« AnteriorContinuar »
participate in each other's griefs: and one or other will be frequently under some sort of suffering. If one be sick, or lame, or pained, or defamed, or wronged, or disquieted in mind, or by temptation fall into any wounding sin, the other beareth part of the distress. Therefore before you undertake to bear all the burdens of another, and suffer in all another's hurts, it concerneth you to observe your strength, how much more you have than your own burdens do require.
14. And if you should marry one that proveth ungodly, how exceeding great would the affliction be! If you loved them, your souls would be in continual danger by them : they would be the most powerful instruments in the world to pervert your judgments, to deaden your hearts, to take you off from a holy life, to kill your prayers, to corrupt your lives, and to damn your souls. And if you should have the grace to escape the snare, and save yourselves, it would be by so much the greater difficulty and suffering, as the temptation is the greater. And what a heart-breaking would it be to converse so nearly with a child of the devil, that is like to lie for ever in hell! The daily thoughts of it would be a daily death to you.
15. Women especially must expect so much suffering in a married life, that if God had not put into them a natural inclination to it, and so strong a love to their children, as maketh them patient under the most annoying troubles, the world would ere this have been at an end, through their refusal of so calamitous a life. Their sickness in breeding, their pain in bringing forth, with the danger of their lives, the tedious trouble night and day, which they have with their children in their nursing and their childhood ; besides their subjection to their husbands, and continual care of family affairs; being forced to consume their lives in a multitude of low and troublesome businesses : all this, and much more would have utterly deterred that sex from marriage, if nature itself had not inclined them to it.
16. And O what abundance of duty is incumbent upon both the parents towards every child for the saving of their souls! What incessant labour is necessary in teaching them the doctrine of salvation! which made God twice over
k Art thou discontented with thy childless state? Remember that of all the Roman kings, not one of them left the crown to his son. Plutarch de tranq. anim.
charge them to teach his word diligently (or sharpen them) “ unto their children, and to talk of them when they sit in their houses, and when they walk by the way, and when they lie down, and when they rise up!.” What abundance of obstinate, rooted corruptions are in the hearts of children, which parents must by all possible diligence root up! O how great and hard a work is it, to speak to them of their sins and Saviour, of their God, their souls, and the life to come, with that reverence, gravity, seriousness, and unwearied constancy as the weight of the matter doth require! and to suit all their actions and carriage to the same ends! Little do most that have children know, what abundance of care and labour God will require of them, for the sanctifying and saving of their children's souls. Consider your fitness for so great a work before you undertake it.
17. It is abundance of affliction that is ordinarily to be expected in the miscarriages of children, when you have done your best, much more if you neglect your duty, as even godly parents too often do. After all your pains, and care, and labour, you must look that the foolishness of some, and the obstinacy of others, and the unthankfulness of those that you have loved best, should even pierce your hearts. You must look that many vices should spring up and trouble you; and be the more grievous by how much your children are the more dear. And O what a grief it is to breed up a child to be a servant of the devil, and an enemy of God and godliness, and a persecutor of the church of God! And to think of lying in hell for ever! And alas ! how great is the number of such!
18. And it is not a little care and trouble, that servants will put you to: so difficult is it to get those that are good, much more to make them good; so great is your duty in teaching them, and minding them of the matters of their salvation; so frequent will be the displeasures about your work and worldly business, and every one of those displeasures will hinder them for receiving your instructions; that most families are houses of correction or affliction. 19. And these marriage crosses are not for a year,
but during life: they deprive you of all hope of relief while you live together. There is no room for repentance, nor casting
I Deut. vi. 6, 7. xi. 19.
about for a way to escape them. Death only must be your relief. And therefore such a change of your condition should be seriously forethought on, and all the troubles be foreseen and pondered,
20. And if love make you dear to one another, your parting at death will be the more grievous. And when you first come together, you know that such a parting you must have : through all the course of your lives you may foresee it: one of you must see the body of your beloved, turned into a cold, and ghastly clod: you must follow it weeping to the grave, and leave it there in dust and darkness: there it must lie rotting as a loathsome lump, whose sight or smell you cannot endure; till you shortly follow it, and lie down yourself in the same condition. All these are the ordinary concomitants and consequents of marriage; easily and quickly spoken, but long and hard to be endured! No fictions, but realities, and less than most have reason to expect. And should such a life be vainly ventured on in a pang
of lust? or such a burden be undertaken without forethought?
But especially the ministers of the Gospel should think what they do, and think again, before they enter upon a married life. Not that it is simply unlawful for them, or that they are to be tied from it by a law, as they are in the kingdom of Rome, for carnal ends and with odious effects. But so great a hindrance ordinarily is this troublesome state of life to the sacred ministration which they undertake, that a very clear call should be expected for their satisfaction. That I be not tedious, consider well but of these four things. 1. How well will a life of so much care and business agree to you, that have time little enough for the greater work which you have undertaken? Do you know what you have to do in public and private? in reading, meditating, praying, preaching, instructing personally, and from house to house? And do you know of how great importance it is? even for the saving of men's souls? And have you time to spare for so much worldly cares and business? Are you not charged, Meditate on these things: give thyself wholly to them m." “ No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him that hath chosen him to be a soldier..
Is not this plain?. Soldiers use not to look to farms and servants. If you are faithful ministers, I dare confidently say, you will find all your time so little for your proper work, that many a time you will groan and say, O how short and swift is time! and 0, how great and slow is my work and duty! 2. Consider how well a life of so great diversions, avocations and distractions, doth suit with a mind devoted to God, that should be always free and ready for his service. Your studies are on such great and mysterious subjects, that they require the whole mind, and all too little. To resolve the many difficulties that are before you, to prepare those suitable, convincing words, which may pierce and persuade the hearers' hearts, to get within the bosom of an hypocrite, to follow on the Word till it attain its effect, and to deal with poor souls according to their great necessity, and handle God's Word according to its holiness and majesty, these are things that require a whole man, and are not employments for a divided or distracted mind. The talking of women, and the crying of children, and the cares and business of the world, are ill preparations or attendants on these studies o. 3. Consider well whether a life of so great disturbance be agreeable to one whose affections should be taken up for God: and whose work must be all done, not formally and affectedly with the lips alone, but seriously with all the heart. If your heart and warm affections be at any time left behind, the life and power, the beauty and glory of your work are lost. How dead will your studies, and praying, and preaching, and conference be! And can you keep those affections warm and vigorous for God, and taken up with heaven and heavenly things, which are disturbed with the cares and the crosses of the world, and taken
with carnal matters ? , 4. And consider also how well that indigent life will agree to one that by charity and good works should second his doctrine, and win men's souls to the love of holiness P. If you feed not the bodies
• Non bene fit quod occupato animo fit. Hieron. Epist. 553. ad Paulin.
P A single life doth well with churchmen, for charity will hardly water the ground, where it must fill a pool. Lord Bacon, Essay 8. The greatest works and foundations have been from childless men, who have sought to express the image of their minds, that have none of their body: so the care of posterity, hath been must in them that had no posterity. Lord Bacon, Essay 7. He that hath a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune : for they are impediments to great enter
of the poor, they will less relish the food of the soul. Nay, if you abound not above others in good works, the blind, malicious world will see nothing that is good in you;
but will say, You have good words, but where are your good works? What abundance have I known hardened against the Gospel and religion, by a common fame, that these preachers are as covetouş, and worldly, and uncharitable as any others: and it must be something extraordinary that must confute such fame. And what abundance of success have I seen of the labours of those ministers, who give all they have in works of charity! And though a rich and resolved man may do some good in a married state, yet commonly it is next to nothing, as to the ends now mentioned : wife, and children, and family necessities devour all, if you have never so much. And some provision must be made for them, when you are dead : and the maintenance of the ministry is not so great as to suffice well for all this, much less for any eminent works of charity besides! Never reckon upon the doing of much good to the poor, if you have wives and children of your own! Such instances are rarities and wonders. All will be too little for yourselves. Whereas if all that were given to the poor which goeth to the maintenance of your families, you little know how much it would reconcile the minds of the ungodly, and further the success of
your ministerial work. Direct. 111. 'If God call you to a married life, expect all these troubles, or most of them; and make a particular preparation for each temptation, cross and duty which you must expect.' Think not that you are entering into a state of mere delight; lest it prove but a fool's paradise to you. See that you be furnished with marriage strength and patience, for the duties and sufferings of a married state, before you venture on it. Especially, 1. Be well provided against temptations to a worldly mind and life: for here you are like to be most violently and dangerously assaulted. 2. See that you be well provided with conjugal affections : for they are necessary both to the duties and sufferings of a married life. And you should not enter upon the state without the necessary preparations. 3. See that you prises. The best works and of greatest merit, for the public, have proceeded from unmarried and childless men. Id. ibid. Essay 8.