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[365] forgetting that the highest liberty consists in being
Chap. LXIII.} 1776. May.
forced by right reason to choose the best, men cherished sensualism as a system, and self-indulgence was the law of courts and aristocracies. A blind, unreasoning, selfish conservatism, assumed that creative power was exhausted; that nature had completed her work, and that nothing was to be done but to keep things as they were; not knowing that this conception is at war with nature herself and her eternal order, men substituted for true conservatism, which looks always to the action of moral forces, the basest form of atheism and the most hopeless theory of despotic power.

The age had ceased to wrestle with doubt, and accepted it not with anguish as the despair of reason, but with congratulation and pride. To renounce the search for eternal truth passed for wisdom; the notion that there can be no cognition of the immutable and the divine, the shallow infidelity which denies the beautiful, the true, and the good, was extolled as the perfection of enlightened reason, the highest end of intellectual striving. The agony of questioning was over; men cherished no wish for any thing beyond appearances and vain show. The prevailing philosophy in its arrogance was proud of its chains. It not only derided the infinite in man, but it jeered at the thought that man can commune with the infinite. It scoffed at all knowledge that transcends the senses, limited itself to the inferior lessons of experience, and rejected ideas which are the archetypes of things for ideas which were no more than pictures on the brain; dethroning the beautiful for the agreeable; the right

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