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THE TENDENCY OF THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSA
TION TO ENLARGE THE COMPREHENSION OF
2 COR. v. 7.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
COMPREHENSION of mind is the great prerogative of intellectual existence. It is that power which beings endowed with reason possess, of combining the past and the future with the present, of governing their conduct, and modifying their feelings by recollection and anticipation : and that to such a degree, that the actual sensation shall, at times, constitute but a small
proportion of the complex feeling and state of mind.
In the progress to maturity the mind gradually expands, and its comprehension extends to objects that are still more and more remote. The recollection of past pleasure
and pain, and the apprehension of future enjoyment or suffering, coalesce with, temper, modify, and sometimes even overrule the sensation of present joys and sorrows. The pangs of remorse, and the dread of pain and shame, often infuse the bitterness of gall into the cup of unlawful pleasure. While, on the other hand, an approving conscience, and the hope of immortality, not unfrequently over-rule the solicitations of pleasure, avarice, or ambition, and render the practice of virtue easy and delightful.
This power of ideas to control the sensations is obvious in many cases of frequent occurrence. One who loses a limb by a sudden and unexpected stroke, suffers nothing in comparison with him who foresees the operation weeks and months before it takes place. The man who is condemned to perpetual imprisonment, withdüt hope of release, suffers more, beyond all comparison, than he who is committed for a short time, and who enjoys the pros pect of a speedy deliverance; even though
it should happen that both are sent to prison, and both released at the same instant. The tumultuous joy of unexpected liberation ill compensates for the previous agony of despair. Sudden transports of delight often
pass into the limits of pain, and excite a shock more severe than nature can support. At any rate, the concentration of delight, if one may so express it, which is produced by the sudden and unexpected possession of the wished for object, is of far inferior value to that gradually increasing satisfaction, which arises from continually augmenting hope, and the pleasing anticipation which accompanies a gradual but sure approximation to the object of desire.
This comprehension of mind improves as mental vigour increases; and in proportion to the enlargement of the stock of ideas. And its influence is wonderful. It not only controls and modifies, but sometimes it completely absorbs the pleasures and the pains' of the present instant, even though they should be considerable. Men are of