It is surely a great point of wisdom for any man to shun and avoid, if he can, troubles and afflictions, and it [is] also certain that it is as great a part of wisdom for a man, if he can, to get into such a state as that, if troubles and afflictions do come, they can do him no real hurt, or be sure that they not only do him no hurt but good: but such is the state of the good man, and however troublesome those afflictions may seem to a good man at present, yet if they do him but good, it is really and truly as good for him—yea, better—than if they did not befall him. Although this may be a hard lesson to receive, yet it is as certain as that God is true, and however some may endeavor to dissuade to the contrary, every man’s reason will give testimony to it, and surely ’tis the part of a wise man to choose what his reason tells him is best for him. They certainly are the wisest men that do those things that make most for their happiness, and this in effect is acknowledged by all men in the world, for there is no man upon earth but what is earnestly seeking after happiness, and it appears abundantly by their so vigorously trying all manner of ways; they will twist and turn every way, ply all instruments, to make themselves happy men; some will wander all over the face of the earth to find [it]: they will seek it in the waters and dry land, under the waters and in the bowels of the earth, and although the true way to happiness lies right before ’em and they might easily step into it and walk in it and be brought in it to as great happiness as they desire, and greater than they can conceive of, yet they will not enter into it. They try all the false paths; they will spend and be spent, labor all their lives’ time, endanger their lives, will pass over mountains and valleys, go through fire and water, seeking for happiness amongst vanities, and are always disappointed, never find what they seek for; but yet like fools and madmen they violently rush forward, still in the same ways. But the righteous are not so; these only, have the wisdom to find the right paths to happiness.

—Jonathan Edwards
Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 1992), 303.


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