« السابقةمتابعة »
“My conduct, my connections and my hopes in « life will bear the scrutiny: Suffer me to say
you will have a protector, whose character can
face the world, and whose spirit cannot fear it, “ As for worldly motives, I renounce them;
give me yourself and your affections ; give me “ poffeffion of this hand, these eyes, and the soul “which looks through them; let your father “ withhold the rest. Now, loveliest and moft “beloved, have you the heart to share a soldier's “ fortune? Have you the noble confidence to “ take his word? Will you follow, where his “honour bids him go, and whether a joyful
victory or a glorious death attends him, will
you receive him living, or entomb him dying « in your arms?”
Whilft Lionel was uttering these words, his action, his emotion, and that honeft glow of paffion, which nature only can assume and artifice cannot counterfeit, had so subdued the yielding heart of Sappho, that he must have been dull indeed, if he could have wanted any stronger confirmation of his success, than what her looks bestowed : Never was silence more eloquent; the labour of language and the forms of law had no share in this contract: A figh of speechless ecstasy drew up the nuptial bond; the operations of love are momentary: Tears of affection in2
terchangeably witnessed the deed, and the contracting parties sealed it with an inviolable embrace.
Every moment now had wings to waft them to that happy spot, where the unholy hand of law has not yet plucked up the root of love: Freedom met them on the very extremity of her precincts; Nature held out her hand to welcome them, and the Loves and Graces, though exiled to a desart, danced in her train.
Thus was Sappho, when brought to the very brink of destruction, rescued by the happy intervention of Providence. The next day produced an interview with Clemens, at the house to which they returned after the ceremony in Scotland: The meeting, as might well be expected, was poignant and reproachful; but when Sappho, in place of a superannuated sentimentalist, prefented to him a son-in-law, in whose martial form and countenance he beheld youth, honour, manly beauty, and every attractive grace that could justify her choice, his transports became exceffive; and their union, being now sanctified by the blessing of a father, and warranted by love and nature, has snatched a deluded victim from misery and error, and added one conjugal instance to the scanty records of unfashionable felicity
Let not my young female readers believe that the extravagance of Sappho's conduct is altogether out of nature, or that they have nothing to apprehend from men of Mufidorus's age and character; my observation convinces me to the contrary. Gravity, says Lord Shaftesbury, is the very essence of imposture; and sentimental gravity, varnished over with the experienced artifice of age and wisdom, is the worst of its fpecies.
HE deistical writers, who would fain per
suade us that the world was in poffeffion of as pure a system of morality before the introduction of Christianity as since, affect to make a great display of the virtues of many eminent heathens, particularly of the philosophers Socrates, Plato, and some others.
When they set up these characters as examples of perfection, which human nature with the aids of revelation either has not attained to, or not exceeded, they put us upon an invidious talk, which no man would voluntarily engage in, and
challenge us to discuss a question, which, if tho. roughly agitated, cannot fail to strip the illuftrious dead of more than half the honours which the voice of ages has agreed to give them.
It is therefore to be wished that they had held the argument to its general terms, and shewn us where that system of ethics is to be found, which they are prepared to bring into comparison with the moral doctrines of Christ. This I take to be the fair ground whereon the controversy Thould have been decided, and here it would in. fallibly have been brought to issue; but they knew their weapons better than to truft them in so close a conflict.
The maxims of some heathen philosophers, and the moral writings of Plato, Cicero and Seneca, contain many noble truths, worthy to be held in veneration by posterity; and if the deift can from these produce a system of morality as pure and perfect as that which claims its origin from divine revelation, he will prove that God gave to man a faculty of distinguishing between right; and wrong with such correctness, that his own immediate revelation added no lights to thofe, which the powers of reason had already discover-, ed. Let us grant therefore for a moment, that Christ's religion revealed to the world no new truths in morality, nor removed any old errors, 9
and what triumph accrues to the deift by the admiffion? The most he gains is to bring reason to a level with revelation, as to its moral doctrines; in fo doing he dignifies man's nature, and thews how excellent a faculty God gave his creatures in their original formation, to guide their judgments and controul their actions; but will this diminish the importance of revealed religion? Certainly not, unless he can prove one or both of the following positions; viz.
First, That the moral tenets of Christianity either fall' short of, or run counter to, the moral tenets of natural religion; or,
Secondly, That Christ's mission was nugatory and superfluous, because the world was already in pofseffion of as good a system of morality as he imparted to mankind.
As to the first, I believe it has never been attempted by any heathen or deistical advocate to convict the Gospel system of false morality, or to alledge that it is short and defective in any one particular duty, when compared with that system which the world was poffeft of without its aid. No man, I believe, has controverted its truths, though many have disputed its discoveries : No man has been hardy enough to say of any of its doctrines-- This we ought not to practise; though many have been vain enough to cry out-All