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of the wildest fanaticism. And your idea of the Absolute and the Perfect, what is it but a hallucination of the

, metaphysically mad, - the finite vainly thinking to comprehend the infinite ? Do not all these things, therefore, though they exist, or are thought to exist, in the human mind, when a little more carefully examined, look very much like figments of the brain ?”

How long is the plain, practical good sense of mankind to be abused by a sophistry like this, which owes all its apparent force and pertinency to a sort of logical slight of hand, that, with a quickness making it imperceptible to slow minds, substitutes for the real question at issue, another having nothing to do with the subject ? So far as the present discussion is concerned, it matters not whether conscience, as already instructed and educated, always decides correctly, or never decides correctly. I am not contending, as every body must perceive, who is capable of understanding the argument, for the correctness or uniformity of the decisions of conscience, a circumstance which must depend, of course, on the nature and degree of instruction and education it has received, but for the existence of conscience itself, not as a figment of the brain, but as an element of our moral and spiritual nature.

What I maintain is simply this ; that every man is born with a moral faculty, or the elements of a moral faculty, which, on being developed, creates in him the idea of a right and a wrong in human conduct ; which leads him to ask the question, “ What is right ?" or, “What ought I to do?” which summons him before the tribunal of his own soul for judgment on the rectitude of his purposes ; which grows up into an habitual sense of personal responsibility, and thus prepares bim, as his views are enlarged, to comprehend the moral government of God, and to feel his own responsibility to God as a moral governor. My reasonings and inferences, therefore, are not affected, one way or another, by the actual state of this or that man's conscience, or by the fact that probably no two consciences can be found which exactly agree. A man's conscience, we must presume, according to the influences under which he has acted, will be more or less excited and developed, and more or less enlightened and educated. Still we hold it to be undeniable that every man has a conscience to be excited

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and developed, enlightened and educated ; that in this sense conscience has its root and foundation in the soul, and that man, herein, differs essentially from the most sagacious of the inferior animals, and, unlike them, was originally constituted susceptible of religion.

And so, too, of the sentiment of veneration or devotion, considered as an original and fundamental propensity of the human mind, I care not, so far as my present purpose is concerned, under what forms it has manifested itself, or to what excesses or abuses it has led. These very excesses and abuses only serve to demonstrate the existence and strength of the principle itself, as they evince such a craving of our nature for religion, that it will accept of any, even the crudest and most debasing, rather than have none. Could this be, if we were not made to be religious ? No matter what may be the immediate or ostensible object of this sentiment, a log, a stone, or a star, the god of the hills, or the god of the plains,.“ Jehovah, Jove, or Lord,” still it is veneration, still it is devotion.

Neither can the principle itself, by any slow of evidence or just analysis, be resolved into a mere figment of the brain, or a mere creature of circumstances, for, in some form or other, it has manifested itself under all circumstances, and in every stage of the mind's growth, as having its root and foundation in the soul. The sentiment may be, and often has been, misdirected and perverted ; but there is the sentiment still, with nothing to hinder its being excited, developed, and directed aright, and the result is religion. There is the sentiment disposing man to look upward to a higher power, and inducing faith in the invisible ; a quality in which the most sagacious of the inferior animals do not share in the smallest degree, and which proves, if final causes prove any thing, that man was made for worship and adoration.

One word more respecting our capacity to form an idea of the Absolute and the Perfect. The shallow and flippant jeer, that it is the finite vainly thinking to comprehend the infinite, comes from substituting the literal sense of the term comprehend, as applied to bodies, for its figurative sense as applied to minds ; making the comprehension of an idea to resemble the grasping or embracing of a globe with the hands or the arms. Besides, we need not say that man can,

strictly speaking, comprehend the Absolute and the Perfect, but only that he can apprehend them, as really existing ; and there is this difference between the literal import of apprehension and a full comprehension, that one can lay hold of what he would not think to be able at once to clasp. However this may be, it is certain that the idea of the Infinite grows up in the human mind, as it is cultivated and expanded, and becomes an essential condition of thought. As a proof of this, let any one try, and see if he can separate the idea of infinity from his idea of space and duration; or, in other words, whether he can possibly conceive of mere space, or mere duration as otherwise than infinitely extended. Moreover, the very idea of imperfection, as such, involves at least some faint glimmering of an idea of the Perfect, with which it is compared, and without which imperfection would be to us as perfection. In other words, if we had no idea of perfection, we could have no idea of its absence, which is what we mean by imperfection. So likewise in contemplating things accidental and dependent, the idea of the Absolute grows up in the mind; the idea of something that is not accidental and dependent, and on which every thing that is accidental and dependent leans and is sustained. In short, the mind of man is so constituted, that, in the full developement of its intellectual powers, it can find no real satisfaction, no resolution of its doubts and difficulties, but in the idea of the Absolute and the Perfect. Take away this idea, and existence itself becomes an enigma, a meaningless and objectless phantasm. Give us back this idea, and it again becomes a consistent, intelligible, and magnificent whole. Man, unlike the most sagacious of the inferior animals, is so constituted, that this reaching after the Absolute and the Perfect enters into and forms an essential element of his moral and spiritual nature, giving him not only a capacity but a predisposition for that faith which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.

Therefore do we say, and say confidently, that a foundation for religion is laid in the soul of man, the existence whereof is attested and put beyond controversy by the revelations of consciousness. This is my first proposition, and I have only to add in respect to it two brief suggestions. If, as we have seen, a foundation for religion is laid in the soul of man, can we bring ourselves to believe for one moment, that it is laid there for nothing? And again, if, as we have seen, a foundation for a higher life than that of the senses is laid in the soul of man, must it not be accounted a sort of insanity in us, to say nothing of its sinfulness, to refuse or neglect to build upon it?

II. Here my second proposition comes in, which asserts that religion in the soul, consisting as it does of a manifestation and developement of our spiritual faculties and capacities, is as much a reality in itself, and enters as essentially into the idea of a perfect man, as the corresponding manifestation and developement of the reasoning powers, a sense of justice, or the affections of sympathy and benevolence.

Modern philosophy has revived an important distinction, much insisted on by the old writers, between what is subjectively true and real, that is toʻsay, true and real so far as the mind itself is concerned, and what is objeciively true and real, that is to say, true and real independently of the mind. Thus we affirm of things, the existence of which is reported by the senses, that they really exist both subjectively and objectively ; that is to say, that the mind is really affected as if they existed, and that, independently of this affection of the mind, the things themselves exist. In other words, we have an idea of the thing really existing in the mind, and this is subjective truth and reality; and there is also an object answering to that idea really existing out of the mind, and this is objective truth and reality. One sense, therefore, there certainly is, in which the most inveterate skeptic must allow that religion has a real and true existence to the really and truly devout. Subjectively it is real and true, whether objectively it is real and true, or not. All must admit that it is true and real so far as the mind itself is concerned, even though it cannot be shown to have existence independently of the mind. It is a habit or disposition of soul, and, in any view of the matter, the habit or disposition truly and really exists. It is a developement of our nature, a developement of character, and, as such, is as true and real as any other developement of nature and character. Even if it feeds on illusions, it is not itself an illusion. Even if, in its springing up, it depends on nothing better than a fancy, a dream, - its growth in the

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soul, and the fruits of that growth, are realities, -allimportant, all-sustaining realities.

I dwell on this distinction, because it is one which the sensualists, from policy or perversity, would fain wink out of sight, making the question at issue to be, Whether religion is, or is not, a mere illusion. This is not the question. Take any view of the matter, take the sensualist's view of the matter, and still it is undeniable that religion itself, as it exists in the soul of the devout, is a reality, as much so as any other habit or disposition of soul, as much so as taste, or conscience, or parental or filial affection ; and its effects are as real.

Nor is this all. Religion in the soul enters essentially into our idea of a perfect man. Suppose a man perfect in his limbs, features, and bodily proportions, but entirely destitute of understanding ; -- would he answer

; body's idea of a perfect man? No. Give him, then, a perfect understanding, but still let him be entirely destitute of moral sensibility, - as dead to sentiment as before he was to thought, — would he answer to any body's idea of a perfect man? No. And why not? Because we mean by a perfect man, one in whom the whole nature of man is developed, in its proper order, and just relations and proportions. Now, as has been demonstrated, a foundation for religion is laid in the human soul. In other words, we have spiritual faculties and capacities, as well as intellectual and moral faculties and capacities; and the former constitute a part of our nature as truly as the latter; and this part of our nature must be developed. Otherwise the entire man is not put forth. Part of his nature, and of his higher nature too, it may be said, is yet to be born ; and

; thus it is, that a deep and true philosophy reässerts and confirms the Christian doctrine of regeneration. We are born, at first, into the visible or sensible world; when we become alive to the invisible or spiritual world, we may be said to be born again ; and it is not till after this second birth that we become all which, as men, we are capable of becoming. It is not, I repeat it, until after this second birth, consisting, as I have said, in a developement of our spiritual faculties and capacities, that the entire man is revealed, or our idea of a perfect man realized or approached.

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VOL. XVII.

N. S. VOL. XII. NO. I.

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