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a thousand innocent gratifications may be denied, and a thousand hardships imposed, without any violation of national laws. Life may be imbittered with hourly vexation; and weeks, months, and years be lingered out in misery, without any legal cause of separation, or possibility of judicial redress. Perhaps, no sharper anguish is felt than that which cannot be complained of, nor any greater cruelties inflicted than some which no human authority can relieve.
That marriage itself, an institution designed only for the promotion of happiness, and for the relief of the disappointments, anxieties, and distresses, to which we are subject in our present state, does not always produce the effects for which it was appointed ; that it sometimes condenses the gloom which it was intended to dispel, and increases the weight which was expected to be made lighter by it, must, however unwillingly, be yet acknowledged.
It is to be considered to what causes, effects so unexpected and unpleasing, so contrary to the end of the institution, and so unlikely to arise from it, are to be attributed: it is necessary to inquire, whether those that are thus unhappy, are to impute their misery to any other cause than their own folly, and to the neglect of those duties, which prudence and religion equally require.
This inquiry may not only be of use in stating and explaining the duties of the marriage state, but may contribute to free it from licentious misrepresentations and weak objections, which, indeed, can have little force upon minds not already adapted to receive impressions from them, by ha. bits of debauchery ; but which, when they coope
rate with lewdness, intemperance, and vanity; when they are proposed to an understanding naturally weak, and made yet weaker by luxury and sloth, by an implicit resignation to reigning follies, and an habitual compliance with every appetite ; may, at least, add strength to prejudices, to support an opinion already favoured ; and, perhaps, hinder conviction, or, at least, retard it.
It may, indeed, be asserted, to the honour of marriage, that it has few adversaries among men, either distinguished for their abilities or eminent for their virtue. Those who have assumed the province of attacking it, of overturning the constitution of the world, of encountering the authority of the wisest legislators, from whom it has received the highest sanction of human wisdom; and subverting the maxims of the most flourishing states, in which it has been dignified with honours and promoted with immunities; those who have undertaken the task of contending with reason and experience, with earth and with heaven, are men who seem generally not selected by nature for great attempts or difficult undertakings : they are, for the most part, such as owe not their determinations to their arguments, but their arguments to their determinations; disputants, animated, not by a consciousness of truth, but by the number of their ad. herents; and heated, not with zeal for the right, but with the rage of licentiousness and impatience of restraint. And, perhaps, to the sober, the understanding, and the pious, it may be sufficient to remark, that religion and marriage hare the same enemies.
indeed, some in other communions of
the Christian church, who censure marriage upon different motives, and prefer celibacy to a state more immediately devoted to the honour of God, and the regular and assiduous practice of the duties of religioa; and have recommended vows of abstinence, no where commanded in Scripture, and imposed restraints upon lawful desires; of which, it is easy to judge how well they are adapted to the present state of human nature, by the frequent violation of them, even in those societies where they are voluntarily incurred, and where no vigilance is omitted to secure the observation of them.
But the authors of these rigorous and unnatural schemes of life, though certainly misled by false notions of holiness, and perverted conceptions of the duties of our religion, have, at least, the merit of mistaken endeavours to promote virtue, and must be allowed to have reasoned, at least, with some degree of probability, in vindication of their conduct. They were, generally, persons of piety, and sometimes of knowledge; and are, therefore, not to be confounded with the fool, the drunkard, and the libertine. They who decline marriage, for the sake of a more severe and mortified life, are surely to be distinguished from those who condemn it as too rigorous a confinement, and wish the abolition of it in favour of boundless voluptuousness and licensed debauchery.
Perhaps, even the errors of mistaken goodness inay be rectified, and the prejudices surmounted, by deliberate attention to the nature of the institution; and certainly, the calumnies of wickedness may be, by the same means, confuted, though its clamours may not be silenced; since commonly, in debates like this, confutation and conviction are very distant from each other. For that nothing but vice or folly obstructs the happiness of a married life, may be made evident by examining,
First, the nature and end of marriage.
Secondly, the means by which that end is to be obtained.
First, the nature and end of marriage.
The vow of marriage, which the wisdom of most civilized nations has enjoined, and which the rules of the Christian church enjoin, may be properly considered as a vow of perpetual and indissoluble friendship; friendship, which no change of fortune, nor any alteration of external circumstances, can be allowed to interrupt or weaken. After the commencement of this state, there remain no longer any separate interests; the two iudividuals become united, and are, therefore, to enjoy the same felicity, and suffer the same misfortunes; to have the same friends, and the same enemies; the same success, and the same disappointments. It is easy, by pursuing the parallel between friend. ship and marriage, to show how exact a conformity there is between them; to prove that all the precepts laid down with respect to the contraction, and the maxims advanced with regard to the effects, of friendship, are true of marriage, in a more literal sense and a stricter acceptation.
It has long been observed, that friendship is to · be confined to one; or that, to use the words of the axiom,“ He that hath friends, has no friend *. That ardour of kindness, that unbounded conti.
η φιλοι ου φιλος.
dence, that unsuspecting security which friendship requires, camot be extended beyond a single object. A divided affection may be termed benevolence, but can hardly rise to friendship; for the narrow limits of the human mind allow it net intensely to contemplate more than one idea. As we love one more, we must love another less; and, however impartially we may, for a very short time, distri. bute our regards, the balance of affection will quickly incline, perhaps, against our consent, to one side or the other. Besides, though we should love our friends equally, which is, perhaps, not possible; and each according to their merit, which is very difficult ; what shall secure them from jealousy of each other? Will not each think highly of his own value, and imagine himself rated below his worth? Or what shall preserve their common friend from the same jealousy with regard to them? As he divides his affection and esteem between them, he can, in return, claim no more than a dividend of theirs; and, as he regards them equally, they may justly rank some other in equality with him : and what, then, shall hiuder an endless communication of confidence, which must certainly end in treachery at last ? Let these reflections be applied to marriage, and perhaps, polygamy may lose its vindicators.
It is remarked, that “ friendship amongst equals is the most lasting ;'* and, perhaps, there are few causes to which more unhappy marriages are to be ascribed, than a disproportion between the original condition of the two persons. Difference of con
• Amicitia inter pares firmissima.