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execution. My joy in the present welfare of the child, is a present gratification. My desire, my purpose, and my imperative volitions, all have reference to the future; to something which is to be obtained.
If the inquiry he made, What is it that immediately prompts a man to act ? the answer must depend upon the kind of act to which the inquiry relates. An executive act is prompted by some purpose or desire. Purposes and desires are prompted by the love of some object, either real or imaginary. But this love is excited by the object itself, presented to some sensibility of the agent.' That which we dislike may also prompt us to action. If it be a present evil, we desire and endeavor to remove it. If it be something future which we dread, we make exertions to avoid it. In this case, also, the evil, whatever it be, excites aversion, and this prompts to desires and efforts to prevent the injury which it threatens.
3. This brings us to a still more important instance of ambiguous phraseology. What is the ultimate end of voluntary agency? The term ultimate has a reference to some kind of succession. If it is applied to a series of events, it denotes that which is last in the order of time. But it frequently relates to the order of our inquiries. In our investigations in the physical sciences, we often begin with a particular phenomenon, and reversing the natural order of succession, trace back the series, from effects to causes. The first of these causes which we are able to observe, is soinetimes called an ultimate fact, or ultimate principle, as being the last at which we arrive in the course of our investigation. The same fact may be called either primary or ultimate; primary, in reference to the natural order of succession ;ultimate, in reference to the order of our inquiries. So in the case of voluntary agency, a specific act of will is owing to a desire ; the desire, to a previous emotion; and that emotion, to some object of affection and desire. This object is sometimes considered, so far at least as our observation extends, the ultimate ground or cause of the particular volition; because it is the last, in the order of our inquiries, though first, in the natural order of succession. But by the ultimate ground or cause of an act, some writers appear to mean the immediate antecedent on which the act depends ;in a series of causes, the last in the order of time. In this sense, the ultimate ground of a particular executive volition may be a desire ;-of that desire, an emotion ;-of that emotion, some object of affection.
Perhaps the principal reason, however, why the term uluimate is applied to the object of our choice and pursuit is, that it is that which we are aiming to attain, and which, when attained, will succeed, even in the order of time, the series of feelings and acts which lead to its attainment. It is especially ultimate in relation to subordinate objects, which are sought only as means of securing a good that is desired on its own account. If in this application of the ierm there is any ambiguity, it would seem that the expression ultimate end must be sufficiently definite. An end of voluntary action is something which the agent seeks or aims at, in what he does. An ultimate end is that which is sought for its own sake, and not for the sake of some farther end. It is carefully distinguished, by President Edwards,* not only from subordinate ends, but from the chief end at which an agent is aiming. “A chief end,” he observes, “is opposite to an inferior end; an ultimate end is opposite to a subordinate end. Though the chief end be always an ultimale end; yet every ullimale end is not alway a chief end. The chief end is an end that is most valued, and therefore, most sought asie, hy the agent, in whatever he does. Two different ends may be both ultimate ends, and yet not be chief ends. They may be both valued for their own sake, and both sought in the same works or acts, and yet one valued more highly, and sought more than another." An object of pursuit may be un ultimate end of an agent, in particular acts, without being the ultimate end, that is, the only ultimate end at which he is aiming in those acis. “ Some subordinate ends," says Edwards, “may be more valued and sought after than some ullimale ends;—though a subordinate end is never more valued, than that ultimate to which it is subordinate. A thing sought may have the nature of an ultimate, and also of a subordinate end; as ii may be sought partly on its own account, and parıly for the sake of a further end.” A man may seek a good reputation, boih as an object desirable in itself, and as a means of sustaining and extending his influence; partly as an ultimate end, and partly as a subordinate
* End of Creation.
end. He may seek the enjoyment of health, both as a good in itself, and also as giving him strength for the duties of life.
On the supposition, that the glory of God and the welfare of our fellow men, are primarily chosen for their own sake, and on this ground are made ultimate objects of pursuit by the Christian, his own future happiness may also be an ultimate object with him ; not his only ultimate object, nor that which, in his desires and pursuits, he chiefly regards. While he seeks the welfare of others principally on its own account, he may, at the same time, have a reference to the satisfaction which he himself will experience in seeing them happy. He may seek their prosperity both as a good in itself, and as a means of promoting his own enjoyment. It may be to him parıly an ultimate good, and parily subordinate to another ultimate good. His own happiness, and the happiness of others, may each be an ultimate good, in the sense of being chosen by him for its own sake. It is conceivable, however, that the mind of an individual may be so intenıly fixed upon the interests of another, as to have, at the time, no thought of the enjoyment which he himself may find, in the gratification of his desires. A father's heart may be so absorbed in rescuing his child from a house in flames, as 10 preclude all consideration of the joy which he himself is to experience, in the deliverance of the child. This docs not imply that he is the subject of no uneasiness, at seeing the imminent danger of one whom he tenderly loves. But the uneasiness which prompts him 10 exertion, is a present feeling; not the future object of his efforts.
From the fact that mere inanimate matter, which is incapable of enjoyment, is commonly sought as a means only, some appear to have inferred, that this is the case with every other good, except the agent's own happiness. But if the welfare of others may be an object sought for its own sake, it
have the nature both of an ultimate, and also of a subordinate end. Delicious fruit is desired, because it is delicious; for the sake of the gratification which we expect from ealing it, and not for any pleasure which the fruit will enjoy in being calen. But we may seek the welfare of our fellow men, not merely for the sake of our own gratification, but also for the sake of the good which they are capable of enjoying.
4. To the terın disinterested, meanings are frequently given very different from what is intended by the advocates of disinterested benevolence. In their use of the word, it does not imply that the benevolent man is uninterested ; that he is in a state of indifference with respect to the objects of his benevolence ; that he takes no interest in their prosperity. On the contrary, the more benevolent he is, the more deeply is he interested in the welfare of others; the more readily does he sympathize with them in their joys and their sor
Neither does the expression disinterested imply, that there is no enjoyment in the exercise of benevolent affection. It not only seeks the good of others, but is itself a most delightful emotion. The happiest of men are those who are the most intently engaged in promoting the happiness of others.
Disinterested benevolence does not imply that he who is the subject of it has no regard for his own individual interest. As the good of others is not inconsistent with our personal welfare, the most benevolent man may make provision for his own future happiness. Even those efforts in which he has a primary reference to the interests of others, may be accompanied with an expectation of reward to himself. He is not destitute of all regard to his own happiness. In loving his neighbor as himself, he does not cease to love himself.
But what is meant by those who adopt the expression “disinterested benevolence" is this ; that the direct and proper object of benevolent affection and pursuit, is the happiness of others; that love to God, and love to men, are not exercised merely because they are subservient to our own private interest; that personal gratification is not the only ultimate end of all our actions; that the welfare of others is a good which we may seek for its own sake, and not merely for the sake of promoting our individual enjoyment. This is so far from being a forced and unusual signification of the term disinterested, that it is the very meaning commonly given to it by men in the ordinary walks of life. It is an expression in frequent use in the familiar intercourse of socieiy, and is well understood in the sense in which it is adopted by the advocates of disinterested benevolence.
A man's present gratification may be the highest, when his thoughts are least directed towards his own future good;
when his mind is so engrossed with nobler and more exalted objects, that his individual interests are, in a great measure, out of sight. The pleasure which we experience in the exercise of the affections, bears some proportion to the magnitude and excellence of the object upon which they are fixed. The benevolent man brings within his view far higher interests than his own individual happiness. The value of his private good is not to be compared with the welfare of a nation, the salvation of a world, the bliss of the countless myriads of heaven. When his thoughts are most intently fixed upon these objects, they are turned off from his personal in. terests. And
And yet this is the time when his enjoyment is the greatest. He is the most happy when he ihinks least of himself; when his attention is not divided between what is immeasurably great and excellent, and what is comparatively unimportant. David Brainard, in giving an account of his own conversion, makes this statement : "As I was walking in a dark, thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the view and apprehension of my soul. I stood still; wondered ; and admired. I knew that I never had seen before any thing comparable to it for excellence and beauty. My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in him; at least, to that degree, that I had no thought, as I remember, at first, about my own salvation, and scarce reflected that there was such a creature as myself."*
5. Self-love is too often confounded with selfishness. All selfishness is self-love ; but all self-love, all regard to our own happiness, is not selfishness, in the usual and proper acceptation of the term. To love ourselves as we love our neighbor is not selfishness. It is justifiable self-love. Selfishness is exclusive self-love. It is the loving ourselves more than our fellow men; more than God, and the welfare of his kingdom. It is a disposition to sacrifice all other interests which we deem inconsistent with our own private interests.
It has been said, indeed, that all self-love is criminal ; that
* Edwards' Works, vol. x. p. 44.