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He asks them on what principles they that real rank which belongs to it, and of which it rest, and presses them to disclose them. He exa- is ignorant; threatening, if it rebels, to place it bemines all that they can produce; and he goes so neath every thing else, which appears, at least, as deeply by that talent, in which he peculiarly excels, easy as the reverse; and not allowing it power to that he shows the vanity of those principles which act, except to recognize, with real humility, its fee. pass for the clearest and the most established. He bleness, instead of elevating itself by a false and inquires if the soul knows any thing; if it knows foolish vanity. We cannot behold but with joy, itself; if it is a substance or an accident, body or that in this writer, haughty reason has been so comspirit; what each of these things is, and if there are pletely battered by its own weapons—to see this not some things which belong not to either of these deadly struggle between man and man, which, orders; if the soul knows its own body; if it knows from the association with God, to which he had what matter is; how it can reason if it is matter, raised himself by the maxims of feeble reason, hurls and how it can be united to a material frame, and him hcadlong to the level of the brutes : and we feel its passions, if it is purely immaterial? When would cordially love the minister of this mighty did its existence commence; with or before the vengeance, if, as an humble, believing disciple of body? Will it terminate with it or not? Does it the church, he had followed the rules of its morality, never deceive itself ? Does it know when it is in and taught man whom he had so beneficially humerror ? seeing that the very essence of error is not bled, no longer to irritate, by fresh crimes, Him being aware of it. He asks also, If brutes reason, who alone could redeem him from those already think, or speak? Who can say what is time or committed, and which evils God had already conspace; extension, motion, or unity; all being things vinced him that man had not the power to discover. by which we are surrounded, but utterly inexplica- But, on the contrary, he acts like a heathen. Look ble? What are health, sickness, death, life, good at his moral system. or evil, justice or transgression: things of which From this principle, that independent of faith, all we speak continually? If we have within us the is uncertainty; and from the consideration, how principles of truth, and if those that we believe to large a portion of time has been spent in seeking be such, and that we call axioms, or notions common the true good, without any progress towards tranto all men, are really conformed to essential truth? quillity; he concludes, that we should leave this Since we cannot know but by the light of faith, that care to others; resting, in the meantime, in a state an infinitely Good Being has really given us these of repose, and touching lightly on these subjects principles, and formed us so as to comprehend truth: lest we sink by pressure; that we should admit who could know, without the light of faith, whe- truth and the true good upon the first glance, withther we may nct be formed by accident; and that out examining too closely, because they are so far consequently, all our notions are uncertain; or, from solid, that however little we grasp the hand, whether we may not be created by a false and they escape between our fingers, and leave it empty. wicked being, who has given us these false princi- He follows, then, the report of the senses, and the ples expressly to lead us astray? And thus, he shows prevailing notions, because to deny them, would be that God and the truth are inseparable, and that to do violence to himself, and he knows not in his if one is or is not, if one is certain or uncertain, the ignorance of truth, if he would be the gainer by it. other is necessarily the same. Who knows that He avoids also pain and death, because his instinct common sense which we generally regard as the shuns them, and yet for the same reason as before, judge of truth, has been appointed to this office by he would not resist them. But he does not trust Him who made it? Who knows what is truth? himself too much to these emotions of fear, and and how can we be sure of possessing it without does not venture to conclude that pain and death knowing it? Who knows, in fact, what being is, are real evils; since we discover also emotions of since it is impossible so to define it, but that there pleasure which we condemn as evil, though nature must be something more general; and since it re- affirms the contrary. “So that,” says he, “I have quires, even in the explanation of it, to use the very nothing extravagant in my conduct. I do as others idea of Being, saying it is such or such a thing? do: and all that they do under the foolish notion Since we know not what the soul, the body, time, that they are seeking the true good, I do from anospace, motion, truth, and good are, and even what ther principle, which is that the probabilities on both being is, nor how to explain the idea that we have sides being equal, example and my own convenience formed of them; how can we know that the idea is lead me.'' He adopts the manners of his country, the same in all men? We have no other mark than because custom leads him; he mounts his horse and the uniformity of results, which is not always a rides, because the horse allows it, but without resign of uniformity of principles; for they may be garding it as a matter of right; on the contrary, he very different, and yet lead to the same conclusions; does not know but that the horse has a right to ride every one knowing that truth may be concluded him. He even does violence to himself, in order from falsehood.
to avoid certain vices; he preserves matrimonial Then Montaigne examines very deeply the sci- fidelity, on account of the annoyance resulting from ences:-Geometry, the uncertainty of which he irregularities, the real object of all his actions being points out in its axioms, and in its terms which it does convenience and tranquillity. He utterly rejects not define, as extension, motion, &c.; physics and that stoical virtue, which is delineated with a sour medicine, which he depresses in a variety of ways; countenance, and a frowning brow, with hair dishe, history, politics, morals, jurisprudence, &c. So velled, and her forehead wrinkled with care, and that, without revelation, we might believe accord- sitting in a painful attitude, in solitude and in silence ing to him, that life is a dream, from which we do on the top of a rock, an object fit only, as he says, not wake till death, and during which, we have as to frighten youth, and doing nothing but seeking few principles of truth as in natural sleep. In this with unremitted toil for rest, where rest can never way he atiаcks so fiercely and so cruelly reason come; whilst, on the other hand, virtue, according when unaided by faith, that causing it to doubt to his notion, is ingenuous, open, pleasant, gay, and whether it is rational or not, and whether the brutes even sportive; she follows that which pleases her, are so or noi, or more or less so than men, he brings and negligently trifles with the events of life, wheit down from the excellence that is attributed to it, ther good or bad; she nestles luxuriously in the and places it as a matter of favor on a level with bosom of a quiet indolence, from whence she teaches the brutes, without permitting it to rise above that those who seek so restlessly after happiness, that it level, till it shall be instructed by its Creator, as to l is to be found no where but in the shrine where
she reposes; and that, as he says, ignorance and in- , other his weakness, they cannot possibly be recondifference are the downy pillows for a well-made ciled; they cannot subsist alone because of their head.
defects; nor logether, because of the contrariety of 3. On reading Montaigne, and comparing him their opinions. with Epictetus, we cannoi dissemble a conviction, 4. But it was needful that they should come into that they were the two greatest defenders of the collision and destroy each other, in order to give iwo most celebrated sects of the unbelieving world, place to the truth of revelation, which alone can and that they are the only persons among the varie- harmonize, by a principle truly divine, such manities of men'destitute of the light of true religion, fest contrarieties. Uniting all that is true, and setwho are in any degree rational and consistent. In ting aside all that is false, she indicates by a wisdoin fact, without revelation, what could we do but fol- evidently “ from above," that point at which those low one or other of these systems? The first system opposing principles unite, which, as stated in docis, There is a God, then he has created man; he has trines merely human, appear perfectly incompatible created him for himself; he has made him such as he with each other. And here is the reason of it. ought to be, to just, and 10 become happy. Then The wise men of this world have placed these conman may attain to the knowledge of truth; and it trarieties in the same subject; the one side attributis within his range to elevate himself by wisdom, ing strength to human nature; the other, weakness even to God himself who is the sovereign good to this same nature; which things cannot be true The other system is, Man cannot elevate himself to together. Faith, however, teaches us 10 regard God; his native tendencies are contrary to God's these two qualities as residing in different subjects, law; his tendency is to seek happiness in visible all the infirmity belonging to man, and all his things, and even in those which are most disgrace might to divine assistance. There is the novel and sul. Every thing iben appears uncertain, even the surprising union which God only could teach ustrue good itself; and we are reduced to such a state, which God only conld accomplish, and which is chat we appear to have neither a fixed rule for mo- only an image and an effect of the ineffable union rals, nor certainty in matters of science.
of the two natyres in the one person of the God-man There is much pleasure in observing in these Mediator. In this way philosophy leads insensibly different lines of reasoning, in what respects men to theology. In fact it is difficult 'not to enter upon on either side have discovered any traces of that it whenever we treat of truth, because it is the centruth which they have endeavored to seek. For it tre of all truth, a fact which appears here unques. is pleasant to observe in nature, the effort to show tionably, because it so evidently unites in itself forth God in the works of his hands, where some whatever there is of truth in these contrary opimarks of him are seen, because those works are his nions. Moreover, we can see no reason why either image; how much more justifiable are the efforts party should refuse to follow it. If they are filled of the human mind to arrive at truth, and the en- with notions of human greatness, what is there in deavor to ascertain in what respects they attain to all that they have imagined, that does not yield to it, and in what they go astray. This is the chief the gospel promises, which are a purchase worthy of benefit to be derived from reading Montaigne's the inestimable price of the death of the Son of writings.
God. And if they take delight in the infirmity of It would seem that the source of error in Epic- human nature, no notion of theirs can equal that tetus and the Stoics on one side, and of Montaigne of the real weakness induced by sin, of which that and the Epicureans on the other, is the not having same death is the remedy. Each party finds in the known that the present state of man differs from gospel, more even than it has wished; and what is that state in which he was created. The former, wonderful, they find there the means of solid union observing in man some remnant traces of his former -even they who could not of themselves approxi. greatness, and ignorant of his corruption, have mate in an infinitely lower degree. treated human nature as in a healthy state, and 5. Christians in general have little need of these without need of reparation-an error which has philosophical lectures. Yet Epictetus has an ad led to the most unbounded pride The latter, sensi- mirable talent for disturbing those who seek for reble of man's present misery, and ignorant of his pose in external things, and for compelling them to former dignity, have treated our nature as if it were discover that they are really slaves and miserably necessarily impure and incurable, and have thus blind, and that it is impossible to escape the error been led to despair of ever attaining the true good, and the distress from which they endeavor to dlj, and have sunk from thence to the lowest moral de unless they give themselves up unreservedly to God
. gradation. These two states, “which ought to be Montaigne is equally successful in confounding the taken cognizance of together, in order to ascertain pride of those, who, without the aid of faith, boast the whole truth, being looked at separately, have themselves of a real righteousness; in correcting led necessarily to one or other of these vices, either those who value their own opinion, and who bepride or immorality, in one of which all unconvert- lieve that, independently of the existence and pered men are infallibly plunged; since either from fections of God, they shall find in the sciences in the power of corruption, they do not avoid irregular frangible truth.' He exhibits to reason so convinc. indulgence, or if they escape, it is only through ingly the poverty of its light, and the multitude of - pride; so that they are always in one way or other, its errors, that it is difficult afterwards to feel even the slaves of the spirit of wickedness, to whom, as the temptation to reject the mysteries of religion, St. Augustine says, sacrifice is offered in many on the ground that they may be contradicted; for different ways.
the spirit is so humbled, that it does not even preAnd hence it follows, as the result of this imper- sume to judge if mysteries are possible, a point fect light, that one class of men, knowing their which ordinary men debate too readily. But Épicpowerlessness, and not their duty, sink down in tetus, in his reprehension of indifference, leads to sin; the other knowing their duty, but not their pride, and may be most injurious to those who are weakness, lift themselves up with pride. One might not convinced of the corruption of all righteoussuppose, that, by uniting these two classes, a perfect ness, but that which is of faith. Montaigne, system of morals might be produced; but instead the other hand, is positively evil in his influence on of peace, nothing would result from the meeting those whose bias is to impiely and vice. And but conflict and destruction : for, since the one hence, these authors should be read with great care aimed to establish certainty, and the other univer- and discretion, and with peculiar regard to the con: sal doubt;
the one, the dignity of man, and the dition and morals of those who look into them. It
ON THE CONDITION OF THE GREAT.
seems, however, that the union of them can only once established, it is unjust to violate them. And have a beneficial influence, as the evil of the one here there is a slight distinction between you and corrects the evil of the other. It is true that they the man of whom we have spoken, whose only do not impart virtue, but they disturb men in their right to the kingdom, was founded in an error of vices. For man finds himself assailed by contra- the people; for God would not sanction his posrieties, one of which attacks his pride, and the session, and, in fact, requires him to renounce it, other his carelessness, and ascertains that all his whilst he authorizes yours. But the point in which reason will not enable him either to obtain peace in the two cases completely coincide is this, that neither the indulgence of his vices, or altogether to avoid your right nor his is founded in any quality or merit
whatever in you, or which renders you deserving of it. Your soul and your body are of themselves
no more allied to the state of a duke, than to that CHAPTER XXX.
of a laborer; there is no natural tie which binds
you to the one condition, rather than to the other. A MAN was thrown by a tempest on an unknown Then what follows from this ? that you ought to island, the inhabitants of which were seeking their have, as this man of whom we have spoken, a twoking, whom they had lost; and as he had acci- fold habit of thought; and that, if you act outwardly dentally some resemblance to him, both in face and towards men, according to your rank in life, it befigure, he was mistaken for him, and recognized as comes you, at the same time, to cherish a sentiment such by all the people. At first he knew not how more concealed, but more true, that you are in no to act: but he resolved, at length, to yield to his respect naturally above them; and if the more osgood fortune. He received, therefore, all the re- tensible thought elevates you above men in general, spect with which they honored him, and allowed this secret conviction should lower you, and reduce himself to be treated as their king.
you to a perfect equality with all men; for this is But since he could not altogether forget his former your natural condition. condition, he thought even while he received their The people who admire yoụ, are perhaps not homage, that he was not the king whom this people aware of this secret. They believe that nobility is sought, and that the kingdom did not really belong a real natural superiority; and they regard the to him. His thoughts, consequently, were two-fold. great, as being of a different nature from others. One, by which he played the king; the other, which You are not required to correct this error, if you recognized his true condition, and that chance only do not wish it; but see that you do not insolently had placed him in this extraordinary position. He misuse this elevation, and, above all, do not mistake hides this last thought, whilst he discloses the other. yourself, and imagine that there is in your nature According to the former, he deals with the people; something more elevated than in that of others. according to the latter, he deals with himsell. What would you say of him who had been made
Think not, that by a less extraordinary chance king, through the mistake of the people, if he so you possess your wealth, than that by which this far forgot his original condition, as to imagine that man became a king. You have not in yourself any this kingdom was properly his, that he deserved it, personal or natural right, more than he; and not and thai it belonged to him as a matter of righté only does your being the son of a duke, but your You would wonder at his folly: But is there less being in the world at all, depend upon a variety of folly in men of rank, who live in such strange forcontingencies. Your birth depended on a mar- getfulness of their native condition ? riage, or rather on all the marriages of a long line How important is this advice! For all the arroof ancestry. But on what did these marriages de- gance, violence, and impatience of the great, springs pend ? on an accidental meeting ! on a morning's but from this ignorance of what they really are. conversation! on a thousand unforeseen occur- For it would be difficult for those who inwardly rences !
consider themselves on a level with all men, and You hold, say you, your riches from your fore- who are thoroughly convinced that there is in them fathers; but was it not the result of a thousand con- nothing that merits the little advantages which God tingencies, that your forefathers acquired or pre- has given them above others, to treat their fellowserved them? A thousand others as clever as creatures with insolence. To do this, they must they, have not been able to acquire wealth, or have forget themselves, and believe that there is in them lost it when they had. You conceive, that by some some essential superiority to others. And in this natural channel, this wealth descended from your consists the delusion which I am anxious to expose ancestry to you: No such thing. This order is to you. founded solely on the will of those who made the 2. It is desirable that you should know what is laws, and who might have had divers good reasons really due to you, that you may not attempt to refor so framing them; but none of which, most as- quire of men that which is not your due, for that suredly, was formed in the notion of your natural were a manifest injustice; and yet to act thus, is right in those possessions. If they had chosen to very common in men of your condition, because ordain that this wealth, after having been possessed they are not aware of their real merit. by the father during his life, should return at his There is in the world two sorts of greatness; death to the public treasury, you would have had there is a greatness founded in nature, and a greatno reason to complain.
ness founded in appointment. That which is conThus then, the whole title by which you possess stituted great, depends on the will of men, who your property, is not a title founded in nature, but have believed with reason, that they ought to honor in human appointment. Another train of thought certain situations in life, and pay them certain rein those who made the laws, would have made you spects. Of this kind are titles and nobility. In one poor; and it is only this favorable contingency, by country, the nobles are reverenced; in another, which you are born in accordance with the whim the laborers. In this, the elder son; in that, the of law, which has put you in possession of your younger. Why is this? Because men would have present wealth.
it so. It was a matter of indifference before it was I do not mean to say that your goods are not so constituted; since then, it has become a matter yours legitimately, and that others are at liberty to of right, for it is unjust to interfere with it. rob you of them; for God, our great master, has Natural greatness is that which is independent given to society the right of making laws for the of the caprices of men, because it consists in real division of property; and when these laws are l and effective qualities of borly and mind, which
render the one or the other more estimable, as lord ? It is to have the command of many objects science, intellect, energy, virtue, health, or strength of human gratification, and to be able thus to satisfy We owe a duty to each of these kinds of great- the
wants and the desires of many. It is the wants ness; but as they differ in nature, we owe them and the wishes of men which collect them round also a very different kind of respect. To consti- you, and render them subservient; without that
, tuled greainess, we owe the appointed reverence; they would not look to you exclusively; but they that is, certain outward ceremonies, which oughi hope, by their attentions and adulation, to obtain to be, at the same time, accompanied as we have from you some part of those good things which shown, with an internal recognition of the pro- they seek, and which they see that you have 10 priety of this arrangement; but which does not bestow. force upon us the idea of any real quality of great God is surrounded by people full of the need of ness in those whom we so honor.“ We speak on charity, who ask of bim those blessings of charity our bended knee to kings. We must stand in the that are his to give. Hence he is appropriately saloons of princes. It is folly and narrow-minded. called, " The king of charity." ness to refuse these observances.
You are in the same way surrounded with a little But natural respect, which consists in esteem, we crowd of people, over whom you reign in your only owe to natural greatness; and we owe con- way. These people are full of sensual wants. tempt and aversion to the opposite qualities to this They ask of you sensual blessings. They then are grealness, It is not necessary that I should estcem bound to you by covetousness. You are then proyou, because you are a duke; but it is that I bow perly the king of covetousness. Your dominion to you. If you are both a duke and a virtuous may be of small extent; but as to the kind of ros, man, then I will yield the reverence which I owe alty, you are on a level with the greatest kings of to both these qualities. I will not refuse you the the earth. They are like you, monarchs of animal obeisance which your ducal dignity demands; nor wants. This it is which invests them with power, the esteem that your virtue merits. But if you namely, the possession of things after which men were a duke without virtue, I would then also do greedily crave. you justice; for while I paid that outward respect But in thus recognizing your real and natural which the laws of society have attached to your condition, use the means which are consistent with rank, I would not fail to cherish towards you that it, and do not pretend to reign by any other way inward contempl, which your meanness of soul de- than by that which actually constiiutes you a king. served.
It is not your natural energy and power which subThis is the line that justice prescribes to such du- jects the people round you. Do not pretend then to ties, and injustice consists in paying natural respect rule them by force, nor to treat them harshly. Sa10 artificial greatness, or in requiring external re- tisfy their just desires; relieve their wants; find verence to natural greatness. Mr. N. is a greater your pleasure in beneficence; help them as much geometer than I, and, on this account, he would as you can; and act in your irue character as the iake precedence of me. I would teli him that he king of animal necessities. does not comprehend this matter rightly. Geometry What I have said to you, does not go far into the is a natural superiority-it asks the preference of subject of duty; and if therefore you rest there, esteem; but men have not appointed to it any out- you will not fail to lose yourself
, though you will ward acknowledgment. I take precedence of him ihen, at least, sink as a 'virtuous man should do. therefore; while, at he same time, I esteem him There are men who destroy their own souls by aramore than myself, for his geometrical talent. rice, by brutality, by dissipation, by violence, by
In the same way, if as a duke, and a peer of the passion, by blasphemy. The path which I point realm, you are not satisfied that I stand uncovered out to you, is undoubtedly more virtuous than these. before you, and you require me to esteem you also, But in any way, it is unpardonable folly to lose then I'must beg you to show me those qualities one's self; and therefore, I say, you must not rest which deserve it. If you do this, then you gain at that point. You should despise sensuality and your point, and I cannot refuse you with justice ; its domínion, and aspire to that kingdom of charity, but if you cannot do this, then you are unjust to where all its subjects breathe nothing but charity, ask it; and, most assuredly, you would not succeed, and desire no other blessings. Others will direct even if you were the mightiest potentate on earth! you better than I can in this way; it will be suffi
3. I would have you, then, to know your true cient for me to have turned you aside from those condition, for it is the thing, 'in all the world, of low and sensualizing ways, along which I see se which you men of rank are the most ignorant. many
persons of rank hurried, from the want of a What is it, according to your notion, to be a great | due acquaintance with their own real condition.