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us, unless they are put into practice, by being incorporated into the daily and hourly series of living acts. It is thus that habits are formed; which give strength for the present, and abundant encouragement for the future. Nor is this all. If our habits are the opposite of conscientious, in other words if we disregard the suggestions of the moral sense, and in repeated and frequent instances throw contempt upon its authority, the probability is, that the edge of its perception will be blunted, and that it will be partially paralyzed and weakened in its operation. It may be difficult, in some respects, to explain how this result takes place; but the result itself seems to be beyond doubt. In truth it may be regarded as only one form or instance of what appears to be a general fact in our mental constitution, viz. that all the powers of the mind suffer under a system of inactivity and repression. Action, and action too in a given manner, is their natural food, their appropriate aliment; and when, in consequence of any obstacles that may be thrown in their way, they are deprived of this, they wither away and become gradually more and more undiscriminating and powerless, although it cannot be said as a general thing, certainly not in the case of the conscience, that they suffer an absolute extinction.
§. 306. Of the importance of correct morals in connection with our civil and political situation.
We bring what has been said to a conclusion, necessarily brief as it is, by the single remark more, that this subject, while it is exceedingly important to all persons, is particularly so to the citizens of this country. In this remark we have particular reference to the popular form of our government. A government, which is based in power that is lodged somewhere else than in mere public sentiment, may by possibility sustain itself amid the prevalence of loose moral principles. But it is otherwise in a government, which depends for its support upon the opinions of the people. If there be any truth, which the history of all ages has clearly established, it is, that a republican form of government cannot be sustained, for any length of time, without purity in the public moral sentiment. In this country every thing of a civil and political nature depends upon public opinion. There is noth
ing in the whole length and breadth of our civil and political institutions, from the Constitution of the Union down to the charters of the humblest municipal corporations, which is not susceptible of being changed, amended, and even abrogated by the power of the popular voice. So that it may be said with a great degree of truth, that the permanent law of the country, that, which creates, regulates, and preserves the whole vast system of written and prescriptive law, is to be found in the intelligence and the virtue of the community. How deplorable, then, will be our situation, if the time shall ever come, when the people of the United States shall permit themselves to disregard, or to underrate the important subject of correct morals!—It is an easy matter to proclaim in the corners of the streets the excellence of democratical institutions; but it is beyond all question, that every man is to be set down as essentially indifferent to their welfare, who is not willing to sustain the testimony of his declarations by the substantial verification of a virtuous life. He, who deviates from the standard of strict rectitude, whatever may be his professions in behalf of popular rights, deviates in an equal degree from the standard of genuine republicanism.
It is a matter of undoubted historical record, that the foundations of our public institutions were laid by men of great moral worth; by men who combined the sternness of Roman integrity with the humble and devoted spirit of the Christian martyrs; of whom it might be said with as much truth as of any body of men whatever, that they would rather cut off a right hand or pluck out a right eye, than prove faithless to their conscience and their God. And let the time come, when the concerns of these now happy Republics shall be conducted by men of a different stamp, by men who would merge and dissolve their sentiments of duty in the impure crucible of their selfish interests, and in their disregard of rectitude and religion, would dethrone either their God or their conscience; let that time come, whether sooner or later, and in the sad experience, that our excellent institutions cannot possibly be sustained in such a state of things, we shall infallibly witness the extinction, and probably the permanent extinction, of the happiness we enjoy, and of the glory which crowns us.
THE SENSIBILITIES OR SENSITIVE
SENSITIVE STATES OF THE MIND OR SENTIMENTS.
IMPERFECT AND DISORDERED SENSITIVE ACTION.
DISORDERED AND ALIENATED ACTION OF THE APPETITES AND PROPENSITIES.
§. 307. Introductory remarks on disordered sensitive action.
WITH What has now been said on the subject of our moral nature, we bring the interesting and important department of the Sensibilities, in its two leading forms of the Natural or Pathematic Sensibilities, and of the Moral Sensibilities, to a conclusion. In saying this, however, we have reference to its regular and ordinary action; or that action, which takes place in accordance with the ordinary and permanent principles of the Sensitive nature. But it remains to be added further, that there are instances here, as well as in the Intellect, of marked and disastrous deviations from the salutary restraint, which these principles impose. In other words, there is not unfrequently an action of the Sensibilities, which is so far out of the ordinary or natural line of the precedents of the heart and the morals, that it may be properly described, sometimes as an imperfect or disordered, and sometimes as an alienated action.It is to the examination of this subject, a knowledge of which is obviously necessary to a comprehensive and complete view of the Sensibilities, that we now propose to proceed.
§. 308. Of what is meant by a disordered and alienated state of the sensibilities.
It may be proper to remark here, that an imperfect or disordered action of the Sensibilities may express merely an irregularity of action, something out of the common and ordinary course of action; or, as the form of expression is obvi