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day when God shall judge the secrets of men—both of the Jews who shall be judged by the written law, and of the Gentiles who have the work of the law written in their hearts, and are a law to themselves. We may now perhaps comprehend more distinctly how this may be. Though it be true that the more clearly we know God, the more closely does the obligation of godliness lie upon us
—yet there might be none so removed from the knowledge of God as to stand released from all obligation. There is the sense of a Divinity in every mind; and correspondent to that sense, there is a morality that is either complied with by the will or rebelled against—so that under all the possible varieties of illumination, and doctrine which obtain in various countries of the world, there might be exemplified either a religiousness or an impiety of character. The heavenly witness who is on high can discern in every instance—whether to the conception of a great invisible power that floats indistinctly in many a bosom, but is nowhere wholly obliterated, there be such duteous regards of the heart or such duteous conformities of the life as morality would dictate, and out of this question can be gathered materials for a cognizance and a reckoning with all. The Searcher of hearts knows how to found a clear and righteous judgment even on those moral phenomena that are given forth by men in the regions of grossest heathenism—and though the condemnation will fall lightest where the ignorance has been most profound, and at the same time involuntary; yet none we think of our species are so deeply immersed in
blindness or fatuity about God, as that he might not be sisted at the bar of heaven's jurisprudence, and there meet with a clear principle of condemnation to rest upon him.
22. The second important bearing of this principle is on the subject of religious education. For what is true of a savage is true of a child. It may rightly feel the ethics of the relation between itself and God, before it rationally apprehends the object of this relation. Its moral may outrun its argumentative light. Long anterior to the possibility of any sound conviction as to the character or existence of a God, it may respond with sound and correct feeling to the mere conception of Him. We hold, that, on this principle, the practice of early, nay even of infantine religious education, may, in opposition to the invectives of Rousseau and others, be fully and philosophically vindicated. Even though the object should be illusory, still on this low supposition there is no moral deterioration incurred but the contrary by an education which calls forth a right exercise of the heart, even to an imaginary being. But should the object be real, then the advantage of that anticipative process by which it is addressed to the conception of the young, before it can be intelligently recognised by them, is, that though it do not at once enlighten them on the question of a God, it at least awakens them to the question. Though they are not yet capable of appreciating the proofs which decide the question, it is a great matter, that, long before they have come to this they can feel the moral propriety of giving it solemn and respectful entertainment. Anterior to a well-grounded belief in the objects of religion, there is a preparatory season of religious scholarship, commencing with childhood and reaching onward through successive stages in the growth of intellect-a very early and useful season of aspirations and inquiries prompted by a sense of duty even to the yet unknown God. Here it is, that the ethics of our science and the objects of our science stand most noticeably out from each other-for, at the very time that the objects are unknown, there is an impellent force upon the spirit, of a clear ethical dictate, enjoining us to acquire the knowledge of them.
23. And this early education can be vindicated not only on the score of principle, but also on the score of effect. Whether it properly illuminates or not, it at least prepares for those brighter means of illumination which are competent to a higher state of the understanding. If it do not rationally convince, it at least provides a responsibility, though not a security for that attention which goes before such a conviction. It does not consummate the process; but, in as far as the moral precedes the intellectual, it makes good the preliminary steps of the processinsomuch that, in every Christian land, the youth and the manhood are accountable for their belief, because accountable for their use or their neglect of that inquiry, by which the belief ought to have been determined. There is no individual so utterly a stranger to the name and the conception of a Divinity as to be without the scope of this obligation. They have all from their infancy heard of God. Many have been trained to
think of Him, amidst a thousand associations of reverence. Some, under a roof of piety, have often lisped the prayers of early childhood to this unseen Being; and, in the oft repeated sound of morning and evening orisons, they have become familiar to His name. Even they who have grown up at random through the years of a neglected boyhood, are greatly within the limits of that responsibility for which we plead. They have at least the impression of a God. When utterance of Him is made in their hearing, they are not startled as if by the utterance of a thing unnoticed and unknown.
They are fully possessed, if not with the certainty, at least with the idea, of a great eternal Sovereign whose kingdon is the universe, and on whose will all its processes are suspended. Whosoever may have escaped from the full and practical belief of such a Being, he most assuredly hath not escaped from the conception of Him. The very imprecations of profaneness may have taught it to him. The very Sabbaths be spends in riot and blasphemy at least remind him of a God. The worship-bell of the church he never enters, conveys to him, if not the truth at least an imagination of the truth. In all these ways and in many more beside, there is the sense of a God upon his spirit and if such a power of evidence hath not been forced upon his understanding as to compel the assurance that God is at least such intimations have been given, that he cannot possibly make his escape from the thought that a God may be. In spite of himself this thought will overtake him, and if it do not arrest him by a sense of obligation, it will leave guilt upon his soul. It might not make him a believer, but it ought to make him an inquirer—and in this indifference of his there is the very essence of sin—though it be against a God who is unknown.
24. And, thirdly, we may thus learn to appreciate the plea on which the irreligious of all classes in society would fain extenuate their heedlessness
-from the homely peasant who alleges his want of scholarship, to the gay and dissipated voluptuary who, trenched in voluntary darkness, holds himself to be without the pale of a reckoning, because he demands a higher evidence for religion than has ever yet shone upon his understanding. This antecedency of the ethics, not to the conception, but at least to the belief of the objects, places them all within the jurisdiction of a principle—the violation of which brings guilt and danger in its train. Instead of waiting till the light of an overpowering manifestation shall descend upon their spirits, it is their part to lift up their attention to the light which is offered. It will not exempt them from blame that they have never found the truth which would have saved them—if their own consciences can tell that in good earnest they have never sought it. Their heedlessness about an unknown though possible God, is just the moral perversity that would make them heedless of a God who had been fully ascertained—and, rudely unsettled though they may deem their Theology to be, it may be enough to make them responsible for deepest seriousness about God; and if they want this seriousness, enough to convict them of most glaring impiety. This principle tells even at the