Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Catholic Church Alone. The One True Church of Christ. Part 244.



I will give you a clear prospect of the deformity of this slavery, by an example which comes home to our present business. Represent to yourself a man married to a woman that is as noble, as beautiful and as prudent as possibly woman can be; and that this fortunate man should, at the same time, have a servant, a most deformed creature, and a mere sorceress, who, envying her master's happiness, should give him a potion, so to pervert all his senses, that, despising his wife, and shutting her up in some corner of the house, he should give himself over to this lewd servant of his, make her the companion of his bed, and of all his pleasures ; should consult her on the management of his affairs and family, and follow her advice in all things: nay, to please her, should, at her command, squander away his whole estate in entertainments, feasting, revelling and such kind of delights ; and should, besides all this, come to such a pitch of madness as to oblige his wife to wait on this wicked woman, and to obey all her commands. Can any one persuade himself a man should ever be guilty of such folly ? Who would not be astonished at such madness? What indignation would he be in against this wicked woman, what pity would he take on this poor injured lady, and how would he cry out against this blind and senseless husband? We should look on this action as base and infamous, and yet it is nothing in comparison of what we are now treating of; for you are to understand that we ourselves have these two different women, to wit, the spirit and the flesh, within our own souls, which the divines, in other terms, call the " superior " and the "inferior" part; the superior part of our soul is that in which reside the will and reason, which is that natural light God bestowed on us at our creation. This reason is so beautiful and noble that it makes man like God, capable of enjoying him, and unites him by a brotherly love to the very angels. It is the noble woman to whom God has married man, that they may live together, and that he may follow its counsel and actions in all things; that is to say, that he may let himself be guided by that celestial light, which is reason. But as for tie inferior part of the soul, it is taken up by the sensual appetite, which we have already spoken of, and which has been given us for no other end but the desiring of things necessary for the support of our lives, and for the preservation of mankind. But this is to be done according to the rule which reason prescribes, as a good steward would do, who makes no provision at all but what his master bids him. This appetite, therefore, is the slave we have all this while been treating; nor is it fit to be a guide, because it wants the light of reason, and on that account must itself be directed by another. But man, on the contrary, has been so unhappy as to place such an immoderate affection on, and to give himself over entirely to, the satisfying of this wicked woman's lusts, that he has taken no notice of the suggestions of reason, by which he should have guided himself, but has in all things followed the directions of his appetite, and made it his whole business to satisfy every irregular desire. For we see there are some men so sensual, so unruly, and so abandoned to the desires of their own hearts, that there is scarce any thing they propose but immediately they, like beasts, pursue it, without any respect either to the laws of justice or of reason. And what is this but giving themselves up to the flesh, which is the deformed, loathsome slave, and following all those sensual pleasures she has an inclination to, and despising the advice of that noble and lawful wife, which is our reason.

But, what is still more intolerable, they are not satisfied with using this lady so basely, but will force her to serve this wretched slave, and to make it her whole business, day and night, to think of, and to procure whatever may serve for the satisfying of her base desires. For when a man employs all his wit and senses about nothing in the world but inventing new fashions in his dress, in his buildings, and in his table and diet, for the pleasing of his palate, in the furniture of his house, and in continually thinking of new means and devices for raising up money to compass these things; what does he else but take the soul off from those spiritual exercises which are more suitable to the excellence of her nature, and make her a mere drudge to that creature who ought to have done the same offices for her? When a man that is passionately in love with a woman, uses all the wit he has in writing love-letters, and in composing songs and poems, and such other practices as are usual in those cases; what does he in all this but make the mistress wait on the maid, by employing this divine light in contriving means to satisfy the impure desires of the flesh ? When king David used so many slights to cover the sin he had committee in secret with Bathsheba; sending for her husband out of the camp, inviting him to supper, making him drunk, and afterwards giving him letters to the camp, with private orders to Joab to put him in the very heat of the engagement, that so the innocent man might be taken out of the way (2 Kings xi.); who was contriver of this chain of wickedness but reason and the understanding? And who was it that tempted them to it but the wicked flesh, to cloak her fault, and to enjoy her delights with more security? Seneca, though a heathen and a philosopher, too, blushed at these things; and, therefore, used to say, "It is beneath me, who have been born to something that is great, to be a slave to my own flesh;" Sen. Epist. 65. If we should be astonished at the stupidity of that man so bewitched, how much more reason have we to be concerned at this disorder, which is the occasion pf our being deprived of much greater benefits, and of our falling into more deplorable misfortunes ?