Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

relation which is made the fountain of her deepest sorrows, under the iron reign of sin, becomes itself the well-spring of her salvation, through the law of " faith and charity and holiness" revealed in Jesus Christ. So profoundly true again is that other declaration: "The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man;" or as we have it in another place: "The husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." (1 Cor. xi. 3; Eph. v. 23.) So intimately close is the union for which the sexual distinction opens the way, and in which alone it comes finally to its true meaning.

On this union, the primitive and most fundamental form of human fellowship, depends not simply the perpetuation of the race, but the entire problem besides of its social and moral history. It is by means of it, in the first place, that the generic or universal life of man is brought to assert its proper authority over against the life of the individual singly and separately considered. The individual is forced to feel that he is no complete whole in himself; that his nature can be true to its own constitution only by passing beyond his single person, and seeking its necessary complement in another; that in one word, to be a true and full man at all, he must enter into communion with his race, and make himself tributary, in a free way, to the high ends for which he has been placed in the world. This subordination of the single life to the general, is of such vast consequence to the entire plan and structure of the moral world, that it must be secured by an invincible guaranty in the constitution of the world itself. It is curious and instructive to sec accordingly, how. the law of society, lying as it does at the foundation of all ethics, is here made to take root, as it were, "in the lowest parts of the earth;" illustrating, on a grand scale, the proposition affirmed in the beginning of this article, that all morality lias its basis in nature, and is to be regarded as genuine, only as it shows itself to be in very truth the efflorescence of this lower life, bursting upwards into the ethereal region of the spirit.

The bond by which the sexes are thus drawn together is lodged, in the first instance, deep in the physical constitution of

those who are under its power. In tb form, it is the sexual appetite or insUK'-i purely natural tendency, which has for in object the preservation of the raw, a the instinct of hunger is designed to secure the preservation of the singk»£vidual. It is the power of the pm. nature over its own constituent factors tf parts, by which these are urged to sei each in the other, the full sense of ikr proper bearing, and thus to consiirw. the way of reciprocal appropriation, a iring union that may fairly represent both. But nature here, as elsewhere, is required to lose itself always in the pairf of a higher life, in which its action shall K longer be blind and unfree, but the p duct of the spirit itself in its own Ira form. As the sexual relation extend;'* the whole person, the union for*hkis calls can never be complete, except sss is made to embrace this in its full loufo, under a strictly central and universal t« It must be a union of mind and will i process of mutual apprehension, aDd rn.frocal personal appropriation, in the f»thest depths of the soul. In no othti form can it be truly normal, and amicable to the high purposes it is designed t« serve. The sexual tendency, tttoead this way, and sublimated into the sphei of personality, becomes lore. This » always in its very nature something mon« and spiritual, springing from the ■will, afci having regard to the inmost person. Nt. in the case before us, it is in the fid*-) sense also sexual. It rests throughuoti* the distinction of sex, and regards !> spirit only as beheld and appreheiuTM under such modification. Hence the l^* imate power of beauty, as constitutiw: <)* the side of either sex to the eye of d* other, the outward image and expr(*W of the inward life in its sexual iVrm. *• ■ true beauty, of course, in this vie*. '-» back upon the spirit, while at the *" time its proper revelation is to oe ww'l in the outward person. A sexual uv.tm* that includes no regard to be*utvB*j necessarily be immoral, as falling slw; that high spiritual region, in whkh <*J love finds its suitable "home. The »WJ animal nature, in such case, is stiffeni prevail over the human. It belongs «•■ love, not to overthrow absolutely isM the power of mere sense, but still *' l° iver it at every point with its own superior ■esence, that it shall not be permitted to ime into separate view.

Love, as now described, includes in itself ways a regard to the sexual character as ich; and so far, there is truth and force

the observation of Sterne, that no man •er loves any one woman as he should, ho has not at the same time a love for ;r whole sex. This, however, is only le side of the subject. Love, to be comiete, must be also strictly and distinctly dividual, determined towards its object as single person to the exclusion of all others.

The single plant is only a specimen of 3 kind, the particular animal a copy of le tribe to which it belongs. But it is )t thus in the human sphere. The indiidual man is vastly more than a passing templification simply of the generic life lat flows through his person. He comrehends in himself an independent spefic nature, that can be properly repre:nted by no other. His individuality is Iways at the same time personal, and as ich something universal and constant; as a the other hand his personality is always [dividual, taking its special complexion ■om the living material nature out of 'hich it springs. Every such individual ersonality is a world within itself, existing nder given relations to other worlds of Drresponding nature around it. No two f these are exactly alike, and all by these ifferences fall short of the measure that elongs to humanity as a whole. This is [instituted only by the society and union f the individual personalities into which • falls, joined together morally, not with idiscriminate conjunction, but according 3 specific reciprocal correspondence, in lie way of inward want and supply. The ;eneral law of moral association then leing such, it must extend of course in ull power to the primary and fundamenil union which we have now under conideration. It lies in the very conception ( love, as already explained, that it hould concentrate itself upon the spirit, « revealed under a sexual form; but to do his fully, it must be carried by inward •leetivc affinity towards its object as a sarticular person. It is not simply the general attraction of sex, that can satisfy ts demands; it requires besides that this 'Uraction shall lodge itself in the presence

VOL. II. NO. IV. NEW SERIES. 25

of a specific personal life, which is felt to be such as the necessary complement of its own nature. Under no other form can the union here in question be regarded as moral. It is not every woman that is adapted, physically or spiritually, to be a help-meet for every man; but as the sexes are formed for each other in a general way, so each individual of either sex may be said to be formed for some corresponding individual of the other; and it is of the highest consequence, of course, for themselves and for the race also, that they should be able to find and know each other in the confused wilderness of the world's life.

We may go so far as to say, perhaps, that in a perfectly normal state of the world, this pairing and matching of individual natures would be so complete as to exclude, in every case, all possibility of different choice. Each would be for each, by absolute singularity of mutual suitableness and want, in such a way as to shut out the whole world besides. Of course, our actual life, disordered as it is by sin, cannot be expected or required to conform strictly to this rule of ideal perfection. But still it should include at least an approximation towards it; and it must be regarded as defective, in proportion precisely as it is found to fall short of such high measure. In a state of barbarism, but small account comparatively is made of individual personality, in the commerce of the sexes; which however is simply itself an expression of the barbarous life to which it belongs, showing it to border close on the merely animal existence below it, in which, as there is no personality, so there is no room also for the idea of love in any form. The savage takes his wife very much as a specimen simply of her sex, just as he selects his dog, in the same view, to accompany him in the chase. It is remarkable, too, that in such low stage of moral development, the individual nature itself stands out to view, for the most part, only under dim and indistinct lines. It is the sense of personality in the end, that advances the single life to its legitimate rights and claims, investing it with clearly marked distinction under its own form, and challenging towards it in this way the attention and respect it is entitled to receive. We are furnished here accordingly with an unerring standard of civilization and social culture, which in the case before us especially is always of plain and easy application.

The sexual union, representing thus the general relation of the sexes to each other on the one hand, and involving the elective personal affinity of individual natures on the other, mediated throughout by the sacred power of love, comes to its proper expression in the idea of marriage; whose nature, at the same time, is defined and explained by the whole analysis through which we have now passed. This is simply the true and normal form of that commerce and communion, in which the distinction of sex comes at last to its full sense, as the necessary completion of humanity, and the primitive basis of all history and society. The attributes that belong of right to this union, are the true and proper attributes also of marriage; which is not therefore something joined to our nature, as it were, from abroad, and in the way of outward order or device, whether human or divine; but should be considered rather as part of our nature itself, a simple fact in its organic constitution, without whose presence it must cease to exist altogether.

Marriage of course, then, is the process of reciprocal appropriation, by which the sexes, according to their original destination, become one, and so complete themselves each, in the power of a single personal life. In the nature of the case, this double appropriation is required to extend to the entire being of the parties concerned in the transaction; for the sexual difference is such, as we have already seen, that each side of the relation requires the opposite, not in part only, but in full, to make itself complete. This implies, at the same time, a corresponding act of selfabandonment on each side, in favor of the other, as the necessary condition of full mutual appropriation in return. Each yields itself up to be the property of the other, in the very act of embracing this again as its own property. So as regards the merely natural and outward life. The parties are made "one flesh." This is of right, however, only in virtue of the inward spiritual embrace, by which the personality of each is brought to rest in that of the other, by the deep mysterious

power which belongs to love. The -s in its own nature, admits of no em— mise or reserve. Marriage calls so!^=a for the gift of the whole being, on tip u of love, and can never be fully a.-* with any sacrifice that is less full iri <■ tire. In proportion as the relate* "a short of such inward, central cotnor^ of soul and life, it must be regarded i> i imperfect approximation only to its ■» true idea.

There is a difference indeed in tbef« of this mutual self-surrendry on the ft of the two sexes, corresponding wii i order of their general relation as ikn.1 noticed. As the united person consthrt by marriage is required to eentre is mately in man, it follows that the na calls for the largest measure of suei * sacrifice on the side of woman. Fori also, she is happily disposed by her*)* constitution. Love is empnatical} 'i element of her life. She needs the opf tunity of going fully out of herself is tS way, in order that she may do full je* to her own nature. There is ncthn:' life, accordingly, more deep, and beic:*: and full of moral power, than the d<"' of woman's love. It goes beyond ilitfc is possible, under the same form, on tk side of the other sex. The perfeeuoc ■ marriage, so far as she is concerned nci on the measure in which she is preps' to make herself over, in body, mind, n outward estate, without limit or resen'. ■ him whom she has chosen to be her .*«■ The husband is not required to qnh k* self, exactly to the same extent and m & same way. He may not resign the of his more central and universal cbrr ter, by which precisely he is qualis •' become the personal bearer of the midlife involved in the marriage bond 1 this, however, gives him no right tow cise his independence in a selfish w»»- •' lavs him under obligation onlv tonui-i* self over, in this character, to the p* sion of his wife, answering thus, wit-1' unbounded fidelity and truth, the W bounded measure of her eonfidew truth. "So ought men to to" wives as their own bodies; he tb*t his wife, loveth himself."

The idea of marriage, as nowprw-d clearly excludes, not only all promi*t* concubinage, but also all polyg»n? ■ orce. In its very nature, it is the full 1 enduring union of one man with one man, according to the law of sexual difence and correspondence. Many outrd reasons may be urged against the gularities now mentioned; but the nd argument in the case at last is just s, that they contradict the true concepl of the sexual union itself. This can ■er take place normally, except in the y of mutual self-surrendry and whole jropriation of each other, on the part of we who are its subjects, that is, in the y of marriage. Polygamy necessarily lates this law; and the same is true o of divorce, which is tolerated by ristianity accordingly only where the .rriage bond has been already nullified fact by the crime of adultery. We cannot bring the whole subject to a lclusion better, perhaps, than by mak\ use of it to expose, in a direct way, as s been done in some measure indirectly ■eady, the entire theory of what is onetimes styled the emancipation of worn, as held with various modifications, our modem Fourierites and Socialists every description. Of all forms of ;rarianism this is to be counted, as it is some respects the most plausible, so «o the most mischievous and false. No axim, universally taken, can be more ipudently untrue, than that which asrts the general liberty and equality of e human race in the sense of this disormizing school. The freedom and inde:ndence of all, not only outwardly but wardly also, is conditioned always by the isition assigned to them of God in the icial organism to which thev belong. .11 are free only as comprehended in givi social relations, and in the measure of leir correspondence as parts with the idea f the whole. The proper unity of life, i an organic system, involves of necessity le conception not simply of manifold disnction, but of relative dependence also nd subordination. Of this we have a mad, perpetual exemplification, in the contitution of the sexes. The school which re have now in view, affects to vindicate rhat it calls the rights of woman against he authority of the stronger sex, as hough this had taken advantage of its iccidental physical superiority in this view, o assert a primacy and lordship here,

which is in full violation of the original and proper equality of the race. The savage, it is said, turns his wife into a slave, the instrument of his own pleasure and convenience; and it is only a higher order of the same barbarism, by which, in the reigning structure of our present civilization, the whole sex is shorn of its political and public rights, and forced to devote itself to the service of man in the nursery and kitchen. We need in this respect, we are told, a reconstruction of society, in such a way that, among other abuses, this Mohammedan prejudice also may be fully abolished, admitting woman thus to a free participation in all public counsels and transactions, so far as she may show ability for the purpose; and placing her on full level with the opposite sex both at home and abroad. So runs the theory. It has the universal custom of the world against it, and also what would seem to be the most explicit testimony of the Bible. But of this we speak not at present. We meet it here with the moral geology, if we may so term it, of our human nature itself, drawn forth with overwhelming evidence from the everlasting mountains of its original constitution. The theory in question is just as unphilosophical as it is unbiblical and contrary to all history. It violates morality and nature alike.

It is by no accident, or violent wrong merely, that woman is made to occupy a secondary rank in the economy of human society. Her outward weakness makes it necessary, to some extent; but this itself is only the index of a still deeper necessity for it, in her spiritual constitution. All the purposes of her being, all the conditions of her welfare and peace, all the laws of her interior organization, require this subordination to the other sex, and urge her towards it as the only possible way in which her personality can be made complete. This relation of dependence needs to be well fortified indeed against abuse; as it may run easily otherwise into vast tyranny and wrong; but still it remains forever indispensable in itself to woman's proper life, and under its normal character constitutes emphatically her spiritual salvation. It is not in her physical nature merely that she is formed to lean on man as her necessary prop and stay. He is the ultimate centre also of her personality, through which alone she can stand in right organic communication with the general world, and so attain to true and solid freedom in her own position. No agrarian radicalism can ever change the moral order of humanity here, for we may say of it precisely as the Psalmist does of the constitution of the planets: "Forever, 0 Lord, thy word is settled in heaven!" The emancipation of these heavenly bodies from their appointed orbits, were just as rational an object of reforming zeal as the attempt to set woman free from her natural subordination to the headship of man. All such freedom is something monstrous in its very nature; and the wrong which it involves can never fail to avenge itself with terrible moral retribution on all concerned in it, wherever it may be allowed. Most disastrous will be its action on woman herself, if she can be tempted thus to forsake her own character and sphere. She must unsex herself, more or less, in the very step; and by doing so, she is necessarily shorn, to the same extent, of all her native dignity and strength. The more thoroughly masculine she may prove herself to be in this way, the more fully and certainly will it be at the cost of all true respect, whether public or private. The process of such unnatural self-dereliction exerts unavoidably, at the same time, a demoralizing influence on her own spirit. She becomes in reality coarse, and the fine gold of her nature is turned into what must be counted at best but common brass. Society, too, is made to suffer necessarily, by the perversion. It requires a certain amount of moral fanaticism, in the first place, to endure at all any such aberration of the sex from its proper sphere, and the thing itself can never fail subsequently to aggravate the evil out of which it thus springs. The influence of woman, exercised in this form, is not at all to refine the face of life, but to render it vulgar and harsh. Such an "emancipation," made general in any community, would involve the overthrow ultimately of all taste and refinement, the downfall of all morality and civilization.

It deserves to be well considered, that this doctrine of the full co-ordination of the sexes in the social system, strikes necessarily at last at the sanctity of the marriage relation. It is the subordination

of the female nature to that of una p* cisely which makes room for that pecan union of the two, in which the trte fcia of marriage consists. The possibilitT; such an inward personal oneness a* ii requires in the case of husband awl **. turns not simply on their difference of so, but on the order also in which this re* ti on is found actually to hold. The cat mon personality which is thus cret---, must have a real centre on which to :«i and the correspondence between tilt stw is such that this is fully and nece*si' determined to the one side only, and a to the other. The help which each i~e here in the other, is not at all, in this * spect, of parallel character. The rb ■* nature of woman urges her towards ^.z. as the necessary centre of her own be,' her personality is so constituted, that h t-i be perfected only by falling over apts'Jl deeper and broader consciousness of c* as its ultimate support. The pers<x-f of man, on the contrary, is consuiutwo^ formed to take this central position, si:I made complete by woman, not as the ';<* of his being, but as the necessary wi>?p tion simply of its proper comp*s-< * volume. So related, the two are .'-** to flow together in the power of <■ and the same life, and may be expected I do so, where the proper condition 3 present, by the mysterious union of M riage; which, in such view, is no ou«*t! temporary contract of merely civil was no simply moral partnership, however iz and solemn, foi purposes beyond iixJ but a mystical, sacramental band ni'-s. that reaches into the inmost sancttar. t life, and is thus of indissoluble forte kr a very nature. All this, however, is ■* to assume a different aspect, as soon » » lose sight of the order which boklsicik original interior economy of the sexes. «* under the pretence of restoring womi * her inborn rights, admit such a view of k* nature as sets it in full parallel wsi'» opposite nature of man. There it no r«* then for the idea of marriage, as the #■ ganic comprehension of two lives E a» power of a single personal root h» impossible to withstand the fatal error,If which it is resolved into the concept-** a simply outward compact bet wees ^ pendent parties for mutual conven*" and profit. Then of course its innoUk*

« AnteriorContinuar »