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from its dominion, so that we may be able, if not to seek out 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 changeth 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 corrigible anger becomes ; 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 biass 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 humors 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 hath 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 part 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 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 forin ideas too flattering of it, you will create images more beautiful than the originals themselves, and by the immense value you set upon the victim, when you are just going to offer up perhaps you will retreat, and not make the sacrifice. Hence we often see persons, whom the superstition, or avarice of their families hath 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 ardor than if they had actually experienced them. So, they,
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 men can enjoy no pleasure without a crime, because sin having been his delight, pain ought to be forever his lot. This principle may perhaps be probable considered in regard to unregenerate men: but it cannot be admitted in regard to true christians. Accordingly, we placed 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 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, ac cording 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 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 object of the passions, and thoroughly to know the world : and yet on the other hand, it may truly be
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 distri. butes his remedies so as to counteract those, which