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OF RELATIVE DUTIES WHICH RESULT FROM THE CON
STITUTION OF THE SEXES.
THE constitution of the sexes is the foundation of marriage.
1 Collateral to the subject of marriage, are fornication, seduction, adultery, incest, polygamy, divorce.
Consequential to marriage, is the relation and reciprocal duty of parent and child.
We will treat of these subjects in the following order : first, of the public use of marriage institutions; secondly, of the subjects collateral to marriage, in the order in which we have here proposed them; thirdly, of marriage itself; and, lastly, of the relation and reciprocal duties of parents and children.
OF THE PUBLIC USE OF MARRIAGE INSTITUTIONS.
THE public use of marriage institutions consists in their I promoting the following beneficial effects :
1. The private comfort of individuals, especially of the female sex. It may be true, that all are not interested in this reason; nevertheless, it is a reason to all for abstaining from any conduct which tends in its general consequence to obstruct marriage; for whatever promotes the happiness of the majority, is binding upon the whole.
2. The production of the greatest number of healthy children, their better education, and the making of due provision for their settlement in life.
3. The peace of human society, in cutting off a principal source of contention, by assigning one or more women to one man, and protecting his exclusive right by sanctions of morality and law.
4. The better government of society, by distributing the community into separate families, and appointing over each the authority of a master of a family, which has more actual influence than all civil authority put together.
5. The same end, in the additional security which the State receives for the good behaviour of its citizens, from the solicitude they feel for the welfare of their children, and from their being confined to permanent habitations.
6. The encouragement of industry.
Some ancient nations appear to have been more sensible of the importance of marriage institutions than we are. The Spartans obliged their citizens to marry by penalties, and the Romans encouraged theirs by the jus trium liberorum. A man who had no child, was entitled by the Roman law only to one half of any legacy that should be left him, that is, at the most, could only receive one half of the testator's fortune.
FORNICATION. THE first and great mischief, and by consequence the guilt, of
I promiscuous concubinage, consists in its tendency to dimi-. nish marriages, and thereby to defeat the several beneficial purposes enumerated in the preceding chapter.
Promiscuous concubinage discourages marriage, by abating the chief temptation to it. The male part of the species will not undertake the encumbrance, expense, and restraint of married life, if they can gratify their passions at a cheaper price ; and they will undertake anything, rather than not gratify them.
The reader will learn to comprehend the magnitude of this mischief, by attending to the importance and variety of the uses to which marriage is subservient; and hy recollecting withal, that the malignity and moral quality of each crime is not to be
estimated by the particular effect of one offence, or of one person's offending, but by the general tendency and consequence of crimes of the same nature. The libertine may not be conscious that these irregularities hinder his own marriage, from which he is deterred, he may allege, by different considerations ; much less does he perceive how his indulgences can hinder other men from marrying; but what will he say would be the consequence, if the same licentiousness were universal ? or what should hinder its becoming universal, if it be innocent or allowable in him ?
2. Fornication supposes prostitution; and prostitution brings and leaves the victims of it to almost certain misery. It is no small quantity of misery in the aggregate, which, between want, disease, and insult, is suffered by those outcasts of human society, who infest populous cities; the whole of which is a general consequence of fornication, and to the increase and continuance of which, every act and instance of fornication contributes.
3. Fornication produces habits of ungovernable lewdness, which introduce the more aggravated crimes of seduction, adultery, violation, &c. Likewise, however it be accounted for, the criminal commerce of the sexes corrupts and depraves the mind and moral character more than any single species of vice whatsoever. That ready perception of guilt, that prompt and decisive resolution against it, which constitutes a virtuous character, is seldom found in persons addicted to these indulgences. They prepare an easy admission for every sin that seeks it; are, in low life, usually the first stage in men's progress to the most desperate villanies; and, in high life, to that lamented dissoluteness of principle, which manifests itself in a profligacy of public conduct, and a contempt of the obligations of religion and of moral probity. Add to this, that habits of libertinism incapacitate and indispose the mind for all intellectual, moral, and religious pleasures; which is a great loss to any man's happiness. The passion being natural, proves that it was intended to be gratified; but under what restrictions, or whether without any, must be collected from different considerations.
4. Fornication perpetuates a disease, which may be accounted one of the sorest maladies of human nature ; and the effects of which are said to visit the constitution of even distant generations.
1 Of this passion it has been truly said, that "irregularity has no limits; that one excess draws on another; that the most easy, therefore, as well as the most excellent way of being virtuous, is to be so entirely.'—OGDEN, Serm. xvi.
The christian Scriptures condemn fornication absolutely and peremptorily. “Out of the heart,' says our Saviour, 'proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man.' These are Christ's own words; and one word from Him upon the subject is final. It may be observed with what society fornication is classed ; with murders, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. I do not mean that these crimes are all equal, because they are all mentioned together ; but it proves that they are all crimes. The apostles are more full upon this topic. One wellknown passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews may stand in the place of all others; because, admitting the authority by which the apostles of Christ spake and wrote, it is decisive : “Marriage and the bed undefiled is honourable amongst all men : but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge;' which was a great deal to say, at a time when it was not agreed, even amongst philosophers themselves, that fornication was a crime.
The Scriptures give no sanction to those austerities, which have been since imposed upon the world under the name of Christ's religion ; as the celibacy of the clergy, the praise of perpetual virginity, the prohibitio concubitus cum gravida uxore ; but with a just knowledge of, and regard to, the condition and interest of the human species, have provided, in the marriage of one man with one woman, an adequate gratification for the propensities of their nature, and have restricted them to that gratification.
The avowed toleration, and in some countries the licensing, taxing, and regulating of public brothels, has appeared to the people an authorizing of fornication ; and has contributed, with other causes, so far to vitiate the public opinion, that there is no practice of which the immorality is so little thought of or acknowledged, although there are few in which it can more plainly be made out. The legislators who have patronized receptacles of prostitution, ought to have foreseen this effect, as well as considered, that whatever facilitates fornication, dimi. nishes marriages. And, as to the usual apology for this relaxed discipline, the danger of greater enormities, if access to prostitutes were too strictly watched and prohibited, it will be time enough to look to that, when the laws and the magistrates have done their utmost. The greatest vigilance of both will do no more, than oppose some bounds and some difficulties to this intercourse. · And, after all, these pretended fears are without foundation in experience. The men are in all respects the most virtuous, in countries where the women are most chaste.
There is a species of cohabitation, distinguishable, no doubt, from vagrant concubinage, and which, by reason of its resemblance to marriage, may be thought to participate of the sanctity and innocence of that estate ; I mean the case of kept-mistresses, under the favourable circumstance of mutual fidelity. This case I have heard defended by some such apology as the following:
That the marriage-rite being different in different countries, and in the same country amongst different sects, and with some, scarce anything ; and, moreover, not being prescribed or even mentioned in Scripture, can be accounted for only as of a form and ceremony of human invention : that, consequently, if a man and woman betroth and confine themselves to each other, their intercourse must be the same, as to all moral purposes, as if they were legally married ; for the addition or omission of that which is a mere form and ceremony, can make no difference in the sight of God, or in the actual nature of right and wrong.'
To all which it may be replied,
1. If the situation of the parties be the same thing as marriage, why do they not marry ?
2. If the man chuse to have it in his power to dismiss the woman at his pleasure, or to retain her in a state of humiliation and dependence inconsistent with the rights which marriage would confer upon her, it is not the same thing.
It is not at any rate the same thing to the children.
Again, as to the marriage-rite being a mere form, and that also variable, the same may be said of signing and sealing of bonds, wills, deeds of conveyance, and the like, which yet make a great difference in the rights and obligations of the parties concerned in them.