Judging Election Resolution
Judging is a bare action of the understanding, whereby a man, several objects being proposed to him, takes one of them to be best for him. But this is not Election?
Election, then is, when a man, judging anything to be best for him, ceases to consider, examine, and inquire any further concerning that matter; for, till a man comes to this, he has not chosen, the matter still remains with him under deliberation, and not determined
. Here, then, comes in the will, and makes Election voluntary, by stopping in the mind any further inquiry and examination. This Election sometimes proceeds further to Firm Resolution, which is not barely a stop to further inquiry by Election at that time, but the predetermination, as much as in him lies, of his will not to take the matter into any further deliberation; i. e. not to employ his thoughts any more about the eligibility, i. e.
the suitableness, of that which he has chosen to himself as making a part of his happiness. For example, a man who would be married has several wives proposed to him. He considers which would be fittest for him, and judges Mary best; afterwards, upon that continued judgment, hakes choice of her; this choice ends his deliberation; he stops all further consideration whether she be best or no,
and resolves to fix here, which is not any more to examine whether she be best or fittest for him of all proposed; and consequently pursues the means of obtaining her, sees, frequents, and falls desperately in love with her, and then we may see Resolution at the highest; which is an act of the will, whereby he not only supersedes all further examination, but will not admit of any information or suggestion, will not hear anything that can be offered against the pursuit of this match.
Thus we may see how the will mixes itself with these actions, and what share it has in them; viz. that all it does is but exciting or stopping the operative faculties; in all which it is acted on more or less vigorously, as the uneasiness that presses is greater or less. At first, let us suppose his thoughts of marriage in general to be excited only by some consideration of some moderate convenience offered to his mind;
this moves but moderate desires, and thence moderate uneasiness leaves his will almost indifferent; he is slow in his choice amongst the matches offered, pursues coolly till desire grows upon him, and with it uneasiness propotionably, and that quickens his will; he approaches nearer, he is in love-is set on fire-the flame scorches-this makes him uneasy with a witness; then his will, acted by that pressing uneasiness, vigorously and steadily employs all the operative faculties of body and mind for the attainment of the beloved object, without which he cannot be happy.
Thus I Think
It is a man's proper business to seek happiness and avoid misery. Happiness consists in what delights and contents the mind; misery, in what disturbs, discomposes, or torments it. I will therefore make it my business to seek satisfaction and delight, and avoid uneasiness and disquiet; to have as much of the one, and as little of the other, as may be.
But here I must have a care I mistake not; for if I prefer a short pleasure to a lasting one, it is plain I cross my own happiness. Let me then see wherein consists the most lasting pleasures of this life; and that, as far as I can observe, is in these things: 1st. Health,-without which no sensual pleasure can have any relish.
2nd. Reputation,-for that I find everybody is pleased with, and the want of it is a constant torment.
3rd. Knowledge,-for the little knowledge I have, I find I would not sell at any rate, nor part with for any other pleasure. 4th. Doing good,-for I find the well-cooked meat I eat to-day does now no more delight me, nay, I am diseased after a full meal. The perfumes I smelt yesterday now no more affect me with any pleasure; but the good turn I did yesterday, a year, seven years since, continues still to please and delight me as often as I reflect on it. 5th. The expectation of eternal and incomprehensible happiness in another world is that also which carries a constant pleasure with it.
If then I will faithfully pursue that happiness I propose to myself, whatever pleasure offers itself to me, I must carefully look that it cross not any of those five great and constant pleasures above mentioned. For example, the fruit I see tempts me with the taste of it that I love, but if it endanger my health, I part with a constant and lasting for a very short and transient pleasure, and so foolishly make myself unhappy, and am not true to my own interest.
Hunting, plays, and other innocent diversions delight me: if I make use of them to refresh myself after study and business, they preserve my health, restore the vigour of my mind, and increase my pleasure; but if I spend all, or the greatest part of my time in them, they hinder my improvement in knowledge and useful arts, they blast my credit, and give me up to the uneasy state of shame, ignorance, and contempt, in which I cannot but be very unhappy.
Drinking, gaming, and vicious delights will do me this mischief, not only by wasting my time,
but by a positive efficacy endanger my health, impair my parts, imprint ill habits, lessen my esteem, and leave a constant lasting torment on my conscience; therefore all vicious and unlawful pleasures I will always avoid, because such a mastery of my passions will afford me a constant pleasure greater than any such enjoyments; and also deliver me from the certain evil of several kinds, that by indulging myself in a present temptation I shall certainly afterwards suffer.
All innocent diversions and delights, as far as they will contribute to my health, and consist with my improvement, condition, and my other more solid pleasures of knowledge and reputation, I will enjoy, but no further, and this I will carefully watch and examine, that I may not be deceived by the flattery of a present pleasure to lose a greater.