Page:Vocation of Man (1848).djvu/16

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16
BOOK I.

Superfluous question! It is long since I have received complete instruction upon these points, and it would take much time to repeat all that I have heard, learned, and believed concerning them.

And in what way then have I attained this knowledge, which I have this dim remembrance of possessing? Have I, impelled by a burning desire of knowledge, toiled on through uncertainty, doubt, and contradiction?—have I, when anything credible presented itself before me, withheld my assent until I had examined and reëxamined, sifted and compared it,—until an inward voice proclaimed to me, irresistibly and without the possibility of mistake,—“So is it, as surely as thou livest and art!”—No! I remember no such state of mind. Those instructions were bestowed on me before I sought them, the answers were given before I had put the questions. I heard, for I could not avoid doing so, and what was taught me remained in my memory just as chance had disposed it;—without examination, and without interference, I allowed everything to take its place in my mind.

How then could I persuade myself that I really possessed any knowledge upon these matters? If I know that only of which I am convinced, which I have myself discovered, myself experienced, then I cannot truly say that I possess even the slightest knowledge of my vocation;—I know only what others assert they know about it, and all that I can really be assured of is, that I have heard this or that said upon the subject.

Thus, while I have inquired for myself with the most anxious care, into comparatively trivial matters, I have relied wholly on the care and fidelity of others