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and his conduct, viewed in the light of Christianity. It says to every man, "Consider your circumstances, and fulfil every just expectation to which they give rise." By the common consent of mankind, there is a certain line of conduct which belongs to every relation in life, and which cannot, perhaps, be better expressed than by the word" becomingness;" and which may be called the symmetry of the body politic. We may select a few of the more prominent distinctions of society, and see how love preserves them without giving offence.
The relation of monarch and subject is one of the social ties; and, in reference to this, love would prevent the former from employing the kingly power to crush the liberty, subvert the interests, or impoverish the resources, of his people; while it would equally prevent them from despising the person, exposing the defects, evading the authority, disturbing the peace, or embarrassing the reign, of the monarch: tyranny on the part of the prince, and rebellion on the part of the subject, are equally unbecoming, and both are hostile to that love which seeks the happiness of the whole.
The distinction of male and female is to be supported by all propriety of conduct. On the part of the man, if he be single, all trifling with the affections, all familiarity with the person, all taking advantage of the weakness of the other sex, is explicitly forbidden; as is all neglect, oppression, and unkindness towards his wife, if he be married. What a horrid unseemliness is it on the part of a husband, to become either the slave or the tyrant of his wife; either in pitiful weakness to abdicate
the throne of domestic government, or to make her a crouching vassal, trembling in its shadow; and how disgusting a spectacle is it to see a husband abandoning the society of his wife for the company of other females, and flirting, though, perhaps, with no criminal intention, with either single or married women. On the other hand, how unseemly in unmarried women, is a bold obtrusiveness of manner, an impudent forwardness of address, a clamorous and monopolizing strain of conversation, an evident attempt to attract the attention of the other sex. Modesty is the brightest ornament of the female character, its very becomingness. And women, if married, should be stayers at home, and not gossips abroad; should look well to the ways of their household, and preside over its affairs in the meekness of wisdom; for domestic indolence and neglect is, in a wife and a mother, most unseemly: nor is it less offensive to see the female head of a family usurping the seat of government, and reducing her husband to the rank of mere prime minister to the queen. Women never act more unseemly than when they become busy meddling partizans, either in politics or church affairs. Nothing can be more offensive than to see a female busy-body running from house to house to raise a party, and to influence an ecclesiastical decision; forgetting that her place is home, and her duty to learn in silence of her husband. Whatever admiration has been bestowed on the heroic females of Sparta, who fought by the side of their husbands, no such eulogy can be offered to ecclesiastical heroines, whose martial ardour leads them into the arena of church contentions.
Christian charity would repress all this unmeet, indecorous zeal.
Parents and guardians will be guarded by love, if they yield to its influence, from all unbecoming conduct. Fathers will neither be tyrannical nor too indulgent; will neither govern their children as slaves, with a rod of iron, nor, relaxing all discipline, throw the reins into their hands: for how incongruous is tyranny with a relation that implies the tenderest affection; and how unseemly is a cessation of rule in one who is invested by heaven with a sacred authority. Becomingness on the part of children, requires the most prompt and willing obedience, the most genuine and manifest affection, the most respectful and humble demeanour, towards parents, with the most anxious, and ingenious endeavours to promote their happiness. Everything approaching to improper familiarity, much more to pertness, most of all to refractoriness of manner, in a child towards a parent, is unbecoming in the last degree. In those cases where the high moral and intellectual qualities of parents are such as almost to command the exercise of filial piety from children, there is no difficulty in rendering it; but where these qualities are not possessed, there is greater danger of young persons forgetting what is due to the parental relation, and acting very improperly towards those who, whatever may be their faults, are still their parents. It is excessively unbecoming to hear children of any age, however matured or advanced, exposing, perhaps ridiculing, their parents' infirmities, treating their opinions with scorn, and reproving or upbraiding them to
their face. Let all young people recollect, that whatever may be the character of a parent,
“A mother is a mother still,
The holiest thing alive."
In the distinction of superiors and inferiors, it is very easy to see what kind of conduct is seemly, and what is unsuitable. To the former, it will prohibit all improper familiarity-for this generates contempt; and at the same time, all pride and hauteur, together with all insulting condescension. Inferiors are most tenderly alive, most keenly susceptible, to all real or supposed slights from those above them; and the feelings excited by such treatment are of the most painful kind. Pride is the most cruel of the passions, being utterly reckless of the wounds which it inflicts, the groans which it extorts, or the tears which it causes to flow. Even in its mildest exercise, by a look of scorn, by a word of insult, it often transfixes a barbed arrow in the breast of an inferior; while, by its deliberate and persevering scheme of mortification, it remorselessly crucifies the object of its contempt. O how unbecoming to employ superiority only as an eminence from whence, as, with a sort of vulture ferocity, we might pounce with greater force on a victim below. Dignified affability is the becomingness of superiority, which, while it does not remove the line of distinction, does not render it painfully visible. Love will make us cautious not to wound the feelings of others by talking to them of our superiority, or by making them in any way feel it. On the part of inferiors, it will prevent all encroaching
familiarity, all presuming upon manifested kindness-all attempt, or even wish, to level the distinctions of society-all rude, uncourteous, uncivil demeanour. Some persons seem to act as if religion removed the obligation to civility, declared war with courtesy, and involved a man in hostility with whatever things are lovely. Incivility or rudeness, manifested by the poor to the rich, by servants to masters, or by the illiterate to the well-informed, is unfriendly to the peace and good order of society, and, therefore, contrary to Christian charity.
Age and youth are also distinctions requiring a suitable or becoming line of conduct. Levity, puerility, and folly, are among the qualities which would be indecorous in the former; while obtrusiveness, forwardness, loquaciousness, and pertinacity, would be unseemly in the latter: age, to be lovely, should treat youth with kindness and forbearance; while youth should treat age with reverence, respect, and deference.
These distinctions, when carried into the Church, where they exist as well as in the world, should be maintained under the most powerful influence of the holy disposition which we are now illustrating. This will teach us with all candour and impartiality to judge of our station, and to adorn it with actions that are suitable to it. Anything unbecoming is sure to give offence, and to produce discomfort. Whether our rank be high or low, we cannot violate the rule which prescribes its duties, without occasioning pain.
Men are united in society like the organs and limbs in the human body; and no one, in either case, can be put out of its place without producing