Stand Upon Thy Feet" continued...
"The old French Revolution, as has often been said, was owing in great part to the dying out of all religious awe in the heart of the nation. The men of science and philosophy of that day fancied they were going to analyze everything, pick all nature to pieces, and get within the clutch of their understanding the Original Cause. Science, they flattered themselves, would soon show how things were made, and what they were made of, and what for; and in the midst of impenetrable mysteries and miracles, they looked about almost with contempt, saw nothing that could not easily be set right, nothing more admirable than their own sagacity, which was soon to solve the mighty riddle, when it might possibly appear that the Universe was no very great things after all; that it was full of defects, and improvements might be suggested. Then all sense of sacredness, everything that could prompt men to walk humbly before God, vanished ; and the nation, being without God, plunged into an abyss of blood and crime, and men were stript of the common attributes of humanity. The same absence of a faith, that adores the Unsearchable, is always and everywhere followed by sin and woe: without faith in a holy and mysterious Presence, the world ceases to be sacred as a temple. It is only a quantity of matter, blindly obedient to certain laws impressed upon it, and man degenerates into an animal, living only for his own pleasure. He grovels. He no longer stands upon his feet. The mechanical theory of nature takes all life from us.
The inevitable consequence of our prostrate estate is, that God does not speak to us; or, when he speaks, we cannot hear. In other words—to drop the metaphor—we do not know what is True as a thing of complete personal conviction. We are never perfectly sure that it is Truth. It is not what it was to prophets and holy men of old, the word of the Lord, the voice of Almighty God, beyond every audible voice, and heard where no other voice can sound, in the heart, and to be obeyed instantly, let what may be the cost. So far are we from all authoritative conviction of this sort, that it is everywhere maintained that, without an interposing miracle, it is, and always has been, impossible for God to speak to man; in other words, that man cannot possibly know the truth as certainly as if God had spoken with him by a miracle; that the individuals who, from time to time, have appeared in the world speaking Truth with authority, were the subjects of miraculous illumination. Such being the almost universal belief, we never stand up to listen for the Divine Voice. We fold our arms and shut our eyes, or lie down and go to sleep, muttering in our dreams some unintelligible creed. And Religion, instead of being the recognition of man's immediate and intimate relationship to the Highest, becomes a phrase and a form; and, at the best, we only think, or fancy, or incline to believe, we do not know, the Truth. We cannot hear God when we have decided that it is impossible for Him to speak to us."