I charge our young men against considering uncleanness more tolerable, because it is sanctioned by the customs, habits, and practices of what is called high life. If this sin wears kid gloves, and patent leathers, and coat of exquisite fit, and carries an opera-glass of costliest material, and lives in a big house, and rides in a splendid turn-out, is it to be any the less reprehended? No! No!
I warn you not so much against the abomination that hides in the lower courts and alleys of the town, as against the more damnable vice that hides behind the white shutters and brownstone fronts of the upper classes.
God, once in a while, hitches up the fiery team of vengeance, and ploughs up the splendid libertinism, and we stand aghast.
Sin, crawling out of the ditch of poverty and shame, has but few temptations; but, gliding through the glittering drawing-room with magnificent robe, it draws the stars of heaven after it.
Poets and painters have represented Satan as horned and hoofed. If I were a poet I should describe him with manners polished to the last perfection, hair flowing in graceful ringlets, eye a little blood-shot, but floating in bewitching languor; hands soft and diamonded; step light and artistic; voice mellow as a flute; boot elegantly shaped; conversation facile, carefully toned, and Frenchy; breath perfumed until it would seem that nothing had ever touched his lips save balm and myrrh. But his heart I would encase with the scales of a monster, then fill with pride, with beastliness of desire, with recklessness, with hypocrisy, with death. Then I would have him touched with some rod of disenchantment until his two eyes would become the cold orbs of the adder; and on his lip would come the foam of raging intoxication; and to his feet the spring of the panther; and his soft hand should become the clammy hand of a wasted skeleton; while suddenly from his heart would burst in crackling and all-devouring fury the unquenchable flames; and in the affected lisp of his tongue would come the hiss of the worm that never dies.
But, until disenchanted, nothing but myrrh, and balm, and ringlet, and diamond, and flute-like voice, and conversation aromatic, facile, and Frenchy.
There are practices in respectable circles, I am told by physicians, which need public reprehension. Herod’s massacre of the innocents was as nothing compared with that of millions and millions by what I shall call ante-natal murders. You may escape the grip of the law, because the existence of such life was not known by society; but I tell you that at last God will shove down on you the avalanche of his indignation; and though you may not have wielded knife or pistol in your deeds of darkness, yet, in the day when John Wilkes Booth and Antony Probst come to judgment, you will have on your brow the brand of murderer.
Hear me when I repeat, that the practices of high life ought not to make sin in your eyes seem tolerable. God is no respecter of persons; and robes and rags will stand on the same platform in the day when the archangel, with one foot on the sea and the other on the land, swears, by Him that liveth forever and ever, that Time shall be no more.