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beyond himself in spite of himself. A voluptuous man receives a sensible impression from an exterior object, and in spite of all the dictates of reason throws himself into a flaming fire that consumes him.
The emotions excited by the passions in our senses are not proportional; I mean, that a timorous man, for example, turns as pale at the sight of a fanciful as of a real danger; he sometimes fears a phantom and a substance alike. A man "whose god is his belly," feels his appetite as much excited by a dish fatal to his health as by one necessary to support his strength, and to keep him alive.
The emotions excited by the passions in our senses do not obey the orders of our will. The movement is an overflow of spirits which no reflections can restrain. It is not a gentle fire to give the blood a warmth necessary to its circulation; it is a volcano pouring out its flame all liquid and destructive on every side. It is not a gentle stream, purling in its proper bed, meandering through the fields, and moistening, refreshing, and invigorating them as it goes: but it is a rapid flood, breaking down all its banks, carrying every where mire and mud, sweeping away the harvest, subverting hills and trees, and carrying away every thing on all sides that oppose its passage. This is what the passions do in the senses, and do you not conceive, my brethren, that in this second respect they war against the soul?"
They war against the soul" by the disorders they introduce into that body, which they ought to preserve They dissipate the spirits, weaken the memory, wear out the brain. Behold those trembling hands, those discoloured eyes, that body bent and bowed down to the ground; these are the effects of violent passions. When the body is in such a state, it is easy to conceive, that the soul suffers with it. The union between the two is so close that the alteration of the one necessarily alters the other. When the capacity of the soul is absorbed by painful sensations, we are incapable of attending to truth. If the spirits, necessary to support us in meditation, be dissipated, we can no longer meditate. If the brain, which must be of a certain consistence to receive impressions of objects, has lost that consistence, it can recover
it no more.
They war against the soul" by disconcerting the whole economy of man, and by making him consider such sensations of pleasure as Providence gave him only for the sake of engaging him to preserve his body as a sort of supreme good, worthy of all his care and attention for its own sake.
pleasures as religion allows him to enjoy: but when his senses are agitated, his taste becomes dainty, and he thinks he may glut himself with food, drown himself in wine, and give himself up without reserve to all the excesses of voluptuousness. When his senses were cool and tranquil, he thought it sufficient to oppose precautions of prudence against the designs of an enemy to his injury: but when his senses are agitated, he thinks, he ought to attack him, fall on him, stab him, kill him. When he was cool, he was free, he was a sovereign: but now that his senses are agitated, he is a subject, he is a slave. Base submission! Unworthy slavery! We blush for human nature when we see it in such bondage. Behold that man, he has as many virtues, perhaps, more than most men. Examine him on the article of good breeding. He perfectly understands, and scrupulously observes all the laws of it. Examine him on the point of disinterestedness. He abounds in it, and to see the manner in which he gives, you would say, he thought he increased his fortune by bestowing it in acts of benevolence. Examine hin concerning religion. He respects the majesty of it, he always pronounces the name of God with veneration, he never thinks of his works without admiration, or his attributes without reverence or fear. Place this man at a gaming table, put the dice or the cards in his hand, and you will know him no more; he loses all self-possession, he forgets politeness, disinterestedness, and religion, he insults his fellow-creatures, and blasphemes his God. His soul teems with avarice, his body is distorted, his thoughts are troubled, his temper is changed, his countenance turns pale, his eyes sparkle, his mouth foams, his spirits are in a flame, he is another man, no, it is not a man, it is a wild beast, it is a devil.
We never give ourselves up thus to our senses without feeling some pleasure, and what is very dreadful, this pleasure abides in the memory, makes deep traces in the brain, in a word, imprints itself on the imagination: and this leads us to our third article, in which we are to consider what the passions do in the imagination.
They "war against the soul" because they reduce it to a state of slavery to the body, over which it ought to rule. Is any thing more unworthy of an immortal soul than to follow no other rule of judging than an agitation of the organs of the body, the heat of the blood, the motion of animal spirits? And does not this daily happen to a passionate man? A man, who reasons fairly when his senses are tranquil, does he not reason like an idiot when his senses are agitated? Cool and dispassionate, he thinks, he ought to eat and drink only what is necessary to support his health and his life, at most to receive with thanksgiving" such innocent
If the senses were excited to act only by the presence of objects; if the soul were agitated only by the action of the senses, one single mean would suffice to guard us from irregular passions; that would be to flee from the object that excites them; but the passions produce other disorders, they leave deep impressions on the imagination. When we give ourselves up to the senses, we feel pleasure, this pleasure strikes the imagination, and the imagination thus struck with the pleasure it has found, recollects it, and solicits the passionate man to return to objects that made him so happy.
Thus old men have sometimes miserable remains of a passion, which seems to suppose a certain constitution, and which should seem to be extinct, as the constitution implied is no more: but the recollection that such and such objects had been the cause of such and such pleasures is dear to their souls; they love to remember them, they make them a part of all their conversations; they drew flattering portraits, and by recounting their past pleasures indemnify themselves for the prohibition, un
der which old age has laid them.
We go farther. We affirm, that the disorders of the passions in the imagination far exceed those in the senses; the action of the senses is limited: but that of the imagination is boundless, so that the difference is almost as great as that between finite and infinite, if you will pardon the expression. A man, who actually tastes pleasure in debauchery, feels this pleasure, but he does not persuade himself that he feels it more than he does: but a man, who indulges his fancy, forms most extravagant ideas, for imagination magnifies some objects, ⚫ creates others, accumulates phantom upon phantom, and fills up a vast space with ideal joys, which have no originals in nature. Hence it comes that we are more pleased with imaginary ideas, than with the actual enjoyment of what we imagine, because imagination having made boundless promises, it gladdens the soul with the hope of more to supply the want of what present objects fail of producing.
O deplorable state of man! The littleness of his mind will not allow him to contemplate any object but that of his passion, while it is present to his senses; it will not allow him then to recollect the motives, the great motives, that should impel him to his duty: and when the object is absent, not being able to offer it to his senses, he presents it again to his imagination clothed with new and foreign charms, deceitful ideas of which make up for its absence, and excite in him a love more violent than that of actual possession, when he felt at least the folly and vanity of it. O horrid war of the passions against the soul! Shut the door of your closets against the enchanted object, it will enter with you. Try to get rid of it by traversing plains, and fields, and whole countries; cleave the waves of the sea, fly on the wings of the wind, and try to put between yourself and your enchantress the deep, the rolling ocean, she will travel with you, sail with you, every where haunt you, because wherever you go you will carry yourself, and within you, deep in your imagination, the bewitching image impressed.
Let us consider, in fine, the passions in the heart, and the disorders they cause there. What can fill the heart of man? A prophet has answered this question, and has included all morality in one point, my chief good is to draw near to God," Ps. lxxiii. 28; but as God does not commune with us immediately, while
we are in this world, but imparts felicity by means of creatures, he has given these creatures two characters, which being well examined by a reasonable man, conduct him to the Creator, but which turn the passionate man aside. On the one hand, creatures render us happy to a certain degree, this is their first character: on the other, they leave a void in the soul, which they are incapable of filling, this is their second character. This is the design of God, and this design the passions oppose. Let us hear a reasonable man draw conclusions, and let us observe what opposite conclusions a passionate man draws.
The reasonable man says, creatures leave a void in my soul, which they are incapable of filling: but what effect should this produce in my heart, and what end had God in setting bounds so strait to that power of making me happy, which he communicated to them? It was to reclaim me to himself, to persuade me that he only can make me happy; it was to make me say to myself, my desires are eternal, whatever is not eternal is unequal to my desires; my passions are infinite, whatever is not infinite is beneath my passions, and God only can satisfy them.
A passionate man, from the void he finds in the creatures, draws conclusions directly opposite. Each creature in particular is incapable of making me happy: but could I unite them all, could I, so to speak, extract the substantial from all, certainly nothing would be wanting to my happiness. In this miserable supposition he becomes full of perturbation, he launches out, he collects, he accumulates. It is not enough to acquire conveniences, he must have superfluities. It is not enough that my name be known in my family, and among my acquaintance, it must be spread over the whole city, the province, the kingdom, the four parts of the globe. Every clime illuminated by the sun shall know that I exist, and that I have a superior genius. It is not enough to conquer some hearts, I will subdue all, and display the astonishing art of uniting all voices in my favour; men divided in opinion about every thing else shall agree in one point, that is, to celebrate my praise. It is not enough to have many inferiors, I must have no master, no equal, I must be a universal monarch, and subdue the whole world; and when I shall have accomplished these vast designs, I will seek other creatures to subdue, and more worlds to conquer. Thus the passions disconcert the plan of God! Such are the conclusions of a heart infatuated with passion!
The disciple of reason says, creatures contribute to render me happy to a certain degree: but this power is not their own. Gross, sensible, material beings cannot contribute to the happiness of a spiritual creature. If creatures can augment my happiness, it is because God has lent them a power natural only to himself. God is then the source of felicity, and all I see elsewhere is only an emanation of his essence: but if the streams be so pure, what is the fountain! If effects be so noble, what is the cause! If rays be so luminous, what is the source of light from which they proceed!
The conclusions of an impassioned man are
directly opposite. Says he, creatures render |
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 witn 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.
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
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 worm-eaten papers, advantages which belong only to real and actual abilities. As I said before, each family has it 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
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
Elie. Saurin. Reflex. sur la conscien. sect. 2.
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 your splendid station requires. You have also 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 wanting. 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 you 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.
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 inisfortune of their constitution. They say their will has no part in their excesses they cannot change 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 obligation, which the law of God, according to 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 irregular passions.
Certainly the best advice that can be given 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 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," 1 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 constitution, and freeing ourselves from its dominion, so that we may be able, if not to seek our
However, though the irregularity of the senses diminishes the atrociousness of the crime,
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 sense.
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.
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," l 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 commandments of men," in the language of Scripture.
But if some having 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 imi tate 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
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
* See a beautiful passage of Plato in his eighth book De legibus.