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importance of moral culture, and upon the prominent defects of our national character, may still be unable to see how an American Institute of Instruction can do much towards remedying the evils of which I have complained. It is not the purpose of this lecture to enter into practical details, or to propose specific measures, so much as to state and illustrate some general principles pertaining to this particular subject. But great good may be done in this way, greater perhaps in the present condition of the public mind, than in any other. If these principles are sound, their application will be very easily made ; there will be no difficulty in working them out.
I shall proceed, therefore, with a brief exposition of some further principles connected with the subject of my lecture. One of these, and an exceedingly important one, relates to the necessity of moral education in early life. This topic involves the consideration of the condition and characteristics of the mind during its first stages of activity and development. Nothing is more certain, than that the different powers and capacities of the mind, like the several parts and organs of the body, are developed more or less successively, – to a greater or less extent, in a definite order. Some of these powers are quick and active in earliest childhood, others are more tardily awakened, and some acquire their highest degree of intensity only in the later periods of life, at a time when many of the dominant impulses of manhood and of youth may have lost their energy, or have become almost extinct. Thus, the morbid passion for gain, which constitutes the miser, ordinarily acquires its fullest strength in somewhat advanced age. It is often when life is waning, after the fountains of its early joys are dried up, that this feeling becomes an insatiable and parching thirst in the soul, changing all the heart's greenness to ashes, and making its flesh harder than the nether mill-stone. The intellect is very slowly and gradually unfolded, - it fully possesses itself only during the ripe period of manhood, and it sinks with the failing body into second childishness in old age.
Early life is characterized by great activity of certain of the selfish and instinctive feelings, of some of the social affections, and of many of the moral and religious sentiments. The reasoning powers, together with some of the strongest motives and impulses of mature life are nearly dormant and inoperative. When I speak, here, of the activity in childhood, of the moral and religious sense, I mean its ready and quick susceptibilities,
-- its capacity for action, when properly appealed to, - when placed in relation to its appropriate objects, or, in plainer speech, when rightly trained and educated. And with this explanation, no one, I think, who has studied the character of childhood, will be disposed to doubt the truth of what I have said. I believe that I may safely appeal to all who hear me, for all have been young, and all, it may be hoped, have felt some of the movements of the spirit of God through the depths of the infant soul, and responded to their mysterious stirrings. When has self-reproach for wrong doing been more keenly and bitterly felt, than in the very days of the nursery ? When has irrepressible joy at the thought of duty perforined, or obedience rendered, or selfishness sacrificed, so overspread the heart like a fountain of sweet waters, as in the orient morning of our being ? We have all seen the spectacle, and the whole earth, in the infinitude of its loveliness, has no object more beautiful, - than that of a sweet-tempered, affectionate, religious child. How does its young spirit bow itself down before the felt and almost visible majesty of the Divine Presence ! With what a full, undoubting faith, does it rest on the promise of another and an immortal life! How does its fresh imagination call up and portray the scenes of that future life, companions, its employments, its joys, — with a vivid and lifelike reality, that absolutely awes and startles minds of maturer growth !
I have no wish for the purpose of making out a strong case, to overstate or to exaggerate, in any way, these higher and better attributes of the youthful mind. Neither do I desire to keep out of sight or in the back-ground, any of the principles and feelings, antagonist to its moral and religious nature. I aim to state the whole subject, fairly and fully. I do not claim for the mind of childhood, what can properly be called any natural or preponderating tendency towards the right, the just, and the true. I admit, readily, than it has other capacities, other faculties, other tendencies, than those of which I have been speaking, not less ready to be excited and acted upon than these, and leading it, when so excited and acted upon, through all wretchedness and degradation to moral death. I know well enough, that in the actual condition of society, and in its own natural and unavoidable relations, — with the elements of moral evil scattered broad-cast all about it, and sown thick within it, — with countless multitudes and Protean sorms
of temptation to evil, and of provocation to wrong, watching it with vigilance that never sleeps, and addressing it with a pertinacity that never tires, - I know that with all these, it must often happen, as it too generally does happen, that the lower nature attains the ascendancy, and that the higher is trodden down in the dust, despoiled of its purity, and shorn of its strength. But I still claim that the Infinite Father of this immortal spirit has so constituted it, - he has so commingled its various elements, — he has so mercifully and graciously attempered its attributes, as that when the means which he has provided and put into our hands, and commanded us to use, are faithfully brought to bear upon it, - it may be saved, saved from the dominion of sin, - saved to all holiness, saved to all excellence, - saved to truth, to duty, to happiness, to peace. He has so arranged and endowed its several powers, as to secure for it, by a conformity on our part, to the plain and easy conditions which he has established, the supremacy of its moral and religious nature.
I have already stated, that the purely intellectual powers may or may not be called into early action. Some of them, such, for instance, as the higher reasoning faculties, are not susceptible of sound and vigorous action, until the first period of youth is already passed. It is well known that very many of the most extraordinary intellectual men of the world were, in no way, remarkable for their peculiar powers in early life. But this is not the case with these other capacities of the mind. It is not so with the moral and religious capacities; it is not so with the selfish instincts, and the animal appetites. It seems to me exceedingly iroportant, that the actual constitution of the youthful mind should be better understood than it generally is. There is a spontaneity, belonging to both these classes of powers, which does not belong to the intellectual nature. Either one class or the other will be educated. The intellect may slumber from the cradle to the coffin, — from infancy to old age, - knowledge, science, learning, may never dawn, even in faintest glimmer, on its darkness; but in every human soul, with its ordinary endowments, there will be activity, - life, - at times, probably, intense burning life, either of the higher or the lower nature. No circumstances, no contrivances, can prevent this result. It is inevitable. It is a fearful and momentous condition of our very being. It is true, every where and in all time, among all races, in all states of
society. In every soul of man must there be lighted up, not on its intellectual, but on its other spiritual altars, – kindied by the good or bad affections, – fires of Hell, lurid, scorching and consurning, - or celestial, heavenly light, caught from the throne of God.
It should never be forgotten, that the intellect may be cultivated alike in connection with the activity and supremacy, either of the lower or the higher nature. All history is full of illustrations of this truth. All biography is full of it. Every man's own consciousness tells him of this truth. The intellect is not the antagonist power of the selfish and low desires. By enlightening the former you may repress the latter, and you may, also, inflame and excite them.
The intellect may as readily become the handmaid of vice as of virtue. Her powers are Swiss mercenaries, ready to enlist under any banner, and to fight for any cause, -to-day on the side of freedom and right, - to-morrow on that of oppression and wrong. This is not true in relation to the high and the low affections, — to the noble and the base desires. These may reign alternately in the same soul; they may hold a divided empire. In too many cases, they are permitted to do so. In all of us there must be conflict between them ; there must be strife for the ascendency. Who has not felt, one hour, the angel nestling in his bosom, and the fiend rioting there, the next? But however these powers of darkness and of light may succeed each other in the empire of the mind; however they may, by turns, dwell within it, they cannot reign peacefully there together. Both may call the intellect to their assistance, but they cannot aid each other. There is a perpetual and an irreconcilable hostility between them. From the beginning of the world, have they been foes, and at deadly enmity with each other must they remain till the end of time.
All this is as true of the imaginative portion of our nature, and of the fine arts, as it is of the purely knowing and reasoning faculties. The former may link themselves in like close fellowship with the higher and the lower nature. They have no essential, inherent affinity for the right and the good. Poetry may come to us an angel of light, or a spirit of darkness, the quickener of our best passions, or the pander to our worst. The voluptuous sensuality of a Venus, and the sainted purity of a Madonna have often been the creation of the same pencil, and the hand which has moulded the majestic coun
tenance of a Moses to-day, has worked at the physiognomy of a Bacchus or a Satyr to-morrow.
Music has quite as often swelled the chorus of revelry and riot, as it has hymned the praises of goodness and of God. All I mean to say is this, that there is no natural or necessary connection or sympathy between any of these faculties and susceptibilities of the mind and its bigher nature.
Another important truth connected with these considerations, is this ; — the bad passions, the selfish and corrupt desires can never be so safely and effectually repressed or driven out from the soul, by direct attacks made upon them through the means and agency of the intellect, as by letting them alone, and by calling into the soul and invigorating those other powers to which they stand in opposition. Licentiousness may take knowledge into its service, and gain new strength and new resources from the alliance, but it will be withered to impotency in the gentle, majestic presence of purity and holiness. Simple rest of the lower nature is very often one of the most powerful and efficient means of moral culture. I fear that this plain and obvious principle is fatally overlooked in some of the efforts now making for the removal of moral evil. God forbid that any word of mine should be construed into even a seeming wish to discourage judicious and rational exertion for the removal or the diminution of that dark and enormous aggregate of ills growing out of licentiousness ; but let me say, in language as sincere as my conviction of its truth is strong and settled, that these ills are to be removed, if eve rremoved, by correcting the heart and not by enlightening the nead. The rays which have power to consume and drive away this dense cloud of corruption, these thick shadows of death, must come, not from the intellectual but the moral sun. Not philosophy, but conscience, — not science, but religion, is the minister and physician to the mind so diseased. No fires of knowledge can ever burn out this plague-spot from the soul ; it must be washed away by sweet and living waters from the fountains of right principles and true affections.
I have said that the lower nature is not to be kept in abeyance by the intellect. So neither is the higher nature to be strengthened and educated through the medium of the intellect. So far as the moral, social, and religious faculties are concerned, it is the province of the intellect to guide and enlighten, not to vivify and arouse. Each individual power of the soul must be