William Bates: Against the Stoical response to affliction

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Secondly; a mournful sense of Afflictions sent from God is consistent with a dutiful resignation of our selves to his Will. ‘Twas the vain boast of the Philosophers, that their Instructions would fortify Men with such magnanimous Principles, and generous Spirits, as with an equal calm tranquillity of Mind to encounter all the fierce and sorrowful Accidents to which they might be exposed here: They speak high against Fortune and Fate, and resolve stubbornly, that no misery, whether Poverty or Disgrace, Torments or Death, should extort from them a confession that it was Misery. ‘Twas one of their Axioms, That a Wise Man is not subject to the vicissitudes and instability of things here below; That he suffers no conflict of contrary Passions in his Breast; that he is always above in the Serene, where no Tempests can disturb, no Eclipse can darken his Mind: But these proud pretensions were empty of reality.

Indeed such a perfect exemption from all afflicting Passions is neither possible nor regular in our present state: not possible, for the best Men are not all Spirit, but united to Flesh; and when the Body is under strong pains, the Soul suffers in its sufferings; and while we are thus compounded, the loss of those Comforts that support and sweeten the present Life, must cause Grief. ‘Tis easy to utter brave Expressions, and lay down severe Precepts in contempt of Evils when they are at a distance, but hard to sustain the Spirit under the actual feeling of them; ’tis one thing to discourse of a Battle, and another to be engaged in the heat of it. But supposing by a Philosophical Charm the Heart were so hardened as to be proof against the most piercing afflictions, such a forced insensibility is not regular, but proceeds from the extinction of Humanity and Piety, and that will appear by considering Afflictions in a natural or moral respect. ...

For more, see William Bates: Against the Stoical response to affliction.


Puritan Board Senior
This is good to know. Thanks!

I sometimes fear losing a degree of self-control if I were to openly express myself in times of suffering. I tend to focus inward.
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