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with the greater care. On them devolves the duty of directing the susceptible and pliant minds of their children, and of instilling into their youthful hearts the principle of piety. It is theirs to plant the seed of the word of God in the virgin soil, and when a more experienced hand is required to cultivate it, the ministers of God will not be wanting in developing its growth.
We would exhort mothers in the name of the holy religion they profess; in the name of their country, which expects, them to rear not scourges of society,, but honorable and law-abiding members; in the name of God, who requires them to have their offspring fed with the nourishment of sound doctrine; in the name of their own eternal salvation. and that of the souls committed to their charge, to provide for their children at home a healthy, moral, and religious education. "If any one have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." 1
And, then, what a source of consolation it will be to them in their declining years when they reflect that they will leave after them children who will inherit not only their name, but also their faith and virtues! They will share in the beautiful eulogy pronounced by the Holy Ghost on the mother of the family: "Who shall find a valiant woman? She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and
1 Tim. V., 8.
the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. Her children rose up and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches; thou hast surpassed them all. Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.'
PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY COMPARED IN THE PRACTICE OF SOCIAL VIRTUES-ABORTIONINFANTICIDE-NEGLECT OF THE POOR AND THE SICK IN HEATHEN COUNTRIES-COMPASSION OF JESUS CHRIST FOR SUFFERING HUMANITY IMITATED BY THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH-HER ABHORRENCE OF FOETICIDE-HER CARE OF THE POOR AND THE SICK IN PRIMITIVE TIMES.
In the old Gentile world, the individual was absorbed in the commonwealth; the man was lost in the citizen. He was a part and parcel of the machinery of the State; he was a hinge or a screw or a wheel in the engine of the government. As soon as his usefulness was at an end, he was cast aside to rust like worthless iron, and replaced by another. The Stoics, a leading sect of philosophers, regarded compassion for suffering humanity as a moral weakness, a disease, instead of a virtue. Human life was esteemed only so far as it contributed to the welfare of the State.
The practice of abortion was almost universal in Greece and Rome. It prevailed alike among the poor and the rich. It was forbidden by no law
of Greece or Rome, except toward the close of the Empire, and then by legislation feeble and inoperative. Aristotle even recommended that abortion should be enforced by law when the population exceeded certain limits. The moral sense was so blunted by the frequency of the practice, that it was scarcely considered a crime.
Infanticide was another dark stain on Pagan civilization; and as an evidence that human nature does not improve with time and is everywhere the same unless leavened by Christianity, the wanton destruction of infant life is probably as general in China and other heathen countries to-day as it was in ancient Greece and Rome. Infanticide was universal in Greece, with the possible exception of Thebes. It was sanctioned, and sometimes even enjoined by such philosophers and jurists as Plato and Aristotle, Lycurgus and Solon.
The exposure and destruction of new-born children was also very common among the Romans. Up to the days of the Empire, there was no legal check to this inhuman crime, except by a law framed in the twilight of Roman history, and which soon became obsolete. The father had entire discretion to preserve or destroy his child. Paulus, the jurist, admits that fathers had this right. Augustus, who made some efforts to check the evil, not from motives of humanity, but alarmed at the decrease of population, set the bad example of exposing the child
1Lecky, Hist. of Europ. Morals, Vol. II., 21.
born to his granddaughter Julia. Tertullian thus addresses the Romans of his time: "How many are there among you, and they too in the magistracy, who put an end to your children! You drown them, or you suffer them to die of cold and hunger, or to be eaten by dogs." "I see you," says Minutius Felix to the Romans, "I see you expose your children to beasts and birds of prey, or even wretchedly choke to death your own offspring." We may judge how general was the custom of exposing infants throughout the Roman Empire, when Tacitus mentions with honor the Jews and Germans as the only people that considered it a crime not to rear all their children.3
The number of poor in Rome in the days of Augustus exceeded half a million, in a population of about two millions of inhabitants. And yet there is no instance recorded in the history of Rome of any asylum for the poor, or hospital for the sick having ever been founded, either by the bounty of the State or by private munificence. The same utter disregard for the indigent and afflicted, prevailed in Greece and in every ancient nation with which we are acquainted. Some philosophers, like Crates, showed their contempt for wealth by throwing it into the sea; others, like Democritus, gave up their riches that they might be free from care. But the idea never occurred to any of them of founding a charitable institution. Seneca says that most men
1Apol. 9, ad Nationes, 15.
Hist. V. 5., Germ. 19.
2 Chap. 30.
Döllinger, The Gentile and the Jew, Vol. I., p. 5.