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The pleasures that accrue to us from the pursuit of fame, like those of self interest, are best gained by persons who have them not directly in view. The man who is truly benevolent, pious, and conscientious, will, in general, secure the most folid and permanent reputation with mankind; and if he be so situated that the practice of any real virtue shall be deemed unfashionable, and subject him to contempt and insult, he will have acquired that superiority of mind, which will set him above it ; so that he will not feel any pain from the want of such esteem, as must have been purchased by the violation, or neglect of his duty. But he will rather applaud himself, and rejoice that he is not esteemed by persons of certain characters, be they ever so numerous, and distinguished on certain accounts; finding more than an equivalent recompence in the approbation of his own mind, in the esteem of the wise and good, though they be ever fo few, and especially in the favour of God, who is the searcher of
hearts, the best judge, and most munificient rewarder of real worth.
§ 5. Of the sympathetic affections.
A passion for fame, though it be founded on the relation that men stand in to one another, and therefore supposes society, is of a very different nature from the social principle, properly so called ; or a dispofition to love, and to dó kind offices to our fellow creatures.
1. That it is with the greatest justice that this is ranked among our highest pursuits has been shewn already. That the study to do good to others, is placed in this rank must be perfectly agreeable to the will of God, who cannot but intend the happiness of all his offspring, and who is himself actuated by the principle of universal benevolence. If we confult the natural dictates of our conscience, we shall find that it gives the strongest approbation to disinterested be
nevolence in ourselves or others; and if we examine how our own highest interest is affected by it; we shall find that, in general, the more exalted is our benevolence, and the more we lay ourselves out to promote the good of others, the more perfect enjoyment we have of ourselves, and the more we are in the way of receiving good offices from others in return; and, upon the whole, the happier we are likely to be.
2. A man of a truly benevolent disposition, and who makes the good of others the object of his pursuit, will never want opportunities of employing and gratifying himself: for we are fo connected with and dependent upon one another, the small upon the great, and the great upon the small, that, whatever be a man's fta- . tion in life, if he be of a benevolent difposition, it will always be in his power to oblige others, and thereby indulge himfelf.
3. A person so benevolent
general, depend upon success in his schemes, because mankind are previously disposed to approve, recommend, and countenance benevolent undertakings ; and though such a person will see much misery and distress, which he cannot relieve, and which will, consequently, give him some pain; yet, upon the whole, his pleasures will he far superior to it; and the pains of fympathy do not, in general, 'agitate the mind beyond the limits of pleasure. We have even a kind of satisfaction with ourselves in contemplating scenes of distress, though we can only wish to relieve the unhappy fufferers. For this reason it is that tragic scenes, and tragical stories are so engaging. This kind of satisfaction has even more charms for mankind in general than the view of many pleasing scenes of life.
4. Besides if to the principle of benevolence be added a strict regard to conscience, and confidence in divine providence, all the pains of sympathy will almost
wholly vanish. If we are conscious that we do all we can to assist and relieve others, we may have perfect satisfaction in ourselves, and may habitually rejoice in the belief of the wisdom and goodness of God; being convinced that all the evils, which we ineffectually strive to remove, are appointed for wife and good purposes; and that, being of a temporary nature, they will finally be absorbed in that infinity of happiness, to which, though in ways unknown to us, we believe them to be subfervient.
Every argument by which benevolence is recommended to us condemns malevolence, or a disposition to rejoice in the misery, and to grieve at the happiness of others. This baleful disposition may be generated by frequently considering our own interest as in opposition to that of o. thers. For, in this case, at the same time that we receive pleasure from our own gain, we receive pleasure also from their loss, which is connected with it, and for the same reason, when we grieve for our