صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

For this Reason I prefume it is, that the Stoicks of old looked upon all Paffions and Affections (for we take them in a promifcuous Senfe) as finful Perturbations, deftructive to the Mind's Tranquillity, and incompatible with the Character of their wife Man. Whereas it is plain, that the God of Nature has given us thefe Impreffions to our great Benefit and Advantage; whereby we are enabled to purfue, and overtake what is good, and conducive to our Happiness; and to fly from, and escape what is hurtful, and would tend to our Uneafinefs; and which are then only culpable, when they are either misplaced upon unworthy Objects, or exceffive in Degree, when placed right.

That Health of Body, Competence of Fortune, the Succour of Relations, Friendships, and the like, are neceffary Conveniencies of Life cannot be denied; and therefore fo much Defire of these Things is confiftent with Reafon and Religion, as is neceffary to procure them; so much Joy in the Poffeffion of them, as is neceffary to retain them by all honeft Methods; fo much Anger at thofe that invade them, as is neceffary to guard them; and fo much Sorrow at the Lofs of them, as will put us upon all fit Endeavours to recover them: For, without being moved and affected with these Accommodations of Life, it is plain enough, that we fhould take no Manner of Care of them. fon indeed is the proper Arbitrator of what is good and evil; but, when Reafon has once given its Determination, the Paffions are ready to lend us their Affistance: They fix all the natural Spirits and Thoughts of the Mind ftrongly upon those Objects which they excite; and, with a fudden Call, awaken all the Powers of Nature to act agreeably to their Propenfions. If the Object be uncommon, and has any Thing in it rare and wonderful, the Paffion of Admiration fixes the Mind to confider


confider it with ftrong Attention; if the Object appears to be good, the Paffion of Love determines the Mind to pursue it with Vigour; if it be reprefented as evil, the Paffion of Hatred excites us to use our utmoft Skill and Force to avoid it: Amidft the Number of Dangers that do furround us, Fear is a very neceffary Principle, to keep us always upon our Guard: In a malicious and ill-natured World, Anger is of great Ufe to protect us from Injury, and make Oppreffors fearful to affault us : And, while we are fo apt to expofe ourselves to many Grievances and Diftreffes, by our own Folly, it was wifely done in God, to ordain Sorrow to attend all thefe Diftreffes, and Shame fome of them, that thereby we might be awakened to renounce our Follies, from the fhameful and painful Senfe of them. And, in like Manner, the more pleafing Affections of Nature, fuch as Hope, and Love, and Joy, make Life more comfortable, and the Troubles of it more tolerable, as well as give a grateful Relish and Delight to all the difficult Duties of Virtue and Godliness, by their being mixed up in our Conftitution.

Of fuch fingular Ufe to the Purposes of Life are the Paffions and Affections, both pleasant and painful, which God has implanted in our Nature; and therefore we need lefs wonder, that we find our bleffed Saviour, in whom the Perfection of it was confpicuous, expreffing, upon all Occafions, the fame Love and Defire, the fame Anger and Averfion, the fame Fear and Hope, and the fame Sorrow and Joy which we find in ourselves; with this only Difference, that what in us is so often exorbitant, in him was always free from any irregu lar Perturbation: For it behoved him, as the Apoftle speaks, to be made in all Things like unto his Brethren; to be touched with the Feeling of our Infirmities; and, in all Points, to be tempted like as

[ocr errors]


we are, yet without Sin, that he might be a merciful as well as a faithful High-Priest, in Things pertaining to God.

It is vain and abfurd Advice, therefore, which fome Sages have given us, to endeavour to suppress our Paffions, by fetting one to depofe and destroy another: For, befides the perpetual Tumults that this Method would occafion, our Paffions cannot be destroyed: They are inherent in our Nature; they are indelible, and infeparable from it; infomuch that, even in the World of Spirits, when our Souls fhall be in a State of Separation, (much more, when our Bodies fhall be re-united to them at the Refurrection) we shall have fuch joyous or dolorous Perceptions as are fuitable to the State and Condition we are in, whether happy or miferable; and thefe Perceptions will be continually increafing to all Eternity, as the Causes and Objects of them make new and ftronger Impreffions. In one Refpet, indeed, thefe Impreffions cannot strictly be called Paffions, because there can be no extraordinary Commotion of the Blood and Spirits in a State wherein even our Bodies fhall be fpiritualised; yet there is no Doubt but that we shall be infinitely more affected with the Objects of the other World, whether good or evil, and thereby feel either fuch Confufion and Disorder, or fuch Joy and Delight in our Souls, as will make us, beyond Comparifon, more happy, or more miferable, than it is poffible for us to be in this. It is not our Paffions then that we are to destroy; for that we cannot : They will laft, the chief of them at least will last, as long as we have our Being, and be inftrumental to our future, as well as prefent, happy or unhappy Condition; but it is the Extravagancy of them that we are to reduce to good Order, and bring under the Government of Reason and Religion: And to this Purpose we shall obferve, 1. What it is to


regulate our Paffions and Affections; 2. The great Benefits and Advantages of doing this; and 3. What Rules and Confiderations may be conducive hereunto.

I. Though our Paffions and Affections, efpecially in the Rife and firft Workings of them, are very little fubject to the Command of our Will, yet they depend, in fome Meafure, upon the Perceptions of our Minds. We are fo conftituted by Nature, that, as foon as we form the Idea of certain Objects or Events, our Defire or Averfion will immediately take the Alarm; and, confequently, our Affections muft very much depend upon the Opinions we form concerning any Thing that occurs to our Minds, its Qualities, Tendencies, and Effects. Thus Love is occafioned by the Conception of good Qualities, Hatred by the Apprehenfion of the contrary in any Object; Fear arifes from the Opinion of Power and Inclination to hurt us; Pity, from the Senfe of another's undeserved Mifery; and Shame, from the Suppofition of another's Contempt of us. A great Part, therefore, of the Government of our Paffions will confift in forming right Notions of what we call Good and Evil: For, if we are mistaken herein, and look upon that as a great Good, which is in Reality a destructive Evil, or that as a formidable Evil, which is, in Truth, a very valuable Good; it is plain, that our Paffions will be most wretchedly misplaced; and, as we fhall love and defire what we fhould by all Means avoid, fo fhall we hate and fly from what deferves our Love and Purfuit; and, in Confequence of this, we shall inevitably and speedily bring Ruin upon ourselves, by thofe very Methods which we thought would have made us happy.

The only Way then to prevent all this Mischief is to begin upon a new Bottom, to go upon new Principles of Action; to rectify our Notions of


Good and Evil, to engage our Affections upon their proper Objects, and, even where they are laudably placed, there to reftrain them from being exceffive. To this Purpose, we must not rejoice at Paffages that should be refented with Grief, nor delight in Things which we are bound to deteft, nor be angry at Things wherewith we should be pleased, nor be too eager and hot in the Pursuit of any worldly Advantage, too much transported when we have attained it, or too much concerned when we are disappointed of it. The Kingdom of God and bis Righteoufnefs are what we must first of all feek; God we must above all Things love; publick we must prefer before private Good; never be angry without a juft Cause; never resent an Affliction beyond its Weight: In Matters of worldly Joy, never be greatly transported; and, on Occafions of worldly Grief, never be dejected beyond Measure.

Thus to place our Affections upon proper and deferving Objects, and to make them commenfurate to the Value of the Objects upon which they are engaged, is a great Step towards our Regulation of them: But then we must remember, that all our Affections, the merry and chearful, as well as the painful and angry ones, are to be kept under this Controul, that the Mind may not be too much depreffed with the latter, nor foolishly elated and transported with the former. For he only is the Man, that may be truly faid to rule his own Spirit, who neither finks under Affiction, nor is puffed up with Profperity; who is not only fecure from being fretted with grievous Anger, and torn with Revenge and Envy; but is moreover not inflaved with Luft, nor lifted up with Pride, nor eftranged from God by the Idolatry of Covetoufnefs, and the bewitching Love of the fenfual Pleafures; who, in fhort, has all his Paffions under an habitual Governance, being at


« السابقةمتابعة »