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John Tillotson, Self-love and the Teleology of Happiness

Regina Maria Dal Santo    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



The idea of happiness in sermons in the long eighteenth century is examined, in particular the idea of moral reformation promoted by the Latitudinarian movement, which obtained relevant importance in the Church of England after the Restoration. The analysis focuses on Archbishop John Tillotson’s Sermons as they exemplify the Church’s position on Man’s relationship with God and happiness. His sermons describe Man as a traveller whose destination is happiness. They underline the role of reason and conscience in promoting human obedience to divine law, while insisting on self-love and its force to move the individual to moral reformation. Tillotson clearly addresses the malleable nature of Man, the part that can be educated to religion and to the promotion of sincerity and charitable activities. Seeking for happiness therefore endorses the improvement in the mores of society and potentially helps Man to gain God’s favour, which was considered lost after the Great Plague and the Great Fire of 1666. 

June 30, 2015