The Law of God, as Contained in the Ten
Commandments, Explained and Enforced

By William S. Plumer, 1864

The Seventh Commandment

"You shall not commit adultery." Exodus 20:14

It is both man's crime and misery that he often acquires a habit of thinking lightly of the most weighty and serious things. Such levity is not reconcilable with wisdom towards ourselves, or duty towards God. It generates recklessness and impetuosity of character. It banishes those solemn and beneficial thoughts which are essential to sound discretion. It is still worse when we learn so to think and speak of matters of great moment as that the introduction of them is a temptation to impurity of thought. The consequence is, that we often find sadness where we looked for joy, and wretchedness where we supposed peace had her abode. These remarks apply with great force to almost all topics belonging to the seventh commandment. Such is the state of the public mind that it is exceedingly difficult to write or speak on any of them without giving offence to some, or occasion of evil thoughts to others. Still here stands this great commandment. A right understanding of it is essential to the welfare of society. If anyone shall be injured in his nicest feelings by the discussion proposed, it shall be his own fault.

It is convenient to the plan of discussion proposed to begin with considering the subject of MARRIAGE. True, many smile and some lose sobriety of mind, whenever they think, or hear, or speak on this subject. But surely the matter is solemn, and deserves our gravest thoughts. It is not indeed a melancholy theme, a doleful matter; and so we may bring to the study of it all our vivaciousness, as well as great earnestness.

1. The first thing which claims our attention is the NATURE of the institution. Marriage is a solemn and perpetual covenant between one man and one woman to live together in the most affectionate and endearing state of social existence known upon earth.

1. It is a covenant. Such is the language used respecting it in nearly all the Christian forms of its solemnization, as well as in Holy Scripture, Proverbs 2:17.

2. It is a solemn covenant. With the exception of the engagements by which a man binds his soul to the service of God, there is no other covenant of more solemnity.

3. This covenant is of perpetual obligation, as long as the parties live. Exceptions to this remark will be stated hereafter. Other covenants may be set aside, sometimes by mutual consent, sometimes by the payment of a specified penalty, and sometimes by casualties, rendering fulfillment impossible; but this cannot even be weakened, much less destroyed in this manner. Without a high crime, in one party subverting the very design of marriage, death only can release the other party. Whoever lawfully and properly enters the state of marriage intends that it shall be for life.

4. This covenant is between one man and one woman. All good laws insist upon this. This was the form of the institution in Paradise. Jesus Christ has taught us that the law of Eden is still of binding force, Matt. 19:3-9. The laws of the land wisely enforce the same principle. Bigamy and polygamy deserve to be severely punished, as high immoralities, tending to the rapid destruction of society and of the commonwealth.

5. This covenant binds the parties to live in the most affectionate and endearing state of social existence known upon earth. All other relationships give place to this. It takes precedence of the tie of parent and child. So that from the first, the infallible rule of marriage required a man to forsake father and mother, and to cleave unto his wife. By parity of reason, the woman is to forsake her parents and cleave to her husband. Both human and divine laws regard husband and wife as in an important sense, as one. Blackstone says, they "are one person in law, so that the very being and existence of the woman is suspended during the union, or entirely merged, or incorporated in that of the husband." Dr. Johnson says: "Marriage is the strictest tie of perpetual friendship, and there can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity; and he must expect to be wretched, who pays to beauty, riches, or politeness, that regard which only virtue and piety can claim." The divine lawgiver settles the question in a few words: "They shall be one flesh."

Some people far removed from all sickly sensibility never witness the solemnization of a marriage without strong emotion. Behold that noble, generous young man, full of energy, courage and magnanimity. He has sincerely plighted his troth. He would not hesitate a moment to step in between his loved one and the stroke of death, and thus save her from all harm. By his side stands "a lovely female clothed in all the freshness of youth, and surpassing beauty.... In the trusting, the heroic devotion, which impels her to leave country, parents, for a comparative stranger, she has launched her frail bark upon a wide and stormy sea. She has handed over her happiness and doom for this world, to another's keeping. But she has done it fearlessly, for love whispers to her, that her chosen guardian and protector bears a manly and a noble heart. Oh woe to him that forgets his oath and his manliness.

We have all read the story of the husband who in a moment of hasty wrath said to her who had but a few months before united her fate to his—"If you are not satisfied with my conduct, go, return to your friends and your happiness." "Can you give me back that which I brought to you?" asked the despairing wife. "Yes," he replied, "all your wealth shall go with you; I covet it not." "Alas," she answered, "I thought not of my wealth—I spoke of my devoted love; can you give that back to me?" "No!" said the man, as he flung himself at her feet. "No! I cannot restore that, but I will do more—I will keep it unsullied and untainted; I will cherish it through my life, and in my death; and never again will I forget that I have sworn to protect and cherish her, who gave up to me all she held most dear."

2. The marriage state is honorable. For ages the wise and good of all countries have bestowed upon it high commendations. Hooker says: "The bond of wedlock has been always, more or less, esteemed of as a thing religious and sacred. The title, which the very heathen themselves do thereunto oftentimes give, is, holy." Dr. Johnson: "Marriage is the best state for man in general, and every man is a worse man, in proportion as he is unfit for the marriage state." Addison: "Two people, who have chosen each other out of all the species, with design to be each other's mutual comfort and entertainment, have in that action bound themselves to be kind, affable, discreet, forgiving; patient and joyful with respect to each other's frailties and imperfections to the end of their lives." John Newton says: "Marriage has been, and is, to me, the best and dearest of temporal blessings.... Long experience and much observation have convinced me, that the marriage state, when properly formed and prudently conducted, affords the nearest approach to happiness, (of a merely temporal kind) that can be attained in this uncertain world, and which will best abide the test of sober reflection."

Our Creator has dignified this state by legislating upon it under every dispensation of his government over men. In Eden—before man was a sinner—in the Hebrew commonwealth as organized by Moses, and under the reign of Messiah, marriage has been regulated, guarded and honored by solemn enactments, the whole tenor of which was to raise it high in the esteem of men. When Christ was upon earth, he wrought his first miracle at a marriage in Cana of Galilee, which he graced with his presence. Lest there should remain a shadow of a doubt in the human mind, God has declared by an inspired apostle that "marriage is honorable in all." Heb. 13:4. On this clear, unequivocal teaching of inspiration, we may rest the defense of the honorableness of marriage in all classes and conditions of life, high and low, lay and clerical.

3. Yet this institution has long been assaulted by ignorant and wicked men. Various apostates from the truth of God have made war upon it. Christ's apostles predicted the appearance of men who would "depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, etc." 1 Tim. 4:1-3. Accordingly, there early arose men, who exerted all their power against this great bulwark of virtue. Irenaeus tells us that Saturninus and Marcion led the way in this unholy assault. These were followed by the sect of the Encratites, founded by Tatian. They openly taught that "marriage was the work of the devil." Augustine says, these errorists "would admit no married person into their society." The Apostolici held the same views, and arrogantly denied all hope of salvation to such as were married, or would not grant a community of goods. Augustine tells us that the Manichees also condemned marriage and prohibited it as far as they could. "The Severians and Archontici held the same views. Some of their teachings were cruel and brutal. They said that "woman herself was the work of the devil." After these arose Hierax, whose followers took their name from him. He taught that marriage belonged only to the Old Testament institutions; since the coming of Christ it was no longer lawful; and that no married person could obtain the heavenly kingdom. Augustine says that they "admitted none but monks and nuns, and such as were unmarried into their communion" Still later arose Eustathius, bishop of Sebastia, who said that "no one who lived in a married state could have any hope in God." This man had many followers. Since his time we have had hosts of errorists, who have held that there was a holier state than that of virtuous wedlock. So confident and plausible have been these empirics, that in almost every age they have had some followers, male and female. It is one of the gross inconsistencies of Popery that while, contrary to Scripture, it elevates marriage to the grade of a sacrament, it also, in the teeth of God's word, enjoins universal celibacy upon the clergy, and builds its prisons all over the world, where it locks up free-born females, white and black, who, under the force of superstitious fears and hopes, have been induced to take the vow of single life.

But for all this there is not one word of divine authority. By the constitution of the Jewish commonwealth, the tribe of Levi was placed under the law of marriage just as were the other tribes. The son succeeded the father in his sacred functions. Nor was the doctrine of universal celibacy of the clergy known among the apostles. Both during and subsequently to our Lord's residence on the earth, Peter was the husband of one wife. The evangelists tell us that Peter's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38. Many years after Christ's ascension, Paul says, "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" 1 Cor. 9:5. Peter and others of the apostles were married men. The evidence is clear.

Paul also gives us the law respecting the marriage of pastors: "An elder then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, one that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity." 1 Tim. 3:2, 4. The Greek church interprets this phrase so strictly that she requires all her pastors to be married men, and she allows them to be married but once during life. And if the wife dies, the pastor ceases to exercise any function in the church. The Romish church interprets it only by contradicting it. She allows none of her pastors to have even one wife. The Protestant doctrine is that this passage permits pastors to be married, but not to practice polygamy. This is doubtless the sense of this Scripture.

There have arisen various founders of infidel communities, which have attacked this institution. The history of Robert Dale Owen of Lanark, of Frances Wright, and of their compeers and imitators, is before the world, illustrating, as all such attempts must do, the truth that material dishonor to marriage, as ordained by God, will subvert any community, and make life wholly undesirable. An eminent patriot, philosopher, statesman and divine of this country, who signed the Declaration of Independence, has said: "Nothing can be more contrary to reason or public utility than the conversation of those who turn matrimony into ridicule. Such act in direct and deliberate opposition to the order of Providence, and to the constitution of the society of which they are members. The true reason why they are borne with so patiently is, that their wicked attempts are unavailing. But if we are to estimate the malignity of a man's conduct or sentiments, not from their effect, but from their native tendency and his inward disposition, it is not easy to imagine anything more criminal than an attempt to bring marriage into disesteem."

If men will indulge in satire, let them select some ridiculous or mischievous opinion or practice as a theme for merriment. But let them not amuse themselves by attempting to desecrate or destroy one of the best institutions Heaven has given to mortals.

4. Marriage is the source of many blessings. These may be divided into three classes. The first relate to the parties themselves; the second to the church of God; and the third to mankind in general.

1. Marriage is of great value to the parties themselves. It is an old saying that "marriage sobers even the soberest." Whatever cures men's antics and frivolities is so far useful. Marriage greatly diminishes the sorrows and augments the enjoyments of those who are fitly united. This is a world of much unhappiness. Human life is possessed only at the cost of many pains and sorrows. It is true that in deep affliction God alone can give efficient help and support. Blessed be his name! His ear is ever open to the cry of the humble. But in nearly all our woes, it is an unspeakable relief to have an earthly friend, to whom, in the sacredness of confidence, and with the perfect assurance of sympathy, we may unbosom our griefs. The Son of God himself, when in tribulation, did not disdain to call for sympathy. To his disciples he said, "What, could you not watch with me one hour?" Matt. 26:40. There is no human being so elevated in character, so independent in resources, as not to need the confidence and sympathy of some of the race. Most admit that in her feebleness, timidity and delicate sensibility, woman, like the ivy, needs a support, that she nay not be tossed about by every adverse wind, nor trodden down by the crude and the strong around her.

A little reflection will convince us that the rougher gender also needs soothing and sympathy. Man spends most of his waking hours in severe studies, in exhausting toils, in grappling with great difficulties, and in enduring the asperities of many coarse and malignant people. To him, how consoling it is to know that there is one spot, his own fireside, and one sanctuary, the heart of his faithful wife, where all is calm and kind. Every virtuous husband, who has a virtuous wife, has often returned home, pressed down, almost beyond endurance, with cares and anxieties, dreading an almost sleepless night. Yet in an hour, the love of his wife and the prattle of his little ones have made him blithe, and reassured him before he was again called to buffet the storms of life. In accordance with this view, Jehovah said: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." Gen. 2:18. While wives need the care and even the caresses of husbands, they are themselves invaluable helps to their partners.

The married pair in many ways help each other. They give mutual counsel in perplexity; they afford to each other the best and safest society; they are the surest guardians of each other's interests; and they rejoice in each other in a manner unknown in any other relation of life. We are here met by the fact often alleged that some marriages are not happy, and that here and there the parties are very miserable. It would be worse than idle to deny that some husbands and some wives are extremely unhappy on account of their matrimonial relations. But does not candor require the admission that many unmarried people are extremely unhappy? Besides, some matches are made merely for the purpose of securing a fortune or some family distinction. In this case the person married is taken as a means to an end. The object is to make an acquisition of name or money. Could the same end be gained free from any encumbrance, it would be much preferred. Others in the choice of a wife regard only personal beauty. That beauty is a desirable quality no man of sense or taste will deny. But that in value it is not comparable to intelligence, good temper, industry, truthfulness, or any of the virtues, is clear to all except the silly. It should also not be forgotten that as some very beautiful flowers have thorns, so it is with some beautiful women. The flattery heaped on lovely women often greatly injures their dispositions. Besides, beauty is a flower that fades—in many cases early, and so all that was loved vanishes away. No one need be surprised at such marriages ending in misery. Erasmus: "Love that has nothing but beauty to keep it in good health, is short-lived, and apt to have many troubles." In other cases there is a total dissimilarity of taste, habit, sentiment, and even principle.

The man is refined and his wife coarse. Some say that a lady may love a man quite inferior in breeding, because she may improve him. But a gentleman cannot love one whose tastes are much inferior to his own. And the wife is so much secluded that commonly she cannot after marriage materially improve her mind or manners. What chance of permanent solid happiness is there for husband and wife, where one loves the ball-room, and the other the sanctuary? or one is ever seeking society, and the other loves home? "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" Some points of dissimilarity do not impair the happiness of a marriage; but where the substantial elements of character are diverse, there cannot be marital bliss. Under the Jewish law an donkey and a heifer might not be put to work at the same plough. Utter unsuitableness is a sure foundation for matrimonial misery.

Another bane of married life is found in intemperance, not always confined to the stronger gender. It is utterly impossible that any virtuous woman should be happy with a drunken husband. Her very love will torment her. It may be said that most unhappy marriages are brought about either by rashness, by refusing good counsel, by marrying to please some third party, by being actuated by wrong motives, or by being moved by senseless impulses and fancies, or by failing to look to God in humble supplication for heavenly guidance. Scripture well says: "A prudent wife is from the Lord." How many look every or arywhere else but to the Lord in such matters!

The subject of unhappy marriages has claimed the attention of many writers. Witherspoon says that the number of unhappy marriages is greatly overestimated; and that we do but deceive ourselves when we suppose others unhappy, because we would be so, if placed in their circumstances. This remark is entitled to great weight. Dean Swift assigns another reason for unhappy marriages, namely the lack of the stronger and more enduring excellences in some females. Johnson says: "When we see the avaricious and crafty taking companions to their tables, and their beds, without any inquiry but after farms and money; or the giddy and thoughtless uniting themselves for life to those whom they have only seen by the light of candles; when parents make agreements for children without inquiring after their consent; when some marry for heirs to disappoint their brothers; and others throw themselves into the arms of those whom they do not love, because they have found themselves rejected where they were more solicitous to please; when some marry because their servants cheat them; some because they squander their own money; some because their houses are pestered with company; some because they will live like other people; and some because they are sick of themselves—we are not so much inclined to wonder that marriage is sometimes unhappy, as that it appears so little loaded with calamity; and cannot but conclude, that society has something in itself eminently agreeable to human nature, when we find its pleasures so great that even the ill choice of a companion can hardly overbalance them. Those, therefore, of the above description, that should rail against matrimony, should be informed, that they are neither to wonder, or repine, that a contract begun on such principles has ended in disappointment." This may suffice for the unhappiness of marriages.

2. Marriage is eminently conducive to the interests of the church of God. When properly regulated by Christian laws and when properly entered into and regarded, it shuts out many and nameless evils, evils everywhere condemned in Scripture, evils always subversive of thrift, good order, quietness and harmony in society. The name of these evils is Legion, for they are many. They are secret and they are open—they torment man and they provoke God. They are insidious and they are impudent. Some of them lead to the utter subversion of States, and all of them impair both bodily and mental energy—waste the health—deprave morals—pollute the mind and banish pure and undefiled religion from any community where they obtain a footing. So that an attempt to introduce the gospel among a people where such things prevail would be as discouraging as to preach the gospel with the worst forms of idolatry and the iron laws of Hindu caste to oppose its progress.

But the prevention of these dire evils is not nearly all the good done to the cause of religion by marriage. For it is only in communities where marriage is properly regarded, that we find ourselves able to make many of the most solemn and moving appeals in behalf of virtue and piety. Who has ever listened to the calls given by the ministers of the gospel to husbands and wives, to parents and children, to brothers and sisters to pray and labor for each other's salvation, or to come, and go with the pious members of their own families to their promised inheritance, and has not felt that here was a chord that might be made to vibrate in such a way that all, who were not "past feeling," must know its power? Moreover, where there is no marriage, there is no family religion. Children in all such cases grow up without proper education. They are not carried to the house of God and by the mild authority, kind instruction, and good example of both the parents, taught to revere the name and ordinances of Jehovah. The longer I live, and the more I see the operation of moral causes, the more am I convinced that next to the pulpit, if not before it, God designs to perpetuate his church and renovate the world by family religion, in the broad sense of that term.

But where the institution and Christian law of marriage are despised and rejected, the domestic altar is never raised, except to sacrifice to devils. Indeed, according to Scripture, the great design of preserving marriage pure, between one man and one woman, was the propagation of true religion throughout the earth. So says the last of the Old Testament prophets. "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth." Mal. 2:15.

3. The state, no less than the church, comes in for inestimable blessings flowing from this institution. If marriage is not properly guarded, population itself will dwindle away, even under the most favorable circumstances of soil, climate, and commerce. The fairest fields and the most thronged cities would in a very few generations become desolate and without inhabitants, if it were not for marriage. Carelessness of the health and lives of children, whose parents are not lawfully married is so well established and so generally confessed, that it is enough to allude to it. Nor is this all. The real prosperity and solid wealth and resistless power of a nation do not depend upon splendid edifices and glittering crowns for the few; but upon the industry, frugality, and thrift of the component parts of an empire. Families make empires. And where are the domestic and social virtues successfully taught and practiced except in families, constituted by lawful marriage?

Visit our almshouses, our work-houses, our jails, our prisons of every description, yes, inquire into the history of the strolling beggars of the land, and what do you find? Here and there is a case of virtuous misfortune. Here and there are the offspring of virtuous parentage; but in an appalling number of cases, the people are themselves those who have in some gross manner violated the law of marriage, or are the offspring of parents who have forgotten or failed to obey it. All men are born with an irksomeness under restraint and government. Men by nature are averse to the controlling of their desires. Government is an artificial state, and yet with the present or any conceivable condition of society, it is necessary to man's well-being. The sooner he learns to obey just authority the better for him, the better for his country.

Where then are the first and most useful lessons of obedience learned? Not in the public assembly, not in the camp, not in the counting-room, not in the neighborhood school, but in the family—the well-ordered family, where the joint and just authority of an honest father and mother subdue the will, and teach important lessons of self-denial. Nor can the state, in the absence of marriage, ever make adequate provision for educating the minds and manners of the young in any way promising much good. Hirelings have neither the patience, nor the tact requisite to develop in an advantageous manner the mental energies of the young, as virtuous parents have. In short, look at this subject as we may, and we find the state deeply concerned to do all in its power to make marriage honorable, as God has made it, to guard it from all abuses, to keep the burdens of government light upon the lower classes, so that the industrious poor may not be prevented from entering the state of marriage at a proper time of life, and, above all, to punish with just severity every infraction of the wholesome laws made to defend the institution from perversion, contempt, or neglect.

5. Let us dwell a little on the duties growing out of this relation. Love is the fulfilling of the law. This remark is peculiarly just in regard to the law of marriage. This love must be the result, not of ecstasies produced by a fervid imagination, but of the warm pulsations of an honest heart. It must be founded in solid esteem. For this there is no substitute. The cares and sorrows of life are so numerous, the trials of temper so many, and the calls for forbearance so frequent, that unless there be ardent, and strong, and mutual affection, life will soon be a weariness. This love must not only be a sentiment, it must be a principle. Then it will be abiding. It must not only be a principle, it must be a sentiment. Then it will be warm and generous. It must be,

"A friendship that like love is warm,
A love like friendship steady."

It is, therefore, an act of great cruelty in parents and friends to urge others to the formation of marriages, when there is lacking this fervent love. Nothing can make amends for deficiencies here. This is the root from which, under the divine blessing, grows up that tree of domestic happiness under whose shade myriads of households rejoice, and whose fruit is better than apples of gold. Proverbs 15:17. Love counts not its sacrifices. It gives all and would give more if it had more to give. This duty is often insisted on in Scripture. "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." "Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." "Husbands, love your wives—even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it." Eph. 5:25, 28; Col. 3:19. Compare Eccl. 9:9. Paul says that one of the duties incumbent on aged pious females is to "teach the young women to love their husbands." Tit. 2:4.

As the parties mutually owe to each other love, so do they fidelity in its highest sense. They are bound sacredly and tenderly to regard each others' rights, and peace, and happiness. 1 Cor. 7:5. Moreover, the husband owes to his wife protection to her person, reputation, health, and comfort. He never fulfils the duties of a husband, who leaves his wife to contend with the adversities of life and steps not forth with the whole strength of his arm to shield her. On the other hand, the wife owes to her husband respect and obedience. On these the Bible insists. Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1. And whether they were openly promised or not at marriage, they are enjoined by God and it is a sin to withhold them. The respect and obedience required are not those of a servant, nor even those of a child, but of a companion, who is yet the weaker vessel. The woman is not the head of the man but the man of the woman. Adam was first formed, then Eve. Husbands and wives owe each other honor in their respective stations. No churl can be a good husband; and no shrew, a good wife. 1 Sam. 25:17; Proverbs 21:19, 25:24. When respect ceases, love and peace generally depart. Husbands and wives, who do their duties, are an honor to each other in fact. Proverbs 12:14, 31:23; 1 Cor. 11:7. But they are both commanded to aim at giving honor to each other. 1 Pet. 3:6, 7. They should also endeavor in all lawful ways to please each other. 1 Cor. 7:33, 34. Husbands and wives should tenderly sympathize with each other, and plead for each other, 1 Sam. 1:8, 35:18-28. The husband should cultivate tenderness.

And the wife should not be cold, but hearty in her endeavors to soothe and please. "It must be the best woman's lot in the world to bind up for the dearest on earth, the wounds which men have inflicted."

6. It is pleasing and not uninstructive to see how men of very diverse characters have felt their happiness increased by marriage. Calvin says of his wife, she was a woman of rare example. After her earthly career had closed, in lamenting her loss, he said of her: "I am separated from the best of companions, who if anything harder could have happened to me, would willingly have been my companion, not only in exile and in poverty, but also in death. While she lived, she was a true help to me in the duties of my office. I have never experienced from her any hindrance, even the smallest."

The following letters passed between Mr. Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts, and his wife, in 1628. The reader will demand no apology for their insertion here. The wife writes first: "My most sweet husband: How dearly welcome your kind letter was to me, I am not able to express. The sweetness of it did much to refresh me. What can be more pleasing to a wife than to hear of her best beloved, and how he is pleased with her poor endeavors? I blush to hear myself commended, knowing my own deficiencies. But it is your love that conceives the best, and makes all things seem better than they are. I wish that I might please you, and that those comforts we have in each other may be daily increased, as far as they may be pleasing to God. I will use the speech to you that Abigail did to David: 'I will be a servant to wash your feet, my Lord.' I will do any service wherein I may please my good husband. I confess I cannot do enough for you, but you are pleased to accept the will for the deed, and rest contented.

"I have many reasons to make me love you, whereof I will now name you two. First, because you love God; and secondly, because you love me. If these two were lacking, all the rest would be eclipsed. But I must leave this discourse and go about my household affairs. I am a bad housewife to remain so long away from them; but I must needs borrow a little time to talk with you a little, my sweetheart. I hope your business draws to an end. It will be but two or three weeks before I see you, though they be long ones. God will bring us together in his good time, for which time I shall pray. Farewell, my good husband, the Lord keep you. Your obedient wife, Margaret Winthrop."

The husband answers. "My good wife: Although I wrote you but last week, yet having so fit an opportunity, I must write to you again; for I do esteem one little short letter of yours (such as the last one was) to be worthy two or three from me. "I began this letter yesterday at two o'clock; thinking to have been at large, but was so taken up with company and business as I could but get hither this morning. It grieves me that I have not liberty to make expressions of my love to you, who are more dear to me than all earthly things; but I will endeavor that my prayers may supply the place of my pen, which will be of use to us both, inasmuch as the favor and blessing of God are better than all things beside.

"I know that you look for troubles here, and when one affliction is over to meet with another; but remember our Savior tells us, 'Be of good comfort, I have overcome the world;' therefore, my sweet wife, raise up your heart, and be not dismayed with the crosses you meet in family affairs, or otherwise, but still fly to Him who will take up your burden for you. Go then on cheerfully in obedience to His will in the course He has set you—peace shall come. I commend you and all to the gracious protection of the Lord. Farewell, my good wife, I kiss and love you, with the kindest affection, and rest your faithful husband, John Winthrop.

Sir James McIntosh thus describes his deceased wife in a letter to a friend: "Allow me, in justice to her memory, to tell you what she was, and what I owed her. I was guided in my choice only by the blind affection of my youth. I found an intelligent companion, and a tender friend, a prudent monitress, the most faithful of wives, and a mother as tender as children ever had the misfortune to lose. I met a woman who by the tender management of my weaknesses gradually corrected the most pernicious of them. She became prudent from affection; and though of the most generous nature, she was taught frugality and economy by her love to me. During the most critical period of my life, she preserved order in my affairs, from the care of which she relieved me. She gently reclaimed me from dissipation; she prompted my weak and irresolute nature; she urged my indolence to all the exertions that have been useful or creditable to me, and she was perpetually at hand to admonish my heedlessness and improvidence. To her I owe whatever I am; and to her whatever I shall be. In her solicitude for my interest, she never for a moment forgot my feelings or my character. Even in her occasional resentment, for which I but too often gave her cause (would to God I could recall those moments,) she had no sullenness nor acrimony. Her feelings were warm and impetuous, but she was placable, tender and constant. Such was she whom I have lost, and I have lost her when her excellent natural sense was improving, after eight years of struggle and distress had bound us fast to each other—when a knowledge of her worth had refined my youthful love into friendship, before age had deprived it of much of its original ardor—I lost her alas! (the, choice of my youth, and the partner of my misfortunes) at a moment when I had a prospect of her sharing my better days."

The following description was written by Burke and presented to Mrs. Burke on the morning of an anniversary of their marriage. It was evidently intended as a description of his wife. It was headed "The Character of Mrs. Burke" "I mean to give you my idea of a woman. If it at all answers an original, I shall be pleased; for if such a person really exists, she must be far superior to my description, and such as I must love too well to be able to paint as I ought. "She is lovely, but it is beauty not arising from features, from complexion, or from shape; she has all three in a high degree, but it is not from these she touches the heart; it is all that sweetness of temper, benevolence, innocence, and sensibility, which a face cannot express, that forms her beauty. She has a face that just raises your attention at first sight; it grows on you every moment, and you wonder it did no more than raise your attention at first. Her eyes have a mild light, but they awe you when she pleases; they command, like a godly man out of office, not by authority, but by virtue. Her features are not exactly regular; that sort of exactness is more to be praised than loved, for it is never animated. Her stature is not tall; she is made to be the admiration of everybody, but the happiness of one. She has all the firmness that does not exclude delicacy; she has all the softness that does not imply weakness. She is always clean without preciseness or affectation. Her gravity is a gentle thoughtfulness that softens the features without discomposing them. She is usually grave. Her smiles are inexpressible. Her voice is a low, soft music; not formed to rule in public assemblies, but to charm those who can distinguish a company from a crowd; it has this advantage, you must come close to hear it. To describe her body, describes her mind; one is the transcript of the other. Her understanding is not shown in the variety of matters it exerts itself on, but in the goodness of the choice she makes. She does not display it so much in saying or doing striking things, as in avoiding such as she ought not to say or do. She discovers the right or wrong of things not by reasoning, but sagacity; most women, and many good ones, have a closeness and something selfish in their dispositions; she has a true generosity of temper; the most extravagant cannot be more unbounded in their liberality, the most cautious in their distribution. No person of so few years can know the world better; no person was ever less corrupted by that knowledge. Her politeness seems rather to flow from a disposition to oblige than from any rules on that subject. She does not run with a girlish eagerness into new friendships, which, as they have no foundation in reason, serve only to multiply and embitter disputes; it is long before she chooses, but then it is fixed forever, and the hours of romantic friendship are not warmer than hers after the lapse of years. As she never disgraces her good nature by severe reflections on anybody, so she never degrades her judgment by immoderate or ill praises, for everything violent is contrary to her gentleness of disposition, and the evenness of her virtue. She has a steady and firm mind, which takes no more from the female character than the solidity of marble does from its polish and luster. She has such virtue as makes us value the truly great of our own gender; she has all the winning graces that make us love even the faults we see in the weak and beautiful of hers."

Even the severe and scathing Reviewer, Lord Jeffrey, felt the softening, cheering power of a wife's love and presence. A few days after the death of his wife, he wrote to his brother thus: "Edinburgh, August 15, 1805. "My Dear John: I am at this moment of all men the most miserable and disconsolate. It is just a week today since my sweet Kitty died in my arms, and left me without joy, or hope, or comfort in this world. Her health had been long very delicate, and during this summer rather more disordered than usual; but we thought it not serious, and looked forward to her complete restoration. She was finally seized with the most excruciating headaches, which ended in an effusion of water on the brain, and sank her into a lamentable stupor, which terminated in death. It is impossible for me to describe to you the feeling of lonely and hopeless misery with which I have since been oppressed. I doted upon her, I believed, more than man ever did on a woman before; and after four years of marriage, was more tenderly attached to her than on the day which made her mine. I took no interest in anything which had not some reference to her, and had no enjoyment away from her, except in thinking what I would have to tell or to show her on my return; and I have never returned to her after half a day's absence, without feeling my heart throb, and my eye brighten, with all the ardour and anxiety of a youthful passion. All the exertions I ever made in the world were for her sake entirely. You know how indolent I was by nature, and how regardless of reputation and fortune. But it was a delight to me to lay these things at the feet of my darling. She had so lively a relish for life too, and so unquenchable and unbroken a hope in the midst of protracted illness and languor, that the stroke which cut it off forever appears equally cruel and unnatural. Though familiar with sickness, she seemed to have nothing to do with death. She always recovered so rapidly, and was so cheerful and affectionate, and playful, that it scarcely entered into my imagination that there could be one sickness from which she would not recover. We had arranged several little projects of amusement for the autumn, and she talked of them, poor thing, with unabated confidence and delight, as long as she was able to talk coherently at all. I have the consolation to think that the short time she passed with me was as happy as love and hope could make it. In spite of her precarious health, she has often assured me that she was the happiest of women, and would not change her condition with any human creature. Indeed we lived in a delightful progress of everything that could contribute to our felicity. Everything was opening and brightening before us. Our circumstances, our society, were rapidly improving, our understandings were expanding, and even our love and confidence in each other increasing from day to day. Now, I have no interest in anything, and no object or motive for being in the world. I wish you had known my Kitty, for I cannot describe her to you, and nobody else knows enough of her. The most peculiar and ennobling part of her character was a high principle of honor, integrity, and generosity, that would have been remarkable in a man, and which I never met with in a woman before. She had no conception of prevaricating, shuffling, or disguising. There was a clear transparency in her soul, without affectation or reserve, which won your implicit confidence, and commanded your respect. Then she was the simplest and most cheerful of human beings; the most unassuming, easy, and affectionate; dignified in her deportment, but affable and engaging in conversation. Her sweetness and cheerfulness in sickness won the hearts of all who came near her. She was adored by her servants, and has been wept for by her physicians, by the chairman who used to carry her, and the tradesmen with whom she dealt. O! my dear John, my heart is very cold and heavy, and my prospect of life every way gloomy and deplorable. I had long been accustomed to place all my notions of happiness in domestic life; and I had found it there, so pure, perfect, and entire, that I can never look for it any where else, or hope for it in any other form. Heaven protect you from the agony it has imposed upon me. Write me soon to say that you are happy, and that you and your Susan will love me. My heart is shut at this time to everything but sorrow, but I think it must soon open to affection. All your friends here are well. I shall write you again soon. Ever, my dear John, most affectionately yours," F. J.

The late lamented Abel P. Upshur, Secretary of State of the United States, thus wrote to the sister of his first wife, then recently deceased: "If there be truth in the promises of Jesus, I do confidently believe that she is an angel in heaven. What kindness were it to withdraw such a being from a scene in which all is peace, and confidence, and joy, to involve her again in the cares, the anxieties, the idle contests and frivolous activity of the world? I can truly say that I derive much comfort from this reflection; other considerations contribute to calm me, but this alone brings with it a sensible consolation. We are assured that in a future state the godly and pious will receive an infinitely more exalted happiness than any this world can afford, and surely none that ever lived can with more confidence claim that reward than she for whom we are mourning. When I analyze my feelings in this affliction, I find that it is for myself that I mourn, and not for her, that I am bewailing the comforts of her society, the cheering light of her countenance, the warm pulse of joy which throbbed for her so actively. Is it not selfishness which makes me regret to surrender these joys as the price of her infinite happiness? On earth I would have given all I possessed to purchase her one hour's exemption from pain, yet I envy her the joys she has taken from me, although they form her passport to endless happiness. Surely I ought to reproach myself that I yield up, even with reluctant consent, the imperfect pleasures of the few years I have to live, when I know that their surrender is necessary to her everlasting good. Besides, Madam, it is true though trite, that she is but removed to a little distance from us, and we are already on the road to meet her again. I am not afraid of this reflection; it is mingled with melancholy, but it is a melancholy of a soothing character. It is certain we are approaching her by daily journeys, nor can we tell how soon the last day's journey sghall be performed. In the meantime, we should persevere with constancy and with cheerful hopes, relying that when we meet her again it will be in a far different scene, that we shall find her happy beyond our natures to imagine how perfectly, that this happiness will be subject to no accident to render it less complete, and that we also may seize hold on it with the strong confidence that it will last forever. Have we not the greatest reason to rejoice and to be grateful that we are permitted to entertain these consoling hopes? How different would be our feelings if we dared not to look beyond the grave, or if in looking beyond it, we were forbidden to contemplate anything but its horrors. I am sure I could not believe without distraction that all that I loved is gone from me forever, that all my life to come must be a contest with despair. And how full of horror would be our feelings if in contemplating this eternity, we could even doubt that she whom we so tenderly loved is enjoying its best rewards. We have certainly much reason to rejoice in the light which has broken in upon the tomb, that in our anguish we are not abandoned to the imperfect consolations of this life that fall surely to her, whose steps never erred. The grave is but the passage to endless felicity. If she had been less godly, these hopes would have presented themselves to us with less strength and fewer consolations, so that in fact, those very excellencies which make us regret her so much afford us the strongest motives for being reconciled to her loss. It is possible that at another time death would have found her less prepared to receive him. As it is, he has set his everlasting seal upon her character, the living will love and revere her memory, and those to whom she was most dear have the consoling consciousness that her summons came before the cares of the world had alienated her from God. It appears to my mind that we ought to derive much strength from these reflections. At all events we must not forget that resignation to the will of God is a duty which none shall be excused from neglecting. To command and to submit is the only reasoning between the Creator and his creatures. Nor, if we consider the matter aright, is resignation as difficult a duty as in our agony we may think it. It is extremely presumptuous in us, who cannot penetrate the issues of one moment that is to come, to question the correctness of His doings, whose eye is over the universe, whose glance is through eternity, and whose goodness is without bounds. If it were not good, would the God of goodness do it? If it were not right, would the God of justice bring it to pass? In the decrees of that Being there can be no caprice, in his ordinances there can be no mutability. He acts by settled laws, which are hid from human scrutiny, but we have the fullest assurance that they are right, and that human wisdom could not alter one of them for the better. We would have ordered this thing differently, and yet, if we could have lifted the veil which hides us from the future, it is perfectly certain that we should have shuddered at the consequences of our weak interference. There are some afflictions which come upon us like a torrent, which bears down and breaks in pieces all the barriers which reason, philosophy and even religion can set up against it. Yet the torrent passes away and imparts in its progress strength and healthy fertility to the soil. It is only in such a soil that the seeds of pious consolation can flourish. To a mind at ease and rejoicing in the world it would be useless to address arguments drawn from beyond the grave. Those only who need such consolations are capable of feeling their force, and it is certain that the heart which has been truly wrung, will find all other consolations a feather in the storm.

"As long as I looked no further than the grave, I saw nothing before me but despair. I have seen the necessity of drawing my consolation from a purer and more exalted source, and I am sincerely grateful to God that he gave me, even for a little while, an example by which I can profit in the day of my distress. While she lived it was habitual with me to refer all my actions to the standard of her judgment and goodness, and if even in secret an impure thought rose in my bosom, her image was present to rebuke me. Madam, she was a being not fitted for this world, and she has taken a flight to a better. Still, however, her example remains with us, and in my bereavement I shall not forget it. It shall be my endeavor so to conduct myself in my affliction as I think will be acceptable, if it be permitted her to bend her regards from heaven on my conduct on earth, to act as far as my less perfect nature will permit me as I think she would have acted under the circumstances."

Solomon has given us the following portraiture of a good wife: "Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life. She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant's ship; she brings her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day's work for her servant girls. She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber. She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. She has no fear of winter for her household because all of them have warm clothes. She quilts her own bedspreads. She dresses like royalty in gowns of finest cloth. Her husband is well known, for he sits in the council meeting with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: "There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!" Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise." Proverbs 31:10-31

Others must judge what proportion of our modern fashionable ladies can be said to be up to Solomon's standard. Have you found many of them seeking wool and flax and working willingly with their hands? Do they rise while it is yet night? How many of them have planted a vineyard with the fruit of their hands? If their candles go not out by night, is it not because they slept most of the day before, or expect to sleep most of the day afterwards? And as to the spindle and the distaff, how few would know these articles if they were to see them. Many cannot show clothes spun and woven at home but they can show hands as soft and white as lilies; for like the lilies they toil not, neither do they spiin. They never make nor sell fine linen, though they buy a good deal of the article with money, to procure which father or husband was expatriated for years, or was obliged to give a mortgage on real estate. They are often highly sentimental over poverty or distress in a novel, but seldom stretch out the hand to the poor and needy. They love to be praised in the gates, even if husband and father are left at home to shift as best they may.

Who would not commend Solomon's portraiture to all his country-women? Although the Bible does not draw at length the character of a good husband, yet in many places it tells as how he should behave towards the wife of his bosom. His character might be thus sketched. However he may appear to others, to his wife he is generous and confiding. While he commands respect, he abhors tyranny, and never breathes the spirit of domination. He does not love to make anyone feel his power, but he rules his house with such gentleness that all, and especially his wife, deplore his occasional absence. His duties may call him abroad, but his own fireside is the chief seat of his delight. He is courteous and benevolent to all, but loves his family with unfailing tenderness. His manners may be unpolished, but his warm affection takes from them all that is unseemly except awkwardness. While he loves the company of his wife, he remembers that human life cannot subsist on doting fondness. He therefore resolutely toils and labors for the comforts required for our frail natures. He knows his own business, yet he is not such a son of Belial that his wife cannot speak to him about any of his affairs. While he encroaches not on her department, he is yet ready to give counsel and aid in any matter that occupies the mind of his partner in life. He bears his full share of domestic cares. He is neither demure, nor frivolous, morose, nor petulant. He may be neither wit, nor humourist, yet he does not dictate, nor dogmatize. He knows when to weep, and when to rejoice. His temper is far removed from suspiciousness. He is not blind to the faults of his wife, but his marital affection covers them all from sight. He suggests improvements and labors to effect them, but not by means of rage or passion. He exemplifies the difference between cold civility, and solid respect. His means may be limited, but he rejoices to have his wife share with him the pleasure of befriending the needy, and advancing the welfare of his race. In all good things he seconds her efforts. He goes with her to the house of God, and often implores Heaven's blessings on her. When she is pleased, he rejoices. In her days of nervous timidity, he neither laughs at her idle fears, nor makes a jest of her sorrows. If he is a king in her eyes, she is a queen in his. However rugged his nature, he is alarmed when first he sees the hectic flush, or other sign of danger; and when he finds she must die, he is more nearly unmanned than ever before. And when she dies, divine cordials are necessary to sustain him. Or, if he dies first, his greatest grief is at leaving her to meet the storms of life alone, and he says, as a great man [Dr. Archibald Alexander] lately fallen in Israel, with great tenderness said to his wife, just before his death: "My dear, one of my last prayers will be that you may have as serene and painless a departure as mine. Are you a happy husband or wife, give thanks to Him who has made you so. Put not on yourself or any mortal, the crown which belongs to God alone.

"Whoever finds a wife, finds a good thing, and obtains favor of the Lord." Proverbs 18:22.

7. It is the obvious duty of all men to use their best endeavors to maintain good laws on the subject of marriage. In some places they are already enacted; let them be enforced. As a civil institution, marriage is subject to municipal regulations. As appointed by God, it is subject to divine laws. Among the influences exceedingly destructive to the right observance of the seventh commandment may be named

1. Theatrical Entertainments. It is generally conceded that these lead to expensive habits. The very constitution of the whole system demands large sums of money. The price of tickets of admission declares how this matter stands. All people know how fascinating these exhibitions are. He who has acquired a taste for them will forego the luxury of relieving even the widow and the fatherless; yes, he will neglect his business, often deprive himself of the means of paying his just debts, and in some cases, consent to subject himself and his family to a scanty mode of living, rather than fail of these entertainments. It is also a well-known fact, that young men, in our large cities, when once brought within the suction of this mighty vortex, will not flee from it, even though, in many cases, their only financial means for gratifying their fondness for a favorite amusement, must be money taken from the chests of their employers. At first they fully intend to return it; but the means of restitution not coming into their possession, and the desire for amusement continually gaining strength, they finally go further, and take money without either the purpose or prospect of refunding it. Thus many young men commence thieves. Of nine young men and lads found guilty of felony, five stole to get the means of going to the theater. Of seven others, two purloined money to buy lottery tickets, and three to buy tickets to attend the circus.

Theatrical entertainments also tempt to dissipation and intemperance. These vices are known to be exceedingly expensive; but we wish to speak of them in other respects. In the first place, a very frequent preparation for attendance at theaters and such places, is indulgence, to some degree in stimulating drink. Then, these places of resort, almost without exception, are supplied with one or more bars, at which liquors of every tempting variety are sold; and what is more common, after the excitement of a protracted sitting at the theater, than a certain sensation of lassitude and exhaustion, tempting to the use of additional stimulus. This leads to the remark, that the company which a man finds at these places, is tempting; and he who goes into it is in danger of ruin. All observation unites with revelation in declaring, that he who walks with wise men shall be wise, but the companion of fools shall be destroyed.

By common consent, in all Christian communities, ministers of the gospel, and professors of serious godliness, venture not to these entertainments, on pain of witnessing all that they deem sacred exposed to the ribaldry of the profane. It will also cost all that the fairest female reputation is worth, for its possessor to be seen, even for one minute, in the gallery of a theater; and yet it does not remain unvisited by the sons, and brothers, and husbands, and fathers, of many an humble, and pious, and modest female. In this vortex of vice, the first step is to the theater, the next to the bar, the next to lewd company, the next to the brothel, the next to disease, the next to death, and the last to HELL.

Attendance at the theater is also a great waste of time. How much time is taken up first in thinking and talking about it! how much in attending it! and how much in thoughts and remarks upon what has been seen and heard! If "minutes make the years," how soon will he have consumed years of time, who wastes hundreds of minutes nightly at the place of amusement! Allowing a man to spend but six hours in each week at the theater, for ten years, he will thus consume, of waking hours, one hundred and thirty days, equal, at least, to two hundred days of ordinary time, a period long enough to pay a visit to London and Paris, and spend sixty-five days in each; and this, too, at a cost of money sufficient to pay one's expenses in performing the tour of Europe.

Neither must it be forgotten that the theater is not under the control of play-writers, nor of play-actors, nor of the refined and chaste part of the audience. The exhibitions of the stage are such as to familiarize and even encourage wicked and sinful inclinations and dispositions, and entirely to leave unsung the praises of sobriety, temperance, Christian watchfulness, gospel humility, evangelical penitence, self-denial, heavenly-mindedness, and indeed every Christian virtue.

Let me here present the thoughts of a writer in the Port-Royal in France. The author is the Prince of Conti. He says: "It is so true that plays are almost always a representation of wicked passions, that the most part of Christian virtues are incapable of appearing on the stage. Silence, patience, moderation, wisdom, poverty, repentance, are no virtues the representation of which can divert the spectators; and, above all, we never hear humility spoken of, and the bearing of injuries. There must be something great and renowned, according to men, or at least something lively and animated which is not met with in Christian gravity and wisdom; and therefore those who have been desirous to introduce holy men and women upon the stage, have been forced to make them appear proud, and to make them utter discourses more proper for the ancient Roman heroes, than for saints and martyrs."

Now, when we place ourselves in such circumstances as continually to fill our minds with images of viciousness, must we not be tempted first to endure, then to admire, then to imitate? Does not all experience corroborate this view? The pious Psalmist said: "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of those who turn aside." Psalm 101:3. Another scripture declares that "the thought of foolishness is sin." Proverbs 24:9. Shall frequenters of theatrical entertainments then be innocent? Another portion of scripture speaks of "vain imaginations" as marks of a wicked character. Romans 1:21. Are not theaters and such places the very nurseries of vain imaginations? "Lead us not into temptation." Another passage of scripture requires us to avoid all "coarse and foolish talking or crude joking which are not suitable," or becoming virtuous character. Eph. 5:4.

How any frequenter of theaters, circuses, etc., can avoid oft-repeated violations or powerful inducements to violations of this precept, requires more ingenuity to discover than any mortal has ever yet manifested. Indeed this precept forms no part of the moral code of devotees of theatrical diversions and amusements. These general views derive considerable strength from the general impression, that attendance on these amusements is tempting to some people. For the young and inexperienced to go without some special safeguard is generally confessed to be unsafe. Men show their candid and real judgments on this subject, when their apprentices, clerks and wards acquire a passion for this amusement.

That the foregoing views are not confined to any one person or age, it is very easy to show by a reference to the views expressed by historians, biographers, philosophers, poets, moralists and religionists, of almost every nation and grade. We shall quote them as witnesses, whose conspiring testimony, mightily strengthened and confirmed by their discordance on almost every other subject, is conclusive proof of their correctness on this. At Athens, where the stage was first known, both tragedy and comedy were soon abolished, by public authority because judged injurious to the state. The Greek philosophers speak the same language. Plato says: "Plays raise the passions, and pervert the use of them: and, of consequence are dangerous to morality." Aristotle says: "The seeing of comedies ought to be forbidden to young people, until age and discipline have made them proof against debauchery." It is thought in our day that there are some old men who are not proof against debauchery. Ought not they to stay away from the theater? The Romans did to a limited extent allow of theaters, yet did they so much dread their prevalence that no public theater was allowed to remain standing more than a certain number of days. Even the great theater erected by Scaurus, which cost more than four and a half million dollars, was speedily taken down. Pompey the Great was the first who had influence sufficient to continue a theater. Tacitus, the great Roman historian, says: "The German women were guarded against danger and preserved their purity by having no play-houses among them." Ovid, in a grave work addressed to Augustus, advises the suppression of theatrical amusements as a grand source of corruption. Indeed, Guevara says, that a virtuous prince or emperor was known by his banishing from his presence players, jesters and jugglers; and that a wicked prince was known by his retaining such. Many of even the Roman emperors declared the scenes of the stage to be "unbecoming exercises and seductive arts which very much corrupted and disgraced the state, and were seminaries of all vices and intolerable mischiefs in the commonwealth."

Seneca, the moralist, says: "Nothing is so destructive (damnosum) of godly manners or morals as attendance on the stage." Titus Livy, the accomplished Roman historian, in his history thrice mentions the theater. In the first instance he says: "It commenced with the purpose of aiding in the worship of the devils." In the next instance he calls it a "folly, which had grown to an intolerable height of madness." In the third instance he says the stage had its origin in purposes of superstitious devotions. Augustine agrees with Livy in making the same statement of its origin. Juvenal says that in his time "a man could not find one chaste woman whom he might safely love as his wife in all the play-house, and that all who frequent stage-plays are infamous, and forfeit their good names."

That Christians ought not, in the judgment of good men of past days, to attend theaters, is very clear. One to whom America is vastly indebted said many years ago: "For many ages there was no debate on it at all. There were players, but they did not pretend to be Christians themselves, and they had neither countenance nor support from any who did." In the Apostolic Constitutions, stage-players and actors are enumerated among those who are not to be admitted to baptism. All the ancient forms of baptism, written after the Apostolic Constitutions, required a renunciation of all such things. Individual writers have also from the early ages of Christianity borne a decided testimony on this subject.

Cyprian says: "The Scripture has everlastingly condemned all sorts of such spectacles and stage-plays." In another place he styles theaters "the stews of public chastity, the mastership of obscenity, which teach those sins in public. It is not lawful for faithful Christians, yes, it is altogether unlawful to be present at these plays." Elsewhere he says: "She that perchance comes a chaste woman to the play, goes away with stained chastity." Tertullian says that "the heathen did chiefly discern who were infidels and who Christians, by the latter abandoning all stage-plays." In another place he says: "We Christians renounce your spectacles and stage-plays; we have nothing at all to do with the fury of your circus, and the dishonesty of the theatre—we come not to your plays." In another place he says: "We who compute our nobility not by blood, but by our manners, do with good reason renounce your sinful pleasures, pomps and spectacles, whose original with respect to their sacredness, and whose pernicious allurements to sin, we both alike condemn. For in your Circensian games, who can but abhor the madness of the people clamoring on different sides? And as for your gladiatorian diversions, who can sit with ease in that school of murder? And for your theaters, there also the extravagance is not less, but the lewdness longer. For one while the mimic either recites adulteries or exhibits them; another while the lascivious actor plays the gallant and kindles the passion he feigns. He likewise vilifies your gods by personating their rapes, sighs and discords. And so by well-dissembled sorrow and hypocritical gestures, he sets you a crying to the life. Thus are you mad upon murder in good earnest, and yet, forsooth, cannot bear it in fable without a tear."

Clemens Alexandrinus calls "stage-plays, comedies, and amorous songs, teachers of adulteries and defilers of men's ears with fornications;" and says: "Not only the use, the sight, the hearing, but the very memory of stage plays should be abolished." In another place he directs Christian youths "not to permit their pedagogues to lead them to plays or theaters, because they are the occasion of lewdness, and wicked counsel is plotted at them."

How much like the modern theatre. "Wicked counsel is plotted there," such as is peculiarly dangerous to young men! Origen says "Christians must not lift up their eyes to stage-plays, the pleasurable delights of polluted eyes." Lactantius says: "These interludes with which men are delighted, and which they willingly attend, are wholly to be abolished from among us, because they are the greatest instigations to vice, and the most powerful instruments to corrupt men's minds." Gregory Nazianzen calls "stage-players the servants of lewdness, and stage-plays the dishonorable, unseemly instructions of lascivious men, who repute nothing filthy but modesty." He also calls "play-houses the lascivious shops of all filthiness and impurity." Ambrose calls "stage-plays spectacles of vanity," and exhorts "Christians to turn away from them." Augustine says that "stage-plays are the subverters of goodness and honesty, the destroyers of all modesty and chastity, the arts of mischievous villanies which even modest pagans did blush to behold." In another place he calls them "the cages of uncleanness, the public profession of wickedness." Epiphanius says, "that apostolic church does reprobate and forbid all theaters, stageplays, and all such like heathenish practices."

Chrysostom says: "I wish the theaters and play-houses were all thrown down, though as to us (Christians) they lay desolate and ruined long ago." "Nothing," says he, "brings the oracles and ordinances of God into such contempt as admiring and attending stage-plays. Neither sacraments nor other ordinances of God, will do a man any good, so long as he frequents stage-plays." Bernard says: "All true soldiers of Jesus Christ abominate and reject all stage-plays, as vanities and false frenzies."

These testimonies of individuals are fully corroborated by the ancient synods or councils, which did often prohibit, condemn and reprobate, all sorts of stage-plays; and appoint to excommunication from the visible church all who attended them. The Eliberine council in Spain, in A. D. 305, the council at Arles in France, in A. D. 314, the council held in the same place, in A. D. 326, the third council of Carthage, in A. D. 397, the council of Hippo, in A. D. 393, the great African council in A. D. 408, the great council at Constantinople, in A. D. 680, and the great council in the same place, in A. D. 692, did severally and solemnly condemn everything belonging to theatrical exhibitions of every description. Modern divines and synods have been as little divided on this matter, as on any other subject of Christian practice. Let a few men speak for themselves. Archbishop Ussher says: "Stage-plays offend against the seventh commandment in many ways together—in the abuse of apparel, tongue, eyes, countenance, gestures, and almost all parts of the body; therefore they that go to see such sights, and hear such words, show their neglect of Christian duty, and their carelessness in sinning, whereas they willingly commit themselves to the snare of the devil." Collier says: "Nothing has done more to debauch the age in which we live than the stage-poets and the play-house." Tillotson says: "The playhouse is the devil's chapel, a nursery of licentiousness and vice; a recreation which ought not to be allowed among a civilized, much less a Christian people." Andrew Fuller says: "The introduction of so large a portion of heathen mythology into the songs and other entertainments of the stage, sufficiently shows the bias of people's hearts. The house of God gives them no pleasure; but the resurrection of the obscenities, intrigues and bacchanalian revels of the old heathens, affords them exquisite delight." The Synod held at Rochelle, in A. D. 1571, unanimously voted that "Congregations shall be admonished by their ministers seriously to reprehend and suppress all dances, mummeries and interludes; and it shall not be lawful for any Christian to act or be present at any comedies, tragedies, plays, interludes, or any other such sports, either in public or in private chambers, considering that they have always been opposed, condemned and suppressed, in and by the church, as bringing along with them the corruption of godly manners, especially when the Holy Scripture is profaned, which is not delivered to be acted or played, but only to be preached."

The Westminster Assembly numbers among the violations of the seventh commandment "all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections, all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereto, immodest apparel, unchaste company, lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage-plays, and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others." But not only have the ancient heathens and the divines and councils of the church in every age condemned these things. All classes of moderns have borne their testimony in the same way.

Dymond says: "The night of a play is the harvest time of iniquity, where the profligate and the sensual put in their sickles and reap." Sir John Hawkins, the biographer of Dr. Johnson, and an infidel, observes: "Although it is said of plays that they teach morality; and of the stage that it is the mirror of human life, these assertions are mere declamation, and have no foundation in truth or experience. On the contrary, a play-house and the regions about it are the very hot-beds of vice." Lord Kaimes, a skeptic, says: "It requires not time nor much thought to discover the poisonous influence of such plays, where the chief characters are decked out with every vice in fashion, however gross, and where their deformities are carefully disguised under the embellishments of wit, sprightliness and good humor." Dr. Johnson, speaking of Collier's view of the immorality and profaneness of the English stage, says: "The wise and the pious caught the alarm, and the nation wondered that it had allowed irreligion and licentiousness to be openly taught at the public charge." Dryden, a Catholic, acknowledged the propriety of Collier's remarks, and published his repentance for the licentiousness with which he himself had written. Rousseau, the infidel, has said some things I would not dare to say, namely, "It is impossible that an establishment (a theatre at Geneva) so contrary to our ancient manners can be generally applauded. How many generous citizens will see with indignation this monument of luxury and immorality raise itself upon our ancient simplicity! Where is the imprudent mother that would dare to carry her daughter to this dangerous school? And what respectable woman would not think herself dishonored in going there?"

"What the stage might be," says Mrs. Hannah More, "under another, and an imaginary state of things, it is not very easy for us to know, and therefore not very important to inquire. Nor is it, indeed, the soundest logic to argue on the possible goodness of a thing, which in the present circumstances of society is doing positive evil, from the imagined good that thing might be conjectured to produce in a supposed state of unattainable improvement."

That there is nothing in theatrical entertainments inconsistent with the wildest excesses, was abundantly illustrated in the French Revolution, near the close of the 18th century. Speaking of the state of things in Paris, Edmund Burke says: "While courts of justice were thrust out by Jacobin tribunals, and silent churches were only the funeral monuments of departed religion, there were no fewer than twenty-eight theaters, great and small, most of them kept open at the public expense, and all of them crowded every night. Among the gaunt, haggard forms of famine and nakedness; amidst the yells of murder, the tears of affliction, and the cries of despair; the song and the dance, the mimic scene and the buffoon laughter went on as regularly as in the mirthful hour of festive peace. The society of Paris was like a den of outlaws upon a doubtful frontier, a lewd tavern for the revels and debauches of banditti, assassins and paramours—filled with licentious and blasphemous songs, proper to their brutal and hardened course of life."

And will not every American heed the following testimony? In Congress, October 12th, 1778: "Whereas, true religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness: Resolved, that it be, and is hereby earnestly recommended to the several States to take the most effectual means for the encouragement thereof, and for the suppressing of Theatrical entertainments, horse-racing, gaming, and such other diversions, as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners." Extract from the Minutes.

But let us look at the effect of stage-plays upon those who are most affected by them. Reference is had to the players themselves. Tertullian says: "The heathens themselves marked actors and stageplayers with infamy, and excluded them from all honors and dignity." Augustine says: "Men reject from the advantages of good society, and from all honors, the actors of the poetic fables and stageplayers." Rousseau says: "In all countries the profession of a player is dishonorable, and those who exercise it are everywhere despised." Witherspoon says: "Even those who are fondest of theatrical amusements, do yet notwithstanding esteem the employment of actors a base and sordid profession. Their character has been infamous in all ages, just a living copy of that vanity, obscenity and impiety, which is to be found in the pieces which they represent." Thus also a French writer of some note during the reign of wickedness in that land, near the close of the last century, says: "It must appear very surprising, that even down to the expiration of the French monarchy, there was a character of disgrace affixed to the profession of a player, especially when compared with the kindred profession of preacher or pleader." This same language was used in lamentation by one of our oldest journals forty years ago.

A modern writer asks a question which each man can answer or not at his pleasure: "Is there any family of rank or high standing that would not feel degraded by a marriage alliance with a stage-player?" Wilberforce says: "It is an undeniable fact, for the truth of which we may safely appeal to every age and nation, that the situation of the performers, particularly those of the female gender, is remarkably unfavorable to the maintenance and growth of the pious and moral principle, and of course highly dangerous to their eternal interests." Dymond says: "If I take my seat in the theatre, I have paid three or four shillings as an inducement to a number of people to subject their principles to extreme danger—and the defense which I make is, that I am amused by it. Now we affirm that this defense is invalid."

Even the famous Mrs. Frances Ann Butler says in her journal: "Acting is the very lowest of the arts"... "I acted like a wretch of course; how could I do otherwise".. "What a mass of wretched mumming mimickry acting is"... "How I do loathe my most impotent and unpoetical craft." Surely a late poet was fully justified when he said: "The theatre was, from the very first, The favorite haunt of sin, though honest men, Some very honest, wise and worthy men, Maintained it might be turned to good account: And so perhaps it might, but never was. From first to last it was an evil place."

All these testimonies, gathered from pagans, infidels, Christians, laity, clergy, poets, statesmen, historians, philosophers, councils, and our national congress, have been presented for the purpose of showing what these entertainments have been in every age, as they have been regularly handed down to us, and for the purpose of developing in a satisfactory manner the peculiar vices which are thus nourished. No man can properly object to the testimonies cited, because, be his views what they may in morals, here is evidence that the theatre is an "evil place." There is no method by which the force of these testimonies could be destroyed, except by showing that the theatre is now in an improved condition that it is really reformed. Yet that it has NOT changed for the better, is manifest from the complaints made in the journals of the day—the very journals that are crowded with advertisements and notices respecting plays, and therefore cannot be suspected of being righteous overmuch.

2. Divorce. "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32. The subject of divorce claims increasing attention. In this age and country, we are inclined to too great readiness to legal separation of husband and wife. Let us beware that we do not follow the sad example of revolutionary France in this matter. Gregoire, speaking of the statute of divorce said: "This law will soon ruin the whole nation." And yet it is a great mistake to suppose that we uphold virtue by adopting rules on this subject more strict than those laid down in Scripture. Our Lord explicitly states that infidelity to the marriage vow is a sufficient cause of a divorce. Matt. 5:31, 32. This case is perfectly clear. Another case clearly settled by the apostle according to the general understanding of the Christian world is that of willful desertion; where one party or the other persistently refuses to perform the duties of the relation. 1 Cor. 7:15.

Some years ago, a youthful lady was married to a man considerably older than herself. He had property; she had none. She told her friends that she married him for his money; but to him she was obliging. Very soon after marriage, she attempted to pour melted lead into his ear while he was asleep. His petition for a legal separation was promptly granted. Perhaps few intelligent people will doubt the morality of that divorce. A willful and deliberate attempt at murder is surely a crime of as high a grade as either of the others mentioned. The mode of reasoning on this subject is this: If for a minor offence, utterly subverting the design of marriage, a divorce is lawful, surely it is so for a greater offence against the same person.

3. Incest. This unnatural sin may be committed even under the forms of law. It is not proposed here to discuss it at length; but to state that the understanding of the Christian world has long been that the law of incest laid down in the 18th chapter of Leviticus is still binding. The only other hint of any rule directing us on this subject is found in I Cor. 5:1, where without marriage, incest was committed. Of late years there has been manifested a disposition to set aside the law of incest, given in Lev. 18. But let men remember that if the rules there given be not binding, the whole world is left at large, without any law of God prohibiting even brother and sister from marrying.

4. This Precept is Comprehensive. This commandment, like all the rest, is spiritual, and extends to the thoughts of the heart. Our Savior put this point beyond all doubt in his sermon on the Mount. "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28. We must therefore maintain purity in body and behavior, in mind, in feeling, in words and in conduct. 1 Thess. 4:4, 5, Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6. This precept forbids unchaste looks, unchaste company, and immodest apparel. "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl." Job 31:1; 1 Cor. 5:9; 1 Tim. 2:9: 2 Pet. 2:14. It requires us studiously to avoid whatever may lead to impurity of heart or of life. Proverbs 5:8. The venerable Thomas Scott, writing on this commandment, says, "Under the word lasciviousness, various transgressions are denoted, which cannot be mentioned without offence; and everything, which does not comport with the spirit of marriage, though sanctioned by that name, violates the spiritual meaning of the prohibition. All impure conversation, imaginations, or desires, are likewise condemned by this law. Writing, reading, publishing, vending, or circulating obscene books; exposing to view indecent pictures or statues, or whatever else may excite men's passions, must partake of the same guilt: and wit, elegance, and ingenuity only increase the mischief, wherever the specious poison is administered. All the arts of dress, motion, or demeanor, which form temptations to heedless youth; with all those blandishments, insinuations, amorous looks and words, which subserve seduction, fall under the same censure. In short, the commandment requires the utmost purity, both of body and soul, in secret as well as before men; with a holy indifference to animal indulgences, and the strictest government of all the appetites, senses, and passions; and it enjoins the desire and endeavor of preserving the same disposition and behavior in all others, as far as we have it in our power."

The following things are clear.

1. The language of Scripture concerning the breaches of this commandment is exceedingly well-suited to alarm any guilty soul. It says, "This is an heinous crime; yes, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. For it is a fire which consumes to destruction." Job 31:11, 12.

2. All uncleanness, even of mind, is contrary to God. "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

3. All impurity is entirely contrary to the Christian profession. "God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." 1 Thess. 4:7. "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Ephesians 5:3-4

4. All violations of this commandment are signs of a depraved nature. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, etc." Gal. 5:19.

5. God calls upon us to put to death all vile affections. "Mortify your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, etc., etc." Col. 3:5. 6. The Scriptures tell us of the debasing and ruining effects of this sin on those who fall under its power. "But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away." Proverbs 6:32, 33. Compare Proverbs 7:22.

7. They further declare that it leads to general irreligion. "Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart." Hos. 4:11; Eph. 4:18, 19.

8. Good writers have dwelt much on the heinousness of those acts which transgress this commandment. They especially notice the fact that two souls are murdered at once. Hopkins says: "Suppose that God should vouchsafe you repentance unto life; yet are you sure that his justice and severity will not harden the other in this sin, to which you have been the author and persuader?"

9. Everywhere the Scriptures declare the reigning power of this sin to be an infallible token of coming perdition. "This you know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Eph. 5:5. Compare Heb. 13:4; Rev. 21:8, 22:15. There is no room for doubting that he who dies impenitent for violations of the seventh commandment, goes to an undone eternity.

5. Beware of Sins Against this Precept. The following thoughts may suggest rules and motives that may be helpful in enabling us to avoid violations of this precept.

1. The time is short, and eternity is near. The Judge stands before the door. Let every man remember that he is mortal. Let those that have wives be as though they had none; and those that rejoice as those that rejoiced not; for the fashion of this world passes away.

2. In all things endeavor to be temperate and moderate. Ask yourself, will I approve of my present conduct, when called to give up my last account?

3. Remember that the Lord is omniscient. "You God, see me," is a good motto for all occasions.

4. Remember that no mortal ever had exaggerated views of the evil of sin. It burns to the lowest hell. The sweeter the unlawful indulgence to our carnal nature—the bitterer will be the cup of repentance or of indignation put into our hands.

5. Let each one remember his own weakness. None but God can preserve any man from falling into the worst of sins. Our strength is nothing. All human resolutions unsupported by divine grace, are like fences of snow before a burning sun. When temptation comes, they soon melt away.

6. Our great business should be to obtain thorough renewal of nature. Without this, we have no guaranty that we may not be overcome at any moment. Let every man cry, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Augustine found regeneration the only remedy for his wickedness, and so have millions of others.

7. Let each one continually set before him the bright and blessed example of our Lord Jesus Christ, and let us dwell much on his amazing sufferings in our behalf. If our sins are ever effectually mortified—we must nail them to the cross of Christ.