Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

by his order, hallowed be thy name. Give us this day our daily bread,” &c.; and not my father who art in heaven. Every man is to love all and each one of his fellow-men, with a love of justice, in never doing them any kind of wrong; with a love of charity in doing them all the good he can. With regard to the love of justice, Jesus Christ renews the commandments of the decalogue which regard our neighbour. With respect to the love of charity, he commands every man to do to others all the good which he wishes that others should do to him ; he makes an express commandment of giving alms-deeds, under the name of which we must understand all the temporal succours that man can afford his fellowmen.

CLXLV. But as every man is bound to love his fellowcreatures, first and principally in the order of salvation, as we have said above, every man is commanded to pray for his neighbour, to instruct him in the law of God, to make him, when he can in conformity with the rules of prudence, useful corrections, and to give him good examples. All these duties are set down in the gospel. Let man especially beware, lest he become for his brethren an occasion of scandal. “ Woe to man by whom the scandal cometh; it were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Math xviii. 6, 7.

CLXLVI. In fine, the love which the law of Jesus Christ prescribes to every man toward his fellow-creatures, must be not only sincere and affectionate, active and officious, but it must be moreover patient and capable of supporting and pardoning the most cruel and the most multiplied injuries.*

* 16 This law respecting the forgiveness of all kinds of ill-treatment was so new and so absolutely unknown, till the Saviour of the world came to prescribe it and to enforce it by his example, that amidst the wisest nations the most rigid moralists represented the desire of revenge as the work of a noble heart, and revenge itself, when gratified, as the highest degree of human felicity,

“But how much more magnanimous, how much more noble, how much more beneficial to mankind is it to pardon? It is more magnanimous, because it requires the most generous and the most sublime sentiments to fulfil this precept. They only can render us capable of supporting the evil treatments, the insults,

“You have heard that it batb been said : thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you, that you may be the children of your father who is in heaven: who maketh his sun to rise upon the good and the bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love those that love you, what reward shall you have ? Do not even the Publicans the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more ? Do not also the heathen the same? Be you, therefore, perfect as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” Math. v. 43–43. And lest we might believe that the pardon of injuries is but a counsel and not a precept, he on the spot pronounced that beautiful parable which is read in St. Math. chap. xviii. and concludes it by these words ; “ So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts."

and the follies of the wicked with patience, and to look upon them with pity rather than indiguation. It is these sentiments only that can make us view these trials as being a portion of the sufferings which in this economy of preparation for a better life are allotted to us, and make us feel that our most glorious victory consists in returning good for evil.' "The patient man is better than the victor : and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.' Prov. xvi. 32.

“The pardon of injuries is more beneficial, because it is the only means of putting an end to those wrongs without end, which are the ordinary consequences of vengeance ; for every act of revenge is a new offence, which draws after it another one to serve as satisfaction ; but were we to fulfil this salutary precept,

love your enemies, do good to those that ill-treat you,' this persevering benevolence would touch the fiercest hearts, and we would have no longer enemies to pardon.

“How much superior is the character of a christian martyr, who, calm in the midst of torments, prays for his infuriated executioners, how much superior, I say, is this character to that of a pagan hero, who breathes only vengeance and destruction to those who have never done him any harm?

“Although this virtue is so sublime and so useful, still before the only begotten Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father,' came to promulgate his heavenly doctrine, it was not only not practised, but even looked upon as contemptible and disgraceful, and yet it is in fact the surest remedy for most of the evils of this life, and absolutely necessary for man, in order to be capable of enjoying the eternal joys of heaven.L. Jenyns, Exam. of the intrinsic evidence of christianity, page 105–109.

This is not all, for Jesus Christ has carried matters so far as to oblige us to renounce 'all pardon on the part of God, if we do not pardon our brethren, and make of it, before him, our authentic declaration, every time we pray, in saying, “ Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.” And in order that men may well know that nothing is permitted that might even remotely strike at the fraternal charity that is to reign among them, Jesus Christ ends his precepts with these words. (Math.v.21.) “You have heard that it was said to them of old: thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be guilty of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be guilty of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be guilty of the council. And whosoever shall say, thou fool, shall be guilty of hell fire. Therefore, if thou offerest thy gift at the altar, and there shalt remember that thy brother has any thing against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and first go to be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

CLXLVII. These last precepts of Jesus Christ respecting the forgivness of injuries and the love of enemies, I confess, appear rather harsh, the desire of avenging ourselves is natural to all men, our passion is easily inflamed, and from an ill-fated prejudice we think we dishonour ourselves when we do not avenge ourselves. But if we study well the heart of man, we shall soon discover that nothing was so necessary for man as these precepts for their salvation as well as their temporal happiness; for we will reason thus with all true sages: It is impossible for men to be just in their revenge, and to put an exact proportion between the wrongs which they have received, and the reparations which they make to themselves. It was, therefore, necessary to forbid men to avenge themselves. It is impossible for men not to seek to revenge themselves of an injury received, unless they forgive it from the bottom of their heart; it was, therefore, necessary that men should be commanded to forgive from the bottom of their

No. VI.

34

heart the injuries, they have received. When we hate him from whom we have received an injury, we do not forgive him from the bottom of our heart; it was, therefore, necessary to command men to love their enemies. In fine, it is impossible to love any one without wishing him well, and doing him good when we can; it was necessary, therefore, that men should be commanded to do good to their enemies.

It is thus we are to love our fellow-creatures, according to the law of Jesus Christ.

Such is the law which Jesus Christ has given to men on the part of God, whose envoy he not only always styled himself, but also his own Son. Are we not compelled to admire its wisdom and equity ? Must we not acknowledge, that God. himself coald not devise a plan of legislation more suitable to the nature of man, to his last end, to his temporal condition ? And that it is truly thus that man ought to love his God, himself, and his fellow-creatures ? That nothing could be worthier of God than to give to man such a law? That nothing can be worthier of man than to fulfil it? That man cannot be truly great but in fulfilling it, and that he shall be the greater in proportion as he fulbils it with more perfection?

But Jesus Christ did not content himself with teaching men how they were to love their God, how they were to love themselves, and in fine, how they were to love their fellow-men, but he has moreover taught the surest means to preserve and perfect these three loves in themselves; and this will make the subject of the fifth article.

ARTICLE V. CLXLVIII. In which are expounded the means which Jesus'

Christ has pointed out to men to preserve and to perfect in themselves the three kinds of love of which we have hitherto treated.

Every one knows, alas ! too well from his own experience, that in that part of the soul, which is called the inferior part, there arise at times sudden and violent motions, which prevent

the use of reason, and which are in us as so many fatal in stincts which prompt us to evil. It is these sentiments which we designate by the name of passions. Now, among these passions there are four principal ones, from which all the others have their rise, viz. pride, sensuality, covelousness, and anger.

Pride in man is an inordinate love of one's own excellence. This love inspires man with an unjust esteem of himself, a vain complacency in himself, a foolish admiration of bimself. This love causes man rashly to confide in himself, and to presume every thing of his own strength; it continually drives him on to raise himself above other men and to command, it prompts him to desire against order the approbation, the praises, the respect, and even the homage of other men.

Sensuality in man is an immoderate desire of the pleasures of the senses. This desire causes man to give himself up to effeminacy, to ease, to the excesses of the table, and to indulge himself in every unlawful, and even the most brutal, gratifications of the flesh.

Covetousness is a disorderly desire of riches. This passion springs from the two preceding, and assists them as it were in attaining their object; for it is by riches the proud man opens himself a road to honours, and the voluptuous purchases all kinds of pleasures.

Finally, anger in man is a violent emotion which prompts him to repel all that opposes itself to the desires, which these three passions make him conceive.

Any one that has but a slight tincture of history, must have convinced himself, that it is these four passions that have caused all the evils, of which the world has been hitherto the theatre, since it began to be inhabited ; that they have polluted it with a thousand crimes and deluged it in torrents of blood ; that they have spread waste and desolation on all sides, and made an infinity of wretches.. These poisonous and baneful sources, in which all sins, all disorders, all the miseries of man originate, are thus expressed by St. John, 1st ep. ii. 16. “For all

« PoprzedniaDalej »