Sentiment and principle are often mistaken for each other, though, in fact, they widely differ. Sentiment is the virtue of ideas; principle the virtue of action. Sentiment has its seat in the had; principle, in the heart. Sentiment suggest fine harangues and subtle distinctions; principle conceives just notions, and performs good actions in consequence of them. Sentiment refines away the simplicity of truth, and the plainness of piety; and "gives us virtue in words, and vice in deeds."
In the life of a nation ideas are not the only things of value. Sentiment also is of great value; and the way to foster sentiment in a people, and to develop it in the young, is to have a well-recorded past, and to be familiar with it.
Art itself is essentially ethical; because every true work of art must have a beauty and grandeur cannot be comprehended by the beholder except through the moral sentiment. The eye is only a witness; it is not a judge. The mind judges what the eye reports to it; therefore, whatever elevates the moral sentiment to the contemplation of beauty and grandeur is in itself ethical.
Art neither belongs to religion, nor to ethics; but, like these, it brings us nearer to the Infinite, on of the forms of which it manifests to us. God is the source of all beauty, as of all truth of all religion, of all morality. The most exalted object, therefore, of art is to reveal in its own manner the sentiment of the Infinite.
The opportunity of making happy is more scarce than we imagine; the punishment of missing it is, never to meet with it again; and the use owe make of it leaves us an eternal sentiment of satisfaction or repentance.
To feel oppressed by obligation is only to prove that we are incapable of a proper sentiment of gratitude. To receive favors from the unworthy is to admit that our selfishness is superior to our pride.
There is poetry and there is beauty in real sympathy; but there is more - there is action. The noblest and most powerful form of sympathy is not merely the responsive tear, the echoed sigh, the answering look; it is the embodiment of the sentiment of actual help.
It is that faculty by which we discover and enjoy the beautiful, the picturesque, and the sublime in literature, art, and nature; which recognizes a noble thought, as a virtuous mind welcome a pure sentiment by an involuntary glow of satisfaction. While the principle of perception is inherent in the soul, it requires a certain amount of knowledge to draw out and direct it.
Ultimately our moral sense or conscience becomes a highly complex sentiment – originating in the social instinct, largely guided by the approbation of our fellow men, ruled by reason, self-interest, and in alter times by deep religious feelings, and confirmed by instruction and habit.