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must acquire it for ourselves, yet the abilities, the opportunities, the inducements previous to the acquisition, were of foreign growth imported hither from celestial regions.
21. Thus we see how little reason there is to value ourselves upon anything we possess, whether external, bodily, or mental advantage, whether accidental, or the produce of our own industry: for we do not possess in property but only as usufructuaries, and we know the lading will be taken off our backs, if not sooner, yet at the end of our journey through life; but for what new charge shall be entrusted with us for our next journey, we depend upon the bounty and merciful kindness of Heaven. And this may account for the distribution of applause being made among persons so disproportionately to the real value of their endowments and actions ; because upon this score they merit none, but solely for the sake of the good effects expected to ensue upon bestowing it. Therefore praise and reward are most discreetly applied to the novice, the giddy, the shallow, and the selfish, who have none other motive to bestir themselves in a good course; for where a man has no sense of his duty, you must bribe him to it if you will have it done : but whoever pretends to labor in pursuit of virtue or moral science, has least reason of any to repine at missing his share, because to him least of any it is either needful or safe, but much of it would vitiate his virtue, and turn his ardor for knowledge into mere pretence, deceiving even himself.
For virtue loses her essence, becoming self-interest, when the eye fixes constantly upon the gratification or profit beyond ; and when the credit of making discoveries comes to be the object in view during the investigation, it hangs like a dead weight upon the judgment, warping away the thought insensibly from what is just and solid, to what is specious and glittering. Therefore there is no prudence in suffering a humor or vanity to hold up this object before us; for if it carry us faster than we could go without, it carries us like a runaway horse, so much wider out of our way. Nor need we solicit ourselves either for self-complacence or commendation from others; for provided we take care to shape our conduct aright, so much of either as can turn into wholesome nourishment will drop into our mouths without our seeking.
22. I have now done my best to know this siren Vanity, as the most likely means to escape it, for forewarned forearmed. I have endeavored to turn it inside out, to discover its emptiness, to lay open its ugliness, and raise a disgust at the foulness it is found to contain when divested of its coverings : for it is the reproach of human nature, it breeds like vermin in the corruptions and in
firmities of our constitutions, it is an epidemical disease spreading like the pestilence: for the trifling world around us so fills the air with infection, as the London smoke does with blacks, that we can neither keep ourselves nor our furniture tolerably clean without continual washings and scrubbings. It is such a dissembler there is no getting rid of it entirely: when you go to hunt it down most eagerly it will follow close at your elbow, mingling among your train, like an accomplice of a pick-pocket, who joins in with the crowd as one of the pursuers. For a man may be vain of his exemption from the vanities he sees in others, or more vain of his having no vanity at all himself: when once he begins to say in his own mind, nobody has less vanity than I, he has more than he knows of, for all advantageous comparison foments it. One would think the contemplation of our own follies and fond imaginations should be the surest recipe to mortify it: but sometimes the contrary falls out by our growing vain in the comparison of our former with our present selves. We may take pleasure in abusing our nature to exaggerate our corrections of it, in example of the greatest sages of antiquity, who have performed wonders that way: puffed up with the conceit of how much we should cheat Zopyrus the physiognomist, and how our friends who know us would laugh as heartily at him as Alcibiades did, if he were here to try his skill upon our features.
Therefore it is the emptiest of all vanities to fancy ourselves utterly void of it; this lulls us into a security that leaves open the door for many others to intrude : it were better to possess our minds with the impossibility of escaping perfectly, and then we shall stand more upon our guard against treachery within, which would let in new enemies upon us. I think I may answer for the benefit of this prepossession and consequent attention upon experience, having every now and then perceived some lurking vanity stealing slily in through crannies were one would least expect it, which convinces me there are traitors within, though I cannot yet find them out. All one can do with respect to the poison unexpelled, is to disperse it upon the skin, as physicians draw a gout they cannot cure, away from the nobler parts. So taking for granted I must have some fund of vanity in my composition as well as other folks, it is better to let it evaporate in odd thoughts, quaint expressions, sparkling similies, and long-spun allegories, than work into the sinews and marrow of argumentation. Perhaps there may be no hurt in sprinkling something that will startle and rouse the Reader when beginning to nod over a dry subject : and if he have a spice of the common malady himself, he will feel a soothing pleasure in reflecting how much more gravely and decently he could have managed the same topics.
But in all serious inquiries it will prove a most dangerous enemy, creating an interest in some particular issue, before it is seen which way our premises will naturally lead, and so employing reason in the servile task of maintaining a point, rather than its proper office of discovering a truth.
Therefore I must endeavor to guard against this invader of liberty as well as all others, proceeding with a becoming courage and vigilant circumspection, not overawed by great authorities, nor frighted by terrors of criticism, yet keeping a reverence for received opinions and just deference for the judgment of others, bold, not arrogant, in delivering my thoughts, not pretending to dictate, but offering for consideration, cautious of giving offence, turning things to examine them on all sides before they go from me, and regardful of consequences, sedulous to do my best, but content if that best shall prove but little, not having the vanity to disdain small services or even imperfect hints where I can do no better. Under the conduct of these guides I purpose to issue forth on my progress with a resolution, for I can but resolve, not undertake, to preserve a sober decent freedom throughout, with a perfect indifference to everything beside truth, use, and reconcilement.
THINGS ABOVE REASON.
As hard as I have been upon vanity in all its branches throughout the preceding pages, I am far from condemning a just regard to reputation: for this will prove a sanction to a man's own judgment of that rectitude which he makes the rule of his conduct, and gain him that willingness to receive his assistance without which his labors can be of very little benefit to anybody besides himself. Therefore before I proceed further, I must guard against what is most apt to do injury to the credit of a work, the expectation of greater matters to be contained in it than were intended. If the Reader be kindly disposed, he will reduce his expectations so low, as but just enough to leave him a curiosity of listening to me: should he afterwards by great chance find more than he expected, the disappointment will hurt neither of us; whereas a disappoint
ment the contrary way might do him a displeasure, and me a discredit, we do not either of us deserve.
Perhaps it might be imagined from some former passages and from the great preparations made to fit myself for such an enterprize, that I am going to make a perfect reconcilement between revealed Religion and natural, in all their branches. I should be glad to do so much, and I believe it possible to be done, provided both be taken in their genuine purity, stripped of all the disguisements, and foreign mixtures cast upon them by unwary or ill-designing persons: but the task exceeds my skill and abilities. However,
I mean to do the best I can towards it, which yet I did not think myself likely to do without cautious preparation. So my own abilities must be the scanty limits to determine the choice of my subjects : I shall take such only in hand upon which I seem likely to offer something pertinent to the main purpose, leaving all the rest to more masterly performers: well satisfied if I can effect the reconcilement in some few points where it has been commonly thought desperate, and not without hopes of doing something that way which may encourage abler workmen to make larger advances upon the same design. This attempt I have all along had in view from the very first, and have dropped a hint of it in 57 of the Vision under figure of Gellius' interlineations, the traces whereof I am now beginning to recover.
I must desire likewise it may be remembered that my course has lain all along within the precincts of human reason, nor do 1 mean to pass the barriers now, for fear of wandering out of my knowledge: therefore shall not meddle with the external evidences, as belonging to another science I am not versed in.
There are able champions enow among the divines to handle these weapons, to examine their just weight, to poise and point them rightly against the gainsayer: too many to need my feeble assistance, who might only stand in their way by my unskilful management. So I shall confine myself to such of the doctrines and duties on both sides whereof I can find a natural, unforced explanation, which may render them compatible, or sometimes corroborative of one another, so that instead of being detached seemingly discordant tenets, they may grow into one compact body, having a connection and vital circulation running throughout the whole.
2. The first object most expedient to begin our trial upon seems to be the ascertaining the proper province and jurisdiction of Reason; for here the parties usually become litigants on setting out: and till they can be brought to some agreement upon this point there is liule hopes of travelling amicably in any other part of their journey. The Believer is perpetually warning men to beware of
reason as a blind fallacious guide, exhorting them to submit their reason to faith, to believe things their understanding cannot fathom : nay, some have gone so far as to insist that we see all things in God by the eye of faith, and that our natural faculties discover nothing to us with a certainty to be depended upon. The Rationalist will admit nothing of all this, for he maintains that reason is the only faculty we have to help ourselves with, therefore if we discard this guide, we must grope in the dark without any guide at all : nay, insists that no man can help following it whatever he may fancy to the contrary, for whoever takes things upon the credit of another does it upon conviction of the other's knowledge and veracity, without which he would not heed him. Thus far we must acknowledge him in the right, and so he possibly may be without his antagonist being altogether in the wrong, if the latter have a different idea of reason: for while there remains a variance in this particular not taken notice of, they will only play at cross purposes, and may dispute forever without any effect : therefore it seems advisable to endeavor settling clearly what are our ideas of reason, before we go on to consider what it will do.
Reason in its fullest extent, comprehends every inlet whereby light can break in upon us, the judgment of the senses, the learning received by instruction, investigations of our understanding, and the conclusions left in our mind thereby : and is synonymous with sense or discernment, by which we estimate the reality of any appearance or truth of any proposition suggested. In this comprehensive latitude it must be taken when we pronounce it the sole faculty we have to help ourselves with, which were not true if spoken of any particular means of knowledge exclusive of the rest. But we often distinguish between reason and appearance, reason and information, reason and experience, reason and authority, which are considered as so many distinct sources from whence knowledge may be derived; for what we are told and what we have seen we do not discover by reason, which need only be employed when other means are wanting or unsatisfactory : and in some such restrained sense the terın must be understood by whoever talks of submitting reason to another guide.
But I cannot help observing, there seems a little inconsistency in the procedure of both parties : for the man who would persuade another to give up his reason plies him with arguments to enforce his miracles, prophecies, and other evidences, wherein he appeals to that very reason he so totally decries. On the other hand, he that insists upon reason being the sole faculty, which no man can help following if he would, has no ground to charge another with casting aside his reason, which is not possible for him