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[108] afraid of them, but let their censure be a very secondary thing with you — while your life is the true expression of your faith, whom can you fear? You are accountable to man for the performance of the duties which affect his welfare and well-being — for those which concern your own soul, you are accountable to God alone. A man, though with twenty surplices on his back and twenty prayer books in his hand, can no more condemn than he can save you.... There may be a hell and a heaven, and it may be good for most people, for you and me, too, if you choose to think that it is so. But there is a virtue which rises above such considerations — there are motives higher than personal fear or hope — the love of good because it is good, because it is God's and nature's law, because it is the secret of the beautiful order of things, because they are blessed by your virtuous deeds and pure thoughtsbecause every holy, every noble deed, word, or thought helps to build up the ruins of the world, and to elevate our degraded humanity. Those who propose to you hell and heaven as the great incentives to right, appeal merely to your natural love of personal advantagethose who hold up to you a God now frowning and indignant, now gracious and benignant, appeal simply to your natural cowardice, to your natural love of approbation. Does one love God for one's own advantage? One loves Him for His perfection, and if one loves Him, one keeps His commandments. Abandon, I pray you, the exploded formula of selfishness! . . . I think one should be capable of loving virtue, were one sure even that hell and not heaven would be its reward.


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