Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758
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The way to happiness
(Thomas Guthrie, "Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints" 1858)
"Blessed (or happy) is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed (or happy) is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him." Psalm 32:1-2
Our happiness depends in a very small degree upon what is external to us.
The springs of happiness lie deep within.
Yet, how common it is to think otherwise! Hence . . .
the keen pursuit of pleasure,
war's fierce ambition,
the student's patient labor as he feeds his midnight lamp with the oil of life,
the panting race for fleeting riches,
the desperate struggles some make to keep themselves from sinking into poverty,
and the toil and trouble others endure.
And to say nothing of the sins which these may alike commit, simply . . .
to rise in the world, as it is called,
to keep a better table,
to wear a better dress,
to live in a better house than satisfied their humble, but happier parents.
These paths, crowded and beaten down though they be by the feet of thousands who are treading on each other's heels--never yet conducted any man to happiness. Never! It lies in another direction. Whatever his condition is . . .
poor, or rich;
pining on a sick bed, or with health glowing on his cheek;
to be married tomorrow, or to be hanged tomorrow;
"Blessed," or, as we would say, Happy, "is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sin is covered!"
The way to happiness does not lie in attempting to bring our circumstances up to our minds--but our minds down to our circumstances.
To indulge an unsanctified and insatiable ambition, to attempt to bring our circumstances up to our minds--is to fill a sieve with water, or the grave with dead, or the sea with rivers. The passions that in such a case seek gratification, are like that wretched drunkard's thirst--they burn the fiercer for indulgence, and crave for more the more they get. It is often difficult, I grant, to bring our minds down to our circumstances; but he attempts not a difficult thing, but an impossible thing, who attempts to bring his circumstances up to the height of his ambition.
As the old adage says:
"Nature is content with little,
grace is content with less,
lust is content with nothing."
May ours be the happiness of him who,
content with less than little,
pleased with whatever pleases the Father,
anxious for nothing,
thankful for anything,
prayerful in everything;
can say with Paul, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:11-12
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