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make war with every part of ourselves, and with every moment of our duration.
War against our reason, for instead of deriving, by virtue of a union to God, assistance necessary to the practice of what reason approves, and what grace only renders practicable, we are given up to our evil dispositions, and compelled by our passions to do what our own reason abhors.
War against the regulation of life, for instead of putting on by virtue of union to God, the "easy yoke,' and taking up the light burden' which religion imposes, we become slaves of envy, vengeance and ambition; we are weighed down with a yoke of iron, which we have no power to get rid of, even though we groan under its intolerable weightiness.
War against conscience, for instead of being justified by virtue of a union with God, and having peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ,' Rom. v. 1, and feeling that heaven begun, joy unspeakable and full of glory,' 1 Pet. i. 8, by following our passions we become a prey to distracting fear, troubles without end, cutting remorse, and awful earnests of eternal misery.
War on a dying bed, for whereas by being united to God our death-bed would have become a field of triumph, where the Prince of life, the Conqueror of death would have made us share his victory, by abandoning ourselves to our passions, we see nothing in a dying hour but an awful futurity, a frowning governor, the bare idea of which alarms, terrifies, and drives us to despair.
III. We have seen the nature and the disorders of the passions, now let us examine what remedies we ought to apply. In order to prevent and correct the disorders, which the passions produce in the mind, we must observe the following rules.
1. We must avoid precipitance, and suspend our judgment. It does not depend on us to have clear ideas of all things: but we have power to suspend our judgment till we obtain evidence of the nature of the object before us. This is one of the greatest advantages of an intelligent being. A celebrated divine has such a high idea of this that he maintains this hyperbolical thesis, that always when we mistake, even in things indifferent in themselves, we sin, because then we abuse our reason, the use of which consists in never determining without evidence." Though we suppose this divine has exceeded the matter, yet it is certain, that a wise man can never take too much pains to form a habit of not judging a point, not considering it as useful or advantageous till after he has examined it on every side. Let a man,' says a philosopher of great name, let a man only pass one year in the world, hearing all they say, and believing nothing, entering every moment into himself, and suspending his judgment till truth and evidence appear, and I will esteem him more learned than Aristotle, wiser than Socrates, and a greater man than Plato.'t
Elie. Saurin. Reflex. sur la conscien. sect. 2. † Malebranche.
2. A man must reform even his education. In every family the minds of children are turned to a certain point. Every family has its prejudice. I had almost said its absurdity; and hence it comes to pass that people despise the profession they do not exercise. Hear the merchant, he will tell you that nothing so much deserves the attention of mankind as trade, as acquiring money by every created thing, as knowing the value of this, and the worth of that, as taxing, so to speak, all the works of art, and all the productions of nature. Hear the man of learning, he will tell you, that the perfection of man consists in literature, that there is a difference as essential between a scholar and a man of no literature, as between a rational creature and a brute. Hear the soldier, he will tell you that the man of science is a pedant who ought to be confined to the dirt and darkness of the schools, that the merchant is the most sordid part of society, and that nothing is so noble as the profession of arms. One would think, to hear him talk, that the sword by his side is a patent for preeminence, and that mankind have no need of any people, who cannot rout an army, cut through a squadron, or scale a wall. Hear him who has got the disease of quality; he will tell you that other men are nothing but reptiles beneath his feet, that human blood, stained every where else, is pure only in his veins. That nobility serves for every thing, for genius, and education, and fortune, and sometimes even for common sense and good faith. Hear the peasant, he will tell you that a nobleman is an enthusiast for appropriating to himself the virtues of his ancestors, and for pretending to find in old quaint names, and in wormeaten papers, advantages which belong only to real and actual abilities. As I said before, each family has its prejudice, every profession has its folly, all proceeding from this principle, because we consider objects only in one point of view. To correct ourselves on this article, we must go to the source, examine how our minds were directed in our childhood; in a word, we must review and reform even our education.
3. In fine, we must, as well as we can, choose a friend wise enough to know truth, and generous enough to impart it to others; a man who will show us an object on every side, when we are inclined to consider it only on one. I say as well as you can, for to give this rule is to suppose two things, both sometimes alike impracticable; the one, that such a man can be found, and the other, that he will be heard with deference. When we are so happy as to find this inestimable treasure, we have found a remedy of marvellous efficacy against the disorders which the passions produce in the mind. Let us make the trial. Suppose a faithful friend should address one of you in this manner. Heaven has united in your favour the most happy circumstances. The blood of the greatest heroes animates you, and your name alone is an encomium. Besides this you have an affluent fortune, and Providence has given you abundance to support your dignity, and to discharge every thing that
their constitution-and God cannot justly blame them for irregularities, which proceeded from the natural union of the soul with the body. Indeed they prove by their talk, that they would be very sorry not to have a constitution to serve for an apology for sin, and to cover the licentiousness of casting off an ob
them, requires of none but such as have received from nature the power of discharging it. If these maxims be admitted,-what becomes of the morality of Jesus Christ? What become of the commands concerning mortification and repentance? But people who talk thus, intend less to correct their faults than to palliate them; and this discourse is intended only for such as are willing to apply means to free themselves from the dominion of irregu lar passions.
your splendid station requires. You have al- | so a fine and acute genius, and your natural talents are cultivated by an excellent education. Your health seems free from the infirmities of life, and if any man may hope for a long duration here, you are the man who may expect it. With all these noble advantages you may aspire at any thing. But one thing is want-ligation, which the law of God, according to ing. You are dazzled with your own splendour, and your feeble eyes are almost put out with the brilliancy of your condition. Your imagination struck with the idea of the prince whom you have the honour to serve, makes you consider yourself as a kind of royal personage. You have formed your family on the plan of the court. You are proud, arrogant, haughty. Your seat resembles a tribunal, and all your expressions are sentences from which it is a crime to appeal. As you will never suffer yourself to be contradicted, you seem to be applauded; but a sacrifice is made to your vanity and not to your merit, and people bow not to your reason but to your tyranny. As they fear you avail yourself of your credit to brave others, each endeavours to oppose you, and to throw down in your absence the altar he had erected in your presence, and on which no incense sincerely offered burns, except that which you yourself put there.
So much for irregular passions in the mind. Let us now lay down a few rules for the government of the senses.
Certainly the best advice that can be giv en to a man whose constitution inclines him to sin, is, that he avoid opportunities, and flee from such objects as affect and disconcert him. It does not depend on you to be unconcerned in sight of an object fatal to your innocence: but it does depend on you to keep out of the way of seeing it. It does not depend on you to be animated at the sight of a gaming table: but it does depend on you to avoid such whimsical places, where sharping goes for merit. Let us not be presumptuous. Let us make diffidence a principle of virtue. Let us remember St. Peter, he was fired with zeal, he thought every thing possible to his love, his presumption was the cause of his fall, and many by following his example have yielded to temptation, and have found the truth of an apocryphal maxim, he that loveth danger shall perish therein,' Eccles. iii. 26.
Before we proceed, we cannot help deploring the misery of a man who is impelled by the disorders of his senses, and the heat of his constitution, to criminal passions. Such a man often deserves pity more than indignation. A bad constitution is sometimes compatible with a good heart. We cannot think without trembling of an ungrateful man, a cheat, After all, that virtue which owes its firmness a traitor, an assassin; for their crimes always only to the want of an opportunity for vice is suppose liberty of mind and consent of will: very feeble, and it argues very little attainbut a man driven from the post of duty by ment only to be able to resist our passions in the heat of his blood, by an overflow of hu- the absence of temptation. I recollect a maxmours, by the fermentation and flame of his im of St. Paul, ‘I wrote unto you not to comspirits, often sins by constraint, and so to speak, pany with fornicators,' but I did not mean that protests against his crime even while he com- you should have no conversation with fornimits it. Hence we often see angry people be- cators of this world, for then must ye needs go come full of love and pity, always inclined to out of the world,' 1 Cor. v. 9, 10. Literally, forgive, or always ready to ask pardon; while to avoid all objects dangerous to our passions, others cold, calm, tranquil, revolve eternal ha-we must go out of the world.' Are there no treds in their souls, and leave them for an inheritance to their children.
However, though the irregularity of the senses diminishes the atrociousness of the crime, yet it cannot excuse those who do not make continual efforts to correct it. To acknowledge that we are constitutionally inclined to violate the laws of God, and to live quietly in practices directed by constitutional heat, is to have the interior tainted. It is an evidence that the malady which at first attacked only the exterior of the man, has communicated itself to all the frame, and infected the vitals. We oppose this against the frivolous excuses of some sinners, who, while they abandon themselves like brute beasts to the most guilty passions, lay all the blame on the misfortune of their constitution. They say their will has no part in their excesses-they cannot change
remedies adapted to the necessity we are under of living among mankind? Is thera no such thing as correcting, with the assistance of grace, the irregularities of our constitution, and freeing ourselves from its dominion, so that we may be able, if not to seek our temptations for the sake of the glory of subduing them, at least to resist them, and not suffer them to conquer us, when in spite of all our caution they will attack us? Three remedies are necessary to our success in this painful undertaking; to suspend acts-to flee idleness-to mortify
We must suspend acts. Let us form a just idea of temperament or constitution. It consists in one of these two things, or in both together; in a disposition of organs in the nature of animal spirits. For example, a man is angry when the organs which serve that passion,
are more accessible than others, and when his animal spirits are easily heated. Hence it necessarily follows, that two things must be done to correct constitutional anger; the one, the disposition of the organs must be changed; and the other, the nature of the spirits must be changed, so that on the one hand, the spirits no longer finding these organs disposed to give them passage, and on the other hand the spirits having lost a facility of taking fire, there will be within the man none of the revolutions of sense, which he could not resist when they were excited.
A suspension of acts changes the disposition of the organs. The more the spirits enter into these organs, the more easy is the access, and the propensity insurmountable; the more acts of anger there are, the more incorrigible will anger become; because the more acts of anger there are, the more accessible will the organs of anger be, so that the animal spirits will naturally fall there by their own motion. The spirits then must be restrained. The bias they have to the ways to which they have been habituated by the practice of sin must be turned, and we must always remember a truth often inculcated, that is, that the more acts of sin we commit the more difficult to correct will habits of sin become; but that when by taking pains with ourselves, we have turned the course of the spirits, they will take different ways, and this is done by suspending the acts.
It is not impossible to change even the nature of our animal spirits. This is done by suspending what contributed to nourish them in a state of disorder. What contributes to the nature of spirits? Diet, exercise, air, the whole course of life we live. It is very difficult in a discourse like this, to give a full catalogue of remedies proper to regulate the animal spirits and the humours of the body. I believe it would be dangerous to many people. Some men are so made, that reflections too accurate on this article would be more likely to increase their vices than to diminish them. However, there is not one person willing to turn his attention to this subject who is not able to become a preacher to himself. Let a man enter into himself, let him survey the history of his excesses, let him examine all circumstances, let him recollect what passed within him on such and such occasions, let him closely consider what moved and agitated him, and he will learn more by such a meditation, than all sermons and casuistical books can teach him.
The second remedy is to avoid idleness. What is idleness? It is that situation of soul, in which no effort is made to direct the course of the spirits this way rather than that. What must happen then? We have supposed, that some organs of a man constitutionally irregular are more accessible than others. When we are idle, and make no efforts to direct the animal spirits, they naturally take the easiest way, and consequently direct their own course to those organs which passion has made easy of access. To avoid this disorder, we must be employed, and always employed. This rule is neither impracticable, nor difficult. We do not mean, that the soul should be always on
the stretch in meditation or prayer. An innocent recreation, an easy conversation, agreeable exercise, may have each its place in occupations of this kind. For these reasons we applaud those, who make such maxims parts of the education of youth, as either to teach them an art, or employ them in some bodily exercise. Not that we propose this maxim as it is received in some families, where they think all the merit of a young gentleman consists in hunting, riding, or some exercise of that kind; and that of a young lady, in distinguishing herself in dancing, music, or needle-work. We mean, that these employments should be subordinate to others more serious, and more worthy of an immortal soul, that they should serve only for relaxation, so that by thus taking part in the innocent pleasures of the world, we may be better prepared to avoid the guilty pursuits of it.
The third remedy is mortification of the senses, a remedy which St. Paul always used, 'I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection,' 1 Cor. ix. 27. Few people have such sound notions. Some casuists have stretched the subject beyond its due bounds so as to establish this principle, that sinful man can enjoy no pleasure without a crime, because sin having been his delight, pain ought to be for ever his lot. This principle may perhaps be probably considered in regard to unregenerate men but it cannot be admitted in regard to true Christians. Accordingly, we place among those who have unsound notions of mortification, all such as make it consist in vain practices, useless in themselves, and having no relation to the principal design of religion, "bodily exercises profiting little they are mandments of men,' in the language of Scrip
But if some have entertained extravagant notions of mortification, others have restrained the subject too much. Under pretence that the religion of Jesus Christ is spiritual, they have neglected the study and practice of evangelical morality: but we have heard the example of St. Paul, and it is our duty to imitate it. We must keep under the body,' and 'bring it into subjection,' the senses must be bridled by violence, innocent things must often be refused them, in order to obtain the mastery when they require unlawful things; we must fast, we must avoid ease, because it tends to effeminacy. All this is difficult, I grant: but if the undertaking be hazardous, success will be glorious.* Thirty, forty years, employed in reforming an irregular constitution, ought not to be regretted. What a glory to have subdued the senses! What a glory to have restored the soul to its primitive superiority, to have crucified the body of sin," to lead it in triumph, and to destroy, that is to annihilate it, according to an expression of Scripture, and so to approach those pure spirits, in whom the motions of matter can make no alteration!
The disorders produced by the passions in the imagination, and against which also we ought to furnish you with some remedies, are
* See a beautiful passage of Plato in his eighth book De legibus.
duce in our passions. This method, sure and effectual, is useless and impracticable in regard to such as have received bad impressions on their imagination. People of this character ought to pursue the second method we mentioned, that is to profit by their losses, and derive wisdom from their errors. When you recollect sin, you may remember the folly and pain of it. Let the courtier whose imagination is yet full of the vain glory of a splendid court, remember the intrigues he has known there, the craft, the injustice, the treachery, the dark and dismal plans that are formed and executed there.
I would advise such a man, when his passions solicit him to sin, to call in the aid of some other idea to strike and affect his imagination. Let him make choice of that out of the truths of religion which seems most likely to impress his mind, and let him learn the art of instantly opposing impression against impression, and image against image; for example, let him often fix his attention on death,
like those complicated disorders, which require opposite remedies, because they are the effect of opposite causes, so that the means employed to diminish one part not unfrequently increase another. It should seem at first, that the best remedy which can be applied to disorders introduced by the passions into the imagination, is well to consider the nature of the objects of the passions, and thoroughly to know the world: and yet on the other hand, it may truly be said, that the most certain way of succeeding would be to know nothing at all about the world. If you know the pleasures of the world, if you know by experience the pleasure of gratifying a passion, you will fall into the misfortune we wish you to avoid; you will receive bad impressions; you will acquire dangerous recollections, and a seducing memory will be a new occasion of sin : but if you do not know the pleasures of the world, you will be likely to form ideas too flattering of it, you will create images more beautiful than the originals themselves, and by the immense value you set upon the vic-judgment, and hell; let him often say to himtim, when you are just going to offer it up perhaps you will retreat, and not make the sacrifice. Hence we often see persons whom the superstition or avarice of their families has in childhood confined in a nunnery (suppose it were allowable in other cases, yet in this case done prematurely), I say, these persons not knowing the world, wish for its pleasures with more ardour than if they had actually experienced them. So they who have never been in company with the great, generally imagine that their society is full of charms, that all is pleasure in their company, and that a circle of rich and fashionable people sitting in an elegant apartment is far more lively and animated than one composed of people of inferior rank, and middling fortune. Hence also it is, that they, who, after having lived a dissipated life, have the rare happiness of renouncing it, do so with more sincerity than others, who never knew the vanity of such a life by experience. So very different are the remedies for disorders of the imagination.
But as in complicated disorders, to which we have compared them, a wise physician chiefly attends to the most dangerous complaint, and distributes his remedies so as to counteract those which are less fatal, we will observe the same method on this occasion. Doubtless the most dangerous way to obtain a contempt for the pleasures of the world, is to get an experimental knowledge of them, in order to detach ourselves more easily from them by the thorough sense we have of their vanity. We hazard a fall by approaching too near, and such very often is the ascendancy of the world over us, that we cannot detach ourselves from it though we are disgusted with it. Let us endeavour then to preserve our imagination pure; let us abstain from pleasures to preclude the possibility of remembering them; lêt retirement, and, if it be practicable, perpetual privacy, from the moment we enter into the world to the day we quit it, save us from all bad impressions, so that we may never know the effects which worldly objects would pro
self, I must die soon, I must stand before a
In fine, to heal the disorders which the pas sions produce in the heart, two things must be done. First, the vanity of all the creatures must be observed; and this will free us from the desire of possessing and collecting the whole in order to fill up the void which single enjoyments leave. Secondly, we must ascend from creatures to the Creator, in order to get rid of the folly of attributing to the world the perfection and sufficiency of God.
Let us free our hearts from an avidity for new pleasures by comprehending all creatures in our catalogue of vanities. I allow, inconstancy, and love of novelty are in some sense rational. It is natural for a being exposed to trouble to choose to change his condition, and as that in which he is yields certain trouble, to try whether another will not be something easier. It is natural to a man who has found nothing but imperfect pleasure in former enjoyments, to desire new objects. The most noble souls, the greatest geniuses, the largest hearts have often the most inconstancy and love of novelty, because the extent of their capacity and the space of their wishes make them feel
more than other men, the diminutiveness and incompetency of all creatures. But the misfortune is, man cannot change his situation without entering into another almost like that from which he came. Let us persuade ourselves that there is nothing substantial in creatures, that all conditions, besides characters of vanity common to all human things, have some imperfections peculiar to themselves. If you rise out of obscurity, you will not have the troubles of obscurity, but you will have those of conspicuous stations; you will make talk for every body, you will be exposed to envy, you will be responsible to each individual for your conduct. If you quit solitude, you will not have the troubles of solitude, but you will have those of society; you will live under restraint, you will lose your liberty, inestimable liberty, the greatest treasure of mankind, you will have to bear with the faults of all people connected with you. If heaven gives you a family, you will not have the troubles of such as have none, but you will have others necessarily resulting from domestic connexions; you will multiply your miseries by the number of your children, you will fear for their fortune, you will be in pain about their health, and you will tremble for fear of their death. My brethren, I repeat it again, there is nothing substantial in this life. Every condition has difficulties of its own as well as the common inanity of all human things. If, in some sense, nothing ought to surprise us less than the inconstancy of mankind and their love of novelty, in another view, nothing ought to astonish us more, at least there is nothing more weak and senseless. A man who thinks to remedy the vanity of earthly things by running from one object to another, is like him, who, in order to determine whether there be in a great heap of stones any one capable of nourishing him, should resolve to taste them all one after another. Let us shorten our labour. Let us put all creatures into one class. Let us cry, vanity in all. If we determine to pursue new objects, let us choose such as are capable of satisfying us. Let us not seek them here below. They are not to be found in this old world, which God has cursed. They are in the 'new heavens, and the new earth,' which religion promises. To comprehend all creatures in a catalogue of vanities is an excellent rule to heal the heart of the disorders of passion.
Next we must frequently ascend from creatures to the Creator, and cease to consider them as the supreme good. We intend here a devotion of all times, places, and circumstances; for, my brethren, one great source of depravity in the most eminent saints is to restrain the spirit of religion to certain times, places, and circumstances. There is an art of glorifying God by exercising religion every where. "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God,' 1 Cor. x. 13. Do you enjoy the pleasures of sense? Say to yourself, God is the author of this pleasure. The nourishment I derive from my food is not necessarily produced by aliments, they have no natural power to move my nerves, God has communicated it to them; there is no necessary
connexion between the motions of my senses and agreeable sensations in my soul, it is God who has established the union between motion and sensation. The particles emitted by this flower could not necessarily move the nerves of my smell, it is God who has established this law; the motion of my smelling nerves cannot naturally excite a sensation of agreeable odour in my soul, it is God who has established this union; and so of the rest. God is supreme happiness, the source from which all the charms of creatures proceed. He is the light of the sun, the flavour of food, the fragrance of odours, the harmony of sounds, he is whatever is capable of producing real pleasure, because he eminently possesses all felicity, and because all kinds of felicity flow from him as their spring. Because we love pleasure we ought to love God, from whom pleasure proceeds; because we love pleasure we ought to abstain from it, when God prohibits it, because he is infinitely able to indemnify us for all the sacrifices we make to his orders. To ascend from creatures to the Creator is the last remedy we prescribe for the disorders of the passions. Great duties they are: but they are founded on strong motives.
Of these St. Peter mentions one of singular efficacy, that is, that we are 'strangers and pilgrims' upon earth. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.' The believers to whom the apostle wrote this epistle, were 'strangers and pilgrims' in three senses as exiles-as Christians-and as mortals.
1. As exiles. This epistle is addressed to such strangers as were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But who were these strangers? Commentators are divided. Some think they were Jews who had been carried out of their country in divers revolutions under Tiglath Pileser, Salmaneser, Nebuchadnezzar, and Ptolemy. Others think they were the Jewish Christians who fled on account of the martyrdom of Stephen. Certain it is these Christians were strangers and probably exiles for religion. Now people of this character have special motives to govern their passions.
Strangers are generally very little beloved in the place of their exile. Although rational people treat them with hospitality; though nature inspires some with respect for the wretched of every character; though piety animates some with veneration for people firm in their religious sentiments; yet, it must be allowed, the bulk of the people usually see them with other eyes; they envy them the air they breathe, and the earth they walk on; they consider them as so many usurpers of their rights; and they think, that as much as exiles partake of the benefits of government, and the liberty of trade, so much they retrench from the portion of the natives.
Besides, the people commonly judge of merit by fortune, and as fortune and banishment seldom go together, popular prejudice seldom runs high in favour of exiles. Jealousy views them with a suspicious eye, malice imputes