Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/226

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man's belief in its existence; and they all, above all, believe in themselves—which is the very anti-climax of credulity.

He also said: I do not see that mankind in general can ever manage to exist without a religion of some kind; and I do not see that it matters much what kind of religion they have. For dogmas are but empty bottles and barrels into which each believer pours as much spirit as he has, and of such kind and quality as he has; so that you shall find two bottles of exactly the same pattern, the one full of vitriol-gin and the other full of purest nectar. Very few men have enough spirit to overfill or even to half-fill the holy vessels; and these very few men usually keep on pouring contentedly, though their bottles have been long overflowing.

He also said: The discipline and rites of a religion are far more important and influential than the dogmas.

It was he who asked: Can you convert another man to your own height, figure, complexion, constitution, temperament?—if you can, you may also convert him really and truly to your own faith. No one sentence ever means exactly the same from any two mouths or in any two pairs of ears; nor even from any one mouth or in any one pair of ears at different times. And when it was inquired of him: Wherefore, since you are persuaded of the vanity of all attempts at proselytising, do you now and then write and talk as if to teach and persuade? he answered: First and foremost, because "it is my nature to." But also, though no word of mine will ever convert any one from being himself into being another Me, my word may bring cheer and comfort and self-knowledge to others who are more or less like myself, and who may have thought themselves peculiar and outcast; it may be to them a friendly voice revealing that they have a brother in the world, and may thus hearten them to put trust in themselves and keep