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Thomas A. (Thomas Asbury) Morris.

Miscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel online

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out character, without means of support, or industry to
acquire it. And if to all this be added gross intemper-
ance, and its kindred vices, the case becomes quite intol-
erable. Yet there is no remedy for these oppressive evils,
bad as they are, but to let patience have its perfect work,
till death brings her the desired relief.



58 MISCELLANY.

It is often said, in connection with this subject, "There
is no accounting for taste." Perhaps it is so in some
cases, especially such as those above described. Yet I
am not sure but some things connected with the choice of
companions, and generally regarded as mysterious, may
be traced out and explained on natural principles. One
thing, at least, appears to me, from long-continued obser-
vation, to be pretty well established, namely : There is,
both in men and women, a natural proneness to fall in
love with those who form a contrast with themselves ; and
in nothing is this principle so strongly developed, as in the
choice of companions for life. Examples : Large men
generally select small wives, and small men large wives;
and as it requires two to make a bargain, it would seem
that small ladies admire large husbands, and large ladies
admire small husbands. A man of dark complexion,
black eyes and hair, with heavy, black mustaches, and
goatee beard — resembling that of the loathsome animal
after which it is called — generally selects a wife with pale
blue, or light hazel eyes, light hair, and fair complexion.
If the husband has a long, narrow face, the wife has a
short or round one — if the husband has a curving face,
and receding forehead, then you may expect to see a wife
whose face is straight, if not dished. Ladies who have
dark hair and eyes, and brunette skin, generally marry hus-
bands with sandy hair, light eyes, and white complexion.
The pale and ruddy, the feeble and robust, are, also,
prone to meet. To these rules there are, of rourse, some
exceptions. And yet they hold good so generally, that
one practiced in observation upon them, has frequently
pointed out, in a mixed assembly, a wife whom he never
saw before, nor heard described, by being previously intro-
duced to her husband, and pointed out a husband, in the
same way, by being previously introduced to the wife.
Should the reader still doubt the existence of any such



ESSAYS. 59

principle as the love of contrast, as developed in the
choice of companions, let him apply the rule in a hundred
cases, as they come, before he decides.

One natural consequence of this system of choosing
husbands and wives is, the children are often dissimilar in
their appearance ; and when that is the case, as a general
rule, the sons inherit the features of the mother, and the
daughters those of the father. Another consequence is,
the race of man is preserved in a proper state of equi-
librity, and his human identity easily maintained. From
all which it might, perhaps, be safely inferred, that this
love of contrast, the practical operation of which brings
together all these extremes of large and small, long and

o 0*0

short, athletic and feeble, swarthy and fair, is wisely
implanted in us by the benign Creator as one of the laws
of our nature, and if restricted in its exercise to mere
physical considerations, would be both innocent and useful.
It may, however, be indulged to an injurious extent, and,
like all other gifts of Heaven, be abused. Perhaps the
love of contrast may have some agency, or, at least, exert
some remote influence, in bringing together, under the
sanction of an indissoluble union, those whose natural
dispositions, social habits, moral principles, and religious
creeds, are not only variant, but conflicting. The reserved
and the frank, the loquacious and the taciturn, the close
and the liberal, the meek and the irritable, the industrious
and the idle, the moralist and the libertine, are often
united in the enduring relation of husband and wife, the
probable effects of which can be more easily imagined
than endured. There is, also, among those who are gen-
erally regarded as strictly religious, frequently observed a
want of suitableness in their marriage connections — Pedo-
baptists and Immersionists, Calvinists and Arminians,
Episcopalians and Independents, Methodists and Presbyte-
rians, blended together in matrimonial bonds. That these



60 MISCELLANY.

may all be experimental and practical Christians, and on
their way to heaven, is admitted. Still, they must suffer
some inconvenience from such connections. In the im-
portant matter of attending public worship, for example,
they have to separate, or alternately attend each other's
Church ; while the children, it would seem, scarcely know
to which Church they pertain. It would probably be
better to adjust this matter, and guard against these diffi-
culties in the outset, by becoming members of the same
Church, wherever it can be done without sacrifice of prin-
ciple or a good conscience. And, after all, while the true
friends of Jesus marry within the pales of his evangelical
Churches, though the husband and wife may belong to
different denominations, there is but little ground of objec-
tion. If they are disposed to suffer the inconvenience
arising to themselves and families from such connections,
so let it be. But when they intermarry with those who
are known, or believed to be the enemies of Christ, there
are serious grounds of objection in the estimation of all
the truly wise and pious. And among those grounds of
objection are the following, which, I trust, will be duly
considered by those concerned.

The intermarriage of practical Christians with una-
wakened sinners is inconsistent. In the enterprise of lead-
ing a pious life to gain heaven, we need to avoid every
possible hinderance, and avail ourselves of all the help
within our reach. The way to heaven is strait and nar-
row. Why, then, should we form any connection with
those whose influence would bewilder and turn us aside?
When we commenced the Christian race, we professed to
lay aside every weight. Why, then, should we stop and
take up a heavy burden on the way ? As Christians, wc
can make no compromise with sin, without abandoning
our principles and our blood-bought liberty, and, there-
fore, should form no alliance with sinners, lest we be



ESSAYS. 61

entangled again with the yoke of bondage. As the chil-
dren of God, our heavenly Father speaks to us on this
wise : -Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing;
and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and
ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
almighty." This we have professedly done, by sepa-
rating from all worldly associates, uniting with the
Church of Christ, and claiming the promise of adoption ;
and will we now abandon our Christian calling, reunite
with the enemies of the cross, and retrace our steps to sin
and death? I trust not. Our baptismal vow requires us
to renounce the world, the flesh, and Satan, and obe-
diently keep God's holy commandments. How, then, can
a pious female, with this vow upon her, deliberately prom-
ise, at the marriage altar, to "obey" one whose governing
principle of action is the carnal mind, which is enmity
against God? How inconsistent! The thought is too
absurd to be entertained for a moment. She should dash
it from her, and have done with it forever.

The marriage of a practical Christian to an una-
wakened person is inconvenient. " How can two walk
together, except they be agreed?" But a Christian and
an infidel are agreed in nothing pertaining to the subject
of religion. Their belief, their principle of action, their
habits, pursuits, pleasures, purposes, are all not only dif-
ferent, but opposite. And here let it be observed, that
every unawakened and impenitent sinner is, practically, an
infidel, though he may not be so professedly. He, of
course, sees no necessity for his wife to be habitually seri-
ous and pious, or for her to attend Church every Sabbath,
much less for her being punctual to her social meetings,
and cultivating the fellowship of the saints. So far from
aiding her to walk in Christ as she has received him, he
is a hinderance of the worst kind — worst, because of his

6



62 MISCELLANY.

relation to, and influence over her continually. If he occa-
sionally accompany her to the house of God, it is, per-
haps, only to furnish himself with an argument to influ-
ence her, in turn, to go with him to a ball, or theater, or
on a Sabbath-day's excursion of pleasure, that she may
disgrace her Christian profession, be censured by her relig-
ious friends, and finally weaned off from them altogether.
If she wish to have their children consecrated to God,
sent to Sabbath school, and brought up religiously, he
will probably prefer sending them to a dancing school, or
leading them to places of fashionable amusement and
sinful pleasure. While she would teach them to pray, he
learns them, by example, to neglect it; while she would
teach them to read and love the Bible, he furnishes them
with silly romance. In a word, while she aims to be
religious, get to heaven, and take her family with her, he
is traveling the way to perdition, and, by example, if not
precept, doing what he can to draw his wife, children, and
friends after him. Now, with such opposite views and
feelings, pursuits and practices, to say the least, there must
be great inconvenience arising to the religious party from
a connection so intimate and enduring.

For a Christian lady to be united in marriage to an
unawakened husband, must be unfavorable to her happi-
ness. It must be so almost of necessity, by having her
wishes crossed continually in that which is to her of the
greatest moment. For example, as a practical Christian,
she wishes her house to be a house of prayer, with an
altar, on which shall be offered daily the sacrifice of
prayer and praise — a house where the weekly Sabbath shall
be strictly kept, and where her religious friends may freely
resort, and, without embarrassment, hold pious converse
for mutual profit and consolation. But the head of the
family being irreligious, there is no family prayer, no
proper observance of the Sabbath, no pleasant religious



ESSAYS. 63

association, none of the songs of Zion; on the contrary,
tier dwelling is made a place of resort for the worldly-
minded and impious, by whom her religion is not appreci-
ated, and by whom the name of her blessed Savior, if
used at all, is used irreverently. In some instances the
unawakened husband becomes the opposer, ay, the perse-
cutor of his pious wife, trying to block up her way at
every step, and venting his indignation upon her pastor,
and all others who extend to her either aid or sympathy.
Certainly, a wife, under such circumstances, can have but
little enjoyment, except what comes from anticipation of
deliverance in the hour of death. Yet thousands of our
pious young ladies, from year to year, are heedlessly
forming such connections and becoming victims to such
like troubles. It is time for others to pause and think
before they take the fearful step. That a few such hus-
bands get awakened, converted, and become agreeable
companions, is not a sufficient warrant for taking the risk.
Too many, by marrying sinners, with the hope of their
becoming saints, have ruined their prospect of happiness
for life.

The marriage of a Christian lady to an unawakened
and impenitent sinner is not only inconsistent, inconven-
ient, and unfavorable to her happiness, but exceedingly
dangerous. Every individual is more or less influenced by
his or her immediate associates, especially by one so inti-
mately associated as a bosom companion for life. That
influence is always good or evil. But, inasmuch as the
natural tendency of the human heart is to evil, the relig-
ious party is much more likely to be worsted than the irre-
ligious is to be bettered, and especially so, if the irre-
ligious party is head of the family, claiming the right to
rule his own household. Where the husband and .wife
differ essentially in their views and professions, feelings
and habits, there must be some compromise, or constant



64 MISCELLANY.

liability to unpleasant misunderstanding; and that com-
promise is very likely to be made at a sacrifice, on her
part, of privileges important to her religious prosperity
and enjoyment. Let all concerned look well to this point
before they bring upon themselves, by improper marriage,
any necessity of compromise. Trust not too much to
promises of future reformation. Voluntary professions of
friendship for the Church, and vows of future alliance
with it, made by unconverted men, anxious to obtain its
fair and pious daughters for wives, have often been for-
gotten or violated after marriage, when it was too late to
correct the error of listening to them. The united wisdom
of our Church on this subject, gathered from experience
and extensive observation, is thus briefly expressed in her
Discipline: "Many of our members have married with
unawakened persons. This has produced bad effects; they
have been either hindered for life, or have turned back to
perdition." This is, undoubtedly, true in general. There
may be a few exceptions, occasioned by the early conver-
sion of the irreligious party, and only a few, compared
with the whole number. Most of our pious young females
who have married with the unawakened, hoping thereby
to bring them over on the Lord's side, have been sadly
disappointed. It is a dangerous experiment, try it who
will. How can pious parents give their religious daughter,
nay, how can she give herself to an enemy of the blessed
Savior — that Savior whom she ought to love above every
thing in earth or heaven ? How can she, as a child of
God, promise to obey one whose heart is alienated from
his Creator, whose mind is enmity against him, and whose
life is one continuous act of rebellion against his sacred
laws? Let her consider the following Scripture author-
ities, and then let conscience answer.

My first reference is to the sixth chapter of Genesis:
" And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on



ESSAYS. 65

the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they
were fair; and they took them wives of all which they
chose." That intermarriage of the pious and impious not
only occasioned the Divine threat, " My Spirit shall not
always strive with man," but led to a state of society in
which " the earth also was corrupt before God ; and the
earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the
earth, and behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh had cor-
rupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto
Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the
earth is filled with violence through them : and behold, I
will destroy them with the earth." Again: the prophet
Nchemiah, after much fasting and prayer, was sent to
Jerusalem to reform certain evils, and, among others, that
of improper marriages, saying, " In those days, also, saw
I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and
of Moab: and their children spake half in the speech of
Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but
according to the language of each people. And I con-
tended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of
them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear
by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto
their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for
yourselves." But the New Testament rule, which bears
more directly upon us, is still more decisive, and is
enforced by reasons sufficient to satisfy every reasonable
inquirer after truth on this subject: "Be ye not -ine-
qually yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellow-
ship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness? and what concord
hath Christ with Belial ? or what part hath he that believ-
eth with an infidel?" This law is so appropriate and
pointed, that no comment could render it either plainer or
stronger.

6*



66 MISCELLANY.

Finally : this article is not designed to dissuade mem
bers of the Church from marrying with those out of the
Church, provided they be firm believers in, and true friends
of our holy Christianity, properly informed respecting its
obligations, and earnestly seeking salvation, but to dis-
courage them from forming any such connections with the
enemies of Christ. There are two evils against which 1
would here caution all who would be truly pious, useful,
and happy. One is, marrying with impenitent sinners;
and the other is, refusing or neglecting to get married
altogether, lest they should have to linger out a tedious
old aee in solitude, and die unlamented. There is cer-
tainly no fatal necessity for falling into either dilemma.
All Christians who will, may avoid the reproach of swell-
ing the list of old maids and bachelors, without commit-
ting themselves to the tender mercies of the wicked, which
are cruel. There are many promising candidates for mat-
rimony in the Church, and perhaps some out of it ; and
if some of these do not suit exactly, others will. In
regard to this important enterprise, there is a proper
medium between indecent haste, on one hand, and total
indifference on the other. Shunning both extremes, pro-
ceed as a Christian should do, make it a subject of little
conversation with man, but much prayer to God; for it
involves greater interest than any other act of human life.
Be careful and prudent, wait patiently the opening of
Providence, till there is an opportunity to form a safe and
happy union, then improve it. And when such union is
formed, let the parties make the best of it, for the glory
of God, the good of society, and their own happiness.



ESSAYS. 67



HUMAN LIFE.

This life is a compound of good and evil, pleasure and
pain, toil and rest, hope and disappointment. On one
hand, before we are ushered into being, a universe is pre-
pared for our reception and accommodation, which affords
us aliment pleasant to the taste, crystal streams to quench
our thirst, the balmy air to inhale, the sun to light up the
path of our earthly pilgrimage, the sweet melody of
nature to enliven our feelings, and many kind friends to
sympathize with us in all our troubles. On the other
hand, the day we begin to live we begin to suffer, and, in
one sense, to die. From infancy we are the subjects of
pain, sickness, vexation, anguish, and revenge, till ex-
hausted nature sinks beneath the accumulated weight of
evils, or till some of the multiplied thousands of diseases
to which humanity is heir, bring us down to the house
appointed for all the living.

It is well for us that, when we commence the journey
of life, we are ignorant of what lies before us; for if we
could then foresee all the plans, failures, treacheries, and
losses, which come up in after life, that sight would so
overwhelm us, as to paralyze all our efforts, and blast all
our prospects. By a wise arrangement of Providence, we
know not what a day may bring forth. The history of
life is learned as it transpires. In the mean time, Hope is
buoyant, and, though often disappointed, it is among the
last of all our friends that forsake us. When the winds
of adversity howl around and threaten to overwhelm us,
Hope reaches within the vail of safety, and, like the mari-
ner's anchor, is the most useful in a storm. When pov-
erty blights our earthly possessions, or disease invades
our domestic circles, and is permitted to spread the winter



(jS MISCELLANY.

of death around us, Hope, like a smiling evergreen, rears
its lovely form before the vision of our desolate hearts.
Thus we are borne onward through the changing scenes
of mortal life.

In contemplating human life, there is, perhaps, nothing
which strikes us more forcibly, or admonishes us more
frequently, than the thought of its brevity. After breath-
ing for half a century, then reviewing the past, life appears
as a dream when one awakes from his night slumbers ;
and should fifty per cent, be yet added to the years of his
life, he would be but a breathing mass of physical and
mental weakness, tottering on the verge of time, ready to
launch on the dark ocean of death. And is our race so
nearly run ? and are we so little concerned about the end
of it? Again: how many millions of our race, who came
into being after we did, have gone to the eternal state !
Neither childhood, youth, nor manhood has any security
against the shafts of death. Of the nine hundred millions
of human beings now upon earth, as nearly as can be
calculated, there is one birth and one death per second, on
an average. And are the children of men going into
eternity at the rate of sixty per minute, or three thousand
six hundred per hour, or eighty-six thousand four hundred
per day, or nine hundred millions per one generation of
thirty years ? and is not our time at hand ? Though the
patriarchs lived for centuries, the life of man has, ever
since their day, been gradually growing shorter, as he
increases in the luxuries of civilized society. In the days
of the Psalmist, the years of his life were reduced to
threescore and ton, and, perhaps, now would scarcely
average thirty years. How truly it is said, " Man that is
born of a woman, is few of days and full of trouble. He
cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth,
also, as a shadow, and continueth not!" In view of all
which, it follows, to consider our latter end, so as to pre-



KS S A Y S. 09

pan- for it, is wisdom, and to neglect it is madness. "Seek
ye the Lord while he may be found," Isaiah lv, 6.

Dying- is truly a solemn event, but living is still more so,
when properly considered. For every act of life we arc
accountable to the great Author of our being ; but for the
pains of death we are not accountable. It is not in death,
but while living, that we adopt our principles, form our
characters, and take our coloring for eternity. When a
man dies in the order of Providence, he is not held
responsible for the time, place, or circumstances of his
dissolution ; but, let it be remembered, the King of kings
and Lord of lords has said, " For every idle word that
men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the
day of judgment." Every day that we live we are laying
up a good foundation against the time to come, or treas-
uring up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revela-
tion of the righteous judgments of God. Our business in
this w^orld, therefore, is to get well through and safe out
of it; and whoever does this, shall have accomplished the
great end of living ; but whoever fails herein, will have
occasion to say, with the celebrated statesman, when
dying, "Remorse;" and it would be better for such a
delinquent if he had never been born.

In regard to the termination of life, that which should
concern us most is to be prepared for it, and for what lies
beyond it. Whether we sink under slowly-wasting disease,
or break with sickness in a day — whether we die at home,
surrounded with family and friends, or abroad amidst
strangers, or entirely alone, is not material ; but every
thing depends on dying in Christ, and being saved with
the power of an endless life. A few years ago, a young
man, in the city of New Orleans, whose friends had
assembled to witness his departure from this world, and
catch the last whispers that might fall from his quivering
lips, on reviewing the countless dangers through which he



70 M 1 S C E L L A N Y .

had passed, and surveying the crown of life, then full in
view, amidst the agonies of death, exclaimed, "I am
safe !" That young man was a Christian, and knew
whom he had believed. Jesus has vanquished death.
All that trust in Him, whenever and wherever they meet
the pale horse and his rider, shall "conquer through the
blood of the Lamb."



TIME.

Time is a particular portion or part of duration, which,
to us, may be present, past, or future. Time, as it refers
to this world, is measured by days, years, and centuries ;
therefore, it had a beginning, and will have an end.
Hence, the definition of one author: "Time is a fragment
of eternity cut off at both ends." Moreover, it is a re-
vealed truth, that "time is short." When time will end
is unknown to man or angel, as our Lord Jesus Christ
informs us : "Of that day and hour knoweth no man ; no,
not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." But the
manner of its termination is revealed, and is truly awful :
"And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon



Online LibraryThomas A. (Thomas Asbury) MorrisMiscellany: consisting of essays, biographical sketches and notes of travel → online text (page 5 of 30)