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which they hold a correspondence with the material systemthe relation in which they stand to other worlds and beings, from which they are separated by the voids of space and the excursions they occasionally make to different regions of that vast empire of which they form a part;—to trace the superior intellectual faculties and the sensitive organs with which they are endowed—the profound investigations they have made into the economy of the universe-the trains of thought which they pursue, and the magnificent objects on which their faculties are employed—the emotions with which they view the scenes and transactions of such a world as ours—the means by which they have been carried forward in the career of moral and intellectual improvement—the history of their transactions since the period at which they were brought into existence-the peculiar dispensations of the Creator, and the revolutions that may have taken place among them—the progressions they have made from one stage of improvement to another—the views they have acquired of the perfections and the plans of their Almighty Sovereign—the transporting emotions of delight which pervade all their faculties and the sublime adorations they offer up to the Fountain of all their felicitywould constitute a source of the most exquisite gratification to every holy, intelligent, and inquiring mind. But, since we are at present confined to a small corner of the universe of God, and surrounded by immeasurable voids of space, which intervene between our habitation and the celestial worlds, through which no human power can enable us to penetrate, we must remain ignorant of the nature and economy of those intellectual beings, till our souls take their flight from these " tabernacles of clay,” to join their kindred spirits in the invisible world. While we remain in our sublunary mansion, our investigations into the world of mind must, therefore, of necessity, be confined to the nature and attributes of the Uncreated Spirit, and to the faculties of our own minds and those of the sensitive beings with which we are surrounded, These faculties, as they constitute the instruments by which all our knowledge, both human and divine, is acquired, have employ. ed the attention of philosophers in every age, and have been the theme of many subtle and ingenuous speculations; and they, doubtless, form an interesting subject of investigation to the student of intellectual science.
But, of all the views we can take of the world of mind, the moral relations of intelligent beings, and the laws founded on these relations, are topics by far the most interesting and important. This subject may be treated in a more definite and
tangible manner than the theories which have been formed respecting the nature and operations of the intellectual powers. Illustrations, level to every capacity, and which come home to every one's bosom, may be derived both from reason and experience, from the annals of history, and the records of revelation. It is not involved in the same difficulties and obscurity which have perplexed the philosophy of the intellect; and there are certain principles which may be traced in relation to this subject, which apply to all the rational intelligences that God has formed, however diversified in respect of the regions of the universe which they occupy, and in the extent of their intellectual powers. Above all, this subject is more intimately connected with the present and future happiness of man than any other which comes within the range of human investigation; and therefore, forms a prominent and legitimate branch of what may be termed " The Philosophy of Religion.”
That the moral relations of intelligent minds, and the temper and conduct corresponding with these relations, are essentially connected with the happiness of every rational agent, might be made to appear from a variety of cases, in which the reversing of certain moral laws or principles would inevitably lead to disorder and misery. I shall content myself with stating the following illustration :—We dwell in an obscure corner of God's empire; but the light of modern science has shown us, that worlds, a thousand times larger than ours, and adorned with more refulgent splendours, exist within the range of that system of which we form a part. It has also unfolded to our view other systems dispersed throughout the voids of space, at immeasurable distances, and in such vast profusion, that our minds are unable to grasp their number and their magnitude.' Reason and revelation lead us to conclude, that all these worids and systems are adorned with displays of di. vine wisdom, and peopled with myriads of rational inhabitants. The human mind, after it has received notices of such stupendous scenes, naturally longs for a nearer and more intimate in. spection of the grandeur and economy of those distant provinces of the Creator's empire; and is apt to imagine, that it would never weary, but would feel unmingled enjoyment, while it winged its flight from one magnificent scene of creation to another. But, although an inhabitant of our world were divested of the quality of gravitation, endowed with powers of rapid motion adequate to carry him along “ to the suburbs of creation,” and permitted by his Creator to survey all the wonders of the universe, if a principle of love and kindly affection towards fellow-intelligences did not animate
his mind, if rage and revenge, pride and ambition, hatred and envy, were incessantly rankling in his breast, he could feel no transporting emotions, nor taste the sweets of true enjoyment. The vast universe, through which he roamed, would be transformed into a spacious hell ; its beauties and sublimities could not prevent misery from taking possession of his soul; and, at every stage of his excursion, he could not fail to meet with the indications of his Creator's frown. For there appears, from reason and experience, as well as from the dictates of revelation, an absolute impossibility of enjoying happiness so long as malevolent affections retain their ascendancy in the heart of a moral intelligence, in whatever region of universal nature his residence may be found.
Hence we may learn, that the highest attainments in science to which any one can arrive, though they may expand the range of his intellectual views, will not ensure to their possessor substantial and unmingled enjoyment, while his heart is devoid of benevolent affections, and while he is subjected to the influence of degrading and immoral passions. If it be possible that any one now exists in the literary world, who has devoted his life to the sublimest investigations of science, and has taken the most extensive views of the arrangements of the material world, and yet, who remains doubtful as to the existence of a Supreme Intelligence, and of an eternal state of destination; who is elated with pride at the splendour of his scientific acquirements; who treats his equals with a spirit of arrogance; who looks down with a haughty and sullen scowl on the inferior ranks of his fellow-men; who is haughty, overbearing, and revengeful in his general deportment, and who is altogether indifferent as to the moral principles he displays, I would envy neither his happiness nor his intellectual attainments. He can enjoy none of those delightful emotions which flow from the exercise of Christian benevolence, nor any of those consolations which the good man feels amidst the various ills of life ; and, beyond the short span of mortal existence, he can look forward to no brighter displays of the grandeur of the material and intellectual universe, but to an eternal deprivation of his powers of intelligence in the shades of annihilation.
It must, therefore, be a matter deeply interesting to every intelligent agent, to acquire correct notions of the fundamental principles of moral action, and to form those habits which will fit him for the enjoyment of true felicity, to whatever region of the universe he may afterwards be transported.- In the illustration of this subject, I shall pursue a train of thought
which, I am not aware, has been prosecuted by any previous writers on the subject of morality, and shall endeavour to confirm and illustrate the views which may be exhibited, by an appeal to the discoveries of revelation.
We have an abundance of ponderous volumes on the subject of moral philosophy; but the different theories which have been proposed and discussed, and the metaphysical mode in which the subject has generally been treated, have seldom led to any beneficial practical results. To attempt to treat the subject of morals without a reference to divine revelation, as most of our celebrated moral writers have done, seems to be little short of egregious trifling. It cannot serve the purpose of an experiment, to ascertain how far the unassisted faculties of man can go in acquiring a knowledge of the foundation and the rules of moral action; for the prominent principles of Christian morality are so interwoven into the opinions, intercourses, and practices of modern civilized society, and so familiar to the mind of every man who has been educated in a Christian land, that it is impossible to eradicate the idea of them from the mind, when it attempts to trace the duty of man solely on the principles of reason. When the true principles of morality are once communicated through the medium of revelation, reason can demonstrate their utility, and their conformity to the character of God, to the order of the universe, and to the relations which subsist among intelligent agents. But we are by no means in a situation to determine whether they could ever have been discovered by the investigations and efforts of the unassisted powers of the human mind. The only persons who could fairly try such an experiment were the Greeks and Romans, and other civilized nations, in ancient times, to whom the light of revelation was not imparted. And what was the result of all their researches on this most important of all subjects? What were the practical effects of all the fine-spun theories and subtle speculations which originated in the schools of ancient philosophy, under the tuition of Plato and Socrates, of Aristotle and Zeno? The result is recorded in the annals of history, and in the writings of the apostles. “They became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. They were filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, deceit, malignity; they were backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without natural affection, implacable and unmerciful." Their general conduct was characterized by pride, lasciviousness, and revenge; they indulged in
the commission of unnatural crimes; they were actuated by restless ambition, and they gloried in covering the earth with devastation and carnage.
It is true, indeed, that some of the sects of philosophers propounded several maxims and moral precepts, the propriety of which cannot be questioned; but none of them could agree respecting either the foundation of.virtue, or the ultimate object toward which it should be directed, or that in which the chief happiness of man consists; and hence it happened, that the precepts delivered by the teachers of philosophy had little influence on their own conduct, and far less on that of the unthinking multitude. Where do we find, in any of the philosophical schools of Greece and Rome, a recommendation of such precepts as these, “ Love your enemies ; do good to them who hate you; and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you ?" In opposition to such divine injunctions, we can trace, in the maxims and conduct of the ancient sages, a principle of pride insinuating itself into the train of their most virtuous ac ps. It has been reckoned by some a wise and a witty answer which one of the philosophers returned to his friend, who had advised him to revenge an injury he had suffered ; “ What, (says he), if an ass kicks me, must I needs kick him again ?" Some may be disposed to consider such a reply as indicating a manly spirit and true greatness of soul; but it carries in it a proud and supercilious contempt of human nature, and a haughtiness of mind which are altogether inconsistent with the mild and benevolent precepts of Him who, in the midst of his severest sufferings from men, exclaimed “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
It appears somewhat preposterous to waste our time, and the energies of our minds, in laboured metaphysical disquisitions, to ascertain the foundations of virtue, and the motives from which it is to be pursued; whether it consists in utility, in the fitness of things, or in the regulations of states and political associations, and whether it is to be prosecuted from a principle of self-love or of benevolence, when every useful question that can be started on this subject may be immediately solved by a direct application to the revelations of heaven, and an infallible rule derived for the direction of our conduct in all the circumstances and relations in which we may be placed. Even although the moral philosopher were to reject the Bible, as a revelation from God, it would form no reason why its annunciations should be altogether overlooked or rejected. As an impartial investigator of the history of man, of the moral constitution of the haman mind, and of the circum,