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I add further, Dissipation is one ordinary source, not only of errors in judgment, but also of criminal actions in practice. We declaim, perhaps, too much against the malice of mankind. Perhaps, men may not be so wicked as we imagine. When we can obtain their attention to certain truths, we find them affected with them ; we find their hearts accessible to motives of equity, gratitude, and love. If men seem averse to these virtues, it is because their attention is sometimes divided among them; it is because they are taken up with a circle of temporal objects; it is because the hurry of the world incessantly deafens them. Ignorance and error are inseparable from dissipation. Be attentive, then, is the first precept we give you. The sacrifice of dissipation, then, is necessary, in order to our arrival at the knowledge of truth.

But if truth can be obtained only by observing this precept, and by making this sacrifice, let us ingenuously own, truth is put up at a price, and at a great price. The expression of the wise man is just, the truth must be bought. Buy the truth. Our minds, averse from recollection and attention, love to rove from object to object, they particularly avoid those objects which are intellectual, and which have nothing to engage the senses, of which kind are the truths of religion. The majesty of an invisible God who hideth himself, cannot captivate them; and as they are usually employed about earthly things, so terrestrial ideas generally involve them. Satan, who knows that a believer, studious of the truth, is the most formidable enemy to his empire, strives to divert him from it. As soon as Abraham prepares his offering, the birds of prey interrupt his sacrifice; a disciple of truth drives such birds away. Among various objects, amidst numerous dissipations, in spite of opposite ideas, which re


sist and combat one another, he gathers up his attention and unreservedly turns his soul to the study of truth.

2. The second sacrifice is that of indolence, or slothfulness of mind; and Be not discouraged at labor, is the second precept, which must be observed, if you would obtain the knowledge of truth. This article is connected with the preceding. The sacrifice of dissipation, cannot be made without making this of indolence, or sluggishness of mind. Attention is labor; it is even one of the most painful labors. The labor of the mind is often more painful than that of the body; and the greatest part of mankind have less aversion to the greatest fatigues of the body, than to the least application of mind. The military life seems the most laborious; yet, what an innumerable multitude of men prefer it before the study of the sciences ! This is the reason, the study of the sciences requires an attention, which costs our indolence more than a military life would cost it.

Although the labor of the mind is painful, yet it is surmountable, and it is formed in the same manner in which fatigue of body is rendered tolerable. A man, who is accustomed to ease and rest, a man, who hath been delicately brought up, cannot bear to pass days and nights on horseback, to have no settled abode, to be continually in action, to waste away by the heat of the day, and the inclemency of the night. Nothing but use and exercise can harden a man to these fatigues. In like manner, a man, who hath been accustomed to pass his days and nights on horseback, to have no settled abode, to be continually in action, to wear himself out with the heat of the day, and the cold of the night ; a man whose body seems to have changed its nature, and to have contracted the hardness of iron, or stone ; such a man cannot bear the fatigue of attention. It is then necessary to accustom the mind to labor, to inure it to exercise, to render it apt, by habit and practice, to make those efforts of attention, which elevate those, who are capable of them, to ideas the most sublime, and to mysteries the most abstruse.

They, whom Providence calls to exercise mechanical arts, have reason to complain; for every thing, that is necessary to discharge the duties of their calling, diverts their attention from what we are now recommending, and absorbs their minds in sensible and material objects. God, however, will exercise his equitable mercy towards them, and their cases afford us a presumptive proof of that admirable diversity of judgment, which God will observe at the last day. He will make a perfect distribution of the various circumstances of mankind; and to whom he hath committed much, of him he will ask the more, Luke xii. 48.

Let no one abuse this doctrine. Every mechanic is engaged, to a certain degree, to sacrifice indolence and dullness of mind. Every mechanic hath an immortal soul. Every mechanic ought to buy the truth by labor and attention. Let every one of you, then,' make conscience of devoting part of his time to recollection and meditation.

Let each, amidst the meanest occupations, accustom himself to think of a future state. Let each endeavor to surmount the reluctance, which, alas ! we all have to the study of abstract subjects. Be not disheartened at your labor, is our second precept. The sacrifice of indolence and sluggishness of mind is the second sacrifice, which truth demands.

3. It requires, in the next place, that we should sacrifice precipitancy of judgment. Few people are capable of this sacrifice : indeed, there are but few, who do not consider suspension of judgment as a weakness, although it is one of the noblest efforts of genius and capacity. In regard to human sciences, it is thought a disgrace, to say, I cannot determine such, or such a question. The decision of it would require so many years study and examination. I have been but so many years in the world, and I have spent a part in the study of this science, a part in the pursuit of that ; one part in this domestic employment, and another in that. It is absurd to suppose that I have been able to examine all the principles, and all the consequences, all the calculations, all the proofs, and all the difficulties, on which the eclaircissement of this question depends. Wisdom requires, that my mind should remain undetermined on this question; that I should neither affirm, nor deny, any thing of a subject, the evidences, and the difficulties, of which are alike unknown to me.

In regard to religion, people usually make a scruple of conscience of suspending their judgments: yet, in our opinion, a christian is so much the more obliged to do this by how much more the truths of the gospel surpass in sublimity and importance all the objects of human science. I forgive this folly in a man educated in superstition, who is threatened with eternal damnation, if he renounce certain doctrines, which not only he hath not examined, but which he is forbidden to examine under the same penalty. But that casuists, who are, or who ought to be, men of learning and piety, should imagine they have obtained a signal victory over infidelity, and have accredited religion, when, by the help of some terrific declamations, they have extorted a catechumen's consent; this is what we could have scarcely believed, had we


not seen numberless examples of it. And that you, my brethren, who are a free people, you who are spiritual men, and ought to judge all things, 1 Cor. ii. 15. that you should at any time submit to such casuists; that is what we could have hardly credited, had not experience afforded us too many mortifying proofs.

Let us not incorporate our fancies with religion. The belief of a truth, without evidence, can render us no more agreeable to God than the belief of a falshood. A truth, received without proof, is, in regard to us, a kind of falshood. Yea, a truth, received without evidence, is a never failing source of many errors; because a truth, received without evidence, is founded, in regard to us, only on false principles. And, if, by a kind of hazard, in which reason has no part, a false principle engage us to receive a truth on this occasion, the same principle will engage us to receive an error on another occasion. We must then suspend our judgments, whatever inclination we may naturally have to determine at once, in order to save the attention and labor, which a more ample discussion of truth would require. By this mean, we shall not attain, indeed, all knowledge : but we shall prevent all errors. The goodness of God doth not propose to enable us to know all truth : but it proposeth to give us all needful help to escape error.

It is conformable to his goodness, that we should not be obliged, by a necessity of nature, to consent to error; and the help needful for the avoiding of falshood he hath given us. Every man is entirely free to withhold his consent from a subject which he hath not considered in every point of view.

4. The fourth sacrifice, which truth demands, is that of prejudice; and the fourth precept is this, Let prejudice yield to reason. This precept needs

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