We often hear people say that the object of religion is to make us happy. The question then arises, What is happiness. This question cannot be decided by the opinions of one man or a hundred, for it must embrace some wisdom higher than man's opinion. If the author had no wisdom superior to the common belief of the world and chose the word happiness merely to represent a quiet ignorant state, then I have no objection to the common definition of it. But if it includes the person that labors for the improvement of man and his development, then I say the word is misapplied, for the results are as wide apart as virtue and vice. You might as well apply the word virtue to the most vicious person on earth, as to apply the word happiness to a man who seeks every opportunity to defraud and get the advantage of his neighbor by every means in his power without laying himself liable to the law.
Just see how the word is used. The little child when it is playing around like a little puppy is called happy. Now if this is happiness, it is not wisdom. So if it is desired rather than wisdom, then it is folly to be wise. Now let this state be called quiet, and the word happiness be applied to the person who, by his labors, has discovered some great truth that is for the benefit of man's condition and who puts his wisdom into practice and receives something that he feels and knows has enriched him both in health and wisdom and has raised him above the one who is ignorant. Then he can say that wisdom is happiness and riches. Just the same as the opposite man can say of the goods and money which he has extorted from some ignorant person, as he sits down and counts it over and over and exclaims, “How happy I am for what I have got.” Now while he is rejoicing over the ill-gotten gains, his neighbor is grieving over his losses and turns to the other who has by his labor lifted up some poor, sick invalid, who had been robbed by these land sharks out of their health and left on the cold icy hand of the world to perish for want of the wisdom that might make them free. Now see such a person suffering, robbed of the comforts of this life and praying that some kind angel would come and feed them with the bread of life or explain to them the great truth of nature which will set them free from sin and death.
Now see someone come and open the book of wisdom and read to them all their griefs and pains and by the power of his wisdom destroy their beliefs or misery and show them the true way. Then they will arise in their strength and might and with the God of Wisdom which has set them free. Then the oppressed and the redeemer can mingle together and their joy will reign, and that is happiness.