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world and man's seducer, the advantage still remains (where from the first indeed it hath ever been) on the side of the apostate angel; a strange phenomenon, it should seem, if Infinite Goodness, Infinite Wisdom, and Omnipotence, have really been engaged on the one side, and nothing better than the weakness and malice of a creature on the other!
But ere we acquiesce in these conclusions, or indulge in the scepticism to which they lead, let us compare the world, as it now is, not with the perfection of the ultimate effect of Christianity as described by the entranced prophets contemplating the great schemes of Providence in their glorious consummation, but let us compare the world as it now is, with what it was before the appearance of our Saviour. We shall find, if I mistake not, that the effect of Christianity in improving the manners of mankind, though as yet far less than may be ultimately hoped, is already however far from inconsiderable. Let us next consider by what means God vouchsafes to carry on this conflict of his mercy with the
malice of the Devil. We shall see, that the imperfection of what is yet done so little justifies any sceptical misgivings, that, in the very nature of the business itself, ages are necessary to the completion of it; and that the considerable effect already wrought is an argument of the efficacy of the scheme to the intended purpose, and an earnest of the completion of the work in God's good We shall also be enabled to discern what we may ourselves contribute to the furtherance of a work so important even to the present interests of the individual and of society.
Comparing the world as it now is with what it was before the promulgation of the gospel, we shall find the manners of mankind in this respect at least improved,. that they are softened. Our vices are of a more tame and gentle kind than those of the ancient heathen world; they are disarmed of much of their malignity, by the general influence of a spirit of philanthropy, which, if it be not the same thing in principle with Christian charity (and it may indeed be different), is certainly nearly allied
to it, and makes a considerable part of it in practice. The effect of this philanthropic spirit is, that the vices which are still ge nerally harboured are sins of indulgence and refinement rather than of cruelty and barbarism crimes of thoughtless gayety rather than of direct premeditated malice.
To instance in particulars. We are not destitute, as the heathen were, of natural affection. No man in a Christian country would avoid the burden of a family by the exposure of his infant children: No man would think of settling the point with his intended wife, before marriage, according to the ancient practice, that the females she might bear should be all exposed, and the boys only reared,-however inadequate his fortune might be to the allotment of large marriage-portions to а numerous family of daughters: Nor would the unnatural monster (for so we now should call him) who in a single instance should attempt to revive the practice of this exploded system of economy escape public infamy and vengeance of the laws.
The frequency of divorce was another striking symptom, in the heathen world, of a want of natural affection, which is not found in modern manners. The crime indeed which justifies divorce is too frequent; but the husband is not at liberty, as in ancient times, to repudiate the wife of his youth for any lighter cause than an offence on her part against the fundamental principle of the nuptial contract. Upon this point the laws of all Christian countries are framed in strict conformity to the rules of the gospel, and the spirit of the primeval institution.
We are not, as the apostle says the heathen were, "full of murder." The robber, it is true, to facilitate the acquisition of his booty, or to secure himself froin immediate apprehension and punishment, sometimes imbrues his hand in blood; but scenes of blood and murder make no part, as of old, of the public diversions of the people. Miserable slaves, upon occasions. of general rejoicing and festivity, are not exposed to the fury of wild beasts for a show of amusement and recreation to the
populace, nor engaged in mortal combat with each other upon a public stage. Such bloody sports, were they exhibited, would not draw crowds of spectators to our theatres, of every rank, and sex, and age. Our women of condition would have no relish for the sight: They would not be able to behold it with so much composure as to observe and admire the skill and agility of the champions, and interest themselves in the issue of the combat: They would shriek and faint; - they would not exclaim, like Roman ladies, in a rapture of delight, when the favourite gladiator struck his antagonist the fatal blow; nor with cool indifference give him the signal to despatch the prostrate suppliant *. Nor: would the pit applaud and shout when the blood of the dying man gushing from the ghastly wound flowed upon the stage.
We are not, in the degree in which the
Consurgit ad ictus,
Et quoties victor ferrum jugulo inserit, illa