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Lectures XI SAINTLINESS
The last lecture left us in a state of expectancy. What may the practical fruits for life have been,of such movingly happy conversions as those we heard of? With this question the really importantpart of our task opens, for you remember that we began all this empirical inquiry not merely toopen a curious chapter in the natural history of human consciousness, but rather to attain a spiritualjudgment as to the total value and positive meaning of all the religious trouble and happinesswhich we have seen. We must, therefore, first describe the fruits of the religious life, and then we must judge them. This divides our inquiry into two distinct parts. Let us without further preambleproceed to the descriptive task.

It ought to be the pleasantest portion of our business in these lectures. Some small pieces of it, itis true, may be painful, or may show human nature in a pathetic light, but it will be mainlypleasant, because the best fruits of religious experience are the best things that history has to show.

They have always been esteemed so; here if anywhere is the genuinely strenuous life; and to call tomind a succession of such examples as I have lately had to wander through, though it has beenonly in the reading of them, is to feel encouraged and uplifted and washed in better moral air.

The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery to which the wings of humannature have spread themselves have been flown for religious ideals. I can do no better than quote,as to this, some remarks which Sainte-Beuve in his History of Port-Royal makes on the results ofconversion or the state of grace.

"Even from the purely human point of view," Sainte-Beuve says, "the phenomenon of grace muststill appear sufficiently extraordinary, eminent, and rare, both in its nature and in its effects, todeserve a closer study. For the soul arrives thereby at a certain fixed and invincible state, a statewhich is genuinely heroic, and from out of which the greatest deeds which it ever performs areexecuted. Through all the different forms of communion, and all the diversity of the means whichhelp to produce this state, whether it be reached by a jubilee, by a general confession, by a solitaryprayer and effusion, whatever in short to be the place and the occasion, it is easy to recognize thatit is fundamentally one state in spirit and fruits. Penetrate a little beneath the diversity ofcircumstances, and it becomes evident that in Christians of different epochs it is always one andthe same modification by which they are affected: there is veritably a single fundamental andidentical spirit of piety and charity, common to those who have received grace; an inner statewhich before all things is one of love and humility, of infinite confidence in God, and of severityfor one's self, accompanied with tenderness for others. The fruits peculiar to this condition of thesoul have the same savor in all, under distant suns and in different surroundings, in Saint Teresa ofAvila just as in any Moravian brother of Herrnhut."[143]

[143] Sainte-Beuve: Port-Royal, vol. i. pp. 95 and 106, abridged.

Sainte-Beuve has here only the more eminent instances of regeneration in mind, and these are ofcourse the instructive ones for us also to consider. These devotees have often laid their course sodifferently from other men that, judging them by worldly law, we might be tempted to call themmonstrous aberrations from the path of nature. I begin therefore by asking a general psychologicalquestion as to what the inner conditions are which may make one human character differ soextremely from another.

I reply at once that where the character, as something distinguished from the intellect, isconcerned, the causes of human diversity lie chiefly in our differing susceptibilities of emotionalexcitement, and in the different impulses and inhibitions which these bring in their train. Let memake this more clear.

Speaking generally, our moral and practical attitude, at any given time, is always a resultant oftwo sets of forces within us, impulses pushing us one way and obstructions and inhibitions holding us back. "Yes! yes!" say the impulses; "No! no!" say the inhibitions. Few people who have notexpressly reflected on the matter realize how constantly this factor of inhibition is upon us, how itcontains and moulds us by its restrictive pressure almost as if we were fluids pent within the cavityof a jar. The influence is so incessant that it becomes subconscious. All of you, for example, sithere with a certain constraint at this moment, and entirely without express consciousness of thefact, because of the influence of the occasion. If left alone in the room, each of you would probablyinvoluntarily rearrange himself, and make his attitude more "free and easy." But proprieties andtheir inhibitions snap like cobwebs if any great emotional excitement supervenes. I have seen adandy appear in the street with his face covered with shaving-lather because a house across theway was on fire; and a woman will run among strangers in her nightgown if it be a question ofsaving her baby's life or her own. Take a self-indulgent woman's life in general. She will yield toevery inhibition set by her disagreeable sensations, lie late in bed, live upon tea or bromides, keepindoors from the cold. Every difficulty finds her obedient to its "no." But make a mother of her,and what have you? Possessed by maternal excitement, she now confronts wakefulness, weariness,and toil without an instant of hesitation or a word of complaint. The inhibitive power of pain overher is extinguished wherever the baby's interests are at stake. The inconveniences which thiscreature occasions have become, as James Hinton says, the glowing heart of a great joy, andindeed are now the very conditions whereby the joy becomes most deep.

This is an example of what you have already heard of as the "expulsive power of a higheraffection." But be the affection high or low, it makes no difference, so long as the excitement itbrings be strong enough. In one of Henry Drummond's discourses he tells of an inundation in Indiawhere an eminence with a bungalow upon it remained unsubmerged, and became the refuge of anumber of wild animals and reptiles in addition to the human beings who were there. At a certainmoment a royal Bengal tiger appeared swimming towards it, reached it, and lay panting like a dogupon the ground in the midst of the people, still possessed by such an agony of terror that one ofthe Englishmen could calmly step up with a rifle and blow out its brains. The tiger's habitualferocity was temporarily quelled by the emotion of fear, which became sovereign, and formed anew centre for his character.

Sometimes no emotional state is sovereign, but many contrary ones are mixed together. In thatcase one hears both "yeses" and "noes," and the "will" is called on then to solve the conflict. Takea soldier, for example, with his dread of cowardice impelling him to advance, his fears impellinghim to run, and his propensities to imitation pushing him towards various courses if his comradesoffer various examples. His person becomes the seat of a mass of interferences; and he may for atime simply waver, because no one emotion prevails. There is a pitch of intensity, though, which,if any emotion reach it, enthrones that one as alone effective and sweeps its antagonists and alltheir inhibitions away. The fury of his comrades' charge, once entered on, will give this pitch ofcourage to the soldier; the panic of their rout will give this pitch of fear. In these sovereignexcitements, things ordinarily impossible grow natural because the inhibitions are annulled. Their"no! no!" not only is not heard, it does not exist. Obstacles are then like tissue-paper hoops to thecircus rider--no impediment; the flood is higher than the dam they make.

"Lass sie betteln gehn wenn sie hungrig sind!" cries the grenadier, frantic over his Emperor'scapture, when his wife and babes are suggested; and men pent into a burning theatre have beenknown to cut their way through the crowd with knives.[144]

[144] "'Love would not be love,' says Bourget, 'unless it could carry one to crime.' And so onemay say that no passion would be a veritable passion unless it could carry one to crime." (Sighele:

Psychollogie des sectes, p. 136.) In other words, great passions annul the ordinary inhibitions setby "conscience." And conversely, of all the criminal human beings, the false, cowardly, sensual, orcruel persons who actually live, there is perhaps not one whose criminal impulse may not be atsome moment overpowered by the presence of some other emotion to which his character is alsopotentially liable, provided that other emotion be only made intense enough. Fear is usually themost available emotion for this result in this particular class of persons. It stands for conscience,and may here be classed appropriately as a "higher affection." If we are soon to die, or if webelieve a day of judgment to be near at hand, how quickly do we put our moral house in order--wedo not see how sin can evermore exert temptation over us! Old-fashioned hell-fire Christianitywell knew how to extract from fear its full equivalent in the way of fruits for repentance, and itsfull conversion value.

One mode of emotional excitability is exceedingly important in the composition of the energeticcharacter, from its peculiarl............
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