S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Is the force of self-love abated, or its interest prejudiced, by benevolence? So far from it, that benevolence, though a distinct principle, is extremely serviceable to self-love, and then doth most service when it is least designed . And then, as to that charming delight which immediately follows the giving joy to another, or relieving his sorrow, and is, when the objects are numerous, and the kindness of importance, really inexpressible, what can this be owing to but a consciousness of a mans having done something praiseworthy, and expressive of a great soul?
Man may be considered in two views, as a reasonable and as a sociable being; capable of becoming himself either happy or miserable, and of contributing to the happiness or misery of his fellow-creatures. Suitably to this double capacity, the Contriver of human nature hath wisely furnished it with two principles of action, self-love and benevolence; designed one of them to render man wakeful to his own personal interest, the other to dispose him for giving his utmost assistance to all engaged in the same pursuit.
There cannot be a stronger argument that God has designed us for a state of future happiness, and for that heaven which he has revealed to us, than that he has thus naturally qualified the soul for it, and made it a being capable of receiving so much bliss. He would never have made such faculties in vain, and have endowed us with powers that were not to be exerted on such objects as are suited to them. It is very manifest, by the inward frame and constitution of our minds, that he has adapted them to an infinite variety of pleasures and gratifications which are not to be met with in this life. We should therefore at all times take care that we do not disappoint his gracious purpose and intention towards us, and make those faculties which he formed as so many qualifications for happiness and rewards to be the instruments of pain and punishment.
It must be remembered that we do not intermit, upon any pretence whatsoever, the custom of doing good, in regard, if there be the least cessation, nature will watch the opportunity to return, and in a short time to recover the ground it was so long in quitting: for there is this difference between mental habits and such as have their foundation in the body, that these last are in their nature more forcible and violent, and to gain upon us need only not to be opposed; whereas the former must be continually reinforced with fresh supplies, or they will languish and die away.
Another thing which suspends the operations of benevolence is the love of the world; proceeding from a false notion men have taken up, that an abundance of the world is an essential ingredient in the happiness of life. Worldly things are of such a quality as to lessen upon dividing, so that the more partners there are the less must fall to every mans private share. The consequence of this is, that they look upon one another with an evil eye, each imagining all the rest to be embarked in an interest that cannot take place but to his prejudice. Hence are those eager competitions for wealth and power; hence one mans success becomes anothers disappointment; and, like pretenders to the same mistress, they can seldom have common charity for their rivals.
His works but faintly reflect the image of his perfections; it is a second-hand knowledge: to have a just idea of him it may be necessary that we see him as he is. But what is that? It is something that never entered into the heart of man to conceive: yet what we can easily conceive will be a fountain of unspeakable, of everlasting rapture. All created glories will fade and die away in his presence. Perhaps it will be my happiness to compare the world with the fair exemplar of it in the Divine Mind; perhaps to view the original plan of those wise designs that have been executing in a long series of ages. Thus employed in finding out his works and contemplating their Author, how shall I fall prostrate and adoring, my body swallowed up in the immensity of matter, my mind in the infinitude of his perfections!