« הקודםהמשך »
bùt the gratification of a present passion, and did not look forward to the many evils which scarcé 'ever fait to arise from a criminal connection with a profligate and artful woman. This was the original and fruitful source of all his future crimes and future misfortunes He Aattered himself that, notwithstanding his mara Tiage with Herodias, he should still be master of his own resolutions and his own actions. But Herodias soon taught him a different lesson. She shewed that she understood him much bet ter than he did himself. She convinced him that his destiny was in her hands : that she held the secret wire that governed all his mations; and that she could by one means or other, bend his mind to any purpose
which she was determined to accomplish. It was his intention to save John the Baptist. It was her intention to destroy him, and she did it. He had, indeed, the courage to resist her rem peated solicitations that he would put John to death. And he piqued himself probably on the firmness of his resolution. But Herodias was not of a temper to be discouraged by a few denials or irepulses. She knew that there ' were other more effectual ways of carrying her
point. If the king could not be compelled to surrender by assault, he might be taken by stratagem and surprise. And to this she had recourse. She saw that her daughter had attractions and accomplishments which might be turned to good account, which might be made to operate most powerfully on such a mind as Herod's,
She therefore, as we have already seen, planned the project of her dancing before him on the festival of his birth-day, in the hope that in the unguarded moments of convivial mirth, he might be betrayed into some concession, some act of indulgence towards this favourite daughter, from which he could not easily recede. The plan succeeded even probably beyond her expectations. The mot narch was caught in the snare that was laid for him. He made a rash promise to Sai lome, and confirmed that promise by an oath, that he would give her whatsoever she would ask. And when, to his infinite astonishment and grief, she demanded the life of the man whom he wished to save, instead of retreating by the only way he had left, that of retracting a promise which it was madness to make, and
the extremity of wickedness to perform, he was induced by a false point of honour (as worthless men frequently are) to commit an atrocious murder rather than violate a rash oath; an bath which could never make that right which was before intrinsically wrong, which could never bind him to any thing in itself unlawful, much less to the most unlawful of all things, the destruction of an innocent and virtuous man.
I have entered thus minutely into the detail of this remarkable transaction, because, as 1 have before remarked, every line of it is replete with the most important instruction; as indeed is the case with every part of the sacred history in the Gospel, and the Acts, which teach full as much by the facts they relate as by the precepts they inculcate. The moral lessons to be drawn from the passage before us I have already pointed out in some degree as I went along; but there are one or two of a more general import, which I shall briefly add in conclusion, and which will deserve your very serioas attention.
1 AS The first is, that in the conduct of life there is nothing more to be dreaded and avoided,
nothing more dangerous to our peace, to gur comfort, to our character, to our welfare here and hereafter, than a criminal attachment to an abandoned and unprincipled woman, more particularly in the early period of life. It has been the source of more misery, and besides all the guilt which naturally belongs to it, has led to the commission of more and greater crimes than perhaps any other single cause that can be named. We have seen into what a gulph-of-sin' and suffering it plunged the kwretched Herod. He began with adulters, and he ended with murder, and with the total ruin of himself, his kingdom, and all the vile partners of his ginlt. The same has happened in a thousand other instances; and there are,
Iam perstarled, few persons here present, of any age or experience in the world, who can
not recolleut nunbers, both of individuals and tof families, whose peace, tranquility, comfort, seharacters, and fortunes, have been completely destroyed by illicit and licentious conjections of this sorti Nor is this the worst Tlie prebent effects of these vices, dreadtuk as they sometimes are, cannot be compared with the bobiovo omaro 14ct anume.401. misery,
misery, which they are preparing for us here: after. The Scriptures every where rank these vices in the number of those presumptuous sins, which, in a future life, will experience the se, verest marks of Divine displeasure. The world indeed, treats them with more indulgence. They are excused and palliated, and even de fended on the ground of human frailty, of natural constitution, of strong passions, and invincible temptations; and they are generally considered and represented in various popular performances (especially in those imported from foreign countries) as associated with many amiable virtues, with goodness of heart, with high principles of honour, with benevolence, compassion, humanity, and generosity. But whatever gentle names may be given to, sensuality and licentiousness, : whatever specious, apologies may be made for them, whatever wit or talents may be employed in rendering them popular and fashionable, what, ever numbers, whatever examples may sanction or authorize them, it is impossible that any thing can do
their natural turpitude and deformity, or avert those punishments which