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Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
I am asham’d, that women are so simple
I must crave pardon from my readers of the fair sex for having introduced these passages, though I hope and trust that but few among them would hesitate to endorse the sentiments therein contained. I now turn to the other side of the picture, and shall find no difficulty in showing that Shakspere never loses sight of the fact, before noticed, that the duties of husband and of wife are reciprocal. The Apostle has told us that the husband is bound to show “honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel.” How does this agree, ye sullen and morose husbands, with your uniform cheerfulness abroad, when compared with your gloomy and provoking taciturnity at home? The wife, “ by the right and virtue of her place," ought to share in your joys and to participate in your sorrows. Hear Shakspere :
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
King Henry IV., Part I., ii. 3.
Dear to you should your wife be “as are the ruddy drops that visit your heart.” Fear not to pour into her bosom the secrets of your soul. And when perchance she finds you, as the noble Portia found her husband Brutus,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across, and asks you what ails you,
Stare not upon her with ungentle looks
Possibly she may do so,
Fearing to strengthen your impatience
Make her acquainted with your cause of grief, for it is in her power to comfort your wounded spirit; she can administer (if any can do so) the balm of consolation to a saddened heart, with whose bitterness it is no stranger that desires to intermeddle, but one, remember, to whom you owe your unreserved confidence,
By all your vows of love, and that great vow Which did incorporate and make you one.—Julius Cæsar, ii. 1. I shall now proceed to set before the reader, side by side, the statements of the Holy Scripture, and of Shakspere, on the subject of Man : and I think we shall discover that, both by the Inspired Writers, and by our Poet, man is represented in a twofold light: as created originally in the image and likeness of God, and as fallen from his pristine greatness into a state of lowliness and degradation ; a state, however, in which he possesses still some clear and
.1 Proverbs, xiv. 10.
distinct marks of his heavenly origin ;-some manifest proofs of that integrity which belonged to him before he “sought out” the “ many inventions” which a fallen inclination readily suggested. When we consider what he once was—we are ready to exclaim with the lamentation of Jeremiah : “How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed !"2 Yet, even as man now is, we behold him as a beautiful temple-beautiful, though in ruins; a temple, whose massive columns, exquisite though prostrate, bear witness to the glory that must have surrounded the building when first completed by the Divine Architect. Holy Scripture represents man as “made a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honour;"s as possessed of those faculties and perceptions, which raise him far above the level of the “beasts that perish.” 4 Reason, that bright scintillation from the effulgence of the Creator, still serves, even in its present crippled state, and shorn of its fairest beams, to conduct man, to some extent, safely amid the thorny mazes of life. And the view which our Poet takes of man, exactly coincides with that which is given us in the Inspired Volume : while he recognises the awful fact that “all the souls that are were forfeit once ;" and mentions the transgression of Adam our first parent ; still, viewing man as he is, imperfect and fallen, he exclaims : “What a piece of work is man ! how noble in reason ! how infinite in faculties ! in action how like an angel ! in apprehension how like a god ! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals !"Hamlet, ii., 1.
1 Ecclesiastes, vii. 29.
3 Psalm viïi. 5.
2 Lamentations, iv. 1. 4 Ecclesiastes, iii. 21.
Man being the “offspring of God,” | as the Scripture informs us, is in duty bound to think and to act at all times with a reference to the realities of a future existence. His chief end is to glorify God, and to employ all the faculties of his mind, in the service of Him who has endowed him with so excellent gifts. No man, therefore, if he truly realizes his proper position among the animate creatures of God, will venture to think only, or chiefly, of the pleasures and enjoyments of the present life.
What is man
It is the province of Reason, to deter men from the commission of sins which degrade and debase them to the state of mere animals : among these sins may be reckoned not only gluttony and winebibbing, but other indulgences also, which do not, at first sight, appear so gross and polluting.
O that men should put an enemy in their mouths, to steal away their brains! that we should with joy, revel, pleasure and applause, transform ourselves into beasts. Othello, ii. 3.
Here, I think, it is unnecessary to produce parallels from the Scriptures to prove the coincidence of their teaching with that of the Poet, on the debasing nature of all excessive pleasure, and exorbitant indulgence ; for I doubt not that many passages will at once suggest themselves to the mind of the reader.
It is Shakspere who admonishes us to “ quench the fire
1 Acts, xvii. 28.
of passion with the sap of reason” (King Henry VIII.,
Is your blood
Can qualify the same ?— Troilus and Cressida, ii. 2..
The next point to which I shall direct attention, is the fact, that sin is represented, both in Scripture, and in Shakspere, as having a natural tendency to propagate itself: that one sin never stands alone ; but like the stone cast into the water, forms innumerable and ever-enlarging disturbances, which are all of them due to the first throws which disorders the smooth surface of the soul, and circulates in every direction. Vices, like virtues, ever go in company. “Evil men,” the Bible tells us, “grow worse and worse.”3 No man can say to the tide of wickedness, “ hitherto shalt thou come and no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” 4
11 Corinthians, x. 15.
2 1 Kings, xviii. 21.