revealed Word of God. In no position of their own devising can they do that work half so well. Political and social corruption are clearly the great evils to be dreaded for our country. We have already gone far enough in the path of universal manhood suffrage to feel convinced that no mere enlargement of the suffrage has power to save us from those evils. During half a century we have been moving nearer and nearer to a suffrage all but universal, and we have, during the same period, been growing more corrupt. The undisguised frauds at elections, the open accusations of bribery in legislative assemblies, the accusations of corruption connected with still higher offices--of these we read daily in the public prints. And these accusations are not disproved. They are generally believed. It is clear, therefore, that something more effectual than universal manhood suffrage is needed to stem the torrent. And it is simply ridiculous to suppose that womanhood suffrage can effect the same task. Who can believe that where men, in their own natural field, have partially failed to preserve a healthful political atmosphere, an honest political practice, that women, so much less experienced, physically so much more feeble, so excitable, so liable to be misled by fancy, by feeling, are likely, in a position foreign to their nature, not only to stand upright themselves, but, like Atlas of old, to bear the weight of the whole political world on their shoulders--like Hercules, to cleanse the Augean stables of the political coursers--to do, in short, all that man has failed to do? No; it is, alas! only too clear that something more than the ballot-box, whether in male or female hands, is needed here. And it is the same in social life. The public prints, under a free press, must always hold up a tolerably faithful mirror to the society about them. The picture it displays is no better in social life than in political life. We say the mirror is tolerably faithful, since there are heights of virtue and depths of sin alike unreflected by the daily press. The very purest and the very foulest elements of earthly existence are left out of the picture. But the general view can scarcely fail to be tolerably correct. Take, then, the sketch of social life as it appears in some half dozen of the most popular prints from week to week. You will be sure to find the better features grievously blended with others fearfully distorted by evil. There are blots black as pitch in that picture. There are forms, more fiend-like than human, photographed on those sheets of paper. Crimes of worse than brutal violence, savage cruelty, crimes of treachery and cowardly cunning and conspiracy, breach of trust, tyrannical extortion, groveling intemperance, sensuality gross and shameless--the heart sickens at the record of a week's crime! It is a record from which the Christian woman often turns aside appalled. Human nature can read no lessons of humility more powerful than those contained in the newspapers of the day. They preach what may be called home truths with most tremendous force. From this record of daily crime it is only too clear that universal suffrage has had no power to purify the society in which we live. If no worse, we can not claim to be better than other nations, under a different political rule. This admission becomes the more painful when we reflect that in America this full freedom of fundamental institutions, this relief from all needless shackles, is combined with a well-developed system of intellectual education. We are an absolutely free nation. We are, on the whole, and to a certain point, intellectually, an educated nation. Yet vice and crime exist among us to an extent that is utterly disgraceful. It is evident, therefore, that universal manhood suffrage, even when combined with general education, is still insufficient for the task of purifying either social or political life. The theoretical infidel philosopher may wonder at this fact. Not so the Christian. Great intellectual activity, and the abuse of that power for evil purposes, are a spectacle only too common in this world. Look at the present condition of the most civilized nations. Of all generations that have lived on earth, our own is assuredly the most enlightened, in an intellectual sense; mental culture has never been so generally diffused as it is to-day, nor has it ever achieved so many conquests as within the last half century; and yet mark how comparatively little has this wonderful intellectual progress accomplished in the noble work of improving the moral condition of the most enlightened countries. To the mind humbled by Christian doctrine, living in the light of a holy faith, these facts, though unspeakably painful, can not cause surprise. We are prepared for them. We have already learned that no mere legislative enactment and no mere intellectual training can suffice to purify the human heart thoroughly. An element much more powerful than mental culture is needed for that great work. For this work light from on high is sent. A thorough MORAL EDUCATION is required, and the highest form of that education can be reached in one way only--by walking in the plain path of obedience to the will of the Creator, as revealed in Holy Scripture. We must turn, not to Plato and Aristotle, but to inspired Prophet and Apostle. We must open our hearts to the spirit of the Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount. We must go to Sinai and to Calvary, and humbly, on bended knee, receive the sublime lessons to be learned there. We should never have expected moral progress as an inevitable consequence of free institutions and mere intellectual education, had it not been that, like other nations, we indulge in idolatries, and among our "gods many" are the suffrage and mental activity. We are gravely told by philosophers that, with the vote in the hands of woman, the moral elevation of the race is secured forever! "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" The feeling is common in America that to doubt the omnipotence of universal suffrage in its extreme development is not only treason, but a sort of blasphemy. And this feeling is now leading many minds, unconsciously, perhaps, to shrink from opposing the present movement in favor of womanhood suffrage. They bow the knee to the common idol. They dare not believe it possible for the suffrage to be carried too far. For ourselves we have no sympathies whatever with idolatry. We fearlessly declare our opinion, therefore, that no political institutions whatever, neither despotic, nor monarchical, nor aristocratic, nor yet the most free, are capable, in themselves, of achieving moral education for a people. Neither do we believe it more possible for abstract intellectual culture to gain this most important of all ends. Institutions wisely free are a very great blessing. Let us be fervently thankful for them. Intellectual education is equally important and desirable. These are both noble and admirable means to work with, provided we still look above and beyond them for a further development of the race--for fullness of MORAL CIVILIZATION. In fact, if we wish for a vigorous, healthful, lasting development of republican institutions, we must necessarily unite with these not only intellectual teaching, but also a sound MORAL EDUCATION. This is a fact to which men, in the whirl of their political or commercial struggles, too often willfully shut their eyes. They are quite ready to acknowledge the truth of the assertion in a general way, but they choose to forget its vast importance in political or commercial practice. They recklessly lower the moral standard themselves, whenever that standard is at a height inconvenient for the attaining of some particular object toward which they are aiming. They are lacking in faith. Unlike women, who carry faith with them in private life, men act as if faith were not needed in everyday public life. At least the great majority of men, nominal Christians, fail to carry Christian principle with them into common business or politics. Faith, in the heart of women, is connected with love; consequently it is less easily stifled. They more frequently carry this principle with them in daily practice--not to the extent that they should do, but far more so than most men do. And here, Christian women, is your great advantage. It is the Lord's work to which we would urge you. The work of true faith, however lowly, is sure of a blessing. With faith unfeigned in your hearts, giving purity to your lives, you have it in your power to render most effectual service to the nation in your own natural sphere, far beyond what you could possibly accomplish by the path of common politics. You have never, as yet, done full justice to the advantages of your own actual position in this respect. You have overlooked the great work immediately before you. We have no magic talisman to offer you in carrying out that work. We shall not flatter you with the promise of unlimited success; we shall not attempt to gratify any personal ambition of public honors. We have no novel theories or brilliant illusions with which to dazzle your imagination. FIDELITY TO PLAIN MORAL DUTIES--THIS IS THE ONE GREAT PRINCIPLE TO WHICH WE WOULD MOST EARNESTLY CALL YOUR ATTENTION. There is absolutely no principle so sorely needed in the civilized world to-day as this. We live in an age of false and inflated ambitions. Simple moral truths fare badly in our time. Imposing theories, brilliant novelties, subtle sophistries, exaggerated development, arrogant pretensions--these too often crowd simple moral truths out of sight, out of mind. And yet, without that class of duties in healthful action, corruption more or less general is inevitable. Truth of word, honesty of action, integrity of character, temperance, chastity, moderation, sincerity, subordination to just authority, conjugal fidelity, filial love and honor--these duties, and others closely connected with them, bear old and homely names. But, Christian women, you can not ask for a task more noble, more truly elevating, for yourselves and your country, than to uphold these plain moral principles, first by your own personal example, and then by all pure influences in your homes and in the society to which you belong. In no other mode can you so well forward the great work of Christian civilization as by devoting yourselves to the daily personal practice, and to the social cultivation, by example and influence, of these plain moral duties. Your present domestic position is especially favorable to this task. You have more time for thought on these subjects; you have more frequent opportunities for influence over the young nearest to you; you have more leisure for prayer, for invoking a blessing on your efforts, however humble they may he. It is not enough to set a decent example yourselves. You must go to the very root of the matter. You must carry about with you hearts and minds very deeply impressed with the incalculable importance of a sound morality; you must be clearly convinced of the misery, the shame, the perils of all immorality. In this nineteenth century the civilization of a country must necessarily prove either heathen or Christian in its spirit. There is no neutral ground lying between these boundaries. Faith or infidelity, such is the choice we must all make, whether as individuals or as nations. Thanks be to God we are not only in name, but also partially in character, a Christian nation. Faith is not entirely wanting. We all in a measure feel its good effects. Even the avowed infidel living in our midst is far more under its influences, though indirectly so, than he is aware of. And where there is life, there we have hope of growth, of higher development. To cherish that growth, to further that higher development by all gracious and loving and generous influences, is a work for which women are especially adapted. They work from within outwardly. Men work chiefly by mental and physical pressure from without. Men work by external authority; women work by influences. Men seek to control the head. Women always aim at touching the heart. And we have the highest of all authority for believing that this last is the most efficient mode of working. "Out of the heart are the issues of life." This, therefore, Christian women, is your especial task. Use all the happy womanly influences in your power to forward the moral education, the Christian civilization, of the country to which you belong. Be watchful, with the unfeigned humility of the Christian, over your own personal course, and the example connected with it. Aim at keeping up, on all occasions, a high practical standard of sound morality at all points. Cultivate every germ of true moral principle in your own homes, and in the social circle about you. Let the holy light of truth, honor, fidelity, honesty, purity, piety, and love brighten the atmosphere of your homes. What heathen civilization means we know from many sources, more especially from the records of Rome under the empire, in the days of St. Paul, when it had reached its highest development. What Christian civilization means we learn from the Apostle: "Let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report--think on these things."
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com