Man's primitive dignity, his degradation, and his high calling,
shown in the writer's previous publications
They have sufficiently indicated the difference between the powers, mutually exercised on each other, by the physical and moral orders, the former having over the latter a passive power only, obstructing it, or it leaves it to itself; whereas, the moral has over the physical order an active power, that of creating in it, so to say, notwithstanding our degradation, manifold gifts and talents, which it would never have had of its own nature.
Although I do not flatter myself that I have convinced many of my fellow-creatures, as to our lamentably degraded state, since I first took upon myself to defend human nature, yet I have often attempted it, in my writings, and, I believe I may say, my task is fulfilled in this respect, though this may not be the case with those who have read me.
Those writings have sufficiently shown how the All Wise, from whom Man descends, has multiplied the means by which he may rise again to his primitive state; and, after laying these foundations in man's integral being, so as to be above suspicion, and so that he might, at any moment, verify them by his own observation, they have represented to him the entire heavenly and earthly universe, the sciences of all kinds, the languages, and mythologies of all nations, as so many depositions which he may consult at his pleasure, in which he will find authentic evidence of all these fundamental truths.
They have particularly recommended, as an indispensable precaution, though universally neglected, that all traditional books whatsoever be considered only as accessories, posterior to those important truths which rest upon the nature of things, and the constituent nature of Man.
They have essentially recommended men to begin by firmly assuring themselves of these primary and impregnable truths, not omitting, afterwards, to gather from books and traditions everything that may come in support of them, without allowing themselves to be se blinded as to confound testimony with facts, which must first be known to exist as facts, before depositions of witnesses are received; for, when there are no certain facts, witnesses can have no pretension to our confidence, nor be of any use.
I have not now to demonstrate man's frightful transmigration; I have said that a single sigh of the human soul is more decisive on this point than all the doctrines derived from external things, or than all the stutterings and noisy clamour of the philosophy of appearances.
Hindoo priests may stifle the widow's cries, whom they burn on their funereal pyres; their fanatical songs and the tumultuous noise of their instruments do not the less leave her a prey to the most horrible tortures; and their impostures and atrocious shouts will not make her forget her pains.
No I those only, who make themselves matter, believe they are as they ought to be. After this first error, the second follows as a necessary consequence; for, matter, in fact, knows no degradation; in whatsoever condition it may be, it has still no character but inertia; it is what it ought to be; it makes no comparisons: it perceives no order in itself, nor disorder.
Neither do men, who make themselves matter, discern any better the striking and repulsive contrasts of their state of existence.