Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/308

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May 1876.


A frivolous poet observes: "If it is hard to refrain from flippancy when writing mere prose, it is almost impossible when the subject is that broad burlesque, a system of philosophy or theology. Yet we are in general so imposed upon by weight of character and intellect as to regard such a system with serious respect if not adoration. Any despotic absolutism always finds abundant slavishness among men to respond to it, just as the rich always find parasites, mad prophets always daft believers, knaves always natural dupes."

In preaching a short sermon on this flippant text, let me begin by remarking that I throughout adhere to the sense in which the word system seems to be used by the said frivolous poet; meaning a system general and absolute, whether in pliilosophy or theology; a system which professes to expound the universe in its genesis or its eternity, its development, its final causes or want of the same, its essential relations to the human soul (whose essence is equally expounded), its essential relations to God if the system includes a God (when his essence is indicated if not expounded). Such a system is included in each of the great