Page images
PDF
EPUB

lowed by wranglings and disunions, which will inevitably destroy every prospect of felicity.

But no characters are perfectly alike. There will be disagreements on many points. To prevent a rupture, therefore, in all cases a spirit of reconciliation and forbearance must be manifested. How is this spirit to be produced, except by the divine and transforming agency of religion? The pride of the world and of the human mind are opposed to these surrenders of opinions and feelings.

Second-Feelings of selfishness must be entirely discarded. There should be no rivalry of interest between the husband and the wife. It should be the constant and unremitting desire of the one to lessen the burdens and re. lieve the anxieties of the other. They are placed together mainly for this purpose. But if self is the controlling and only effective spring of moral action, what reason have we to believe that such a result will be obtained? The duties of the marriage compact will not be performed—the husband will have regard only to his own ease and comfort—the wife will obey only her own inclinations and desires. Coldness, indifference, hatred, will succeed each other imperceptibly, and the unhappy pair, with bitter and unavailing reproaches, will curse the destiny which united them together.

Third— There must be no open practice of vice. How can true esteem and love exist between those whose hearts have been rendered callous by the commission of a thousand enormities. There may be companionship in crime, and a sufficient degree of confidence among accomplices, to induce them to associate with each other. But do not suffer the sacred titles of friendship and love to be prostituted to such unworthy associations. When the Bohon Upas has become a preservative of human life, and not till then, may we expect to find the kindly affections of our nature growing and flourishing in connexion with vicious principles and desires. It is only in the sacred soil of religion and virtue that these deli. cious plants take root and grow: the presence of vice destroys and eradicates them for ever. They are the gifts of Heaven, and cannot be enjoyed in the atmosphere of hell. Pure and exalted affection can only exist among characters of purity and holiness, and this affection is the only source of happiness in marriage

It is apparent, then, that those qualities which are es. sential to the existence of a real marriage, cannot be present unless the heart be influenced by the divine precepts of our religion, and unless the conduct be regulated by the strict rules of virtue and morality. Under this view a solemn responsibility devolves upon those who are de. sirous of entering upon the married life. It is not to be considered as a last resort for happiness and comfort. The restless debauchee who has spent the prime of his youth and manhood in brutal and disgusting pleasures, and who finally ceases only because satiety has left no room for further eujoyment, must not expect to retrieve his character and redeem his prospects by a fortunate union with youth and innocence. Unless he brings a heart full of the bitterness of repentance for past vices, and a conduct renovated by the influence of divine things, he will experience only the aggravating pangs of remorse combined with the knowledge that he is inflicting terrible suffering on one whom he has sworn to love, protect and defend.

Again, how is the individual who is in the constant exer. cise of irreligious sentiments and vicious practices, fitted for the delicate and responsible duty of rearing and educating children? Is it not reasonable to presume that they likewise will grow up in the practice of sin ? Instead of a blessing, they will prove'a curse to the world. The happiness which flows from intercourse with affectionate offspring will be turned into bitterness of anguish by the contempla. tion of their want of filial duty and love. The bright hopes of parental imagination will be blasted by a reckless course in life; a course entailing disease, and poverty, and degradation, and an early death upon themselves; shame and bro. kenness of heart upon their friends. Let these considerations urge parents not only to give good precepts to their children, but also to give them the more attracting exhibi. tion of a holy example.

Religion and virtue, then, are necessarily connected with matrimonial happiness : without them, domestic felicity is a dream vainly indulged. The individual who is exercising the important privilege of choosing a partner for life, will beware how grace of deportment is preferred to purity of conduct, or beauty of person to correctness of principle. The one, like the meteor, may dazzle for the moment, but its light quickly fades and its glory soon departs. The other, like the sun, ever sheds forth its powerful and benignant influence, warming by the bright effulgence of its diurnal beams, and supporting by its vigorous and anima. ting qualities.

ESSAY

Are not Religion and Virtue essentially necessary to consti

tute a real marriage union ? and can there be happiness where such union does not exist ?

TảAT, ere the marriage union becomes real, the hearts as well as the hands of the two persons who have entered into it must be united, will be admitted by every one ; and that when this does take place, their confidence in each other must be entire and unshaken, is likewise self-evident. The only question then remaining is, what is the most likely means of producing this confidence, and of securing its continuance ? We believe nothing is so suited for this purpose, as the possession by each of firm principles of virtue and religion. This is of itself a bond of union, since it gives them the same motives of action, and furnishes them with the same joys and consolations. They drink of the same pure spring, and are bound together by no common sympathy. This is also the safeguard of happiness, when viewed as the foundation on which mutual confidence must be established. Even in the daily transactions of business, we see that the degree of trust which is accorded to different people depends upon the different opinion that is formed of their moral and religious qualities. We rely upon those only who have never deceived us, and who we moreover believe never will deceive us ; and nothing leads us to place so firm a trust in any person, as the knowledge that all his feelings and sympathies are on the side of virtue. Then is our belief in his integrity unlimited. And if this feeling operates so forcibly to produce a transient union, or give pleasure in an occasional intercourse, it must be still more forcible when that union becomes permanent, and that intercourse is kept up. Mutual confidence in each other's truth, mutual trust in each other's affection, is the basis on which the marriage union rests. The love that continues in this compact must be founded on esteem. Brilliant qualities of mind may dazzle the attention, and an attractive person please the eye, but without more solid virtues are concealed under this appearance, this attention will not continue fixed, nor will this love be permanent. The enthusiasm of youthful hearts will last for a while, but soon will the beauty that was once admired grow familiar to the eye ; soon will the fire of passion burn dim, and the delusions of fancy fade. Small indeed is their chance of happiness, who, attracted solely by these charms, have united in that compact which death only can dissolve ; there will be no solid ground of union, and the idea of it under such auspices will vanish, and the hearts that were so late inseparable, will

“Seem
Like broken clouds, or like the stream

That smiling leaves the mountain's brow,
As though its waters ne'er could sever;

Yet ere it reach the plains below,
Breaks into floods that pass for ever."

Life is not like fairy land. Every situation brings with it peculiar duties to be performed, peculiar temptations to be struggled with; and it is the manner in which these duties are done, and these temptations are conquered, that determines the happiness or misery of a man's future life. Without virtuous principles neither can be accomplished ; and what situation is there where these are more necessary, than in married life? The virtues and the faults of the two persons who are so united, have now a direct effect upon the happiness of each other; and it depends upon the pre

« PreviousContinue »