Instinct—Imitation—Ideas

Public Ledger

In the higher types of civilization, where advances in every department are rapid, where education is widely diffused and opportunites of all kinds are numerous, we might, with reason, look for a corresponding progress in the growth of ideas in the individual and in their practical outcome in his actions. We might expect that customs themselves would be brought to the bar of personal thought, and that they should be judged as good or bad, not on account of their long continuance or the number of their adherents, but because of their intrinsic worth or worthlessness. We fear, however, that this is the exception and not the rule. Take the lighter things of life, for example, as how we shall eat or drink or what we shall wear, what kind of houses we shall dwell in and how we shall furnish them, how we shall manage our expenses, regulate our time, conduct our hospitalities, our charities, our amusements—in all such things are we thinking out for ourselves the best ways and practising them, or are we merely imitating our neighbors? Do we follow custom or work out ideas?

Then, too, in the matter of our beliefs or opinions, are they really our own? Have we worked them out for ourselves, earned them by faithful mental labor, tested their truth to the best of our ability? or are they only appropriated from the brains of others, copied from our party, or our sect, or our newspaper and passed off as true coin, when, in truth, they no more belong to us than any other borrowed possession?

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Popularity of the Bible
December 6, 1900
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