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emotion! The process is as animated as if the law sprung at once from an internal lawgiver who had no subordinate commission to administer justice; but proved his authority, by the rapidity of his decisions, to be derived from an original fountain of Truth.
Hence, under all its various forms in various countries, if the fulfilment of an act of supposed duty be made matter of Conscience, remorse or satisfaction follows in the mind, as the necessary consequence of compliance or disobedience.
This simple fact indicates an original propensity to follow some path of duty. Our Senses may be deceived; our Reason may be deceived; and likewise our Moral perceptions may be obscured and distorted. But we do not deny that there may be correct obser vation by the Senses, and that their testimony ought to be relied on; we do not deny that there is a reason◄ ing faculty because we are liable to reason amiss: neither should we deny the existence of an internal monitor and guide of conduct, because there may be variations in one country from what are the received notions of duty in another. Notwithstanding every thing that has been said to the contrary, it has been the opinion of some of the wisest men, that there are some fundamental truths in all the various systems of faith in the world, which claim the approbation of mankind in every nation. It is presumed that no practical opinions are so entirely absurd and revolting to human nature, as not to be mixed up and implicated, if I may so speak, with these fundamental
Truths; by which alone they gain credit and recommend themselves to the understanding. Unmixed error, in judgment and moral feeling, is not to be recognized in any people upon earth.
The Mahometan, the Hindoo, the African, the Chinese, the Indian, the Carib, the New Zealander, the Samoeide, the Tartar, and the Egyptian, notwithstanding the variety in their outward creeds, from early usages and modes of education, and notwithstanding the perverse notions they severally entertain; yet have they some common original principles regulating their society both public and private, which are accounted sacred amongst them, and entitled to the reverence of mankind,-principles of justice, honesty, veracity, faith, gratitude, humanity, benevolence, affection, sympathy, as well as of devotion to some Supreme Power, and regard to the obligations of Conscience.
Even if we look at the nations professing Christianity, few in comparison with Mahometans and Pagans, what do they exhibit? The speculative notions which they entertain, although they go so far as to produce in some cases embittered hate, and even to excite the worst affections, yet they do not prevent the display of moral and religious feeling and the acknowledgment of those duties which are common to Humanity. But Christians profess to have their rules laid clearly before them, and hence are less excusable than some others. It must therefore be allowed that some speculative differences do not
wholly extinguish the original sparks of truth and virtue. For, upon the same ground, one Christian nation might as well deny to another those general principles of morality and religion above stated, because they differed in some speculative points of doctrine, as to deny them to the darkest heathen nations, because they worshipped the Universal Parent in the sun ́or cloud, or prostrated themselves before dumb idols, reptiles, and beasts, through outward ignorance of His Great Name..
But how greatly is the opponent to Christianity off his guard, when he makes the speculative quarrels among Christians a ground of argument against this Divine system, and the reception of its pure principles; and, placing its sublime precepts on a level. with those of other religions merely notional, refuses to avail himself of the only clear insight into the mysteries of the heavenly kingdom, which has yet been revealed to man? If I may pursue the same train of reasoning a little further, what a change may be wrought in public opinion, even in the same Christian country, in the course of time?
We need not look to nations characterized as savage, for examples of preposterous errors in judgment as well as practice. Within the space of three centuries, enlightened England, having all the advantages of the outward letter of the revealed law, has seen great part of the nation vindicating the propriety of burning and enslaving the bodies of men for reasons they would now be ashamed to own. En
lightened men have even sentenced to death unhappy women for the supposed crime of witchcraft-a charge at which the most ignorant of the vulgar is now disposed to smile. Are these variations in human opinion in one country less inconsistent with right reason and moral feeling than the acts of the nations above specified with the standard of immutable Truth? Had men no moral principle or conscience in England because they imbibed these irrational notions? Has the Carib no sense of right and wrong-no moral perception or is it seared and blunted to every other moral sentiment, because he eats the flesh of his enemy, or the Esquimaux, because he leaves his aged relative to perish,-or the Chinese, because he exposes the new-born infant to destruction; or the Hindoo, because the deluded pilgrim devotes himself to death beneath the wheels of Juggernaut, and the widow, a voluntary sacrifice to the flames on the funeral pile of her deceased husband?
Obscurity in some things, or in part, does not necessarily darken the whole mind and withdraw it from the casual influences of the light of Truth. If that were the case, few could rank among the truly enlightened for the majority have their prejudices, their errors, and imperfect views. But notwithstanding all these things, some instinctive irradiations do now and then break forth in the moral gloom of the most barbarous climes; and sparks of superior light may occasionally be discovered, kindling, as it were, in the bosom of savage nature.
The light or talents, or opportunities and advantages, with which different persons are favoured, vary exceedingly; and we are not answerable to one another for the fruits or consequences, except we transgress the moral law to each other's injury. We believe that we are only accountable for what we have received to profit with; we are however accountable for the advantages we have thrown away. Hence the Pagan or Mahometan, who, with the exception above noticed, acts according to the measure of his knowledge and fulfils the dictates of his Conscience, merits no condemnation from us. Nay, he may be accepted at the throne of Grace in preference to him to whom much has been given, and whose return to the bountiful Parent has been small. While then we make Conscience variable according to the light and knowledge with which any may have been favoured, let us not suppose that the ultimate standard of Truth itself is variable. He that now accepts the contrition of the broken heart as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, accepted also the outward offerings of the Law: and will he not accept the simple devotion of his sincere-hearted children, whether accompanied with ceremonies or not, among the unenlightened heathen?
The ultimate standard of Truth is a recondite treasure of which few know the value; and fewer still seek it where it is to be found-in their own hearts. What then, it may be asked, are the Scriptures of Truth to be superseded? By no means they are of inestimable value: they point to the true teacher;