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future state, and can know but extremely little of the peculiar occupations and pleasures of it. I am firmly persuaded likewise, as I observed in a late discourse, that most of our knowledge, considered as knowledge, of whatever species or kind it may be, must there fall away as totally useless; and that in this respect the enlightened man, the man enriched with all the treasures of learning, will have no great advantage over the unlettered and ignorant. This however is very certain, that our future life is linked to the present, that it is a sequel of it, that the degree of inward perfection we here attain will determine the point of perfection of which we shall there be capable. This however is very certain, that in that, as well as in the present state, we shall think, fhall investigate truth, perceive truth: that we shall do all this as men, and that it will be fo much the more easy or difficult for us to do this, we shall do it fo much better or worse, as we have more or less exercised ourselves in it here: accordingly, whatever exercises us in thought, whatever promotes intellectual perfection ; therefore must great, er proficiency in intellectual improvement as the strongest incentive and the best means to that end, be preparative to that superior state ; therefore must enlightened times have a real and great value in this respect also.
Are we already in this world, the children of light; do we here already live in the kingdom of light; are we eagerly desirous of every ray of it, however feeble : then must we become
the fitter for its brighter influx, for its perfect splen. dor, in a better world!
This will fuffice, my pious hearers, for displaying the great value of a considerable progress in intellectual acquirements, and for placing it beyond all doubt. Let us now proceed to draw a few inferences from it in regard to our conduct.
If you are sensible to the worth of this intelle&ual advancement, use all diligence to turn that portion of it you are blessed with to most profit; and cause it to produce in you that good which it has a tendency to produce. The more enlightened the times and the people, in which, and amongst whom you live; the more should you be ashamed of ignorance, of superstition, of implicit faith, of thoughtlessness and indifference in reference to matters which it behoves all men, and consequently you, to know. Therefore, shut not your eyes against the light that shines around you. Walk not in darkness, since the day begins to appear. In regions where all is dark, where ignorance and superstition prevail without controul : there no man indeed need be ashamed of being ignorant and superstitious, to grope his way in the dark, and to stumble or fall at every step he takes; for there one is as impotent and wretched as another, and yet neither believes himself either wretched or weak. But, to prefer darkness to the light that beams upon our eyes; to stumble and to fall in a path irradiated by the sun, as though it were throuded in the deepest night; to remain ftill igno
rant and superstitious amidst all the means to knowledge and a rational faith ; this indeed degrades a man, this renders him grossly criminal. And this, my dear friends, may be more or less the case with you. “ The night is far spent,” may we likewise exclaim to you with an apostle, the night is far spent ; “ the day is at hand,” the dawn has already appeared : “it is high time to awake out of sleep." The time is over and gone, when free reflection and inquiry was á crime, and implicit belief meritorious : none of you, except by his own fault, can be defi. cient in means and inducements to reflection, to refearch, to the augmentation and improvement of his knowledge. Avail yourselves of these means and inducements, use them like men endowed with reafon, and as christians who are called to liberty. Remain not supine on the spot where tradition, where vulgar prejudice and old wives' faws delivered down from age to age have brought you, as if they were the boundaries of all human knowledge. Implicitly follow no human leader ; from children proceed to be men, who are learning to think for themselves, to go alone, and to proceed with a firm and steady step along the path of truth. To think and act upon throughly tried and fure principles ; constantly to be pursuing greater light, farther certainty ; to love truth above all things and to receive it with an open heart, without regard to prevailing opinions and outward circumstances, as it appears to you: is jhat should distinguish you from less enlightened
men, and your times from the times of ignorance and darkness. Farther. If you confess the great
value of intel, lectual improvement to a nation, then let every one of you promote it according to his station and in proportion to his abilities. Particularly you who are teachers of the people, or are farther advanced in knowledge than the rest. But do it with that prudence and affection, which should guide and actuate us in all our affairs, and most in the most impor. tant. Every man is not capable of every truth, Every manner of producing and of diffeminating even the most generally useful truths, is not the best. Few persons are strong and liberal minded enough at once to comprehend and adopt and make a proper use of truths hitherto unknown to them, or even a considerable part of them. A bright effulgence of light, not making its approaches by degrees, but suddenly intromitted in all its force, frequently dazzles more than it enlightens. No, in the moral as in the natural world, the transition from the darkness of night to the full blaze of noon must come on by degrees, if mankind are to enjoy that light, and not be forced to shut their eyes against it. Take heed then not to favour falsehood and error by any means; and still more, not to profess and to teach them as verity. This is horrible high-treason against truth, and debases every man that does it, even though he do it in really good in. tentions. But you need not therefore directly contend against every error; not furiously attack everything that either is or appears to you to deserve that name: otherwise, you may at the same time shake the foundations of truth, which is often in more than one respect connected with error, and thus bar it from all access to the heart. As little need you bestow or obtrude every truth, without distinction or exception, upon every human mind. As every kind of grain will not flourish in every foil, so neither is every truth adapted to the comprehention of every individual. Even the proper field requires previ. Orts culture before it can be fown with
reason. able expectation of a plentiful harvest. — Are you ambitious of contributing to the intellectual im. provement of your brethren, begin by setting their attention and curiosity in motion ; bring them to the conscious sense of their imperfections, their intellectual wants; induce them to think for themfelves and assist them in their reasonings : conduct them to the track of truth, and remove the principal impediments and obstructions out of their way; make them see what they already know and believe in a clearer light, or understand it with greater perfpicuity, and thus accustom them to think with calm. ness and precision, and make them defirous of greater light. By this means you will best carry on your attacks against levity, sloth, sensuality, indifferency in religious matters, the low, fervile fear of man, false scrupulofity, hypocritical piety; and thus stop up the springs of error and superstition. Render