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By reason then I understand the intellectual faculty improved and rightly guided by reflection, preferring a life conducted by wisdom and truth. By wisdom I understand the knowledge of divine and human affairs, and the true causes and grounds of each, such as we attain by the discipline and instruction of the laws, which teaches us to embrace those truths which relate to God with reverence, and those respecting men as things directed to, and designed for, the benefit of mankind. Wisdom may be divided into four particular branches; Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. The noblest and most comprebensive of these is prudence, because reason, through its assistance and influence, attains dominion over the passions,
The passions that are most general are two, pleasure and pain, each of which acts upon the body and soul. In these two passions of pleasure and pain are comprehended many others. Thus, in the instance of pleasure, it is preceded by desire, and followed by joy. In that of pain, it is preceded by fear, and followed by sorrow.
Anger is a mixed passion, between pleasure and pain, of which those must be seusible who minutely observe how they are affected by it. In pleasure is comprehended a base and wicked affeetion, which of all the passions is the most diffusive. In the mind are avarice, envy, and contention; in the body greediness and sordidness. Pleasure and pain, like certain branches growing out of the body, have several scions, which reason, like the common husbandman, by lopping, tying up, watering, transposing, and ordering, corrects in their nature, and tames their wildness. Reason is the guide of the virtues, and governess of the passions. That this is not affirmed without ground, is evident from the mighty effect it has in matters where the virtue of temperance is obstructed. Temperance restrains the desires; some of which belong to the soul, others to the body; both of which are under the government of reason. When our appetites incline to such fish, fowl, or other delicious foods as are forbidden by our laws, and we abstain from them upon that very account, this is a demonstrative proof of the dominion of reason over the passions. For the impulse of the appetite, by the assistance of reason, is restrained, and all the motions of the body are bridled by its coercive power. CHAP. II.
BUT this is a matter of small weight when compared with the more stimulating desires of the mind, especially those that are excited by beauty. Joseph acquired immortal renown for conquering his passion by the standard of reason and sound reflection, though in the bloom of years, and urged by the united impulse of beauty and importunity. It is not the mere allaying the fury of vehement pursuits after pleasure, and abstaining from the impure act, that reason call or ought to do, since it is plain our very inclivations are under its jurisdiction; otherwise the law would have been most absurd in laying upon is a command so impracticable as that, “ Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.” Now it is evident tbat when the law forbids us to covet at all, it more strongly implies that reason is able to curb and conquer our desires. And thus it is not only in those things which are opposite to the virtues of temperance, but justice also. Otherwise what remedy could there be for reforming the luxurious, avaricious, or sordid man? When a man, of a covetous disposition, is prevailed upon to conform to the precepts of our law, he restrains his desires, leads to the poor without taking usury, and remits the debt at the year of jubilee ; and though he be ever so frugal, yet he is obliged by this law, neither to gather in the fruits of his field or his vineyard in the sabbatic year.
Many other instances might be produced to show that reason governs our passions : for the law, in some cases, exercises dominion over natural affection to parents ; sorbidding us, for their sakes, to betray the cause of truth and virtue : so it does over tenderness to our wives, commanding us to punish them for the transgressions of their duty : so again over love to our children, enjoining us to' make them examples when they do amiss : and lastly, over kindness to our friends, in directing us to reprove their vices. In confirmation of this truth, it is further to be observed, that reason, when influenced by the law, overcomes hatred to enemies ; for it probibits the cutting down their fruit-trees: it orders us to restore to our enemies things which they have lost, and to help their cattle when fallen and in distress.
Further, it is evident that reason bears sway over the more violent passions, such as ambition, vainglory, and envy; for all these unseemly dispositions are removed and subdued by a mind instructed by sound reason; as in anger also, though the most ungovernable of all passions. If this were not the case, how could our wise ancestor Jacob so severely condemn that act of his sons, Simeon and Levi, when they, contrary to reason, utierly destroyed the whole race of the Shechemites? saying, in abhorrence of their intemperate rage, “ ('ursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel.” He had certainly no view in speaking thus, unless persuaded that reason was able to conquer wrath.
· CHAP. III.
government set his intus nature a
WHEN God created man, and endued him with reason and a freedom of will, he, at the same time, implanted in his nature a variety of passions and dispositions, and set his intellectual mind upon the throne, to exercise government over all the sensual appetites within. He then imposed a law as a rule, whereby he might direct himself, and lead a life of temperance, justice, and goodness. What ground can there be then for that objection, which makes a doubt whether reason can inaster the passions, because it does not appear that it attains to absolute dominion over forgetfulness and ignorance? We are not to expect that reason should totally exempt us from all evil dispositions; but it will aid us in our conflicts with such dispositions; it being the proper office of reason not to change, but assist nature; not to be a destroyer, but an auxiliary.
This matter may receive some illustration from the example of David. We read that, after having engaged a whole day with an army of Philistines, and made great slaughter among them, the king retired in the evening into the royal tent, fatigued and spent, where all the forces of our forefathers were encamped around him. The rest of the company refreshed themselves contentedly; but the king, being exceeding thirsty, could not satisfy his appetite with any water drawn out of those springs of which they had plenty. An inconsiderate desire seized him to drink of the water fetched from the enemies' garrison. Hereupon some of his officers, desirous of satisfying him, armed themselves, took a vessel, broke through the enemies' trenches, passed their guards, sought out the well of Bethlehem, and thence brought to the king the water he so ardently desired. But David, though parched with thirst, recollecting how inhuman and dangerous a thing it would be to gratify his appetite at the hazard of men's lives, and that drinking the water would be in effect to drink blood, opposed reason to inclination, and made a libation of it to the Deity.
Thus a mind, strictly temperate and wise, can overcome the impulse of the passions, extinguish the flames of the most furious desires, contend with the most exquisite bodily pains, and, in fine, quell all the perturbations that discompose the human frame, by a steady principle of virtue. But it now becomes necessary to confirm this argument, by demonstrative proofs of this power of reason exemplified by practice, of which our forefathers have given undeniable instances. When, through strict observance of their laws, they had ingratiated themselves with foreign princes, and prevailed upon Seleucus Nicanor, king of Asia, so far, that he set apart a portion of his public revenues to defray the expense of the sacrifices, as highly approving their institutions, it happened, after this profound tranquillity, some of them were brought under various and severe trials, by the ill offices of wicked men, who disturbed the public peace in the manner hereafter related.
A CERTAIN man, named Simon, creating a quarrel with Onias, who was high-priest for life, and a man of the greatest integrity, after having endeavoured to vilify his character by the foulest aspersions, and finding his attempts vain to lessen him in the esteem of the people, fled to a foreign court, with wicked intent to betray his country. He accordingly applied to Apollonius, who was then governor of Syria and Phænicia, and told him, that, from his great zeal for the king his master, he was come to make a discovery of a vast sum of money deposited in the trea
sury at Jerusalem, not appropriated to the temple, or employed to any public use, but wealth hoarded up by private men, and therefore of course the right of Seleacus. Apollonius having received this account, commended Simon's zeal for the king's service, waited upon Seleucus, and imparted to him the secret. Upon this information he soon obtained a commission from the king, and marched into our country, bringing with him the traitor Simon, and a very powerful army.
Upon his arrival, he gave out, that he came, by order of the king, to remove the private money that was in the sacred treasury. The nation taking alarm, and complaining of it as a horrible injustice to deprive those of their money who had deposited it in the sacred treasury, resisted the officer as much as they were able. But Apollonius, with menaces of force, made up to the temple. The priests, upon this, with their wives and children, prostrating themselves before the sacred place, implored the Almighty to defend his own temple from profanation and contempt.
Apollonius still persisting, and entering the place with a body of armed men, as he was about to seize upon the treasury, behold angels from heaven suddenly appeared, mounted on horses, clad in shining armour, and struck Apollonius and his soldiers with dear and trembling. The governor fell to the ground in the court of the Gentiles, stretching out his hands to heaven, and supplicating the Hebrews, with many tears, to offer their prayers for him, that he might not be destroyed by that tremendous host. The high-priest Onias, moved with compassion, and fearing lest Seleucus should impute the death of Apollonius to human treachery, granted his request; so that being miraculously saved, he returned back to the king, and related to him the particulars that had befallen him.
But king Seleucus dying soon after, he was succeeded on the throne by his son Antiochus, a man of an imperious and savage disposition, who deprived Onias of the priesthood, and put into that office his brother Jason, upon a compact of an annual tribute of three thousand six hundred and sixty talents, which he had covenanted iu pay him. The king having constituted this Jason superintendant, not only over ecclesiastical matters, as high-priest, but also over civil affairs, he put our nation under severe trials. Vol. IV.