22. The belief in the physical nature and eternal duration of the future punishment of the wicked has maintained its hold on the human mind, as a salutary restraint, during the ages in which men and women were still too backward to comprehend the force of moral considerations. It has been with the world, in regard to this belief, as with children, who are held in check, for a few years, by the chimerical terrors which are brought to bear on them; but there comes a time when the minds of children has outgrown the empty tales that formerly frightened them, and when it would be simply absurd on the part of those about them to attempt any longer to influence them by any such means, and when, if their parents or guardians pretended that those tales were true and were to be accepted and respected as such, they would necessarily forfeit the confidence of their children.
It is thus with the convictions of humankind at the present day. The human race is passing out of its childhood and shaking itself free of the leading strings of the past. People are no longer either mere tools, yielding passively to the pressure of physical force, or credulous children, believing implicitly whatever is told them.