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must for all that love each other, yea, and take pleasure in their converse. It is not a true friend that leaveth you in adversity; nor is it true conjugal affection which is blasted by a loathsome sickness. The love of mothers to their children will make them take pleasure in them, notwithstanding their sickness or uncleanness; and so should their love do between a husband and his wife. He that considereth that his own flesh is liable to the same diseases, and like ere long to be as loathsome, will do as he would be done by, and not turn away in time of her affliction from her that is become his flesh. Much less excusable is the crime of them that, when they have nothing extraordinary to distaste or disaffect them, are weary of the company of one another, and had rather be in their neighbours' houses, than in their own, and find more pleasure in the company of a stranger, than of one another.
Direct. v. It is a great duty of husbands and wives to live in quietness and peace, and avoid all occasions of wrath and discord.' Because this is a duty of so great importance, I shall first open to you the great necessity of it, and then give you more particular Directions to perform it.
I. It is a duty which your union or near relation doth especially require. Will you fall out with yourselves? Cannot you agree with your own flesh? 2. Your discord will be your pain, and the vexation of your lives. Like a bile, or wound, or fracture in your own bodies, which will pain you till it is cured; you will hardly keep peace in your minds, when peace is broken so near your own family. As you would take heed of hurting yourselves, and as you would hasten the cure when you are hurt; so should you take heed of any breach of peace, and quickly seek to heal it when it is broken. 3. Dissention tends to cool your love; oft falling out doth tend to leave a habit of distaste and averseness on the mind. Wounding is separating; and to be tied together by any outward bonds, when your hearts are separated, is but to be tormented; and to have the insides of adversaries, while you have conjugal outsides. As the difference between my house and my prison is that I willingly and with delight dwell in the one, but am unwillingly confined to the other, such will be the difference between a quiet and an unquiet life, in your married state: it turneth
your dwelling and delight into a prison, where you are chained to those calamities, which in a free condition you might overrun. 4. Dissention between the husband and the wife, do disorder all their family affairs; they are like oxen unequally yoked, that can rid no work for striving with one another. Nothing is well done because of the variance of those that should do it, or oversee it. .5. It exceedingly unfitteth you for the worship of God; you are not fit to pray together, nor to confer together of heavenly things, nor to be helpers to each other's souls: I need not tell you this, you feel it by experience. Wrath and bitterness will not allow you so much exercise of love and holy composedness of mind, as every one of those duties do require. 6. Dissention disableth you to govern your families aright. Your children and servants will take example by you; or think they are at liberty to do what they list, when they find you taken up with such work between yourselves: and they will think you unfit to reprove them for their faults, when they see you guilty of such faults and folly of your own; nay you will become the shame and secret derision of your family, and bring yourselves into contempt. 7. Your dissentions will expose you to the malice of satan, and give him advantage for manifold temptations. A house divided cannot stand: an army divided is easily conquered, and made a prey to the enemy. You cannot foresee what abundance of sin you put yourselves in danger of. By all this you may see what dissentions between husband and wife do tend to, and how they should be avoided.
II. For the avoiding of them observe these sub-directions. 1. Keep up your conjugal love in a constant heat and vigor. Love will suppress wrath: you cannot have a bitter mind upon small provocations, against those that you dearly love; much less can you proceed to reviling words or to averseness and estrangedness, or any abuse of one another. Or if a breach and wound be unhappily made, the balsamic quality of love will heal it. But when love once cooleth, small matters exasperate and breed distaste.
2. Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and passion, which are the causes of impatiency; and must pray and labour for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. For it is the diseased temper of the heart, that causeth dissen
tions, more than the occasions or matter of offence do. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word or carriage that seemeth to tend to their undervaluing. A peevish, froward mind is like a sore and ulcerated member, that will be hurt if it be touched. He that must live near such a sore, diseased, impatient mind, must live even as the nurse doth with the child, that maketh it her business to rock it, and lull, and sing it quiet when it crieth; for to be angry with it, will do no good: and if you have married one of such a sick or childish temper, you must resolve to bear and use them accordingly. But no Christian should bear with such a vexatious malady in themselves; nor be patient with such impatiency of mind. Once get the victory over yourselves, and get the cure of your own impatience, and you will easily keep peace with one another.
3. Remember still that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and make not a strange matter of it, as if you had never known of it before. If you had married one that is lame, would you be angry with her for halting? Or if you had married one that had a putrid ulcer, would you fall out with her because it stinketh? Did you not know beforehand, that you married a person of such weaknesses, as would yield you some matter of daily trial and offence? If you could not bear this, you should not have married her; if you resolved that you could bear it then, you are obliged to bear it now. Resolve therefore to bear with one another; as remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons, and not as angels, or as blameless and perfect.
4. Remember still that you are one flesh; and therefore be no more offended with the words or failings of each other, than you would be if they were your own. Fall out no more with your wife for her faults, than you do with yourself for your own faults; and than you would do, if hers had been your own. This will allow you such an anger and displeasure against a fault, as tendeth to heal it; but not such as tendeth but to fester and vex the diseased part. This will turn anger into compassion, and speedy, tender diligence for the cure.
5. Agree together beforehand, that when one is in the
diseased, angry fit, the other shall silently and gently bear, till it be past and you are come to yourselves again. Be not angry both at once; when the fire is kindled, quench it with gentle words and carriage, and do not cast on oil or fuel, by answering provokingly and sharply, or by multiplying words, and by answering wrath with wrath. But remember that now the work that you are called to is to mollify, and not to exasperate, to help, and not to hurt, to cure another rather than to right yourself: as if another fall and hurt him, your business is to help him up, and not to tread upon him.
6. Look before you, and remember that you must live together until death, and must be the companions of each others fortunes, and the comforts of each others lives, and then you will see how absurd it is for you to disagree and vex each other. Anger is the principle of revenge, and falling out doth tend to separation. Therefore those that must not revenge, should not give way to anger; and those that know they must not part, should not fall out.
7. As far as you are able, avoid all occasions of wrath and falling out, about the matters of your families. Some by their slothfulness bring themselves into want; and then being unable to bear it, they contract a discontented, peevish habit, and in their impatiency they wrangle and disquiet one another. Some plunge themselves into a multitude of business, and have to do with so many things and persons, that one or other is still offending them, and then they are impatient with one another. Some have neither skill nor diligence to manage their businesses aright; and so things fall cross, and go out of order, and then their impatiency turneth itself against each other. Avoid these occasions, if you would avoid the sin, and see that you be not unfurnished of patience, to bear that which cannot be avoided.
8. If you cannot quickly quench your passion, yet at least refrain your tongues; speak not reproachful or provoking words: talking it out hotly doth blow the fire, and increase the flame; be but silent, and you will the sooner return to your serenity and peace. Foul words tend to more displeasure. As Socrates said when his wife first railed at him, and next threw a vessel of foul water upon him, "I thought when I heard the thunder, there would
come rain:" so you may portend worse following, when foul, unseemly words begin. If you cannot easily allay your wrath, you may hold your tongues, if you are truly willing.
9. Let the sober party condescend to speak fair and to entreat the other, (unless it be with a person so insolent as will be the worse.) Usually a few sober, grave admonitions, will prove as water to the boiling pot. Say to your angry wife or husband, You know this should not be betwixt us; love must allay it, and it must be repented of. God doth not approve it, and we shall not approve it when this heat is over. This frame of mind is contrary to a praying frame, and this language contrary to a praying language; we must pray together anon; let us do nothing contrary to prayer now: sweet water and bitter come not from one spring,' &c. Some calm and condescending words of reason, may stop the torrent, and revive the reason which passion had overcome.
10. Confess your fault to one another, when passion hath prevailed against you; and ask forgiveness of each other, and join in prayer to God for pardon; and this will lay a greater engagement on you, the next time to forbear: you will sure be ashamed to do that which you have so confessed and asked forgiveness for of God and man. If you will but practise these ten directions, your conjugal and family peace may be preserved.
Direct. vi. A principal duty between husband and wife, is, with special care, and skill, and diligence, to help each other in the knowledge, and worship, and obedience of God in order to their salvation.' Because this is a duty in which you are the greatest helps and blessings to each other, if you perform it. I shall 1. Endeavour to quicken you to make conscience of it; and then 2. Direct you how to do it.
I. Consider, 1. How little it can stand with rational love, to neglect the souls of one another? I suppose you believe that you have immortal souls, and an endless life of joy or misery to live; and then you cannot choose but know that your great concernment and business is, to make sure provision for those souls, and for the endless life. Therefore if your love do not help one another in this which is main concernment, it is little worth, and of little use.