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Such a stress does the established order of nature teach us to lay upon little things. And if we look into the moral world, we shall find that they are not there to be considered as of less importance.
Behold an abandoned and hardened murderer, who is about to receive from the hands of public justice the ignominious punishment due to his crimes! You survey with terror and astonishment his vice; you are shocked while you consider his daring profligacy, his furious passions, his avowed defiance of God and man, his hardness of heart, and his universal depravity. Would you know by what means he arrived at such a dreadful pitch of sin? It was one little step taken after another, which brought him to it. He began by neglecting the worship of God, proceeded to breaking the sabbath, resisted the remonstrances of conscience, indulged his passions without constraint; to gratify them, he pilfered and stole ; one act led to another; till at length he became such a monster of criminality, that it was no longer consistent with the safety of mankind that he should be permitted to live. But would you know what was the seed which produced this evil fruit, what was the principle which uniformly operated upon him, and induced him to risk the loss of his wealth, his reputation, and his life? It was this, the desire of present gratification. Yes,
it was this, which is thought of no consequence by almost all mankind; which is even cherished by many as the chief source of pleasure; which, when it once prevails and overcomes the bounds of reason and religion, produces those dreadful effects that leave no hope of amendment, and almost necessarily terminate in irresistible ruin. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Contemplate also the unhappy woman, whose licentious conduct has banished her from the society of her own sex, and whose scandalous profligacy and shameless impudence make her shunned by all but the most worthless of the other. In her countenance and conduct appears not so much as a simple trace of the amiable graces which should characterize her sex. See her brought to a state of sin, which excites disgust even in the wicked; and to a state of misery, shame, poverty, and ruin, which shock even the hardest heart! To what shall we attribute this dreadful accumulation of crime and wretchedness? What powerful cause has produced it? Perhaps it may have been one, the evil of which is little suspected. It is, indeed, a small spark which kindleth such a fire. It may have been only the love of admiration. That vanity which is seldom considered as any crime, which is even cherished while it does not become immoderate, as being in some respects pleasing; that vanity
which teaches the arts of captivating, which studies the effect of dress, and is employed in adorning and decking the person; that vanity is the author of this wide extended ruin. It is the little seed from which it has grown and arrived to such dreadful luxuriance. It is true, it does not always produce such deplorable effects; but we are to consider its tendency, if it were not restrained and counteracted as it generally is. The fear of shame, the opposition of better principles, the authority of those who are revered or dreaded, the clashing of selfinterest or evil passions, or the wholesome discipline of adversity, check, in many cases, its luxuriance, and stifle its growth; so that its proper tendency and effect are not discerned. Still the eye of wisdom, and the light of religion, discover them, and show all the evils which afterwards may appear, if circumstances are favorable to their growth; which are already contained in it, and, if suffered to expand, will presently shoot forth and bear fruit.
CALAMITIES OF WAR.
THOUGH We must all die, as the woman of Tekoa said, and are as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up; yet it is impossible
for a human mind to contemplate the rapid extinction of innumerable lives without concern. perish in a moment, to be hurried instantaneously, without preparation and without warning, into the presence of the Supreme Judge, has something in it inexpressibly awful and affecting. Since the commencement of those hostilities which are now so happily closed, it may be reasonably conjectured that not less than half a million of our fellow creatures have fallen a sacrifice. Half a million of beings, sharers of the same nature, warmed with the same hopes, and as fondly attached to life as ourselves, have been prematurely swept into the grave; each of whose deaths has pierced the heart of a wife, a parent, a brother, or a sister! How many of these scenes of complicated distress have occurred since the commencement of hostilities, is known only to Omniscience; that they are innumerable cannot admit of a doubt. In some parts of Europe, perhaps, there is scarcely a family exempt.
Though the whole race of man is doomed to dissolution, and we are all hastening to our long home; yet at each successive moment, life and death seem to divide betwixt them the dominion of mankind, and life to have the larger share. It is otherwise in war; death reigns there without a rival and without control. War is the work, the element, or rather the sport and triumph of death,
who glories, not only with the extent of his conquest, but in the richness of his spoil. In the other methods of attack, in the other forms which death assumes, the feeble and the aged, who at the best can live but a short time, are usually the victims; here it is the vigorous and the strong. It is remarked by the most ancient of poets, that in peace children bury their parents, in war parents bury their children; nor is the difference small. Children lament their parents, sincerely, indeed, but with that moderate and tranquil sorrow, which it is natural for those to feel, who are conscious of retaining many tender ties, many animating prospects. Parents mourn for their children with the bitterness of despair; the aged parent, the widowed mother, loses, when she is deprived of her children, every thing but the capacity of suffering; her heart, withered and desolate, admits no other object, cherishes no other hope. It is Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are not.
But to confine our attention to the number of the slain, would give us a very inadequate idea of the ravages of the sword. The lot of those who perish instantaneously may be considered, apart from religious prospects, as comparatively happy, since they are exempt from those lingering diseases and slow torments to which others are liable. We cannot see an individual expire, though