THE heart, the seat of the affections, is, after the mind whose

authority and direction it is made to obey, man's noblest faculty; but

it may, in the event of its contemning reason's dictates, become the

source and fountain-head of inordinate lust and an instrument of much

moral disaster and ruin. When the intelligence becomes powerless to

command and to say what and when and how the affections shall disport

then man becomes a slave to his heart and is led like an

ass by the nose hither and thither; and when nature thus runs

unrestrained and wild, it makes for the mudholes of lust wherein to

wallow and besot itself.

The heart is made to love what is good; now, good is real or apparent.

Love is blind, and needs reason to discern for it what is good and what

is not, reason to direct its affections into their legitimate channels.

But the heart may refuse to be thus controlled, swayed by the

whisperings of ignorant pride and conceit; or it may be unable to

receive the impulse of the reason on account of the unhealthy fumes

that arise from a too exuberant animal nature unchastened by

self-denial. Then it is that, free to act as it lists, it accepts

indiscriminately everything with an appearance of good, in which gets

mixed up much of that which appeals to the inferior appetites. And in

the end it gets lost.

Again, the heart is a power for good or evil; it may be likened to a

magazine, holding within its throbbing sides an explosive deposit of

untold energy and puissance, capable of all things within the range of

the human. While it may lift man to the very pinnacle of goodness, it

may also sink him to the lowest level of infamy. Only, in one case, it

is spiritualized love, in the other, it is carnal; in one case it obeys

the spirit, in the other, the flesh; in one case its true name is

charity, in the other, it is animal, sexual instinct, and it is only

improperly called love. For God is love. Love therefore is pure. That

which is not pure is not love.

People who trifle with the affections usually come to woe sooner or

later, sooner rather than later; affairs of the heart are always

morally malodorous affairs. Frequently there is evil on one side at

least, in intention, from the start. The devil's game is to play on the

chaste attachment, and in an unguarded moment, to swing it around to

his point. If the victim does not balk at the first shock and surprise,

the game is won; for long experience has made him confident of being

able to make the counterfeit look like the real; and it requires, as a

general rule, little argument to make us look at our faults in their

best light.

Many a pure love has degenerated and many a virtue fallen, why? because

people forget who and what they are, forget they are human, forget they

are creatures of flesh and blood, predisposed to sin, saturated with

concupiscence and naturally frail as a reed against the seductions of

the wily one. They forget this, and act as though theirs were art

angelic, instead of a human, nature. They imagine themselves proof

against that which counts such victims as David and Solomon, which

would cause the fall of a Father of the desert, or even of an angel

from heaven encumbered with the burden we carry, if he despised the

claims of ordinary common sense.

And this forgetfulness on their part, let it be remembered, is wholly

voluntary and culpable, at least in its cause. They may not have been

attentive at the precise moment that the flames of passion reached the

mine of their affections; but they were well aware that things would

come inevitably to such a pass. And when the mine went up, as it was

natural, what wonder if disaster followed! Who is to blame but

themselves? People do not play with matches around a powder magazine;

and if they do, very little consolation comes with the knowledge of

their folly when they are being picked up in sections from out of the


Of course there are easier victims than these, such as would not

recognize true inter-sexual love if they saw it through a magnifying

glass; everything of the nature of a fancy or whim, of a sensation or

emotion with them is love. Love-sick maidens are usually soft-brained,

and their languorous swains, lascivious. The latter pose as "killers;"

the former wear their heart on their sleeve, and are convinced that

every second man they meet who treats them gallantly is smitten with

their charms and is passionately in love with them.

Some go in for excitement and novelty, to break the monotony of

virtuous restraint. They are anxious for a little adventure and

romance. A good thing, too, to have these exploits to narrate to their

friends. But they do not tell all to their friends; they would be

ashamed to. If said friends are wise they can supply the deficiencies.

And when it is all over, it is the same old story of the man that did

not know the gun was loaded.

They therefore who would remain pure must of all necessity keep custody

over their heart's affections, make right reason and faith their guide

and make the will force obedience thereto. If wrong attachments are

formed, then there is nothing to do but to eradicate them, to cut, tear

and crush; they must be destroyed at any cost. A pennyweight of

prudence might have prevented the evil; it will now take mortification

in large and repeated doses to undo it. In this alone is there