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The body which man wears, is subject to, and can be bound by material bonds; for he may be tied by ligatures, and bound down with chains; but his soul soars far above them; and, if truly virtuous, can be free and happy in slavery, in poverty, and in death itself.
All external bonds are merely physical; the mind which is truly free, cannot be bound down by them.
It is, alas ! too true, that the fear of bodily bonds has induced some men, in different ages of the world, to purchase the favour of tyrants and tormentors, by mental sacrifices.
But in so doing, from being in measure free, they make themselves slaves indeed !—from exciting soft pity, and kind commiseration, they excited contempt. Such, by being conquered, deserved not the reward due to victors.
There are, in our day, many men who endeavour to'enslave the minds of their fellow-citizens : and this by various artifices, and natural physical chains.
Such are sensualists, of different classes and denominations; all, in reality, Anti-Christians. All such are covertly immoral ; whatever they profess.
He, whoever he be, that exalts physical law, and sinks down moral law under his feet; who either openly, or by a side wind, opposes the truths of the Sacred Scriptures; (for there, and there only, is the moral law to be found in its purity and in its fulness) such a one is a sensualist, and a poisoner ; a serpent of the tree of knowledge, of good and evil.
The Ten Commandments, in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, contain that law.
He who lives in obedience to it is well pleasing to God, the AUTHOR of it. And he who lives in contradiction to it, can neither be well pleasing to God, nor any other than a nuisance in the society of his fellow mėn.
He who lives in violation of moral law, cannot be a Christian, because Christianity is built upon that law.
“ If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matt. xix. 17.
He cannot be a good citizen, because the moral law teaches to do as he would be done by.
Nor can he be an honest man, because he looks at his own self, will, and his own advantages, in opposition to truth and justice,
He violates the law of kindness and justice, and of consequence becomes unkind and unjust.
In public life he is bad, however he may endeavour to show fair to the world, by a specious outside. As to open violators of that law, they are like putrid and contagious diseases, whose contact is deadly.
If in public life the immoral man be injurious to society; he is much more destructive in private.
Such an one sours, embitters, and poisons domestic happiness; and by this means incapacitates the rising generation from becoming either happy or honourable.
Of totally a different cast is the truly moral man.
Sincerity, kindness, openness, benevolence, generosity, temperance, and chastity, with a very long list of other virtues, take up their abode in his happy dwelling.
His life being gradually perfected here, by active morality dwelling in passive matter, is prepared by habit, to such a fixedness and stability of moral life, as may enable him to do without matter; and live distinct from it, in the mental or moral world.
This, indeed, is the very design of a material world, viz. to form a receptivity for immaterial minds. For in the moral world; there is no extension, consequently, space and time, with their limitations, have no place there.-(Chapter III.)
Instead of extension, there is impletion; and instead of time, there is a state of impletion. And, as the states of mental comfort, delight, and happiness, in this world, may be immensely varied, and exalted ; how much more must this be the case, when the limitations and imperfections of matter are removed! when the spirit returns to God who gave it!
Proafs, in support of the foregoing principles, are abundant. The states of society, in every part, evidence them.
Penal laws are designed as correctors of immorality; for where there is no immoral conduct, no just law can punish.
Let immorality be removed, and the prisons may be shut up. We may then sleep in safety without bolts or bars to our doors.
Were immorality banished, the forked tongue of slander would no more wound the characters and feelings of the good and virtuous. Detraction, envy, malice, violence, duplicity, drunkenness, unchastity, theft, tyranny, with the whole infernal brood of immoralities, would retire to their native hells; and no longer disturb the peace and comfort of society.
Were immorality removed, civil and religious liberty must grow and spread their sheltering branches far and wide.
Remove immorality, and commerce must needs flourish; because full credit would exist between man and man; honest debts would be paid, none other would be contracted, and fraudulent bankruptcies would have an end,
Is this an imaginary picture! is it not rather a thing fully within the reach. Who is there that is not ashamed of immoral conduct? and where is the man or woman,
endowed with common sense, that may not live a moral life, if so disposed ?
This matter is in the power of all. And if we will not, each of us, practice it, with what face can we complain of the mischiefs existing in society.
Every one who violates moral bonds, adds his quota of evil to the common stock.
Truth is generally seen more clearly by contrast.
Let the foregoing principles be inverted, and then view the picture.
Let us suppose, for a moment, that nature created all things ; is the head of all things.
Then it follows, that what is outermost created what is inmost; that the circumference created the centre; that our earth formed the sun, that the body formed the mind; that what is inert and dead, created what is alive.
The soul or mind must, in this case, act from the body, not the body by command of the soul.
This atheistical inversion is the very reverse of the phenomena of the world.
For the earth, obediently, as astronomy teaches, moves round the sun, not the sun round the earth.
The mind directs the movements of the body, not the body of the mind.
Of consequence, the order of creation is, that what is within rules what is without.-That what is within is the highest and most central, and what is without is lowest and most circumferential.
The mind of man is within the body, and is therefore central to it; but, as every one ought to know, the mind is not self produced nor self existent; therefore it owes its existence to another who is central and superior to it.
Wherever there is man, therefore, he is a standing proof that there is a God above him.
To what is owing the vast difference of sentiments and manners amongst us, but to difference of moral ideas, and consequent conduct?
If our moral ideas were all correct, we should not be inundated with infidel writings; nor infidel behaviour.*
Nothing in any period of former times, has brought flourishing nations to their ruin, but disunion effected by perverse opinions and conduct, arising from immoral minds.
Why is a bribe offered, but to destroy moral probity! and why is it received, but to sell virtue. Both the buyers and the sellers are morally corrupt. They are diseased within.
Were morality duly cherished and cultivated, infidelity would fly the land. There is no better seat can be prepared for the truths of revelation than a moral heart.-Nay, there can be no morality but what is derived from those truths.
There is no such thing as natural religion. Therefore, . Man, of himself, without instruction, would be worse off than the brutes.
They, born with their instincts, of various kinds, know their fit food, and can distinguish their friends from their foes.
Not so human beings. The tender nursings of a mother, or nurse, are long needful; nor could they ever attain to human speech, nor be able to communicate ideas, without attentive instruction.
* Psalm c. 3.
And, if language, which is of human origin, cannot be gained without teaching, much less can things of a much higher nature.
Who can know what an intelligent man thinks, or feels, of a matter, except he expresses himself! if then the inferior be not to be comprehended, how much less the Superior, the AlmighTy God, and his laws!
What are the powers, it may be asked, which uninstructed man possesses of procuring wisdom of himself?
Has he any science at his birth, or is he either intelligent or rational ? if he were any of these, he would not, perhaps, require Preceptors and Professors; and if they be acquired afterwards, it must be from those who know, and are superior in mental power ; consequently, he not takes, but receives them.
How much more is this the case in religion, of which the Bible assures us, “ A man receives nothing, except it be given him, from above."*
If man, by the light of nature, can procure for himself the knowledge of God and moral law, how comes it to pass that so many nations of the earth are superstitious Idolaters! and why does their moral conduct generally keep pace with their ideas of the Deity ?
The truth is, every man is born into this world ignorant. Should he become wise in progress of growth, his wisdom is to be considered as acquirement. The word of God; the sayings of other men, tend to this acquisition ; for as shown above, be human mind is derivative, not primitive.
What is mentally obtained of wisdom, must be from God, the CENTRE of wisdom-the only SOURCE thereof. Hence it may appear, there could be no religion without revelation.
In chapter third, it was shown, that man, in consequence of his possessing powers of vice and virtue, and from no other ground, is a moral agent. For it is virtue which constitutes morality; and it is vice which makes immorality.
It was also shown, that he can freely choose to do an evil ac.