THE INFLUENCE OF LOVE

The Relationship Between a Man and Woman

And the Women’s Libber’s in NOW would have you believe women didn’t used to be appreciated, this piece from the 1800’s belies that assertion. I thank the Lord for the women in my life, and to the woman who encompasses all that a woman should be to me, I love you my darling.

From Gunn’s New Family Physician: Or, Home Book of Health; Forming a Complete Household Guide; Published 1868: Compiled / Authored by John C. Gunn, Johnson H. Jordan, Charles S. Royce. Unsure of the actual author of the piece.

Influence of Love:

Love is the divine essence of our being; it flows from God into our souls, and is our life. As the sun of the natural world warms the flower into life and beauty, so does the spirit of man receive the warmth of will, which animates it into life and action, from the great fountain of Divine love.

“If love, then, is one of the essential principles of our being, and through us is to fashion other forms receptive of life, how all-important that we should understand its nature and quality!

“In the brute creation, this influx of love from God is a mere external sensation. Man, too, partakes of animal love; but with him there is also an inner love, Which is spiritual and holy, as much above animal sensation, as the soul of man is above brute instinct And if this inner faculty be not cultivated and developed, man remains an animal, only exercising a rather superior understanding to other animals—dead to all the higher ends of his existence, but unfortunately too much alive to all low passions and propensities; for it is an immutable law of our creation, that we must love—-there being no life without love-and when we close our souls to the Divine love, we become receptive of infernal love—-for the lost spirits of the infernal regions love; but what do they love? all sin, and wickedness, and uncleanliness. It behooves us, therefore, to search out and try our loves, whether they be divine or infernal. And as all sin comes from love of self, we should seek, above all things, the antidote to that which enslaves us to lust, to pride, to worldliness, and all uncharitableness.

This antidote, God, in his divine providence, has provided for us; first in our love for him, and secondly, in that beautiful love which links the soul of man to woman. It is this which awakens the soul truly to God, and through which He creates the angels. Will not this thought sanctify love with so heavenly an end, that in our inmost spirit we must feel and acknowledge its holiness!

But how is love an antidote to selfishness? I speak not of mere sensual love, but of that which is spiritual and true. “When God gave woman to man, it was with a definite and divine purpose, that man in her might love himself, and thus be lifted out of his self-love. Through his senses, which join him to the visible material world, man begins to love. How often do we see this outward love glancing from the spirit-speaking eye of the young, when, in the spring-time and full joy of life, soul seeks soul, as the warbling bird doth its mate, and trills forth a love tone, and often thinks it bears its echo, when it has but struck upon a false sounding-board, that dull and heavy sound which comes to the aching heart full of disappointment. But if the true note of harmony has been trilled, how beautiful it is when man awakens from his dream of passion, and discovers that all the pride of his understanding is reflected in a softened, chastened, and more divine light in the love of the gentle being at his side; he finds his taste, his opinions, the thoughts and feelings of his own soul, appropriated by her; that all unconsciously, while he slept the deep sleep of love, from his own breast, a wife has been created “ a helpmeet for him.” How peculiarly she is his own! She is something wonderful to him; he no longer loves himself, or thinks of himself—in her centers all thought and all feeling. Then how beautifully turns that trusting, loving eye upon him—he is her wisdom, her glory, her happiness—she should learn of God through him—he may love God through her.

But, alas! how rare is the beautiful, truly spiritual union? How often the waning moon of an external love finds paired souls sundered, who are bound, the living to the dead, for this mortal life—veiling behind outward conventionalities their internal disunion, and that burdensome yoke that perhaps binds some almost angel to an ox! The dull beast of earth plods on, all unconscious and uncaring for that dear one who has been a refuge to him from the tempestuous and bereaving storms of life

Love is the weapon which Omnipotence reserved to conquer rebel men when all the rest had failed; reason, he parries; fear, he answers blow to blow; future interest, he meets with present pleasure: but love, that sun against whose melting beams winter cannot stand; that soft, subduing slumber which brings down the giant; there is not one human creature in a million, not a thousand men in all earth’s domain, whose earthy hearts are hardened against love. “ There needs no other proof that happiness is the most wholesome moral atmosphere, and that in which the morality of men is destined ultimately to thrive, than the elevation of soul, the religious aspiration which attends the first assurance, the first sober certainty of true love.” There is much of this religious aspiration amid all warmth of virtuous affections. There is latent love of God in the child that rests its check against the check of its mother, and clasps its arms about her neck. God is thanked, perhaps unconsciously, for the brightness of his earth, on a summer evening, when a brother and sister, who have long been separated, pour out their hearts to each other, and feel their course of thought brightening as they run. “Then the aged parent hears of the honors his children have won, or looks around on their innocent faces in the glory of his decline, his mind reverts to him who in them prescribed the purpose of his life, and bestowed his grace. But religions as is the mood of every affection, none is so devotional as that of love, especially so called. The soul is the very temple of adoration, of faith, of holy purity, of heroism, of charity. At such a moment, the human creature shoots up into the angel, strengthened, sustained, vivified, by that most mysterious power, union with another spirit, it feels itself on the way to victory over evil—sent out “conquering and to conquer.” There is no other such crisis in human life. The philosopher may experience uncontrollable agitation in verifying his balancing system of worlds, feeling, perhaps, as if he actually saw the creative hand in the act of sending the planets forth on their everlasting way. But this philosopher, solitary seraph as he may be regarded amid a myriad of men, knows, at such a moment, no emotions so divine as that of the spirit becoming conscious that it is beloved, be it the poorest creature in his humble cottage, or the daughter of affluence in her luxury, or the poor mechanic who toils for his daily bread, or the- man of letters musing by his fireside. The warrior about to strike his decisive blow for the liberties of a nation, however impressed with the solemnities of the hour, is not in a state of such lofty resolution, as those who by joining hearts are laying their joint hands on the wide realm of futurity for their own. The statesman, who, in the moment of success, feels that he has annihilated an entire class of social sins and woes, is not conscious of so holy and so intimate a thankfulness as they who ascribe their redemption to a new and sovereign affection.

And these are many; they are in the corners of every land. “The statesman is the leader of a nation; the warrior is the grace of an age; the philosopher is the birth of a thousand years; but the lover, where is he not?” “Wherever parents look around upon their children there he has been; wherever there are roofs under which men dwell; wherever there is an atmosphere vibrating with human voices, there is the lover, and there is his lofty worship going on, unspeakable, but revealed in the brightness of the eye, the majesty of the presence, and the high temper of the discourse. Men have been ungrateful and perverse; they have done what they could to counteract, to debase this most heavenly influence of their lives, but the laws of their Maker are too strong, the benignity of their Father is too patent and fervent for their opposition to withstand, and true love continues and will continue to send up its homage, amid the meditations of every eventide, the busy hum of noon, and the songs of the morning stars. There is something soothing and delightful in the recollection of a pure-minded woman’s affection; it is an oasis in the desert of a worldly man’s life, to which his feelings turn for refreshment, when wearied with the unhallowed passions of this world; it is that heaven-born passion that binds us in prosperity, and links us more closely under adversity; it is a tenderness unutterable, which banishes every unhallowed thought, and leads ‘us back to our primeval innocence. They know but little of this passion who deem it the offspring of sighs and protestations. These are but the husbandry which calls forth the common produce of common soils, the needful aliment of that great principle of nature, which alike peoples our cities, and our plains, our rivers, and the air we breathe. In many a heart, where it has never been awakened, lies the subtle essence, which, when touched by a kindred essence, starts at once into giant life. And how manifold are the channels through which that kindred essence works itself a passage to the sleeping mischief! A word, a look, a tone of the voice, one pressure of the hand, though a hundred have preceded it, a simple “good night,” or a parting “ God bless you!” from lips that have pronounced the words for months, shall, in a predestined moment, be like the spark that falls upon the nitrous heap, followed by instant combustion. And then what a revolution is effected! The eye sees not, the ear hears not, the mind perceives not, as it has been wont; a new being is created; the past is obliterated; nothing seems to remain of what was, and the very identity of the object by whom this delirium of all the faculties has been produce, is destroyed. We strive in vain to recall the mere man or woman we have known, in the lover or mistress we now adore. Spell-bound in the fascination, enthralled in the idolatry of suddenly awakened passions, we discover wisdom, wit, beauty, eloquence, grace, charms, benignity, and loveliness, where hitherto we at most had dim and visionary glimpses of their possible existence. All is transformed, and in a moment the heart creates its idol; all is sunshine. The graceful form flits before the imagination, and love with its genial warmth pours her incense upon the heart. Love, that cordial drop of bliss, that sovereign balm for every woe, as it is of the first enjoyment, so it is frequently the origin of our deepest distress. If it is placed upon an unworthy object, and the discovery is made too late, the heart can never know peace. Every hour increases the torments of reflection; and hope, that soothes the severest ills, is here turned into deep despair. Two souls that are sufficient to each other in sentiments, affections, passions, thoughts, all blending in love’s harmony, are earth’s most perfect reflection of heaven. Through them the angels come and go continually, on missions of love, to all the lower forms of creation. It is the halo of heavenly visitors that veils the earth in such a golden glory, and makes every little flower smile its blessings upon lovers. Nothing in life is so pure and devoted as a woman’s love. It is an unquenchable flame, the same constant and immaculate glow of feeling, whose undeniable touchstone is trial; her faithful heart is more devoted than the idolators of Mecca, and more priceless than the gems of Golconda. The world may put forth its anathemas; fortune may shower down its adversities, but in vain; still the unutterable ecstasies of this heaven-born passion are the idol of the human heart. With man, love is never a passion of such intensity and sincerity as with woman. She is a creature of sensibility, existing only in the outpourings and sympathies of her emotions. Every earthly blessing, nay, every heavenly hope, will be sacrificed for her affections. She will leave the sunny home of her childhood, the protecting roof of her kindred, forget the counsels of her aged father, the admonishing voice of that mother on whose bosom her head has been pillowed, forsake all she has clung to in her years of girlish simplicity, do all that woman can do consistently with honor, and throw herself into the arms of the man she idolizes.

Unrequited love with man is to him never a cause of perpetual misery. Other dreams will flow upon his imagination. The attractions of business, the meteors of ambition, or the pursuit of wealth, will win him away from his early infatuation. It is not thus with woman; although the scene may change, and years, long, withering, and lingering years, steal away the rose from the cheek of bounty; the ruins of a broken heart cannot be reanimated: the memories of that idol vision cannot be obliterated from the soul. She pines away again until her gentle spirit bids adieu to the treacheries of earth, and flits away into the bosom of her God. There is this difference between a woman’s love and a man’s: his passion may lead him, in the first instance, to act in opposition to opinion, but its influence is soon suspended, and a sneer or a censure will wound his pride and weaken his love. A woman’s heart, on the contrary, reposes more on itself, and a fault found in the object of her attachment is resented as an injury—she is angered, not altered.

There is such a thing as love at first sight, deny it who may; and it is not necessarily a light or transitory feeling because it is sudden. Impressions are often made as indelibly by a glance, as some that grow from imperceptible beginnings, till they become incorporated with our nature. Is not the fixed law of the universe, as illustrated by the magnetic needle, a guarantee for the existence of attraction? And who will say it is not of Divine origin? The passion of love is similar, when of a genuine kind. Reason and appreciation of character may on longer acquaintance deepen the impressions, “as streams their channels deeper wear,” but the seal is set by a higher power than human will, and gives the stamp of happiness or misery to a whole life.

I cannot but add, how truly deplorable it is that a passion which constitutes the most noble trait in human nature, should now everywhere be trampled upon by avarice. I trust I shall not witness, as our country advances, such instances of legal prostitution as have occurred in some other parts of the world.

I distinguish four seasons of love: first comes love before betrothal, or spring; then comes the summer, more ardent and fierce, which lasts from the betrothal to the altar; the third. the richly-laden, soft and dreamy autumn—the honey-moon, and after it the winter, bright, clear winter, when you take shelter by your fireside, from the cold world without, and find every pleasure there.

And then there is that love “which passeth all understanding,” Which emanates from God himself, filling us with extending joy, that shall never wear away; like a tender flower, planted in the fertile soil of the heart, it grows, expanding its foliage and imparting its fragrance to all around, till transplanted, it is set to bloom in perpetual love and unfading brightness in the paradise of God.

Follow the Star of Bethlehem, the bright and the morning star the guide to him who in his love gave his dear life for us—it will light you through every labyrinth in the wilderness of life, gild the gloom that will gather around you in a dying hour, and bring you safe over the tempestuous Jordan of death, into the haven of promised and settled rest, to enjoy that love which shall abide forever.

Perhaps a more just and beautiful compliment was never paid to woman in American history than the following, by Judge Joseph Story (1779 – 1845)

To the honour, to the eternal honour of the sex, be it said, that in the path of duty no sacrifice is with them too high or too dear. Nothing is with them impossible, but to shrink from what love, honour, innocence, and religion require. The voice of pleasure or of power may pass by unheeded—but the voice of affliction never. The chamber of the sick, the pillow of the dying, the vigils of the dead, the altars of religion never missed the presence or the sympathies of Woman! Timid though she be, and so delicate that the winds of heaven may not too roughly visit her, on such occasions she loses all sense of danger and assumes a preternatural courage, which knows not and fears not consequences. Then she displays that undaunted spirit which neither courts difficulties nor evades them; that resignation which utters neither murmurs nor regret; and that patience in suffering which seems victorious even over death itself.

SISTERS AND MOTHERS; The Scrap-book: Consisting of Tales and Anecdotes, Biographical, Historical, Patriotic, Moral, religious, and Sentimental Pieces, In Prose and Poetry. Compiled by William Fields

These are ties, which, like the invisible strings of conscience, bind man to the world of kindly affection, and are the last things forgotten when one leaves life. The married situation may be one of pure and uninterrupted felicity; there may be no cloud in its whole happy horizon; it may be ever sunny, and flowers spring in it at every season of the age. But even these happy ones, who are in this clime of bliss, remember long and late the claims of a sister or a mother to their best affections. In the life of the solitary and single, those who are said to be doomed to an ennui of loneliness, the claims of a sister and a mother should hold strongly, not only upon their feelings, but duties. Those kindnesses which men bestow upon their offspring and their wives, who possess each, and in whom their best views are concentrated, in the bachelor are given to the (almost) sacred names which constitute this heading. In loving a sister, there is none of that earthliness of passion which degrades the heart—in the devotion due to a mother, there is none of the selfishness of men. The feelings inspired by both sister and mother are all derived from sources as pure as the Divinity that inspired them.

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