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Great allowances must be made for a profusion of gaiety, loquacity, and even indiscretion in children, that there may be animation enough left to supply an active and useful character, when the first fermentation of the youthful passions is over, and the redundant spirits shall come to subside.
If it be true, as a consummate judge of human nature has observed,
That not a vanity is given in vain, it is also true, that there is scarcely a single passion, which may not be turned to some good account, if prudently rectified, and skilfully turned into the road of some neighbouring virtue. It cannot be violently bent, or unnaturally forced towards an object of a totally opposite nature, but may be gradually inclined towards a correspondent but superior affection. Anger, hatred, resentment, and ambition, the most restless and turbulent passions which shake and distract the human soul, may be led to become the most active opposers of sin, after having been its most successful instruments. Our anger, for instance, which can never be totally subdued, may be made to turn against ourselves, for our weak and imperfect obedience - our hatred, against every species of vice-our ambition, which will not be discarded, may be ennobled : it will not change its name, but its object; it will despise what it lately valued, nor be contented to grasp at less than immortality.
Thus the joys, fears, hopes, desires, all the pas sions and affections, which separate in various currents from the soul, will, if directed into their proper channels, after having fertilized wherever they have flowed, return again to swell and enrich the parent
That the very passions which appear the most uncontrollable and unpromising, may be intended,
in the great scheme of Providence, to answer some important purpose, is remarkably evidenced in the character and history of Saint Paul. A remark on this subject by an ingenious old Spanish writer, which I will here take the liberty to translate, will better illustrate my meaning.
“ To convert the bitterest enemy into the most zealous advocate, is the work of God for the instruction of man. Plutarch has observed, that the medical science would be brought to the utmost perfection, when poison should be converted into physic. Thus, in the mortal disease of Judaism and idolatry, our blessed Lord converted the adder's venom of Saul the persecutor, into that cement which made Paul the chosen vessel. That manly activity, that restless ardour, that burning zeal for the law of his fathers, that ardent thirst for the blood of Christians, did the Son of God find necessary in the man who was one day to become the defender of his suffering people.'
To win the passions, therefore, over to the cause of virtue, answers a much nobler end than their extinction would possibly do, even if that could be effected. But it is their nature never to observe a neutrality; they are either rebels or auxiliaries, and an enemy subdued is an ally obtained. If i may be allowed to change the allusion so soon, I would say, that the passions also resemble fires, which are friendly and beneficial when under proper direction, but if suffered to blaze without restraint, they carry devastation along with them, and, if totally extinguished, leave the benighted mind in a state of cold and comfortless inanity.
* Obras de Quevedo, vida de San Pablo Apostol. [Francisco Quevedo de Villegas, born at Villeneuve d'l Infantado, in Spain, in 1570, and died there in 1645. His works, printed at Brussels, (3 vols.) consist of poems, romances, satires, and some religious pieces, among which is the one here quoted.--Ed.]
But in speaking of the usefulness of the passions as instruments of virtue, envy and lying must always be excepted : these, I am persuaded, must either go on in still progressive mischief, or else be radically cured, before any good can be expected from the heart which has been infected with them. For I never will believe that envy, though passed through all the moral strainers, can be refined into a virtuous emulation, or lying improved into an agreeable turn for innocent invention. Almost all the other passions may be made to take an amiable hue ; but these two must either be totally extirpated, or be always contented to preserve their original deformity. and to wear their native black.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGION
VARIOUS are the reasons why the greater part of mankind cannot apply themselves to arts or letters. Particular studies are only suited to the capacities of particular persons.
Some are incapable of applying to them from the delicacy of their sex, some from the unsteadiness of youth, and others from the imbecility of age. Many are precluded by the narrowness of their education, and many by the straitness of their fortune. The wisdom of God is wonderfully manifested in this happy and wellordered diversity, in the powers and properties of his creatures; since by thus admirably suiting the agent to the action, the whole scheme of human affairs is carried on with the most agreeing and consistent economy, and no chasm is left for want of an object to fill it, exactly suited to its nature.
But in the great and universal concern of religion, both sexes, and all ranks, are equally interested. The truly catholic spirit of Christianity accommodates itself, with an astonishing condescension, to the circumstances of the whole human race. It rejects none on account of their pecuniary wants, their personal infirmities, or their intellectual defi