小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文宗教小说 » The Varieties of Religious Experience 宗教经验种种 » Lectures XIII SAINTLINESS
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
  Let me pass next to the Charity and Brotherly Love which are a usual fruit of saintliness, andhave always been reckoned essential theological virtues, however limited may have been the kindsof service which the particular theology enjoined. Brotherly love would follow logically from theassurance of God's friendly presence, the notion of our brotherhood as men being an immediateinference from that of God's fatherhood of us all. When Christ utters the precepts: "Love yourenemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them whichdespitefully use you, and persecute you," he gives for a reason: "That ye may be the children ofyour Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, andsendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." One might therefore be tempted to explain both thehumility as to one's self and the charity towards others which characterize spiritual excitement, asresults of the all-leveling character of theistic belief. But these affections are certainly not merederivatives of theism. We find them in Stoicism, in Hinduism, and in Buddhism in the highestpossible degree. They HARMONIZE with paternal theism beautifully; but they harmonize with allreflection whatever upon the dependence of mankind on general causes; and we must, I think,consider them not subordinate but coordinate parts of that great complex excitement in the study ofwhich we are engaged. Religious rapture, moral enthusiasm, ontological wonder, cosmic emotion,are all unifying states of mind, in which the sand and grit of the selfhood incline to disappear, andtenderness to rule. The best thing is to describe the condition integrally as a characteristic affectionto which our nature is liable, a region in which we find ourselves at home, a sea in which we swim;but not to pretend to explain its parts by deriving them too cleverly from one another. Like love orfear, the faith-state is a natural psychic complex, and carries charity with it by organicconsequence. Jubilation is an expansive affection, and all expansive affections are self-forgetfuland kindly so long as they endure.

We find this the case even when they are pathological in origin. In his instructive work, laTristesse et la Joie,[162] M. Georges Dumas compares together the melancholy and the joyous phase of circular insanity, and shows that, while selfishness characterizes the one, the other ismarked by altruistic impulses. No human being so stingy and useless as was Marie in hermelancholy period! But the moment the happy period begins, "sympathy and kindness become hercharacteristic sentiments. She displays a universal goodwill, not only of intention, but in act. . . .

She becomes solicitous of the health of other patients, interested in getting them out, desirous toprocure wool to knit socks for some of them. Never since she has been under my observation haveI heard her in her joyous period utter any but charitable opinions."[163] And later, Dr. Dumas saysof all such joyous conditions that "unselfish sentiments and tender emotions are the only affectivestates to be found in them. The subject's mind is closed against envy, hatred, and vindictiveness,and wholly transformed into benevolence, indulgence, and mercy."[164]

[162] Paris, 1900.

[163] Page 130.

[164] Page 167.

There is thus an organic affinity between joyousness and tenderness, and their companionship inthe saintly life need in no way occasion surprise. Along with the happiness, this increase oftenderness is often noted in narratives of conversion. "I began to work for others";--"I had moretender feeling for my family and friends";--"I spoke at once to a person with whom I had beenangry";--"I felt for every one, and loved my friends better";--"I felt every one to be my friend";-theseare so many expressions from the records collected by Professor Starbuck.[165]

[165] Op. cit., p. 127.

"When," says Mrs. Edwards, continuing the narrative from which I made quotation a momentago, "I arose on the morning of the Sabbath, I felt a love to all mankind, wholly peculiar in itsstrength and sweetness, far beyond all that I had ever felt before. The power of that love seemedinexpressible. I thought, if I were surrounded by enemies, who were venting their malice andcruelty upon me, in tormenting me, it would still be impossible that I should cherish any feelingstowards them but those of love, and pity, and ardent desires for their happiness. I never before feltso far from a disposition to judge and censure others, as I did that morning. I realized also, in anunusual and very lively manner, how great a part of Christianity lies in the performance of oursocial and relative duties to one another. The same joyful sense continued throughout the day--asweet love to God and all mankind."Whatever be the explanation of the charity, it may efface all usual human barriers.[166]

[166] The barrier between men and animals also. We read of Towianski, an eminent Polishpatriot and mystic, that "one day one of his friends met him in the rain, caressing a big dog whichwas jumping upon him and covering him horribly with mud. On being asked why he permitted theanimal thus to dirty his clothes, Towianski replied: 'This dog, whom I am now meeting for the firsttime, has shown a great fellow-feeling for me, and a great joy in my recognition and acceptance ofhis greetings. Were I to drive him off, I should wound his feelings and do him a moral injury. Itwould be an offense not only to him, but to all the spirits of the other world who are on the same level with him. The damage which he does to my coat is as nothing in comparison with the wrongwhich I should inflict upon him, in case I were to remain indifferent to the manifestations of hisfriendship. We ought,' he added, 'both to lighten the condition of animals, whenever we can, and atthe same time to facilitate in ourselves that union of the world of all spirits, which the sacrifice ofChrist has made possible.'" Andre Towianski, Traduction de l'Italien, Turin, 1897 (privatelyprinted). I owe my knowledge of this book and of Towianski to my friend Professor W.

Lutoslawski, author of "Plato's Logic."Here, for instance, is an example of Christian non-resistance from Richard Weaver'sautobiography. Weaver a collier, a semi-professional pugilist in his younger days, who becameamuchbelovedevan(was) gelist. Fighting, after drinking, seems to have been the sin to whichhe originally felt his flesh most perversely inclined. After his first conversion he had a backsliding,which consisted in pounding a man who had insulted a girl. Feeling that, having once fallen, hemight as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, he got drunk and went and broke the jaw ofanother man who had lately challenged him to fight and taunted him with cowardice for refusingas a Christian man;--I mention these incidents to show how genuine a change of heart is implied inthe later conduct which he describes as follows:-"I went down the drift and found the boy crying because a fellow-workman was trying to takethe wagon from him by force. I said to him:-"'Tom, you mustn't take that wagon.'

"He swore at me, and called me a Methodist devil. I told him that God did not tell me to let himrob me. He cursed again, and said he would push the wagon over me.

"'Well,' I said, 'let us see whether the devil and thee are stronger than the Lord and me.'

"And the Lord and I proving stronger than the devil and he, he had to get out of the way, or thewagon would have gone over him.

So I gave the wagon to the boy. Then said Tom:-"'I've a good mind to smack thee on the face.'

"'Well,' I said, 'if that will do thee any good, thou canst do it.' So he struck me on the face.

"I turned the other cheek to him, and said, 'Strike again.'

"He struck again and again, till he had struck me five times. I turned my cheek for the sixthstroke; but he turned away cursing.

I shouted after him: 'The Lord forgive thee, for I do, and the Lord save thee.'

"This was on a Saturday; and when I went home from the coal-pit my wife saw my face wasswollen, and asked what was the matter with it. I said: 'I've been fighting, and I've given a man agood thrashing.'

"She burst out weeping, and said, 'O Richard, what made you fight?' Then I told her all about it;and she thanked the Lord I had not struck back.

"But the Lord had struck, and his blows have more effect than man's. Monday came. The devilbegan to tempt me, saying: 'The other men will laugh at thee for allowing Tom to treat thee as hedid on Saturday.' I cried, 'Get thee behind me, Satan;'--and went on my way to the coal-pit.

"Tom was the first man I saw. I said 'Good-morning,' but got no reply.

"He went down first. When I got down, I was surprised to see him sitting on the wagon-roadwaiting for me. When I came to him he burst into tears and said: 'Richard, will you forgive me forstriking you?'

"'I have forgiven thee,' said I; 'ask God to forgive thee. The Lord bless thee.' I gave him my hand,and we went each to his work."[167]

[167] J. Patterson's Life of Richard Weaver, pp. 66-68, abridged.

"Love your enemies!" Mark you, not simply those who happen not to be your friends, but yourENEMIES, your positive and active enemies. Either this is a mere Oriental hyperbole, a bit ofverbal extravagance, meaning only that we should, as far as we can, abate our animosities, or elseit is sincere and literal. Outside of certain cases of intimate individual relation, it seldom has beentaken literally. Yet it makes one ask the question: Can there in general be a level of emotion sounifying, so obliterative of differences between man and man, that even enmity may come to be anirrelevant circumstance and fail to inhibit the friendlier interests aroused? If positive well-wishingcould attain so supreme a degree of excitement, those who were swayed by it might well seemsuperhuman beings. Their life would be morally discrete from the life of other men, and there is nosaying, in the absence of positive experience of an authentic kind--for there are few activeexamples in our scriptures, and the Buddhistic examples are legendary,[168]--what the effectsmight be: they might conceivably transform the world.

[168] As where the future Buddha, incarnated as a hare, jumps into the fire to cook himself for ameal for a beggar--having previously shaken himself three times, so that none of the insects in hisfur should perish with him.

Psychologically and in principle, the precept "Love your enemies" is not self-contradictory. It ismerely the extreme limit of a kind of magnanimity with which, in the shape of pitying tolerance ofour oppressors, we are fairly familiar. Yet if radically followed, it would involve such a breachwith our instinctive springs of action as a whole, and with the present world's arrangements, that acritical point would practically be passed, and we should be born into another kingdom of being.

Religious emotion makes us feel that other kingdom to be close at hand, within our reach.

The inhibition of instinctive repugnance is proved not only by the showing of love to enemies,but by the showing of it to any one who is personally loathsome. In the annals of saintliness wefind a curious mixture of motives impelling in this direction. Asceticism plays its part; and alongwith charity pure and simple, we find humility or the desire to disclaim distinction and to grovel onthe common level before God. Certainly all three principles were at work when Francis of Assisiand Ignatius Loyola exchanged their garments with those of filthy beggars. All three are at workwhen religious persons consecrate their lives to the care of leprosy or other peculiarly unpleasantdiseases. The nursing of the sick is a function to which the religious seem strongly drawn, evenapart from the fact that church traditions set that way. But in the annals of this sort of charity wefind fantastic excesses of devotion recorded which are only explicable by the frenzy of self-immolation simultaneously aroused. Francis of Assisi kisses his lepers; Margaret Mary Alacoque, Francis Xavier, St. John of God, and others are said to have cleansed the sores and ulcers of theirpatients with their respective tongues; and the lives of such saints as Elizabeth of Hungary andMadame de Chantal are full of a sort of reveling in hospital purulence, disagreeable to read of, andwhich makes us admire and shudder at the same time.

So much for the human love aroused by the faith-state. Let me next speak of the Equanimity,Resignation, Fortitude, and Patience which it brings.

"A paradise of inward tranquillity" seems to be faith's usual result; and it is easy, even withoutbeing religious one's self, to understand this. A moment back, in treating of the sense of God'spresence, I spoke of the unaccountable feeling of safety which one may then have. And, indeed,how can it possibly fail to steady the nerves, to cool the fever, and appease the fret, if one besensibly conscious that, no matter what one's difficulties for the moment may appear to be, one'slife as a whole is in the keeping of a power whom one can absolutely trust? In deeply religiousmen the abandonment of self to this power is passionate. Whoever not only says, but FEELS,"God's will be done," is mailed against every weakness; and the whole historic array of martyrs,missionaries, and religious reformers is there to prove the tranquil-mindedness, under naturallyagitating or distressing circumstances, which self-surrender brings.

The temper of the tranquil-mindedness differs, of course, according as the person is of aconstitutionally sombre or of a constitutionally cheerful cast of mind. In the sombre it partakesmore of resignation and submission; in the cheerful it is a joyous consent. As an example of theformer temper, I quote part of a letter from Professor Lagneau, a venerated teacher of philosophywho lately died, a great invalid, at Paris:-"My life, for the success of which you send good wishes, will be what it is able to be. I asknothing from it, I expect nothing from it. For long years now I exist, think, and act, and am worthwhat I am worth, only through the despair which is my sole strength and my sole foundation. Mayit preserve for me, even in these last trials to which I am coming, the courage to do without thedesire of deliverance. I ask nothing more from the Source whence all strength cometh, and if that isgranted, your wishes will have been accomplished."[169]

[169] Bulletin de l'union pour l'Action Morale, September, 1894.

There is something pathetic and fatalistic about this, but the power of such a tone as a protectionagainst outward shocks is manifest. Pascal is another Frenchman of pessimistic <281> naturaltemperament. He expresses still more amply the temper of self-surrendering submissiveness:-"Deliver me, Lord," he writes in his prayers, "from the sadness at my proper suffering whichself-love might give, but put into me a sadness like your own. Let my sufferings appease yourcholer. Make them an occasion for my conversion and salvation. I ask you neither for health norfor sickness, for life nor for death; but that you may dispose of my health and my sickness, my lifeand my death, for your glory, for my salvation, and for the use of the Church and of your saints, ofwhom I would by your grace be one. You alone know what is expedient for me; you are thesovereign master; do with me according to your will. Give to me, or take away from me, onlyconform my will to yours. I know but one thing, Lord, that it is good to follow you, and bad tooffend you. Apart from that, I know not what is good or bad in anything. I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. Thatdiscernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of yourProvidence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom."[170]

[170] B. Pascal: Prieres pour les Maladies, Sections xiii., xiv., abridged.

When we reach more optimistic temperaments, the resignation grows less passive. Examples aresown so broadcast throughout history that I might well pass on without citation. As it is, I snatch atthe first that occurs to my mind. Madame Guyon, a frail creature physically, was yet of a happynative disposition. She went through many perils with admirable serenity of soul. After being sentto prison for heresy-"Some of my friends," she writes, "wept bitterly at the hearing of it, but such was my state ofacquiescence and resignation that it failed to draw any tears from me. . . . There appeared to be inme then, as I find it to be in me now, such an entire loss of what regards myself, that any of myown interests gave me little pain or pleasure; ever wanting to will or wish for myself only the verything which God does." In another place she writes: "We all of us came near perishing in a riverwhich we found it necessary to pass. The carriage sank in the quicksand. Others who were with usthrew themselves out in excessive fright. But I found my thoughts so much taken up with God thatI had no distinct sense of danger. It is true that the thought of being drowned passed across mymind, but it cost no other sensation or reflection in me than this--that I felt quite contented andwilling it were so, if it were my heavenly Father's choice." Sailing from Nice to Genoa, a stormkeeps her eleven days at sea.

"As the irritated waves dashed round us," she writes, "I could not help experiencing a certaindegree of satisfaction in my mind. I pleased myself with thinking that those mutinous billows,under the command of Him who does all things rightly, might probably furnish me with a waterygrave. Perhaps I carried the point too far, in the pleasure which I took in thus seeing myself beatenand bandied by the swelling waters. Those who were with me took notice of my intrepidity."[171]

[171] From Thomas C. Upham's Life and Religious Opinions and Experiences of Madame de laMothe Guyon, New York, 1877, ii. 48, i. 141, 413, abridged.

The contempt of danger which religious enthusiasm produces may be even more buoyant still. Itake an example from that charming recent autobiography, "With Christ at Sea," by Frank Bullen.

A couple of days after he went through the conversion on shipboard of which he there gives anaccount-"It was blowing stiffly," he writes, "and we were carrying a press of canvas to get north out ofthe bad weather. Shortly after four bells we hauled down the flying-jib, and I sprang out astride theboom to furl it. I was sitting astride the boom when suddenly it gave way with me. The sail slippedthrough my fingers, and I fell backwards, hanging head downwards over the seething tumult ofshining foam under the ship's bows, suspended by one foot. But I felt only high exultation in mycertainty of eternal life. Although death was divided from me by a hair's breadth, and I was acutelyconscious of the fact, it gave me no sensation but joy. I suppose I could have hung there no longerthan five seconds, but in that time I lived a whole age of delight. But my body asserted itself, and with a desperate gymnastic effort I regained the boom. How I furled the sail I don't know, but Isang at the utmost pitch of my voice praises to God that went pealing out over the dark waste ofwaters."[172]

[172] Op. cit., London, 1901, p. 230.

The annals of martyrdom are of course the signal field of triumph for religious imperturbability.

Let me cite as an example the statement of a humble sufferer, persecuted as a Huguenot underLouis XIV:-"They shut all the doors," Blanche Gamond writes, "and I saw six women, each with a bunch ofwillow rods as thick as the hand could hold, and a yard long. He gave me the order, 'Undressyourself,' which I did. He said, 'You are leaving on your shift; you must take it off.' They had solittle patience that they took it off themselves, and I was naked from the waist up. They brought acord with which they tied me to a beam in the kitchen. They drew the cord tight with all theirstrength and asked me, 'Does it hurt you?' and then they discharged their fury upon me, exclaimingas they struck me, 'Pray now to your God.' It was the Roulette woman who held this language. Butat this moment I received the greatest consolation that I can ever receive in my life, since I had thehonor of being whipped for the name of Christ, and in addition of being crowned with his mercyand his consolations. Why can I not write down the inconceivable influences, consolations, andpeace which I felt interiorly? To understand them one must have passed by the same trial; theywere so great that I was ravished, for there where afflictions abound grace is givensuperabundantly. In vain the women cried, 'We must double our blows; she does not feel them, forshe neither speaks nor cries.' And how should I have cried, since I was swooning with happinesswithin?"[173]

[173] Claparede et Goty: Deux Heroines de la Foi, Paris, 1880, p. 112.

The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to equanimity, receptivity, andpeace, is the most wonderful of all those shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of thepersonal centre of energy, which I have analyzed so often; and the chief wonder of it is that it sooften comes about, not by doing, but by simply relaxing and throwing the burden down. Thisabandonment of self-responsibility seems to be the fundamental act in specifically religious, asdistinguished from moral practice. It antedates theologies and is independent of philosophies.

Mind-cure, theosophy, stoicism, ordinary neurological hygiene, insist on it as emphatically asChristianity does, and it is capable of entering into closest marriage with every speculative creed.

[174] Christians who have it strongly live in what is called "recollection," and are never anxiousabout the future, nor worry over the outcome of the day. Of Saint Catharine of Genoa it is said that"she took cognizance of things, only as they were presented to her in succession, MOMENT BYMOMENT." To her holy soul, "the divine moment was the present moment, . . . and when thepresent moment was estimated in itself and in its relations, and when the duty that was involved init was accomplished, it was permitted to pass away as if it had never been, and to give way to thefacts and duties of the moment which came after."[175] Hinduism, mind-cure, and theosophy alllay great emphasis upon this concentration of the consciousness upon the moment at hand.

[174] Compare these three different statements of it: A. P. Call: As a Matter of Course, Boston,1894; H. W. Dresser: Living by the Spirit, New York and London, 1900; H. W. Smith: TheChristian's Secret of a Happy Life, published by the Willard Tract Repository, and now inthousands of hands.

[175] T. C. Upham: Life of Madame Catharine Adorna, 3d ed., New York, 1864, pp. 158, 17274.

The next religious symptom which I will note is what have called Purity of Life. The saintlyperson becomes exceedingly sensitive to inner inconsistency or discord, and mixture and confusiongrow intolerable. All the mind's objects and occupations must be ordered with reference to thespecial spiritual excitement which is now its keynote. Whatever is unspiritual taints the pure waterof the soul and is repugnant. Mixed with this exaltation of the moral sensibilities there is also anardor of sacrifice, for the beloved deity's sake, of everything unworthy of him. Sometimes thespiritual ardor is so sovereign that purity is achieved at a stroke --we have seen examples. Usuallyit is a more gradual conquest. Billy Bray's account of his abandonment of tobacco is a goodexample of the latter form of achievement.

"I had been a smoker as well as a drunkard, and I used to love my tobacco as much as I loved mymeat, and I would rather go down into the mine without my dinner than without my pipe. In thedays of old, the Lord spoke by the mouths of his servants, the prophets; now he speaks to us by thespirit of his Son. I had not only the feeling part of religion, but I could hear the small, still voicewithin speaking to me. When I took the pipe to smoke, it would be applied within, 'It is an idol, alust; worship the Lord with clean lips.' So, I felt it was not right to smoke. The Lord also sent awoman to convince me. I was one day in a house, and I took out my pipe to light it at the fire, andMary Hawke--for that was the woman's name--said, 'Do you not feel it is wrong to smoke?' I saidthat I felt something inside telling me that it was an idol, a lust, and she said that was the Lord.

Then I said, 'Now, I must give it up, for the Lord is telling me of it inside, and the woman outside,so the tobacco must go, love it as I may.' There and then I took the tobacco out of my pocket, andthrew it into the fire, and put the pipe under my foot, 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust.' And I have notsmoked since. I found it hard to break off old habits, but I cried to the Lord for help, and he gaveme strength, for he has said, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee.' The dayafter I gave up smoking I had the toothache so bad that I did not know what to do. I thought thiswas owing to giving up the pipe, but I said I would never smoke again, if I lost every tooth in myhead. I said, 'Lord, thou hast told us My yoke is easy and my burden is light,' and when I said that,all the pain left me. Sometimes the thought of the pipe would come back to me very strong; but theLord strengthened me against the habit, and, bless his name, I have not smoked since."Bray's biographer writes that after he had given up smoking, he thought that he would chew alittle, but he conquered this dirty habit, too. "On one occasion," Bray said, "when at a prayer-meeting at Hicks Mill, I heard the Lord say to me, 'Worship me with clean lips.' So, when we gotup from our knees, I took the quid out of my mouth and 'whipped 'en' [threw it] under the form.

But, when we got on our knees again, I put another quid into my mouth. Then the Lord said tome again, 'Worship me with clean lips.' So I took the quid out of my mouth, and whipped 'en under the form again, and said, 'Yes, Lord, I will.' From that time I gave up chewing as well as smoking,and have been a free man."The ascetic forms which the impulse for veracity and purity of life may take are often patheticenough. The early Quakers, for example, had hard battles to wage against the worldliness andinsincerity of the ecclesiastical Christianity of their time. Yet the battle that cost them mostwounds was probably that which they fought in defense of their own right to social veracity andsincerity in their thee-ing and thou-ing, in not doffing the hat or giving titles of respect. It was laidon George Fox that these conventional customs were a lie and a sham, and the whole body of hisfollowers thereupon renounced them, as a sacrifice to truth, and so that their acts and the spirit theyprofessed might be more in accord.

"When the Lord sent me into the world," says Fox in his Journal, "he forbade me to put off myhat to any, high or low: and I was required to 'thee' and 'thou' all men and women, without anyrespect to rich or poor, great or small. And as I traveled up and down, I was not to bid peopleGood-morning or Good-evening, neither might I bow or scrape with my leg to any one. This madethe sects and professions rage. Oh! the rage that was in the priests, magistrates, professors, andpeople of all sorts: and especially in priests and professors: for though 'thou' to a single person wasaccording to their accidence and grammar rules, and according to the Bible, yet they could not bearto hear it: and because I could not put off my hat to them, it set them all into a rage. . . . Oh! thescorn, heat, and fury that arose! Oh! the blows, punchings, beatings, and imprisonments that weunderwent for not putting off our hats to men! Some had their hats violently plucked off andthrown away, so that they quite lost them. The bad language and evil usage we received on thisaccount is hard to be expressed, besides the danger we were sometimes in of losing our lives forthis matter, and that by the great professors of Christianity, who thereby discovered they were nottrue believers. And though it was but a small thing in the eye of man, yet a wonderful confusion itbrought among all professors and priests: but, blessed be the Lord, many came to see the vanity ofthat custom of putting off hats to men, and felt the weight of Truth's testimony against it."In the autobiography of Thomas Elwood, an early Quaker, who at one time was secretary to JohnMilton, we find an exquisitely quaint and candid account of the trials he underwent both at homeand abroad, in following Fox's canons of sincerity. The anecdotes are too lengthy for citation; butElwood sets down his manner of feeling about these things in a shorter passage, which I will quoteas a characteristic utterance of spiritual sensibility:-"By this divine light, then," says Elwood, "I saw that though I had not the evil of the commonuncleanliness, debauchery, profaneness, and pollutions of the world to put away, because I had,through the great goodness of God and a civil education, been preserved out of those grosser evils,yet I had many other evils to put away and to cease from; some of which were not by the world,which lies in wickedness (I John v. 19), accounted evils, but by the light of Christ were mademanifest to me to be evils, and as such condemned in me.

"As particularly those fruits and effects of pride that discover themselves in the vanity andsuperfluity of apparel; which I took too much delight in. This evil of my doings I was required toput away and cease from; and judgment lay upon me till I did so.

"I took off from my apparel those unnecessary trimmings of lace, ribbons, and useless buttons,which had no real service, but were set on only for that which was by mistake called ornament; andI ceased to wear rings.

"Again, the giving of flattering titles to men between whom and me there was not any relation towhich such titles could be pretended to belong. This was an evil I had been much addicted to, andwas accounted a ready artist in; therefore this evil also was I required to put away and cease from.

So that thenceforward I durst not say, Sir, Master, My Lord, Madam (or My Dame); or say YourServant to any one to whom I did not stand in the real relation of a servant, which I had never doneto any.

"Again, respect of persons, in uncovering the head and bowing the knee or body in salutation,was a practice I had been much in the use of; and this, being one of the vain customs of the world,introduced by the spirit of the world, instead of the true honor which this is a false representationof, and used in deceit as a token of respect by persons one to another, who bear no real respect oneto another; and besides this, being a type and a proper emblem of that divine honor which all oughtto pay to Almighty God, and which all of all sorts, who take upon them the Christian name, appearin when they offer their prayers to him, and therefore should not be given to men;--I found this tobe one of those evils which I had been too long doing; therefore I was now required to put it awayand cease from it.

"Again, the corrupt and unsound form of speaking in the plural number to a single person, YOUto one, instead of THOU, contrary to the pure, plain, and single language of truth, THOU to one,and YOU to more than one, which had always been used by God to men, and men to God, as wellas one to another, from the oldest record of time till corrupt men, for corrupt ends, in later andcorrupt times, to flatter, fawn, and work upon the corrupt nature in men, brought in that false andsenseless way of speaking you to one, which has since corrupted the modern languages, and hathgreatly debased the spirits and depraved the manners of men;--this evil custom I had been asforward in as others, and this I was now called out of and required to cease from.

"These and many more evil customs which had sprung up in the night of darkness and generalapostasy from the truth and true religion were now, by the inshining of this pure ray of divine lightin my conscience, gradually discovered to me to be what I ought to cease from, shun, and stand awitness against."[176]

[176] The History of Thomas Elwood, written by Himself, London, 1885, pp. 32-34These early Quakers were Puritans indeed. The slightest inconsistency between profession anddeed jarred some of them to active protest. John Woolman writes in his diary:-"In these journeys I have been where much cloth hath been dyed; and have at sundry timeswalked over ground where much of their dyestuffs has drained away. This hath produced a longingin my mind that people might come into cleanness of spirit, cleanness of person, and cleannessabout their houses and garments. Dyes being invented partly to please the eye, and partly to hidedirt, I have felt in this weak state, when traveling in dirtiness, and affected with unwholesomescents, a strong desire that the nature of dyeing cloth to hide dirt may be more fully considered.

"Washing our garments to keep them sweet is cleanly, but it is the opposite to real cleanliness tohide dirt in them. Through giving way to hiding dirt in our garments a spirit which would concealthat which is disagreeable is strengthened. Real cleanliness becometh a holy people; but hiding thatwhich is not clean by coloring our garments seems contrary to the sweetness of sincerity. Throughsome sorts of dyes cloth is rendered less useful. And if the value of dyestuffs, and expense ofdyeing, and the damage done to cloth, were all added together, and that cost applied to keeping allsweet and clean, how much more would real cleanliness prevail.

"Thinking often on these things, the use of hats and garments dyed with a dye hurtful to them,and wearing more clothes in summer than are useful, grew more uneasy to me; believing them tobe customs which have not their foundation in pure wisdom. The apprehension of being singularfrom my beloved friends was a strait upon me; and thus I continued in the use of some things,contrary to my judgment, about nine months. Then I thought of getting a hat the natural color ofthe fur, but the apprehension of being looked upon as one affecting singularity felt uneasy to me.

On this account I was under close exercise of mind in the time of our general spring meeting in1762, greatly desiring to be rightly directed; when, being deeply bowed in spirit before the Lord, Iwas made willing to submit to what I apprehended was required of me; and when I returned home,got a hat of the natural color of the fur.

"In attending meetings, this singularity was a trial to me, and more especially at this time, aswhite hats were used by some who were fond of following the changeable modes of dress, and assome friends, who knew not from what motives I wore it, grew shy of me, I felt my way for a timeshut up in the exercise of the ministry. Some friends were apprehensive that my wearing such a hatsavored of an affected singularity: those who spoke with me in a friendly way, I generallyinformed in a few words, that I believed my wearing it was not in my own will."When the craving for moral consistency and purity is developed to this degree, the subject maywell find the outer world too full of shocks to dwell in, and can unify his life and keep his soulunspotted only by withdrawing from it. That law which impels the artist to achieve harmony in hiscomposition by simply dropping out whatever jars, or suggests a discord, rules also in the spirituallife. To omit, says Stevenson, is the one art in literature: "If I knew how to omit, I should ask noother knowledge." And life, when full of disorder and slackness and vague superfluity, can nohave what call character than literature can have it under similar conditions. So mona(more) steriesandcomm(we) unities of sympathetic devotees open their doors, and in their changelessorder, characterized by omissions quite as much as constituted of actions, the holy-minded personfinds that inner smoothness and cleanness which it is torture to him to feel violated at every turn bythe discordancy and brutality of secular existence.

That the scrupulosity of purity may be carried to a fantastic extreme must be admitted. In this itresembles Asceticism, to which further symptom of saintliness we had better turn next. Theadjective "ascetic" is applied to conduct originating on diverse psychological levels, which I mightas well begin by distinguishing from one another.

1. Asceticism may be a mere expression of organic hardihood, disgusted with too much ease.

2. Temperance in meat and drink, simplicity of apparel, chastity, and non-pampering of the bodygenerally, may be fruits of the love of purity, shocked by whatever savors of the sensual.

3. They may also be fruits of love, that is, they may appeal to the subject in the light of sacrificeswhich he is happy in making to the Deity whom he acknowledges.

4. Again, ascetic mortifications and torments may be due to pessimistic feelings about the self,combined with theological beliefs concerning expiation. The devotee may feel that he is buyinghimself free, or escaping worse sufferings hereafter, by doing penance now.

5. In psychopathic persons, mortifications may be entered on irrationally, by a sort of obsessionor fixed idea which comes as a challenge and must be worked off, because only thus does thesubject get his interior consciousness feeling right again.

6. Finally, ascetic exercises may in rarer instances be prompted by genuine perversions of thebodily sensibility, in consequence of which normally pain-giving stimuli are actually felt aspleasures.

I will try to give an instance under each of these heads in turn; but it is not easy to get them pure,for in cases pronounced enough to be immediately classed as ascetic, several of the assignedmotives usually work together. Moreover, before citing any examples at all, I must invite you tosome general psychological considerations which apply to all of them alike.

A strange moral transformation has within the past century swept over our Western world. Weno longer think that we are called on to face physical pain with equanimity. It is not expected of aman that he should either endure it or inflict much of it, and to listen to the recital of cases of itmakes our flesh creep morally as well as physically. The way in which our ancestors looked uponpain as an eternal ingredient of the world's order, and both caused and suffered it as a matter-ofcourseportion of their day's work, fills us with amazement. We wonder that any human beingscould have been so callous. The result of this historic alteration is that even in the Mother Churchherself, where ascetic discipline has such a fixed traditional prestige as a factor of merit, it haslargely come into desuetude, if not discredit. A believer who flagellates or "macerates" himselftoday arouses more wonder and fear than emulation. Many Catholic writers who admit that thetimes have changed in this respect do so resignedly; and even add that perhaps it is as well not towaste feelings in regretting the matter, for to return to the heroic corporeal discipline of ancientdays might be an extravagance.

Where to seek the easy and the pleasant seems instinctive --and instinctive it appears to be inman; any deliberate tendency to pursue the hard and painful as such and for their own sakes mightwell strike one as purely abnormal. Nevertheless, in moderate degrees it is natural and even usualto human nature to court the arduous. It is only the extreme manifestations of the tendency that canbe regarded as a paradox.

The psychological reasons for this lie near the surface. When we drop abstractions and take whatwe call our will in the act, we see that it is a very complex function. It involves both stimulationsand inhibitions; it follows generalized habits; it is escorted by reflective criticisms; and it leaves agood or a bad taste of itself behind, according to the manner of the performance. The result is that,quite apart from the immediate pleasure which any sensible experience may give us, our owngeneral moral attitude in procuring or undergoing the experience brings with it a secondarysatisfaction or distaste. Some men and women, indeed, there are who can live on smiles and theword "yes" forever. But for others (indeed for most), this is too tepid and relaxed a moral climate.

Passive happiness is slack and insipid, and soon grows mawkish and intolerable. Some austerityand wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort, some "no! no!" must bemixed in, to produce the sense of an existence with character and texture and power. The range ofindividual differences in this respect is enormous; but whatever the mixture of yeses and noes maybe, the person is infallibly aware when he has struck it in the right proportion FOR HIM. This, hefeels, is my proper vocation, this is the OPTIMUM, the law, the life for me to live. Here I find thedegree of equilibrium, safety, calm, and leisure which I need, or here I find the challenge, passion,fight, and hardship without which my soul's energy expires.

Every individual soul, in short, like every individual machine or organism, has its own bestconditions of efficiency. A given machine will run best under a certain steam-pressure, a certainamperage; an organism under a certain diet, weight, or exercise. You seem to do best, I heard adoctor say to a patient, at about 140 millimeters of arterial tension. And it is just so with our sundrysouls: some are happiest in calm weather; some need the sense of tension, of strong volition, tomake them feel alive and well. For these latter souls, whatever is gained from day to day must bepaid for by sacrifice and inhibition, or else it comes too cheap and has no zest.

Now when characters of this latter sort become religious, they are apt to turn the edge of theirneed of effort and negativity against their natural self; and the ascetic life gets evolved as aconsequence.

When Professor Tyndall in one of his lectures tells us that Thomas Carlyle put him into his bathtubevery morning of a freezing Berlin winter, he proclaimed one of the lowest grades ofasceticism. Even without Carlyle, most of us find it necessary to our soul's health to start the daywith a rather cool immersion. A little farther along the scale we get such statements as this, fromone of my correspondents, an agnostic:-"Often at night in my warm bed I would feel ashamed to depend so on the warmth, and wheneverthe thought would come over me I would have to get up, no matter what time of night it was, andstand for a minute in the cold, just so as to prove my manhood."Such cases as these belong simply to our head 1. In the next case we probably have a mixture ofheads 2 and 3--the asceticism becomes far more systematic and pronounced. The writer is aProtestant, whose sense of moral energy could doubtless be gratified on no lower terms, and I takehis case from Starbuck's manuscript collection.

"I practiced fasting and mortification of the flesh. I secretly made burlap shirts, and put the burrsnext the skin, and wore pebbles in my shoes. I would spend nights flat on my back on the floorwithout any covering."The Roman Church has organized and codified all this sort of thing, and given it a market-valuein the shape of "merit." But we see the cultivation of hardship cropping out under every sky and inevery faith, as a spontaneous need of character. Thus we read of Channing, when first settled as aUnitarian minister, that-"He was now more simple than ever, and seemed to have become incapable of any form of self-indulgence. He took the smallest room in the house for his study, though he might easily havecommanded one more light, airy, and in every way more suitable; and chose for his sleepingchamber an attic which he shared with a younger brother. The furniture of the latter might have answered for the cell of an anchorite, and consisted of a hard mattress on a cot-bedstead, plainwooden chairs and table, with matting on the floor. It was without fire, and to cold he wasthroughout life extremely sensitive; but he never complained or appeared in any way to beconscious of inconvenience. 'I recollect,' says his brother, 'after one most severe night, that in themorning he sportively thus alluded to his suffering: "If my bed were my country, I should besomewhat like Bonaparte: I have no control except over the part which I occupy, the instant Imove, frost takes possession."' In sickness only would he change for the time his apartment andaccept a few comforts. The dress too that he habitually adopted was of most inferior quality; andgarments were constantly worn which the world would call mean, though an almost feminineneatness preserved him from the least appearance of neglect."[177]

[177] Memoirs of W. E. Channing, Boston, 1840, i. 196.

Channing's asceticism, such as it was, was evidently a compound of hardihood and love ofpurity. The democracy which is an offshoot of the enthusiasm of humanity, and of which I willspeak later under the head of the cult of poverty, doubtless bore also a share. Certainly there wasno pessimistic element in his case.

In the next case we have a strongly pessimistic element, so that it belongs under head 4. JohnCennick was Methodism's first lay preacher. In 1735 he was convicted of sin, while walking inCheapside-"And at once left off sing-singing, card-playing, and attending theatres. Sometimes he wished togo to a popish monastery, to spend his life in devout retirement. At other times he longed to live ina cave, sleeping on fallen leaves, and feeding on forest fruits. He fasted long and often, and prayednine times a day. . . . Fancying dry bread too great an indulgence for so great a sinner as himself,he began to feed on potatoes, acorns, crabs, and grass; and often wished that he could live on rootsand herbs. At length, in 1737, he found peace with God, and went on his way rejoicing."[178]

[178] L. Tyerman: The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, i. 274.

In this poor man we have morbid melancholy and fear, and the sacrifices made are to purge outsin, and to buy safety. The hopelessness of Christian theology in respect of the flesh and thenatural man generally has, in systematizing fear, made of it one tremendous incentive to self-mortification. It would be quite unfair, however, in spite of the fact that this incentive has oftenbeen worked in a mercenary way for hortatory purposes, to call it a mercenary incentive. Theimpulse to expiate and do penance is, in its first intention, far too immediate and spontaneous anexpression of self-despair and anxiety to be obnoxious to any such reproach. In the form of lovingsacrifice, of spending all we have to show our devotion, ascetic discipline of the severest sort maybe the fruit of highly optimistic religious feeling.

M. Vianney, the cure of Ars, was a French country priest, whose holiness was exemplary. Weread in his life the following account of his inner need of sacrifice:-"'

On this path,' M. Vianney said, "it is only the first step that costs. There is in mortification abalm and a savor without which one cannot live when once one has made their acquaintance.

There is but one way in which to give one's self to God--that is, to give one's self entirely, and to keep nothing for one's self. The little that one keeps is only good to trouble one and make onesuffer.' Accordingly he imposed it on himself that he should never smell a flower, never drinkwhen parched with thirst, never drive away a fly, never show disgust before a repugnant object,never complain of anything that had to do with his personal comfort, never sit down, never leanupon his elbows when he was kneeling. The Cure of Ars was very sensitive to cold, but he wouldnever take means to protect himself against it. During a very severe winter, one of his missionariescontrived a false floor to his confessional and placed a metal case of hot water beneath. The tricksucceeded, and the Saint was deceived: 'God is very good,' he said with emotion. 'This year,through all the cold, my feet have always been warm.' "[179]

[179] A. Mounin: Le Cure d'Ars, vie de M. J. B. M. Vianney, 1864, p. 545, abridged.

In this case the spontaneous impulse to make sacrifices for the pure love of God was probablythe uppermost conscious motive. We may class it, then, under our head 3. Some authors think thatthe impulse to sacrifice is the main religious phenomenon. It is a prominent, a universalphenomenon certainly, and lies deeper than any special creed. Here, for instance, is what seems tobe a spontaneous example of it, simply expressing what seemed right at the time between theindividual and his Maker. Cotton Mather, the New England Puritan divine, is generally reputed arather grotesque pedant; yet what is more touchingly simple than his relation of what happenedwhen his wife came to die?

"When I saw to what a point of resignation I was now called of the Lord," he says, "I resolved,with his help, therein to glorify him. So, two hours before my lovely consort expired, I kneeled byher bedside, and I took into my two hands a dear hand, the dearest in the world. With her thus inmy hands, I solemnly and sincerely gave her up unto the Lord: and in token of my realRESIGNATION, I gently put her out of my hands, and laid away a most lovely hand, resolvingthat I would never touch it more. This was the hardest, and perhaps the bravest action that ever Idid. She . . . told me that she signed and sealed my act of resignation. And though before that shecalled for me continually, she after this never asked for me any more."[180]

[180] B. Wendell: Cotton Mather, New York, no date, p. 198.

Father Vianney's asceticism taken in its totality was simply the result of a permanent flood ofhigh spiritual enthusiasm, longing to make proof of itself. The Roman Church has, in itsincomparable fashion, collected all the motives towards asceticism together, and so codified themthat any one wishing to pursue Christian perfection may find a practical system mapped out forhim in any one of a number of ready-made manuals.[181] The dominant Church notion ofperfection is of course the negative one of avoidance of sin. Sin proceeds from concupiscence, andconcupiscence from our carnal passions and temptations, chief of which are pride, sensuality in allits forms, and the loves of worldly excitement and possession. All these sources of sin must beresisted; and discipline and austerities are a most efficacious mode of meeting them. Hence thereare always in these books chapters on self-mortification. But whenever a procedure is codified, themore delicate spirit of it evaporates, and if we wish the undiluted ascetic spirit--the passion of self-contempt wreaking itself on the poor flesh, the divine irrationality of devotion making a sacrificial gift of all it has (its sensibilities, namely) to the object of its adoration--we must go toautobiographies, or other individual documents.

[181] That of the earlier Jesuit, Rodriguez, which has been translated into all languages, is one ofthe best known. A convenient modern manual, very well put together, is L'Ascetique Chretienne,by M. J. Ribet, Paris, Poussielgue, nouvelle edition, 1898.

Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic who flourished--or rather who existed, for there waslittle that suggested flourishing about him--in the sixteenth century, will supply a passage suitablefor our purpose.

"First of all, carefully excite in yourself an habitual affectionate will in all things to imitate JesusChrist. If anything agreeable offers itself to your senses, yet does not at the same time tend purelyto the honor and glory of God, renounce it and separate yourself from it for the love of Christ, whoall his life long had no other taste or wish than to do the will of his Father whom he called his meatand nourishment. For example, you take satisfaction in HEARING of things in which the glory ofGod bears no part. Deny yourself this satisfaction, mortify your wish to listen. You take pleasure inSEEING objects which do not raise your mind to God: refuse yourself this pleasure, and turn awayyour eyes. The same with conversations and all other things. Act similarly, so far as you are able,with all the operations of the senses, striving to make yourself free from their yokes.

"The radical remedy lies in the mortification of the four great natural passions, joy, hope, fear,and grief. You must seek to deprive these of every satisfaction and leave them as it were indarkness and the void. Let your soul therefore turn always:

"Not to what is most easy, but to what is hardest;"Not to what tastes best, but to what is most distasteful;"Not to what most pleases, but to what disgusts;"Not to matter of consolation, but to matter for desolation rather;"Not to rest, but to labor;"Not to desire the more, but the less;"Not to aspire to what is highest and most precious, but to what is lowest and most contemptible;"Not to will anything, but to will nothing;"Not to seek the best in everything, but to seek the worst, so that you may enter for the love ofChrist into a complete destitution, a perfect poverty of spirit, and an absolute renunciation ofeverything in this world.

"Embrace these practices with all the energy of your soul and you will find in a short time greatdelights and unspeakable consolations.

"Despise yourself, and wish that others should despise you;"Speak to your own disadvantage, and desire others to do the same;"Conceive a low opinion of yourself, and find it good when others hold the same;"To enjoy the taste of all things, have no taste for anything.

"To know all things, learn to know nothing.

"To possess all things, resolve to possess nothing.

"To be all things, be willing to be nothing.

"To get to where you have no taste for anything, go through whatever experiences you have notaste for.

"To learn to know nothing, go whither you are ignorant.

"To reach what you possess not, go whithersoever you own nothing.

"To be what you are not, experience what you are not."These later verses play with that vertigo of self-contradiction which is so dear to mysticism.

Those that come next are completely mystical, for in them Saint John passes from God to the moremetaphysical notion of the All.

"When you stop at one thing, you cease to open yourself to the All.

"For to come to the All you must give up the All.

"And if you should attain to owning the All, you must own it, desiring Nothing.

"In this spoliation, the soul finds its tranquillity and rest. Profoundly established in the centre ofits own nothingness, it can be assailed by naught that comes from below; and since it no longerdesires anything, what comes from above cannot depress it; for its desires alone are the causes ofits woes."[182]

[182] Saint Jean de la Croix, vie et Oeuvres, Paris, 1893, ii. 94, 99, abridged.

And now, as a more concrete example of heads 4 and 5, in fact of all our heads together, and ofthe irrational extreme to which a psychopathic individual may go in the line of bodily austerity, Iwill quote the sincere Suso's account of his own self-tortures. Suso, you will remember, was one ofthe fourteenth century German mystics; his autobiography, written in the third person, is a classicreligious document.

"He was in his youth of a temperament full of fire and life; and when this began to make itselffelt, it was very grievous to him; and he sought by many devices how he might bring his body intosubjection. He wore for a long time a hair shirt and an iron chain, until the blood ran from him, sothat he was obliged to leave them off. He secretly caused an undergarment to be made for him; andin the undergarment he had strips of leather fixed, into which a hundred and fifty brass nails,pointed and filed sharp, were driven, and the points of the nails were always turned towards theflesh. He had this garment made very tight, and so arranged as to go round him and fasten in frontin order that it might fit the closer to his body, and the pointed nails might be driven into his flesh;and it was high enough to reach upwards to his navel. In this he used to sleep at night. Now insummer, when it was hot, and he was very tired and ill from his journeyings, or when he held theoffice of lecturer, he would sometimes, as he lay thus in bonds, and oppressed with toil, andtormented also by noxious insects, cry aloud and give way to fretfulness, and twist round andround in agony, as a worm does when run through with a pointed needle. It often seemed to him asif he were lying upon an ant-hill, from the torture caused by the insects; for if he wished to sleep,or when he had fallen asleep, they vied with one another.[183] Sometimes he cried to AlmightyGod in the fullness of his heart: Alas! Gentle God, what a dying is this! When a man is killed by murderers or strong beasts of prey it is soon over; but I lie dying here under the cruel insects, andyet cannot die. The nights in winter were never so long, nor was the summer so hot, as to makehim leave off this exercise. On the contrary, he devised something farther --two leathern loops intowhich he put his hands, and fastened one on each side his throat, and made the fastenings so securethat even if his cell had been on fire about him, he could not have helped himself. This hecontinued until his hands and arms had become almost tremulous with the strain, and then hedevised something else: two leather gloves; and he caused a brazier to fit them all over with sharp-pointed brass tacks, and he used to put them on at night, in order that if he should try while asleepto throw off the hair undergarment, or relieve himself from the gnawings of the vile insects, thetacks might then stick into his body. And so it came to pass. If ever he sought to help himself withhis hands in his sleep, he drove the sharp tacks into his breast, and tore himself, so that his fleshfestered. When after many weeks the wounds had healed, he tore himself again and made freshwounds.

[183] "Insects," i.e. lice, were an unfailing token of mediaeval sainthood. We read of Francis ofAssisi's sheepskin that "often a companion of the saint would take it to the fire to clean anddispediculate it, doing so, as he said, because the seraphic father himself was no enemy ofpedocchi, but on the contrary kept them on him (le portava adosso) and held it for an honor and aglory to wear these celestial pearls in his habit. Quoted by P. Sabatier: Speculum Perfectionis, etc.,Paris, 1898, p. 231, note.

"He continued this tormenting exercise for about sixteen years. At the end of this time, when hisblood was now chilled, and the fire of his temperament destroyed, there appeared to him in avision on Whitsunday, a messenger from heaven, who told him that God required this of him nolonger. Whereupon he discontinued it, and threw all these things away into a running stream."Suso then tells how, to emulate the sorrows of his crucified Lord, he made himself a cross withthirty protruding iron needles and nails. This he bore on his bare back between his shoulders dayand night. "The first time that he stretched out this cross upon his back his tender frame was struckwith terror at it, and blunted the sharp nails slightly against a stone. But soon, repenting of thiswomanly cowardice, he pointed them all again with a file, and placed once more the cross uponhim. It made his back, where the bones are, bloody and seared. Whenever he sat down or stood up,it was as if a hedgehog-skin were on him. If any one touched him unawares, or pushed against hisclothes, it tore him."Suso next tells of his penitences by means of striking this cross and forcing the nails deeper intothe flesh, and likewise of his self-scourgings--a dreadful story--and then goes on as follows: "Atthis same period the Servitor procured an old castaway door, and he used to lie upon it at nightwithout any bedclothes to make him comfortable, except that he took off his shoes and wrapped athick cloak round him. He thus secured for himself a most miserable bed; for hard pea-stalks lay inhumps under his head, the cross with the sharp nails stuck into his back, his arms were locked fastin bonds, the horsehair undergarment was round his loins, and the cloak too was heavy and thedoor hard. Thus he lay in wretchedness, afraid to stir, just like a log, and he would send up many asigh to God.

"In winter he suffered very much from the frost. If he stretched out his feet they lay bare on thefloor and froze, if he gathered them up the blood became all on fire in his legs, and this was greatpain. His feet were full of sores, his legs dropsical, his knees bloody and seared, his loins coveredwith scars from the horsehair, his body wasted, his mouth parched with intense thirst, and hishands tremulous from weakness. Amid these torments he spent his nights and days; and heendured them all out of the greatness of the love which he bore in his heart to the Divine andEternal Wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ, whose agonizing sufferings he sought to imitate. After atime he gave up this penitential exercise of the door, and instead of it he took up his abode in avery small cell, and used the bench, which was so narrow and short that he could not stretchhimself upon it, as his bed. In this hole, or upon the door, he lay at night in his usual bonds, forabout eight years. It was also his custom, during the space of twenty-five years, provided he wasstaying in the convent, never to go after compline in winter into any warm room, or to the conventstove to warm himself, no matter how cold it might be, unless he was obliged to do so for otherreasons. Throughout all these years he never took a bath, either a water or a sweating bath; and thishe did in order to mortify his comfort-seeking body. He practiced during a long time such rigidpoverty that he would neither receive nor touch a penny, either with leave or without it. For aconsiderable time he strove to attain such a high degree of purity that he would neither scratch nortouch any part of his body, save only his hands and feet."[184]

[184] The Life of the Blessed Henry Suso, by Himself, translated by T. F. Knox, London, 1865,pp. 56-80, abridged.

I spare you the recital of poor Suso's self-inflicted tortures from thirst. It is pleasant to know thatafter his fortieth year, God showed him by a series of visions that he had sufficiently broken downthe natural man, and that he might leave these exercises off. His case is distinctly pathological, buthe does not seem to have had the alleviation, which some ascetics have enjoyed, of an alteration ofsensibility capable of actually turning torment into a perverse kind of pleasure. Of the founder ofthe


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533