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of men were proportionally improved. To the views of the statesman were no longer to be sacrificed the charities of household and of heart. Sensuality was checked. Libertinism was abashed. The spectacles of debauchery and riot were discountenanced. Bacchus no longer raised his thyrsis on the hills. The rabble rout of the Bona Dea was no longer led by appropriate priests through the streets of the cities: The honour and the fidelity of the marriage bed were considered in their consequences, as essential to the order and happiness of life ; and the young, the beautiful, and the rich, instead of surrendering themselves to the vile enjoyments of sanguinary exhibitions, or wantoning in the train of devotional processions, cherished the reserve and delicacy of the sex in the quiet observance of domestic duty, or mingled with domestic enjoyments the charities due to the sick, the aged, and the poor.
The imperial Constantine demonstrated by his laws the sincerity of his conyersion to this new re: ligion. He had witnessed the humanizing effects of the gospel which he had embraced ; and had not uselessly compared the defective institutions of the Pagan hymen, with the simple but salutary law of Christian marriage. The decrees of previous legis: lators, on the subject of adultery and divorce, were accordingly ánnulled ; and the virtue or policy of the monarch adopted the institution which was so well calculated to improve the morals and manners of his people,
All the nations of modern Europe have respected like him the laws of marriage and of divorce, which were announced by Christ and his apostles. They have, in many instances, been guilty of error, and in some, have promoted the evils which it was their object to repress. But their most defective laws for the regulation or sanction of the marriage union, are unequivocally of a less pernicious character, than the most applauded ordinances, for the same purpose, of Greece and Italy; and they have abundantly testified by their regulations how fully they were convinced of the wisdom with which the union of marriage has been guarded, and sanctioned, and sanctified, in the pages of the Gospel.
If that wisdom, in its influence, may not yet have accomplished every thing, it has accomplished much. There are still examples enough of dissolute conduct; and there may yet be some to decry or to sneer at the institution of Christian marriage. But a revolution has taken place evidently favourable to human improvement. The philosopher and the statesman no longer utter the degrading theories, on the intercourse of the sexes, which were so often and so publicly heard at Athens, at Sparta, and at Rome; and the scandals of libertinism and of divorce, which were so unblushingly avowed by the highest characters of former days, are now neither vindicated nor acknowledged by any man who, in the slightest degree, respects society and himself
. On the contrary, a reserve and decency favourable to virtue are every where required. The indignation or contempt of all the respectable classes of life would be excited by the open utterance of an impurity either in speech or writing; and Solon, and Socrates, and Plato, as well as many of the sages and poets of Rome, frequently addressed their age, accomplished as it was, with a grossness and licence of language which would now be scarcely
attempted or tolerated by the last and lowest of mankind.
That the purity of Christian doctrines has thus contributed to the reformation of public manners, and, wherever it has reached, introduced into public and private life a reserve and delicacy unknown in former times, will scarcely be denied. But let us trace this spirit of the gospel to the scene in which it more especially operates. Let us proceed to the respectable household of the husband and the wife who are conscious of their duty, and have learned to value as they ought what may be termed the new covenant of marriage, and examine its effects in the picture which is there exhibited. Instead of the suspicions and degradations which, under other laws, mingled with and tainted the enjoyments of domestic
intercourse, we discover peace, order, harmony, and - love. Instead of the tyrant in the exercise of despotism, a or the drudge in the degradation of dependence, we
behold the husband cherishing and rejoicing in the virtues of his wife; and the wife paying the merited tribute of respect and affection to her husband, resting in happiness and honour among her family, administering the morality of her example to those around her, and circling her happy hearth with all the blessings of the domestic charities. We seem to dwell in the abiding place of pleasures refined and sweet” than the best of those which can be found in the train of fashion and of the world. And a higher and nobler friendship, a more contented and more cordial union; an esteem confirming love; a love heightening esteem; a reciprocity of aid and trust
augments the joys of prosperous life, and gilds and brightens the darkness of adversity; a com
munity of heart which finds its highest-happiness in a community of blessings, attest to us the influence and the power of those precepts which have limited the authority of one sex to restore its dignity to the other, and, by the wholesome interposition of a just and equal restraint, have augmented at once the virtue and the felicity of both.
All nations have acknowledged a future state-Views of the Greeks
The realms of the shades visited by the Grecian heroes-Details of the poets—Homer's evocation of the ghosts-Their appetite for blood-Earthly passions and discontents--Reward scantily conferred-Retribution abundant, but not always equitable—No felicity for the good - Fabulous punishment of the wicked-VirgilInimitable description of the entrance into hell-Various regionsTheir inhabitants-Tartarus—The surrounding and fiery deluge of Phlegethon —Terrific punishments-Elysium-Poetical embellishments-Meads, groves, streams-Insipid enjoyments-Continued predominance of earthly passions and desires-Moral estimate-Violation of all probability and justice by the poet-The terrors of his ghosts — Their cold and languid silence – Their mangled or mutilated limbs-Their unspiritual character - Their unimproved existence-Philosophy of Virgil in his views of hell Ambiguous and obscure-Purgation preparatory to Elysium--Elysium to be succeeded, after a thousand years, by a state of transmigration—The change unaccounted for Philosophers of Greece and Rome–Various and contradictory opinions on the nature of the soul - Doctrine of Pythagoras and of Plato-Their metempsychosis—The three-fold nature of the soul—The soul an emanation from God, and to return, after due purifications in its earthly state, to its original source—Contrudiction and absurdity of these tenets --Socrates - His uncertainty and doubts-General scepticism of the learned arowed and diffused.
THE tenet of a future state has been embraced
by every nation of the earth. It remained not to be diffused by the reasonings of the philosopher, or the enunciations of the legislator. The ignorant