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virtuous or vicious, meritorious or the contrary, we could not derive this feeling from the process in
question. “ The moral sentiments could not be regarded as having their source in the sympathy, but as preceding it; or if no moral sentiments of
preceded it, the sympathy itself could not afford them— more than a mirror, which reflects to us, from the opposite landscape, the sunny hill, the rock, and the trees, gleaming through the spray of the water-fall, could of itself, without any external light, produce all that beautiful variety of colour with which it delights our vision.
Why is it that we look with so much horror on those early ages of persecution, which collecting around the victim every instrument of torture, required of him only a few grains of incense to be thrown before a statue,-more noble, indeed, than the imperial murderer whom it represented, but still only a statue, — the effigy of a being of human form, who under the purple which clothed him with the diadem, and the sceptre, and the altar,-far from being a god, was himself one of the lowest things which God had made ! When, placed thus between idolatry and every form of bodily anguish,—with life and guilt before him, and death and innocence,--the hero of a pure faith looked fearlessly on the cross or on the stake, and calmly, and without wrath, on the statue which he refused to worship,—do we feel that there was no merit in the mag. nanimity, because we cannot readily discover some gratitude which we may participate? We do not think of any thankfulness of man. We think only of
of God, and which is designed to teach us that he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, and render unto every man according to his works. From this inequality, and from the economy of mercy under which we are placed, we learn the danger of rashly interpreting the dispensations of God to man; and the impropriety no less of saying concerning him who is peculiarly tried, that he is eminently guilty, than of pronouncing him who is prosperous to be distinguished for piety and righteous
While all suffering proceeds from sin, suffering is now employed by the Mediator, and under the constitution of grace, for attaining various moral uses; and is intended as trial and chastisement, and the means of maturing the graces and virtues which will fit man for the society of angels and of just men made perfect. Yet, we ought to be well convinced that misery in any and in every form, is occasioned by disobedience to the will of God,—and that the state of suffering into which the original apostasy brought mankind, is greatly aggravated by our own actual transgression. Perhaps we do not remember so practically as we ought, that we live at present under a dispensation of retributive justice, though mingled with mercy ; that though in many cases there may seem to be one event to the righteous and the wicked, the equality is more in appearance than in reality; and that if our views of the Divine government were sufficiently extended, we should have ample grounds for believing that the connexion now existing between sin and its punishment, and obe dience and its reward, is so great as to be a near
harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, take place in a regular succession ; and in consequence of this regularity we readily believe that the same laws of nature whose effects are uniform in Europe, operate in the same way in every part of the globe. Though the constitution by which events are thus conjoined must, as the appointment of infinite wisdom, rest on the best possible grounds, we can conceive it reversed, so as to present the same events to us in a very different order. The same remark applies to the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic economy, and to all institutions merely positive, which however excellent on account of the ends which they subserve, and however binding on the conscience as enjoined by God, might, without any contradiction, , be conceived otherwise. But there are certain other things united together, whose disjunction we cannot conceive possible. It is impossible that the blessed God should relinquish any attribute of his nature ; or that his law should be otherwise than holy, and just, and good; or that any creature should ever become independent of him, or be absolved from the duty of loving and obeying him. In like manner is it impossible that any being formed in his likeness, and with capacities for enjoyment that can only be filled by his blissful favour and presence, should be happy after it has apostatized from God, and has ceased to have access to the fountain of living waters. Does not misery follow disobedience to God, and the voluntary withdrawment of the heart from him, as a natural and necessary consequence; and is it possible for the sinner by any mere enactment of power, os