"A deceived heart hath turned him "She eateth and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness." 2 The indulgence of all perverted powers, — selfishness, ambition, avarice, gluttony, drunkenness, and adultery, — hardens the heart, stifles the conscience, and blinds the perceptions of right and wrong, and nowhere is the self-de ception more complete than in an adulterous life. Again and again the plea is urged by offenders, " What harm can a little indulgence of this kind do, if you wrong no one?" There is no more blinding view of adulterous pleasure, for you give the helm of life to insane passion that gnaws your brain and vitals with its unceasing clamor for indulgence, cast away the possibility of perfected parentage, and per sonally wrong every one who is reached by your influence. Every adulterous association of men and women, of unguarded childhood or reckless youth, is but a step into the crumbling ashes and blinding smoke of that bottomless abyss, where families and nations have gone down forever. Woman has power to stir man's holiest ambitions for all that is right; and when the passing admiration of the hour—of face, form, dress, or personal fascinations — are the highest influence she desires to exert, she is blind to all the grandeur of her mission as preserver and cherisher of the race. No woman is true who does not hold man to an honorable life. A lady visits the house of her friend, a wife and mother, who is burdened with sick children, the cares of a household, and feeble health. The visitor is at leisure to dress and make herself fascinating to her host, and be, after the weary day's work, is pleased and entertained by the accomplishments of his guest, who blindly says to herself, " I am not to blame if he finds me superior to his wife, nor am I wrong in making his home pleasanter." Step by step she fascinates him, and transfers to herself the affection due only to his wife. There are few homes that cannot be thus shaken, and I have known the peace of many families de stroyed by such influence brought to bear on hus band or wife in this way. After long observation I am satisfied that a curse ever follows those who do it, even if the homes thus destroyed were not alto gether happy ones.
All those who have sought to save women suf fering from unbalanced sexual fife, whether in the haunts of prostitution, in the home of wealth, or outcasts from betrayal, know well how hard the task is. When chastity is once laid aside, the con dition of woman seems more hopeless, if possible, than that of man. The victim seems to choose to follow the frenzied glamour of passion, no matter where it leads, as the fluttering moth hastens to bury itself in the flames of the summer lamp. Girls of fourteen and fifteen years, as well born as any in our land, are among its victims. At this tender age the genesic feeling easily takes on morbid activity, and eats up, in its unchecked growth, every other devel oping power, until it is stronger than all the- other forces combined. It is this that drives them to an evil life more powerfully than any desire of gain or sense of being outcast. Often when kind friends have found such cases, some almost children, in want and destitution, dying by inches of loathsome disease, and cared for them kindly, their better feelings have been stirred for a little time only. As soon as the stress of suffering is relieved, often without wait ing full recovery, the blind fury returns, and the victim hastens to the old chosen life.
Sometimes a demoniac revenge takes its growth :cum the depths of decaying soul-life, and the lost ones deliberately plan to blight as many homes and as much of human happiness as possible, and this fiendish desire becomes stronger than the love of gain or the adulterous mania.
Of two girls of fourteen and fifteen, from good homes, and with no bad heredity, the cases might be cited where associations at school led them so far astray that only the most faithful care rescued them, and even after a year of struggle one of them only refrained from giving herself up to a dissolute life because she could not bring herself to cause so much sorrow to her parents. On remonstrating with one young man for exerting an evil influence over her, he replied, " I am very honorable, but I have never felt it wrong to seek association with a girl who threw herself in my way," and, in a similar case, another one acknowledged he had been " a little wild " (as he expressed it), but was a " very honor ableiman," who had never sought the dishonor of a really noble woman, but had not thought it wrong to take advantage of a woman who was no better than himself. To the question, who would be the
least guilty, the one who with a fell blow struck down his sister into the mud, or he who stamped her deeper into the filth, what reply could be expected from such " honorable " men, with such a blinded sense of honor? I have recently received a letter from a man past fifty, carefully detailing much of the wretched history of an acknowledged adulterous life. When a lad of six years, he was infamously tampered with by a woman servant, from whose terrible influence he never escaped, so that, at the age of eight, indications of puberty appeared, and the work of unchecked sexual passion went on, blighting all children within its influence. Two of these children are to-clay women in middle life, married, but incurable nym phomaniacs, and their children are likely to in herit this form of insanity. At eighteen he was influenced to seek a truer manhood, and for a short time led a better life, but soon followed a testing of his principles, such as must be met in every human experi ence in one form or another, and yielding then, when every pure, manly instinct should have revolted at the temptation, he resisted the divine influence that would have saved him, and from that hour gave loose rein to passion. Marriage did not cure him, but from one excuse and another, suffering as the man of gen esic integrity can never do, the ravening went on, devouring the motherhood of woman as the cannibal does his banquet of human flesh. Now, in early old age, when clear judgment and the quiet serenity of a life well spent should add their comfort to the glad hope of a future existence, they are wanting. With his brain half crazed, his moral sense blinded, and a sapped nervous system growing all the time more diseased and excitable, — the whipped slave of his lusts, — he can never cease to reap, in his own being, family, and home, the harvest he has sown; his children, nervous, excitable, and feebly endowed, are a painful commentary on his much-abused father hood. No greater evidence of the blindness of moral sense, induced by such a life, need be given than to add that, in the course of this sad life recital, the assertion is made three times in varying terms : " Whatever may be said of my past history, I have ever been most honorable, have never been a seducer or debaucher of women, but have rather, in spite of overwhelming temptation, been their shield or de fender." One of the saddest hours of my whole life demands its record here, the last hour of a friend to whom I owed much, and for whom I cherished the sincerest friendship, — a physician over seventy years of age. From time to time, in the lapse of years, I had ear nestly protested against his secret adulterous life, in which (blindly believing that a young girl as mistress, whom he supported and changed at intervals, was necessary to his health) he ever averred he was most honorable, and wouldi never do any one harm or wrong for the world. In attendance on him in his last sickness, fully aware that life must terminate in a few days, I asked him of his outlook for the future, and if his adulterous life was not a matter which he now regretted, but he replied, " My hope is in the mercy of God, who knows my frame and my especial necessities; and I think, with my peculiar constitu tion, I have done the best I could, and I shall be forgiven." Receiving this reply, I could make no answer, amazed that in this hour so near death he seemed so blind to the wrong he had done. I was summoned to his bedside a few days after, and dis cerned the unmistakable shadow of dissolution steal ing over the strong, intelligent features. Suddenly opening his eyes, and fixing them upon me with intensity, he started forward with a force of tone and gesture I never saw equalled, and cried out, " Oh, wh'at a life I have lived ! You must tell others what a mistake I have made." During the hour that remained till the voice was stilled in death, he tried to give me messages, but the broken utterances con veyed little more than the meaning of the first start ling words. That dying commission can never be forgotten, and if I had power I would pour it into the ears of every brother and sister of our great human family. Adultery is never honorable, by whatever name it is called. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlast ing."