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What Happiness is.

Happiness in general may be defined to be the secure and constant presence and enjoyment of whatsoever is really good, desireable and delightful; together with the absence of whatever is afflictive and tormenting.

It is described by Boetius, to be Status omnium honorum aggregatione perfectus: An Estate perfect by the confluence of all good things. And by Cicero, Secretis malis omnibus cumulatum bonorum possessio: An accumulated possession of good things, all evil things being withdrawn. The holy Psalmist himself makes the happiness of the Beatifick Vision to consist in fulness of Joy, and Eternal Pleasures, Psal. 17. ult. In thy presence there is fulness of joy, and at thy 8right hand there are pleasures for evermore. And by our Blessed Saviour the happiness of Heaven is called the joy of the Lord, Matth. 25. 21 and 23.

Happiness is usually distinguished into Objective and Formal.

Objective Happiness is that Object or thing which renders us happy.

Formal Happiness is the union with, or enjoyment of that Object.

The supreme Objective Happiness of Man, his chief good, or last end, is the ever blessed Deity.

His Formal Happiness is the Enjoyment of this Object, which consists in the knowledge and love of God, and that joy an delectation which naturally and necessarily flows therefrom; John 17. 3. And this is Life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

You will say, If the happiness of Man consists in the love of God, how can holiness of life be said to render a Man happy?

I answer, Because holiness or obedience to the Commandments of God, is in effect the same thing with the love of God. By the Apostle John it is made to be the very same, 1 John 5. 3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his Commandments. And Galat. 5. 3. Love is said to be the fulfilling of the Law. Dr. Hammond in his Note upon John 14. 15. observes, that the Notion of loving God in Scripture, but especially in the New Testament, seems most fitly to be taken from one most eminent Act and Expression of Love amongst all Men; that is, doing those things which are most grateful and acceptable to the beloved. Now our only way of doing things grateful to God, is our performing what he commands; and therefore it is consequent, that our obedience to the Will or Commands of God, in the highest and most perfect manner, is styled the loving of him; being indeed the prime, if not only way of demonstrating our love to him, John 14. 21. He that hath my Commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and ver. 23. If any man love me, he will keep my word: and 1 John 2. 5. He that keeps his word, in him is the love of God made perfect, &c. Another Notion there is of the Love of God, viz. a desire of union and near conjunction with him; but this is but seldom lookt upon in the Scriptures. Thus far Dr. Hammond.

Love is by some Divines distinguished into Appreciative and Sensible, or rather Passionate.


Appreciative Love is such an affection whereby we prize or value any one Object above another.

Sensible or Passionate Love is that which hath a greater influence upon the Body, and doth more strongly move and affect it.

Our Love to God in this state is of the first kind, such an affection or disposition of Soul, whereby we prize him above all things; so that neither Father nor Mother, nor Wife, nor Child, though they may more sensibly and passionately affect us, are so much esteemed by us, we can be content to part with them when God pleases, and quietly to submit to his Will. No Worldly advantage, much less the gratifying any Lust, can prevail with us to break any one of his Commandments. Yet ought we not to rest contented with this degree of love to God, but to labour after that which is more ardent and passionate; else how can we satisfie our selves in a Time of Temptation, that our Obedience to God’s Commands proceeds not rather from a Principle of Fear, or Self-love, than of love to God.

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