Edward Payson Archive

Selected Thoughts

Insufficiency of Human Reason

Viewed through any other medium than that of revelation, man is a riddle which man cannot expound; a being composed of inconsistencies and contradictions, which unassisted reason must forever seek in vain to reconcile. In vain does she endeavor to ascertain the origin, object and end of his existence. In vain does she inquire in what his duty and happiness consist. In vain does she ask what is his present concern and future destiĀ­nation. Wherever she turns for information, she is soon lost in a labyrinth of doubts and perplexities, and finds the progress of her researches interrupted by a cloud of obscurity which the rays of her feeble lamp are insufficient to penetrate.

Suppose you should see a man carrying a little, glimmering taper in his hand at noonday, with his back turned to the sun, and foolishly endeavoring to persuade himself and others that he had no need of the sun, and that his taper gave more light than that glorious luminary. How amazingly great would be his folly! Yet this illustration very feebly represents the folly of those who walk in the sparks of their own kindling, while they disregard the glorious Sun of righteousness.

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