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What a delightful and chearing prospect is here presented to the enraptured eye! But how is that prospect blasted, if the fell monster Adultery gain admillion into this blissful family! What a dreadful reverse is then exhibited! The brightest scene of felicity, which it has pleased Providence to display in this part of the creation, then vanishes entirely, and is fucceeded by another scene, infinitely the most distressful that can cccur in the numerous vicissitudes of social life. The hearts which before were the residence of joy, harmony, and love, are torn and tormented by the most painful and furious paffions. The kindred feelings of conjugal and parental fondness, no longer fympathetic and congenial, now wage open war, and distract the soul, by the fierceness of their conflict. But who shall describe the misfortune of the innocent and helpless offspring, who look, with mute astonishment, on the dreadful change which they are unable to comprehend? Alas! poor unfortunate babes, little do you think how deeply you are interested in the mysterious event, wbiel has damped the joys of your hitherto happy abode ; little do you think how baleful an infinence that event must have on your future life ; you are no longer to witness the fond eífusions of maternal tenderness; you are no longer to experience that foltering care, to which Providence had kindly entrufted your infant years ; no, you are torn from the stock which gave you birth; from the soil which alone could cherish your growing virtues; you are about to be exposed to the fad consequences of chilling neglect, and to the still more dangerous contagion of vicious example.”
The necessity of legal coercion for restraining, by the means of punishment, a fin so heinous, and thus making human laws, what they should always be made, whenever it be practicable, auxiliaries to the denunciations of divine vengeance, for the purpose of reforming a guilty world, is strongly enforced; suitable comments are made on the glaring defect in our penal code, which does not consider Adultery as a crime, a defect alike dishonourable to the legislature, and difgraceful to the nation ; and the provisions of the bill which was rejected last year by the junior part of the Commons House of Parliament, are truly represented as alone adequate to the attainment of this most desirable object.
- To punish, as a misdemeanor, a crime which endangers the very exe istence of society, if an error, is certainly one on the side of lenity. But the extremely corrupted state of morals which prevails, (in confequence chiefly
of the long impunity of that crime), renders it impossible, now to punish it as • it deserves. By clafling it in the list of misdemeanors, le punishment of
which is in a certain degree discretionary, due coufideration may b: had, if not to the heinousness of the offence, at leait to the various shades of guilt of which it is fufceptible.
“ The other provision of the Bill, which was brought forward last year, had for its object, to prevent the interinarriage of the offending parties, after a Divorce for Adultery. This provision I conceive to be as necessary as the one already noticed. It would operate beneficially in two ways. First, it would cut off one grand source of temptation to the commision of Adultery. When good principles are implanted by education, they naturally produce some struggle before they yield to the force of temptation. When a married woman is engaged in fueh a struggle; when honour and fame are combating in her breast, with unlawful passion and licentious desire ; what can aiford fuch effectual d.cz hercotteroving a$ the containty that its fall will be
attended with inevitable misery, and indelible disgrace? On the other hand, what can be so likely to make her give up the content, and to violate her vows, as the expectation that the shall regain her credit, and even encrease her happiness, by marrying with her seducer? Such an expectation the man, who is base enough to corrupt her fidelity, will not fail to set full in her view, if it be necessary to the accomplishment of his purpose. To take away this induce- . ment to fin, to remove this auxiliary to vice, would, therefore, afford support and security to female chastity at the moment of the greatest peril.
“Another effect of the above provision would be to destroy a most darigerous species of example. The impunity of crimes is one great cause of their frequency. But how muit they prevail if they be allowed, not only to escape punishment, but to be rewarded with respect and apparent happiness? Is it possible to conceive a scene more calculated to relieve adultery of ail its odium, and even to recommend it to favour, than that of two persons, who, after being guilty of that offence, nay, in confequence of their very crime, intermarry, and live together in connubial felicity? Before such a scene adultery loses all its horror; it ceases to he infamous; it even acquires a semblance of respectability. Such a sce:ne robs marriage of its fanctity, and profanes that mot facred institution ; it is an insult upon female honour, and a most dangerous soare to female chastity. The more happiness it exhibits, the more dangerous it is to society, It is a temptation of the most seductive kind to the married woman who does not think herself happy-nay, it is an icducement to her to maguify her unhappiness—to brood over every cause of domestic inquietude--to relent more keenly every slight she may receive from her husband--to indulge her fancy in the contemplation of the bliss the might enjoy with a more attentive and affectionate yoke fellow--to think lightly of the nuptial tie, and to consider the dissolution of it as in her own power ; with these impresions she is prepared to listen to the wily addresses of the seducer, and to believe ihar, by a venial offence, she may ensure her felicity without a facrifice of her honour. The practice of adulterous marriages, of " impudica matrimonia," tends also to break down the barrier between vice and virtue. The woman who is thus raised, by means of her fin, from the depths of guilt, to a situation which entitles her to all the rights of unspotted fame, is a link in the chain of society, which connects honour and disgrace, so that the diftinction between these opposite sentiments is in danger of being loft ; she blends virtue and vice in such a manner, that it becomes impossible, as in the colours of the rainbow, to say, where the one ends and the other begins."
One leading feature in the character of this liberal age is holden forth in a very proper point of view, and proves that the author not only clofely observes but truly estimates the spirit, the manners, and the morals of the time. There is but one radical cure for this wretched perversion of philanthropy, this miserable mockery of virtue, this bafe counterfeit of Christian compaffion ; let the Scriptures be rendered the sole ftandard of human actions, and the ever-erring judgment of the finful creature be no longer opposed to the supreme will, and irrevocable fiat of his all-jult, all-wise, and all-powerful creator
" But notwithstanding the extremely mischievous tendency of the practice of intermarriage between the guilty parties, after a divorce for Adultery, the provision, which had for its object the prevention of such a practice, excited the disapprobation of some persons, who admitted the indispensabic ncceility
of subjecting Adultery to legal punithment. The objections to that clause bave affumed a moft interesting form. They affail the virtuous and the manly heart where it is most susceptible. They represent the adulteress, not as a criminal, but as a helpless and unfortunate female—as an object of pity rather than of censure. A lively interest is excited in her future fate. Should she not be allowed to marry her paramour, what, it is said, must be her lot, buc infamy and prostitution ? Nay, fome extreme case of forced marriage, and of unconquerable attachment, is presumed, in order to display, in the strongeit light, the cruelty of a law, which would consign to shame and misery the woman who violates the moft sacred of ties.
" It is the peculiar disposition of this compassionate age to listen, attentively, to such appeals. The heart, relaxed by the indulgent principles of the new philosophy, is feelingly alive to all the woes of guilt. "It generously effices all recoléction of the crime, and is only anxious left the criminal should fink under those sufferings, which the laws of God and man have doomed him to undergn, In the exercise of this refined species of sensibility, not a feeling, not a ihought is bestowed on the injury suitained by society, or on the danger to which the public morals must be exposed, by the spectacle of vice fecure frem misery, and loaded with caresses. All such confiderations vanith before zhe plafing, the generous, task, of soothing the guilty heart, and of rendering in any amble and vice interelting.
elmbly conceive, with all due deference to modern fystems of ethics, that this ity is unkind, that this compaflion, like the tender mercies of the wikid,' is cruel. 'I humbly conceive that the plan of Providence is in. fin te'y more humane, as well as inexprelibly more wise. The connection, vilis in that plan, berween vice and misery, is established for the sake, not mrey of the innocent, but also of the guilty. While the former are warned los ex mple, the latter are amended by discipline. While those are preserved iron tiling, thole are raited up and conducted, through suffering, to peni, setorination, and pardon. The correction may, indeed, be severe
, butxi is flatarı, it is merciful. It a Sords the only means by which, accord. 31g to the couiuiution of human nature, the heart can be purified from guilt. By the law of association (already noticed), the crime, which occasioned ihe juif ring, becomes an object of loathing and abhorrence; and these sentiments, when confirmed by r«fcron, afford a solid basis for good resolutions, for virtuous dispositions, and for real reformation.
Or the contrary, the new and refined system of feeling, fympathyfing with ihat arrogant philosophy, which promises perfect happiness to imperfect iren, cannoi endure that vice should be miserable. It pours balm into the guilty breast, and forbids the finner to be sorrowful. This vain attempt to improve upon the order of nature, will, if perfifted in, receive the reward due to such presumption. It will gr-atly increase the corruption of human nature, and the lüm of human misery. It will encompass virtue with new snares, by rendering the path of vice apparently fafe, as well as flowery. It will render guilt impenitent, and prevent the criminal from reaping the falutary fruits of compunciion and repentance.
It is true, in the loose style of the new school of morality, when the adulterefs, by marrying the partner of her crime, regains a kind of character
, which, though not fterling, is current for all the purposes of fashionable lise ; and when, fenfible of the danger which she has lo fortunately esc:ped-cr
, perhaps, really attached to the man for whom he violated her first vows-fe
avoids, in her new nuptial connection, a repetition of her offence ; this change is called reformation. But is it certain that this skin-deep reformation will be accepted by that Being, who searches the heart? Is there no danger that the woman, who is thus preserved from sorrow, may fall very short of that repentance which is not to be repented of? that the may find it impossible even to regret, much less to abhor the offence, which has produced fuch pleasing consequences ? that, in short, by being prevented from atoning for her crime in this world, she may have to account for it in the next? These, surely, are enquiries of some importance, unless to those who adopt the Gallic scheme of infidelity, and recognize tlie infidel decree that death is an eternal sleep.' Without, however, resorting to considerations of so high a nature, one thing is certain, that it is better, both for the individual and the community, that a woman, who has been guilty of such a crime as Adultery, fhould hide her face in retirement, than that she should appear in the public walks of life, afferting her undiminished claims to character and respect; and
CowPER. Every other objection to the prohibitory clause of the bill is proved to be equally false and futile ; and many of our juvenile propounders of laws may here find much useful and neceffary information, as well respecting their private conduct as their public duty. Our readers will have perceived that the author's stile is as chaste and elegant, as his principles and sentiments are just and pure; and we should ill discharge our duty did we not most strenuously recommend this letter to the perufal of every man, who thinks that the religious and moral principles of the community are an object of importance, either to the present well-being of the state, or to the future happiness of its members, Copious as our quotations have already been, we cannot resist the temptation of extracting the closing passage of the book, which is calculated to impress the mind with the most serious, the most awful re. Sections ; adding our fervent wish that these reflections may tend to promote those beneficial effects which it is the evident object of the author to produce. Having delineated the profligate state of manners in France, he thus concludes;
“Sir, it deserves our most ferious confideration, whether, though we have not yet, thank Heaven! attained so dreadfully corrupted a state of manners, we are not making fast approaches towards such a staté. Of this, I fear, we exhibit symptoms which are truly alarming. We exhibit the most alarming of all symptoms—a corruption of moral sentiment. It is certain, that Adultery no longer excites among us the same abhorrence as heretofore. It is viewed every day with a more indulgent eye. It is connived at, and encouraged, even by some, whose personal conduct is irreproachable. It is holden out as an object of compassion. It is growing into a fyftem. It is beginning to have its laws of honour. All this has been allowed---nay, it has
. even been urged by those who opposed the attempt which has been made to reAtrain it by law, and who pleaded, as a reason against the probable effect of Legislative interpofition, but Adulteries are better received than beretofore !
Thus are we treading in the steps of profiigate France. May Heaven inspire our Legislators with wisdom and resolution to interpose, whilft it is yet time, to check our perilous care r ; leit we share the fate of our Gallic neighbours
, who would not have been the victims of Revolution, if they had not first been the slaves of vice.”
Sermons preached at Laura Chapel, Bath, during the Season of Advent, 1799. By the Rev. Francis Randolph, D. D. &c.
(Continued from P. 137:) IN conformity
with the plan which we laid down in our last month's review, we shall now attempt an analysis of the subject matter of these discourses, and of the doctrinal points which it is their object to establish, reserving for our next publication the extracts which we propose making as a specimen of the style, the language, and the argumentation of no common author.
The firit sermon, which, as we have already observed, is a kind of abftrast of the whole work, has for its text the sublime declaration of the inspired writer concerning our Saviour, which of itself establishes all the facts infifted on in the volume under confideration. [Hebrews, xiji. 8.] Jesus Christ, the fame yesterday and to day, and for ever. On which text the author observes, that nothing ha: done more harm to the cause of Christianity, than the idea which has been thrown out by some and adopted by others; that it is of late original, a scheme of religion entirely new till 4000 years had elapsed after the creation. This idea tends to impeach the unity of God's design, to darken the promise of universal redemption, and to shut on preceding ages the gates of mercy. By those who diligently search the scriptures a different do&rine will be maintained : they will unite the promise wich the performance-the prophecy with the completion--the anticipation with the even---they will see that the faith which Christianity inculcates was one and the same in all ages of the church ; immutable as the divine Mediator, whose religion it is. The enquiry, it is observed, will lead to a wide field of discussion ; but in the extensive survey the path of life will be discovered; from this christian eminence will appear the subsisting traces of the Patriarchal and the Jewish Churches, all pursuing the same road, all tending to the same end; nay, in the wildest digressions of heathen mythology, the wandering footsteps of the idolater may be traced back to the very point of departure from the true faith.
Previously to this investigation, the general line of argument is proposed.' The first revelation to Adam, made at the fall, is found to have been a promise of redemption; it is traced, through the ante. diluv an world, in the faith of Abel and of Enoch, to Noah ; it is shewn to be the basis of the new covenant, made between God and man, at the restoration of the world after the food; the principle on which Abraham obeyed the divine call, separating him at once from his country and his kindred; by virtue of which he went forih, nuot