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by which God blesses the services of habitual piety, he learns, at least, that the creatures can never deserve his love more than the Creator; and his reason, aided by the light of grace, teaches him that there is nothing more worthy of love than God, and that He cannot be taken away except from those who reject him,— since to desire God, is to possess him; and to refuse him, is to lose him.
And thus he rejoices in having found a blessing which cannot be torn from him as long as he wishes to possess it, and which has nothing superior to itself.
And with these novel reflections, he enters upon the view of the grandeur of his Creator, and upon acts of the deepest humiliation and reverence. He counts himself as less than nothing in that presence; and, being unable to form of himself an idea sufficiently humiliating, or to conceive, of the sovereign Good a thought sufficiently exalted, he makes repeatedly fresh efforts, to lower himself to the last abysses of nothingness, whilst he surveys God still in interminably multiplying immensities; and, at last, exhausted by this mighty conception, he adores in silence, he looks on himself as a vile and useless creature, and by repeated acts of veneration, adores and blesses his God, and would for ever bless and adore.
Then he sees something of the grace by which God has manifested his infinite majesty to a worthless worm-he is ashamed and confounded at having preferred so many vanities to such a Divine Master; and, in the spirit of compunction and penitence, he looks up for his compassion to arrest that anger, the effect of which, seen through these immensities, seems to hang over him so awfully.
He sends up ardent prayers to God, to obtain this mercy, that as it has pleased Him to disclose himself to his soul, it would please Him also to lead it to himself, and prepare for him the means of reaching Him. For it is to God that he now aspires, and, at the same time, he only aspires to reach Him by those means which come from God himself, for he wishes God him
self to be his way, his object, and his end. the result of these prayers, he learns that he act conformably to the new light which he ceived.
ought to has re
He begins to know God, and to desire to go to him; but he is ignorant of the mode of reaching him. If, then, his desire is sincere and real, just as a person who wishes to go to a particular spot, but who has lost his way, and knows that he is in error, has recourse to those who are well acquainted with it, so he seeks advice from those who can teach him the way that leads to the God, from whom he has so long been alienated. And in thus seeking to know this way, resolves to regulate his couduct for the remainder of his life by the truth, as far as he knows it; and seeing that his natural weakness, together with the habitual tendency which he now has to the sin in which he has lived, have incapacitated him for reaching the happiness of which he is in search, he implores from the mercy of God those gracious aids by which he may find him, devote himself to him, and adhere to him for ever. Heartily occupied by the loveliness of the Divine excellency,-old as eternity, in fact, but to him so new;-he feels that all he does ought to bear him towards this adorable object; he sees now clearly that he ought henceforth only to think of adoring God, as his creature, of gratitude to him for unnumbered obligations, of penitence as guilty, and prayer as necessitous; so that his entire occupation should be to contemplate, and love, and praise him throughout eternity.
REASONS FOR SOME OPINIONS OF THE PEOPLE.
I WRITE my thoughts here without order, but probably not in mere'unmeaning confusion. It is, in fact, the true order, and will mark my object, even by the disorder itself.
We shall see that all the opinions of the multitude are very sound: that the people are not so weak as they are reported; and, that consequently, the opinion which would destroy the opinion of the people, will be itself destroyed.
2. It is true in one sense, that all the world is in a state of delusion; for although the opinions of the people are sound, they are not so as held by them, because they conceive the truth to reside where it does not. There is truth in their opinions, but not where they suppose.
3. The people reverence men of high birth. Your half-informed men despise them, affirming, that birth is not a personal advantage, but a mere accident. Your really superior men honor them, not on the ground of the popular notion, but for loftier reasons. Certain zealots of narrow views, despise them, notwithstanding those reasons which secure to them the respect of superior men, because they judge by a new light, that their measure of piety imparts. But more advanced Christians give them honor, according to the dictates of light yet superior; and thus opinions, for and against, obtain in succession, according to the light possessed.
4. Civil wars are the greatest of evils. They are certain, if it is wished to recompense merit, for all would affirm that they deserved reward. The evil to be feared from a fool who succeeds by inheritance, is neither so great nor so certain.
Why follow the majority? Is it because they have more reason? No. But because they have more force. Why follow ancient laws, and ancient opinions? Are they wiser? No. But they stand apart from present interests; and thus take away the root of dif ference.
6. The empire founded on opinion and imagination, sometimes has the upper hand; and this dominion is mild and voluntary. The empire of force reigns always. Opinion is, as it were, the queen of the world; but force is its tyrant.
7. How wisely are men distinguished by their exterior, rather than their interior qualifications. Which of us two shall take the lead? Which shall yield precedence? The man of least talent. But I am as clever as he. Then we must fight it out for this. But he has four lacqueys, and I have but one. There is a visible difference; we have only to count them. It is my place then to give way; and I am a fool to contest the point. This arrangement keeps us in peace; which is of all blessings the greatest.
8. From the habit of seeing kings surrounded with guards, and drums, and officers, and with all these appendages which tend to create respect and terror, it happens, that the countenance of kings, even though seen sometimes without these adjuncts, still awakens in their subjects the same reverential feeling; because even then, we do not mentally separate their person from the train with which we usually see them attended. The multitude who know not that this effect has its origin in custom, believe it to originate in native feeling; and hence arise such expressions as, The character of divinity is imprinted on his countenance, &c.
*The translator does not use the term clever, according to the custom of New England people. Able or skilful would be an equivalent to habile.
The power of kings is founded on the reason, and on the folly of the people; but most chiefly on their folly. The greatest and most important thing in the world has weakness for its basis; and this basis is wonderfully secure, for there is nothing more certain, than that the people will be weak; whilst that which has its foundation in reason only, is very insecure, as the esteem for wisdom.
9. Our magistrates have well understood this mystery. Their crimson robes, their ermine, in which they wrap themselves, the palaces of justice, the fleurde-lis-all this pomp and circumspection was necessary; and if physicians had not their cassock and their mule; and if theologians had not their square cap, and their flowing garments, they would never have duped the world, which could never withstand this authenticating demonstration. Soldiers are the only men who are not in some measure disguised; and that is, because their own share in the matter, is the most essential part of it. They gain their point by actual force, the others by grimace.
On this account our kings have not had recourse to such disguises. They have not masked themselves in extraordinary habits, in order to appear impressive; but they have surrounded themselves with guards, and lancers, and whiskered faces, men who have hands and energies only for this service. The drums and trumpets which go before them, and the legions that surround them, make even brave men tremble. They not only wear a dress, but they are clothed with might. A man had need have an unprejudiced mind, to consider merely as another man, the Grand Seignior surrounded by his glittering train of 40,000 Janissaries.
If magistrates were possessed of real justice, if physicians knew the true art of healing, there were no
need of square caps. The majesty of science would be sufficiently venerable alone. But possessed as they mostly are, with only imaginary science, they must assume these vain adorements which impress the imagination of those among whom they labor, and, by that