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habits of sensuality; than which, independent of the evil effects we have noticed to proceed from them, no vices more indispose the mind to those views of man which represent him, as he is, an accountable being, on probation for eternity.
.“ However it be accounted for, the criminal « commerce of the sexes corrupts and depravos 66 the mind and moral character more than any 66 single species of vice whatsoever. That ready “ perception of guilt, that prompt and decisive « resolution against it, which constitutes a vir“ tuous character, is seldom found in persons " addicted to those indulgencies. They prepare “6 an easy admission for every sin that seeks it; care, in low life, usually the first stage in men's 6 progress to the most desperate villainies; and, " in high life, to that lamented dissoluteness of 6 principle, which manifests itself in a profligacy 66 of public conduct, and a contempt of the " obligations of religion and of moral probity. 66 Add to this, that habits of Libertinism inca“ pacitate and indispose the mind for all in16 tellectual, moral, and religious pleasures :
66 which is a great loss to any man's happi66 ness *."
It is of importance indeed to a manly and elevated self-controul in this point, that you should perceive and feel how deeply injurious to society is the practice we condemn, and how reasonable and benignant is its prohibition, by that Divine Being whose laws are directed to the temporal as well as future welfare of mankind; but such is the imperfection of human benevolence, that this principle will generally prove an insufficient security to the purity of thought as well as of conduct, required by the Gospel; unless it is supported by an habitual and lively sense of the Divine Presence and government:-which can only be fully maintained by the regular and considerate use of daily prayer. Never then be induced, whatever your failings or faults, never be induced to forsake this practice. He who relinquishes this powerful protection of his vir
* Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, (Chapters on Fornication and Seduction). The reader of those Chapters will perceive that this Essay is indebted to them for some leading thoughts ; as indeed it probably is for its exis. tence.
tue, must be content to relinquish all pretensions to the plea of sincerely endeavouring to avoid eyil, since he. abandons, his most effectual and easy means of success.
A nobler object can hardly present itself to the imagination than that of a young man restraining his passions (until they can be innocently indulged) from a lively sense of the injury arising to his fellow creatures, and especially to the weaker sex, from the prevalence of criminal indulgence: animated to perseverance by the elevating reflection that, in the exercise of this selfcontroal, he is improving his moral nature; qualifying it for future exaltation in dignity and happiness ; and offering at the same time to his Creator the most sublime and acceptable of all sacrifices; the sacrifice of his own inclinations to His will and to the general welfare.
These virtuous habits, so far from weakening his sensibilities, preserve them warm and unblunted by satiety; and I believe it will generally be found, that in proportion as men abstain from sensuality, they are susceptible of the tender passion in its greatest ardency, as well as purity; and that they are as generally to be
distinguished by that esteem and delicate attention towards the sex; the want of which so remarkably characterizes modern manners.
It has been alleged that the fair sex are often partial to dissipated characters. If this be true of some women of lighter principles, the fact betrays no less ignorance of the tendencies of human nature, than an absence of all real delicacy of character. For a very little reflection would convince them, that independent of the amiable dispositions and rectitude of mind, implied in the voluntary chastity (when proceeding from the noble motives we have suggested) of a youth in the bloom of health and vigour; such a person is likely to set a much higher value on the endearments of conjugal life, than the debauchee, to whom little would be new in the married state, except its inconveniences and uniformity; and which his habits have only served to disqualify him from submitting to, with temper and cheerfulness.
To conclude: -A more extensive field of real usefulness does not usually offer to most men, than in the exercise and promotion of a generous chastity; and as society and opinions are now
constituted, to most men a more arduous trial of integrity does not usually present itself :-Let us therefore at least endeavour with sincerity to act the part our cooler reflection points out as right, and then we may rejoice in the assurance that every reasonable indulgence will be extended to error really involuntary, and that every effort of virtue shall be rewarded with proportionate self-gratification here, and bliss hereafter.