Sidor som bilder

yet unborn rising to prove, and to hail her worth. I adore that God who can destine a single human creature to be the stem of such extended and incalculable benefit to the world.


In the character of a wife we find a virtuous woman equally existing for the happiest purposes. Nothing is more true than what the Apostle has asserted, that a christian wife is the salvation of her husband. For surely, if anything can have power to wean a man from evil, it is the living image of all that is perfect, constantly before his eyes, in the person whom, next to God, he must be assured has his present and future felicity most at heart; who joins to the influence of her example the most assiduous attention to please; who knows, from the experience of every hour, where his errors and vices may be assailed with any prospect of success; who is instructed, by the close study of his disposition, when to speak and when to be silent; who watches and distinguishes that gleam of reflection which no eye can perceive but her own; who can fascinate by the mildness and humility of her manner, at the moment she expostulates and reproves; who receives him with smiles and kindness, even when conscience smites him the most with a sense of his neglect and unworthiness; who has always a resource at hand in his diffieulties, and tender apologies to reprieve him from himself; and a gracious presentiment ever on her lips, that the day will come when he will know how to value the advantages of good conduct, and the unruffled serenity of virtue. Yes, my brethren, the ministry of such a woman is daily found to work the reformation of our sex, when all other resources fail; when neither misfortune, nor shame, nor the counsels of friendship, nor the considerations of hell or heaven have any more ef. fect than the whistling of the elements. How zealously should we therefore labor to diffuse such characters ough the people.


A man born for the disaster of the sex; whose brutal and ungovernable passions, mastering every sentiment of pity and generosity in his soul, urge him to deeds beyond the very reach of atonement: Nay, the very recollection of which is often so intolerable to himself, as to require the habit of banishing even reason itself, to mitigate the horror of his feelings. And what aggravates beyond expression the enormity of such guilt, is, that where ordinary means are insufficient to the accomplishment of its diabolical purposes, it can veil itself in the deepest hypocrisy; can appeal even to heaven to witness the purity of its intentions; have recourse to the most horrid profanation of vows and promises; steal an artless creature into perfect reliance on its honor; lead her to her fall, as the innocent and unsuspecting lamb is conducted to the sacrifice; riot for a while on the polluted ruin: then leave her, like a tender blossom blasted in its spring, either to droop in silent melancholy to the grave, or rush from despair into the depths of infamy, and revenge her wrongs on the community.

Christians, why is this execrable cast of men so little reprobated in the world ! To be formidable and irresistible in this way has ever been a kind of glory. The more public and notorious they are, the more pride in their steps, the more elevated their brows. There are degrees of guilt you would spurn from your presence, and blush to hold the most distant intercourse with. A man convicted, even in mean and dishonorable actions, is avoided like a pestilence. But from what society, what intercourse, what intimacy, is the libertine by profession excluded ? To the scandal of all decency, religion and morals, from few. Nay, it would almost seem that the infamous title he bears was no

small recommendation. For what impression does an allusion to his pursuits usually excite but that of merriment and laughter ? This goes to confirm and encourage, instead of appalling him; brings complacency into his heart, not the blush of shame into his cheek. When so few turn from him with disgust and horror, has he not a right to conclude that he is engaged in a career which the world approves 2 And yet what is he in fact but one of the greatest pests a community can be cursed with; whose whole life has no other object but to convert it into a scene of calamity and vice 3 Who is known to make charity, yes, sacred charity, the pander of his foul appetites; will open his hand with profusion to the necessitous, in order to shut their eyes on the seduction of their children; who respects not rights that are rigorously respected by very barbarians; would dishonor the family of his host or friend with the same indifference that he would that of the meanest of human creatures; and be as ready to meet, that is, to imbrue his hands in the blood of the father or brother of his victim, as he was to destroy the chief source of their pride and happiness forever. Alas! how many unfortunate parents, after the fatal dishonor of a child, have never raised their heads more, nor passed a moment of remaining life, but in counting the pulsations of a broken heart. o No woman ever voluntarily surrendered the blessing of a fair name. The sensitive plant shrinks not more instinctively from the touch, than the nature of woman from defilement. The love and pride of purity are still entwined with her being, and the last breath of virtue ever consecrated to the fair state from which she falls. Often, in the midst of the most thoughtless and headlong course of vice, will the tear of sad recollection steal down into the empoisoned cup. Though, generally, she may be found to evince a detestation of the modest and virtuous part of her sex, it is not, believe me, that happy distinction from which she recoils, but from the objects that too strongly remind her of her own infamy and degradation.


Attention to our own concerns can become culpable only, when they so far enslave and engross us, as to leave us neither leisure nor inclination to promote the happiness of our fellow creatures. Then does self-love degenerate into selfishness. This, indeed, is a dark and melancholy transformation of our natural character, and the last term of its abasement. When the light of benevolence is entirely put out, man is reduced to that state of existence, which is disavowed by nature, and abhorred of God! Let one suppose him, I say, but once radically divested of all generous feelings, and entirely involved in himself; it will be impossible to say, what deeds of shame and horror he will not readily commit: in the balance of his perverted judgment, hon: or, gratitude, friendship, religion, yea, even natural affection, will all be outweighed by interest. The maxim of the Roman satirist will be his rule of life, “money at any rate.” If the plain and beaten paths of the world, diligence and frugality, will conduct him to that end, it is well: but if not, rather than fail of his object, I will be bold to say, he will plunge, without scruple or remorse, into the most serpentine labyrinths of fraud and iniquity. Whilst his schemes are unaccomplished, fretfulness and discontent will lower on his brow; when favorable, and even most prosperous, his unslaked and unsatisfied soul still thirsts for more. As he is insensible to the calamities of his fellow creatures, so the greatest torment, he can experience, is an application to his charity and compassion. Should he stumble, like the Levite, on some spectacle of woe, he will, like the Levite, hasten to the other side of the way, resist the finest movements of nature, and cling to the demon of inhumanity, as the guardian angel of his happiness. Suppose him, however, under the accidental necessity of listening to the petition of misery; he will endeavour to beat down the evidence of the case by the meanest shifts and evasions; or will cry aloud, as the brutal and insensible Nabal did to the hungry soldiers of David, “Why should I be such a fool, as to give my flesh, which I have prepared for my shearers, to men that I know not from whence they be 7" But, admitting that a remnant of shame may goad him for once to an act of beneficence, so mean and inconsiderable, so unworthy of the great concern would it probably

be, that the idol of his soul would appear more distinctly in the very relief he administers, than in the barbarous insensibility which habitually withholds it. Merciful and eternal God! what a passion 1 And how much ought the power and fascination of that object to be dreaded which can turn the human heart into such a pathless and irreclaimable desert. Irreclaimable, I say; for men inflamed with any other passion, even voluptuousness the most impure and inveterate, are sometimes enlightened and reformed by the ministry of religion, or the sober and deliberate judgment of manhood and experience. But who will say that such a wretch as I have described, in the extremity of selfishness, was ever corrected by any ordinary resource or expedient 2 Who will say that he is at any time vulnerable by reproach, or, I had almost added, even convertible by grace | No ; through every stage and revolution of life he remains invariably the same; or, if any difference, it is only this, that as he advances into the shade of a long evening, he clings closer and closer to the object of his idolatry: and while every other passion lies dead and blasted in his heart, his desire for more pelf increases with renewed eagerness, and he holds by a sinking world with an agonizing grasp, till He drop into the earth with the increased curses of wretchedness on his head, without the tribute of a tear from child or parent, or any inscription on his memory; but that he lived to counteract the distributive justice of Providence, and died without hope or title to a blessed immortality.


If our insensibility to the pressing claims of the rising generation proceed from our corruption, that cor

« FöregåendeFortsätt »