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vice it would commit, the desire of gratification. An impassionate man is not free to discern truth from falsehood, at least, he cannot without extreme constraint discern the one from the other. He is inclined to fix his mind on what+ ever favours his passion, changes its nature, and disguises vice in the habit of virtue; and, to say all in one word, he is impelled to fix his mind on whatever makes truth appear false, and falsehood true.
I conclude, the disposition of mind, of which Solomon speaks, and which he describes by ruling the spirit, supposes Jabour, constraint, and exercise. A man, who would acquire this noble disposition of mind, a man who would rule his spirit, must in some sort re-create himself; he finds himself at once, if I may be allowed to say so, at war with nature ; his body must be formed anew; his humours and his spirits must be turned into another channel ; violence must be done to all the powers of his soul.
2. Having considered man in regard to his natural dispositions, observe him secondly in regard to surrounding objects. Here you will obtain a second exposition of Solomon's words, He, that ruleth his spirit; you will have a second class of evidences of that exercise, labour and constraint, which true heroism supposes. Society is composed of many enemies, who seem to be taking pains to increase those dificulties, which our natural dispositions oppose against truth and virtue.
Examine the members of this society among whom we are appointed to live, consult their ideas, hear their conversation, weigh their reasonings, and you will find almost every where false judgments, errors, mistakes, and prejudices: prejudices of birth, taken from our parents, the nurses who suckled us, the people who made the habits, in which we were wrapped in our cradles : prejudices of education, taken from the masters, to whom the care of our earliest days was committed, from some false ideas, which they had imbibed in their youth, and from other illusions which they had created themselves : prejudicies of country, taken from the genius of the people among whom we have lived, and, so to speak, from the very air we have breathed: prejudices of religion, taken from our catechists, from the divines we have consulted, from the pastors by whom we brave been directed, from the sect we have embraced : prejudices of friendship, taken from the connections we have had, and the company we have kept: prejudices of trade and pro
fession, fession, taken from the mechanical arts we have followed, or the abstract sciences we have studied: prejudices of fortune, taken from the condition of life in which we have been, either among the noble or the poor. This is only a small part of the canals, by which error is conveyed to us. What efforts must a man make, what pains must he take with himself to preserve himself from contagion, to hold his soul perpetually in equilibrium, to keep all the gates of error shut, and incessantly to maintain amidst so many prejudices that freedom of judgment, which weighs argument against objection, objection against argument, which deliberately examines all that can be advanced in favour of a proposition, and all that can be said against it, which considers an object in every point of view, and which makes us determine only as we are constrained by the irresistible authority, and by the soft violence of truth, demonstration and evidence?
As the men, who surround us, fascinate us by their errors, so they decoy us into vice by their example. In all places, and in all ages, virtue had fewer partizans than vice: in all ages and in all places, the friends of virtue were so few in comparison of the partizans of vice, that the saints complained, that the earth was not inhabited by men of the first kind, and that the whole world was occupied by the latter, the godly man ceaseth ; the faithful fail from among the children of men. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men; to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy : there is none that doeth good, no not one, Psal. xij. 1. and xiv. 2, 3. An exaggeration of the prophet, 1 grant, but an exaggeration for which the universality of human depravity hath given too much occasion. Cast your eyes attentively on society, you will be, as cur prophet was, astonished at the great number of the partizans of vice ; you will be troubled, as he was, to distinguish in the crowd any friends of virtue; and you will find yourself inclined to say, as he said, there is none that doeth good, no not one.
But how difficult is it to resist example, and to rule the spirit among such a number of tyrants, who aim only to enslave it! In order to resist example, we must incessantly oppose those natural inclinations, which urge us to imitation. To resist example, we must not suffer ourselves to be dazzled either with the number, or the splendour of such as have placed vice on a tlırone. To resist exaınple, we must brave persecution, and all the inconveniences, to which worldly people never fail to expose them, who refuse to fob low them down the precipice. To resist example, we must love virtue for virtue's sake. To resist example, we must transport ourselves into another world, imagine ourselves among those holy societies, who surround the throne of a holy God, who make his excellencies the continual matter of their adoration and homage, and who fly at the first signal of his hand, the first breath of his mouth. What a work, what a difficult work for you, poor mortal, whose eyes are always turned toward the earth, and whom your own involuntary and insurmountable weight incessantly carsies downward !
3. Finally, we must acknowledge what labour, pains and resistance the disposition, of which Solomon speaks, requires, if we consider man in regard to the habits, which he hath contracted. As soon as we enter into the world, we find ourselves impelled by our natural propensities, stun ned with the din of our passions, and, as I just now said, seduced by the errors, and carried away by the examples of our companions. Seldom in the first years of life, do we surmount that natural biass, and that power of example, which impel us to falsehood and sin. "Most men have done more acts of vice than of virtue, consequently, in the course of a certain number of years, we contribute by our way of living to join to the depravity of nature that which comes from exercise and habit. A man, who would rulę his spirit, is then required to eradicate the habits, which have taken possession of him. What a task!
What a task, when we endeayour to prevent the return of ideas, which for'many years our minds have revolved ! What a task, to defend ones self from a passion which knows all the avenues of the mind, and how to facililate access by means of the body! What a task, to turn away from the flattering images, and seducing solicitations of concupiscence long accustomed to gratification! What a task, when we are obliged to make the greatest efforts in the weakest part of life, and to subdue an enemy, whom we have been always used to çonsider as unconquerable, and whom we never durst attack, when he had no other arins than what we chose to give him, and enjoyed no other advantages than such as we thought proper to allow ! Such labour, such pains and constraint must he experience, who acquires the art of ruling his spirit! Now then, as we have
explained this disposition of mind, let us assign the place, which is dne to him who hath it. Having given an idea of real heroism, we must display the grandeur of it, and prove the proposition in my text, he, that ruleth his spirit, is better than he, that taketh a city.
“ II. For this purpose, it is not necessary to observe, that, by him that taketh á city, Solomon does not mean a man, who from principles of virtue, to defend his country and religion, hazards his life and liberty in a just war: in this view, he, that taketh a city, and he, that ruleth his spirit, is one and the same man. Solomon intends conquerors, who live, if I inay, express myself so, upon victories and conquests ;
he intends heroes, such as the world considers them.
Neither is it necessary precisely to fix the bounds of this general expression, is betler. He, that ruleth his spirit, as better than he, that taketh a city. The sense is easily understood: in general, it signifies, that he that ruleth his spirit discovers more fortitude, more magnanimity, and more courage, that he hath more just ideas of glory, and is more worthy of esteem and praise than they, who are called in the world conquerors and heroes.
We will prove this proposition by comparing the hero of the world with the christian hero, and we will confine the comparison to four articles : First, the motives which animate thein : secondly, the exploits they perform : thirdly, the enemies they attack: and lastly, the rewards they obtain. He, that taketh a city, is animated with motives mean and worldly, which degrade an intelligent soul, even while they seem to elevate it to a pinnacle of grandeur and glory: but he, that ruleth his spirit, is animated by inotives grand, noble and sublime, every way suited to the excellence of our nature. He, that ruleth his spirit, is capable of all the exploits of him, that taketh a city: but he, that taketh a city, is not capable of the exploits of him, that ruleth his spirit. lle, that taketh a.city, attacks an exterior enemy, to whom he hath no attachment : but he, that ruleth his spirit, attacks an enemy, who is dear to him, and hath the greatness of soul to turn his arms against himself. In fine, he, that taketh a city, is crowned only by idiots, who have no just notions of grandeur and heroism: but he, that ruleth his spirit, will be crowned with the hands of the only just appraiser, and dispenser of glory. These are four titles of superiority, which the christian hero hath over the false hero: four sources of proofs to establish the proposicon in our text, he, that ruleth his spirit, is better than he, that taketh a city.
1. Let us consider the motives, which animate a conqueror, that taketh a city, and the inotives, which animate a man, that obtains rule over his spirit: the motives of the true hero with the inotives of the false hiero. What are the motives of a false hiero? What spirit animates him, when he undertakes to conquer a city? This is one of the questions, which sinful passions have most obscured. Truth is disguised in epistles dedicatory, and in profane eulogiums, yea soinetimes in religious discourses. The majesty of a victorious general, the glory of a conqueror, the pompous titles of victor, arbiter of peace, arhiter of war, have so dazzled us, and in some sort so perverted the powers of our soul, that we cannot forin just notions of this subject. Hear pure nature, formerly speaking by the mouth of a nation, who were the more wise for not being civilized by the injustice of our laws and customs. I speak of the ancient Scythians. The most famous taker of cities came to their cabins and caverns.
He had already subdued his fcklow citizens and neighbours. Already Thebes and Athens, Thrace and Thessaly, had submitted to his arms. Already, Greece being too sinal) a sphere of action for him, he had penetrated even into Persia, passed the famous Phrygian river where he slew six hundred thousand men, reduced Caria and Judea, made war with Darius and conquered him, performed exploits inore than human, and in spite of nature besieged and took Tyre, the most famous siege recordeit in ancient history, subjugated the Mardi and Bactrians, attained the mountains Caucasus and Oxus, and, in a word, conquered more countries, and enslaved more people, tiran wc can describe, or even mention within the limits allotted to this exercise. This man arrives in Scythia. 'The Scythians sent deputies to him, who thus addressed him. " Had the gods given you a body proportioned to your ambition, the whole universe would have been too little for you : with one hand you will have touched the cast, and with the other the west, and, not content with this you would have followed the sun, and have seen where he hides himself. Whatever you are, you are aspiring at what you can never obtain. From Europe you run into Asia : and from Asia back you run again into Europe, and having enslaved all