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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Sum of All Virtue

By Joseph Bellamy (1719–1790)

[Born in Cheshire, Conn., 1719. Died at Bethlem, Conn., 1790. To a Correspondent, who had written to ask him, “What is the Nature of Virtue?”]

BETHLEM, Oct. 20, 1764.
DEAR SIR: Love is the sum of all virtue—love to being in general, to God the great Being, and to all other beings in due proportion, those only excepted who stand excommunicated by the great Judge of all, as irreclaimable enemies to God, and to all good. Our neighbors, although our personal enemies, are to be loved as ourselves, for they are our flesh and blood, as good by nature as we, and as capable and desirous of happiness. Their faults we are never to speak, unless in duty we are called to it. Though they belie us, we are to return good for evil, blessing for cursing. The example of God, and of his Son, ought always to fill our minds, and be our pattern; but the ways of the world we are not to imitate. There is more pleasure in it, and it is a more gentlemanlike thing to be like God, than like the devil. This is the sum of the matter.