Слике страница
PDF
ePub

and solemn professions, that seem to imply every thing just and kind, till they have undone the credulous fair ones, whom they then barbarously consign to infamy and wo; or else, finding that they have gone too far in the pursuit of those who vill not yield but on honourable terms, to which they have not the spirit or probity to agree, they poorly and basely relinquish them, after having stolen their hearts. Happy creatures, to be so relinquished, though not happy to be so inveigled! What an escape

have

ye

made from wretches that never deserved you! If your honest pride be hurt at first, as it cannot fail of being, that very pride will soon inspire you with a generous contempt, the only sensation fit to be retained on such a subject.

To return to those of your sex, whom a rage for amusement and admiration has robbed of one of the finest ornaments that can adorn them, the Shamefacedness I have been endeavouring to inculcate. After having said so much to show how highly they are to blame ; what shall I say to those, whose duty it is to advise them better, but who have always neglected it ? Surely it might be thought that such of their female acquaintance, and such eg. pecially of their female relations as are advanced in life, would, from their superior store of judgment and observation, be friendly enough to communicate to those ignorant or unexperienced young creatures, some salutary counsel on this and other important articles. I know they will excuse themselves, by pleading the difficulty of the task. I own it difficult. To advise well was always so; and who can be sure of advising successfully? Is it therefore never to be attempted ? In the present case, I cannot doubt but good counsel, offered with prudence and affection, would often succeed.

of it,

St. Paul, who held it not unworthy of an Apostle to enter with the greatest particularity into the concerns of common life, directs Titus to remind the aged women of their duty on this very

head. His words are remarkable:“ Speak thou the “ things that become sound doctrine ;''-among the rest that the aged women may teach the

young women to be sober, to love their husbands, « to love their children"-What follows ?-" to be “ discreet, chaste, keepers at home.”

The precept indeed points to young women in the state of wedlock. But will any suppose the apostle meant to exclude women yet unmarried from that part which, on his principles, must necessarily be applicable to them? That women who, having families of their own, go much abroad, and affect to shine any where but in their proper sphere, are peculiarly to blame, must, I think, be acknowledged. But will you thence infer, that they who have none are at liberty to stroll about perpetually, to prefer every place to home, and neglect the most respectable virtues, the most valuable accomplishments, for the parade of dress, the display of beauty, and the tricks of affectation ?

It is truly sad to see so many young ladies, showing themselves every day in the markets of Vanity, who by a proper deportment elsewhere might render themselves agreeable and trappy; to see them trifling

away the opportunities of doing both, and sacrificing to a false ambition the real importance of their sex. But it is no less surprising than sad, to find among women of age and experience so few, comparatively speaking, who have the conscience or the humanity to contribute

eir reformation and welfare.

Imagine a set of chaste matrons, anciently mothers in this metropolis, who lived and died in sacred obscurity, were seldom found from their own houses, but placed their humble glory in shining there, particularly in breeding their children to every thing prudent, and praiseworthy ; imagine them for a little to return to life, and to observe unknown the manners of the present age. When, amongst other things, they saw the daughters of many a citizen, glittering in gorgeous apparel not paid for, rolling their eyes on every side through a large assembly, studying by every childish art to draw the notice of the men, contending with one another who should be most the objects of attention, catching with a kind of triumph each transient glance, nor showing the smallest uneasiness even to be stared at by the most licentious eye, or to be blown upon by the most corrupted breath of every vile betrayer-I pursue the description no farther-what would our venerable spectators think of their posterity! What grief would fill their hearts on the occasion! But how great would be their astonishment and horror, when informed, that numbers of those young persons, whose behaviour was so unbecoming, had not been taught by their mothers, their grandmothers, or any other friend in the world, one solid lesson of wisdom or frugality, of female decorum, or Amiable Reserve!

VOLI

SERMON IV.

ON FEMALE VIRTUE.

1 TIM. ii. 8, 9.

I willthat women adorn themselves with Sobriety.

A PLAÎN dress you have often found extremely pleasing. What such a dress is to the person ; that, and much more, is Sobriety to the mind. Sobriety is a sort of spiritual vesture entirely void of show ; substantial, home-spun, and hardy ; calculated to defend against the injuries of the world, as well as to cover the nakedness of the soul ; proper to be worn every day and not unfit for any place where a reasonable being ought to appear; perfectly decent, and to a judicious eye extremely beautiful ; in a word, so indispensable and becoming, that she who is without it has been ever deemed, by the virtuous and wise, an object of deformity, loathing and wretchedness. Like every thing else of greatest value, its worth is best known by its Toss. That this quality, which like your daily clothing answers so many useful and necessary ends, should like that too not strike the generality of beholders, reflects in my opinion honour on your sex. It would be more esteemed, were it less common. And here I must complain of those men who will allow little or no merit to a woman for being sober; when, if she were not, they would condemn her loudly. If

the vice be scandalous, can the virtue fail of being honourable ?

To argue from an instance somewhat similar. Because disobedience to parents is unnatural and vile, does it follow that filial piety deserves little or no praise ? But the temptations to this crime are usually inconsiderable, frequently none at all; whereas to indecorum, intemperance, and incontinence, it is certain many women are under strong temptations : it is also certain, that many have given way to them; it is probable there are but few, whose virtue in those particulars has not been exposed to very dangerous snares: yet the far greater part preserve it entire ; and shall we deny them our tribute of approbation? Forbid it Generosity and Justice ?

The speaking with contempt of what is commonly called Negative Virtue, is often the mere rant of an affected philosophy. To make some allowance for the condition of humanity, were surely more modest and candid. Where does he live, and what is his name, who dares be confident, that in any given circumstance of critical trial his own resolutions would remain unshaken? For vice and immorality, though there may be alleviations, there can be no excuse. But yet, on the other hand, situated as mortals are, a moral or inoffensive conduct is fairly entitled to commendation from mortals. ,Your situation, my young friends, demands much candour from us and mighty caution

in you.

The ornament of Sobriety, which comes next to be considered, is by no means a cheap one.

But though it be purchased with difficulty, it is lost with

To preserve it, will require the unremitted exercise of prudence, vigilance, and severe cir

ease.

« ПретходнаНастави »