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V. EVILS OF THE DISREGARD OF THE MARRIAGE INSTITUTION.
By disregard of the marriage institution,-1 mean every thing that is incompatible with it,—all sorts of licentiousness in thought, in word, or in deed. The text says that “whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”
In pursuing this branch of the subject, I will take the liberty to express myself, for the most part, in the language of the distinguished preacher and theologian, Dr. Dwight.? Hear, then, and hear as you expect ere long to stand before the bar of a just and all-knowing God, what are the evils of that conduct which is specified in the text:
1st. It discourages and prevents marriage. This regularly takes place in exact proportion to the prevalence of the conduct; and is therefore chargeable upon it, whenever, and wherever, and however it exists. I have just referred to some of the immense blessings of the marriage institution. They are the blessings which keep the moral world in being, and secure it from an untimely and most terrible dissolution. They are the blessings, without which life, in instances literally innumerable, would be blasted in the bud; without which, when it escaped this premature destruction, its continuance would prove a curse; without which, natural affection and amiableness would not exist; without which, domestic education would be extinct; industry and economy never begin; and man be left to the precarious subsistence of a savage. But for this institution, learning, knowledge, and refinement would expire; government sink in the gulf of anarchy; and religion, hunted from the habitations of men, hasten back to her native heavens. Man, in the mean time, stript of all that is respectable, amiable, or hopeful in his character, and degraded to all that is odious, brutal, and desperate, would prowl in solitudes and deserts to satisfy his rage and hunger. The correspondence between heaven and earth would cease; and the celestial inhabitants would no longer expect, nor find, new accessions to their happy society from this miserable world. To all these evils, every lewd man directly contributes. Were his principles and practices universally adopted by his fellow-men, all these
See his Theology, vol. 3, Discourse on Lewdness.
evils would universally prevail. That they do not thus prevail, is in no sense owing to him. To the utmost of his power he labors to introduce them all.
2nd. Lewdness, in nearly all cases, also pre-supposes seduction. This in its very nature involves fraud of the worst kind. “Vice is its essence, lust its end, hypocrisy its instrument, and innocence its victim." The ruin sought and achieved is immense. It is not the destruction of life. The seducer plunders the wretched victim of character, morals, happiness, hope, and heaven; enthralls her in the eternal bondage of sin; consumes her beyond the grave in endless fires; and murders her soul with an ever-living death. With the same comprehensive and terrible malignity he destroys himself; calls down upon his own head the vengeance of that almighty hand, which will suffer no sinner to escape; and awakens the terrors of that undying conscience, which will enhance even the agonies of perdition.
3rd. Lewdness, through the wretchedness which it effects, drives on to the commission of other horrid crimes. Maternal affection is designated in Scripture, and eulogized by poets, as the attachment which outruns, survives, and triumphs over every other. What, then, must be the intensity of that sense of shame, and anguish of soul, which can induce a mother to expose her child to a merciless sky, to drown, to strangle, to murder it! What must be the despondency and degradation which can force her to the contrivance and execution of a design like this! Yet such is frequently the dreadful product of the wickedness in question. Nor can the author of all these evils allege that this last catastrophe is neither contrived nor accomplished by himself. The whole is chargeable upon him as the consequence of his own conduct. Both the murder itself, and the miseries wbich gave birth to it, are stains of that crimson guilt which dyes his soul.
It is the ordinary course of things for impurity to manure and water every other growth of sin. And the vice under consideration is declared by Dr. Paley to “corrupt and deprave the mind and moral character more than any single species of vice whatsoever." Wherever it prevails, all crimes become gross, rank, and premature. Impiety, blasphemy, treachery, drunkenness, perjury, and murder Hourish around it. “Her house is the way to hell; going down to the chambers of death."
4th. This licentious character soon becomes habitual. To a person moderately acquainted with human conduct, an attempt to prove this assertion would be mere trifling. All transgressions of this sort soon become fixed, obstinate, and irreclaimable. The world teems with evidence of this humiliating position; and the whole progress of time has daily accumulated a mountainous mass of facts, evincing its certainty in a more and more humiliating manner. Of these, the most humiliating and dreadful collection is found in those baleful tenements of prostitution and profligacy which deform every populous city on the globe, and stand publicly as the gateway to hell, opening to their miserable inhabitants a broad and beaten road to perdition. Into these deplorable mansions the polluted female, cast off by mankind as an outlaw from human society, torn even from the side of natural affection and parental mercy, betrayed by the villany of a second Judas, and hurried by shame, remorse, and anguish, enters, never to escape. Here, from the first moment, she closes her eyes upon friends, kindness and compassion; takes her final farewell of earthly comfort, and sees, with a dying eye, the last glimmerings of hope go out in eternal night. Here she bids an everlasting adieu to the Sabbath, the house and the word of God. To her, the calls of mercy are made no more. To her, the voice of the Redeemer sounds no more. The spirit of truth cannot be supposed to enter the haunts of sin and death, nor to shed the dew of life upon
these voluntary victims of corruption by whom they are inhabited. Immortal life here becomes extinct. Hither hope never comes that comes to all; and the wretched throng embosomed by these baleful walls enter upon their perdition on this side of the grave ! In the mean time, it is ever to be remembered, that the betrayer accompanies to the same dreadful end the victim of his treachery. None who go into these outer chambers of perdition turn again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. From sin to sin they go; whilst through the putrefactive influence of their impurity, mortification and rottenness are diffused throughout both body and soul, until the man is converted into a mere mass of death and corruption!
5th. But there is still another phase of the sin of which I have been speaking. It sometimes is made to assume a form in which a new sufferer is introduced, and an additional train of evils are
involved. I refer, now, to that species of lewdness which the Bible designates by the term adultery. This inflicts the greatest injury which the innocent sufferer can receive on this side of the grave. It is an injury formed of a vast combination of sufferings, reaching every important interest in this world, and often in the world to come. The husband, for example, is forced to behold the partner of his bosom, -once and always beloved beyond expression, not less affectionate than beloved, and hitherto untarnished even by suspicion,-corrupted by fraud, circumvention and villany; seduced from truth, virtue, and hope; and voluntarily consigned to irretrievable ruin. His prospects of enjoyment, and even of comfort in the present world, are overcast with the blackest of darkness. Life to him is changed into a lingering death. His house is turned into an empty, dreary cavern. Himself is widowed. His children are orphans; not by the righteous providence of God, but by the murderous villany of man. Clouded with wo, and hung round with despair, his soul becomes a charnel-house, where life, and peace, and comfort have expired—a tomb, dark and hollow, covering the remains of departed enjoyment, and opening no more to the entrance of the living.
And what an affecting and pitiable train of mourners do the worse than motherless children present? A singular and agonizing procession follows this funeral of departed virtue. Tears stream which no hand can wipe away. Groans ascend which no comforter can charm to peace. Bosoms heave with anguish, which all the balm of Gilead cannot soothe. The object of lamentation is gone for ever, and all that remains is living death. Ah, how--how shall we paint the evils of adultery? “ The social compact, through every fibre, trembles at its consequences: not only policy, but law; not only law, but nature; not only nature, but religion, deprecate and denounce it,--parent and offspring,—youth and age,—the dead from the tombs,--the child from its cradle, creatures scarce alive, and creatures still unborn: the grandsire shivering on the verge of death; the infant quickening in the mother's womb; all, with one assent, re-echo God, and execrate adultery!" i
Speech of Charles Phillips, in the case of Brown v. Blake.
DIVERS CHRISTIAN DUTIES.
Heb. xiii. 5-19. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content
with such things as yo have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good 'thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget noti for with such sacrifice God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things. willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
We have here sundry duties enjoined upon the professors of christianity, which I will briefly consider in the order in which the apostle has arranged them.
I. Christians are to have contentinent. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have." By this is not meant that we are to affect a stoical indifference in regard to our situation in the present life. For though Paul could say, in the triumph of his faith, “I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content,” he yet felt the hardships to which he was subject so that he prayed to be delivered from them, and was yet so keenly sensible of the “thorn in the flesh ” that he often besought the Lord that it might depart from him. Nor are we to understand the apostle as giving countenance to idleness, or as enjoining anything upon us which would prevent our diligent endeavors to improve our circumstances. Persons entertaining such notions have evidently misapprehended the mind