A good subject for a sermon would be the Doctrine of Benefits. Benefit is the end of Nature. Benefit is done to all by all, by good & bad, voluntarily & involuntarily. Air, water, sun & moon, stone, plant, animal, man, devil, disease, poison, war, vice — all serve. But man is a voluntary benefactor. The meaning of good & bad, of better & worse is simply helping or hurting. He is great who confers the most benefits. He is base — & that is the one base thing in the universe — to receive favors & render none. In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefits we receive must be rendered again line for line, deed for deed to somebody.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks 7:59