Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Robert Hall
 
  He who has made the acquisition of a judicious and sympathizing friend may be said to have doubled his mental resources.
Robert Hall.    
  1
 
  It is not merely as a source of pleasure, or as a relief from pain, that virtuous friendship is to be coveted; it is at least as much to be recommended by its utility.
Robert Hall.    
  2
 
  Though it cannot be denied that, by diffusing a warmer colouring over the visions of fancy, sensibility is often a source of exquisite pleasure,—to others, if not to the possessor,—yet it should never be confounded with benevolence, since it constitutes, at best, rather the ornament of a fine than the virtues of a good mind.
Robert Hall.    
  3
 
  Enthusiasm may be defined that religious state of mind in which the imagination is unduly heated, and the passions outrun the understanding.
Robert Hall.    
  4
 
  Enthusiasm is an evil much less to be dreaded than superstition. Superstition is the disease of nations; enthusiasm, that of individuals: the former grows inveterate by time, the latter is cured by it.
Robert Hall.    
  5
 
  Talents of the highest order, and such as are calculated to command universal admiration, may exist apart from wisdom.
Robert Hall.    
  6
 
  With the enemies of freedom it is a usual artifice to represent the sovereignty of the people as a license to anarchy and disorder. But the tracing up of the civil power to that source will not diminish our obligation to obey; it only explains its reasons, and settles it on clear and determinate principles; it turns blind submission into rational obedience, tempers the passion for liberty with the love of order, and places mankind in a happy medium between the extremes of anarchy on the one side and oppression on the other; it is the polar star that will conduct us safely over the ocean of political debate and speculation,—the law of laws, the guide for legislators.
Robert Hall.    
  7
 
  Under every possible aspect in which infidelity can be viewed, it extends the dominion of sensuality; it repeals and abrogates every law by which divine revelation has, under such awful sanctions, restrained the indulgence of the passions.
Robert Hall.    
  8
 
  The friendship of high and sanctified spirits loses nothing by death but its alloy; failings disappear, and the virtues of those whose “faces we shall behold no more” appear greater and more sacred when beheld through the shades of the sepulchre.
Robert Hall.    
  9
 
  The innocence of the intention abates nothing of the mischief of the example.
Robert Hall.    
  10
 
  Though there may be many rich, many virtuous, many wise men, fame must necessarily be the portion of but few.
Robert Hall.    
  11
 
  Ministers of the gospel in this quarter of the globe resemble the commanders of an army stationed in a conquered country, whose inhabitants, overawed and subdued, yield a partial obedience: they have sufficient employment in attempting to conciliate the affections of the natives, and in carrying into execution the orders and regulations of their Prince; since there is much latent disaffection, though no open rebellion, a strong partiality to their former rulers, with few attempts to erect the standard of revolt.
Robert Hall: Address to Rev. Eustace Carey.    
  12
 
  Idolatry is not to be looked upon as a mere speculative error respecting the object of worship, of little or no practical efficacy. Its hold upon the mind of a fallen creature is most tenacious, its operation most extensive. It is a corrupt practical institution, involving a whole system of sentiments and manners which perfectly moulds and transforms its votaries. It modifies human nature under every aspect under which it can be contemplated, being intimately blended and incorporated with all its perceptions of good and evil, with all its infirmities, passions, and fears.
Robert Hall: Address to Rev. Eustace Carey.    
  13
 
  If an uninterested spectator, after a careful perusal of the New Testament, were asked what he conceived to be its distinguishing characteristic, he would reply, without hesitation, “That wonderful spirit of philanthropy by which it is distinguished.” It is a perpetual commentary on that sublime aphorism, God is love.
Robert Hall: Address to the Rev. Eustace Carey.    
  14
 
  The faith to which the Scriptures attach such momentous consequences, and ascribe such glorious exploits, is a practical habit, which, like every other, is strengthened and increased by continual exercise. It is nourished by meditation, by prayer, and the devout perusal of the Scriptures; and the light which it diffuses becomes stronger and clearer by an uninterrupted converse with its object and a faithful compliance with its dictates; as on the contrary it is weakened and obscured by whatever wounds the conscience or impairs the purity and spirituality of the mind.
Robert Hall: Address to the Rev. Eustace Carey.    
  15
 
 
 
  In consequence of the collision of disputes, and the hostile aspect which rival sects bear to each other, they are scarcely in a situation to investigate truth with perfect impartiality. Few or none of them have derived their sentiments purely from the sacred oracles, as the result of independent inquiry; but almost universally from some distinguished leader, who at the commencement of the Reformation formed his faith, and planned his discipline, amid the heat and fury of theological combat. Terms have been invented for the purpose of excluding error, or more accurately defining the truth, to which the New Testament is a stranger, and on those terms associations and impressions ingrafted which, in some instances, perhaps, little corresponded with the divine simplicity of the gospel.
Robert Hall: Address to the Rev. Eustace Carey.    
  16
 
  As the power of acquiring knowledge is to be ascribed to reason, so the attainment of it mightily strengthens and improves it, and thereby enables it to enrich itself with further acquisitions. Knowledge in general expands the mind, exalts the faculties, refines the taste of pleasure, and opens numerous sources of intellectual enjoyment. By means of it we become less dependent for satisfaction upon the sensitive appetites, the gross pleasures of sense are more easily despised, and we are made to feel the superiority of the spiritual to the material part of our nature. Instead of being continually solicited by the influence and irritation of sensible objects, the mind can retire within herself and expatiate in the cool and quiet walks of contemplation.
Robert Hall: Advantage of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  17
 
  The veneration we shall feel for the Bible as the depository of saving knowledge will be totally distinct, not only from what we attach to any other book, but from that admiration its other properties inspire; and the variety and antiquity of its history, the light it affords in various researches, its inimitable touches of nature, together with the sublimity and beauty so copiously poured over its pages, will be deemed subsidiary ornaments, the embellishments of the casket which contains the pearl of great price.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  18
 
  The poor man who has gained a taste for good books will in all likelihood become thoughtful; and when you have given the poor a habit of thinking you have conferred on them a much greater favour than by the gift of a large sum of money, since you have put them in possession of the principle of all legitimate prosperity.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  19
 
  Of an accountable creature, duty is the concern of every moment, since he is every moment pleasing or displeasing God. It is a universal element, mingling with every action and qualifying every disposition and pursuit. The moral of conduct, as it serves both to ascertain and to form the character, has consequences in a future world so certain and infallible that it is represented in Scripture as a seed no part of which is lost, for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  20
 
  Some have objected to the instruction of the lower classes from an apprehension that it would lift them above their sphere, make them dissatisfied with their station in life, and, by impairing the habits of subordination, endanger the tranquillity of the state; an objection devoid surely of all force and validity. It is not easy to conceive in what manner instructing men in their duties can prompt them to neglect those duties, or how that enlargement of reason which enables them to comprehend the true grounds of authority and the obligation to obedience should indispose them to obey. The admirable mechanism of society, together with that subordination of ranks which is essential to its subsistence, is surely not an elaborate imposture which the exercise of reason will detect and expose. The objection we have stated implies a reflection on the social order, equally impolitic, invidious, and unjust. Nothing in reality renders legitimate governments so insecure as extreme ignorance in the people. It is this which yields them an easy prey to seduction, makes them the victims of prejudices and false alarms, and so ferocious withal that their interference in a time of public commotion is more to be dreaded than the eruption of a volcano.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  21
 
  I am persuaded that the extreme profligacy, improvidence, and misery which are so prevalent among the labouring classes in many countries are chiefly to be ascribed to the want of education. In proof of this, we need only cast our eyes on the condition of the Irish compared with that of the peasantry of Scotland.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  22
 
  The true prop of good government is opinion,—the perception on the part of the subject of benefits resulting from it,—a settled conviction, in other words, of its being a public good. Now, nothing can produce or maintain that opinion but knowledge, since opinion is a form of knowledge.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  23
 
  Ignorance gives a sort of eternity to prejudice, and perpetuity to error.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  24
 
  Religion, on account of its intimate relation to a future state, is every man’s proper business, and should be his chief care. Of knowledge in general there are branches which it would be preposterous to the bulk of mankind to attempt to acquire, because they have no immediate connection with their duties, and demand talents which nature has denied, or opportunities which Providence has withheld. But with respect to the primary truths of religion the case is different: they are of such daily use and necessity that they form, not the materials of mental luxury, so properly as the food of the mind. In improving the character, the influence of general knowledge is often feeble and always indirect; of religious knowledge the tendency to purify the heart is immediate, and forms its professed scope and design. This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  25
 
  The labour of intellectual research resembles and exceeds the tumultuous pleasures of the chase, and the consciousness of overcoming a formidable obstacle, or of lighting on some happy discovery, gives all the enjoyment of a conquest, without those corroding reflections by which the latter must be impaired. Can we doubt that Archimedes, who was so absorbed in his contemplations as not to be diverted by the sacking of his native city, and was killed in the very act of meditating a mathematical theorem, did not, when he exclaimed eureka! eureka! I have found it! I have found it! feel a transport as genuine as was ever experienced after the most brilliant victory?
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  26
 
  The Author of nature has wisely annexed a pleasure to the exercise of our active powers, and particularly to the pursuit of truth, which, if it be in some instances less intense, is far more durable, than the gratification of sense, and is in that account incomparably more valuable. Its duration, to say nothing of its other properties, renders it more valuable. It may be repeated without satiety, and pleases afresh on every reflection upon it.
Robert Hall: Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.    
  27
 
  No enormity can subsist long without meeting with advocates.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. III.    
  28
 
  To place the rights of man as the basis of lawful government is not peculiar to Mr. Paine; but was done more than a century ago by men of no less eminence than Sidney and Locke. It is extremely disingenuous to impute the system to Mr. Paine as its author. His structure may be false and erroneous, but the foundation was laid by other hands.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. IV.    
  29
 
  Civil restraints imply nothing more than a surrender of our liberty in some points in order to maintain it undisturbed in others of more importance. Thus we give up the liberty of repelling force by force, in return for a more equal administration of justice than private resentment would permit. But there are some rights which cannot with any propriety be yielded up to human authority, because they are perfectly consistent with every benefit its appointment can procure. The free use of our faculties in distinguishing truth from falsehood, the exertion of corporeal powers without injury to others, the choice of a religion and worship, are branches of natural freedom which no government can justly alter or diminish, because their restraint cannot conduce to that security which is its proper object. Government, like every other contrivance, has a specific end; it implies the resignation of just as much liberty as is needful to attain it; whatever is demanded more is superfluous, a species of tyranny, which ought to be corrected by withdrawing it.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. IV.    
  30
 
  It is incumbent on Mr. Burke and his followers to ascertain the time when natural rights are relinquished. Mr. Hey is content with tracing their existence to society, while Mr. Burke, the more moderate of the two, admitting their foundation in nature, only contends that regular government absorbs and swallows them up, bestowing artificial advantages in exchange. But at what period, it may be inquired, shall we date this wonderful revolution in the social condition of man? If we say it was as early as the first dawn of society, natural liberty had never any existence at all, since there are no traces even in tradition of a period when men were utterly unconnected with each other.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. IV.    
  31
 
  If princely power had never been raised to a level with the attributes of the Divinity by Filmer, it had probably never been sunk as low as popular acquiescence by Locke.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, sect. iv.    
  32
 
  From the notion that political society precludes an appeal to natural rights, the greatest absurdities must ensue. If that idea be just, it is improper to say of any administration that it is despotic or oppressive, unless it has receded from its first form and model. Civil power can never exceed its limits until it deviates into a new track. For if every portion of natural freedom be given up by yielding to civil authority, we can never claim any other liberties than those precise ones which were ascertained in its first formation.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. IV.    
  33
 
  Genius may dazzle, eloquence may persuade, reason may convince; but to render popular cold and comfortless sophistry, unaided by these powers, is a hopeless attempt.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. IV.    
  34
 
  Who can withstand the fascination and magic of his eloquence? The excursions of his genius are immense. His imperial fancy has laid all nature under tribute, and has collected riches from every scene of the creation and every walk of art. His eulogium on the Queen of France is a masterpiece of pathetic composition: so select are its images, so fraught with tenderness, and so rich with colours “dipped in heaven,” that he who can read it without rapture may have merit as a reasoner, but must resign all pretensions to taste and sensibility. His imagination is, in truth, only too prolific: a world of itself, where he dwells in the midst of chimerical alarms, is the dupe of his own enchantments, and starts, like Prospero, at the spectres of his own creation.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. IV. (On Edmund Burke.)    
  35
 
  Turn a Christian society into an established church, and it is no longer a voluntary assembly for the worship of God; it is a powerful corporation, full of such sentiments and passions as usually distinguish those bodies: a dread of innovation, an attachment to abuses, a propensity to tyranny and oppression.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. V.    
  36
 
  Human laws may debase Christianity, but can never improve it; and being able to add nothing to its evidence, they can add nothing to its force.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. V.    
  37
 
  In all our reasonings concerning men we must lay it down as a maxim that the greater part are moulded by circumstances.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. V.    
  38
 
  Between the period of national honour and complete degeneracy there is usually an interval of national vanity, during which examples of virtue are recounted and admired without being imitated. The Romans were never more proud of their ancestors than when they ceased to resemble them. From being the freest and most high-spirited people in the world, they suddenly fell into the tamest and most abject submission.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press, Sect. VI.    
  39
 
  The most capital advantage an enlightened people can enjoy is the liberty of discussing every subject which can fall within the compass of the human mind: while this remains, freedom will flourish; but should it be lost or impaired, its principles will neither be well understood nor long retained. To render the magistrate a judge of truth, and engage his authority in the suppression of opinions, shows an inattention to the design and nature of political society.
Robert Hall: Apology for the Freedom of the Press.    
  40
 
  A consideration of the benefit of afflictions should teach us to bear them patiently when they fall to our lot, and to be thankful to Heaven for having planted such barriers around us, to restrain the exuberance of our follies and our crimes.  41
  Let these sacred fences be removed; exempt the ambitious from disappointment and the guilty from remorse; let luxury go unattended with disease, and indiscretion lead into no embarrassments or distresses; our vices would range without control, and the impetuosity of our passions have no bounds; every family would be filled with strife, every nation with carnage, and a deluge of calamities would break in upon us which would produce more misery in a year than is inflicted by the hand of Providence in a lapse of ages.
Robert Hall: Character of Cleander.    
  42
 
  Distinguished merit will ever rise superior to oppression, and will draw lustre from reproach. The vapours which gather round the rising sun and follow it in its course seldom fail at the close of it to form a magnificent theatre for its reception, and to invest with variegated tints, and with a softened effulgence, the luminary which they cannot hide.
Robert Hall: Christianity Consistent with a Love of Freedom.    
  43
 
  Recollect for your encouragement the reward that awaits the faithful minister. Such is the mysterious condescension of divine grace, that though it reserves to itself the exclusive honour of being the fountain of all, yet, by the employment of human agency in the completion of its designs, it contrives to multiply its gifts, and to lay a foundation for eternal rewards. When the church, in the perfection of beauty, shall be presented to Christ as a bride adorned for her husband, the faithful pastor will appear as the friend of the bridegroom, who greatly rejoices because of the bridegroom’s voice. His joy will be the joy of his Lord,—inferior in degree, but of the same nature, and arising from the same sources: while he will have the peculiar happiness of reflecting that he has contributed to it; contributed, as an humble instrument, to that glory and felicity of which he will be conscious he is utterly unworthy to partake. To have been himself the object of mercy, to have been the means of imparting it to others, and of dispensing the unsearchable riches of Christ, will produce a pleasure which can never be adequately felt or understood until we see him as he is.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  44
 
  At the day of judgment, the attention excited by the surrounding scene, the strange aspect of nature, the dissolution of the elements, and the last trump, will have no other effect than to cause the reflections of the sinner to return with a more overwhelming tide on his own character, his sentence, his unchanging destiny; and amidst the innumerable millions who surround him, he will mourn apart. It is thus the Christian minister should endeavour to prepare the tribunal of conscience, and turn the eyes of every one of his hearers on himself.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  45
 
  Method, we are aware, is an essential ingredient in every discourse designed for the instruction of mankind, but it ought never to force itself on the attention as an object apart; never appear to be an end, instead of an instrument, or beget a suspicion of the sentiments being introduced for the sake of the method, not the method for the sentiments. Let the experiment be tried on some of the best specimens of ancient eloquence; let an oration of Cicero or Demosthenes be sketched upon a Procrustes’ bed of this sort, and, if I am not greatly mistaken, the flame and enthusiasm which have excited admiration in all ages will instantly evaporate: yet no one perceives a want of method in these immortal compositions, nor can anything be conceived more remote from incoherent rhapsody.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  46
 
  The bane of human happiness is ordinarily not so much an absolute ignorance of what is best, as an inattention to it, accompanied with a habit of not adverting to prospects the most certain, and the most awful.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  47
 
  A hard and unfeeling manner of denouncing the threatenings of the word of God is not only barbarous and inhuman, but calculated, by inspiring disgust, to rob them of all their efficacy. If the awful part of our message, which may be styled the burden of the Lord, ever fall with due weight on our hearers, it will be when it is delivered with a trembling hand and faltering lips; and we may then expect them to realize its solemn import when they perceive that we ourselves are ready to sink under it. “Of whom I have told you before,” said St. Paul, “and now tell you weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” What force does that affecting declaration derive from these tears! An affectionate manner insinuates itself into the heart, renders it soft and pliable, and disposes it to imbibe the sentiments and follow the impulse of the speaker. Whoever has attended to the effect of addresses from the pulpit must have perceived how much of their impression depends upon this quality, which gives to sentiments comparatively trite a power over the mind beyond what the most striking and original conceptions possess without it.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  48
 
  Religion, the final centre of repose; the goal to which all things tend, which gives to time all its importance, to eternity all its glory; apart from which man is a shadow, his very existence a riddle, and the stupendous scenes which surround him as incoherent and unmeaning as the leaves which the sibyl scattered in the wind.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  49
 
  On the one hand it deserves attention, that the most eminent and successful preachers of the gospel in the different communities, a Brainerd, a Baxter, and a Schwartz, have been the most conspicuous for a simple dependence upon spiritual aid; and on the other, that no success whatever has attended the ministrations of those by whom this doctrine has been either neglected or denied. They have met with such a rebuke of their presumption in the total failure of their efforts that none will contend for the reality of divine interposition as far as they are concerned: for when has “the arm of the Lord been revealed” to those pretended teachers of Christianity who believe there is no such arm? We must leave them to labour in a field respecting which God has commanded the clouds not to rain upon it.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  50
 
  However highly we may esteem the arts and sciences which polish our species and promote the welfare of society; whatever reverence we may feel, and ought to feel, for those laws and institutions whence it derives the security necessary for enabling it to enlarge its resources and develop its energies, we cannot forget that these are but the embellishments of a scene we must shortly quit—the decorations of a theatre from which the eager spectators and applauded actors must soon retire. The end of all things is at hand. Vanity is inscribed on every earthly pursuit, on all sublunary labour; its materials, its instruments, and its objects all alike perish. An incurable taint of mortality has seized upon, and will consume, them ere long. The acquisitions derived from religion, the graces of a renovated mind, are alone permanent.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  51
 
  To have co-operated in any degree towards the accomplishment of that purpose of the Deity to reconcile all things to himself by reducing them to the obedience of his Son, which is the ultimate end of all his works,—to be the means of recovering though it were but an inconsiderable portion of a lapsed and degenerate race to eternal happiness, will yield a satisfaction exactly commensurate to the force of our benevolent sentiments and the degree of our loyal attachment to the supreme Potentate. The consequences involved in saving a soul from death, and hiding a multitude of sins, will be duly appreciated in that world where the worth of souls and the malignity of sin are fully understood; while to extend the triumphs of the Redeemer, by forming him in the hearts of men, will produce a transport which can only be equalled by the gratitude and love we shall feel towards the Source of all good.
Robert Hall: Discouragements and Supports of the Christian Minister.    
  52
 
  Perhaps few authors have been distinguished by more similar features of character than Homer and Milton. That vastness of thought which fills the imagination, and that sensibility of spirit which renders every circumstance interesting, are the qualities of both: but Milton is the most sublime, and Homer the most picturesque.
Robert Hall: Essay on Poetry and Philosophy.    
  53
 
  The most admired poems have been the offspring of uncultivated ages. Pure poetry consists of the descriptions of nature and the display of the passions; to each of which a rude state of society is better adapted than one more polished. They who live in that early period in which art has not alleviated the calamities of life are forced to feel their dependence upon nature. Her appearances are ever open to their view, and therefore strongly imprinted on their fancy.
Robert Hall: Essay on Poetry and Philosophy.    
  54
 
  In the mystery of Christ’s incarnation, who was God as well as man, in the humiliation of his life, and in his death upon the cross, we behold the most stupendous instance of compassion; while at the same moment the law of God received more honour than it could have done by the obedience and death of any, or of all, his creatures. In this dispensation of his grace he has reached so far beyond our highest hopes that, if we love him, we may be assured that he will with it freely give us all things. Access to God is now opened at all times, and from all places; and to such as sincerely ask it he has promised his Spirit to teach them to pray, and to help their infirmities. The sacrifice of Christ has rendered it just for him to forgive sin; and whenever we are led to repent of and to forsake it, even the righteousness of God is declared in the pardon of it.
Robert Hall: Excellency of the Christian Dispensation.    
  55
 
  If we look back upon the usual course of our feelings, we shall find that we are more influenced by the frequent recurrence of objects than by their weight and importance; and that habit has more force in forming our characters than our opinions have. The mind naturally takes its tone and complexion from what it habitually contemplates.
Robert Hall: Excellency of the Christian Dispensation.    
  56
 
  Let us beseech you then to make them [religion and eternity] familiar with your minds, and mingle them with the ordinary stream of your thoughts: retiring often from the world, and conversing with God and your own souls. In these solemn moments, nature, and the shifting scenes of it, will retire from your view, and you will feel yourselves left alone with God; you will walk as in his sight; you will stand, as it were, at his tribunal. Illusions will then vanish apace, and everything will appear in its true proportion and proper colour. You will estimate human life, and the work of it, not by fleeting and momentary sensations, but by the light of reflection and steady faith. You will see little in the past to please, or in the future to flatter: its feverish dreams will subside and its enchantment be dissolved.
Robert Hall: Excellency of the Christian Dispensation.    
  57
 
  We may discover by the light of nature the existence of a Being who is possessed of all possible perfection. The works of God sufficiently display his goodness, wisdom, and power; but with respect to the application of these in any particular instance it leaves us entirely at a loss. We have no measure which we can apply to the operations of an infinite mind; and therefore, though we may be assured that the Divine Being possesses all the attributes which compose supreme excellence, it is impossible for us to say, in particular instances, what path of conduct may best consist with those perfections in their most extensive operation. Indeed, to discover not only the leading attributes of the Divine Nature, but to be acquainted beforehand with every direction they will take, would be fully to comprehend the Most High.
Robert Hall: Excellency of the Christian Dispensation.    
  58
 
  We rend of a “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” of “a peace that passeth all understanding,” with innumerable other expressions of a similar kind, which indicate strong and vehement emotions of mind. That the great objects of Christianity, called eternity, heaven, and hell, are of sufficient magnitude to justify vivid emotions of joy, fear, and love, is indisputable, if it be allowed we have any relation to them; nor is it less certain that religion could never have any powerful influence if it did not influence through the medium of the affections. All objects which have any permanent influence influence the conduct in this way. We may possibly be first set in motion by their supposed connection with our interest; but unless they draw to themselves particular affections the pursuit soon terminates.
Robert Hall: Fragment on the Right of Worship.    
  59
 
  An eminent degree and vigour of the religious affections, then, ought not to be denominated fanaticism, unless they arise from wrong views of religion, or are so much indulged as to disqualify for the duties of society. Within these limits, the more elevated devotional sentiments are, the more perfect is the character, and the more suited to the destination of a being who has, indeed, an important part to act here, but who stands on the confines of eternity.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On the Right of Worship.    
  60
 
  The cool calculation of interest operates only at times: we are habitually borne forward in all parts of our career by specific affections and passions; some more simple and original, others complicated and acquired. In men of a vulgar cast, the grosser appetites,—in minds more elevated, the passions of sympathy, taste, ambition, the pleasures of imagination,—are the springs of motion. The world triumphs over its votaries by approaching them on the side of their passions; and it does not so much deceive their reason as captivate their heart.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On the Right of Worship.    
  61
 
  It is an inherent and inseparable inconvenience in persecution that it knows not where to stop. It only aims at first to crush the obnoxious sect; it then punishes the supposed crime of obstinacy, till at length the original magnitude of the error is little thought of in the solicitude to maintain the rights of authority.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On the Right of Worship.    
  62
 
  He who considers what it is that constitutes the force of penal laws will find it is their agreement with the moral feelings which nature has implanted in the breast. When the actions they punish are such, and only such, as the tribunal of conscience has already condemned, they are the constant object of respect and reverence. They enforce and corroborate the principles of moral order by publishing its decisions and executing its sanctions. They present to the view of mankind an august image of a moral administration,—a representation in miniature of the eternal justice which presides in the dispensations of the Almighty.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Toleration.    
  63
 
  Mankind are apt to be strongly prejudiced in favour of whatever is countenanced by antiquity, enforced by authority, and recommended by custom. The pleasure of acquiescing in the decision of others is by most men so much preferred to the toil and hazard of inquiry, and so few are either able or disposed to examine for themselves, that the voice of law will generally be taken for the dictates of justice.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  64
 
  From the indisposition of mankind to direct their thoughts to a futurity; from their proneness to immerse themselves in present and sensible objects, and the ignorance which follows of course, it has been thought necessary to set apart a particular order of men to inculcate its truths and to exemplify its duties.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  65
 
  There are some who, proscribing the exercise of the affections entirely in religion, would reduce Christianity to a mere rule of life; but, as such persons betray an extreme ignorance of human nature as well as of the Scriptures, I shall content myself with remarking that the apostles, had they lived in the days of these men, would have been as little exempt from their ridicule as any other itinerants. If the supreme love of God, a solicitude to advance his honour, ardent desires after happiness, together with a comparative deadness to the present state, be enthusiasm, it is that enthusiasm which animated the Saviour and breathes throughout the Scriptures.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  66
 
  The efficacy of good examples in the formation of public opinion is incalculable. Though men justify their conduct by reasons, and sometimes bring the very rules of virtue to the touchstone of abstraction, yet they principally act from example. Metaphysical reasons have, in reality, as little to do in the formation of the principles of morals as rules of grammar in the original structure of language, or those of criticism in the formation of orators and poets.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  67
 
  Fanaticism, as far as we are at present concerned with it, may be defined, Such an overwhelming impression of the ideas relating to the future world as disqualifies for the duties of life. From the very nature of fanaticism, it is an evil of short duration. As it implies an irregular movement or an inflamed state of the passions, when these return to their natural state it subsides. Nothing that is violent will last long. The vicissitudes of the world and the business of life are admirably adapted to abate the excesses of religious enthusiasm. In a state where there are such incessant calls to activity, where want presses, desire allures, and ambition inflames, there is little room to dread an excessive attention to the objects of an invisible futurity.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  68
 
  To fill the minds of the public with hatreds, jealousies, and suspicions is to poison the fountains of public security. When this spirit is once awakened among a people, the character and conduct of its rulers seldom fail, in the long run, to be injured by it. Under disasters which the utmost wisdom cannot prevent, under burdens which the strictest economy may impose, government presents a plain, a palpable, and permanent pretext of discontent and suspicion. Misery has a sort of relief in attributing its sufferings to the conduct of others, and while it soothes its anguish by resentment and clamour it fastens on the object that first presents itself. This object will naturally be the rulers of the nation.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  69
 
  A generous competition is the animating spirit of every profession, without which it droops and languishes. If we look around us, we shall perceive that all the discoveries which have enriched science, and the improvements which have embellished life, are to be ascribed to the competition of nations with nations, of cities with cities, and of men with men.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  70
 
  Laws will not be obeyed, harmony in society cannot be maintained, without virtue; virtue cannot subsist without religion.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  71
 
  Enthusiasm is an evil much less to be dreaded than superstition. The latter is a disease of opinion, which may be transmitted with fresh accumulation of error from age to age. It is the spirit of slumber in which whole nations are immersed. Placing religion, which is most foreign to its nature, in depending for acceptance with God on absurd penances or unmeaning ceremonies, it resigns the understanding to ignorance and the heart to insensibility. No generous sentiments, no active virtues, ever issue from superstition.  72
  Superstition is the disease of nations, enthusiasm that of individuals: the former grows more inveterate by time, the latter is cured by it.
Robert Hall: Fragment, On Village Preaching.    
  73
 
  He would never allow himself to employ those exaggerations and colours in the narration of facts which many who would shudder at a deliberate falsehood freely indulge; some for the gratification of their passions or the advancement of their interests, and others purely from the impulse of vanity and a wish to render their narratives more striking and their conversation more poignant.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  74
 
  What is friendship in virtuous minds but the concentration of benevolent emotions heightened by respect and increased by exercise on one or more objects? Friendship is not a state of feeling whose elements are specifically different from those which compose every other. The emotions we feel towards a friend are the same in kind with those we experience on other occasions; but they are more complex and more exalted. It is the general sensibility to kind and social affections, more immediately directed to one or more individuals, and in consequence of its particular direction giving birth to an order of feeling more vivid and intense than usual, which constitutes friendship.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  75
 
  Happiness is not to be prescribed, but enjoyed; and such is the benevolent arrangement of Divine Providence, that wherever there is a moral preparation for it, it follows of course.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  76
 
  If the mere conception of the reunion of good men in a future state infused a momentary rapture into the mind of Tully,—if an airy speculation, for there is reason to fear it had little hold on his convictions, could inspire him with such delight,—what may we be expected to feel who are assured of such an event by the true sayings of God! How should we rejoice in the prospect, the certainty rather, of spending a blissful eternity with those whom we loved on earth; of seeing them emerge from the ruins of the tomb and the deeper ruins of the fall, not only uninjured, but refined and perfected, “with every tear wiped from their eyes,” standing before the throne of God and the Lamb in white robes and palms in their hands, crying with a loud voice. Salvation to God that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever! What delight will it afford to renew the sweet counsel we have taken together, to recount the toils of combat and the labour of the way, and to approach, not the house, but the throne, of God in company, in order to join in the symphonies of heavenly voices, and lose ourselves amid the splendour and fruitions of the beatific vision!
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  77
 
  In all well-ordered politics, if we may judge from the experience of past ages, the attachment of men to their country is in danger of becoming an absorbing principle, inducing not merely a forgetfulness of private interest, but of the immutable claims of humanity and justice. In the most virtuous times of the Roman Republic their country was their idol, at whose shrine her greatest patriots were at all times prepared to offer whole hecatombs of human victims: the interests of other nations were no further regarded than as they could be rendered subservient to the gratification of her ambition; and mankind at large was considered as possessing no rights but such as might with the utmost propriety be merged in that devouring vortex. With all their talents and their grandeur, they were unprincipled oppressors, leagued in a determined conspiracy against the liberty and independence of mankind. In the eyes of an enlightened philanthropist, patriotism, pampered to such an excess, loses the name of virtue: it is the bond and cement of a guilty confederation. It was worthy of the wisdom of our great legislator to decline the express inculcation of a principle so liable to degenerate into excess, and to content himself with prescribing the virtues which are sure to develop it as far as is consistent with the dictates of universal benevolence.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  78
 
  The opportunities of making great sacrifices for the good of mankind are of rare occurrence, and he who remains inactive till it is in his power to confer signal benefits or yield important services is in imminent danger of incurring the doom of the slothful servant. It is the preference of duty to inclination in the ordinary course of life, it is the practice of self-denial in a thousand little instances, which forms the truest test of character, and secures the honour and the reward of those who live not to themselves.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  79
 
  The satisfaction derived from surveying the most beautiful scenes of nature or the most exquisite productions of art is so far from being complete that it almost turns into uneasiness when there is none with whom we can share it; nor would the most passionate admirer of eloquence or poetry consent to witness their most stupendous exertions upon the simple condition of not being permitted to reveal his emotions.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for Dr. Ryland.    
  80
 
  Were any other event of far superior moment ascertained by evidence which made but a distant approach to that which attests the certainty of a life to come,—had we equal assurance that after a very limited though uncertain period we should be called to migrate into a distant land whence we were never to return,—the intelligence would fill every breast with solicitude; it would become the theme of every tongue; and we should avail ourselves with the utmost eagerness of all the means of information respecting the prospects which awaited us in that unknown country. Much of our attention would be occupied in preparing for our departure; we should cease to regard the place we now inhabit as our home, and nothing would be considered of moment but as it bore upon our future destination. How strange is it then that, with the certainty we all possess of shortly entering into another world, we avert our eyes as much as possible from the prospect; that we seldom permit it to penetrate us; and that the moment the recollection recurs we hasten to dismiss it as an unwelcome intrusion! Is it not surprising that the volume we profess to recognize as the record of immortality, and the sole depository of whatever information it is possible to obtain respecting the portion which awaits us, should be consigned to neglect, and rarely if ever consulted with the serious intention of ascertaining our future condition?
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte of Wales.    
  81
 
  What may we suppose is the reason of this? why are so many impressed and so few profited? It is unquestionably because they are not obedient to the first suggestion of conscience. What that suggestion is it may not be easy precisely to determine; but it certainly is not to make haste to efface the impression by frivolous amusement, by gay society, by entertaining reading, or even by secular employment: it is probably to meditate and pray. Let the first whisper, be what it may, of the internal monitor be listened to as an oracle, as the still small voice which Elijah heard when he wrapped his face in his mantle, recognizing it to be the voice of God. Be assured it will not mislead you; it will conduct you one step at least towards happiness and truth; and by a prompt and punctual compliance with it you will be prepared to receive ampler communications and superior light.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  82
 
  An event has taken place which has no parallel in the revolutions of time, the consequences of which have not room to expand themselves within a narrower sphere than an endless duration. An event has occurred the issues of which must forever baffle and elude all finite comprehensions, by concealing themselves in the depths of that abyss, of that eternity, which is the dwelling-place of Deity, where there is sufficient space for the destiny of each, among the innumerable millions of the human race, to develop itself, and without interference or confusion to sustain and carry forward its separate infinity of interest. That there is nothing hyperbolic or extravagant in these conceptions, but that they are the true sayings of God, you may learn from almost every page of the sacred oracles. For what are they, in fact, but a different mode of announcing the doctrine taught us in the following words:—What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul; or what shall he give in exchange for his soul?
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  83
 
  Eternity, it is surely not necessary to remind you, invests every state, whether of bliss or of suffering, with a mysterious and awful importance entirely its own, and is the only property in the creation which gives that weight and moment to whatever it attaches compared to which all sublunary joys and sorrows, all interests which know a period, fade into the most contemptible insignificance.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  84
 
  Man is naturally a prospective creature, endowed not only with a capacity of comparing the present with the past, but also of anticipating the future, and dwelling with anxious rumination on scenes which are yet remote. He is capable of carrying his views, of attaching his anxieties, to a period much more distant than that which measures the limits of his present existence; capable, we distinctly perceive, of plunging into the depths of future duration, of identifying himself with the sentiments and opinions of a distant age, and of enjoying, by anticipation, the fame of which he is aware he shall never be conscious, and the praises he shall never hear. So strongly is he disposed to link his feelings with futurity, that shadows become realities when contemplated as subsisting there; and the phantom of posthumous celebrity, the faint image of his being impressed on future generations, is often preferred to the whole of his present existence, with all its warm and vivid realities.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  85
 
  The annunciation of life and immortality by the gospel, did it contain no other truth, were sufficient to cast all the discoveries of science into shade, and to reduce the highest improvements of reason to the comparative nothingness which the flight of a moment bears to eternity. By this discovery the prospects of human nature are infinitely widened, the creature of yesterday becomes the child of eternity; and as felicity is not the less valuable in the eye of reason because it is remote, nor the misery which is certain less to be deprecated because it is not immediately felt, the care of our future interests becomes our chief, and, properly speaking, our only, concern. All besides will shortly become nothing; and therefore, whenever it comes into competition with these, it is as the small dust of the balance.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  86
 
  Of the great prizes of human life it is not often the lot of the most enterprising to obtain many: they are placed on opposite sides of the path, so that it is impossible to approach one of them without proportionally receding from another; whence it results that the wisest plans are founded on a compromise between good and evil, where much that is the object of desire is finally relinquished and abandoned in order to secure superior advantages.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  87
 
  When we mention peace, however, we mean not the stupid security of a mind that refuses to reflect, we mean a tranquillity which rests upon an unshaken basis, which no anticipations, however remote, no power of reflection, however piercing or profound, no evolutions which time may disclose or eternity conceal, are capable of impairing: a peace which is founded on the oath and promise of Him who cannot lie; which, springing from the consciousness of an ineffable alliance with the Father of Spirits, makes us to share in his fulness, to become a partner with him in his eternity; a repose pure and serene as the unruffled wave which reflects the heavens from its bosom; while it is accompanied with a feeling of exultation and triumph natural to such as are conscious that ere long, having overcome, they shall possess all things.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  88
 
  Considered as a state of probation, our present condition loses all its inherent meanness; it derives a moral grandeur even from the shortness of its duration, when viewed as a contest for an immortal crown, in which the candidates are exhibited on a theatre, a spectacle to beings of the highest order, who, conscious of the tremendous importance of the issue, of the magnitude of the interest at stake, survey the combatants from on high with benevolent and trembling solicitude.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  89
 
  In reasoning we recede as far as possible from sensible impressions; and the more general and comprehensive our conclusions and the larger our abstractions, provided they are sustained by sufficient evidence, the more knowledge is extended and the intellect improved. Sensibility is excited, the affections are awakened, on the contrary, on those occasions in which we tread back our steps, and, descending from generalities, direct the attention to individual objects and particular events. We all acknowledge, for example, our constant exposure to death; but it is seldom we experience the practical impression of that weighty truth, except when we witness the stroke of mortality actually inflicted. We universally acknowledge the uncertainty of human prospects, and the instability of earthly distinctions; but it is when we behold them signally destroyed and confounded that we feel our presumption checked and our hearts appalled.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  90
 
  The sight of a penitent on his knees is a spectacle which moves heaven; and the compassionate Redeemer, who when he beheld Saul in that situation exclaimed, Behold, he prayeth, will not be slow nor reluctant to strengthen you by his might and console you by his Spirit. When a new and living way is opened into the holiest of all, by the blood of Jesus, not to avail ourselves of it, not to arise and go to our Father, but to prefer remaining at a guilty distance, encompassed with famine, to the rich and everlasting provisions of his house, will be a source of insupportable anguish when we shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob enter into the kingdom of God, and ourselves shut out. You are probably not aware of what importance it is to improve these sacred visitations; have not considered that they form a crisis which, if often neglected, will never return. It is impossible too often to inculcate the momentous truth, that the character is not formed by passive impressions, but by voluntary actions, and that we shall be judged hereafter, not by what we have felt, but by what we have done.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  91
 
  If, after a serious retrospect of your past lives, of the objects you have pursued, and the principles which have determined your conduct, they appear to be such as will ill sustain the scrutiny of a dying hour, dare to be faithful to yourselves, and shun with horror that cruel treachery to your best interests which would impel you to sacrifice the happiness of eternity to the quiet of a moment.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  92
 
  That a creature formed for an endless duration should be disposed to turn his attention from that object, and to contract his views and prospects within a circle which, compared to eternity, is but a mathematical point, is truly astonishing; and, as it is impossible to account for it from the natural constitution of the mind, it must originate in some great moral cause. It shows that some strange catastrophe has befallen the species; that some deep and radical malady is inherent in the moral system.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  93
 
  Many whose gayety has been eclipsed, and whose thoughtless career of irreligion and dissipation has experienced a momentary check, will doubtless soon return with eager impetuosity to the same course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. The same amusements will enchant, the same society corrupt, and the same temptations ensnare them; with this very important difference, that the effort necessary to surmount the present impression will superinduce a fresh degree of obduration, by which they will become more completely accoutred in the panoply of darkness. The next visitation, though it may be in some respects more affecting, because more near, will probably impress them less; and as death has penetrated the palace in vain, though it should even come up into their chamber and take away the delight of their eyes at a stroke, they will be less religiously moved.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  94
 
  The gradations even of rank, which are partly the cause and partly the effect of the highest social improvements, are accompanied with so many incidental evils that nothing but an enlarged contemplation of their ultimate tendency and effect could reconcile us to the monstrous incongruities and deformities they display, in wealth which ruins us possessor, titles which dignify the base, and influence exerted to none but the most mischievous purposes.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  95
 
  But the impotence of the world never appears more conspicuous than when it has exhausted its powers in the gratification of its votaries, by placing them in a situation which leaves nothing further to hope. It frustrates the sanguine expectations of its admirers as much by what it bestows as by what it withholds, and reserves its severest disappointment for the season of possession. The agitation, the uncertainty, the varied emotions of hope and fear which accompany the pursuit of worldly objects, create a powerful interest, and maintain a brisk and wholesome circulation; but when the pursuit is over, unless some other is substituted in its place, satiety succeeds to enjoyment and pleasures cease to please. Tired of treading the same circle, of beholding the same spectacles, of frequenting the same amusements, and repeating the same follies, with nothing to awaken sensibility or stimulate to action, the minion of fortune is exposed to an insuperable languor; he sinks under an insupportable weight of ease, and falls a victim to incurable deletion and despondency.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  96
 
  The nation has certainly not been wanting in the proper expression of its poignant regret at the sudden removal of this most lamented princess, nor of their sympathy with the royal family, deprived by this visitation of its brightest ornament. Sorrow is painted on every countenance, the pursuits of business and of pleasure have been suspended, and the kingdom is covered with the signals of distress.  97
  But what, my brethren, if it be lawful to indulge such a thought, what would be the funeral obsequies of a lost soul? Where shall we find the tears fit to be wept at such a spectacle? or, could we realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of commiseration and concern would be deemed equal to the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning, and the heavens with sackcloth? Or were the whole fabric of nature to become animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude of such a catastrophe?
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon on the Princess Charlotte.    
  98
 
  To obliterate the sense of Deity, of moral sanctions, and of a future world,—and by these means to prepare the way for the total subversion of every institution, both social and religious, which men have been hitherto accustomed to revere,—is evidently the principal object of modern sceptics; the first sophists who have avowed an attempt to govern the world without inculcating the persuasion of a superior power.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity, Preface.    
  99
 
  It is somewhat singular that many of the fashionable infidels have hit upon a definition of virtue which perfectly coincides with that of certain metaphysical divines in America, first invented and defended by that most acute reasoner, JONATHAN EDWARDS. They both place virtue exclusively in a passion for the general good; or, as Mr. Edwards expresses it, love to being in general; so that our love is always to be proportioned to the magnitude of its object in the scale of being, which is liable to the objections I have already stated, as well as to many others which the limits of this note will not permit me to enumerate. Let it suffice to remark, (1.) That virtue, on these principles, is an utter impossibility: for the system of being, comprehending the great Supreme, is infinite; and, therefore, to maintain the proper proportion, the force of particular attachment must be infinitely less than the passion for the general good: but the limits of the human mind are not capable of any emotion so infinitely different in degree. (2.) Since our views of the extent of the universe are capable of perpetual enlargement, admitting the sum of existence is ever the same, we must return back at each step to diminish the strength of particular affections, or they will become disproportionate; and consequently, on these principles, vicious; so that the balance must be continually fluctuating, by the weights being taken out of one scale and put into the other. (3.) If virtue consist exclusively in love to being in general, or attachment to the general good, the particular affections are, to every purpose of virtue, useless, and even pernicious; for their immediate, nay, their necessary tendency is to attract to their objects a proportion of attention which far exceeds their comparative value in the general scale. To allege that the general good is promoted by them will be of no advantage to the defence of this system, but the contrary, by confessing that a greater sum of happiness is attained by a deviation from, than an adherence to, its principles; unless its advocates mean by the love of being in general the same thing as the private affections, which is to confound all the distinctions of language, as well as all the operations of mind. Let it be remembered, we have no dispute respecting what is the ultimate end of virtue, which is allowed on all sides to be the greatest sum of happiness in the universe. The question is merely, What is virtue itself? or, in other words, What are the means appointed for the attainment of that end?
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity, note.    
  100
 
  When, at the distance of more than half a century, Christianity was assaulted by a Woolston, a Tindal, and a Morgan, it was ably supported both by clergymen of the established church and writings among Protestant dissenters. The labours of a Clarke and a Butler were associated with those of a Doddridge, a Leland, and a Lardner, with such equal reputation and success as to make it evident that the intrinsic excellence of a religion needs not the aid of external appendages; but that, with or without a dowry, her charms are of sufficient power to fix and engage the heart.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity, Preface.    
  101
 
  Why, it will be said, may we not suppose the world has always continued as it is; that is, that there has been a constant succession of finite beings appearing and disappearing on the earth from all eternity? I answer, Whatever is supposed to have occasioned this constant succession, exclusive of an intelligent cause, will never account for the undeniable marks of design visible in all finite beings. Nor is the absurdity of supposing a contrivance without a contriver diminished by this imaginary succession; but rather increased, by being repealed at every step of the series.  102
  Besides, an eternal succession of finite beings involves in it a contradiction, and is therefore plainly impossible. As the supposition is made to get rid of the idea of any one having existed from eternity, each of the beings in succession must have begun in time: but the succession itself is eternal. We have then the succession of beings infinitely earlier than any being in the succession; or, in other words, a series of beings running on ad infinitum before it reached any particular being, which is absurd. From these considerations it is manifest there must be some eternal Being, or nothing could ever have existed; and since the beings which we behold bear in their whole structure evident marks of wisdom and design, it is equally certain that he who formed them is a wise and intelligent agent.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity, Preface.    
  103
 
  The actions of men are oftener determined by their character than their interest: their conduct takes its colour more from their acquired tastes, inclinations, and habits, than from a deliberate regard to their greatest good. It is only on great occasions the mind awakes to take an extended survey of her whole course, and that she suffers the dictates of reason to impress a new bias upon her movements. The actions of each day are, for the most part, links which follow each other in the chain of custom. Hence the great effort of practical wisdom is to imbue the mind with right tastes, affections, and habits; the elements of character and masters of action.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  104
 
  Settle it therefore in your minds, as a maxim never to be effaced or forgotten, that atheism is an inhuman, bloody, ferocious system, equally hostile to every useful restraint and to every virtuous affection; that leaving nothing above us to excite awe, nor round us to awaken tenderness, it wages war with heaven and with earth: its first object is to dethrone God, its next to destroy man.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  105
 
  In order to render men benevolent they must first be made tender: for benevolent affections are not the offspring of reasoning: they result from that culture of the heart, from those early impressions of tenderness, gratitude, and sympathy, which the endearments of domestic life are sure to supply, and for the formation of which it is the best possible school.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  106
 
  Without the permanent union of the sexes there can be no permanent families: the dissolution of nuptial ties involves the dissolution of domestic society. But domestic society is the seminary of social affections, the cradle of sensibility, where the first elements are acquired of that tenderness and humanity which cement mankind together; and were they entirely extinguished the whole fabric of social institutions would be dissolved. Families are so many centres of attraction, which preserve mankind from being scattered and dissipated by the repulsive powers of selfishness. The order of nature is ever from particulars to generals. As in the operations of intellect we proceed from the contemplation of individuals to the formation of general abstractions, so in the development of the passions, in like manner, we advance from private to public affections; from the love of parents, brothers, and sisters, to those more expanded regards which embrace the immense society of human kind.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  107
 
  Human excellence is blended with many imperfections and seen under many limitations. It is beheld only in detached and separate portions, nor ever appears in any one character whole and entire. So that when, in imitation of the Stoics, we wish to form out of these fragments the notion of a perfectly good and wise man, we know that it is a mere fiction of the mind, without any real being in whom it is embodied and realized. In the belief of a Deity these conceptions are reduced to reality: the scattered rays of an ideal excellence are concentrated, and become the real attributes of that Being with whom we stand in the nearest relation, who sits supreme at the head of the universe, is armed with infinite power, and pervades all nature with his presence.  108
  The efficacy of these views in producing and augmenting a virtuous taste will indeed be proportioned to the vividness with which they are formed, and the frequency with which they recur; yet some benefit will not fail to result from them even in their lowest degree.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  109
 
  The truly good man is jealous over himself lest the notoriety of his best actions, by blending itself with their motive, should diminish their value; the vain man performs the same actions for the sake of that notoriety. The good man quietly discharges his duty, and shuns ostentation; the vain man considers every good deed lost that is not publicly displayed. The one is intent upon realities, the other upon semblances: the one aims to be virtuous, the other to appear so.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  110
 
  Religion, and that alone, teaches absolute humility; by which I mean a sense of our absolute nothingness in the view of infinite greatness and excellence. That sense of inferiority which results from the comparison of men with each other is often an unwelcome sentiment forced upon the mind, which may rather embitter the temper than soften it: that which devotion impresses is soothing and delightful. The devout man loves to lie low at the footstool of his Creator, because it is then he attains the most lively perceptions of the divine excellence, and the most tranquil confidence in the divine favour. In so august a presence he sees all distinctions lost, and all beings reduced to the same level. He looks at his superiors without envy, and his inferiors without contempt: and when from this elevation he descends to mix in society, the conviction of superiority which must in many instances be felt is a calm inference of the understanding, and no longer a busy, importunate passion of the heart.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  111
 
  It is impossible to enact ignorance by law, or to repeal by legislative authority the dictates of reason and the light of science.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  112
 
  It is the moral relation which man is supposed to bear to a superior power, the awful idea of accountability, the influence which his present dispositions and actions are conceived to have upon his eternal destiny, more than any superiority of intellectual powers abstracted from these considerations, which invest him with such mysterious grandeur, and constitute the firmest guard on the sanctuary of human life.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  113
 
  The tendency of pride to produce strife and hatred is sufficiently apparent from the pains men have been at to construct a system of politeness, which is nothing more than a sort of mimic humility, in which the sentiments of an offensive self-estimation are so far disguised and suppressed as to make them compatible with the spirit of society: such a mode of behaviour as would naturally result from an attention to the apostolic injunction: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but, in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves. But if the semblance be of such importance, how much more useful the reality! If the mere garb of humility be of such indispensable necessity that without it society could not subsist, how much better still would the harmony of the world be preserved were the condescension, deference, and respect so studiously displayed a true picture of the heart!
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  114
 
  From the records of revelation we learn that marriage, or the permanent union of the sexes, was ordained by God, and existed, under different modifications, in the early infancy of mankind, without which they could never have emerged from barbarism. For conceive only what eternal discord, jealousy, and violence would ensue were the objects of the tenderest affections secured to their possessor by no tie of moral obligation: were domestic enjoyments disturbed by incessant fear, and licentiousness inflamed by hope, who could find sufficient tranquillity of mind to enable him to plan or execute any continued scheme of action, or what room for arts, or sciences, or religion, or virtue, in that state in which the chief earthly happiness was exposed to every lawless invader; where one was racked with an incessant anxiety to keep what the other was equally eager to acquire? It is not probable in itself, independent of the light of Scripture, that the benevolent Author of the human race ever placed them in so wretched a condition at first: it is certain they could not remain in it long without being exterminated. Marriage, by shutting out these evils, and enabling every man to rest secure in his enjoyments, is the great civilizer of the world: with this security the mind is at liberty to expand in generous affections, and has leisure to look abroad, and engage in the pursuits of knowledge, science, and virtue.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  115
 
  The sceptical or irreligious system subverts the whole foundation of morals. It may be assumed as a maxim, that no person can be required to act contrary to his greatest good, or his highest interest, comprehensively viewed in relation to the whole duration of his being. It is often our duty to forego our own interest partially, to sacrifice a smaller pleasure for the sake of a greater, to incur a present evil in pursuit of a distant good of more consequence. In a word, to arbitrate among interfering claims of inclination is the moral arithmetic of human life. But to risk the happiness of the whole duration of our being in any case whatever, were it possible, would be foolish; because the sacrifice must, by the nature of it, be so great as to preclude the possibility of compensation.  116
  As the present world, on sceptical principles, is the only place of recompense, whenever the practice of virtue fails to promise the greatest sum of present good,—cases which often occur in reality, and much oftener in appearance,—every motive to virtuous conduct is superseded; a deviation from rectitude becomes the part of wisdom; and should the path of virtue, in addition to this, be obstructed by disgrace, torment, or death, to persevere would be madness and folly, and a violation of the first and most essential law of nature. Virtue, on these principles, being in numberless instances at war with self-preservation, never can, or ought to, become a fixed habit of the mind.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  117
 
  While human philosophy was never able to abolish idolatry in a single village, the promulgation of the gospel overthrew it in a great part (and that the most enlightened) of the world.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  118
 
  Suppose there were a great and glorious being always present with us, who had given us existence, with numberless other blessings, and on whom we depended each instant as well for every present enjoyment as for every future good; suppose, again, we had incurred the just displeasure of such a being by ingratitude and disobedience, yet that in great mercy he had not cast us off, but had assured us he was willing to pardon and restore us on our humble entreaty and sincere repentance; say, would not an habitual sense of the presence of this being, self-reproach for having displeased him, and an anxiety to recover his favour, be the most effectual antidote to pride? But such are the leading discoveries made by the Christian revelation, and such the dispositions which a practical belief of it inspires.  119
  Humility is the first fruit of religion.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  120
 
  The exclusion of a Supreme Being and of a superintending Providence tends directly to the destruction of moral taste. It robs the universe of all finished and consummate excellence even in idea. The admiration of perfect wisdom and goodness for which we are formed, and which kindles such unspeakable rapture in the soul, finding in the regions of scepticism nothing to which it corresponds, droops and languishes. In a world which presents a fair spectacle of order and beauty, of a vast family nourished and supported by an Almighty Parent,—in a world which leads the devout mind, step by step, to the contemplation of the first fair and the first good, the sceptic is encompassed with nothing but obscurity, meanness, and disorder.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  121
 
  It is not the province of reason to awaken new passions, or open new sources of sensibility; but to direct us in the attainment of those objects which nature has already rendered pleasing, or to determine among the interfering inclinations and passions which sway the mind, which are the fittest to be preferred.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  122
 
  In one country, and that the centre of Christendom, revelation underwent a total eclipse, while atheism, performing on a darkened theatre its strange and fearful tragedy, confounded the first elements of society, blended every age, rank, and sex in indiscriminate proscription and massacre, and convulsed all Europe to its centre; that the imperishable memorial of these events might teach the last generations of mankind to consider religion as the pillar of society, the safeguard of nations, the parent of social order, which alone has power to curb the fury of the passions, and secure to every one his rights: to the laborious the reward of their industry, to the rich the enjoyment of their wealth, to nobles the preservation of their honours, and to princes the stability of their thrones.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  123
 
  Though the system of paganism is justly condemned by reason and scripture, yet it assumed as true several principles of the first importance to the preservation of public manners; such as a persuasion of invisible power, of the folly of incurring the divine vengeance for the attainment of any present advantage, and the divine approbation of virtue: so that, strictly speaking, it was the mixture of truth in it which gave it all its utility.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  124
 
  There is, it will be confessed, a delicate sensibility to character, a sober desire of reputation, a wish to possess the esteem of the wise and good, felt by the purest minds, which is at the farthest remove from arrogance or vanity. The humility of a noble mind scarcely dares to approve of itself until it has secured the approbation of others. Very different is that restless desire of distinction, that passion for theatrical display, which inflames the heart and occupies the whole attention of vain men. This, of all the passions, is the most unsocial, avarice itself not excepted.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  125
 
  Combine the frequent and familiar perpetuation of atrocious deeds with the dearth of great and generous actions, and you have the exact picture of that condition of society which completes the degradation of the species,—the frightful contrast of dwarfish virtues and gigantic vices, where everything good is mean and little and everything evil is rank and luxuriant: a dead and sickening uniformity prevails, broken only at intervals by volcanic eruptions of anarchy and crime.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  126
 
  In the revolutions of the human mind exploded opinions are often revived; but an exploded superstition never recovers its credit. The pretension to divine revelation is so august and commanding, that when its falsehood is once discerned, it is covered with all the ignominy of detected imposture; il falls from such a height (to change the figure) that it is inevitably crumbled into atoms.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  127
 
  In the pursuit of wealth men are led by an attention to their own interest to promote the welfare of each other; their advantages are reciprocal; the benefits which each is anxious to acquire for himself he reaps in the greatest abundance from the union and conjunction of society. The pursuits of vanity are quite contrary. The portion of time and attention mankind are willing to spare from their avocations and pleasures to devote to the admiration of each other is so small that every successful adventurer is felt to have impaired the common stock. The success of one is the disappointment of multitudes. For though there he many rich, many virtuous, many wise men, fame must necessarily be the portion of but few. Hence every vain man in whom is the ruling passion, regarding his rival as his enemy, is strongly tempted to rejoice in his miscarriage, and repine at his success.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  128
 
  By great and sublime virtues are meant those which are called into action on great and trying occasions, which demand the sacrifice of the dearest interests and prospects of human life, and sometimes of life itself: the virtues, in a word, which, by their rarity and splendour, draw admiration, and have rendered illustrious the character of patriots, martyrs, and confessors. It requires but little reflection to perceive that whatever veils a future world, and contracts the limits of existence within the present life, must tend, in a proportionable degree, to diminish the grandeur and narrow the sphere of human agency.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  129
 
  What a scene must a field of battle present, where thousands are left without assistance and without pity, with their wounds exposed to the piercing air, while the blood, freezing as it flows, binds them to the earth, amid the trampling of horses and the insults of an enraged foe! If they are spared by the humanity of the enemy and carried from the field, it is but a prolongation of torment. Conveyed in uneasy vehicles often to a remote distance, through roads almost impassable, they are lodged in ill-prepared receptacles for the wounded and the sick, where the variety of distress baffles all the efforts of humanity and skill, and renders it impossible to give to each the attention he demands. Far from their native home, no tender assiduities of friendship, no well-known voice, no wife, or mother, or sister, is near to soothe their sorrows, relieve their thirst, or close their eyes in death. Unhappy man! and must you be swept into the grave unnoticed and unnumbered, and no friendly tear be shed for your sufferings or mingled with your dust!
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  130
 
  We would earnestly entreat the young to remember that, by the unanimous consent of all ages, modesty, docility, and reverence to superior years, and to parents above all, have been considered as their appropriate virtues, a guard assigned by the immutable laws of God and nature on the inexperience of youth; and with respect to the second, that Christianity prohibits no pleasures that are innocent, lays no restraints that are capricious; but that the sobriety and purity which it enjoins, by strengthening the intellectual powers, and preserving the faculties of mind and body in undiminished vigour, lay the surest foundation of present peace and future eminence.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  131
 
  Political power, the most seducing object of ambition, never before circulated through so many hands; the prospect of possessing it was never before presented to so many minds. Multitudes who, by their birth and education, and not unfrequently by their talents, seemed destined to perpetual obscurity, were by the alternate rise and fall of parties elevated into distinction, and shared in the functions of government. The short-lived forms of power and office glided with such rapidity through successive ranks of degradation, from the court to the very dregs of the populace, that they seemed rather to solicit acceptance than to be a prize contended for. Yet, as it was still impossible for all to possess authority, though none were willing to obey, a general impatience to break the ranks and rush into the foremost ground maddened and infuriated the nation, and overwhelmed law, order, and civilization, with the violence of a torrent.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity (French Revolution of 1789).    
  132
 
  In the power of fixing the attention, the most precious of the intellectual habits, mankind differ greatly; but every man possesses some, and it will increase the more it is exerted. He who exercises no discipline over himself in this respect acquires such a volatility of mind, such a vagrancy of imagination, as dooms him to be the sport of every mental vanity: it is impossible such a man should attain to true wisdom. If we cultivate, on the contrary, a habit of attention, it will become natural; thought will strike its roots deep, and we shall, by degrees, experience no difficulty in following the track of the longest connected discourse.
Robert Hall: On Hearing the Word.    
  133
 
  The practice of sleeping in places of worship, a practice we believe not prevalent in any other places of public resort, is not only a gross violation of the advice we are giving, but most distressing to ministers, and most disgraceful to those who indulge it. If the apostle indignantly inquires of the Corinthians whether they had not houses to eat and drink in, may we not, with equal propriety, ask those who indulge in this practice whether they have not beds to sleep in, that they convert the house of God into a dormitory?
Robert Hall: On Hearing the Word.    
  134
 
  You might have traversed the Roman empire in the zenith of its power, from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, without meeting with a single charitable asylum for the sick. Monuments of pride, of ambition, of vindictive wrath, were to be found in abundance; but not one legible record of commiseration for the poor. It was reserved for the religion whose basis is humility, and whose element is devotion, to proclaim with authority, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
Robert Hall: On the Art of Healing.    
  135
 
  Whoever will compare the late defences of Christianity by Locke, Butler, or Clarke with those of the ancient apologists, will discern in the former far more precision and an abler method of reasoning than in the latter; which must be attributed chiefly to the superior spirit of inquiry by which modern times are distinguished. Whatever alarm then may have been taken at the liberty of discussion, religion it is plain hath been a gainer by it; its abuses corrected, and its divine authority settled on a firmer basis than ever.
Robert Hall: On the Right of Public Discussion.    
  136
 
  However some may affect to dislike controversy, it can never be of ultimate disadvantage to the interests of truth or the happiness of mankind. Where it is indulged to its full extent, a multitude of ridiculous opinions will no doubt be obtruded upon the public; but any ill influence they may produce cannot continue long, as they are sure to be opposed with at least equal ability and that superior advantage which is ever attendant on truth. The colours with which wit or eloquence may have adorned a false system will gradually die away, sophistry be detected, and everything estimated at length according to its value.
Robert Hall: On the Right of Public Discussion.    
  137
 
  Government is the creature of the people, and that which they have created they surely have a right to examine. The great Author of nature, having placed the right of dominion in no particular hands, hath left every point relating to it to be settled by the consent and approbation of mankind. In spite of the attempts of sophistry to conceal the origin of political right, it must inevitably rest at length on the acquiescence of the people.
Robert Hall: On the Right of Public Discussion.    
  138
 
  It is surely just that every one should have a right to examine those measures by which the happiness of all may be affected. The control of the public mind over the conduct of ministers, exerted through the medium of the press, has been regarded by the best writers both in our country and on the continent as the main support of our liberties. While this remains we cannot be enslaved; when it is impaired or diminished we shall soon cease to be free.
Robert Hall: On the Right of Public Discussion.    
  139
 
  Religious toleration has never been complete even in England; but, having prevailed more here than perhaps in any other country, there is no place where the doctrines of religion have been set in so clear a light or its truth so ably defended. The writings of Deists have contributed much to this end.
Robert Hall: On the Right of Public Discussion.    
  140
 
  As the physical powers are scarcely ever exerted to their utmost extent but in the ardour of combat, so intellectual acumen has been displayed to the most advantage and to the most effect in the contests of argument. The mind of a controversialist, warmed and agitated, is turned to all quarters, and leaves none of its resources unemployed in the invention of arguments, tries every weapon, and explores the hidden recesses of a subject with an intense vigilance, and an ardour which it is next to impossible in a calmer state of mind to command.
Robert Hall: Preface to Hall’s Help to Zion’s Travellers.    
  141
 
  Of all the species of literary composition perhaps biography is the most delightful. The attention concentrated on one individual gives a unity to the materials of which it is composed, which is wanting in general history. The train of incidents through which it conducts the reader suggests to his imagination a multitude of analogies and comparisons; and while he is following the course of events which mark the life of him who is the subject of the narrative, he is insensibly compelled to take a retrospect of his own. In no other species of writing are we permitted to scrutinize the character so exactly, or to form so just and accurate an estimate of the excellences and defects, the lights and shades, the blemishes and beauties, of an individual mind.
Robert Hall: Preface to the Memoirs of Rev. J. Freeston.    
  142
 
  He who desires to strengthen his virtue and purify his principles will always prefer the solid to the specious; will be more disposed to contemplate an example of the unostentatious piety and goodness which all men may obtain than of those extraordinary achievements to which few can aspire: nor is it the mark of a superior, but rather of a vulgar and superficial taste, to consider nothing as great or excellent but that which glitters with titles or is elevated by rank.
Robert Hall: Preface to the Memoirs of Rev. J. Freeston.    
  143
 
  What can be a more pitiable object than decrepitude sinking under the accumulated load of years and of penury? Arrived at that period when the most fortunate confess they have no pleasure, how forlorn is his situation who, destitute of the means of subsistence, has survived his last child or his last friend! Solitary and neglected, without comfort and without hope, depending for everything on a kindness he has no means of conciliating, he finds himself left alone in a world to which he has ceased to belong, and is only felt in society as a burden it is impatient to shake off.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  144
 
  Methinks neither the voice of the archangel, nor the trump of God, nor the dissolution of the elements, nor the face of the Judge itself, from which the heavens will flee away, will be so dismaying and terrible to these men as the sight of the poor members of Christ; whom, having spurned and rejected in the days of their humiliation, they will then behold with amazement united to their Lord, covered with his glory, and seated on his throne. How will they be astonished to see them surrounded with so much majesty! How will they cast down their eyes in their presence! How will they curse that gold which will then eat their flesh as with fire, and that avarice, that indolence, that voluptuousness which will entitle them to so much misery! You will then learn that the imitation of Christ is the only wisdom; you will then be convinced it is better to be endeared to the cottage than admired in the palace; when to have wiped the tears of the afflicted, and inherited the prayers of the widow and the fatherless, shall be found a richer patrimony than the favour of princes.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  145
 
  He who diffuses the most happiness and mitigates the most distress within his own circle is undoubtedly the best friend to his country and the world, since nothing more is necessary than for all men to imitate his conduct, to make the greatest part of the misery of the world cease in a moment. While the passion, then, of some is to shine, of some to govern, and of others to accumulate, let one great passion alone influence our breasts, the passion which reason ratifies, which conscience approves, which Heaven inspires,—that of being and doing good.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  146
 
  It is certain two nations cannot engage in hostilities but one party must be guilty of injustice; and if the magnitude of crimes is to be estimated by a regard to their consequences, it is difficult to conceive an action of equal guilt with the wanton violation of peace. Though something must generally be allowed for the complexness and intricacy of national claims, and the consequent liability to deception, yet where the guilt of an unjust war is clear and manifest, it sinks every other crime into insignificance. If the existence of war always implies injustice in one at least of the parties concerned, it is also the fruitful parent of crimes. It reverses, with respect to its objects, all the rules of morality. It is nothing less than a temporary repeal of the principles of virtue. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are incorporated. Whatever renders human nature amiable or respectable, whatever engages love or confidence, is sacrificed at its shrine.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  147
 
  Then does party animosity reach its height when to an interference of interests sufficient to kindle resentment is superadded a persuasion of rectitude, a conviction of truth, an apprehension in each party that they are contending for principles of the last importance, on the success of which the happiness of millions depends. Under these impressions men are apt to indulge the most selfish and vindictive passions without suspicion or control. The understanding indeed, in that state, instead of controlling the passions, often serves only to give steadiness to their impulse, to ratify and consecrate, so to speak, all their movements.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  148
 
  To be scantily provided with the necessaries of life, to endure cold, hunger, and nakedness, is a great calamity at all seasons; it is almost unnecessary to observe how much these evils are aggravated by the pressure of disease, when exhausted nature demands whatever the most tender assiduity can supply to cheer its languor and support its sufferings. It is the peculiar misfortune of the afflicted poor that the very circumstance which increases their wants cuts off, by disqualifying them for labour, the means of their supply. Bodily affliction, therefore, falls upon them with an accumulated weight. Poor at best, when seized with sickness they become utterly destitute. Incapable even of presenting themselves to the eye of pity, nothing remains for them but silently to yield themselves up to sorrow and despair.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  149
 
  Corrupt as men are, they are yet so much the creatures of reflection, and so strongly addicted to sentiments of right and wrong, that their attachment to a public cause can rarely be secured, or their animosity be kept alive, unless their understandings are engaged by some appearances of truth and rectitude.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  150
 
  While the philanthropist is devising means to militate the evils and augment the happiness of the world, a fellow-worker together with God, in exploring and giving effect to the benevolent tendencies of nature, the warrior is revolving, in the gloomy recesses of his capacious mind, plans of future devastation and ruin. Prisons crowded with captives, cities emptied of their inhabitants, fields desolate and waste, are among his proudest trophies. The fabric of his fame is cemented with tears and blood; and if his name is wafted to the ends of the earth, it is in the shrill cry of suffering humanity; in the curses and imprecations of those whom his sword has reduced to despair.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  151
 
  Conceive but for a moment the consternation which the approach of an invading army would impress on the peaceful villages in this neighbourhood. When you have placed yourselves for an instant in that situation, you will learn to sympathize with those unhappy countries which have sustained the ravages of arms. But how is it possible to give you an idea of these horrors? Here you behold rich harvests, the bounty of heaven and the reward of industry, consumed in a moment or trampled under foot, while famine and pestilence follow the steps of desolation. There the cottages of peasants given up to the flames, mothers expiring through fear, not for themselves but their infants; the inhabitants flying with their helpless babes in all directions, miserable fugitives on their native soil! In another part you witness opulent cities taken by storm; the streets, where no sounds were heard but those of peaceful industry, filled on a sudden with slaughter and blood, resounding with the cries of the pursuing and pursued; the palaces of nobles demolished, the houses of the rich pillaged, the chastity of virgins and of matrons violated, and every age, sex, and rank mingled in promiscuous massacre and ruin.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  152
 
  With all the pride that wealth is apt to inspire, how seldom are the opulent truly aware of their high destination! Placed by the Lord of all on an eminence, and intrusted with a superior portion of his goods, to them it belongs to be the dispensers of his bounty, to succour distress, to draw merit from obscurity, to behold oppression and want vanish before them, and, accompanied wherever they move with perpetual benedictions, to present an image of Him who, at the close of time, in the kingdom of the redeemed, will wipe away tears from all faces. It is surely unnecessary to remark how insipid are the pleasures of voluptuousness and ambition compared to what such a life must afford, whether we compare them with respect to the present, the review of the past, or the prospect of the future.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  153
 
  The situation of females without fortune in this country is indeed deeply affecting. Excluded from all the active employments, in which they might engage with the utmost propriety, by men who, to the injury of one sex, add the disgrace of making the other effeminate and ridiculous, an indigent female, the object probably of love and tenderness in her youth at a more advanced age a withered flower! has nothing to do but retire and die.
Robert Hall: Reflections on War.    
  154
 
  Of Blackstone’s Commentaries it would be presumptuous in us to attempt an eulogium, after Sir William Jones has pronounced it to be the most beautiful outline that was ever given of any science. Nothing can exceed the luminous arrangement, the vast comprehension, and, we may venture to add from the best authorities, the legal accuracy of this wonderful performance, which in style and composition is distinguished by an unaffected grace, a majestic simplicity, which can only be eclipsed by the splendour of its higher qualities.
Robert Hall: Review of Custance on the Constitution.    
  155
 
  Patriotism is a blind and irrational impulse unless it is founded on a knowledge of the blessings we are called to secure and the privileges we propose to defend.
Robert Hall: Review of Custance on the Constitution.    
  156
 
  To say nothing of the inimitable beauties of the Bible, considered in a literary view, which are universally acknowledged, it is the book which every devout man is accustomed to consult as the oracle of God; it is the companion of his best moments, and the vehicle of his strongest consolations. Intimately associated in his mind with everything dear and valuable, its diction more powerfully excites devotional feelings than any other; and when temperately and soberly used, imparts an unction to a religious discourse which nothing else can supply.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  157
 
  The superabundance of phrases appropriated by some pious authors to the subject of religion, and never applied to any other purpose, has not only the effect of disgusting persons of taste, but of obscuring religion itself. As they are seldom defined, and never exchanged for equivalent words, they pass current without being understood. They are not the vehicle, they are the substitute, of thought.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  158
 
  Until a more Christian spirit pervades the world, we are inclined to think that the study of the classics is, on the whole, advantageous to public morals, by inspiring an elegance of sentiment and an elevation of soul which we should in vain seek for elsewhere.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  159
 
  In the original elementary parts of a language there are, in truth, few or no synonymes; for what should prompt men, in the earlier period of literature, to invent a word that neither conveyed any new idea nor enabled them to present an old one with more force and precision? In the progress of refinement, indeed, regard to copiousness and harmony has enriched language with many exotics, which are merely those words in a foreign language that perfectly correspond to terms in our own; as felicity for happiness, celestial for heavenly, and a multitude of others.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  160
 
  When the inductive and experimental philosophy recommended by Bacon had, in the hands of Boyle and Newton, led to such brilliant discoveries in the investigation of matter, an attempt was soon made to transfer the same method of proceeding to the mind.  161
  Hobbes, a man justly infamous for his impiety, but of extraordinary penetration, first set the example; which was not long after followed by Locke, who was more indebted to his predecessor than he had the candour to acknowledge. His celebrated Essay has been generally considered as the established code of metaphysics.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  162
 
  The fame of Locke is visibly on the decline; the speculations of Malebranche are scarcely heard of in France; and Kant, the greatest metaphysical name on the continent, sways a doubtful sceptre amidst a host of opponents.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  163
 
  Cowper has become, in spite of his religion, a popular poet, but his success has not been such as to make religion popular; nor have the gigantic genius and fame of Milton shielded from the ridicule and contempt of his admirers that system of religion which he beheld with awful adoration.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  164
 
  To imitate the highest examples, to do good in ways not usual to the same rank of life, to make great exertions and sacrifices in the cause of religion and with a view to eternal happiness, to determine without delay to reduce to practice whatever we applaud in theory, are modes of conduct which the world will generally condemn as romantic.
Robert Hall: Review of Foster’s Essays.    
  165
 
  Christianity, issuing perfect and entire from the hands of its Author, will admit of no mutilations nor improvements; it stands most secure on its own basis; and without being indebted to foreign aids, supports itself best by its own internal vigour. When, under the pretence of simplifying it, we attempt to force it into a closer alliance with the most approved systems of philosophy, we are sure to contract its bounds, and to diminish its force and authority over the consciences of men. It is dogmatic; not capable of being advanced with the progress of science, but fixed and immutable.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  166
 
  As the art of criticism never made an orator or a poet, though it enables us to judge of their merits, so the comprehensive speculation of modern times, which has compared and reviewed the manners of every age and country, has never formed a wise government or a happy people.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  167
 
  A good man is accustomed to acquiesce in the idea of his duties as an ultimate object, without inquiring at every step why he should perform them, or amusing himself with imagining cases and situations in which they would be liable to limitations and exceptions.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  168
 
  It is easy to see how this moral discipline must fare under the doctrine of expediency,—a doctrine which teaches man to be looking continually abroad,—a doctrine which not only justifies but enjoins a distrust of the suggestions of the inward monitor; which will not permit the best feelings of the heart, its clearest dictates, its finest emotions, to have the smallest influence over the conduct; and, instead of yielding anything to their direction, cites them at its bar.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  169
 
  If liberty, after being extinguished on the Continent, is suffered to expire here, whence is it ever to emerge in the midst of that thick night that will invest it? It remains with you, then, to decide whether that freedom at whose voice the kingdoms of Europe awoke from the sleep of ages to run a career of virtuous emulation in everything great and good; the freedom which dispelled the mists of superstition, and invited the nations to behold their God; whose magic touch kindled the rays of genius, the enthusiasm of poetry, and the flame of eloquence; the freedom which poured into our lap opulence and arts, and embellished life with innumerable institutions and improvements, till it became a theatre of wonders; it is for you to decide whether this freedom shall yet survive, or be covered with a funeral pall, and wrapped in eternal gloom.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  170
 
  Apart from the personal character of rulers, which are fluctuating and variable, you will find the apostles continually enjoin respect to government, as government, as a permanent ordinance of God, susceptible of various modifications from human wisdom, but essential, under some form or other, to the existence of society; and affording a representation, faint and inadequate it is true, but still a representation, of the dominion of God over the earth.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  171
 
  Whoever attentively peruses [Aristotle’s] Treatise—the Nicomachian Morals, I mean—will find a perpetual reference to the inward sentiments of the breast. He builds everything on the human constitution. He all along takes it for granted that there is a moral impress on the mind, to which, without looking abroad, we may safely appeal. In a word, Aristotle never lost the moralist in the accountant. He has been styled the Interpreter of Nature, and has certainly shown himself a most able commentator on the law written on the heart. For Cicero—in all his philosophical works, as well as in his Offices, where he treats more directly on these subjects, he shows the most extreme solicitude, as though he had a prophetic glance of what was to happen, to keep the moral and natural world apart, to assert the supremacy of virtue, and to recognize those sentiments and vestiges from which he educes, with the utmost elevation, the contempt of human things. How humiliating the consideration that, with superior advantages, our moral systems should be infinitely surpassed in warmth and grandeur by those of pagan times; and that the most jejune and comfortless that ever entered the mind of man, and the most abhorrent from the spirit of religion, should have ever become popular in a Christian country!
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  172
 
  An inquiry into the sources of great events, an attempt to develop the more hidden causes which influence, under God, the destiny of nations, is an exercise of the mental powers more noble than almost any other, inasmuch as it embraces the widest field, and grasps a chain whose links are the most numerous, complicated, and subtle. The most profound political speculations, however, the most refined theories of government, though they establish the fame of their authors, will be found, perhaps, to have had very little influence on the happiness of nations.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  173
 
  As pride has been transferred from the list of vices to that of virtues, so humility, as a natural consequence, has been excluded, and is rarely suffered to enter into the praise of a character we wish to commend, although it was the leading feature of that of the Saviour of the world, and is still the leading characteristic of his religion; while there is no vice, on the contrary, against which the denunciations are so frequent as pride.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  174
 
  In no nation under heaven, probably, has the profanation of sacred terms been so prevalent as in this Christian land. The name even of the Supreme Being himself, and the words he has employed to denounce the punishments of the impenitent, are rarely mentioned but in anger or in sport: so that were a stranger to our history to witness the style of our conversation, he would naturally infer we considered religion as a detected imposture; and that nothing more remained than, in return for the fears it had inspired, to treat it with the insult and derision due to a fallen tyrant. It is difficult to account for a practice which gratifies no passion and promotes no interest, unless we ascribe it to a certain vanity of appearing superior to religious fear, which tempts men to make bold with their Maker. If there are hypocrites in religion, there are also, strange as it may appear, hypocrites in impiety,—men who make an ostentation of more irreligion than they possess. An ostentation of this nature, the most irrational in the records of human folly, seems to lie at the root of profane swearing.  175
  It may not be improper to remind such as indulge this practice that they need not insult their Maker to show that they do not fear Him: that they may relinquish this vice without danger of being supposed to be devout, and that they may safely leave it to other parts of their conduct to efface the smallest suspicion of their piety.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  176
 
  Let me remind you that repentance is a duty of greater extent than many are apt to suppose, who, confining their view on such occasions as these to a few of the grosser disorders of their lives, pay little attention to the heart: they are satisfied with feeling a momentary compunction and attempting a partial reformation, instead of crying with the royal penitent, “Create in me a clean heart!” They determine to break off particular vices,—an excellent resolution as far as it goes,—without proposing to themselves a life of habitual devotion, without imploring, under a sense of weakness, that grace which can alone renew the heart, making, in the words of our Lord, the tree good, that the fruit may be good also.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  177
 
  The system which founds morality on utility, a utility, let it be always remembered, confined to the purposes of the present world, issued with ill omen from the school of infidelity. It was first broached, I believe, certainly first brought into general notice, by Mr. Hume, in his Treatise on Morals, which he himself pronounced incomparably the best he ever wrote. It was incomparably the best for his purpose; nor is it easy to imagine a mind so acute as his did not see the effect it would have in setting morality and religion afloat, and substituting for the stability of principle the looseness of speculation and opinion. It has since been rendered popular by a succession of eminent writers; by one especially (I doubt not with intentions very foreign from those of Mr. Hume), whose great services to religion in other respects, together with my high reverence for his talents, prevent me from naming. This venerable author, it is probable, little suspected to what lengths the principle would be carried, or to what purposes it would be applied in other hands.
Robert Hall: Sentiments Proper to the Present Crisis.    
  178
 
  In the struggles of ambition, in violent competitions for power or for glory, how slender the partition between the widest extremes of fortune, and how few the steps and apparently slight the circumstances which sever the throne from the prison, the palace from the tomb! So Tibni died, says the sacred historian, with inimitable simplicity, and Omri reigned.
Robert Hall: Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.    
  179
 
 
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