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This is a robbery of the most atrocious description, committed by a series of heartless villanies, and followed by irreparable injury. To the victim of this injury it is productive of the inconceivable wretchedness mentioned in the former chapter. Deprived of what is to all a source of comfort, reputation, she is covered with infamy; and if her maintenance depend upon her character, she loses her employment, and becomes a forlorn outcast, without food and rai. ment. What adds to the enormity of this crime is; that it is usually succeeded by a total subversion of moral principle, and, consequently, by the perdition of the hapless being seduced. Who but the Judge of all the earth, can estimate the desert of the authors of mischief so irretrievable?
The victim of this mischief may have been the pride of her family, the object of her parents' fondness and delight, who they hoped would be the honour and happiness of their declining years.' Till now innocence and peace smiled on their dwellingplace. But as though their felicity had been viewed by a malignant eye, the tempter, by falsehoods and artifices, has succeeded in its destruction, and has overwhelmed the members of a virtuous household in the most agonizing shame and sorrow. parent ask, what would be his feelings, if the dis
and let every
honour supposed were inflicted on a beloved child;
say, in what way he could estimate the injury did it relate to a sister.
If it be justly considered, as adding tenfold horror to the crime of murder, that he on whom death was inflicted, was a friend and benefactor of the assassin, and forgave the deadly blow, even while he recognised the arm from which it came,—what weight of guilt does the very love, which, even after ruin, still lingers in her gentle heart that was betrayed, add to the atrocious selfishness of him who rejoiced to perceive the tenderness of love, only as a proof that his artifices had not been wasted; who, in abandoning her afterwards to all her misery, regretted only the difficulty which he might have in shaking off a love so obstinate.
“ Let us imagine, then, gathered into one terrible moment—the distraction of parents,—the tears of sisters,—the shame and remorse of the frail outcast; or perhaps, in the dreadful progress of depravation of what was shame and remorse—a wild excess of guilt, that seeks only to forget the past, and that scarcely knows, in the distraction of many acquired vices, what it is which constitutes at the moment the anguish which it feels-if all this combination of miseries could be made visible, as it were, to the very eyes of the seducer, and the instant production of it were to depend on a single word of renewed solicitation on his part—what passion, that calls itself love in any human breast, can we conceive to be unmoved by such a sight, as to utter calmly a word so destructive! And if a single moment of the miserable result be so dreadful to be contemplated, how much more terrible is it, when regarded as the misery of years-of years that, after their course of wretchedness is finished, consign to immortality a spirit, that but for the guilt of him who rendered it what it is, might have looked back upon the earth, with the calm pleasure of those who turn their eyes on a scene which their acts of virtue have rendered delightful ; and quit it only for scenes which they are to render delightful, by the continuance of similar acts, or wishes of virtue*.”
Why there should be no punishment provided for a crime productive of such complicated misery, beyond a pecuniary satisfaction to the injured family, it belongs not to me to say.
In addition to seduction, there is in this crime an injury inflicted on a third person, in the violation of stipulated rights. The man who solicits the chastity of a married woman, obtains, should he succeed, by fraudulent means, that affection which belongs to her husband. This success involves the gross infringement of the marriage vows and engagements; and must expose him to the severe displeasure of that God whose omniscience was appealed to when they were made.
* Brown's Lectures on Mor. Phil. vol. iv. p. 236.
What greater injury can be inflicted on the innocent party? The crime carries sorrow and infamy to the bosom of a happy, and before the tempter plied his artifices, an united family. The afflicted husband beholds her whose happiness was dearer to him than his own, who is the mother of his children, corrupted by villany, seduced from virtue, dishonoured and ruined. That bosom on which he had so entirely reposed his confidence has deceived him. He feels himself to be widowed and desolate: he sees his children deserted and motherless ; he engages in his necessary avocations spiritless and almost broken-hearted; and passes the remainder of his course to the tomb without enjoyment, and without hope.
The injury done to the children by this crime is of the utmost magnitude. They are robbed of maternal care and affection; of instruction and
government; of the holy and efficacious influence of a mother's example; of all the happiness which flows from her presence, and of the numberless tendernesses which her presence suggests.
It cannot surprise us that, under the Jewish law, a crime which violates the most sacred rights, and which is productive of so much misery, should be followed with a capital punishment to both the parties concerned. “ Even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death *.” In the christian Scriptures it is declared that God will visit the adulterer with adequate punishment.-—“ Marriage is honourable in
* Levit. xx. 10.
all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge *."
That this declaration will receive its fulfilment, no one will doubt who believes in the Divine authority of the Book which contains it. He who has an eternity in which to punish the workers of iniquity cannot want opportunities of exercising his punitive justice.
It is scarcely necessary to remark, that they in some measure participate in the guilt of the adulterer, whose behaviour is designed to captivate the affections of a married woman. Though the crime is not completed, its consequences, in this way, may be felt, in the interruption of the peace of a family.
It may be proved, both from Scripture and reason, that polygamy is unlawful and inexpedient.
I. Let us attend to the testimony of Scripture. On two occasions, at the beginning of the world, and immediately after the flood, when it was necessary to people the world, God assigned one woman to one
From the words of Christ, quoted in a former chapter, we learn that a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh. It is perfectly clear from this language, that in the ordinance of marriage, as
• Heb. xiii. 4.