Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

306 CREATED BEAUTY FROM UNCREATED

for use, and what is moderate and of pious significancy, have men added to the seductions of the eyes, following outwardly what they make, forsaking inwardly Him by Whom they were made, and effacing that which they themselves were made ! But I, my God, and my Beauty, do herein also sing to Thee, and sacrifice praise to my Sanctifier, because those beautiful conceptions which are conveyed through men's souls into the hands of the artificer, spring from that Beauty Which is above souls, and for Which my soul day and night sigheth. But the makers and followers of those outward beauties from thence derive their rule of appreciating them, but do not from thence draw their rule of using them. And there He is, and they see Him not, so that they might stop there, and “keep their strength for Thee," ' and not squander it on wearisome delights. I, however, while I say and perceive all this, yet have my steps entangled with these beauties, but Thou, O Lord, pluckest me out, Thou pluckest me out; “because Thy loving-kindness is before my eyes." 2 For I am miserably caught, and Thou pluckest me mercifully out of the snare ; sometimes unconsciously, when I have but lightly stepped on it; at other times with sorrow, because I had stuck fast in it.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXXV.

What is his Condition as to the Second Branch of

Temptation, that of Curiosity.

O this there is added another form of temptation, in manifold ways dangerous.

For besides the ? Ps. Iviii. 10, V.

2 Ps. xxvi. 3.

SEEINGUSED FOR ALL SENSES

307

lust of the flesh, which consists in the delight of all the senses and pleasures, in which its slaves, who put themselves far from Thee, perish; there is in the soul, through the selfsame senses of the body, a certain vain and curious desire, disguised under the name of knowledge and learning, a desire, not for taking delight in the flesh, but for making discoveries by means of the flesh. This, having its origin in the appetite for knowledge, and as the eyes stand first amongst the organs of sense whereby knowledge is acquired—is called in Divine language " the lust of the eyes.” 1 For seeing belongs properly to the eyes; yet we use the term also of the other senses, when we exert them for the attainment of knowledge. But we do not say, Hear how red it is; or, Smell how it shines ; or, Taste how it glitters; or, Feel how it radiates; for all these things are said to be seen.

Yet we say not only, See how it shines, which the eyes alone can perceive; but also, See how it sounds, see how it smells, see how it tastes, see how hard it is. And thus the general experience of the senses, as it has been said, is called “the lust of the eyes ;" because the office of seeing, which is the prerogative of the eye, is by a sort of similitude adopted by the other senses, when they are used in gaining knowledge concerning anything.

Now from this it is clearly evident, when pleasure and when curiosity is sought by the senses ; for pleasure is intent upon objects which are beautiful, melodious, fragrant, relishing, smooth ;' but curiosity

? 1 John ii. 16.

? " It is to explain the true cause of visual beauty that I call in the assistance of the other senses. If it appears that smoothness is a principal cause of pleasure to the touch, taste, smell,

1

308 CURIOSITY MARES KNOWLEDGE THE END

would fain make trial of the contrary also, not with a view of undergoing what is unpleasant, but for the sake of knowing and experiencing it. For what pleasure can there be in the sight of a mangled corpse, at which you shudder? and yet if such a thing lie near, they crowd round it, to be made sad and to turn pale. Even in sleep the fear of seeing it haunts them; as if some one had forced them, when awake, to see it, or some report of its beauty had drawn them to it. So it is with the other senses also, which it would take too long to follow out. On account of this disease of curiosity, are wonderful feats exhibited in theatres. Hence men proceed to search into the secrets of nature (which is beside our end), the knowledge of which profits not, and in which nothing else but the knowledge itself is desired. Hence also with that same end of perverted knowledge, magical arts are resorted to Hence also in religion itself, God is tempted, when signs and wonders are demanded-not desired for some saving purpose, but only for the sake of experiment.

In this so vast a wood, full of snares and dangers, behold how much I have cut away, and expelled from my heart, as Thou hast enabled me to do, O God of my salvation. And yet when dare I say, since so many things of this kind clamour around me in my daily life—when dare I say, that nothing of this sort absorbs my attention, and that no vain interest takes possession of me? Truly now, indeed, the theatres do not attract me, nor do I care to know the courses of the stars, nor did my soul ever seek answers from the and hearing, it will easily be admitted a constituent of visua beauty."--BURKE.

TRIFLES DISTRACT THE ATTENTION

309

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

departed; all sacrilegious mysteries I abhor. O Lord my God, to Whom I owe an humble and sincere service, with what stratagems and suggestions does the enemy deal with me, to make me seek some sign from Thee! But by our King, and by our pure and holy country, Jerusalem, I beseech Thee, that as this suggestion was far from being consented to, so may it ever be further and further. But when I

pray to Thee for the salvation of any, far different is my end and intention ; Thou givest, and wilt give to me, the will to follow Thee-Thee doing whatever Thou wilt.

Yet, in how many most trifling and contemptible things is our curiosity daily tempted, and who can tell how often we fall? How often, when people are relating idle stories, do we begin, as it were, by tolerating them lest we give offence to the weak, and then gradually are drawn on to be interested in what they say! Now I do not go to see in the circus a dog chase a hare; but if in the field I chance to see it, the sport haply will divert my attention from some weighty subject, and draw it after it ; not making me turn aside the body of my horse, but the inclination of my heart. And unless my infirmity be made known to me, Thou quickly admonishing me, by some reflection on the sight itself, either to rise to Thee, or wholly to despise and turn from it, I do not recover myself from this folly. How, when I am at home, a newt catching flies, or a spider entangling them as they rush into its web, ofttimes calls away my attention ! And because the creatures are small, is not the thing done the same ? I go on from them to praise Thee, the wonderful Creator and Disposer of all things, but it is not this which first occupies my attention. It is one

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

312

GOD'S GIFTS ALONE TO BE PRAISED

rescued by them when Thou condemnest. But when it is not “the sinner who is praised in the desires of his soul,” nor“ one who does wickedly that is blessed,”! but a man is praised for some gift which Thou hast given him, and he rejoices more at the praise to himself than that he has the gift for which he is praised, such an one is praised whilst Thou blamest; and bett is he who praises him than he who is praised. For the one delighted in the gift of God in man, the other rather in the gift of man than of God.

CHAPTER XXXVII.

[ocr errors]

How he is moved by Human Praise. By these temptations, O Lord, we are daily tried; Y

without cessation we are tempted. Our daily “furnace” is the “human tongue. And in this form of it also Thou commandest continence. Give what Thou orderest, and order what Thou wilt. Concerning this matter, Thou knowest the groaning of my heart to Thee, and the rivers of my eyes. For I cannot easily gather how I may be purer of this plague, and I fear much my secret faults,"3 which Thine Eyes know, but mine do not. For I have in other kinds of temptations some sort of power of examining myself, but in this hardly any. For both in regard to the lusts of the flesh and an idle curiosity, I know how much way I have made in restraining my mind, when I do without them, either by choice or from their absence. For then I ask myself, how much more or less trouble I feel through not having them. And as for ? Ps. x. 3, V. Prov. xxvii, 21.

3 Ps. xix. 12.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »