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Of the Papal Rescript from the Court of Fashion, indi
rectly forbidding to Marry.
The injunction of celibacy, or of the monastic life, by the Romish Church, being directly in opposition to the order and ordination of nature, has more than any other single cause whatever, produced a vast mass of evils, both moral and physical, in those countries that have been under the papal dominion; evils too obvious to need pointing out, and too flagitious, some of them, to name. With prophetic reference, as we protestants fully believe, to the doings of that corrupted church, St. Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, expresseth himself as follows: “Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons." —And immediately after he particularizes the unnatural rescript, Forbidding to Marry, as of the same ungracious family, or nearly allied with, the doctrines of demons, aforementioned.
If, however, there were no forbidding to marry, except in the Roinish Church, we might hope that a full cure of the deadly evil is at hand : since Old Grey Beard, as a French satirist used to call the Pope, is become too impotent, much longer to impose a law, at which all the genuine feelings of nature revolt•* But this demoniacal prohibition, to wit, forbidding to Marry, has been enjoined and enforced even more extensively in one other way, than it ever was by the canons of the Vatican. I will explain my meaning by sketching a fragment of ancient history.
The ancient Romans were Republicans after their kind, and continued such for a considerable number of centuries. Though they were pagan idolaters, and their worship was deplorably corrupt, yet, previous to their imbibing the atheism of Epicurus, they generally
* At the time when this paper was written there could have been no expectation of the restoration of the Pope.
believed in a future retribution of rewards and punishments; which belief operated so powerfully upon them, that they were truly exemplary in some few of the social virtues. In particular, perjury was scarcely known among them, and infidelity in the connubial state was no less uncommon.
The Roman republicans were plain men and women, accustomed to daily labor, and quite unaccustomed to finery of apparel or luxury of living. A Roman of even noble blood, tilled his little field with his own hands, and was proud of tilling it with superior industry and skill; whilst his lady, if lady she might be called, made it her chief ambition to be an excellent house-wife.
While this state of things lasted, and a very long while it did last, the Romans were eager enough to get themselves wives. They married generally, and they married young : for they thought, and well they might, that whoso found a wife, found a good thing--a real helpmeet, as well as a dear and faithful companion. And what is singularly remarkable, if true, it is recorded by a Roman historian, that there had not been known in the city of Rome, a single instance of divorcement during the whole space of five hundred years; though the law had put it in the power of the husband to repudiate his wife almost at pleasure.
Unfortunately for the Roman republic, and more especially for the female part of it, a great and splendid event quite changed the morals, the taste, the habits, and the whole face of the country. One hundred and ninety years before the christian æra, the Romans, for the first time, entered Asia with an army, which, under Scipio, defeated and conquered Antiochus the Great, of Syria : and from thence they brought home such a taste for the luxuries of the East, as promoted and hastened the ruin of their commonwealth : and in no way more directly, than by a practical forbiddance of marriage.
The Roman women, once so plain, frugal and industrious, became enamoured of the costly finery that was brought from the East. One of them, named Lullia Paulina, when dressed in all her jewels, is said to have worn to the value of three hundred and thirty two thousand pounds sterling. And though this was the most extraordinary instance of the time, yet it is reasonable to suppose that, of the rest of the ladies, every one strove to get as near the top of the fashion as she could; and that, with all the females who thought any thing of themselves, the rage was to be fine and fashionable.
This new order of things, while it precipitated the republic down the abyss of ruin, brought marriage almost into disuse: insomuch that Augustus, the first Roman Emperor, finding among the men a general disinclination to marry, was fain to pass severe penal laws, to force them, as it were, into the marriage bonds. But it was all to little purpose. Despot and tyrant as he was, he found it as impossible to compel the bachelors to marry, as Peter of Russia long since did, to compel his vassals to shave off their beards. Was it owing to the licentiousness of the men ? Considerably it was, no doubt; but not altogether. It was partly owing to their prudence. A Roman bachelor naturally enough would commune with himself thus :-" These extravagant flirts, of whose attire a single article costs more than one of them would earn in her whole life, are fit only for show. I like mighty well to be in their company at routs and assemblies; but the gods save me from a union with them! If I marry, unless she bring me a fortune, she will quickly devour mine. Wherefore I will look out only for number one, in spite of the edicts of the Emper
Consider, ye AMERICAN Fair, that, in all times and countries, the like causes will produce the like effects.
On the elevation of the condition and character of Wo
men by means of Christianity. In all ages of the world, the greatest portion of sorrow and hardship has fallen to the lot of the female part of our race. Amongst all the numerous tribes of savages and barharians, in whatever quarter of the
earth, or in the islands of the seas, females are despised and degraded, and a wife is but little better conditioned than a bond slave. 66 While the man passes his days in idleness and amusement, the woman is condemned to incessant toil. Tasks are imposed upon her without mercy, and services are received without complacence or gratitude.” The laws and customs of Mahomedism, as well as of Paganism, degrade and enslave the women: a degradation and slavery of vast extent; since far the greater numbers of the human kind are either Mahomedans or Pagans.
It is only in christian countries that women rise to their proper rank, and are treated as companions and equals. For this happy improvement in their coridition they are indebted to christianity, which, as well by humanizing and purifying the heart, as by the prohibition of polygamy, has loosed the bonds of their captivity, and at the same time adorned them with virtues the most estimable and amiable.
The New Testament is the great charter of the rights of women; and not only the great charter of their rights, but the unerring directory of their duties, and the choice cabinet as it were of their most precious ornaments. As the benevolent system of christianity frees them from vassalage and exalts their rank in society, so it inspires them at the same time with a taste for what is morally excellent and virtuous and lovely. Nor is it a little remarkable, that, of the religion which „so ennobles their sex, they are the first, the most general, and among the most effectual teachers. It is frona women that almost our whole sex, as well as theirs, receives its earliest instruction in religion and morality. Though they are neither missionaries abroad nor preachers at home, yet, as spreaders and promulgators of christianity, they are hardly less useful than those venerable orders of men. Throughout all christendom, as preceptresses, as mothers, and in their various domestic rela-, tions, they have the moulding of the minds of future men as well as of future women, during those infantile years in which the mind is comparable to soft wax, and when the impressions which are made upon it are the most indelible. So that it would not, perhaps, be extravagant
to believe, that a full half of the whole christianized world has been christianized, or first imbued with christian principles, by means of female teachers.
Nothing scarcely admits of clearer proof from history, than that the institutions for alleviating human misfortune and distress bave grown out of the christian religion; and nothing surely could confer greater dignity on the female sex, than its active and zealous co-operation in establishing and supporting such plans of general phi. lanthropy.
All along, from the first age of christianity down to latter times, there have been women highly distinguished for their pious benevolence and active beneficence; but not having learned to form themselves into societies for joint acts of charity, their solitary or individual efforts could afford relief to but few. For the present illustrious epoch in the christianized world, has been reserved the honor of multiplying and extending, far beyond all former examples, their humane plans and insti
ons. “What wonders and what pleasures has civilization procured to mankind !” So the philosopher exclaims, and not without reason. The civilized man possesses manifold more enjoyments, and stands vastly higher in the scale of human beings, than the naked savage or the rude barbarian. But it is not mere civilization, nor mere learning, that has imbued the heart with the genuine feelings of humanity. See, on the page of history, only fifteen centuries back, the ladies of Rome, that proud mistress of the world: see them seated in the amphitheatre, as delighted spectatresses of the mortal combats of gladiators; feasting their eyes with the bloody carnage, and their ears with the groans of the dying. And now, see, on the other hand, innumerable females of the present age, formed into societies for the alleviation of human distress; for the purpose of ministering to the widow, of sustaining the orphan, of clothing the naked, of feeding the hungry, of a healing the broken and weak." Behold these objects of striking contrast; and remember that the former had quite as much of polish, as much of elegance, and as much of learning, as the latter. And what is it then, but the in