« VorigeDoorgaan »
about yielding does not make him obstinate in retaining his faults, whilst he means only to be inflexible in adhering to his duty, in spite of the groundless prejudices of others against him.
40. But the duties of him who is the object of hatred, seem to lie in less compass than those of the man who is agitated and impelled by that passion. Although it does not seem needful for a good man to dread the displeasure of God upon every emotion of dislike, yet it should be remembered, that those who have laid down precepts for restraining hatred, have adapted their instructions to the ordinary state of things. What has been their state is so still, in a degree sufficient to make such precepts eminently and principally useful. Our great danger is, that our hatred will be excessive; our chief concern is to restrain it.
It is not indeed out of the reach of our conception that a man may have disciplined and tamed his passions in such a degree, as to allow of his giving them the rein for a while; of his even making use of their impetuosity; and applying it to his own purposes, according to a settled plan; but in order to have this done with safety, there must be a very clear and distinct view of the particular good ends to be attained; and a perfect facility of guiding and stopping headstrong passions with the greatest exactness. I know not that Hatred would be more difficult than another passion to manage in this way; but few men are skilful enough, or have sufficiently broken and subdued their passions to venture upon such an experiment: the generality must continually keep the rein tight, and the pace temperate, if they would be sure to proceed on in safety.
Some men are so far from attempting such feats, that they say they are unable to get the better of their passions. With regard to that now before us, they will tell us, that to some certain men they have a distaste which is invincible. And it may be true enough, that the more strongly any one feels hatred the less is he disposed to attempt to conquer it: but we cannot allow of any one's giving himself up to such a state of mind as this. The evil effects of hatred are important enough to engage any well-meaning man in a hearty
attempt to obviate them; though he may feel himself somewhat at a loss when he looks out for particular expedients. These therefore it shall be our next endeavour to suggest.
41. A man might begin such an attempt with something in the way of general preparation. He might think and learn beforehand what a great probability there is, that every one will frequently hate with out a cause, who only follows his feelings. A due sense of this would naturally engage him to store his mind with observations, maxims, rules of conduct; formed in a dispassionate temper, under the guidance of calm reason. Such rules would be much more useful and efficacious than any which he could afterwards form when he came to be agitated and confused. A man during the influence of passion, may have command of himself sufficient to apply a maxim or rule already formed, who would be wholly impotent as to devising and settling any new resolutions.
42. It would greatly assist towards rendering the method now mentioned effectual, if a man, who found himself strongly impelled to do some act of hatred, were to determine to suspend for a time, not only ill offices, but even his judgment, that the person in question was really hateful. Such an interval would be extremely useful. It would afford opportunity for reason, benevolence, prudence to plead; and to point out any absurd, cruel, or hurtful consequences, which were likely to follow from indulgence of passion. He who adopted the expedient of suspending, would of course apply it to good purpose. He would summon all his candour, he would search for good qualities to counterbalance those which had appeared odious. would contrive means of setting the object in a pleasing light: he would connect that object in his imagination with something pleasing. He would endeavour to hope all things; he would recollect how often he had wondered at himself for having taken up prejudices against those whom he afterwards regarded, not only as reasonable and worthy, but in the end, even as pleasing and amiable.
43. Should any man be too impatient to suspend his judgment and his acts of hatred for a time, it might bevery useful that he should have accustomed himself to know mankind; that he should have acquired an insight into the real characters of men; and have learned to estimate them according to their intrinsic worth and importance. Nor is this direction to be confounded with the first: for it is one thing to form general maxims and resolutions by means of meditation and reading; and another to catch the tone of the day, the fashionable affectations, the living manners as they rise. The former tends to regulate the mind according to the universal principles of human nature; the latter to hinder us from being dazzled by a specious exterior and fair pretensions, in particular men. It is the weakness of Love and Hatred that they are apt to be too much attracted, or hurried away, by first appearances. Not that they are unmoved by solid merit and demerit; but if a good quality does not appear, it has no effect. Hence the great difference between those who can discern men's real characters, and those who are guided merely by the eye. If we applied ourselves to study, and learned to distinguish instantly superficial from substantial virtue, our love and hatred would then be guided by solid worth: first appearances would not mislead us, nor should we have occasion to repent of trusting to them: our first judgments would be approved and confirmed by reflexion. And the play and bias of our fancy, our taste and our sentiments, would coincide with the decisions of our reason and understanding.
44. Suppose a person to make some progress softening his hatred, but not entirely to overcome it : he is determined not to indulge a decided disgust, but yet his mind continues in some degree embittered; his prejudice does not wholly quit its hold: let such a one try the expedient of doing good: let him endeavour to confer such benefits on the object of his prejudice as opportunities may allow. Our Lord tells us, we must do good to those that hate us; it would be productive of kindness to do good to those we hate. There is no consciousness so pleasing to us as that of our Benefi
cence; especially if it has been exerted with success, and repaid with gratitude. And there is no person so little pleasing in himself as not to become a pleasing object to us, when he makes this consciousness to operate forcibly. At least we may, by beneficence towards him whom we fancy we cannot love, prevent hatred from proceeding to settled ill-will; which is to disarm it of a great share of its evil.
45. We may now imagine a disgust to arise in a connection which seemed to promise the reverse: between friends, or any who bear to each other regard and affection. It is here material to be aware, that all friendships and attachments between human beings are liable to occasional disgusts. Not that these disgusts would be of very great consequence if men were perfectly clear and ready in the notion that they are temporary whilst we are under the influence of passion we see no end to it; (m.) and therefore we are apt to deceive ourselves so far as to fancy there is none: this is found a hurtful error, on many occasions. The very idea of our disgusts abating would naturally help them to abate; whereas if we conclude that because we feel something like hatred, all affection is for ever at an end, we shall be very apt to do something or other, which will materially shake and weaken its foundations.
46. Were a man desirous to do what was right in all cases where hatred is apt to arise, he would never indulge that passion to any one's disadvantage before he had asked himself one question. This man is certainly odious to me, but how does he become so? by his faults merely? or may it not be because he makes me feel my own faults too strongly? because by being the occasion of my condemning myself, he makes me feel uneasy and dissatisfied? He is the occasion of my being disappointed of what I earnestly desire; but ought I to desire such a thing? is it consistent with the general good that I should possess it? Let me take care that I do not hate the virtuous or innocent; that by me no man be persecuted for righteousness sake. To soften and restrain my dislike in this case is particularly important; for if my neighbour has incurred my
hatred only by thwarting my illicit purposes, then at the same time that I overcome my aversion to him, I reform myself.
47. From what has been said concerning the propagation of hatred, and the deceptions on which it is frequently founded, we may see what great caution we ought to use in adopting the aversions and antipathies of our friends. We can seldom expect to do that without involving ourselves in great difficulties, and in much blame. The least that any man ought to do before he takes up an aversion in compliance with a friend, is tɔ view the object of the aversion, not only as he appears to enemies, but as he appears to those, whose love and esteem he is desirous to cultivate.
48. Many more expedients for the regulation and discipline of hatred might possibly be recommended; but I shall content myself with these; under a persuasion, that he who should make himself master of these, and acquire a readiness in reducing them to practice, would find them lead to others, such as new situations happened to demand: all which, when united, would gradually gather strength, meliorate themselves, and approach perpetually to a perfect rule of life.
END OF PART I,