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persons of all
pleasures, she could be as cruel as she had been licentious; could contrive and accomplish the destruction of a great and good man, could feast her eyes with the sight of his mangled head in a charger, could even make her own poor
child the instrument of her vengeance, and, as I am inclined to think, a reluctant accomplice in a most atrocious murder.
Here is a most awful lesson held out, not only to the female sex, but to both sexes, to
and conditions, to beware of giving way to any one evil propensity in their nature, however it may be disguised, under popular names, however indulgently it may be treated by the world, however it
may be authorized by the general practice of mankind; because they here see that they may not only be led into the grossest extravagancies of that individual passion, but may
also be insensibly befrayed into the commission of crimes of the deepest dye, which in their serious moments they always contemplated with the utmost horror.
Let ús now take our leave of this wretched woman, and turn our attention for a moment to her unhappy daughter. Here undoubtedly
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there is much to blame, but there is also somes thing to pity and to lament. Her youth, her inexperience, her unfortunate situation in a most corrupt court, the vile example that was constantly before her
the influence, the authority, the commands of a profligate mother, these are circumstances that plead powerfully for compassion, and tend in some degree to mitigate her guilt. Her first fault evidently was that gross violation of all decorum, and all custom too, in appearing and dancing publicly before Herod and a large number of his friends assembled at a festive meeting, and perhaps half intoxicated with wine. But it is not probable that a young woman of high rank, and so very tender an age as she seems to have been, should have voluntarily taken such a step as this, or should have been able to subdue at once all the modesty and the timidity of her sex,and acquire courage enough to encounter the
and the observations of so licentious an assembly. There can be little doubt, that she was wrought upon by the persuasions of her artful mother, who flattere ed herself that this artifice might produce some such effect in the mind of Herod as
actually followed. What adds great weight to this conjecture is, that her next dreadful transgression, her singular and sanguinary request to have the head of John the Baptist presented to her, was unquestionably the suggestion of the abandoned Herodias. 1. The sacred historian expressly informs us, that it was in consequence of being before in structed of her mother that she made this demand. Nor is this all; there is great reason to believe that it was with the utmost difficulty she was prevailed on to comply with the injunctions that were given her; for the original words προβιβασθεισα υπο της μητρος, which we translate before instructed of her mother, more strictly signify being wrought upon, instigated, and impelled by her mother; for this is the sense in which that expression is used by the best Greek writers.
This supposition receives no small confira mation from the manner in which she is represented by the evangelist as delivering her answer to Herod. “She came straightway with håste unto the king;" she betrayed on her return the utmost emotion and agitation VOL. II. с
of mind. She had worked herself up to a ren solution of obeying her mother; and was in haste to execute her commission, lest if any pause hart intervened her heart should relenti, her spirits fail her, and she should bot have courage to utter the dreadfał demand she had to make mis. 1.é: i bu * All this seems to imply great reluctance coto her part, and is evidently a considerablelalle viation of her crime; yet does by mos nieans exempt her from all guilt. For althoughtobedience to parents is a very sacred dutyza vet there is another duty superior to it, that which We owe to our Maker. And whenever even a parent would incite us to anything plainly repugnant to his laws, as was the case in the present instance, wemust, though with all possible decency and respect, yet with firmness and with courage, resist the impions command, and declare it to be our decided resolution
to obey God rather than man."; v The next person that claims onr notice in tting interesting narrative is Herodo+hrimiself. We have already seen his inconsistent andandecided confluet respecting John. He had in 91 Tertibil
a moment of exasperation thrown him into prison; but from a respect to his character, and fear of the consequences if he offered him any further violence, he suffered him to remain ud. molested, and even frequently admitted him to his presence, and held conversations with him. And it is not improbable that after some time his resentment might bavę subsided, and he might have released his prisoner. But when once a man has involved himself deeply ia guilt, he has no safe ground to stand upon. Every thing is unsound and rotten under his feet. He cannot say,
“ so far will I go in wickedness, and no farther." The crimes be has already committed may have an unseen connection with others, of which he has not the slightest suspicion; and he may be hurried, when he least intends it, into enormities, of which he once thought himself utterly inca pable. This was the case in the present in
When Herod first engaged in his guilty intercourse with Herodias, he probably meant to go no further. He meant to content himself with adultery and incest, and had no intentions of adding murder to the black cataJogue of his crimes. He had no other view C%