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A Solemn Appeal - Contents
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    We notice bad education as a cause of unchastity. Children are born in a perfectly uneducated state. They know absolutely nothing until they learn something. Now, by education, we mean the conveying of knowledge to the mind in any and every possible way. Thus, if the mind be compared to an unsoiled, white sheet, then the writing and impressing of ideas thereon we call education. Well has the poet said:SOAP 21.2

    “‘Tis education forms the common mind;” and certainly it has much to do in forming the moral character. By bad education we mean the filling of the mind with bad ideas. And it is this that we are now to consider as a cause of the prevalence of unchastity, as discussed in former chapters.SOAP 22.1

    Paul says that “evil communications corrupt good manners.” No sooner is it said, “A child is born,” than an infant is subjected to “evil communications,” i.e., put in communication with an evil, sensual world. And that manners are thereby corrupted, has been often proved while the child has been yet in the nurse’s arms, and this, too, in a most serious manner. Nurses, by manipulating infants to cure their crying, have been known to give them a notion, which has resulted in the habit of solitary vice. This, the reader will say, is early education with a vengeance. And yet, numbers of instances of this kind are on record. The reader must judge for himself how many are un-recorded. In these cases, the victims, with a fatal precocity, live but to linger a little, unless they are saved by some happy influence next to miraculous.SOAP 22.2

    The society of unchaste parents educates children in unchastity. It is surprising to see how early the child catches the traits of the parental character. So intimate is the parental relation, that to avoid this is quite impossible. The looks, the gestures, the words, the insinuations, at first a mystery to the child, are soon solved by its tiny reflection. Children are listeners at a very early age; and the smile of approbative indifference with which the parent speaks of deeds of lewdness, as they are occasionally occurring in community, is very soon transmitted to the little listener; and the child concluding, of course, that that cannot be very wrong which is smiled over, learns to look upon such deeds without abhorrence.SOAP 22.3

    Again, children are ever associating with their superiors in age, in a series, extending from earliest childhood, up through youth, to manhood and womanhood. And this association is so intimate that generally what one knows all know, and what one does all are tempted to do. Now, through this series of associations, every licentious adult necessarily throws a licentious influence back down to the borders of the nursery. Thus, while one instructed child becomes himself an instructor, and indeed, while every child is both pupil and teacher - receiving lessons from the older, and handing them down to the younger - it is by no means wonderful that the process of education goes on so rapidly. And when this education is of a sensual character, why should it be thought remarkable that some of the forms of unchastity should be found in very early childhood. The writer knows a large family, one of the boys of which (perhaps five years old) has been repeatedly caught practicing fornication with his little sister, and also trying to seduce other little girls. He knows another little boy who will practice upon little girls, what in older persons would be pronounced the hight of immodesty and imposition. But in all this there is nothing singular, when the educational influences of society are considered.SOAP 23.1

    Children at school are sometimes educated more in wickedness by bad associates, than they are in righteousness by their proper teachers. But even the education proper of the schools has sometimes been very unfavorable to chastity. The mind has, even there, sometimes lost its balance by constant efforts to strain upon the intellect to the neglect and expense of the moral sentiments. The animal propensities left to a constant revel, man grows sensual and brutish.SOAP 24.1

    We notice ignorance as one of the causes of unchastity. Ignorance of the extent of the claims of the law of chastity is a negative cause of sad mischief. That this law demands a chaste mind, as well as chaste words and actions, is to many a new idea. That it forbids solitary vice, is unknown to very many of the oldest men of our day. And many who deem solitary vice wrong, see nothing wrong in the cherishing of amorous reveries and “lascivious day-dreams,” And still more are they who have no idea of the excesses of married life being by this law forbidden. The consequences of this ignorance are, as we have already seen, just what might be expected - one is a mental adulterer, another is an onanist, and another still is a married, legal, sensualist - and all three, if not perfectly at ease morally, are kind of conscientious, and think themselves innocent of any violation of revealed law! Now who will wonder that unchastity should, under these circumstances, spread itself so rapidly?SOAP 24.2

    Parents, through ignorance leave their children an easy prey to filthy vice. Parental love, however solicitous and careful, cannot teach children lessons which itself has never learned; nor guard them against dangers which it has never itself discovered. And hence while many parents are “verily guilty concerning the blood of their children,” many more are doomed to see their children ruined, in perfect ignorance of what might have been done to save them. For the latter, ignorance may be a sufficient apology, when to the former it shall be said:SOAP 25.1

    “Ye knew your duty, but ye did it not!”SOAP 25.2

    Parents have hitherto been generally and deplorably ignorant of the destructiveness of some of the forms of unchastity, and of solitary vice in particular. The consequence of this ignorance is just what might have been expected. Their children, altogether uninstructed in their danger, have sought enjoyment in what seemed to them but an innocent gratification, and thus they have been ruined.SOAP 26.1

    We notice bad diet as a cause of unchastity. By bad diet we mean the use of food and drinks of bad qualities and unreasonable quantities. Nothing pertaining to the body is more important to man than to know when to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat; and when to drink, what to drink, and how much to drink. Man is made over again every few years; and the new bones, blood, and muscles, are manufactured from what is eaten and drank. The physical health and strength of man must, therefore, depend very much upon the food and drink he takes into his stomach. No one doubts this. Some substances actually poison the body to death, others produce but little perceivable injury, while others still produce results of a doubtful character, and yet others do the system some good; and, finally, others support, invigorate, and strengthen, to the greatest possible degree. All this seems plain. And plain must therefore seem the importance of that knowledge of which we have above spoken.SOAP 26.2

    But, while the state of the body depends so much and so evidently upon the diet, the state of the mind generally - and of some of the passions in particular - is by no means independent of it. The stomach, in its relation to the body, has been very justly called “the center of sympathies.” In its relation to the mind, it may certainly be safely called the seat of strong sympathies. Take, as an illustration, the passion of combativeness. Who has not seen this passion raised to a fury in a few hours by what has been thrown into the stomach? But it will be said that strong drink is no part of diet. And to be sure it ought not to be, and is very generally abandoned. But so specific are alcoholic liquors, in their action upon the venereal passion, that harlots and libertines use them, almost exclusively, for raising and supporting the exhausted venereal energies!SOAP 27.1

    Now, if alcohol can thus work upon the passions, through the medium of the stomach, why may not other articles received there into? Most certainly they may. There is an open thoroughfare between the former and the latter. Thus are the passions well or illy affected by everything of substance that is eaten or drank.SOAP 27.2

    Food, too, which is not in its nature unduly stimulating, from being taken in too large quantities, produces alarming disturbances among the passions. Whatever is taken into the stomach must be disposed of in some way or other; otherwise health fails, and the body dies. Moreover, the organs of digestion, nutrition, and elimination, are capable of disposing of no more than a certain quantity of food and drink without injury. The instant, therefore that they are tasked beyond the design of their organization, they suffer fatigue and irritation. When the overtasked system is in good tone, it will, for a time, perhaps, relieve itself by vomiting, diarrhea, etc. But it soon becomes incapable of thus relieving itself, and either dies in the attempt or sinks into a decline. Now, with all this, and especially with whatever pertains to the stomach, the nervous system strongly sympathizes, and through that the passions are disturbed, irritated, and inflamed.SOAP 28.1

    The disturbance produced by excessive alimentation is quite mechanical. The food, passing from the stomach but half digested - for it is obliged to pass out to give place to more - irritates the mucous membrane, or inner coating of the bowels, with its coarseness and its crudity, while from it the lacteals are capable of extracting but very imperfect chyle. Now for the same reason that the half-digested food irritated the bowels, this poor chyle irritates the duct through which it is conveyed into the circulation. And now the blood, loaded with this crude chyle, goes irritating through its million channels. The blood being thus imperfect, the glandular secretions from the blood are imperfect also. The liver secretes crude and acrid bile, while the acrid secretions of the kidneys go scalding along the ureters, inducing strangury and every species of disease about the urinary system.SOAP 28.2

    Now, not to be too tedious, we affirm that any person of common sense and common reflection, must see that this general mechanical irritation of the system must seriously affect the passions generally, and the venereal passion in particular. The location of the genital system is right in the way of this irritation, and necessarily participates largely in it.SOAP 29.1

    Now, in view of the connection between the stomach and the passions, who can wonder that unchastity so much prevails in this land of gluttony? Who, in view of this, can wonder that venereal propensities are so early and strongly developed in children? Weaned of pork, and brought up to eat all they can of the most exciting articles of food - all they can at regular hours, and all they can between meals - who is surprised that they should be early drunk with amative passion? especially when it is considered, as has been already remarked, that the acting organs of this passion are so located as to feel the full force of these dietetic abuses. Say the author of “Facts and Important Information,” “If children are brought up in an idle, effeminate, and luxurious manner, the passions are, like tinder, ignited by the first spark that falls upon them. If the laws of physiology were obeyed, and external excitements removed, the sexual appetite would sleep on, as nature designed, till the transition from boyhood to manhood, instead of being forced into action at from five to ten years of age, as we have often seen.”SOAP 29.2

    Says O.S. Fowler, as quoted by the same, “The diet or food of the young prematurely develops amativeness. There unquestionably exists a reciprocal relation between the body and the animal propensities. We have no room to introduce the proof of this principle, although it is indispensable in order to enforce the inference that tea, coffee, snuff, tobacco, candies, flesh, etc., stimulate the animal propensities and excite amativeness. The position, however, is undeniable, that whatever artificially excites the body, thereby stimulates the animal propensities more than the intellectual and moral faculties. Tea, coffee, flesh, spice, etc., are unquestionably highly stimulating, much more so than cold water, breadstuffs, vegetables, etc., and therefore kindle the animal propensities; and as the relation between the body - and especially the stomach and amativeness - is more direct and powerful than between the other parts, the evidence is inevitable that they proportionably kindle impure desires.”SOAP 30.1

    Says Graham, “This [the sexual] propensity is more or less powerful and imperious, according as the dietetic and other habits are more or less correct.”SOAP 31.1

    Dr. Woodward, of the Massachusetts State Lunatic Hospital, expresses the same sentiment. And, indeed, to this sentiment all dietetic writers which we have seen, agree. And who does not? The sentiment is almost as plain as a geometrical axiom.SOAP 31.2

    Sedentary habits, unrelieved by sufficient exercise, increase the liabilities to unchastity. Exercise is the law of the human constitution. It is penal in its claims. Sedentariness ever brings suffering, while virtuous activity is health, strength, and peace. This is as evident in philosophy as it is in fact. One might as well look for limpid and pure cold waters in the stagnant marsh, as for the freshness and vigor of health, whether of body or mind, in the victim of unrelieved sedentariness! By it the circulation is rendered irregular, the fluids of the system gravitate to a point, while the body lacks the elasticity necessary to restore the equilibrium. The lower abdominal region stagnates and becomes irritable and uneasy, inducing costiveness, urinary difficulties, etc. But, from this Sedentariness the genital system is perhaps the greatest sufferer. Excited in common with the bowels, etc., almost, and often quite, to inflammation, its secretions become profuse, and its peculiar excitement often nearly constant. This excitement is thrown back upon the brain, thereby filling the mind with lascivious thoughts, and painting lascivious images upon the canvas of the imagination.SOAP 31.3

    Bad books, pictures, etc., are a powerfully exciting cause of licentiousness. No one has ever seriously disputed the apostolic declaration that “evil communications corrupt good manners.” Neither is the old proverb questioned that “a man is known by the company he keeps.” But evil communication with books, no less than with men, corrupts good manners. And the sentiment is worthy of passing into a proverb, that a man is known by the books he reads. Books are men. Not paper men, but men on paper. And these influence the character of their readers as do men in the flesh the character of their companions. Show me a man’s books, the books of his choice, and I will show you the man himself. Let me control the reading of a rising generation, and I will prophesy. A bad book is a bad associate; a good book, a good one. Sensual books tend strongly to make sensual readers. Many novel readers know this, and every reflecting, candid person will admit it. How can the person who is ever feasting his senses with fancy scenes in the history of sensual lovers, drawn out to the very life by the masterly hand of some intellectual sensualist, and all aglow with the high colorings of their author’s amorous imagination; how can such a person fail to assimilate his own character more or less with that of his books? As well may a person take coals in his bosom and not be burned.SOAP 32.1

    Not long since, a young murderer imputed the deed which brought him to the gallows to the reading of a popular novel. But thousands are they, who, from the time that Alcman wrote the tune of amorous love, have imputed - and might have imputed - their fall from virtue to the reading of voluptuous writings. By these we do not mean merely or chiefly such writings as, from their open obscenity, are read only by the grossly corrupt, and that only in secret. These are comparatively harmless, in the present state of society. But we rather mean such writings as make a show of modesty, are interspersed with excellent sentiments, and set off with fine embellishments, while, at the same time, by their designed associations and sly allusions, they play in upon the animal passions, and keep them under constant excitement. And it is because very much of modern reading is of this very character that the animal passions, unstayed by instinct, are prevailing with so much force throughout the community. Speaking of unchastity, Dr. Dwight says, “Most unhappily, aids and allurements to this licentious indulgence are never wanting. Genius, in every age and in every country, has, to a great extent prostituted its elevated powers for the deplorable purpose of seducing thoughtless minds to this sin. The unsuspecting imagination, ignorant of the dangers spread out before it, has, by this gay and fiery serpent, glittering with spots of gold, and painted with colors of enchantment, been allured to pluck the fruit of this forbidden tree, and hazard the death denounced against the transgressor. The numbers of the poet, the delightful melody of song, the fascinations of the chisel, and the spell of the pencil, have been all volunteered in the service of Satan, for the moral destruction of unhappy man.”SOAP 33.1

    French novels are generally reckoned among the worst. And they do much to make and keep France what she is for unchastity.SOAP 34.1

    Look at the young lady with the last novel of the French school in her hand! You know what it is, and therefore you know what her thoughts are, and what her taste is. And if purity, the stainless whiteness of an angel’s breast, is the bosom whose companionship you seek, you turn from her society, and seek a friend whose loveliness of soul has never been profaned by such communings.SOAP 35.1

    Margaret Prior, that fearless friend of the friendless, says in her journal, “Several instances of the baleful influences of novel-reading having recently come under my observation, I feel constrained to lift a note of warning against the indulgence of this pernicious habit.... Nothing tends more to destroy virtuous principles, or promote the growth of unholy appetites and passions. It is a real barrier to all useful acquirements, and, if persisted in, will effectually counteract the most faithful religious instruction.” Novels are my prayers, said the dying harlot. The evils of licentiousness can never be stayed, so long as voluptuous reading keeps up the excitement of the public imagination.SOAP 35.2

    Want of employment. Constant, laudable employment is every way important to mankind. Neither body nor mind can be preserved in health and purity without it. Of this fact, the history of man affords abundant and conclusive evidence. He only is secure who has some good and settled object at which he aims, and who is diligent in pursuing it. But he is comparatively secure. This is evident in the consideration that, attracted constantly ahead, and with all his powers properly tasked in the prosecution of his design, he can have no time to parley with passion, or to range the imaginary fields of sensual pleasure. He is doing a work at least, if not a great work, and cannot come down. We would not be understood to say that laudable employment, either of the body or mind, taken alone, is so great a safeguard against sin; but we mean the employment of both together.SOAP 35.3

    But on the other hand, when the mind and the body are not properly employed, and the person is living on without any sufficient object, a sort of sluggish inanity pervades the system, time hangs heavily, and he feels that a want of employment is a want of happiness. The restless imagination now roves the fields of sensuality in pursuit of pleasure. It revels amid the amours and loves of its own creation, and soon brings the system under strong lascivious influences. The higher feelings of the soul finding no objects worthy their activity, the lower feelings - the propensities - enter into it, and take possession. Hence it is that the idle and the lazy are far more generally the victims of vile habits, and especially of licentious ones. He who has nothing to do is almost certain to do wickedly, and become the pest of society. But whether he become a pest to society or not, he is a pest to himself. Nor is it long before he resorts to unlawful and filthy means for relieving himself of the burden of himself. Every lascivious person knows that when he is without any settled object, and out of employ, he is far more subject to passion than when he is diligently pursuing some interesting object. He knows that, for instance, in the morning when he feels no sufficient call of business to bring him early off from his bed, he is almost sure to lounge amid lascivious, imaginary scenes, and the clamor of sensuality. And so of every hour of dreamish leisure.SOAP 36.1

    Want of employment, then - laudable, interesting employment - during the hours of waking, is a prominent cause of the evil we are discussing. And considering the number of young persons in both city and country - but in the former more especially - who are brought up to idleness - street dandies and parlor ladies - who can wonder that sexual sensuality so much prevails?SOAP 37.1

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