Page:Vocation of Man (1848).djvu/153

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


apprehend this world merely in and through the end which is promised to my obedience; — it is in reality nothing else than this necessary end itself which reason annexes to the law of duty.

Setting aside everything else, how could I suppose that this law had reference to the world of sense, or that the whole end and object of the obedience which it demands is to be found within that world, since that which alone is of importance in this obedience serves no purpose whatever in that world, can never become a cause in it, and can never produce results. In the world of sense, which proceeds on a chain of material causes and effects, and in which whatever happens depends merely on that which preceded it, it is never of any moment how, and with what motives and intentions, an action is performed, but only what the action is.

Had it been the whole purpose of our existence to produce an earthly condition of our race, there would only have been required an unerring mechanism by which our outward actions might have been determined, and we would not have needed to be more than wheels well fitted to the great machine. Freedom would have been, not merely in vain, but even obstructive; a virtuous will wholly superfluous. The world would, in that case, be most unskillfully directed, and attain the purposes of its existence by wasteful extravagance and circuitous byeways. Hadst thou, mighty World-Spirit! withheld from us this freedom, which thou art now constrained to adapt to thy plans with labour and contrivance; hadst thou rather at once compelled us to act in the way in which thy plans required that we should act, thou wouldst have at-