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tends also to them. They need, as well as our other active principles, to be put under the guidance of reason and conscience, or else they tend to excess, interfere with the exercise of other parts of our nature, degenerate into weakness, and may at last become the parents of crime. To them, more perhaps than to any other parts of our nature, the precept of the Apostle applies ; since they are so lovely and innocent in themselves, that our vigilance is less apt to be extended to them.
Of the malevolent affections, resentment, revenge and hatred, I believe the first alone to be native in our breast, and that that was implanted originally for useful and even necessary ends. There is a species of resentment, which seems inerely instinctive, and which operates in man exactly as in the lower animals. It was plainly intended to guard us against sudden violence on occasions when reason would come too late to our assistance; and it always subsides as soon as we are satisfied that no injury was intended. There is another species of resentment, which is excited only by intentional injury, by apparent wrong and injustice, and which is evidently connected with a sense of virtue and vice, of moral good and evil. The indignation raised by the sight of cruelty and injustice, whether exercised towards ourselves or others, and the desire of having it punished, has nothing of the nature of malice. It is not only an innocent, but a generous movement of the mind. It is resentment against
vice and wickedness. It is one of the common bonds by which society is held together; a feeling which each individual has in behalf of the whole species, as well as himself. The end for which it is implanted in our nature is to protect us from, and to remedy, injustice and cruelty ; nor could we be without it, without a loss to the perfection of that nature.
This principle, however, as well as every other in our nature, is susceptible of abuse, of deep and dreadful abuse. In some persons, the instinct of resentment, by being habitually cherished and indulged, becomes a passion which differs from insanity only in its duration. Others, in exercising a deliberate resentment, either direct it against imagined or exaggerated injuries,
injuries, or suffer it to swell immoderately against such as are real, or cherish it when unavailing, or are led by it to inflict pain, not for the purposes of reparation, but for the mere sake of producing misery. In this way, resentment degenerates into the dreadful passions of revenge, malice, and unforgiving hatred; and the image of God is changed into a resemblance of the character of a demon. “ Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed, lest he fall.”
In the view which I have thus given of the various malignant passions, representing them as arising, not from our nature as it was formed by God, but from our own abuse of it, I am warranted by many proofs both from scripture and reason, which
the time does not permit me to exhibit. When we see our Saviour place a little child in the midst of his disciples, and tell them, that unless they resemble it they cannot hope for heaven; when we recall his never to be forgotten words, “ Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom;" when we hear the Apostle Paul commanding his converts to have no malice, no more malice than a child; we are tempted to wonder by what strange perversity any christian should have ever been led to imagine that the breast of a child originally encloses a single guilty passion. With the sacred authority of Je
our Lord, and of his faithful servant Paul, I need not fear to say that there is naturally no such thing in the human heart as ill-will towards our fellow men. There is no such thing as a love of injustice, oppression, treachery, ingratitude, cruelty or revenge for their own sakes. We have, indeed, desires after various external goods. We cherish them; we permit them to gain strength; till at
1 length they become so powerful that we disregard the criminality of the means by which they are attained. But these bad means are never the original objects of our desire; and we all have an original repugnancy, and not a propensity to use them. It is a very old observation, and true as it is old, that every man, however abandoned, would prefer to obtain the objects of his desire by innocent means, if they were as easy and effectual as those which he employs. What more, indeed, is necessary to settle the question as to what feelings are congenial to our nature, than to consider that the temper of envy, rage, hatred and malice, is in itself pure misery. While on the other hand, the temper of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness, is in itself delightful, shedding calmness and peace over the soul, and thus proclaiming that it is designed by our Maker as the natural inmate of the human heart.
There are other active principles of our constitution, innocent and useful in themselves, but capable of becoming the sources of sin. I must content myself with very briefly recalling some of them to your recollection. There is a remarkable propensity of our nature, which has hardly gained a name among moralists, but which yet is very powerful in its operations. It has been sometimes denominated a love of excitement. There is something pleasing, we find, in the bare exercise of all our affections, excepting always and only the malevolent ones. We have a satisfaction in being roused to the exertion of any of our faculties. We take a delight simply in being moved. When we have neither hope nor fear, nor desire, nor project, nor employment of body or mind, instead of being happy, we are the most miserable of men. We are tempted to envy the sailor wrestling with the storm, or the soldier mounting the breach. This love of excitement is the origin of that exu
berant animation which we call love of mischief in children, and which, however inconvenient, nobody thinks of referring to settled perversity. It is this pleasure in the exercise of our faculties also, which accounts for that singular fondness for scenes of danger, which some men seem to feel, and which indeed is felt by us all in a degree, when the danger is not excessive. It accounts too for the pleasure which we take in fictitious distress, and is the solution of the delight which we feel, when our tears are flowing for imaginary sorrows. This part of our nature has its uses as a spring of activity and exertion; and it has its dangers also. There is need of a similar caution in applying stimulus to the mind and heart, as to the body. Excess in either case will produce an unnatural excitement, and lead often to extravagance, folly and sin.
There is an antagonist principle to the love of excitement, which is found in the love of case. The abuse of this propensity is the source of all the sins and miseries occasioned by indolence and sloth; and these are so great, that we might be tempted to think that our nature would have been more perfect without this tendency. But we ought to consider, that if we found no pleasure in repose, we should wear out and exhaust our systems by perpetual and excessive toil. And who can predict the increase of the crimes and woes of man, if all were urged on by a constant impulse to exertion ; if there were nothing grateful in the quiet