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sion. 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 ex, travagant 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 to pass 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 bea ing 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 pašsions against the soul! Shut the door of your closets against the enchanting 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 im. pressed.
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 hath answered this question, and hath included all morality in one point, my chief good is to draw near to God, Psal. lxxiii. 28. but as God doth not commune with us immediately, while we are in this world, but imparts felicity by means of creatures, he hath 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 hand, 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 saith, 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 hath 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 illumiinated 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 favor; 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 an 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 saith, 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 hath 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. Saith he, creatures render me hap
py to a certain degree, therefore, they are the cause of my happiness, they deserve all my efforts, they shall be my god. Thus the passionate man renders to his aliments, his gold, his silver, his equipage, his horses, the most noble act of adoration. For what is the most noble act of adoration ? Is it to build teinples? To erect altars, To kill victims? To sacrifice burnt offerings ? To burn incense ? No. It is that inclination of our heart to union with God, that aspiring to possess him, that love, that effusion of soul, which makes us exclaim, My chief good is to draw near to God. This homage the man of passion renders to the object of his passions, his god is his belly, his covelousness his idolatry; and this is what fleshly lusts become in the heart. They remove us from God, and by removing us from him, deprive us of all the good that proceeds from a union with the supreme good, and thus 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 pas. sions to do what our 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 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 fears, 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 tromph, 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 doth 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 hath such an 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 hath exceeded the matter, yet it is certain, that a wise man can never take too much pains to forin a habit of not judging a point, not considering it as useful or advantageous till after he hath examined it on every side. “Let a man, saith a philosopher of great name, let a man only