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cumspection : or to speak more properly, these are parts of this quality, which in effect is of a mixed and comprehensive nature. To describe it at large, is not my design. The attempt would lead into a discussion much too dry and uninteresting. If possible, I would engage your attention to truth, and your hearts to goodness, in a different way ; by sentiment, persuasion, and the native influence of fraternal counsel. Come then, my sisters, and hearken to a brother, while he endeavours to show you on one side those things which you qught principally to shun, in order to the maintaining of your Sobriety; and to point out on the other that positive discipline, which must co-operate for this purpose. At present we can only undertake the for. mer of these points. But before we proceed to that, let me desire you to take notice with what
propriety the apostle's ideas seem to rise one above an. other. He begins with that which is most directly obvious, and the very first precaution to be observed, Modesty of Apparel. Then he mentions Shamefacedness; which, though sometimes less apparent, vet when observed cannot fail of recommending itself to every eye, and without which decency of garb is mere affectation. Shamefacednes, as he has ranked it, appears like a kind of finer covering, the virgin veil of Chastity, to be thrown over all the
But that it may be a veil in the best sense, a holy veil and no mask, he subjoins. Sobriety as the more inward habit Esoto speak) which must support and give
value to the whole ; or, to drop the metaphor, as that internal and prevailing character, by which every part of a woman's dress and demeanour must ever be regulated. Now to cul'tivate this character it is of infinite consequence,
In the first place, to avoid Dangerous Connexions. If that be not done, what is there on earth, or in heaven, that can save you? Of miraculous interposition I think not at present. She can have no right to expect it, who throws herself into the broad way of temptation. What those dangerous connexions are, it may not be always-easy-to-exoplain, when it becomes a question in real life. Unhappily for young women, it is a question sometimes of very nice decision, Cases there are, in which nothing can be clearer. The man that be. haves with open rudeness, the man that avowedly laughs at virtue, the man that impudently pleads for vice ; such a man is to be shunned like a rattlesnake. In this case,
" The woman that deliberates " is lost.” What ! would you parley with the destroyer, when he gives you warning? Then you are not ensnared, you knowingly and wilfully expose yourselves. If you be poisoned, if you be lost, your folly is without excuse, and your destruction without alleviation.
But in this manner none will proceed, except wretches alike licentious and imprudent. Of artful men the approaches will be silent and slow ; all will be soft insinuation : or else they will put on a blunt face of seeming good humour, the appearance of honest frankness, drawing you to every scene of dissipation with kind of Obliging violence, should violence of any kind be necessary. If they
E also agreeable in their persons, or lively in their conversation ; above all, if they wear the air of gentlemen, which, unfortunately for your sex, is too often the case; then indeed your danger is extreme. Thus far the trap is concealed. You apprehend nothing; your unsuspecting hearts begin to slide they are gone before you are aware. The men I
am speaking of perceive their advantage the moment it appears. I have supposed them destitute of worth. If they be also unchecked by fear what can preserve you? A sense of reputation ? the dread of ruin ? Perhaps they may ; but perhaps not. They have often, no doubt, come in to prevent the last excess. And, but for such restraints, what would become of many a woman who is not under that best one, religious principle? The experiment, however, you will own is hazardous. Multitudes have trusted to it, and been undone.
But do those, who in the world's sense are not undone, escape, think ye, unhurt; unhurt in their health and spirits, in their serenity and self-enjoyment, in their sobriety of mind and habits of self-control ? You can not think it. Very seldom at least can you suppose, that, where there is much sensibility of temper, an ill placed passion shall not leave behind it, in a youthful breast, great disorder and deep disquietude.
But how, you will ask, is the snare to be eluded hidden as it frequently is ? Not so hidden throughout, as to be invisible, unless you will shut your eyes. Is it not your business to inquire into the character of the man that professes an attachment? Or is character nothing? Is there no essential difference between a man of decency and honour, or who has all along passed for such, and a man who is known to lead an irregular life, or who is suspected however to be the smiling foe of female virtue ? May you not learn, if you please, with whom the person in question associates ? Or is a man's choice of company nothing? If not resolved to be blind, you may surely discover whether such a person proceeds by little and little to take off the visor, and appear what he is, by loose sentiments, indecent advances, an ambiguous style, an alarming assu
Mance, “ foolish talking and jesting which is not conovenient. ”-I blush for numbers of your sex, who not only express no displeasure at these things, but by a loud laugh, or childish titter, or foolish simper, or some other indication of a light mind, show real satisfaction, perhaps high complacence.
Another thing, no less abominable, I cannot forbear to mention. How common is it to see young ladies; who pass for women of reputation, admitting into their company in public places, and with visible tokens of civility and pleasure, men, whom the moment before they saw herding with creatures of infamous name! Gracious God, what a defiance to the laws of piety, prudence, character, decorum! What an insult, in effect, to every man and woman of virtue in the world! What a palpable encouragement to vice and dishonour! What a desperate attempt to pull down, in appearance, and with their own hands, the only partition that divides them from the most profligate of their sex! Between the bold and the abandoned woman there may still remain, notwithstanding such behaviour, a distinction in the world's eye ; but we scruple not to declare, religion, purity, delicacy, make none.
To return from this digression, if it be one, we will allow it possible to put cases wherein.no particular rules of discovery, no determinate.modes of judgment, will enable a young woman, by her own unassisted skill, to discern the dangers that lie in... her way.
But can a young woma be justly-excu... sed, or can she fairly excuse herself, if, where
all is at stake, she call not in the joint aid of wise suspicion, friendly counsel, and grave experience, together with prayers for God's protection more than ordinarily fervent ?
But, methinks, I hear some of you ask, with an air of earnest curiosity, Do not reformed
libertines then make the best husbands? T am sorry for the question. I am doubly sorry, whenever it is started by a Virtuous Woman. I will not wound the ear of modesty by drawing minutely the character of a libertine : but give me leave to answer your inquiry, by asking a question or two in my turn In the first place, we will suppose such a one really reformed, so far as to treat the woman he marries with esteem and fidelity ; and that he gives up for ever his old companions, at least as to any chosen intimacy, or preference of their company to hers. We grant it possible; we rejoice when it happens. It is certainly the best atonement that can be made for his former conduct. But now let me ask you, or rather let me desire you to ask your own hearts, without any regard to the opinions of the world, which is most desirable on the score of sentiment, on the score of that respect which you owe to yourselves, to your friends, to your sex, to order, rectitude, and honour; the pure unexhausted affection of a man who has not by intemperance and debauchery corrupted his principles, impaired his constitution, enslaved himself to appetite, submitted to share with the vilest and lowest of mankind the mercenary embraces of harlots, contributed to embolden guilt, to harden vice, to render the retreat from a life of scandal and misery more hopeless; who never laid snares for beauty, never betrayed the innocence that trusted him, never abandoned any fond creature to want and despair, never hurt the reputation of a woman, never disturbed the peace of families, or defied the laws of his country, or set at nought the prohibition of his God ;-which, I say, is most desirable, the affection of such a man, or