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the hearts of their parents, to run at the least signal of their will, to share in their benignant smile or approbation, and to avoid every species of conduct that would produce the least uneasimess or pain—would be the unceasing aim of all the youthful members of the family circle. In sickness, they would smooth their pillows, and alleviate their sorrows, watch like guardian angels around their bed, drop the tear of affection, and pour the balm of consolation into their wounded spirits. In the decline of life, they would minister with tenderness to their support and enjoyment, guide their feeble steps, sympathize with them in their infirmities, cheer and animate their dejected spirits, and render their passage to the tomb smooth and comfortable. And how delighted would every parent feel amidst such displays of tenderness and affection There is perhaps nothin2 in the whole range of human enjoyment that creates a higher and more unmingled gratification to parents, than the dutisu! and affectionate conduct of their offspring. It sweetens all the bitter ingredients of human life, and odds a relish to all its other consorts and enjoyments. It imparts a continual satisfaction and serenity to the parental breast; it smooths the wrinkles of age; it cheers the spirits under th: infirmities of declining nature, and makes the dying bed of old age comfortable and easy. And the joy and satisfaction thus felt by parents would be reflected into the bosom of their children; which would produce a union of interests, a cordiality of affection, and a peace and tranquillity of mind in every member of the family, which no adverse occurrence in future lise could ever effectually destroy. From the family circle the emanations of filial piety would spread and diffuse themselves through all the other departments of society. The same spirit of love and dutiful respect which united and endeared parents to children, and children to parents, would unite one family to another, one village to another, one city to another, one province to another, one kingdom and empire to another, till all the tribes of the human race were united in kindness and affection, as one great and harmonious family. Every dutiful child would become a faithful and obedient servant, a docile scholar, and a loyal and submissive subject, when placed in those relations; and would prove a blessing and an ornament to every society of which he was a member. And every dutiful and affectionate parent, when placed in the station of a king, or a subordinate ruler, would display a parental affection towards every member of the community over which he was appointed. Hence it might easily be shown, that an uninterrupted and universal observance of this single precept, viewed in all its connexions and bearings, would completely regenerate the world —and that the peace, the harmony, and the prosperity of all the nations of the earth, will ulti
mately depend on the spirit of filia, piety being infused into every family. “Honour thy father an thy mother,” says the Apostle, “which is the first commandment with promise ; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long upon the earth.” These words, which are frequently repeated in Scripture, are not empty sounds; nor ought they to be deprived, even
under the Christian dispensation, of their obvious
and literal meaning. Fisal piety has a natural tendency to produce health, long life, and prosperity; and could we trace the whole of the secret history of Providence in reference to this precep', we should, doubtless, find this position abundantly exemplified. At any rate, were it universally practised, it would carry along with it a train of blessings which would convert the tumults and convulsions of nations into peace and tranquillity, and transform the moral wilderness of this world into a scene of verdure, beauty, and loveliness, which would enrapture the mind of every moral intelligence; and among its other benefits, “length of days, and long life and peace,” would undoubtedly “be added” to the other enjoyments of mankind.
This precept forbids the taking away of the life of sensitive or intelligen' existence. The command is absolute, withou, the least exception, as it stands in the Deca ogue; and it is universal, extending to every raional and moral agent. It implies that, as every sensitive and every intelligent being derived its existence from the omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth, no one has a right to deprive it of that existence, except that Being by whom it was bestowed. And, whatever exceptions to the universality of this law may be admitted, they can be admitted only on the authority of the Lawgiver himself, who is the Original Fountain of existence to all his creatures. The principal exceptions to this law are the following:–1. The man who has violently taken away the life of another is commanded, by the authority of God, to be put to death. “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” This is the dictate of reason as well as of revelation ; for no human power can recall the departed spirit or re-animate the lifeless corpse, and no adequate compensation can ever be given for such a crime.* 2. The -life of the lower animals is permitted by the same
• Notwithstanding the considerations here stated, the Author is doubtful whether the Creator has conceded to man the right of taking away the life of another, even in case of murder. If the passage here quoted ought to be considered as a prediction rather than a law, as is most probable, it will afford no warrant for the destruction of human life; and there is no other injunction of this kind which has any relation to the New Testamel, dispensation.
authority to be taken away when these animals are necessary for our food, or when they endanger our eristence. This permission was first granted, immediately after the flood, to Noah and his descendants. “God said to Noah and his sons; every thing that moveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Without such a positive grant from the Creator, man could have had no more right to take away the life of an ox or a sheep, than he has to imbrue his hands in the blood, or to feast on the flesh of his fellow-men. To take the life of any sensitive being, and to seed on its flesh, appears incompatible with a state of innocence; and, therefore, no such grant was given to Adam in paradise; nor does it appear that the Antedeluvians, notwithstanding their enormous crimes, ever feasted on the flesh of animals. It appears to have been a grant suited only to the degraded state of man after the deluge; and, it is probable, that as he advances in the scale of moral perfection, in the future ages of the world, the use of animal food will be gradually laid aside, and he will return again to the productions of the vegetable kingdom, as the original food of man, and as that which is best suited to the rank of rational and mora! intelligence. And, perhaps, it may have an influence, in combination with other favourable circumstances, in promoting health and longevity. —But, although the inferior animals are, in the mean time, su' jected to our use, no permission is granted to t eat them with harshness or cruelty, or to kill them for the sake of sport and amusement. And, therefore, the man who wantonly takes away the lives of birds, hares, fishes, and other animals, for the mere gratification of a taste for hunting or fishing, can scarcely be ex
culpated from the charge of a breach of this com
mandment. The above are the principal exceptions which the Creator has made in reference to the law under consideration. And it may not be improper to remark, that, besides the direct act of murder, every thing that leads to it, or that has a tendency to endanger life, is to be considered as forbidden in this commandment. All unkindness and harsh treatment exercised towards servants, dependants, and brute animals, by which life may be shortened or rendered intolerable—all furious and revengeful passions, which may lead to acts of violence—all quarrelling, fighting, and boxing, either for bets, or for the gratification of hatred or revenge—all wishes for the death of others, and all contrivances either direct or indirect to compass the destruction of our neighbour—all criminal negligence by which our own life or the life of others may be endangered or destroyed—and all those actions by which murder may be committed as a probable effect, as the burning of inhabited houses, and the throwing of the instruments of death into the midst of a crowd—are to be regarded as involv
ing the principle of murder, as well as the direca acts of suicide, duelling, and assassination ; and, consequently, as violations of that law which extends to the secret purposes of the heart, as well as to the external actions. Even unreason. able anger, malice, and scurrility are declared by our saviour to be a species of murder: “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,” that is, thou worthless empty sellow, “shall be in danger of the council.”* Life is desirable only as it is connected with enjoyment, and, therefore, when a man treats his brother with such a degree of hatred and scurrility, as to render his existence either unpleasant or intolerable, he ought to be ranked among the class of murderers. For the apostle John declares, without the least limitation, that “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and he that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” And, if this criterion be admitted, a train of murderers will be sound existing in society far more numerous than is generally supposed. It would be needless to attempt an illustration of the consequences which would ensue, were the breach of this law to become universal. It is obvious, on the sightest reflection, that were this to happen, human society would soon cease to exist. That prophecy which was given forth respecting Ishmael would then receive a most terrible and extensive accomplishment, in the case of every human agent: “His hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him.” Every man would assume the character of an infernal fiend ; every lethal weapon would be prepared and surnished for slaughter; every peaceful pursuit and employment would be instantly abandoned; the voice of wailing and the yells of fury and despair, would be heard in every family, in every village, in every city, in every field, in every kingdom, and in every cline. Every house, every street, every valley, every sorest, every river, every mountain, and every continent would be strewed with fearful devastation, and with the mangled carcasses of the slain. The work of destruction would go on with dreadful rapidity, till the whole race of man were extirpated from the earth, leaving this vast globe a scene of solitude and desolation, an inimense sepulchre, and a spectacle of horror to all superior intelligences.—And, let it be remembered, that such a picture, horrible and revolting as it is, is nothing more than what would be the na
* Math. v. 22. Christ, in this passage, refers to a court among the Jews, composed of twenty three men, wherein capital sentences might be passed on which a malefactor might be strangled or be headed : this was called the Judgment. But the Sanhedrim, or Council, was the supreme Jewish court, consisting of seventy-two; in which the highest crimes were tried, which they, and they alone, punished with stoning, which was considered a more terrible death than the former.
lural result of the principle of hatred, were it left to its native energies, and were it not controlled, in the course of providence, by Him who sets restraining bounds to the wrath of man. In order to counteract the tendencies of this bale'ul principle, it is of the utmost importance that youth be trained up in habits of kindness, tenderness, and compassion, both towards human beings, and towards the inferior animals; that an abhorrence should be excited in their minds of quarrelling, fighting, and all mischievous tricks and actions ; that they be restrained from the indulgence of malicious and resentsul passions; that every indication of a cruel and unfeeling disposition be carefully counteracted; and that every tendency of the heart towards the benevolent affections, and every principle of active beneficence be cultivated and cherished with the most sedulous care and attention. For, in youth, the foundation has generally been laid of those malevolent principles and passions which have led to robbery, assassination, and deeds of violence,—which have filled the earth with blood and carnage : and which have dis, played their diabolical energy in so dreadsul a manner amidst the contests of communities and nations. Were the disposition to indulge hatred, which leads to every species of murder, completely counteracted, the greatest proportion of those evils which now afflict our world, would cease to exist. Human sacrifices would no longer bleed upon Pagan altars; the American Indians would no longer torture to death their prisoners taken in war, nor the New Zealanders feast upon the flesh and the blood of their enemies. The widows of Hindostan would no longer be urged to burn themselves alive on the corpses of their deceased husbands; norwould the mothers of China imbrue their hands in the blood of their insant offspring. The practice of Duelling would forever cease, and would be universally execrated as an outrage on common sense, and on every generous and humane feeling, and as the silly attempt of a puny mortal to gratify wounded pride or disappointed ambition, at the expense of the life of his fellow-creature. Despotism would throw aside its iron sceptre, and the nations would be ruled with the law of love; and plots, conspiracies, treasons, and massacres would be attempted no more. The fires of the Inquisition would cease to be kindled, the supposed heretic would no longer be consigned to the horrors of a gloomy dungeon, racks and gibbets and guillotines would be shivered to pieces and thrown into the flames, and the spirit of cruelty and persecution would be extirpated from the earth. Riot, tumult, and contention would be banished from our streets, and harmony and concord would prevail throughout ali our borders. War would forever cease to desolate the nations; the confused noise of invading armies, the sounds of martial music,
the groans of dying victims, and the hoarsm shouts of conquerors, would be heard no more, Peace would descend from heaven to dwell with man on earth; prosperity would follow it, her train, science would enlarge its boundaries and shed its benign influence upon all ranks; the useful arts would flourish and advance towards perfection; philanthrophy would diffuse its thousand blessings in every direction, and every man would sit “under his vine and fig-tree” in persect security from all danger or annoyance,
seveNTH command MENT.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
This commandment is to be viewed as comprehending within its prohibition, every species of lewdness, both in thought, word, and action; as adultery, fornication, incest, polygamy, &c.; and likewise all those licentious desires and af. sections from which such actions proceed. In this comprehensive sense it is explained by our Saviour, in his Sermon on the Mount, and by the Apostles, in their letters to the Christian Churches. It is founded on tho distinction of sexes which exists among mankind, and on the law of Marriage, which was promulgated immediately after the creation of the first pair—a law which was intended to limit, and to regulate the intercourse of the sexes; and to promote purity, assection, and order, among the several generations of mankind. By this law the marriage union is limited to two individuals. He who made mankind at the beginning, says Christ, made them male and female, and said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh.” And, it ulight easily be shown, srom an induction of sacts, and from a consideration of the present circumstances of the human race, that this law, and this alone, is calculated to promote the mutual affection of the married pair, and to securo the peace and happiness of families, and the harmony general society. By this law the union is mi le permanent, so long as the parties exist in th s world. “What God hath joined, let no man out asunder.” This regulation has a tendency to promote union of affection and interests, and to induce the parties to bear with patience the occasional inconveniences and contentions which may arise. Were divorces gonerally permitted, on the ground of unsuitableness of temper, or occasional jars, society would soon be shaken to its centre. Every real or supposed insult, or provocation, would be followed out, till it terminated in the separation of the parties; families would thus be torn into shreds ; the education of the young would be neglected ; parental authority disregarded; and a door opened for the prevalence of unbounded licentiousness. Soon after the commuencement of the Re
volution in France, a law, permitting divorces, was passed by the National Assembly; and, in less than three months from its date, nearly as many divorces as marriges were registered in the city of Paris. In the whole kingdom, within the space of eighteen months, upwards of twenty thousand divorces were effected ; and the nation sunk into a state of moral degradation, from the effects of which it has never yet recovered. This is one of the many practical proofs presented before us, of the danger of infringing on any of the moral arrangements which the Creator has established. The precept under consideration is to be considered as directly opposed to all promiscuous and licentious intercourse between the sexes. And the reasonableness of this prohibition will appear, if we consider, for a moment, what would be the consequences which would inevitably follow were this law to be set aside, or universally violated. A scene of unbounded licentiousness would ensue, which would degrade the human character, which would destroy almost all the existing relations of society, and unhinge the whole fabric of the moral world.—One end of the institution of marriage was, to “replenish the earth” with inhabitants, to perpetuate the successive generations of men, and to train up a virtuous and intelligent race to people the congregation of the heavens. But this end would be ultimately frustrated, were a promiscuous and unlimited intercourse to become either general or universal. For, it has been found, that, wherever such intercourse partially prevails, it strikes at the root of human existence, and has a tendency to prevent the operation of that law which the Creator impressed on all living beings, “Increase and multiply.” In the haunts of licentiousness, in large cities, and in all such societies as those which formerly existed in Otaheite, under the name of Arreoy, the laws of nature are violated, the course of generation obstructed, and numbers of human beings strangled at the very porch of existence. So that were mankind at large to relapse into such licentious practices, the human race instead of increasing in number, to replenish ne desolate wastes of our globe, according to the Creator's intention, would rapidly decrease every succeeding generation, till after the lapse of a few centu
ries, human beings would be entirely extirpated, ,
and the earth, barren and uncultivated, would be left to the dominion of the beasts of the forest. But, although such a distant event were to be altogether disregarded, the immediate consequences of such unhallowed courses would be dismal in the extreme. That union of heart, assection, and of interests, which subsists between the great majority of married pairs, and those reciprocal sympathies and endearments which flow from this union, would be altogether unknown. The semale sex, (as already happens in some nations,) with minds uncultivated and unpolish
ed, would be degraded into mere instruments of sensitive enjoyment, into household slaves, or into something analogous to beasts of burden, and would be bought and sold like cattle and horses. The minds of all would be degraded to the level of brutes, and would be incapable of prosecuting either rational or religious pursuits. Their bodies would be wasted and enfeebled with, squalid disease: the infirmities of a premature old age would seize upon them ; and before they had “lived half their days,” they would sink into the grave in hopelessness and sorrow. A universal sottishness, and disregard of every living except present sensual enjoyment, would seize upon the whole mass of society, and benumb the human faculties: the God of heaven would be overlooked, and the important realities of an immortal existence completely banished from their thoughts and affections. Thousands, and ten thousands of insants would be strangled at their entrance into life; and the greater part of those who were spared, would be doomed to a wretched and precarious existence. The training up of the youthful mind to knowledge and virtue would be quite neglected; and all that civility and softness of manners, which are now acquired under the eye of parental authority and affection, would be unknown in society. The endearing relations of father and mother, of brothers and sisters, of uncles, aunts, and cousins, and all the other ramifications of kindred, which now produce so many interesting and delightful associations, would fail to be recognised among men; for in such a state of society, the natural relations of mankind would be either disregarded, or blended in undistinguishable confusion. Children, neglected or abandoned by their mothers, would be left to the full influence of their own wayward and inpetuous passions; they would depend for subsistence, either on accident, on pilfering, or on the tender mercies of general society; they would wander about as vagabonds, tattered and forlorn: their hearts shrivelled with unkindness, their bodies chilled with the rains and biting frosts, and deformed with filthiness and disease. They would be left to perish in the open fields, without a friend to close their eyes; and their bodies, unnoticed and unknown, would remain as a prey, to be devoured by the fowls of heaven. In every land would be seen multitudes of houseless and shivering females, set adrift by their seducers, wandering with their hungry and half famished offspring, the objects of derision and contempt; and imploring, in vain, the comforts of food, of shelter, and protection. For, among human beings, in such a degraded state, the kindly and benevolent affections would seldom be exercised ; cold-blooded selfishness and apathy, in relation to the sufferings of others, would supplant all the finer feelings of humanity; which would dispose them to view the wretched objects around them with perfect indifference,
and even with contempt. “However it may be accounted for,” says Dr. Paley, “ the criminal eommerce of the sexes corrupts and depraves the mind, and the moral character, more than any single species of vice whatsoever. That ready perception of guilt that prompt and decisive resolution azainst it, which constitutes a virtuous character, is seldom sound in persons addicted to these indulgences. They prepare an easy admission for every sin that seeks it; are, in low life, usually the first stage in men's progress to the most desperate villanies; and, in high life, to that lamented dissoluteness of principle which manifests itself in a prodigacy of public conduct, and a contempt of the obligations of religion and of moral probity. Add to this that habits of libertinism incapacitate and indispose the mind for all intellectual, moral, and religious pleasures.”*
In short, in such a state of society as would inevitably accompany a general violation of the seventh precept of the moral law, all the sofness and loveliness of filial piety, of parental affection, of brotherly attachment, and of the intercourse of kindred, would forever cease: science and literature would be neglected ; and churches, colleges, schools, and academies would crumble into ruins : a sufficient stimulus would be wanting to the exercise of industry and economy; a lazy apathy would seize upon the mass of society; the earth would cease to be cultivated, and would soon be covered with briers and thorns, or changed into the barren wastes of an African desert. The soundation of all regular government would be undermined: for it is chiefly in those habits of submission and obedience which are acquired under the domestic roof, that the foundations are laid of that subordination which is necessary to secure the peace and order of mankind. Society would, consequently, be thrown into a state of disorder, and would speedily sink into oblivion, in the mire of its own pollution.
The positions now stated could be illustrated, were it expedient, by a variety of melancholy ficts, borrowed from the history and the present state, both of savage and of civilized nations. The annals of Turkey, of Persia, of Hin lostan, of China, of Japan, of the Society Isles, and even of the civilized nations of Europe an America, would furnish abundance of impressive facts, to demonstrate the demoralizing, and brutalizing, and miserable effects which would flow from a spirit of universal licentiousness.-What revolting scenes would open to view, were we to survey the haunts of licentiousness which abound in Algiers, in Constantinople, in Teheran, in Pekin, in Canton, in Jeddo, and other populous cities, where the restraints of
• Princinics of Moral and Political Philosophy, Book III. Part III, chap 2.
Christianity are altogether unknown : In such receptacles of impurity, every moral feeling is blunted, and every moral principle abandoned. Impiety, prosanity, falsehood, treachery, perjury, and drunkenness, rear their unblushing fonts, and thefts, robberies, and murders, follow in their train. The unhappy female who enters these antechambers of hell, is, for the most part, cut off from all hopes of retreat. From that moment, the shades of moral darkness begin to close around her; she bids a last adieu to the smiles of tenderness and sympathy, to the kind embraces of father and mother, of sisters and brothers, to the house of God, to the instructions of his word, and to the society of the faithful. Instead of the cheering sounds of the Gospel of peace, her ears become accustomed to oaths, and curses, and horrid imprecations; the voice of conscience is hushed amidst the din of revelry and riot; every generous feeling is shrunk and withered ; she stalks abroad like a painted corpse, to fill with horror the virtuous mind, and to allure the unwary to the shades of death; till at length, wasted with consumption and loathsome disease, she is stretched upon the bed of languishing, abandoned by her former associates, deprived of the least drop of consolation, haunted with the ghastly apparitions of departed joys, and the forebodings of suturity, and sinks, “in the midst of her days,” into the chambers of the grave, without the least hope of a glorious resurrection. —And if we consider, that this is a picture of the wretchedness, not only of a few individuals, but of thousands, of tens of thousands, and of millions of human beings, it is impossible to describe the accumulated mass of misery which impurity has created, or to form any adequate conception of the horrible and revolting scenes of wretchedness which would be displayed, were the law under consideration to be set aside by all the inhabitants of our globe. There is a certain levity and flippancy of speech in relation to this subject, which prevails among many who wish to be considered as respectable characters, which proceeds from a contracted view of the consequences of human actions. They conceive, that no great harm can be done to society, by a few insulated actions of the kind alluded to, especially if they be concealed from general observation; and that the Creator will be disposed to make every allowance for human frailty. Butlet such remember that, if it were right to violate this, or any other law of the Creator, in one instance, it would be right in a hundred, in a thousand, in a million, and in eight hundred millions of instances: and then all the revolting scenes now described, and thousands of similar effects, of which we cannot at present form a distinct conception, would inevitably take place. And, therefore, every man who, from levity and thoughtlessness, or from a disregard to the laws of heaven, persists in the occasional