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consequent, without the participation of the reasoning faculty.
Every faculty of the mind has a ruminative function. Impressions made upon the mental perceptions after a time lose their vividness, and are said to be forgotten or displaced by more recent impressions ; but often, and especially when the faculties are not employed perceptively, they revive ideas before impressed upon them, and reperuse the tablets of memory. The mind resembles a palimpsest from which whatever has been written upon 'it is never so entirely erased that it may not again become legible, notwithstanding what has subsequently been inscribe on the same surface; and it is believed that no impression once made upon the mind is ever wholly lost, but that the dimmest of former thoughts may be reproduced in their original clearness and vividness. Certain it is, that each faculty, by itself, and especially when stimulated thereto by the sympathetic action of its associate faculties, is capable of recalling an almost endless succession of former thoughts and sensations long forgotten, as well as those that are more recent. This is peculiarly noticeable in dreams, in the day-dreams of the senile, and especially in somnambulism. The reasoning faculty, recalling numerous perceptions of causes and relations, and ruminating upon them, using them as the weaver does the warp and woof of his loom, combines them into new associations, whereby relations before unnoticed are perceived to exist, and new ideas are formed, which we denominate original ideas, as being distinct from those produced by the act of perception. This mental process is properly designated as conception, a term improperly applied to ideas resulting from mere perception. Conception, therefore, is the act of forming original ideas within the mind.
It is further to be remarked concerning rumination, that if one faculty is thus employed, the neighbouring or related faculties do not remain dormant, but are awakened to a similar exercise, the result of which is called the association of ideas. The associate action of the other faculties, in concert with the faculty of reason, induces ratiocination, while those faculties are reviving former impressions, equally as while they are receiving eternal impressions, and this condition of the mind is more favourable to reflection and conception, as the mutual harmony of action is less liable to disturbance than when the faculties are awake to the intrinsic entrance to exter
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nal impressions foreign to the subjects which the mind has under consideration. The mind, in this condition, is like a council deliberating with closed doors, instead of holding its sessions in a public thoroughfare.
The conceptive or reflective mood of the mind is the one most favourable to the discovery of the laws of the material world, as well as of the moral universe. The explorer and the experimentist are usually so absorbed in their special pursuits that they are, as a general rule, little inclined to generalization. A division of labour seems to be attended with results as salutary in intellectual affairs as in those of a mechanical character. Every man labours most efficiently in that pursuit for which he has a natural predilection. While many take delight in the collection of facts, others prefer to erect these facts into systems, and still others to determine their theories. It is the same as in the building of a temple; many procure materials, others fit them to their appropriate places in the building, and one architect plans and superintends the building of the edifice. The discovery and collection of facts which are essential to the formation of systems and theories, is a labour the zealous and industrious prosecution of which is worthy of all commendation, but the right employment of these facts is the chief glory of an age of intellectual progress.
The men who have conferred the most valuable and lasting benefits upon the world have been its thinkers—its thinkers, not its dreamers. Sir Isaac Newton attributed his successes in the discovery of the laws of matter and of motion to his habit of continuous and protracted thought upon whatever subject interested him, rather than to superior mental acumen. It was by reflection that Dr. Franklin conceived the idea of the identity of electricity and lightning, as well as the method by which he tested the truth of his conception; and by the same process Professor Morse conceived the idea of his electro-magnetic telegraph. The cotton-gin was conceived in the mind of Whitney before his hands essayed the first rude model of his machine. The frescoes of Michael Angelo were painted in his fancy before his hand seized the pencil or the brush ; and the Cathedral of St. Peter's stood sublime in the mind of the architect before the first stone of his work was laid in its place. By the reflective exercise of the reasoning faculty, the statesman is able to forecast the future bearings of laws and institutions upon the welfare of millions of the human family; and the moral philosopher, by the same process, deduces the laws of human conduct, points out to erring man the paths of rectitude and the remedies for the moral evils that afflict society; and, piercing even into the deep things of the divine, learns whatever it is possible for man to know concerning the theories of Divine Providence and moral government, and reverently complies with the divine injunction to acquaint himself with the mind of God himself.
If one were to propound the question, What is truth? to a dozen different individuals, he would from each of them receive a different answer. One might be: “Truth is the thought of God ;''-a safe answer, yet by no means a definitive one, for the thought of God is truth, and more. Another would probably be: “Truth is the reality of things,”—a tautological answer; for if truth is reality, why not call it reality? But language is not nearly so rich in synonyms as many people, and even many lexicographers, suppose. Reality is not abstract, while truth is; and truth, therefore, is not reality.
Reason, the legislator of the mind, defines truth to be--the idea of the reality of things. If you correctly and perfectly describe to another person any particular thing, you tell him the truth concerning it, for you convey into his mind the idea of the thing as it really is, or the idea of its reality ; certainly not its actual reality. To realize any thing, is to have the thing itself in possession; and to realize the truth concerning any thing, is to have the idea of the reality of the thing in the mind.
According to the rational theory, the sin of lying and the evil of lying are two distinct things; and, excepting that the sin of lying originates in evil, one of the two may exist without the other. The sin of lying consists in the bad intent in which the lie is conceived, while the evil of lying is in its consequences. Of the moral quality of the intent, the moral sense takes direct cognizance; but of the moral quality of the act, the moral sense only takes cognizance when reason has determined the relation of causation between the act and its consequences; and if these are evil, the act, as well as the intent, is evil. If a person utters truth, believing it to be falsehood, and with malevolent intent, the sinfulness is confined to the intent. A falsehood may be uttered without malevolent intent, the utterer even supposing it to be truth, yet its consequences may be as evil as if its utterance had originated in express malice. In this instance the evil is
complete, the act is bad, and yet the intent to falsify is absent; still, the judgment of reason is, that, as it is the duty of every man to consider well the consequences as well as the motives of his actions, and likewise to be assured of the truthfulness of his utterances, he who does not practise caution in these respects is amenable to moral censure. Truth may be uttered with the intention to work an evil consequence, and in this example the sin is equal to that of lying, for the intent is equally evil in its origin, and the act in its consequences. A man may tell what is true, believing it to be false, and, no evil consequences ensuing from the act, may flatter himself that he is excused, yet the sin of lying is on his conscience; and a man may intentionally utter a falsehood from the best and most benevolent motive; as if he were to tell a flagrant assassin that the victim of whom he is in pursuit had passed around the street-corner, when he had really fled through a doorway. Here is no sinful intent and no evil consequence, and yet the utterance is a technical lie.
It will be at once perceived that the rule which reason dictates with regard to lying, is the same which applies to every question of moral turpitude; namely, that the sin is in the intent, and the evil is in the consequences of the act. Our criminal laws do not intend to measure their penalties according to the moral guilt of criminal actions ; for those laws, being established only for the protection of society, have regard mainly to the evil consequences of those actions upon the rights and happiness of society and its members, and they wisely leave the punishment of moral turpitude to the adjudication of Him who sees the hearts of men and their intents; excepting from the above rule, those cases where the accused, being shown to have been guiltless of evil intention, is acquitted of crime. These rules of criminal law correspond with the dictates of reason; for reason determines that, wherever, from the nature of things and circumstances, the truth is involved in uncertainty, as in the case of determining degrees of moral guilt and its punishment, inaction is the only safe policy for finite man to pursue; but it equally dictates that wherever truth, clearly revealed, beckons her votaries, he is a moral coward who hesitates to obey her supreme behests.
From the foregoing discussion it is apparent, that reason is the one faculty which distinguishes between the apparent and the real, between truth and the deceptive
illusions that assume its semblance; which puts the coin- stamp upon the materials of knowledge, and gives them all their yalue; and, in fine, that by so much as wisdom is superior to mere knowledge, by so much is reason superior to those knowing faculties which man possesses in common with the brute creation.
One chief object kept continually in view in this brief exposition of the Rational Theory, is the vindication of that theory from the imputation, often cast upon it, that it tends to dampen the ardour of religious fervor, to weaken the sense of moral obligation, and to unsettle belief in the received doctrines of religious faith. To the plausibility of these charges, the partial views promulgated by pretended rationalists have too often given a seeming confirmation ; but whoever has perused this discussion of the subject with careful attention and in a spirit of candour, will acknowledge that it tends to show that reason is the true friend and efficient ally of religion and virtue, and that only by perversion can it be viewed as inculcating aught that is inimical to either; and, even more, that in its general scope it does not intermeddle with disputed questions of morals or of theological belief, but favours that charity which tolerates and makes allowance for differences of opinion, while it stimulates the development of all that is elevating, ennobling, and devotional, in human thought and affection.
Nothing is more common than for controvertists to attempt to gain advantages over their adversaries by applying to them odious epithets, such as “materialist," To spiritualist," or those grosser terms in which our vernacular abounds; as in former times the learned were accused of magic, witchcraft, and Satanic arts, compacts, and instigations. This kind of ordeal the votary of truth may not hope to escape, neither is it lawful for him to fabricate for himself defensive weapons against these . assaults. Truth is strongest when armed only with herself, and borrows no weapons of offence or defence; but, naked and alone goes forth to the work of conquest. Her defenders, even her most valiant heroes and martyrs, may perish, yet should they not despair at their mishaps and defeats, but remember, that though they fall, their cause shall not want ample vindication, and that truth shall certainly win and wear the immortal bays of victory.
There are numerous mathematical propositions of whose conclusions reason does not take instant cognizance; as, for example, the familiar proposition that the
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