Page:Vocation of Man (1848).djvu/17

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17
DOUBT.

in things of the weightiest importance. I have attributed to others an interest in the highest affairs of humanity, an earnestness and an exactitude which I have by no means discovered in myself. I have esteemed them as indescribably higher than myself.

Whatever truth they really possess, whence can they have obtained it but through their own reflection? And why may not I, by means of the same reflection, discover the same truth, since I too have a being as well as they? How much have I hitherto undervalued and slighted myself!

It shall be no longer thus. From this moment I will enter on my rights, and assume the dignity which belongs to me. Let all foreign aids be cast aside! I will examine for myself. If any secret wishes concerning the result of my inquiries, any partial leaning towards certain conclusions, should arise within me, I forget and renounce them, and I will accord them no influence over the direction of my thoughts. I will perform my task with firmness and integrity;—I will candidly admit all that I really discover. What I find to be truth, let it sound as it may, shall be welcome to me. I will know. With the same certainty with which I can calculate that this ground will support me when I tread on it, that this fire will burn me if I approach too near it, will I know what I am, and what I shall be. And should it prove impossible for me to know this, then I will know this much at least, that I cannot know it. Even to this conclusion of my inquiry will I submit, should it approve itself to me as the truth. I hasten to the fulfilment of my task.