We have examined into the causes of the wrong action of mind, and have
found them to consist in the want of knowledge, want of habits, want of
social influences from other minds, and want of a right governing
purpose, all of which, so far as reason and experience teach, alone
could be secured by perfect and infallible teachers and educators in a
perfect commonwealth.

We are now to inquire in regard to the wrong action of mind and its
results in this life.

The first point to be noticed is the fact that from the first there is
in every intelligent mind _a sense of entire inability_ to obey the laws
of the system in which it is placed.

This is true not merely in reference to that breach of law which is the
inevitable result of ignorance, but of that also which involves a
violation of conscience. Where is the mother who has not heard the
distressed confession, even from the weeping infant, that he was happier
in doing right than in doing wrong, that he wished to do well, and yet
that he was constantly doing evil? Where is the parent that has not
witnessed, as one little being after another passed on from infancy to
youth, and from youth to manhood, the perpetual warfare to sustain good
purposes and oft-broken resolutions? And where is the conscious spirit
that can not look back on its whole course of existence as one continued
exhibition of a conflict that gives unvarying evidence of this truth?
Men _feel_ that it is as impossible for them to be invariably _perfect_
in thought, word, and deed, as it is to rule the winds and waves.

The testimony of mankind through every period of the world, in regard to
their own individual consciousness, attests a sense of the same fatal
inability. If we go back even as far as to the heathen sages of
antiquity, we gain the same acknowledgment. Thus we find Pythagoras
calls it “the fatal companion, the noxious strife that lurks within us,
and which was born along with us.” Sopator terms it “the sin that is
born with mankind.” Plato denominates it “natural wickedness,” and
Aristotle “the natural repugnance of man’s temper to reason.” Cicero
declares that “men are brought into life by Nature as a step-mother,
with a naked, frail, and infirm body, and with a soul prone to divers
lusts.” Seneca observes, “We are born in such a condition that we are
not subject to fewer disorders of the mind than of the body; all vices
are in men, though they do not break out in every one.” Propertius says
that “every body has a vice to which he is inclined by nature.” Juvenal
asserts that “nature, unchangeably fixed, runs back to wickedness.”
Horace declares that “no man is free from vices, and he is the best man
who is oppressed with the least.” He adds that “mankind rush into
wickedness, and always desire what is forbidden;” that “youth has the
softness of wax to receive vicious impressions, and the hardness of rock
to resist virtuous admonitions;” that “we are mad enough to attack
Heaven itself, and our repeated crimes do not suffer the God of Heaven
to lay aside his wrathful thunderbolts.”

This testimony of individual experience is verified by the general
history of mankind. All the laws and institutions of society are founded
on the principle that mankind are prone to wrong, infirm of purpose in
all that is good, and that every possible restraint is needed to prevent
the overbreaking tide of evil and crime. When we read the history of
communities and of nations, it is one continued record of selfishness,
avarice, injustice, revenge, and cruelty. Individuals seem equally
plotting against the happiness of individuals, and rejoicing to work
evils on society. Communities rise against communities, and nations dash
against nations. Tyrants fill their dominions with sorrow, misery, and
death; bloody heroes, followed by infuriate bands, spread havoc, ruin,
and dismay through all their course, while superstition binds in chains,
racks with tortures, and sacrifices its millions of victims.

In tracing along the history of mankind, there is no period which we can
select when mankind have not seemed as busy in destroying their own, and
the happiness of others, as the lower animals are in seeking their
appropriate enjoyments. At one time we behold Xerxes pouring forth all
Asia upon Europe, where three million beings were brought to be
slaughtered by the Greeks. At another time the Greeks, headed by
Alexander, return upon Asia, and spread over most of the known world,
pillaging, burning, and slaughtering. Then we behold Alaric, at the head
of barbarous hordes, desolating all the Roman empire, and destroying the
monuments of taste, science, and the arts. Then we see Tamerlane rushing
forth, overrunning Persia, India, and other parts of Asia, carrying
carnage and the most desolating cruelty in his course, so that it is
recorded that he would cause thousands of his prisoners to be pounded in
mortars with bricks to form into walls.

From Europe we behold _six millions_ of Crusaders rush forth upon the
plains of Asia, with rapine, and famine, and outrage attending their
course. Then come forth from Eastern Asia the myrmidons of Genghis Khan,
ravaging fifteen millions of square miles, beheading 100,000 prisoners
at one time, shaking the whole earth with terror, and exterminating
fourteen millions of their fellow-men. Then from the northern forests
are seen swarming forth the Goths and Vandals, sweeping over Europe and
Asia, and bearing away every vestige of arts, civilization, comfort, and
peace. At another time we see the professed head of the Christian Church
slaughtering the pious and inoffensive Albigenses, sending horror into
their peaceful villages, and torturing thousands of inoffensive victims.

At one period of history the whole known world seemed to be one vast
field of carnage and commotion. The Huns, Vandals, and other Northern
barbarians were ravaging France, Germany, and Spain; the Goths were
plundering and murdering in Italy, and the Saxons and Angles were
overrunning Great Britain. The Roman armies under Justinian, together
with the Vandals and Huns, were desolating Africa; the barbarians of
Scythia were pouring down upon the Roman empire; the Persian armies were
pillaging and laying waste the countries of Asia; the Arabians, under
Mohammed, were beginning to extend their conquests over Syria,
Palestine, Egypt, Barbary, and Spain. Every nation and kingdom on earth
was shaking to its centre. The smoke and the spirits of the bottomless
pit seemed coming up to darken, and torment, and affright mankind. The
most fertile countries were converted to deserts, and covered with ruins
of once flourishing cities and villages; the most fiendish cruelty was
practiced; famine raged to such a degree that the living fed upon the
dead; prisoners were tortured by the most refined systems of cruelty;
public edifices were destroyed; the monuments of science and the arts
perished; cruelty, fraud, avarice, murder, and every crime that
disgraces humanity, were let loose upon a wretched world. Historians
seem to shudder in attempting to picture these horrid scenes, and would
draw a veil over transactions that disgrace mankind.

If from ancient times we look at the present state of the world, at its
present most refined and enlightened period, the same mournful evidence
is discovered. Cruelty and tyranny have changed some of the fairest
provinces of Persia to deserts. The Turk long ago turned the land of the
patriarchs and prophets to a wilderness, and drenched the shores of
Greece with the blood of slaughtered victims, while Syria, Kurdistan,
and Armenia for ages have been ravaged with injustice and rapine. China
and Japan have been shut out from the world by a cold and jealous
selfishness. In Tartary, Arabia, and Siberia, the barbarous tribes are
prowling about for plunder, or engaged in murderous conflicts. In
Africa, the Barbary States are in perpetual commotion; the petty tyrants
of Benin, Ashantee, and other interior states are waging ceaseless wars,
murdering their prisoners, and adorning their houses with their skulls;
and on its ravaged coast the white man-stealer, for hundreds of years,
has been prowling, and bearing off thousands of wretches as a yearly
offering to the avarice of the most refined and Christian nations on
earth. In North America, we have seen the native tribes employed in war,
and practicing the most fiendish barbarities, while in South America,
its more civilized inhabitants are engaged in constant political and
bloody commotions. In the islands of the ocean thousands of human beings
have been fighting each other, throwing darts and stones at strangers,
offering human sacrifices, and feasting on the flesh of their enemies.

If we select Europe for the exhibition of human nature as seen under the
restraints of civilization, laws, refinement, and religion, the same
evils burst forth from bonds and restraints. In Europe, for ages, the
common people, in slavery and ignorance, have been bowing down to a
grinding priesthood, or an oppressive nobility or monarchical tyranny.
Incessant heaving of the troubled nations portends desolation and
dismay, as man seems waking from the slavery of ages to shake off his
fetters and call himself free.

If we look to our own boasted land of liberty and religion, what toiling
of selfish and discordant interests–what mean and low-lived arts to
gain honor and power–what shameful attacks on fair reputation and
unblemished honor–what collisions of party-strifes and local interests!
Here also the curse of slavery brings the blush of shame to every honest
man that, from year to year, on the anniversary of the national liberty,
hears the declarations of rights this very nation is trampling under
foot. Millions of slaves, deprived of the best blessing and the dearest
rights of humanity, are held in the most degrading bondage by a nation
who yearly and publicly acknowledge their perfect and unalienable

The same melancholy view is no less clearly witnessed in the opinions
and moral sentiments of mankind. The mind of man is formed to love
happiness, to be pleased with what promotes it, and to detest that which
tends to destroy it, yet the long reign of selfishness has seemed to
pervert and poison even the taste and moral sentiments of men. Who is
the hero sung by the poet, eulogized by the statesman, and flattered by
the orator? Who is it presented in classic language to the gaze of
enthusiastic childhood, and pictured forth in tales of romance to
kindling youth?

It is the man who has given up his life to the gratification of pride,
and the love of honor and fame; the man who, to gain this selfish good,
can plunge the sword into the bosom of thousands, and stand the
unpitying spectator of burning cities, widowed mothers, orphan children,
desolated fields, and the long train of ills that he wantonly pours on
mankind, that he may gain the miserable pittance of gaping admiration
and dreadful renown which rises amid the tears and cries of mankind. It
is the man who, when injured, knows not how to forgive–whose stinted
soul never knew the dignity and pleasure of giving blessing for ill–who
deems it the mark of honor and manhood to follow the example of the
whining infant, that, when he is struck, with the same noble spirit will
strike back again.

Meantime, the calm forbearance and true dignity of virtue, that would be
humbled at recrimination and can not condescend to retaliate, is put in
the background as unworthy such honors and eulogy. Thus, also, we find
intellect, which the Creator designed only as the instrument of securing
happiness, though perverted to vice and folly, applauded and admired;
and even some of those admired as among the wisest of mankind have often
placed true virtue and goodness below the fancied splendors of genius
and learning. All the maxims, and honors, and employments of mankind
develop the perverted action of the noblest part of the creation of God
in all its relations and in all its principles and pursuits.

It is into such a world as this that every new-born mind is ushered
without knowledge to guide, without habits to strengthen, without the
power of forming a ruling purpose to do right which shall control all
subordinate volitions.

Instead of meeting perfect educators to instruct in the laws of the
system, to form good habits, and to exert all the powerful social,
domestic, and civil influences aright, every one of these powerful
principles are fatally wrong. Parents, teachers, companions, and rulers,
to a greater or less extent, teach wrong, train wrong, and set wrong
examples, while the whole moral atmosphere is contaminated and

In these circumstances, it is as _impossible_ for a young mind to
commence existence here with perfect obedience to law, and to continue
through life in a course of perfect rectitude, as it is for it, by its
feeble will, to regulate the winds of heaven, or turn back the tides of
the ocean.