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tainly will be a language, which, at most, will extort a specite lative approbation, but not an inward assent: this language will be known to be consonant to reason, but will not be relished. Man would wish that all be traced back to his own industry, to his own attentions and efforts, and, in fine, solely to his own will; and since God's benefits cannot be denied, he at least could wish, that they be dissembled, and impiously passed over unnoticed. But suppose, after all, that this same man, yielding to reason, determine to humble himself, and to offer violence to himself, he still will always meet within himself a contrary tendency, a natural inclination, which he will not be able to root out altogether, or to master after such a manner, as that it should not, at times, rise up, throw him down, and overcome him.
XXVII. Let us continue our observations, and accost that other man, surrounded with the goods of fortune, and with the insignia of honour and dignities; but, who, at the same time, is destitute of all personal merit; let us penetrate a little into his heart, and let us make him understand, that, prior to his existence he had, and could have nothing at all, by which he could have merited to be born of such noble and rich parents; and that of course, all his riches, his honours and the other dignities of his family, have been, in every respect, bestowed on him, by Almighty God, as well as poverty and distresses come from God, on the greater part of mankind. Will he relish this discourse? Assuredly, he will not. Will he be able to refuse his approbation ? Certainly not: but he will always feel a secret repugnancy to grant it; therefore,.... therefore, he will not make much account of such a discourse, he will dissemble the kindnesses of his God, and make you in a certain manner understand, that he considers as due to himself, the splendour of his extraction, and his greatness in the world. What, therefore, must we infer from this? That man does not do what he ought to do; and why does he not do it? Because he experiences a strong inclination not to do it? But how did he come to have that inclination? Who has given it to him? We know not.
XXVIII. Secondly. Next I thus reason with myself. If man be the work of an eternal and most wise artist, he must have been created with a proper proportion, a certain aptness or fitness, for the attainment of those ends, for which his Creator designed him.
This self-evident truth, founded on God's infinite perfection, shall be the fundamental basis, the directive principle of all our researches. Let us give a glance at man; let us observe him in some, I know not what direction to his ends.
Man has a natural tendency to preserve his physical existence; his own individual being.
If man has a natural tendency to preserve his physical existence, his own individual being; he must have some proportion ; some natural aptness for that end.
Man was created for happiness ; for that perfect happiness, which he cannot find but in God; man, therefore, was created for God, and was directed towards God: Behold a truth which both reason and experience conspire to render self. evident. If man was created for God; if the heart of man was designed for its Creator; man, then I say ta myself, must have a certain proportion, a certain natural aptness towards acquiring the knowledge of that Creator, he must have a strong tendency, and a strong inclination, which not only should directly impel him towards God; but which should likewise, turn and direct him towards all that is to serve as a means to compass this his end, this his destination, this his all; and which, of course, should withdraw and remove him, without any diagreement with his free will, from all that which may prove to him an obstacle to and a deviation from his last end.
This being established, let us again observe man: Man naturally tends to preserve his physical existence; his own individual being: Behold the end!
Man has a certain inclination, and a natural fitness for taking food, for moving himself by corporeal exercise, and for defending himself against any outward insult: Behold the means! Behold the proportion!
Man was created for God, and directed towards God: but where are the means, the inclination, the proportion, the natural aptness for that end?
If man has means, if he has a natural proportion for an end, which, comparatively speaking, is but of a trifting consequence; why has he not likewise, such proportionate means for the principal end, for the end of all his ends, for the object of his love, of his felicity, of his interminable beatitude, for God? Why, of course, has he not a natural and easy aptness to know him, as far as it is sufficient for him, and to love him as much as he can, and to pant after him as far as he is bound ? Or, what! Is it possible, that the sovereign Author of the Universe, after having given to men such proportioned means, such strong tendencies to an end so circumscribed as is that of preserving, for a short time, their physical existence, should have denied the same, the proper proportion, fitness, and inclination, for an end, which he gives them to understand, is their only, true, last end? For an end, to which they are so incessantly brought back by the most intimate voice of their nature ? And still man has not this inclination, the natural aptness for God... But it is repugnant to reason, that God should act after a manner so different, so preposterous, so contradictory .... Man, therefore, is not the work of God: but this is not possible, and we have a thousand demonstrations to the contrary .... Therefore ....
Man has no natural and sufficient aptness to know God as far
as it is sufficient for him to know him. · XXIX. Let us for a moment figure to ourselves a certain class of men, who finding themselves in the midst of creatures, know scarce any more than that they exist: their mind arrives at a state of reflection and judgment: they naturally look around and observe the creatures, by which they are surrounded. When they come to examine themselves, cer- tain features, which cannot escape them, fill them with adă miration and amazement. What are we, say they, and what are all these things ? Certain it is, that some great Being, I know not whom or what, has made this beautiful and enchanting spectacle. But next, who, and what is that great being whom I know not? They have a desire to be informed of him ; they feel a great inclination to know and to worship him: but they do not seem to be willing to put themselves to great pains to find him. They cast, therefore, their eyes around ; some one, perchance, will observe certain creatures, which most strike his imagination, as for instance, the Sun, which dazzles him with his splendour, which cheers him with his light, and which benefits him by his influences. He will reflect, and reflect over and over again, and finding throughout the whole creation nothing at once more majestic, and more beneficial: this, will he say, is the Creator of the Universe ! Behold how he sparkles with rays all around, how majestic he is! How he preserves and maintains himself! Bow down, O, man! your head before the sublime majesty of this Supreme Being, of this Monarch of the Universe! Another, imagining that he ought to form to himself more ample, and more extensive ideas of the Deity, will raise his eyes to the skies, spangled with brilliant stars ; this expanse, he will say, is that great one, whom I know not, who created us, and whom we are searching after. Some other, perhaps, still more gross, and more stupid, will stoop before the very beasts, and look for his God among metals, plants, animals : prostrating himself, and trembling before those, to whom he was assigned by nature itself, as sovereign lord and master. This is the lot of humanity .... poor and miserable man that thou art: to what length wilt thou carry thy stupidity ? Why dost thou not rise above the metals, the plants, the animals? Why dost thou not soar above the heavens, the stars, the sun, to find out him, who made the metals, the plants, the animals, the heavens, the stars, the sun ? But, how is he to do this ? How can he pretend to it? Where are the proportionate means ? Where the natural aptness ?
XXX. Man is not such as he ought to be : The man, that does not enter into himself, with a philosophical and scrutinizing eye, the man, that is not able to feel in a lively manner that he has no natural aptness for the acquirement of that knowledge of God, which will suffice for him, finds himself naturally wrapped in darkness, and confusion, and cannot but wish that this truth may be presented to him in a clearer light. Let him then come to experience; let him consult, for a moment, the history of every people, of every age, and of every nation; and he will find, that the state of all men, even their primitive state, that is to say, that state, in which nature rather than art spoke to men, is perfectly conformable to the ideas, which we have hitherto advanced. He will find men in a very imperfect society, and in the vilest state of misery and degradation; he will find, that, either they do not care to think of God, at all, or that they have placed on the throne of the most high, some wretched creature. The sun, the moon, the skies, the stars, the herbs, the plants, the beasts ; nay, the most wicked and impious men, were the objects of the adorations and homages of all nations, who were, without exception, naturally ignorant and blind.
But, if men were so far from that knowledge of the true God, in that state, in which nature spoke and operated with all its force and energy, I conclude, that, they had not a natural and sufficient fitness to know him; for had they been endowed with a natural and sufficient fitness to know him, they would assuredly have known him in a state, in which nature spoke and acted with all its energy ; but they have not known him, therefore, they had no natural aptness to know him. On the other hand it has been demonstrated, and is of itself evident, that the heart of man was made for God; man, therefore, ought to have a natural aptness to know God; but man has not that natural and sufficient aptness; therefore, man is not such as he ought to be: but it is re