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Right Paths to Happiness

They certainly are the wisest men that do those things that make most for their happiness. 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 them and they might easily step into it and walk in it and be brought in it to as great a 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.

Hence learn the great goodness of God in joining so great a happiness to our duty. God seems to have contrived all methods to encourage us in our duty. He has not only told us that by our faith and obedience we should escape eternal torments, although indeed, if it were only that it would be enough, one would think, to persuade any man that had the least spark of reason in him, that was not stark  mad and had a mind to be always as miserable as he could be. But He has done more than this, He has told us that by it we should gain eternal happiness; and He has given us not only encouragement that we shall enjoy happiness after this life, but we shall have God to be our director, our guide while here. Even in this life He will be a tender father to us and will keep off all evils that may do us any real harm, and provide for us whatever we stand in need of. Yet not only so, but the thing required of us shall not only be easy but a pleasure and delight, even in the very doing of it. How much the goodness of God shines forth even in his commands!

—Jonathan Edwards
Adapted from Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 1992), 303-4.