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if you are clever and active. minded, you will put me down for a little time, and think how this can be. If you are indolent, and good for little, you will pass on, and think it no matter whether you understand it or not. And if you possess a faculty not very common, but very characteristic of superior minds, you will say to yourself, “ Now here is a seeming contradiction, a sort of mystery, which I cannot explain, and which yet is gravely asserted by a printed book, which is probably written and printed by a person wiser than myself; and, as far as I can see, I cannot contradict it. Probably, therefore, it is true; and probably also there may be many more problems or mysteries of the same kind, which may also be true in their way, though I cannot understand them either.” Now, if you will do this, lay down the book, take a turn about the room, and try to recollect and comprehend what I have said, by finding out other instances, where things are useful in accomplishing ends, which nevertheless they do not accomplish at all, - you will have taken perhaps the first step to becoming a wise and energetic man; and I will tell you afterwards what, fifteen hundred years ago, great and good men would have done to make you great and good as themselves.
is it not?
The first thing, then, which great and good men, many ages back, would have done to make
like themselves, would have been this : they would have gone, when you were an infant, to your cradle, or even before you were strong enough to lie in a cradle, while your eyes were scarcely open, and your little tiny fingers were moving faintly about, as if to find out where you were, and, hour after hour, you were sleeping without sense on your mother's breast, or wearying her with little cries, which neither you could explain, nor she understand - these great and good men, I say, would have come to find you, and would have bade your mother and your father bring you, as a foul, polluted, accursed thing, against which God was wroth, and over which the spirits of evil were permitted to have dominion, to a place which they would appoint. And your parents would undoubtedly have obeyed. With all their love and pity for you, though they might willingly have died to do you good, they would still have confessed that you were thus polluted, and accursed, and a prey to evil spirits, and that by themselves they were powerless to rescue you from this state of misery and shame. Now is not this a mystery, a strange thing, which you cannot understand? You did not make yourselfyou had no choice in your parents, no power to do a single act; you lay there feeble, ignorant, half blind, half deaf, at the mercy of others ; never having heard of God, never having disobeyed his voice, unstained by any offence to man, and the object of tenderest love and compassion to all about you. Your mother would hang over you hour by hour, her eyes filled with tears at the joy now following her great anguish; clasping you to her breast as her precious treasure; thinking nothing of cold, or pain, or watching, or hunger, while you could be satisfied. Your father would leave his work or his business to come and watch over your cradle. Your little brothers would gather round to look at you while you were sleeping, and disturb you by trying to kiss you, that they might shew their affection. Neighbours, and even strangers, would interest themselves about
you, talk of you, and, if death had come upon you then, would have mourned for you. And if you were the first-born— born to great riches or rank — your entrance into the world would be announced to it as an event in which many hearts were called on to rejoice. The rich would be invited to congratulate -the poor
would be fed—the house gladdenedevery thing would be full of exultation, and gratitude, and hope, because you were born into the world-you, who all the time were lying in helpless ignorance, not merely helpless and ignorant, but, as wise and holy men would declare, under the wrath and curse of God! Would not this be a mysterious tale to tell a stranger?
Now I do not ask you yet to consider if there are not more mysteries of this same kind — inore cases within your own experience, where men, and boys, and children, may be objects of aversion and anger to others, without being aware of it themselves, or having done any thing to deserve it by their own will and deed - more cases where common people may be rejoicing in hope and triumph over beings who ought really to be pitied. When you become older, you will learn that to look first to your own
experience, to your own understanding, or to your
should despise any one ? You are not wise, otherwise you would not require instruction; nor strong, for you cannot preserve your life without assistance; nor experienced, for the world is immeasurable, and time infinite, and of these you see but a part—and think how small a part! All that you are quite sure of is the present moment; just as if you were imprisoned in a dungeon, and only one little eylethole could be discovered in the roof, over which some hand without were drawing a long infinite series of objects, and only one to be seen at a time. Of the future you know nothing; it is all dark. You walk on; but beyond the ground on which you fix
your foot, you cannot see a step. You guess, hope, fear, imagine, anticipate; and very often hopes, and fears, and anticipations come true; but they are but guesses after all, and guesses are not knowledge. And so, too, of the past. Upwards of five thousand
years have passed since man was created. Millions of men have been scattered over the face of the earth, have seen sights, and done deeds, and collected observations, of which how little do you know! How far have you journeyed from your own home? What countries and nations have you
What have you read from those innumerable volumes in which the learning of men lies buried as in a catacomb? And if you thus know nothing of the earth, how much less have you seen of heaven-of those illimitable regions, sown with myriads of stars, each star a world-each leading the eye beyond it into immeasurable depths of space—each subject to laws, performing works, obeying the will of its Creator; but whose laws, and works, and obedient movements, no human eye has yet done more than guess at?
I say, then, that you are not in a capacity to despise any one-to deny any fact which you may receive from the testimony of others, unless it is refuted by other and superior testimony. You cannot say what may, or may not, be. All that you know beyond the thought of the moment, you must take upon trust from others. You must live upon their contributions; trade with their capital; build on their foundations ; follow in their footsteps ;-or you must perish. In one word, your whole existence depends on the belief of testimony.
Now, as all that I—this little book, which you hold in your hand-intend to say to you, is built on this fact, lay me down for a moment, and consider if it is not so. And I will just suggest to you some simple obvious heads, under which to make the trial.
First, then, consider what takes place whenever you eat or drink; and eat and drink you must often, or you will certainly die. Now what do
know of your
food? You have never seen it prepared ; you see little of its contents, still less of its effect upon your frame. You take it on the testimony of those who serve it up to you—of the servant, the cook, the baker, the confectioner, the butcher, the grocer, the vintner, of every one who has been engaged in preparing it, or any part of it; and each of whom had it in his power to insert poison, or to.