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To the Doctrine of the Passions. The motions of the heart of man are infinitely various: The different forms and shapes, in which our passions appear, the sudden and secret turns and windings of them through the heart, with the strange mixtures and complications of them, in their continual exercise, are innumerable and nameless. It is as hard, almost, to reduce them to a perfect scheme, and to range all their excursions into exact order of science, as it is to bring them under complete government in practice.
Yet, since it is of such vast importance in human life, to regulate their motions, that they may not become utterly exorbitant and mischievous, I thought it proper, for this end, to make a diligent enquiry into the nature of these mingled powers of flesh and spirit, to take a survey of them in a comprehensive view, and draw them into a little system. With no small care, I have attempted, to range them in some tolerable order and method under general names, to trace out and observe their causes, their effects, their in. Huences on human affairs, and the various purposes which they serve in the life of man. This is not only desirable, as it is a part of the science of human nature, or the knowledge of ourselves, without which, we can never pretend to be philosophers ; but this may also give us some assistance toward the forming proper rules for their better management, and the bringing these active and restless promoters, or disturbers of our happiness, under a moral and religious discipline; and without this, we can neither be men of wisdom nor piety.
The natural affections of man, are designed for valuable ends in life, when put under due government: They will render difficult duties easy, and relieve many of the troubles and fatigues of the present state. But if they are let run loose without controul, or, if they are abused, and employed to wrong purposes, they become the springs and occasions of much mischief and misery.
The interests of virtue and vice are greatly concerned in this matter. The regulation of the passions, is a thing of unspeakable moment to us, considered either as men, or as christiaus. Ungoverned passions break all the bonds of human society and peace, and would change the tribes of mankind into brutal herds, or make the world a mere wilderness of savages. Passion unbridled, would violate all the sacred ties of religion, and raise the sons of men in arms against their Creator. Wbere passion runs riot, there are none of the rights of God or man secure from its insolences.
But when these vehement powers of nature are reduced to the obedience of reason, it renders our conduct amiable and useful to our fellow-creatures and makes virtue shine in the world in its proper ornaments ; this will go a great way to procure our own ease and happiness, so far as it is attainable in this life, and it will tend to make our neighbours bappy as ourselves. What is the true use or abuse of the passions in religious affairs, is very little men. tioned in this treatise, because it is the whole professed subject and design of those discourses of the love of God, &c. which were joined with this treatise in the first edition in it, and I intend shall be shortly published again*: But these two books now stard separate, that readers of a different genias may please themselves. Thus much I may be permitted to say here, that the soul which governs its affections by the sacred dictates of reason and religion, and keeps itself at a proper loose from every creature, stands much less exposed to the injuries and sorrows of life, and is better prepared to part with all earthly comforts at the call of providence. Such a happy temper of mind will ena. ble us chearfully to resign life itselt, with all its mortal interests, at the appointed hour, and to enter gloriously upon the nobler employments, and the diviner joys that await us in the upper world.
* This, “ Doctrine of the Passions," in the first edition of it, stood merely as an introduction to the “ Discourses of the Love of God, agd the Use aod Abuse of the Passions in Religion :" But being corrected and enlarged, it is nou .published alone as a distinct treatise. “ The Discourses of the Love of God,' &c. are also printed by themselves.
THE DOCTRINE OF TIIE PASSIONS,
Section I.--The various Senses of the Word. THE word passion, in the abstracted and logical sense of it, denotes the receiving of the action of some agent: As if an archer bend his bow, the archer is the agent; the bow is the patient; the bending, as it comes from the archer, is the action; but as it terminates in the bow, it is called the passion. But this is entirely a philosophical sense of the word, and never used in common life; therefore I dismiss it. Yet we may just take notice, that the term passion sometimes signifies any painful suffering of soul and body : For, it is in this sense we use it, when we speak of the passion of Christ, whereby we mean his agony in the garden, and especially his death on the cross; and so it is used in our translation of the bible; Acts i. 3. He shewed himself alive after his passion.
Passions, in this discourse, signify the same with natural affections in general, such as love, hatred, joy, hope, anger, sorrow, &c. Here we may observe, that the term passion is often used in conversation in a more limited sense, to denote one of these particular affections, viz. anger or sudden resentment; as the word affection is used sometimes also in a limited sense, and signifies love. So we say, Moses was once in a passion, whereby we mean he was angry; or Jonah was a passionate man, that is, he was given to sudden and violent resentments : And, in the same manner, we say, David had an affection for Jonathan, that is, he loved him : Or St. John was a very affectionate man, that is, he was of a loving and kind disposition. But in this discourse we take passion and affection to mean the same thing, and to extend to any of these powers or principles in human nature, whiel we just mentioned; such as love, joy, &c.
The name of passion seems to have been given originally to these affections of human nature, either from the impressions or commotions which the animal powers receive by the soul's perception of that object which raises the passion, or from the imprese sion or sensation which the soul receives by this cominotion of the animal powers, or perhaps from both these, as this subject will be afterward explained.