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But let us reverse this unhappy part of the scene and suppose that the lady's real character answers to her appearance ; that, instead of losing, she gains by a more intimate acquaintance ;-in short, that certain hidden graces which no feature, form, or air, could fully express, display themselves as circumstances rise to call them forth : what will be the consequence ? That the youthful ardour of our lover will increase ? No, but a better ardour will ; that of rational esteem, sentimental complacence, and self-congratulation. The other, as he advances in life, will gradually abate, and at length vanish. What then? Will his tenderness vanish, or his affection abate? By no means.
We have seen that from the beginning it was the love of her mind principally. It is so now more than ever. It has less emotion ; it has more solidity : it is less earthly; it is more divine. It is love mellowed into friendship. What shall I say! It is the finest feeling of the human heart. And the attraction grows, partly by habit, partly by the increase of those qualities that caused it on her side, and partly by the improvement of good dispositions on his. The tu. multuous and irregular pleasures to which, perhaps, before he knew her, he was addicted, have now lost their relish. The calm, yet interesting joys he tastes in her society, occupy all his leisure. From every engagement, whether of the busy or idle kind, he returns to her with new delight, glad to shake off the interrupting world, and impatient when it compels him to any long absence. By the lovely sympathies of her gentle bosm, his cares are soothed, his labours softened, and his losses rendered easy. Is he successful? His success is triumph, from this thought ; “I shall be able to make her more happy
“whom my soul loveth.” Is she in pain or sickness? does her health decline ? Will this man look on unconcerned ? Ah! no : he will hang over her bed of distress with augmented fondness, with an anguish more charming than all the luxury of sensual indulgence. Is her bloom withered? are the allurements of youth gone ? Will he grow indifferent ? No, no ! in his eye she is handsome still. In all she says, and does, and looks, he still beholds, and still admires, the unfaded and unfading beauties of her soul.
If any profane or insensible wretch, prone“ to
speak evil of the things which he knows not,' and which he cannot know, should affect to treat this representation with ridicule, as visionary and unnatural, I can only pity him. You who are disposed to be ingenuous and candid, may rest assured that it is taken from life. Those whom it resembles will own it is true, while they find it imperfect. But imperfect as it is, it will, if I mistake not, be sufficient to prove the point for which I have produced it.
Abstract, my sisters, from that regard to person, which in the purest passion between the sexes we have acknowledged to be an original ingredient, but which we have found to be only an inferior ingredient, and one whose operation is soon diminished ; abstract from this, and what is there in all the rest, that may
not be traced to the love of excellence ? But what else, I would gladly know, is the leading idea in the love of God? Between that First of Beings, and the most accomplished of his creatures, the distance is indeed infinite. The fairest virtues we see around us are at best but faint emanations from him, who is " the perfection of * beauty.” But from these and from the admira
tion they inspire, it is that we are led up to him, as by so many pleasing though scattered streams to their fountain.
And now suppose that a young woman, possessed with the belief of this highest excellence, is disappointed in her prospects of an agreeable union with one of our sex; she turns her thoughts to heaven. She contemplates truth and rectitude, wisdom and goodness, power, mercy, and faithfulness, in their source. She considers them as all working together for her good ; she sees them shining through the cloud of disappointment. From this cloud she hears, as it were, her Maker thus addressing her: 'My daughter, give me thy heart. Thy supreme affection none upon earth can de
Human attainments are all defective; • human regards are often insincere. Put not your • trust in the son of man ;
may deceive, or he may change, or he may not be able to protect you. • But of this kind you have nothing to fear from
- your Creator. Throw thyself, my child, on my • friendship.'-She is not disobedient to the heavenly call. She prostrates herself in the presence of the Most High. To him she devotes that heart which he formed ; to him she pours it out with freedom. She adores the perfections of his nature ; the frailties of her own, with all the failings of her life past, she penitently confesses ; her tears flow. Her mind is relieved; consolation pervades her soul : out of weakness she waxes strong. Virtue never appeared to her half so fair ;, Religion rises before her in full majesty ; everlasting objects open to her view ; solitude and silence begin to charm. Converse with her God, with her Saviour, with her Bible, with Herself, yields a pleasure hitherto unknown. In the midst of society she longs for
its 'return; from the dissipation of amusements she retreats with joy; self-denial for the sake of God, and goodness, loses its name ; her duty is her delight ; the spirit of sacrifice is felt in all its noble
She is great, and she is happy.Say, ye sons of raillery, ye scoffers of female devotion, declare: what is there in all this, unnatural, irrational, or in any respect unsuitable to the best conceptions of the human mind ?
From what I have said let none imagine, that I mean to insinuate female devotion may not be found in married as well as single life; or that a woman will not have recourse to piety unless she be driven to it by disappointed love. This, like every other distress, and more perhaps than any other, will prompt a young person of reflexion to turn to the Almighty. But of worth or ingenuity those surely have no true feeling, who think that the character of the Supreme cannot, from a heart well disposed, command an affectionate veneration in any condition, or under any circumstance what
That in female nature there are certain qualities, which seem peculiarly calculated, by the grace of God, to dispose it for the reception and culture of this divine principle, I will proceed in the next place to demonstrate. ,
That your sex are, in a particular degree, susceptible of all the tender affections, will, I presume, be allowed by most. · Their propensity to those, with which the passion of love is more immediately complicated, has been charged upon them by many as matter of reproach. What to me appears in general to do them honour, is the warmth of their attachments, and their aptitude to be affected with whatever has a tendency to touch the heart. But I
have always thought that the spirit of devotion depends on sentiment, rather than ratiocination ; on the feelings of gratitude and wonder, joy and sorrow, triumph and contrition, hope and fear, rather than on theological disquisition however profound, or pious speculation however exalted. Religion, it is certain, has been often mazed and lost in the labyrinth of school-divinity. Although, in “ contending for the faith once delivered to the
saints” against the attacks of unbelievers, sound criticism and dispassionate argument be undoubtedly the proper weapons, and although to thinking minds they be also the natural instruments of information ard conviction ; yet is it not by them that the devotional principle is awakened and kept alive? . :
For unintelligible impressions, or wild enthusiasm, I am not an advocate. He that is, exposes religion to disgrace. Common sense, calm reflexion, universal righteousness, a humanity unlimited by party, a moderation that can applaud virtue in an enemy; these, my dear charge, must never be given up on any pretence, or for any persuasion. A faith without morality, a devotion repugnant to reason, are not christianity ; but hypocrisy, or superstition. Beware of such as under the mask of zeal would seek to remove you from the only ground which, by God's blessing, can secure your stedfastness, improvement, and comfort ; I mean a sober evangelical piety.'
In the days of the apostles there were those that “ lay in wait to deceive; that crept into widows' .'« houses, and led captive silly women." In our
days their successors are numerous. I say again, of such beware, “ lest by any means, as the ser" pent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your