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suspicion; and he may be hurried, when he least intends it, into enormities, of which he once thought himself utterly incapable. This was the case in the present instance. When Herod first engaged in his guilty intercourse with Herodias, he probably meant to go no further. He meant to content himself with adultery and incest, and had no intention of adding murder to the black catalogue of his crimes. He had no other view but the gratification of a present passion, and did not look forward to the many evils which scarce ever fail to arise from a criminal connexion with a profligate and artful woman. This was the original and fruitful source of all his future crimes, and future misfortunes. He flattered himself that, notwithstanding his marriage with Herodias, he should still be master of his own resolutions and his own actions. But Herodias soon taught him a different lesson. She showed that she understood him much better than he did himself. She convinced him that his destiny was in her hands; that she held the secret wire that governed all his motions; and that she could, by one means or other, bend his mind to any purpose which she was determined to accomplish. It was his intention to save John the Baptist. It was her intention to destroy him, and she did it. He had, indeed, the courage to resist her repeated solicitations that he would put John to death; and he piqued himself probably on the firmness of his resolution. But Herodias was not of a temper to be discouraged by a few denials or repulses. She knew that there were other more effectual ways of carrying her point. If the king could not be compelled to surrender by assault, he might be taken by stratagem and surprise. And to this she had recourse. She saw that her daughter had attractions and accomplishments which might be turned to good account, which might be made to operate most powerfully on such a mind as Herod's. She, therefore, as we have already seen, planned the project of her dancing before - C 4 him

4. hands;

him on the festival of his birth-day, in the hope that in the unguarded moments of convivial mirth, he might be betrayed into some concession, some act of indulgence towards this favourite daughter, from which he could not easily recede. The plan succeeded even probably beyond her expectations. The monarch was caught in the snare that was laid for him. He made a rash promise to Salome, and confirmed that promise by an oath, that he would give her whatsoever she would ask. And when, to his infinite astonishment and grief, she demanded the life of the man whom he wished to save, instead of retreating by the only way he had left, that of retracting a promise which it was madness to make, and the extremity of wickedness to perform, he was induced by a false point of honour (as worthless men frequently are) to commit an atrocious murder rather than violate a rash oath; an oath which could never make that right which was before intrinsically wrong, which could never bind him to any thing

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in itself unlawful, much less to the most . unlawful of all things, the destruction of an innocent and virtuous man. I have entered thus minutely into the detail of this remarkable transaction, because, as I have before remarked, every line of it is replete with the most important instruction; as, indeed, is the case with every part of the sacred history in the Gospel, and the Acts, which teach full as much by the facts they relate as by the precepts they inculcate. The moral lessons to be drawn from the passage before us, I have already pointed out in some degree as I went along; but there are one or two of a more general import, which I shall briefly add in conclusion, and which will deserve your very serious attention. The first is, that in the conduct of life there is nothing more to be dreaded and avoided, nothing more dangerous to our peace, to our comfort, to our character, -to our welfare here and hereafter, than a criminal attachment to an abandoned and unprincipled unprincipled woman, more particularly in the early period of life. It has been the source of more misery, and, besides all the guilt which naturally belongs to it, has led to the commission of more and greater crimes, than perhaps any other single cause that can be named. We have seen into what a gulf of sin and suffering it plunged the wretched Herod. He began with adultery, and he ended with murder, and with the total ruin of himself, his kingdom, and all the vile partners of his guilt. The same has happened in a thousand other instances; and there are, I am persuaded, few persons here present, of any age or experience in the world, who cannot recollect numbers, both of individuals and of families, whose peace, tranquillity, comfort, characters, and fortunes, have been completely destroyed by illicit and licentious connexions of this sort. Nor is this the worst. The present effects of these vices, dreadful as they sometimes are, cannot be compared with the misery which they are preparing

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