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and communion of God. The development of these capacities, however, is effectuated by means of external and ma terial objects, and it is not until the child has been so far accustomed to associations of thought, clear perceptions, accurate observation, careful comparison and abstraction, as to be able to form an idea of something, not perceptible by his senses, and to employ some sensible object as its representative or image, that it can have the idea of God. This occurs, at a much earlier period than some apprehend. A child, whose sensations have been vivid, and perceptions clear, can soon form the idea of an efficient cause, and with this, by familiar comparisons, associate the ideas of various moral qualities, which, together, will give the complex notion of God.
We are not concerned to trace, in the regular process of intellectual education, the development of the different capacities, which fit man for such knowledge, to which every child with or without the aid of designed teaching by instructors, is subjected. They are only some general facts, which are pertinent. No one can have failed to observe, that those objects, which produce pleasureable sensations, are apt to engage the attention most, and secure the most accurate perceptions, and that in proportion to the vivid character of the sensation, will be the discriminating character of the perception. In like manner such sensations, with their associated thoughts, will be most frequently recalled, and most indelibly recollected. The vivid character of the sensation, may, indeed, in some measure, depend upon the susceptibilities of the organs of sense. It is the susceptibility of the mind as to pleasure or pain however, which secures the interested attention requisite to an accurate knowledge, and retentive recollection of the object. In other words, just in proportion as feeling is awakened, or excited, will be the degree of interested at
tention, and the probability of the objects not being forgotten. And what is true of objects as productive of thought, is also true of subjects, or of those ideas, which the mind forms or arrives at for itself, by its comparisons and deductions. Such is the law of our nature, and we cannot alter it.
Impressions and passions, or feelings, rouse to action. But there is given to the mind of man, a power of balancing, deliberating, and suspending action, till a full and correct judgment is formed. That judgment must always he, according to the character, or degree of correct knowlc:lge acquired. If it is thought that an object, or action will be promotive of our interest, or happiness, there will be a strong determining influence to seek, or resolve upon it. And as it is a law of our nature, that we act according to the influence of prevalent motive, so it is manifest, that if the judgment in the case, should not be the result of sufficiently accurate, and extensive, knowledge of the character of the object, or action, or of their tendency to benefit us, so as to counteract the influence of impressions or feelings inclining to it, the choice or purpose and couduct, of the individual will err, and be found eventually at war with his real interest.
And here we may remark, that in most cases of practical bearing, the judgment which we form as to the fitness or unfitness of an object or action to benefits, is the result, not of mere speculative knowledge or intellectual percoptions, but actual experience. The child may be told, and it may even he demonstrated to him, that an object or action will prove injurious; but no'hing that he can hear, and learn in this way, will be so efficient in preventing the choice of it, as the actual experience of its injurious tendency. The object may be very attractive, its impressions very pleasant, and its whole appearance so imposing, as to produce the conviction of its being calculated to benefit, and
that in so strong a degree, as actually to prevent that close observation, and those discriminating perceptions, which are necessary to a fuller knowledge of it, and which, if had, would counteract its illusions. The child will not be effectvally prevented from catching at the Name of the candle, till it bas burned its little hand. The knowledge thus gained by experience, will exert a more efficient influence, than all it had acquired from the frowns and prohibitions and other demonstrations of its nurse.
Now, every human being is brought into existence under the operation of these and similar laws of his very nature, and that too, under circumstances altogether unfavourable to the acquisition of the knowledge necessary to determine always to conduct promotive of his real benefit. Sensible objects first appear, and caress his attention, and attract and win his heart. There is a strong bias towards them produced by the pleasure afforded, and the indulgence allowed, before that intellect has been sufficiently developed to discover their real character, and their bearing on his true happiness. There is, moreover, a particular readiness or inclination to experiment for himself, and to learn practically, rather than to take the word of one more competent to judge.
Thus was it in some respect with our first parents while innocent, and it was on this very principle of their nature, that Satan operated successfully to secure their sin and ruio. The influence of passion, excited by the view of the fruit, and conversation with the tempter, becoming prevalent, and not being counteracted by any knowledge of evil which our first mother derived from the law or prohibition of God, the readiness to experiment and practically to know for herseil, overpowered her faith in the testimony of God, and she plucked and ale the forbidden fruit. It was manifestly, in her, the triumph of her sensitive over her intellectual cature. Her passions and appetites pre
vailed, notwithstanding she was in possession of an understanding fully developed, and furnished with demonstrative knowledge.
Need we then think it strange-Is it not most natural, that her offspring should successively make the same fatal error, especially when they are placed in circumstances vastly more unpropitious than she was, having in fact been brought under the strong influence of sensitive indulgence, before that their intellectual powers have been sufficiently developed, to discern and know the will, or law of God which declares what is holy,good, and true, and to be sought, and what is evil, and ruinous, and to be avoided? The mere knowledge of God, and of His law, intellectually acquired, has to combat with the strong influence of passion, inipelling, ostimes, to what is prohibited, so that, from the very first moment in which the child begins to act, there takes place a manifest derangement in the exercise of its moral powers, or of those capacities and susceptibilities, which at it for noral action. It becomes a sinner, there
. fore, most naturally:-nothing, indeed, can be more natural than such a result, considering all the circumstances under which it is placed. And yet there is no absolute necessity, arising out of the constitution of its being, or from the presence of some latent, intangible cause, or foundation, wrought into the very structure of the human soul. But, when it becomes a sinner; or, in other words, when it first commits sin, it does it most voluntarily. For what is it to act voluntarily, but to act according to the prevalent motive? The man naturally, and without resistance, yields to the motive, which, at the time, seems to him to be most important, and to have the most direct bearing on his pleasure or happiness. In so far as he has power to weigh and balance the several motives for or against an action, is he actually and perfectly free. This power, however, it niust be obvious, will never be brought into full energy, where
sed Redeemer, as He probably does, in the case of those that die in infancy, and let the developing process, be in the high and holy exercises of those redeemed by His blood, and elicited by circumstances, inconceivably propitious to happiness and holiness; or, if he brings the rebel mind, already arrayed in opposition to His government, to submit to His sway, and believe upon His Son, and then commence its renovated life, and high career of glory, to Jesus must be all the honor and all the praise ascribed. Great and ineffable will His glory appear, as it shall be seen, that man has risen from a state of mere emptiness and wants, from the lowest and despicable of beginnings, to such a degree of perfection, that there shall not be found a creature so lofty, as to excite his envy, or so low as to be treated with disdain;-and that thus, upon the very same principle, which the first rebel perverted to misery, corruption and death, God has raised, and purified, and enlarged the capacities of poor, degraded, fallen man, to the highest conceivable and possible degree of holiness and bliss. Oh, the depths of the wisdom and goodness of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding