« 이전계속 »
this feebleness of the will becomes often more clear and impressive, the more the moral nature is developed and perfected. The best men, that is, those who have exerted and exhibited the greatest strength, who have succeeded best in conforming their will to reason and the moral law, are often most forcibly struck with its insufficiency, most deeply convinced of this great inequality between the conduct of man and his task, between liberty and its law.
Hence arises a feeling which, under different forms, is found in all men—the feeling of the necessity of an exterior help-of a support to the human will—of a strength that may be added to its strength, and sustain it in time of need. This support, this beneficent aid, man everywhere seeks-in the encouragements of friendship, in the counsels of wisdom, in the example and approbation of his fellows, in the fear of blame. There is no one who cannot every day cite, in his own conduct, a thousand proofs of this movement of the soul, eager to find without itself an aid to its liberty, which it feels to be at the same time real and insufficient. And as the visible world, human society, respond not always to his desire, -as they are tainted with the same insufficiency, which reveals itself in its turn,-the soul goes beyond the visible world, above human relations, to seek the support it needs: the religious sentiment is developed; man addresses himself to God, and invokes his assistance. Prayer is the most elevated, but not the only form, under which this universal sentiment of the feebleness of the human will, this recourse to an exterior and confederate force, is manifested.
And such is the nature of man, that when he sincerely asks this support he obtains it; the seeking nearly suffices to find it. Whoever, feeling his will feeble, sincerely invokes the encouragements of a friend, the influence of wise counsels, the support of public opinion, or addresses himself to God by prayer, instantly feels his will fortified and sustained in a certain measure, and for a certain time. This is a fact of daily experience, and one which may be easily verified.
There is also a third fact whose importance cannot be mistaken; I mean the influence of circumstances independent of man on the human will,—the empire of the exterior world over liberty. No one disputes the fact; but an exact conception of it is important, for, if I am not deceived, it is, in general, imperfectly understood.
I have shown the distinction between liberty and the deliberation—the work of the understanding—that precedes it. Now the circumstances independent of man-the place or time of his birth,
habits, manners, education, events, whatever they may be-have no influence on the act of liberty, such as I have attempted to describe it; it is not touched or modified by them, but remains always identical and complete, whatever may be the motives that excite it. It is on these motives in the sphere in which the understanding is employed-that exterior circumstances exercise and exhaust their power. The age in which life is passed, the country, the society, vary to infinity the elements of deliberation that precede the act of the will. In consequence of this variation, certain facts, certain ideas, certain sentiments, are, in this intellectual labor, present of absent, near or distant, powerful or feeble; and the result of the deliberation, that is to say, the judgment pronounced on the motives, is greatly affected by them. But the act of the will that follows remains essentially the same; it is only indirectly, and because of the diversity of the elements introduced into the deliberation, that the conduct of man undergoes this influence of the exterior world. An example, I trust, will fully explain my meaning. The savage, faithful to the manners of his tribe, reluctantly, but in fulfillment of his duty, kills his old and infirm father; the European, on the contrary, nourishes and protects his parent, and devotes himself to the comfort and soothing of his old age and infirmities. Nothing, surely, is more unlike than the ideas which, in the two cases, accompany the deliberation that precedes the action, and the results that attend it; nothing is more unequal than the legitimacy, the moral value of the two actions in themselves; but the resolution itself, the free and personal act of the European and the savage, is it not the same, if performed with the same intention, and with the same degree of effort ?
Thus, on the motives and consequences of the free act, the influence of circumstances independent of the will is immense; they constitute the field in which it acts : but the interior fact, placed between deliberation and the exterior act, the fact of liberty, remains the same, and is accomplished in like manner, amid the most diversified elements.
I come now to the fourth and last of the great moral facts indispensable to be well understood in order to comprehend the history of Pelagianism. I might enumerate many others, but they are of minor importance, and evidently originate from those I have already elucidated.
Certain changes, certain moral events, are accomplished and appear in man, the origin of which he is unable to refer to an act of his will, and the author of which he is unable to recognize.
At first sight, perhaps, some persons may be astonished at this
assertion. I shall endeavor to illustrate it in advance, by the example of analogous but more frequently occurring facts, easier to be grasped, which take place in the province of the understanding.
There is no one who has not at some time laboriously sought for some idea, some recollection, and fallen asleep in the search without success, and the next day, on awaking, instantly attained the desired object. There is no scholar who has not at some time begun to study a lesson, gone to bed without mastering it, and in the morning, on rising, learned it almost without an effort. I might cite many other facts of this nature; but I choose these two as the most simple and incontestable.
I draw from them this single conclusion: independently of the voluntary and deliberate activity of the thought, there is effected in the mind of man a certain latent and spontaneous work, a work which we do not direct, and the progress of which we do not observe, but which is yet both real and productive.
There is nothing strange in this; each of us brings with him at birth an intellectual nature proper to himself. By his will, man controls and modifies, perfects or degrades, his moral being, but does not create it; he receives it, and receives it endowed with certain individual dispositions and a spontaneous force. The native diversity of men, in a moral as well as physical point of view, is incontestable. Now as the physical nature of every man is developed spontaneously, and by its own virtue, in like manner, though in a very unequal degree, there is effected in the intellectual nature-excited to action by its relations with the exterior world, or by the will of the man himself-a certain involuntary, unobserved development, and, to make use of a word from which I should not wish any conclusion to be drawn, but which expresses figuratively my idea, a certain work of vegetation which bears fruit naturally.
That which happens in the intellectual order, happens equally in the moral order. Certain facts arise in the interior of the human soul which it does not attribute to itself,- for which it does not account by its own will. On certain days, at certain moments, it finds itself in a moral state different from that in which it had been. It sees not the origin of these changes; it was not conscious of them when they happened, and does not remember to have contributed to them. In other terms, the moral man does not wholly make himself; he feels that causes and powers exterior to himself act on and modify him without his knowledge; in his moral life, as in the whole of his destiny, there is to him something unknown, inexplicable.
To be convinced of this fact, it is not necessary to recur to those great moral revolutions, those sudden and striking changes which the human soul may sometimes experience, but to which the imagination of the narrator adds much, and which it is difficult rightly to appreciate. I believe we need only look within ourselves to discover more than one example of these involuntary modifications: and each of us, on observing his inward life, will easily discern, if I am not deceived, that the vicissitudes, the developments of his moral being, are not all the result either of acts of his will, or of exterior circumstances with which he is acquainted, and which explain them to him.
Such are the principal moral facts connected with the Pelagian controversy. I give them as they are found in human naturesimple, universal, without any mixture of historical events or particular circumstances. It may be instantly seen that from these facts alone, abstracted from every special and accidental element, a multitude of questions may result, and that more than one great controversy may be raised on their account. And, first, their reality may be called in question. They are not all equally exposed to this peril; the fact of human liberty, for example, is more evident, more irresistible than any other; it has, nevertheless, been denied. Everything may be denied; there are no limits to the field of error.
Even in admitting and recognizing these facts, we may be deceived as to the place which each one occupies, or the part that it plays in the moral life; we may estimate inaccurately their extent or importance; we may attach too much or too little weight to liberty, exterior circumstances, feebleness of the will, unknown influences, &c.
We may also attempt to explain these facts, and at the same time differ widely in their interpretation. Does the question, for example, concern those involuntary, unperceived changes that take place in the moral condition of man? It will be said that the mind is inattentive; that it does not remember all that passes within itself; that it has probably forgotten such an act of the will, such a resolution, such an impression, which has produced these consequences, of which it has neither kept the thread nor observed the development. Or, to explain these obscure facts of the moral life, recourse will be had to a direct, special action of God upon the soul-to a permanent relation between the action of God and the activity of man.
Finally, we may attempt to reconcile these facts to each other in a diversity of ways; we may reduce them to a system accord
ing to such or such a principle, refer them to such or such a general doctrine on the nature and destiny of man and the world, &c. Thus, from a multitude of causes, a thousand questions may arise on the nature alone of the facts with which we are occupied. Taking them by themselves, and in their general aspect, they are a fruitful subject of controversy.
But what if particular, local, transient causes vary the point of view from which we observe them, modify their perception in the mind, influence it in one direction rather than another on their account, bring to light or cast in the shade, magnify or diminish, such or such a fact? Yet this is what always happens : it happened in the fifth century. I have endeavored to ascend to the natural and purely moral origin of the Pelagian controversy; I now proceed to consider its historical origin, a knowledge of which is no less necessary to a full understanding of the subject.
In the bosom of the Christian church, it was impossible that the moral facts I have just described should not be considered from different points of view.
Christianity has been, not a scientific, speculative reform, but an essentially practical revolution. It especially proposed to change the moral condition, to govern the life, of men; and not merely of a few men, but of nations—of the whole human race.
This was a prodigious novelty. The Greek philosophy, at least since the epoch at which its history becomes clear and certain, was essentially scientific-much more applied to the investigation of truth, than to a reform and government of the manners. Two schools only had taken a somewhat different direction: the Stoics and the Neoplatonists formally proposed to exercise a moral influence-to govern the conduct as well as to enlighten the understanding ; but their ambition in this direction was limited to a few disciples-to a sort of intellectual aristocracy.
It was, on the contrary, the special and characteristic aim of Christianity to be a moral and universal reform-everywhere to govern, in the name of its doctrines, the will and the life.
Hence the chiefs of the Christian society were influenced by an almost unavoidable tendency. Among the moral facts of which our nature is composed, they were especially to endeavor to bring to light those which are proper to exercise a reforming influence, and are promptly followed by practical effects. Toward these, the attention of the great bishops, the fathers of the church, was particularly directed, for in them they found the means of fulfilling their own mission, and of giving to Christianity an onward impulse.