Worship "Shallow Men Believe In Luck"

John Greenleaf Whittier

"Shallow Men Believe In Luck"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Analyzing religion, Emerson says that he does not fear skepticism, for honest doubt can lead to the discovery of truth. The "stern old faiths" are dying, and yet "God builds his temple in the heart on the ruins of churches and religions." Religion is a highly personal matter: "Heaven deals with us on no representative system. Souls are not saved in bundles." The "moral" and the "spiritual" are eternal. "Simple and terrible laws . . . pervade and govern . . . every atom in Nature." We must have faith in the "almightiness," for "all the great ages have been ages of belief," and faith develops our highest powers and talents. "The nature of things works for truth and right forever," and eternal laws govern all happenings: "This is he men miscall Fate,/ Threading dark ways, arriving late,/ But ever coming in time to crown/ The truth, and hurl wrongdoers down . . . This is Jove, who, deaf to prayers,/ Floods with blessings unawares." Man lives in "necessitated freedom":

Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances: It was somebody's name, or he happened to be there at the time, or, it was so then, and another day it would have been otherwise. Strong men believe in cause and effect. The man was born to do it, and his father was born to be the father of him and of this deed, and, by looking narrowly, you shall see there was no luck in the matter, but it was all a problem in arithmetic, or an experiment in chemistry. The curve of the flight of the moth is preordained, and all things go by number, rule, and weight.
Skepticism is unbelief in cause and effect . . .