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movements necessary to our preservation, as those of sucking the breasts of our nurses, swimming when we are strong and our bosoms large enough, biting our bread, drinking, stooping to avoid a blow from a stone, collecting our force to clear a ditch, &c. We accomplish a thousand such actions without thinking of them, though they are all profoundly mathematical. In short, we think and feel without knowing how.
In good earnest, is it more difficult for God to work all within us by means of which we are ignorant, than to stir us internally sometimes, by the efficacious grace of Jupiter, of which these gentlemen talk to us unceasingly?
Where is the man who, when he looks into himself, perceives not that he is a puppet of Providence?
think—but can I give myself a thought? Alas! if I thought of myself, I should know what ideas I might entertain the next moment-a thing which nobody knows.
I acquire a knowledge, but I could not give it to myself. My intelligence cannot be the cause of it; for the cause must contain the effect. Now, my
first acquired knowledge was not in my understanding; being the first, it was given to me by him who formed me, and who gives all, whatever it may be. .
I am astonished, when I am told that my first knowledge cannot alone give me a second; for that it must contain it.
The proof that we give ourselves no ideas is, that we receive them in our dreams; and certainly it is neither our will nor attention which makes us think in dreams. There are poets who make verses sleeping; geometricians who measure triangles. All proves to us, that there is a power which acts within us without consulting us.
All our sentiments, are they not involuntary? Hearing, taste, and sight, are nothing by themselves. We feel, in spite of ourselves: we do nothing of ourselves : we are nothing without a Supreme Power which enacts all things.
The most superstitious allow these truths, but they
apply them only to people of their own class. They affirm that God acts physically on certain privileged persons. We are more religious than they; we believe that the Great Being acts on all living things, as on all matter. Is it therefore more difficult for him to stir all men than to stir some of them? Will God be God
little sect alone? He is equally so for me, who do not belong to it. A new philosopher goes
you; it seemed to him that God alone exits. He pretends, that we are all in him; and we say, that it is God who sees and acts in all that has life. “ Jupiter est quodcumque vides ; quodcumque moveris.”
To proceed. Your physical premotion introduces God acting in you. What need have you then of a soul? Of what good is this little unknown and incomprehensible being? Do you give a soul to the sun, which enlightens so many globes ? And if this star so great, so astonishing, and so necessary, has no soul, why should man have one ? God who made us, does he not suffice for us? What therefore is become of the axiom? Effect not that by many, which can be accomplished by one.
This soul, which you have imagined to be a substance, is therefore really only a faculty, granted by the Great Being, and not a person. It is a property given to our organs, and not a substance. Man, his reason uncorrupted by metaphysics, could never imagine that he was double; that he was composed of two beings, the one mortal, visible, and palpable the other immortal, invisible and impalpable. Would it not require ages of controversy to arrive at this expedient of joining together two substances so dissimilar; tangible, and untangible, simple and compound, invulnerable and suffering, eternal and fleeting?
Men have only supposed a soul by the same error which made them suppose in us a being called memory, which being they afterwards made a divinity.
They made this memory the mother of the Muses; they embodied the divers talents of nature in so many goddesses, the daughters of memory. They also made a god of the secret power by which nature .forms the blood of animals, and called it the god of sanguification. The Roman people indeed had similar gods for the faculties of eating and drinking, for the act of marriage, for the act of voiding excrements. They were so many particular souls, which produced in us all these actions. It was the metaphysics of the populace. This shameful and ridiculous superstition was evidently derived from that which imagined in man a small divine substance, different from man himself.
This substance is still admitted in all the schools; and with condescension we grant to the Great Being, to the Eternal Maker, to God, the permission of joining his concurrence to the soul. Thus we suppose, that for will and deed, both God and our souls are necessary.
But to concur signifies to aid, to participate. God therefore is only second with us; it is degrading him ; it is putting him on a level with us, or making him play the most inferior part. Take not from him his rank and pre-eminence: make not of the sovereign of nature the mere servant of mankind.
Two species of reasoners, well credited in the world, -atheists and theologians-will oppose our doubts.
The atheists will say, that in admitting reason in man and instinct in brutes, as properties, it is very useless to admit a God into this system; that God is still more incomprehensible than a soul; that it is unworthy a sage to believe that which he conceives not. They let fly against us all the arguments of Straton and Lucretius. We will answer them by one word only-You exist; therefore there is a God.
Theologians will give us more trouble. They will first tell us,--We
that God is the first cause of all; but he is not the only one. priest of Minerva says expressly-" The second agent operates by virtue of the first; the first induces a second; the second involves a third; all are acting by virtue of God; and he is the cause of all actions acting.”
We will answer, with all the respect we owe to this high priest - There is, and there can only exist, one
sorry for it;
true cause. All the others, which are subsequent, are but instruments. I discover à spring~ I make use of it to move a machine; I discovered the spring and made the machine. I am the sole cause. That is undoubted.
The high priest will reply,—You take liberty away from men. I reply,—No; liberty consists in the faculty of willing, and in that of doing what you will, when nothing prevents you. God has made man upon these conditions, and he must be contented with them.
My priest will persist, and say, that we make God the author of sin. Then we shall answer him I am
but God is made the author of sin in all systems, except in that of the atheists. For if he concurs with the actions of perverse men, as with those of the just, it is evident that to concur is to do, since he who concurs is the creator of all.
If God alone permits sin, it is he who commits it; since to permit and to do is the same thing to the absolute master of all. If he foresees that men will do evil, he should not form men. We have never eluded the force of these ancient arguments; we have never weakened them. Whoever has produced all, has certainly produced good and evil. The system of absolute predestination, the doctrine of concurrence, equally plunge us into this labyrinth, from which we cannot extricate ourselves.
All that we can say is, that evil is for us, and not for God. Nero assassinates his preceptor, and his mother; another murders his relations and neighbours; a high priest poisons, strangles, and beheads twenty Roman lords, on rising from the bed of his daughter. This is of no more importance to the Being, the Universal Soul of the World, than sheep eaten by wolves or by us, or than flies devoured by spiders. There is no evil for the Great Being; to him it is only the play of the great machine which incessantly moves by eternal laws. If the wicked become (whether during their lives or subsequently) more unhappy than those whom they have sacrificed to their passions—if they suffer as they have made others suffer-it is still an inevitable consequence of the immutable laws by which
the Great Being necessarily acts. We know but a very small part of these laws; we have but a very weak portion of understanding; we have only resignation in our power.
Of all systems, is not that which makes us acquainted with our insignificance, the most reasonable? Men (as all philosophers of antiquity have said) made God in their own image; which is the reason why. the first Anaxagoras, as ancient as Orpheus, expresses himself thus in his verses : “ If the birds figured to themselves a God, he would have wings; that of horses would run with four legs.”
The vulgar imagine God to be a king, who holds his seat of justice in his court, Tender hearts represent him as a father who takes care of his children. The sage attributes to him no human affection. He acknowledges a necessary eternal power which animates all nature, and resigns himself to it.
General Reflection on Man. It requires twenty years to raise man from the state of a plant, in which he abides in his mother's womb, and from the pure animal state, which is the lot of his earliest infancy, to that in which the maturity of reason begins to dawn. He has required thirty ages to become a little acquainted with his own bodily structure. He would require eternity to become acquainted with his soul. He requires but an instant to kill himself.
I once met with a reasoner who said, -Induce
your subjects to marry as early as possible. Let them be exempt from taxes the first year; and let their portion be assessed on those who at the same age are in a state of celibacy.
The more married men you have, the fewer crimes there will be. Examine the frightful columns of your criminal calendars; you will there find a hundred youths executed for one father of a family. VOL. IV.