their approximating degrees, whether the same be more spiritual or intellectual.
--1, Therefore, Joy, Mirth, Gladness, Delight, Enjoyment, Ecstasy, and all of that kind are to be regarded as the breaking out or manifestation (sometimes disorderly enough) of the varieties next to be mentioned : and so, consisting in this accident or occurrence merely, they may also be regarded as more incidental than these.
-2, But the latent properties of Good Humour, Gaiety, Cheerfulness, Tranquillity, Peace, Happiness, properly so called, and Bliss are decided constituents, not depending on the chance of manifestation, but the same, whether manifested or not: some of them being also ascribable to higher subjects than human; as we talk of the happiness of the Deity, the bliss of angels. And if others of the sort, as good humour, cheerfulness, and the like are not ascribed to angels, they would be no disgrace to them. For habitual good humour and a cheerful disposition is a constant eulogy on the Creator and his works; as their opposite is a constant reproach; not to the Creator however, but to its subject or owner, the event in either case answering to the quality of the same. Thus while the cheerful man