S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
How is it possible that it should enter into the thoughts of vain man to believe himself the principal part of Gods creation; or that all the rest was ordained for him, for his service or pleasure? Man, whose follies we laugh at every day, or else complain of them; whose pleasures are vanity, and his passions stronger than his reason; who sees himself every way weak and impotent; hath no power over external nature, little over himself; cannot execute so much as his own good resolutions; mutable, irregular, prone to evil. Surely, if we made the least reflection upon ourselves with impartiality, we should be ashamed of such an arrogant thought. How few of these sons of men, for whom, they say, all things were made, are the sons of wisdom! how few find the paths of life! They spend a few days in folly and sin, and then go down to the regions of death and misery. And is it possible to believe that all nature, and all Providence, are only, or principally, for their sake? Is it not a more reasonable character or conclusion which the prophet hath made, Surely every man is vanity?
Where are now the great empires of the world, and their great imperial cities? their pillars, trophies, and monuments of glory? show me where they stood, read the inscription, tell me the victors name. What remains, what impressions, what difference, or distinction, do you see in this mass of fire? Rome itself, eternal Rome, the great city, the empress of the world, whose domination and superstition, ancient and modern, make a great part of the history of this earth, what is become of her now?
As there is a pleasure in the right exercise of any faculty, so especially in that of right reasoning; which is still the greater by how much the consequences are more clear and the chains of them more long.