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one of whom has ever known what good government is. What is, bad and unjust as it is, has become so fastened upon the people as to shut out of their conceptions what ought to be. The actual has been so long inculcated, and so long acquiesced in, that it has taken the place of the just, those primitive and natural ideas of right, which God originally stamped upon the soul of man.
. . To secure the performance of the right as well as the perception of it, God has implanted in the human heart besides the sense of justice, the feeling of benevolence. As he has given us peculiar affections towards our nearest relatives to secure the performance of necessary duties, such as the parental and the filial tie, so has he given us a feeling to correspond to our relations to the whole species, but fainter in intensity because the duties it secures are less imperious and indispensable. We naturally wish well to the whole human family. Where there is no conflict of interest, no previous injury or prejudice, we had rather learn that any li human being is in health, prosperity, and happiness, than hear that he is sick, or in
misfortune, or misery. That the final purpose of this may not be mistaken, it is found that this feeling increases or diminishes in direct proportion to the nearness or the distance of the object. Sympathy, which seems to be a sort of involuntary benevolence, obeys the same laws, and springs up with an intensity precisely proportionate to our opportunity to relieve the afflicted. We read that a whole city is swallowed up by an earthquake on another continent, and we are slightly moved it is true, but by no means violently excited. But let us hear that our friend's house is on fire at the other end of the town, and we are on our feet, and on our way to assist him, before we are aware. That there is such a principle as benevolence in the human heart for species, is. demonstrated every day. It is shown by the species of eloquence which is most efficient in eliciting charity. It is by no appeals to the reason as to its propriety,, or to the conscience as to its obligation, that the solicitor succeeds. It is by a plain statement of the case, by a moving picture of distress. Then the miser's grasp is unclosed, which was only clenched the firmer while reason and conscience pleaded the cause. These two feelings, of benevolence and sympathy, which together may be denominated humanity, are a strong auxiliary to the sense of justice in restraining the impulses of the desires, the appetites, and the passions, which are excited by all objects alike that are calculated to gratify them, without reference to the propriety or the impropriety of their indulgence. It is often complained that these feelings are no stronger. I believe that what they want is not greater intensity, but better direction. God knew best what relative strength to give them. And it is now found that, weak as they are, they are sometimes turned into a channel, which injures rather than benefits mankind. Those immense charitable establishments, which modern philanthropy has raised up, are found after all to nurse the very evil which they are intended to cure.
So strong and so prevailing is this feeling of humanity in the human breast, that it was necessary to establish there an antagonist passion, to suspend and reverse its operations on certain occasions, and that is the passion of resentment, as it were, a rough and ironhearted executioner of the stern awards of justice. Were benevolence always operative, man could not carry out the judgments of his moral nature, could not repel injury, nor exercise that retribution which the Almighty has delegated to him for the government of the world. As long as God governs man by man, so long must there be such a thing as punishment. And in order to secure punishment there must be such a feeling as resentment, which suspends while it lasts the general feeling of good will which is innate and permanent within us. The knowledge of its existence, of its certain, unerring and inexorable exercise, exerts an immeasurable restraining influence upon the conduct of mankind, and ties up the hand from wrong in a thousand cases where the dictates of the moral sense would be totally disregarded. But it is wisely and kindly provided that it should be occasional and temporary, not permanent and abiding, like the more amiable sentiment which it is intended to suspend. And the generous mind, although it cannot prevent the feeling from springing up on the occurrence of injury, is disposed to carry it no further than to repel aggression and to obtain redress, then suffers it to pass as soon
as possible away, and buries the remembrance of it in perpetual oblivion.
Another auxiliary of the moral instincts in the government which God exerts over mankind, through each other, is the sense of shame. Its power is tremendous, irresistible, overwhelming. No man can stand before it, and it is capable in this world of inflicting the pains of hell. We are created with a strong desire of the esteem and good opinion of our fellow men. No discipline can make us indifferent to the opinions of others. When we have done wrong, the reproaches of our own conscience are hard enough to bear. If we had no other punishment most of our offences would be amply avenged. But the idea that others entertain as bad an opinion of us as we do ourselves, is often altogether insupportable. As a general principle, it may be asserted, that disgrace is more terrible than guilt. And this fear becomes more and more intense as mankind become more cultivated and delicate in their moral sensibilities. This sentiment lays the foundation for that omnipotent engine of moral influence, public opinion, which perhaps does more to keep the world under the laws of the moral