Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Own Good, Profit and Pleasure

"Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy. There is no man who does not desire this, and each one desires it with such earnestness that he prefers it to all other things; whoever, in fact desires other things, desires them for this end alone."

"He who is good is therefore good that he may be happy; and he who is evil would not be so, if he despaired of the possibility of being happy by that means."

"But to know where to find this thing desired of all; that is disputed among them, that divides them."

"In my opinion you will not be happy if you are unable to possess what you love, be that what it may; nor can you be happy if you do not love what you have, be it ever so good; nor even if you are able to have what you love, if it be harmful to you. For if you desire what you cannot have, you are tormented; if you acquire what you do not want, you are deceived; if you do not desire what should be acquired, you are not mentally sound."

"He, therefore, who inquires how he may attain a happy life, is surely inquiring after nothing else but this: Where is the Supreme Good? In other words, in what does man's Supreme Good reside, not according to the perverse and hasty opinions of men, but according to sure and immovable truth?"

"What now remains but God himself in whom resides man's highest good?"

"I say, therefore, that he is happy who possesses God."

quotes are St. Augustine, taken from Augustine on Prayer, by Thomas A. Hand

This is exactly the understanding that Jonathan Edwards had in mind when he made the first (and most misunderstood) of his famous resolutions:

"Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence."

He resolved to seek his own happiness, by seeking the highest good, which is God.


Devika said...

Hi Doug,

Nice set of quotations, Doug...
and true too, i believe..we could be and also go beyond to be possessed by God...

now, i came to inform that Certain Kind of woman is updated.


just thought of informing the bloggers i visit regularly..Take your time, but hope you will find time for it :-)

deola said...

These are words of wisdom. I was touched.

Femin Susan said...

Very cool your blog!
Great! Keep writing…….
Good week

Teri said...

These are wonderful thoughts from Augustine. Honestly, what passes as "devotional" material these days when such writings as these are available to us...

While I agree with him, I do wonder if one might accuse him of having a tautological premise, defining desire as happiness then proving a connection..

Just a quick thought as Devil's Advocate. Probably should think it through better...

Doug P. Baker said...

Thank you all for your thoughts!

Teri, I think he barely misses the tautology that you mention. It seems to me that he is saying that we desire what we think will make us happy, but that it will always fall short if we set our hearts on anything short of God himself as our desire. Only in God do we find an eternal and eternally increasing happiness. That at least is how I understand him.

Andrew said...

I haven't had time yet to check out the content on your blog, but judging by your profile, we seem to be kindred spirits: I too listen to Sufjan Stevens and Pedro the Lion, value Reformation theology, etc. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment!

Doug P. Baker said...

Andrew, I think we do indeed have a lot in common! See you around.