If prudence, though practically inseparable from morality, is not to be confounded with the moral principle; still less may sensibility, that is, a constitutional quickness of sympathy with pain and pleasure, and a keen sense of the gratifications that accompany social intercourse, mutual endearments, and reciprocal preferences, be mistaken, or deemed a substitute, for either. Sensibility is not even a sure pledge of a good heart, though among the most common meanings of that many-meaning and too commonly misapplied expression.

So far from being either morality, or one with the moral principle, it ought not even to be placed in the same rank with prudence. For prudence is at least an offspring of the understanding; but sensibility (the sensibility, I mean, here spoken of) is for the greater part a quality of the nerves, and a result of individual bodily temperament.

Prudence is an active principle, and implies a sacrifice of self, though only to the same self projected, as it were, to a distance. But the very term sensibility, 25 marks its passive nature; and in its mere self, apart from choice and reflection, it proves little more than the coincidence or contagion of pleasurable or painful sensations in different persons.

Alas! how many are there in this over-stimulated age, in which the occurrence of excessive and unhealthy sensitiveness is so frequent, as even to have reversed the current meaning of the word, nervous. How many are there whose sensibility prompts them to remove those evils alone, which by hideous spectacle or clamorous outcry are present to their senses and disturb their selfish enjoyments. Provided the dunghill is not before their parlour window, they are well contented to know that it exists, and perhaps as the hotbed on which their own luxuries are reared. Sensibility is not necessarily benevolence. Nay, by rendering us tremblingly alive to trifling misfortunes, it frequently prevents it, and induces an effeminate selfishness instead,

-----pampering the coward heart

With feelings all too delicate for use.

Sweet are the tears, that from a Howard's eye

Drop on the cheek of one, he lifts from earth:

And he, who works me good with unmoved face,

Does it but half. He chills me, while he aids,

My benefactor, not my brother man.

But even this, this cold benevolence,

Seems worth, seems manhood, when there rise before me

The sluggard pity's vision-weaving tribe,

Who sigh for wretchedness yet shun the wretched,

Nursing in some delicious solitude

Their slothful loves and dainty sympathies.

Lastly, where virtue is, sensibility is the ornament and becoming attire of virtue. On certain occasions it 26 may almost be said to become** virtue. But sensibility and all the amiable qualities may likewise become, and too often have become, the panders of vice, and the instruments of seduction.

So must it needs be with all qualities that have their rise only in parts and fragments of our nature. A man of warm passions may sacrifice half his estate to rescue a friend from prison: for he is naturally sympathetic, and the more social part of his nature happened to be uppermost. The same man shall afterwards exhibit the same disregard of money in an attempt to seduce that friend's wife or daughter.

All the evil achieved by Hobbes and the whole school of materialists will appear inconsiderable if it be compared with the mischief effected and occasioned by the sentimental philosophy of Sterne, and his numerous imitators. The vilest appetites and the most remorseless inconstancy towards their objects, acquired the titles of the heart the irresistible feelings, the too tender sensibility: and if the frosts of prudence, the icy chains of human law thawed and vanished at the genial warmth of human nature, who could help it? It was an amiable weakness!

About this time, too, the profanation of the word, Love, rose to its height. The French naturalists, Buffon

**There sometimes occurs an apparent play on words, which not only to the moralizer, but even to the philosophical etymologist, appears more than a mere play. Thus in the double sense of the word, become. I have known persons so anxious to have their dress become them, as to convert it at length into their proper self, and thus actually to become the dress. Such a one, (safeliest spoken of by the neuter pronoun), I consider as but a suit of live finery. It is indifferent whether we say, it becomes he, or, he becomes it. 27 and others, borrowed it from the sentimental novelists: the Swedish and English philosophers took the contagion; and the muse of science condescended to seek admission into the saloons of fashion and frivolity, rouged like a harlot, and with the harlot's wanton leer. I know not how the annals of guilt could be better forced into the service of virtue, than by such a comment on the present paragraph, as would be afforded by a selection from the sentimental correspondence produced in courts of justice within the last thirty years, fairly translated into the true meaning of the words, and the actual object and purpose of the infamous writers.

Do you in good earnest aim at dignity of character? By all the treasures of a peaceful mind, by all the charms of an open countenance, I conjure you, O youth! turn away from those who live in the twilight between vice and virtue. Are not reason, discrimination, law, and deliberate choice, the distinguishing characters of humanity? Can aught then worthy of a human being proceed from a habit of soul, which would exclude all these and (to borrow a metaphor from paganism) prefer the den of Trophonius to the temple and oracles of the God of light? Can any thing manly, I say, proceed from those, who for law and light would substitute shapeless feelings, sentiments, impulses, which as far as they differ from the vital workings in the brute animals owe the difference to their former connexion with the proper virtues of humanity; as dendrites derive the outlines, that constitute their value above other clay-stones, from the casual neighbourhood and pressure of the plants, the names of which they assume! Remember, that love itself in its highest earthly bearing, as the ground 28 of the marriage union,** becomes love by an inward fiat of the will, by a completing and sealing act of moral election, and lays claim to permanence only under the form of duty.

**It might be a mean of preventing many unhappy marriages, if the youth of both sexes had it early impressed on their minds, that marriage contracted between Christians is a true and perfect symbol or mystery; that is, the actualizing faith being supposed to exist in the receivers, it is an outward sign co-essential with that which it signifies, or a living part of that, the whole of which it represents. Marriage, therefore, in the Christian sense (Ephesians v. 22-33,) as symbolical of the union of the soul with Christ the Mediator, and with God through Christ, is perfectly a sacramental ordinance, and not retained by the reformed churches as one of the sacraments, for two reasons; first, that the sign is not distinctive of the church of Christ, and the ordinance not peculiar, nor owing its origin to the gospel dispensation; secondly, that it is not of universal obligation, nor a means of grace enjoined on all Christians. In other and plainer words, marriage does not contain in itself an open profession of Christ, and it is not a sacrament of the church, but only of certain individual members of the church. It is evident, however, that neither of these reasons affect or diminish the religious nature and dedicative force of the marriage vow, or detract from the solemnity in the apostolic declaration: This is a great mystery.

The interest, which the state has in the appropriation of one woman to one man, and the civil obligations therefrom resulting, form an altogether distinct consideration: When I meditate on the words of the apostle, confirmed and illustrated as they are, by so many harmonies in the spiritual structure of our proper humanity, (in the image of God, male and female created he the man), and then reflect how little claim so large a number of legal cohabitations have to the name of Christian marriages--I feel inclined to doubt, whether the plan of celebrating marriages universally by the civil magistrate, in the first instance, and leaving the religious covenant, and sacramental pledge to the election of the parties themselves, adopted during the republic in England, and in our own times by the French legislature, was not in fact, whatever it might be in intention, reverential to Christianity. At all events, it was their own act and choice, if the parties made bad worse by the profanation of a gospel mystery.

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