There is a great affliction, and a yoke on the children of Adam, from the day of their departure from their mother’s womb, to the day of their burial into the womb of the common mother. Our miseries begin with life and last until death, no one is exempt from it. Four inexhaustible sources make them flow on all states and in all life: the cares, the terrors, the agitations of a deceitful hope, and finally the day of death. The evils that come from these four sources poison all life. Everything feels the violence and the heaviness: from the one who sits on the throne, to the one who is shot on the ground and on the dust; from the one who is clothed in purple and the most beautiful colors, to the one who is covered with a coarse and raw canvas; one finds above all fury, jealousy, tumult, uncertainty and agitation of mind; the threats of a near death, the long and implacable disputes, the quarrels and the animosities. What peace among so many furious passions? They do not leave us at rest during sleep. In the silence and tranquility of the night, in the recess where we are doing work of the day, we learn, we experience a new kind of trouble. Hardly had one tasted for a moment the sweetness of a first sleep, and now he is presented a heated imagination, all sorts of ghosts and monsters, as if he had been put in a sentinel in a tower. One is troubled in the visions of his heart. It is believed that, pursued by a furious enemy, as in a day of combat, one does not escape from this fear, but when awakened with a start, one is astonished at so vain a terror, and for having found so many perils in complete safety.
It is difficult to recover from such a strange fear, and one feels that without any enemy, one can make oneself a war as violent as armed battalions. Dreams follow us until we wake up. What are the terrors that seize us without a subject, if not a scary dream? But what is ambition and a fallacious hope that leads us from work to work, from illusion to illusion, and makes us the toy of men, if not another kind of dream that changes vain pleasures into effective torments? What shall I say of the oppressive diseases that flood all flesh from man to beast, and a hundred times more over sinners? And where do we come from so many evils, and to what death? At least let death come slowly and naturally, to be like a kind of asylum against the misfortunes of life? No; we see only cruel deaths, in combat, in blood, sword, oppression, famine, plague, desolation, all the plagues of God: all these things were created for them. wicked, and the flood has come for them. But the deluge of waters came only once; that of afflictions is perpetual, and floods all life from birth.
After that can we believe that childhood is innocent? O Lord! you deem it unworthy of your power to punish the innocent. Why, then, will you spread even anger over this child who has just been born? Whom did he do wrong? From whom did he remove the goods? Has he corrupted his neighbour’s wife? What is his crime? and why begin to overwhelm him with so heavy a yoke? Let’s repeat again: a yoke weighing on Adam’s children. He is a child of Adam, that’s his crime. This is what causes him to be born in ignorance and weakness; which put in his heart the source of all kinds of bad desires; it lacks only strength to declare them. How much will he have to be tormented to teach him something? How long will he be like an animal? Is it not unfortunate to have to go through long ignorance to a few rays of light? Look, said a saint, this laborious childhood, with what ills is he not oppressed? Among what vanities, what torments, what errors and what terrors, does he grow? And when one is great and even dedicated to serving God, how many dangerous temptations, by the error that wants us to seduce, by the voluptuousness that leads us, by the pain and the boredom that overwhelms us, by the pride that swells us? And who could explain this heavy yoke of which the children of Adam are overwhelmed? or to believe that under a good God, under a just God, one must suffer so many evils, if original sin had not preceded?