« السابقةمتابعة »
beyond himself in spite of himself. A volup- pleasures as religion allows him to enjoy: but tuous man receives a sensible impression from when his senses are agitated, his taste becomes an exterior object, and in spite of all the dic- dainty, and he thinks he may glut himself with tates of reason throws himself into a flaming food, drown himself in wine, and give himself fire that consumes him.
up without reserve to all the excesses of volupThe emotions excited by the passions in our tuousness. When his senses were cool and senses are not proportional; I mean, that a tranquil, he thought it sufficient to oppose pretinorous man, for example, turns as pale at the cautions of prudence against the designs of an sight of a fanciful as of a real danger; he some enemy to his injury: but when his senses are times fears a phantom and a substance alike. agitated, he thinks, he ought to attack him, A man " whose god is his belly," feels his fall on him, stab him, kill him. When he was appetite as much excited by a dish fatal to his cool, he was free, he was a sovereign: but now health as by one necessary to support his that his senses are agitated, he is a subject, he strength, and to keep him alive.
is a slave. Base submission! Unworthy slavery! The einotions excited by the passions in our We blush for human nature when we see it in senses do not obey the orders of our will. The such bondage. Behold that man, he has as movement is an overflow of spirits which no many virtues, perhaps, more than most men. reflections can restrain. It is not a gentle fire Examine him on the article of good breeding. to give the blood a warmth necessary to its He perfectly understands, and scrupulously circulation; it is a volcano pouring out its flame observes all the laws of it. Examine him on all liquid and destructive on every side. It is the point of disinterestedness. He abounds in not a gentle stream, purling in its proper bed, it, and to see the manner in which he gives, meandering through the fields, and moistening, you would say, he thought he increased his refreshing, and invigorating them as it goes: fortune by bestowing it in acts of benevolence. but it is a rapid flood, breaking down all its Examine hiin concerning religion.
He rebanks, carrying every where mire and mud, spects the majesty of it, he always pronounces sweeping away the harvest, subverting hills and the name of God with veneration, he never trees, and carrying away every thing on all thinks of his works without admiration, or bis sides that oppose its passage. This is wbat attributes without reverence or fear. Place the passions do in the senses, and do you not this man at a gaming table, put the dice or the conceive, my brethren, that in this second re- cards in his hand, and you will know him no spect they war against the soul".
more; he loses all self-possession, he forgets They - war against the soul" by the disorders politeness, disinterestedness, and religion, he they introduce into that body, which they ought insults his fellow-creatures, and blasphemes his to preserve They dissipate the spirits, weaken God. His soul teems with avarice, his body the memory, wear out the brain. Behold those is distorted, his thoughts are troubled, his temtreinbling hands, those discoloured eyes, that per is changed, his countenance turns pale, his body bent and bowed down to the ground; eyes sparkle, his mouth foams, his spirits are in these are the effects of violent passions. When a flame, he is another man, no, it is not a man, the body is in such a state, it is easy to con- it is a wild beast, it is a devil. ceive, that the soul suffers with it. The union We never give ourselves up thus to our senses between the two is so close that the alteration without feeling some pleasure, and what is very of the one necessarily alters the other. When dreadful, this pleasure abides in the memory, the capacity of the soul is absorbed by painful makes deep traces in the brain, in a word, imsensations, we are incapable of attending to prints itself on the imagination: and this leads truth. If the spirits, necessary to support us in us to our third article, in which we are to meditation, be dissipated, we can no longer consider what the passions do in the imagimeditate. If the brain, which must be of a nation. certain consistence to receive impressions of l' If the senses were excited to act only by the objects, has lost that consistence, it can recover presence of objects; if the soul were agitated it no more.
only by the action of the senses, one single They “ war against the soul" by disconcert- mean would suffice to guard us from irregular ing the whole economy of man, and by making passions; that would be to flee from the object him consider such sensations of pleasure as that excites them; but the passions produce Providence gave him only for the sake of en- other disorders, they leave deep impressions on gaging him to preserve his body as a sort of the imagination. When we give ourselves up supreme good, worthy of all his care and atten- to the senses, we feel pleasure, this pleasure tion for its own sake.
strikes the imagination, and the imagination They war against the soul” because they thus struck with the pleasure it has found, rereduce it to a state of slavery to the body, over collects it, and solicits the passionate man to which it ought to rule. is any thing more return to objects that made him so happy. unworthy of an immortal soul than to follow Thus old men have sometimes miserable reno other rule of judging than an agitation of mains of a passion, which seems to suppose a the organs of the body, the heat of the blood, certain constitution, and which should seem to the motion of animal spirits. And does not be extinct, as the constitution implied is no this daily happen to a passionate man? A man, more: but the recollection that such and such who reasons fairly when his senses are tranquil, objects had been the cause of such and such does he not reason like an idiot when his senses pleasures is dear to their souls; they love to are agitated? Cool and dispassionate, he thinks, remember them, they make them a part of all he ought to eat and drink only what is neces- their conversations; they drew flattering porsary to support his health and his life, at most traits, and by recounting their past pleasures to receive with thanksgiving" such innocent indemnify themselves for the prohibition, un
der which old age has laid them. For the we are in this world, but imparts felicity by same reason it is, that a worldling, who has means of creatures, he has given these creatures plunged himself into all the dissipations of life, two characters, which being well examined by finds it so difficult to renounce the world when a reasonable man, conduct him to the Creator, he comes to die. Indeed a body borne down but which turn the passionate man aside. On with illness, a nature almost extinct, senses the one hand, creatures render us happy to a half dead, seem improper habitations of love certain degree, this is their first character: on to sensual pleasure; and yet jinagination struck the other, they leave a void in the soul, which with past ple
tells this skeleton, that the they are incapable of filling, this is their second world is amiable, that always when he went character. This is the design of God, and this into it he enjoyed a real pleasure, and that, on design the passions oppose.
Let us hear a the contrary, always when he performed reli- reasonable man draw conclusions, and let us gious exercises he felt pain; and this lively im- observe what opposite conclusions a passionate pression gives such a man a present aversion man draws. to religion; it incessantly turns his mind to The reasonable man says, creatures leave a wards the objects of which death is about to void in my soul, which they are incapable of deprive him, so that, without a miracle of filling: but what effect should this produce in grace, he can never look towards the objects my heart, and what end had God in setting of religion with desire and pleasure.
bounds so strait to that power of making me We go farther. We affirm, that the disor- happy, which he communicated to them? It ders of the passions in the imagination far ex was to reclaim me to himself, to persuade me ceed those in the senses; the action of the that he only can make me happy; it was to senses is limited: but that of the imagination make me say to myself, my desires are eternal, is boundless, so that the difference is almost as whatever is not eternal is unequal to my degreat as that between finite and infinite, if you sires; my passions are infinite, whatever is not will pardon the expression. A man, who ac- infinite is beneath my passions, and God only tually tastes pleasure in debauchery, feels this can satisfy them. pleasure, but he does not persuade himself that A passionate man, from the void he finds in he feels it more than he does: but a man, who the creatures, draws conclusions directly oppoindulges his fancy, forms most extravagant site. Each creature in particular is incapable ideas, for imagination magnifies some objects, of making me happy: but could I unite them creates others, accumulates phantom upon all, could I, so to speak, extract the substantial phantom, and fills up a vast space with ideal from all, certainly nothing would be wanting joys, which have no originals in nature. Hence to my happiness. In this miserable supposition it comes that we are more pleased with imagi- he becomes full of perturbation, he launches nary ideas, than with the actual enjoyment of out, he collects, he accumulates. It is not what we imagine, because imagination having enough to acquire conveniences, he must have made boundless promises, it gladdens the soul superfluities. It is not enough that my name with the hope of more to supply the want of be known in my family, and among my acwhat present objects fail of producing. quaintance, it must be spread over the whole
O deplorable state of man! The littleness of city, the province, the kingdom, the four parts his mind will not allow him to contemplate of the globe. Every clime illuminated by the any object but that of his passion, while it is sun shall know that I exist, and that I have a present to his senses; it will not allow him then superior genius. It is not enough to conquer to recollect the motives, the great motives, some hearts, I will subdue all, and display the that should impel him to his duty: and when astonishing art of uniting all voices in my fathe object is absent, not being able to offer vour; men divided in opinion about every thing it to his senses, he presents it again to his else shall agree in one point, that is, to celeimagination clothed with new and foreign brate my praise. It is not enough to have charis, deceitful ideas of which make up for many inferiors, I must have no master, no its absence, and excite in him a love more equal, I must be a universal monarch, and subviolent than that of actual possession, when he due the whole world; and when I shall have felt at least the folly and vanity of it. O horrid accomplished these vast designs, I will seek war of the passions against the soul! Shut the other creatures to subdue, and more worlds to door of your closets against the enchanted ob- conquer. Thus the passions disconcert the plan ject, it will enter with you. Try to get rid of of God! Such are the conclusions of a heart it by traversing plains, and fields, and whole infatuated with passion! countries; cleave the waves of the sea, fly on The disciple of reason says, creatures contrithe wings of the wind, and try to put between bute to render me happy to a certain degree: yourself and your enchantress the deep, the but this power is not their own. Gross, rolling ocean, she will travel with you, sail sensible, material beings cannot contribute to with you, every where haunt you, because the happiness of a spiritual creature.
If creawherever you go you will carry yourself, and tures can augment my happiness, it is because within you, deep in your imagination, the be- God has lent them a power natural only to witching image inpressed.
himself. God is then the source of felicity, Let us consider, in fine, the passions in the and all I see elsewhere is only an emanation of heart, and the disorders they cause there. his essence: but if the streams be so pure, What can fill the heart of man? A prophet has what is the fountain! If effects be so noble, answered this question, and has included all what is the cause! If rays be so luminous, morality in one point, my chief good is to what is the source of light from which they draw near to God,” Ps. lxxiij. 28; but as God proceed! does not commune with us immediately, while The conclusions of an impassioned man are
directly opposite. Says he, creatures render | mistake, even in things indifferent in themme happy to a certain degree, therefore they selves, we sin, because then we abuse our are the cause of my happiness, they deserve all reason, the use of which consists in never demy efforts, they shall be my god. Thus the termining without evidence."'* Though we passionate man renders to his aliments, his suppose this divine has exceeded the matter, gold, his silver, his equipage, his horses, the yet it is certain, that a wise man can never most noble act of adoration. For what is the take too much pains to form a habit of not must noble act of adoration? _Is it to build judging a point, not considering it as useful or temples. To erect altars' to kill victims advantageous till after he has examined it on To sacrifice burnt-offerings To burn incense every side. “Let a man,” says a philosopher No. It is that inclination of our heart to union of great name, " let a man only pass one year with God, that aspiring to possess him, that in the world, hearing all they say, and believlove, that effusion of soul, which makes us ex- ing nothing, entering every moment into himclaim, “My chief good is to draw near to God.” self, and suspending his judgment till truth and This homage the man of passion renders to the evidence appear, and I will esteem him more object of his passions, “his god is his belly," learned than Aristotle, wiser than Socrates, his "covetousness his idolatry;" and this is and a greater man than Plato."| what “fleshly lusts” become in the heart. 2. A man must reform eren his education. In They remove us from God, and, by removing every fainily the minds of children are turned us from him, deprive us of all the good that to a certain point. Every family has its preproceeds from a union with the supreme good, judice, I had almost said its absurdity; and and thus make war with every part of our hence it comes to pass that people despise the selves, and with every moment of our dura- profession they do not exercise. Hear the tion.
merchant, he will tell you that nothing so much War against our reason, for instead of deriv- deserves the attention of mankind as trade, as ing, by virtue of a union to God, assistance acquiring money by every created thing, as necessary to the practice of what reason ap- knowing the value of this, and the worth of proves, and what grace only renders practica- that, as taxing, so to speak, all the works of ble, we are given up to our evil dispositions, art, and all the productions of nature. Hear and compelled by our passions to do what our the man of learning, he will tell you, that the own reason abhors.
perfection of man consists in literature, that War against the regulation of life, for instead there is a difference as essential between a of putting on by virtue of union to God, the scholar and a man of no literature, as between “easy yoke," and taking up the “light bur- a rational creature and a brute. Hear the den” which religion imposes, we become slaves soldier, he will tell you that the man of science of envy, vengeance and ambition; we are is a pedant who ought to be confined to the weighed down with a yoke of iron, which we dirt and darkness of the schools, that the mere have no power to get rid of, even though we chant is the most sordid part of society, and groan under its intolerable weightiness. that nothing is so noble as the profession of
War against conscience, for instead of being arms. One would think, to hear him talk, justified by virtue of a union witn God, and that the sword by his side is a patent for prehaving peace with him through our Lord eminence, and that mankind have no need of Jesus Christ,” Rom. v. 1, and feeling that any people, who cannot rout an army, cut heaven begun, “joy unspeakable and full of through a squadron, or scale a wall. Hear him glory,” i Pet. i. 8, by following our passions who has got the disease of quality; he will tell we become a prey to distracting fear, troubles you that other men are nothing but reptiles without end, cutting remorse, and awful earn- beneath his feet, that human blood, stained ests of eternal misery.
every where else, is pure only in his veins. War on a dying bed, for whereas by being That nobility serves for every thing, for genius, united to God our death-bed would have be- and education, and fortune, and sometimes come a field of triumph, where the Prince of even for common sense and good faith. Hear life, the Conqueror of death would have made the peasant, he will tell you that a nobleman us share his victory, by abandoning ourselves is an enthusiast for appropriating to himself to our passions, we see nothing in a dying hour the virtues of his ancestors, and for pretending but an awful futurity, a frowning governor, the to find in old quaint names, and in worm-eaten bare idea of which alarms, terrifies, and drives papers, advantages which belong only to real us to despair.
and actual abilities. As I said before, each III. We have seen the nature and the disor- family has it prejudice, every profession has its ders of the passions, now let us examine what folly, all proceeding from this principle, because remedies we ought to apply; In order to pre- we consider objects only in one point of view. vent and correct the disorders, which the pas- To correct ourselves on this article, we must go sions produce in the mind, we must observe to the source, examine how our minds were the following rules.
directed in our childhood; in a word, we must 1. We must avoid precipitance, and suspend review and reform even our education. our judgment. It does not depend on us to 3. In fine, we must, as well as we can, have clear ideas of all things: but we have choose a friend wise enough to know truth, and power to suspend our judgment till we obtain generous enough to impart it to others; a man evidence of the nature of the object before us. who will show us an object on every side, when This is one of the greatest advantages of an we are inclined to consider it only on one. I intelligent being. A celebrated divine has such a high idea of this that he maintains this
* Elie. Saurin. Refer, sur la conscien. sect. 2. hyperbolical thesis, that “always when we Malebranche.
say as well as you can, for to give this rule is yet it cannot excuse those who do not make to suppose two things, both sometimes alike continual efforts to correct it. To acknowledge impracticable; the one, that such a man can that we are constitutionally inclined to violate be found, and the other, that he will be heard the laws of God, and to live quietly in pracwith deference. When we are so happy as to tices directed by constitutional heat, is to have find this inestimable treasure, we have found a the interior tainted. It is an evidence that remedy of inarvellous efficacy against the dis- the malady which at first attacked only the exorders which the passions produce in the mind. terior of the man, has communicated itself to Let us make the trial. Suppose a faithful all the frame, and infected the vitals. We friend should address one of you in this man- oppose this against the frivolous excuses of ner. Heaven has united in your favour the some sinners, who, while they abandon themmost happy circumstances. The blood of the selves like brute beasts to the most guilty pasgreatest heroes animates you, and your name sions, lay all the blame on the inisfortune of alone is an encomium. Besides this you have their constitution. They say their will has no an affluent fortune, and Providence has given part in their excesses_they cannot change you abundance to support your dignity, and to their constitution—and God cannot justly discharge every thing that your splendid sta- blame them for irregularities, which proceeded tion requires. You have also a fine and acute from the natural union of the soul with the genius, and your natural talents are culti- body. Indeed they prove by their talk, that vated by an excellent education. Your health they would be very sorry not to have a constiseems free from the infirmities of life, and if tution to serve for an apology for sin, and to any man may hope for a long duration here, cover the licentiousness of casting off an obliyou are the man who may expect it. With gation, which the law of God, according to all these noble advantages you may aspire them, requires of none but such as have reat any thing. But one thing is wanting. ceived from nature the power of discharging You are dazzled with your own splendour, it. If these maxims be admitted, what beand your feeble eyes are almost put out with comes of the morality of Jesus Christ What the brilliancy of your condition. Your ima- become of the commands concerning mortifigination struck with the idea of the prince cation and repentance? But people who talk whom you have the honour to serve, makes thus, intend less to correct their faults than to you consider yourself as a kind of royal per- palliate them; and this discourse is intended sonage. You have formed your family on the only for such as are willing to apply ineans to plan of the court. You are proud, arrogant, free themselves from the dominion of irreguhaughty. Your seat resembles a tribunal, and lar passions. all your expressions are sentences from which Certainly the best advice that can be given it is a crime to appeal. As you will never suf- to a man whose constitution inclines him to fer yourself to be contradicted, you seem to be sin, is, that he avoid opportunities, and flee applauded; but a sacrifice is made to your va- from such objects as affect and disconcert hiin. nity and not to your merit, and people bow It does not depend on you to be unconcerned not to your reason but to your tyranny. As in sight of an object fatal to your innocence: they fear you avail yourself of your credit to but it dues depend on you to keep out of the brave others, each endeavours to oppose you, way of seeing it. It does not depend on you and to throw down in your absence the altar to be animated at the sight of a gaming table: he had erected in your presence, and on which but it does depend on you to avoid such whimno incense sincerely offered burns, except that sical places, where sharping goes for merit. which you yourseli put there.
Let us not be presumptuous. Let us make So much for irregular passions in the mind. diffidence a principle of virtue. Let us rememLet us now lay down a few rules for the govern- ber St. Peter, he was fired with zeal, he thought ment of the senses.
every thing possible to his love, his presumpBefore we proceed, we cannot help deploring tion was the cause of his fall, and many by the misery of a man who is impelled by the following his example have yielded to temptadisorders of his senses, and the heat of his tion, and have found the truth of an apocryconstitution, to criminal passions. Such a man phal rnaxim," he that loveth danger shall peroften deserves pity more than indignation. A ish therein,” Eccles. iii. 26, bad constitution is sometimes compatible with After all, that virtue which owes its firma good heart. We cannot think without trem- ness only to the want of an opportunity for bling of an ungrateful man, a cheat, a traitor, vice is very feeble, and it argues very little atan assassin; for their crimes always suppose tainment only to be able to resist our passions liberty of mind and consent of will: but a in the absence of temptation. I recollect a man driven from the post of duty by the heat maxim of St. Paul, “I wrote unto you not to of his blood, by an overflow of humours, by company with fornicators,” but I did not mean the fermentation and flame of his spirits, often that you should have no conversation "with sins by constraint, and so to speak, protests fornicators of this world, for then must ye against his crime even while he commits it. needs go out of the world,” i Cor. v. 9, 10. Hence we often see angry people become full Literally, to avoid all objects dangerous to our of love and pity, always inclined to forgive, or passions, "we must go out of the world.” always ready to ask pardon; while others cold, Are there no remedies adapted to the necessity calm, tranquil, revolve eternal hatreds in their we are under of living among mankind? Is souls
, and leave them for an inheritance to there no such thing as correcting, with the astheir children.
sistance of grace, the irregularities of our conHowever, though the irregularity of the stitution, and freeing ourselves from its dominsenses diminishes the atrociousness of the crime, I ion, so that we may be able, if not to seek our
temptations for the sake of the glory of subdu- of the spirits this way rather than that. What ing them, at least to resist them, and not suffer must happen then:' We have supposed, that them to conquer us, wlien in spite of all our some organs of a man constitutionally irregucaution they will attack us Three remedies lar are more accessible than others. When we are necessary to our success in this painful un- are idle, and make no efforts to direct the anidertaking; to suspend acts—to flee idleness—to mal spirits, they naturally take the easiest way, mortify sense.
and consequently direct their own course to We must suspend acts. Let us form a just those organs which passion has made easy of idea of temperament or constitution. It con
To avoid this disorder, we must be sists in one of these two things, or in both to employed, and always employed. This rule gether; in a disposition of organs in the nature is neither impracticable, nor difficult. We do of animal spirits. For example, a man is an not mean, that the soul should be always on gry when the organs which serve that passion, the stretch in meditation or prayer. An innoare more accessible than others, and when his cent recreation, an easy conversation, agreeaanimal spirits are easily heated. Hence it ne- ble exercise, may have each its place in occucessarily follows, that two things must be done pations of this kind. For these reasons we to correct constitutional anger; the one, the applaud those, who make such maxims parts disposition of the organs must be changed; of the education of youth, as either to teach and the other, the nature of the spirits must be them an art, or employ them in some bodily changed, so that on the one hand, the spirits exercise. Not that we propose this inaxim as no longer finding these organs disposed to give it is received in some families, where they think them passage, and on the other hand the spi- all the merit of a young gentleman consists in rits having lost a facility of taking fire, there hunting, riding, or some exercise of that kind; will be within the man none of the revolutions and that of a young lady, in distinguishing herof sense, which he could not resist when they self in dancing, music, or needle-work. We were excited.
mean, that these employments should be subA suspension of acts changes the disposition ordinate to others more serious, and more worof the organs. The more the spirits enter into thy of an immortal soul, that they should these organs, the more easy is the access, and serve only for relaxation, so that by thus takthe propensity insurmountable; the more acts ing part in the innocent pleasures of the world, of anger there are, the more incorrigible will we may be better prepared to avoid the guilty anger become; because the more acts of anger pursuits of it. there are, the more accessible will the organs The third remedy is mortification of the senses, of anger be, so that the animal spirits will na a remedy which St. Paul always used, “I keep turally fall there by their own motion. The under my body, and bring it into subjection," i spirits then must be restrained. The bias they Cor. ix. 27. Few people have such sound notions. have to the ways to which they have been habi- Some casuists have stretched the subject betuated by the practice of sin must be turned, yond its due bounds so as to establish this prinand we must always remember a truth often ciple, that sinful man can enjoy no pleasure inculcated, that is, that the more acts of sin we without a crimne, because sin having been his commit the more difficult to correct will habits delight, pain ought to be for ever his lot. of sin become; but that when by taking pains This principle may perhaps be probably consiwith ourselves, we have turned the course of dered in regard to unregenerate men: but it the spirits, they will take different ways, and cannot be admitted in regard to true Christhis is done by suspending the acts.
tians. Accordingly, we place among those It is not impossible to change even the na who have unsound notions of mortification, all ture of our animal spirits. This is done by such as make it consist in vain practices, usesuspending what contributed to nourish them less in themselves, and having no relation to in a state of disorder. What contributes to the principal design of religion, “ bodily exerthe nature of spirits Diet, exercise, air, the cises profiting little:” they are commandwhole course of life we live. It is very diffi- ments of men,” in the language of Scripture. cult in a discourse like this, to give a full cata But if some having entertained extravagant logue of remedies proper to regulate the ani- notions of mortification, others have restrained inal spirits and the humours of the body. I be the subject too much. Under pretence that lieve it would be dangerous to many people. the religion of Jesus Christ is spiritual, they Some men are so made, that reflections too ac- have neglected the study and practice of evancurate on this article would be more likely to gelical morality: but we bave heard the exincrease their vices than to diminish them. ample of St. Paul, and it is our duty to imiHowever, there is not one person willing to tate it. We must " keep under the body," and turn his attention to this subject who is not “bring it into subjection," the senses must be able to become a preacher to himself. Let a bridled by violence, innocent things must ofman enter into himselt, let him survey the his- ten be refused them, in order to obtain the tory of his excesses, let him examine all cir- mastery when they require unlawful things; cumstances, let him recollect what passed we must fast, we must avoid ease, because it within him on such and such occasions, let him tends to effeminacy. All this is difficult, I closely consider what moved and agitated him, grant: but if the undertaking be hazardous, and he will learn more by such a meditation, success will be glorious.* Thirty, forty years, than all sermons and casuistical books can employed in reforming an irregular constituteach him.
tion, ought not to be regretted. What a glory The second remedy is to avoid idleness. to have subdued the senses! What a glory What is idleness. It is that situation of soul,
* See a beautiful passage of Plato in his eighth book in which no effort is made to direct the course De legibus.