Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Was A Jesuit, Named Father Hemet; A Good And Wise Old Man, Whose Memory I Shall Ever Hold In Veneration.

The writings of Port-Royal, and those of the Oratory, being what I most read, had made mo half a Jansenist, and, notwithstanding all my confidence, their harsh theology sometimes alarmed me. A dread of hell, which till then I had never much apprehended, by little and little disturbed my security, and had not Madame de Warrens tranquilized my soul, would at length have been too much for me. 
My confessor, who was her's likewise, contributed all in his power to keep up my hopes. This was a Jesuit, named Father Hemet; a good and wise old man, whose memory I shall ever hold in veneration. Though a Jesuit, he had the simplicity of a child, and his manners, less relaxed than gentle, were precisely what was necessary to balance the melancholy impressions made on me by Jansenism. This good man and his companion, Father  Francois Coppier, came frequently to visit us at Channettes, though the road was very rough and tedious for men of their age. 
These visits were very comfortable to me, which may the Almighty return to their souls, for they were so old that I cannot suppose them yet living. I sometimes went to see them at Chambery, became acquainted at their convent, and had free access to the library. The remembrance of that happy time I am so connected with the idea of those Jesuits, that I love one on account of the other, and though I have ever thought their doctrines dangerous, could never find myself in a disposition to hate them cordially. I should like to know whether there ever passed such childish notions in the hearts of other men as sometimes do in mine. In the midst of my studies, and of a life as innocent as man could lead, notwithstanding every persuasion to the contrary, the dread of hell frequently tormented me. 
I asked myself, " What state am I in ? Should I die at this instant, must I be damned ?" According to my Jansenists the matter was indubitable, but according to my conscience it appeared quite the contrary : terrified and floating in this cruel uncertainty, 
I had recourse to the most laughable expedient to resolve my doubts, for which I would willingly shut up any man as a lunatic, should I see him practice the game folly one day, meditating on this melancholy subject, I exereised myself in throwing stones at the trunks of trees, with my usual dexterity, that a to say, without hitting any of them. In the height of this charming exereise, it entered my mind to make a kind of prognostic, that might calm ny inquietude ; I said, " I will throw this stone at the tree faceing me; if I hit my mark, I will consider it as a sign of salvation; if I miss, as a token of damnation." While I said this, I threw the stone with .-, trembling hand and beating breast, but so happily that it struck the body of the tree, which truly was not a difficult matter, for I had taken care to choose one that was very large and very near me. From that moment I never doubted my salvation.
Link (here) to The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau

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