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what we lose in regard to the glittering advantages of the world, we gain in regard to real and substantial advantages; if we ourselves understand that religion which we teach others, and if we feel the spirit of that calling, with which God has honoured us. May God grant, may the God who has honoured us, grant us such knowledge and virtue as are essential to the worthy discharge of our duty! May he bestow all that intrepidity, which is always necessary to resist the enemies of our holy reformation, and sometimes those, who under the name of reformed, endeavour to counteract and destroy it! May he support us under the perpetual contradictions we meet with in the course of our ministry, and invigorate us with the hopes of those high degrees in glory, which await such as turn many to righteousness, who shall shine as the stars for ever and ever! Dan. xii. 3.
Merchants, you are the pillars of this republic, and you are the means of our enjoying prosperity and plenty. May God continue to bless your commerce! May he cause winds and waves, nature, and every element, to unite in your favour! Above all, may
God teach you the holy skill of placing your heart where your treasure is;' of making yourselves friends' of the mammon of unrighteousness,' Matt. vi. 21; Luke xvi. 9; of sanctifying your prosperity by your charity, especially on such a day as this, in which we should make conscience of paying a homage of love to a God who is love,' and whose goodness has brought us to see this day.
Fathers and mothers of families, with whom I have the honour and happiness of joining myself, may God help us to consider our children not merely as formed for this world, but as intelligent and immortal beings made for eternity! May God grant, we may be infinitely more desirous to see them happy in heaven than prosperous on earth! May God continue these children, so necessary to the pleasure of our lives, to our last moments! God grant, if we be required to give them up to the grave, we may have all the submission that is necessary to sustain such violent shocks.
My brethren, this article cuts the thread of my discourse. May God answer all the prayers I have uttered, and that far greater number which I have suppressed! Amen,
THE words you have heard, my brethren offer four subjects of meditation to your minds. First, the nature of the passions-secondly, the disorders of them-thirdly, the remedies to be applied-and lastly, the motives that engage us to subdue them, In the first place we will give you a general idea of what the apostle callsfleshly lusts,' or in modern style the passions. We will examine secondly, the war which they wage against the soul.' Our third part will inform you of the means of abstaining from these fleshly lusts. And in the last place we will endeavour to make you feel the power of this motive, as strangers and pilgrims,' and to press home this exhortation of the apostle, Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.'
1 PETER ii. 2.
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly
lusts, which war against the soul.
I. In order to understand the nature of the passions, we will explain the subject by a few preliminary remarks.
1. An intelligent being ought to love every thing that can elevate, perpetuate, and make him happy; and to avoid whatever can degrade, confine, and render him miserable.
This, far from being a human depravity, is a perfection of nature. Man has it in common with celestial intelligences, and with God himself. This reflection removes a false sense, which the language of St. Peter may seem at first to convey, as if the apostle meant by eradicating fleshly lusts' to destroy the true interests of man. The most ancient enemies of the Christian religion loaded it with this reproach, because they did not understand it; and some superficial people, who know no more of religion than the surface, pretend to Under render it odious by the same means. pretence that the Christian religion forbids ambition, they say it degrades man, and under pretence that it forbids misguided self-love, they say it makes man miserable. A gross A false idea of Christianity! If the gospel humbles, it is to elevate us; if it forbids a self-love ill-directed, it is in order to By conduct us to substantial happiness. 'fleshly lusts,' St. Peter does not mean such desires of the heart as put us on aspiring after real happiness and true glory.
2. An intelligent being united to a body, and lodged, if I may speak so, in a portion of
in the flesh (for envy and heresy cannot be of this sort), but all depraved dispositions.
matter under this law, that according to the divers motions of this matter he shall receive sensations of pleasure or pain, must naturally love to excite within himself sensations of pleasure, and to avoid painful feelings. This is agreeable to the institution of the Creator. He intends, for reasons of adorable wisdom, to preserve a society of mankind for several ages-thirdly, what they are in the imagination
This is a general idea of the passions: but as it is vague and obscure, we will endeavour to explain it more distinetly, and with this view we will show-first what the passions do in the mind-next what they do in the senses
--and lastly, what they are in the heart. Four portraits of the passions, four explications of the condition of man. In order to connect the matter more closely, as we show you what fleshly lusts' are in these four views, we will endeavour to convince you that in these four respects they war against the soul.' The second part of our discourse therefore, which was to treat of the disorders of the passions, will be included in the first, which explains their nature.
1. The passions produce in the mind a strong attention to whatever can justify and gratify them. The most odious objects may be so placed as to appear agreeable, and the most lovely objects so as to appear odious. There is no absurdity so palpable but it may be made to appear likely; and there is no truth so clear but it may be made to appear doubtful. A passionate man fixes all the attention of his mind on such sides of objects as favour his passion, and this is the source of innumerable false judgings, of which we are every day witnesses and authors.
If you observe all the passions, you will find they have all this character. What is vengeance in the mind of a vindictive man? It is a fixed attention to all the favourable lights in which vengeance may be considered; it is a continual study to avoid every odious light in which the subject may be placed. On the one side there is a certain deity in the world, who has made revenge a law. This deity is worldly honour, and at the bar of this judge to forget injuries is mean, and to pardon them cowardice. On the other side vengeance disturbs society, usurps the office of a magistrate, and violates the precepts of religion. A dispassionate man, examining without prejudice this question, Ought I to revenge the injury I have received? would weigh all these motives, consider each apart, and all together, and would determine to act according as the most just and weighty reasons should determine him: but a revengeful man considers none but the first, he pays no attention to the last; he always exclaims my honour, my honour; he never says my religion and my salvation.
on earth. To accomplish this design, he has so ordered it, that what contributes to the support of the body shall give the soul pleasure, and that which would dissolve it would give pain, so that by these means we may preserve ourselves. Aliments are agreeable; the dissolution of the parts of our bodies is painful; love, hatred, and anger, properly understood, and exercised to a certain degree, are natural and fit. The stoics, who annihilated the passions, did not know man, and the schoolmen, who to comfort people under the gout or the stone,told them that a rational man ought not to pay any regard to what passed in his body, never made many disciples among wise men. This observation affords us second clew to the meaning of the apostle: at least it gives us a second precaution to avoid an error. By fleshly lusts' he does not mean a natural inclination to preserve the body and the ease of life; he allows love, hatred, and anger, to a certain degree, and as far as the exercise of them does not prejudice a greater interest. Observe well this last expression, as far as may be without prejudice to a greater interest. The truth of our second reflection depends on this restriction.
3. A being composed of two substances, one of which is more excellent than the other; a being placed between two interests, one of which is greater than the other, ought, when these two interests clash, to prefer the more noble before the less noble, the greater interest before the less. This third principle is a third clew to what St. Peter calls lusts,' or passions. Man has two substances, and two interests. As far as he can without prejudicing his eternal interest he ought to endeavour to promote his temporal interest: but when the two clash he ought to sacrifice the less to the greater. Fleshly lusts' is put for what is irregular and depraved in our desires, and what makes us prefer the body before the soul, a temporal before an eternal interest. That this is the meaning of the apostle is clear from his calling these passions or 'lusts fleshly.' What is the meaning of this word? The Scripture generally uses the word in two senses. Sometimes it is literally and properly put for flesh, and sometimes it signifies sin. St. Peter calls the passions 'fleshly' in both these senses; in the first, because some come from the body, as voluptuousness, anger, drunkenness; and in the second, because they spring from our depravity. Hence the apostle Paul puts 'among the works of the flesh both those which have their seat in the body, and those which have in a manner no connexion with it. Now the works of the flesh are these, adultery, lasciviousness, idolatry, heresies, envyings. According to this the "works of the flesh' are not only such as are seated
What is hatred? It is a close attention to a man's imperfections. Is any man free? Is any man so imperfect as to have nothing good in him? Is there nothing to compensate his defects? This man is not handsome, but he is wise his genius is not lively, but his heart is sincere he cannot assist you with money, but he can give you much good advice, supported by an excellent example: he is not either prince, king, or emperor, but he is a man, a Christian, a believer, and in all these respects he deserves esteem. The passionate man turns away his eyes from all these advantage
ous sides, and attends only to the rest. Is it astonishing that he hates a person, in whom he sees nothing but imperfection? Thus a counsellor opens and sets forth his cause with such artifice that law seems to be clearly on his side; he forgets one fact, suppresses one circumstance, omits to draw one inference, which being brought forward to view entirely change the nature of the subject, and his client loses his cause. In the same manner, a defender of a false religion always revolves in his mind the arguments that seem to establish it, and never recollects those which subvert it. He will curtail a sentence, cut off what goes before, leave out what follows, and retain only such detached expressions as seem to countenance his error, but which in connexion with the rest would strip it of all probability. What is still more singular is, that love to true religion, that love, which, under the direction of reason, opens a wide field of argument and evidence, engages us in this sort of false judging, when we give ourselves up to it through passion or prejudice.
This is what the passions do in the mind, and it is easy to comprehend the reason St. Peter had to say in this view, 'fleshly lusts war against the soul.' Certainly one of the noblest advantages of a man is to reason, to examine proofs and weigh motives, to consider an object on every side, to combine the various arguments that are alleged either for or against a proposition, in order on these grounds to regulate our ideas and opinions, our hatred and our love. The passionate man renounces this advantage, he never reasons in a passion, his mind is limited, his soul is in chains, his fleshly pas-tuous sions war against his soul.'
and cries, and so as to spread over his countenance and over the rest of his body an air capable of agitating others with the same passion with which he himself is moved. For as men and other animals are united together by eyes and ears, when any one is agitated he necessarily shakes all others that see and hear him, and naturally produces painful feelings in their imaginations, which interest them in his relief. The rest of the spirits rush violently into the heart, the lungs, the liver, and the other vitals, in order to lay all these parts under contribution, and hastily to derive from them as quick as possible the spirits necessary for the preservation of the body in these extraordinary efforts. Such are the movements excited by the passions in the senses, and all these to a certain degree are necessary for the preservation of our bodies, and are the institutions of our Creator: but three things are necessary to preserve order in these emotions. First, they must never be excited in the body without the direction of the will and the reason. Secondly, they must always be proportional, I mean, the emotion of fear, for example, must never be, except in sight of objects capable of hurting us; the emotion of anger must never be, except in sight of an enemy, who actually has both the will and the power of injuring our well-being. And thirdly, they must always stop when and where we will they should. When the passions subvert this order, they violate three wise institutes of our Creator.
Having examined the passions in the mind, let us consider them in the senses. To comprehend this, recollect what we just now said, that the passions owe their origin to the Creator, who instituted them for the purpose of preserving us. When an object would injure health or life, it is necessary to our safety, that there should be an emotion in our senses to affect a quick escape from the danger; fear does this. A man struck with the idea of sudden danger has a rapidity which he could not have in a tranquil state, or during a cool trial of his power. It is necessary, when an enemy approaches to destroy us, that our senses should so move as to animate us with a power of resistance. Anger does this, for it is a collection of spirits.... but allow me to borrow here the words of a modern philosopher, who has admirably expressed the motions excited by the passions in our bodies. Before the sight of an object of passion,' says he, the spirits were diffused through all the body to preserve every part alike, but on the appearance of this new object the whole system is shaken; the greater part of the animal spirits rush into all the exterior parts of the body, in order to put it into a condition proper to produce such motions as are necessary to acquire the good, or to avoid the evil now present. If it happen that the power of man is unequal to his wants, these same spirits distribute themselves so as to make him utter mechanically certain words
The emotions excited by the passions in our senses are not free. An angry man is carried beyond himself in spite of himself. A volupman 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 rapic 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
* Malebranche, Recherche de la verite 1. 5. c. 3.
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 betwee the two 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.
and you will know him no more; he loses all self-possession, he forgets politeness, disinterestedness, and religion, he insults his fellowcreatures, 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.
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 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 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 him 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,
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.
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, under which old age has laid them. For the same reason it is, that a worldling, who has plunged himself into all the dissipations of life, finds it so difficult to renounce the world when he comes to die. Indeed a body borne down with illness, a nature almost extinct, senses half dead, seem improper habitations of love to sensual pleasure; and yet imagination struck with past pleasure tells this skeleton, that the world is amiable, that always when he went into it he enjoyed a real pleasure, and that, on the contrary, always when he performed religious exercises he felt pain; and this lively impression gives such a man a present aversion to religion; it incessantly turns his mind towards the objects of which death is about to deprive him, so that, without a miracle of grace, he can never look towards the objects of religion with desire and pleasure.
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 infin.te, if you will pardon the expression. A man, who ac
tually tastes pleasure in debauchery, feels this
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 kas 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.
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.
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,
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
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 me happy 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 temples? 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 covetousness 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