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of cultivation, false associations, or ill-judged discipline, for their mistaken apprehensions of good and evil in the practical details of life, as to depravity of taste or perversion of moral sensibility. Their deeds of darkness are performed without compunctious visitings of conscience, not because that messenger of God slumbers in the breast, or is bribed by the sinner to hold its peace, or prevaricates in regard to the fundamental distinctions of right and wrong, but because that light is extinguished, that soundness of judgment is wanting, without which it is impossible to discriminate in the cases presented. The moral habits can no more expand nor take root downwards and bear fruit upwards, while the understanding, the true sun of the intellectual system, is veiled in darkness, than the plants and herbage of nature can flourish in beauty and luxuriance without the genial light of the day. The sense of obligation is always just in proportion to the enlargement of the mind with liberal views of the relations of mankind; and although the knowledge

of the right does not necessarily secure its practice, it does secure what is always of vast importance to society, remorse to the guilty, and a homage of respect to the good. He that acknowledges a legitimate standard of moral obligation will find in his conscience a check to those crimes, which, through weakness, he is unable to suppress; a restraint upon those passions which, through frailty, cannot be subdued. The transgressor, who violates rules of unquestioned authority, which his own understanding has deduced from the phenomena of conscience, will assuredly drive tranquillity from his bosom and repose from his couch. He sins indeed, but without that moral hardihood which attaches to those who, in their blindness and ignorance, put light for darkness, and bitter for sweet. They are the most dangerous offenders who tamper with the principles of rectitude itself, who seek to escape the reproaches of conscience by degrading the standard of moral obligation; who pursue peace at the expense of truth, and extinguish the light that they may not

behold the calamity of their state. The aban doned condition of the Gentile world, which the Apostle graphically describes in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, is ultimately traced to the vanity of their thoughts and the darkness of their minds; and those to whom the Gospel is hid, have their minds blinded by the God of this world, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them and reveal the glory of the Lord, by the contemplation of which, they might be transformed into the same image from glory to glory. There is hope of reformation as long as the principles remain uncorrupted; but when the light which is in us is converted into darkness, when lies are greedily embraced and errors deliberately justified, the climax of guilt has been reached, the ruin of the character is complete, and the perdition of the soul, without a stupendous miracle of grace, seems to be inevitable. Shame and remorse, the usual channels through which amendment is produced, are always the result of consciousness

of wrong-an affection which is utterly inconsistent with that complete degradation of the mind into which thousands have been sunk, and in which error is neither lamented nor admitted.

From the intimate alliance which subsists betwixt the understanding and the conscience, speculative falsehood must be fatal to the integrity of morals. He who trifles with the constitution of his nature in those primary convictions which lie at the foundation of all knowledge and philosophy-and error must be ultimately traced to some transgression of their laws-is cherishing a temper which shall soon rise in rebellion against the authority of conscience, and extinguish the only light that can convict him of crime. From the obscurity and confusion which have been permitted to shroud the understanding, may be anticipated a deeper gloom which is soon to settle on the heart. That the moral conduct of men is not always answerable to the looseness of their speculative principles, is not to be ascribed to any redeeming virtue in the

principles themselves, but to the restraints of society, and the voice of nature which licentiousness has not yet been able to suppress. The tendency exists, though accidental hinderances have retarded its developement. The denial of the reality of truth and evidence will be attended with a corresponding denial of rectitude and sin. These remarks, though they appear to me to be intuitively obvious, are felt to be necessary in order to rebuke the growing impression, that speculative principles have no immediate influence in regulating conduct. We live in an age of sophists. A man may believe any thing or nothing; and yet if his actions are consistent with the standard of public decency, his principles are not to be condemned, and he is not to be charged with wickedness on account of them. In the formation of his opinions, he is exempt from the moral law; conscience takes cognizance of nothing but the life. As if there could be any real virtue, where practice is not the result of principle; as if the opinion were not the soul, life and being of all that is

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