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109

CONSCIENCE.

destined to light him through his earthly journey ? If
he had now first learned to know himself by intercourse
with a being in whom his thoughts and feelings were
reflected as in a transfiguring mirror, so that he was
thereby inspired and elevated to a height before un-
dreamed of ? He was shocked at the thought of the
low sphere in which his mind and heart must have
remained, if Idalia's magic wand had not touched the
very depths of his soul, if he had spent his days with
the insignificant Maria.
  So was it with him, and so is it with all. Vanity,
which in the most various forms and shapes, with the
most diversified turns and disguises, mingles in our
self-examinations, throws a false light over every thing
and blinds our clear judgment of the true relations in
which we stand, and of the plain demands of right and
duty. For this reason, it is necessary that man should
hold fast to the firm prophetic word. When he arrives
at a point where he sees diverging ways, he must neither
blindly obey external influences, nor seek to find the
right path by self-reliant investigation. By such spec-
ulations every evil passion is awakened in him, as error
selects these cross-ways for the orgies of his nocturnal
demons. Sensuality, selfishness, and vanity strive to
lead his judgment astray, and with the best will in the
world, his examination will never result in a fair esti-
mate of what may be said on both sides. He should
rather, in such cases, surrender his reason, which, through
the awakening of those evil impulses, is preserved from
rendering a truthful testimony to the guidance of his
faith. He should ask what is the Lord's will here ?
and not seek the answer in himself, as if his own heart