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of God. But the exercise of the mind itself in each mode, is subject to the will, i. e. it is not by necessity but voluntarily; yet varying, according to the circumstances which call the mind into action. Thus, for example, when an object is presented to our attention, there is a degree of voluntariness implied in the action of our minds, when we are said to perceive it. In like manner, in reasoning another mode of mental action, we voluntarily compare our perceptions or thoughts and knowledge recalled; --in remembering, we revive our perceptions;-and in imagining combine them in new forms. Now these susceptibilities of emotion, and modes of action, are not two separate and independent systems in the mind itself, but are found to be so blended, as to be alike operative, or discoverable in almost every voluntary action.
Our voluntary actions are of a complex nature. for example, we say that we love or hate, desire or fear, hope or despair, and the like, and so doing, give, by particular acts, the appropriate indications of these things. Now what do we mean by such language so very common in human parlance? We could not love, if we were not possessed of that constitutional susceptibility, which qualifies us for feeling the attractive influence of some object of beauty or excellence,-nor hate, but for another susceptibility, which qualifies us for feeling the repelling influence of some disagrecable object, &c. Nor should we love, or hate, notwithstanding these susceptibilities, unless some appropriate object, i. e. some object of excellence, or the contrary, calculated to excite the affection, be presented. When such object is presented, whether directly exhibited to the inspection of our senses, or represented by statement, or recalled by memory, or created by imagination, there is first, the perception of it, which, if of a vivid character, awakens the appropriate feelings, and, securing a degree of attentiveness to it, next brings those feelings, more
fully into play, till a moving power is felt in the soul, and it is, as it were, carried towards it, or from it, with full consent, and voluntarily, by looks, words, or deeds, gives indication of the prevalent emotion. When, therefore, we say we love or hate, we mean, that we voluntarily consent or yield, to the particular impression which has been. made by some appropriate object on our susceptible soul.
These voluntary exercises are oft-times very transient, passing away forever with the thought or object which has excited them, being quickly obliterated by the impressions of succeeding and more interesting objects. Where however, the impression has been deep, i. e. more than the evanescent feelings awakened by the play of surrounding objects, especially where it has been made by something which has a near or special bearing on our interests, our happiness, or our security,-the feelings will be prolonged, repeated, invigorated, and the voluntary exercises, at first isolated and solitary, will become continuous, and ripen into purpose, leading to action, and subordinating feebler and counteracting influences. cording to the influential purpose, will be the acquisition and manifestation of character. Men take their denomination, or descriptive epithet, from the moving, or ruling passion; the slave of avarice, being called a miser, a wretch, because his love of gold makes him deny to himself the common comforts, and almost the necessaries of life; the votary of sensual pleasure, a voluptuary, a sensualist, and one and another, deceitful, wrathful, vindictive, jealous, envious, according to the prevalent feeling which fails not appropriately to express itself.
Now from this view of the susceptibilities, and capacities for action, which characterize us as moral beings, several things seem obvious; as, that in the mere existence of these things, there is nothing sinful; that the sinful or holy character of them is to be estimated by a reference to
the objects which elicit them, whether unlawful, or the contrary; that the mere involuntary excitement produced by the action of an improper object on our susceptibilities, is not sinful, but only becomes so, if allowed to prevail until it gains the consent of the will;-and that this excitement ripening into will and purpose, possesses no compulsory power, but follows the general laws which God has ordained for the government of mind.
What those laws are, have already been incidentally brought into view. They may be summarily stated to be the following, viz.; that on the presentation of an object adapted to any susceptibility of our nature, an impression or involuntary excitement in some degree, when it is perceived, shall follow-that the strength of the impression, or the degree of involuntary excitement depends upon the vivid character of the first perception of the object,—that if the excitement is not resisted, it will, by virtue of the laws of associated thought, increase and gain a controling power over the will, first securing its consent, and then maturing into some purpose according to, and in prosecution of, which the appropriate capacities of action are exerted, and in such way as to give indication of the fact.
In all these, we observe a strict analogy with the manner in which material objects act upon the mind, through the organs of sense. The flowcret of beauteous colour, or delicious odour when approached, makes its impression on the appropriate organ of sense. The impression if lively, awakes the attention of the mind. The attention of the mind increases the strength of the impression, as it brings the organ of sense, more fully under its exciting power. That impression deepening, we approach and pluck it, or inhale its perfume, giving demonstration in acts, and often in laudatory expressions, not only of the exciting influence of the flower, but also, of that excitement being voluntarily sustained and promoted by us.
But the objects appropriate to our spiritual life, the things of the Spirit, are not directly cognoscible by our senses. "The natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The great realities of eternity, and the peculiar exciting facts or truths of our holy religion, are none of them open to the inspection of our senses. They are reported to us by the testimony of God, who cannot lie, and it is only by faith, that we can have any knowledge of them. This indeed, is the only way in which we can obtain information with regard to matters of fact, which we have not seen, or which have been without the sphere of our personal observation. It is, from the very necessity of the case, and not by reason of any arbitrary constitution, that in these high concerns, "we walk by faith, and not by sight." In due season, we shall be permitted to apprehend them, by other means, and to our inconceivable delight, when the emancipated spirit, shall have thrown off the casement of the mortal body, or that body shall be resuscitated, with its senses so sublimed, and purified, and delicately attenuated, as to secure, in blissful impressions on the soul, the full and joyous excitement from real objects, which now can only be known by faith. But though we do see as through a glass darkly-though the life we live, is by the faith of the Son of God, yet have we sufficient information communicated to us by God, in His holy word, for all the purposes of a present blissful life, and of eternal safety and glory. The Bible is made the sphere of spiritual vision. Here are spread before us the wondrous objects which excite, and bring into blissful and holy exercise, the susceptibilities, and capacities, of our immortal nature. With faith, as with a telescopic glass,
we peer into eternity, and survey with rapture and delight, the realities of the unseen world. For "we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things, which are unseen: for the things which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are not seen, are eternal." Nay further, we penetrate by its means, into the very heart of Heaven and of God: for the Bible is the revelation of His mind and will, disclosing to our view, Himself and His perfections, Christ and His salvation, the Spirit and His work, Heaven and its happiness, Earth and its misery. Hell and its horrors, man and his guilt, the church and her interests, the world and its rebellion, and whatever other spiritual truths or facts we need to know. And hence it is called, "a light to our feet and a lamp to our path."
But the wondrous facts revealed in the Bible, make no salutary impressions on the minds of multitudes. Instead of rousing into blissful action their susceptible nature, its precious truths, with many, have an irritating effect. While the christian pores over its sacred pages, and, in the spirit of prayer, drinks in the refreshing influence of the truth, exclaiming with the Psalmist, "Oh, how I love thy law; it is my meditation all the day." The unrewed sinner dislikes it, and neglects to consult it, as "the man of his counsel," though it is "able to make him wise unto salvation." He sees nothing lovely or attractive in it; except, indeed, it may be, in the sublimity of its poetry, and simplicity of its history. The blessed Saviour, who is there unveiled in the rich glories of his character, possesses no charms. He is, to the unbeliever, "a root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness, and when He is seen, there is no beauty (perceived) in Him, (to excite the sinner) to desire Him. "3 Whence arises this difference?
We reply, from the special agency of the Holy Spi
1. 2 Cor. iv. 18.
2. Psalm cxix. 97. 3. Isai. liii. 2.