Love, which is nothing else than the enjoyment of a thing
and union therewith, we shall divide according to the
qualities of its object; the object, that is, which man seeks to
enjoy, and to unite himself with.
Now some objects are in themselves transient; others,
indeed, are not transient by virtue of their cause. There is yet
a third that is eternal and imperishable through its own
power and might.
The transient are all the particular things which did not
exist from all time, or [N1] have had a beginning.
[Note N1]: B: but.
The others are all those modes [N1] which we have
stated to be the cause of the particular modes.
[Note N1]: B: the general modes.
But the third is God, or, what we regard as one and the
Love, then, arises from the idea and knowledge that we
have of a thing; and according as the thing shows itself
greater and more glorious, so also is our love greater.
In two ways it is possible to free ourselves from love: either
by getting to know something better, or by discovering
that the loved object, which is held *by us* to be
something great and glorious, brings in its train much woe
It is also characteristic of love that we never think of
emancipating ourselves from it (as from surprise and other
passions); and this for the following two reasons: (1) because
it is impossible, (2) because it is necessary that we
should not be released from the same.
It is impossible because it does not depend on us, but
only on the good and useful which we discern in the
object; it is necessary that these should never have
become known to us, if we would not *or should not*
love it; and this is not a matter of our free choice, or
dependent on us, for if we knew nothing, it is certain
that we should also be nothing.
It is necessary that we should not be released
from it, because, owing to the weakness of our
nature, we could not exist without enjoying something
with which we become united and from which we draw
Now which of these three kinds of objects are we to
choose or to reject?
As regards the transient (since, as remarked, we must,
owing to the weakness of our nature, necessarily love
something and become united with it in order to exist), it
is certain that our nature becomes nowise strengthened
through our loving, and becoming united with, these,
[N1] for they are weak themselves, and the one cripple
cannot carry the other. And not only do they not
advance us, but they are even harmful to us. For we
have said that love is a union with the object which our
understanding judges to be good and glorious; and by
this we mean such a union whereby both the lover [N2]
and what is loved become one and the same thing, or
together constitute one whole. He, therefore, is indeed
always wretched who is united to transient things. For,
since these are beyond his power, and subject to many
accidents, it is impossible that, when they are affected,
he should be free from these affects. And, consequently,
we conclude: If those who love transient things that
have some measure of reality are so wretched, how
wretched must they be who love honour, riches,
and pleasures, which have no reality whatever!
[Note N1]: B: with things which
[Note N2]: A and B: love.
Let this suffice to show us how Reason teaches us to keep
away from things so fleeting. For what we have just said shows
us clearly the poison and the evil which lurk concealed in the
love of these things. But we see this yet incomparably
clearer when we observe from what glorious and excellent a
good we are kept away through the enjoyment of this.
We said before that the things which are transient are
beyond our power. *But* let us be well understood; we do not
mean to say that we are a free cause depending upon nothing
else; only when we say that some things are in, others beyond
our power, we mean by those that are in our power such as
we can produce through the order of or together with Nature, of
which we are a part; by those which are not in our power,
such as, being outside us, are not liable to suffer any change
through us, because they are very far removed from our real
essence as thus fashioned by Nature.
To proceed, we come now to the second kind of objects, which
though eternal and imperishable, are not such through their
own power. [N1] However, if we institute a brief inquiry here,
we become immediately aware that these are only mere modes
which depend immediately on God. And since the nature of these
is such, they cannot be conceived by us unless we, at the same
time, have a conception of God. In this, since he is perfect, our
Love must necessarily rest. And, to express it in a word, if we
use our understanding aright it will be impossible for us not to
[Note N1]: B continues: "but are modes which depend
immediately on God" -- and omits the next sentence.
The Reasons why, are clear. First of all because we find that
God alone has essence only, and all other things are not
essences but modes. And since the modes cannot be rightly
understood without the entity on which they immediately
depend; and [as] we have already shown before
that if, when loving something, we get to know a better thing
than that which we then love, we always prefer it
immediately, and forsake the first; it follows, therefore,
incontrovertibly that when we get to know God, who has all
perfection in himself, we must necessarily love him.
Secondly, if we use our understanding well in acquiring a
knowledge of things, then we must know them in [relation
to] their causes. Now then, since God is a first cause of all
other things, therefore, from the nature of the case (ex rerum
natura), the knowledge of God is, and remains, before the
knowledge of all other things: because the knowledge of all other
things must follow from the knowledge of the first cause. And
true love results always from the knowledge that the thing is
glorious and good. What else, then, can follow but that it can be
lavished upon no one more ardently than upon the Lord our
God? For he alone is glorious, and a perfect good.
So we see now, how we can make love strong, and also
how it must rest only in God.
What more we had still to say about love, we shall bear in
mind to say [N1] it when we consider the last kind of
knowledge. In what follows here we shall inquire, as we
promised before, as to which of the passions we are to
entertain, which we are to reject.
[Note N1]: A: do.