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And elsewhere," he that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.” Math. xxiii. 12. I remark that Jesus Christ has repeated these last words not less than three times, on three different occasions, and that in general there is no virtue which this God-man has so often and so strongly recommended as humility, and of which he has given us so many examples.
I am not surprised that Jesus Christ should have so much insisted on this point, and that he should have made it, if I am allowed the expression, his chief and capital affair to combat the pride of men, and to impress them with humility both by word and by example. I see that ever since there were men upon earth, pride has troubled and convulsed the world; there is nothing, therefore, but humility that can give it peace. I see that ever since there were men, pride has brought forth greater crimes than all the other passions taken together, and that perhaps there was never perpetrated any great crime, in which pride has not had its influence: there was nothing, therefore, but humility, that could cause all virtues to reign upon earth. I see, in fine, that it is pride that made all the reprobate, there was nothing, therefore, but humility that could produce the elect.
Such is the faithful statement of the doctrine of Jesus Christ respecting pride and the virtue opposite to that vice, which is humility. This doctrine comprehends truths, some of which Jesus Christ has revealed, and some others which he caused to be remarked, and precepts. The truths are the foundation of the precepts, the precepts are the necessary consequences of the truths.
At first sight, I must confess, my mind revolts against these truths ; for I don't like to be told that I am nothing, that I have nothing, and that I can do nothing of myself; and still less that of myself I am wicked and depraved. Nevertheless, when I view myself with attention, and study myself thoroughly, I am compelled to acknowledge, that nothing is more certain than this, and that if, absolutely speaking, I can do some good by my natural strength alone, I cannot, most assuredly, make No. VII.
myself entirely good. On the other hand, when I cast my eyes around myself, I see none thoroughly good but such as are humble of heart, that is to say, such as believe that.virtue is a gift of God, such as ask it of God, and such, in finé, as refer it to God, and return to him all the glory of it. Lastly, I run over the whole pagan history without meeting with one single man who was humble, nay, who had even known humility; and I do not likewise find one single man who could be proposed as a model of virtues--I meet in the history of the Jews, and in that of the christians, myriads of men who were models of virtues, and there was not one among them that was not perfectly humble. I inser from these observations, that nothing was so necessary as the precepts of humility which Jesus Christ has given to mankind, and from these precepts being necessary to men, I conclude that it is, therefore, true, that men, of themselves, are but misery, weakness, ignorance, and corruption ; for it is clear as noon-day, that, unless this were all true, God could not, without injustice, command men to be humble.*
* ® Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of heaven." Math. v. 3. By this poverty in spirit we must understand a sweet, humble, docile disposition of mind, a disposition exempt from ambition, patient under injuries and free from resentment. This morality was ‘so new and in such direct opposition to all the ideas of the pagan moralists, that they went so far as to pretend that this disposition of mind was criminal and worthy of sovereign contempt; for they considered this sentiment of humility as only proper to induce man to sacrifice the glory of his country and his own happiness to a degrading pusillanimity. It is still considered in this light by modern philosophers, nay, even by christians who possess of christianity nothing more than its empty name. We see the slightest affronts avenged by individuals upon individuals by premeditated murders upon a principle of honour. Nations which make profession of christianity exterminate each other by fire and sword, frequently for insignificant disputes or to maintain the balance of power between governments, or to gratify the ambition of princes who sit at the helm of the state. And what is still more to be lamented, these acts of ferocity are praised by the historian, celebrated by the poet, applauded on the tẠeatre, approved of by tribunals, and even eulogized at times in the pulpit.
Still the nature of things cannot change, and error for its being universal cannot become truth. Man ought not to be proud nor ferocious, but numble, meek and patient. This poverty in spirit which Christ recommends, suits man on account
CC. Precepts of Jesus Christ concerning Sensuality. The second passion, which it was necessary to check in man, is sensuality or in other words that natural bent, which prompts all men to seek the pleasures of the senses, and to make their felicity, or at least a great part of their felicity, consist in sensual gratifications : a violent passion which the first sight of the object so powerfully moves, which reflection influences more and more, and which the least recollection awakens ; which confuses and darkens reason; which becomes a kind of fury and phrenzy, and which is so tyrannical, that man is scarce any longer his own master when he has once abandoned himself to it. • In order to engage mankind to resist this passion, the Son
of his dependence, and of his indigence which is so great that he has nothing as his own, and that he must needs receive all from God. It is only in proportion as he is possessed of this disposition of mind that he is capable of enjoying peace and tranquillity, and of heavenly felicity hereafter. Still this important precept remained entirely unknown until it was taught by him who says, “Suffer the little children and forbid them not to come to me ; for the kingdom of heaven is for such. Amen, I say to you, unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble bimself as this little one, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Math. xviii. 3, 4. Jenyns Exam. of the intrinsic evidence of christianity. III. Prop. page 102–105.
“ The sentiment of our own weakness and imperfection is another precept, which the author of the christian religion only prescribes. This duty imposes on us the obligation of referring even our own virtues to the grace and favour of our God. This doctrine at first sight seems to be at variance with free will and to strip men of all merit; but when we come to examine matters attentively, we are convinced both from reason and experience, that it is incontestable, and that it leaves to the actions of men their freedom and their merit. The sentiments
of humanity, of dependence in regard to God, and of resignation which this · virtue produces, assign it a distinguished place among the most prominent moral virtues."
66 And the virtue of bumility far from being an effect of pusillanimity and weakness, as haughty philosophers have hitherto depicted it, is, on the contrary, the fruit of justice, of sound reason, and of genuine strength of mind. Still this precept was so altogether opposed to the arrogant and presumptuous principles of ancient philosophers as well as of our modern Deists, that we ought not lo be surprised at it, when we find that it was utterly unknown before the Son of God appeared on earth to teach it, and to make it the very foundation of his admirable doctrine.” Ibid. III. Proposition, page 126-128.
of God has declared, first “ that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and that the violent bear it away,” that is to say, those that courageously resist the propensity of corrupt nature. Math. ii. 12. He exhorts us, Math. vii. 13. “ To enter in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who enter by it." Next, Luke xxi. 34. he exhorts us “ to take heed to ourselves lest perhaps our hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness," and gives us by these words the rules of an exact temperance. To this precept he joins moreover that of penance, a precept which he addresses to all men without exception, how just soever they may be; but nevertheless a precept more rigorous for sinners than for the just, for those that have.committed great crimes than for those that are guilty but of small sins. In fine, with a view of engraving deeper in our minds and our hearts those precepts, Jesus Christ represents in a most terrific parable the rich glutton condemned to the torments of hell for having spent his life in luxury and good cheer. Luke xvi. • Jesus Christ, in tine, gave the last stroke, if I may speak so, to this passion, in reducing men to the necessity of choosing between the state of marriage and absolute chastity by these words. Math. v. 28. " I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
CCI. Precepts of Jesus Christ with regard to Covetousness,
With regard to covetuousness, or what is tantamount, an inordinate desire and immoderate attachment to the goods of fortune, the reader, no doubt, has still present to his mind, what we have said of it in explaining the characteristics of the love of God. To which we must add these terrible words of Jesus Christ : “ Woe to you rich who have your comfort in this world.” Luke vi. 24. And, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Luke xviii. 17. Which, according to the interpre
tation of Jesus Christ, must be understood of those ricb who place their confidence in their riches ; and lastly, those words, “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the kingdom of of heaven."** Math. v.
With regard to anger, we have nothing to add to what we have said in explaining the characteristics of the love of our neighbourit
*“ This disengagement from the world and its frivolous and perishable goods is another duty which has not been prescribed but by the divine founder of the christian religion. This precept is so incontestably new, that even in our days there are but few of those who profess christianity that can be persuaded that it is a virtue, and that its practice is commanded. It does not, however, imply an actual sequestration from society, or actual renunciation of the occupations of this' life or the goods of fortune, but only an inward disengagement from the latter, and a habitual disposition to sacrifice them in reality, whenever the cause of God or the eternal welfare of men require it. Such is the meaning of this sentence of Christ, . No one can be my disciple unless he renounce all that he possesses.'
“ This disengagement from the world could not make a component part of the pagan morality ; for all their virtues were connected with the affairs aud concerns of this life, and had no other object than celebrity or public good, but the great and noble perspective which the divine legislator of the christians holds forth, and which will be lost for ever unless we obtain it at present, is the kingdom of heaven, towards which we should incessantly direct our looks during all the time of our stay here below. But this is no obstacle to our temporal occupations, nor to the enjoyments of those reposes which travellers meet in their road, provided those things do not detain us too long, and cause us not to wander too far from our road. On the contrary, the thought of heaven towards which we are making our way, seasons all the pleasures which we find on our journey. The advantages and satisfactions of this world, viewed in relation to the good things of an hereafter, may affect our soul as preludes of a felicity more worthy of it, as a faint ray of the future glory. But if all our claims are confined to this sublunary happiness, and if these are to be the immovable boundaries of our felicity, I discover in it but an awful void, a perfidious happiness. It is the thought of our happy eternity, the thought of the immortality for which I exist, that embellishes the whole universe and imparts interest, grace, and life to every thing it contains. It is this grand thought that gives speech to the insensible beings, that interrupts the silence of the forests, that produces harn.ony in the murmurs of the rivulets, that enraptures at the sight of a flower, that exalts and ravishes the soul at the sounds of music, and that charms at the rural concert of the birds.” L. Jenyns Examen. of the intrinsic cvidence of christianity. III. Prop. page 128-132.
† “ We car mot but observe, says the deep christian philosopher above quoted,