« AnteriorContinuar »
but shew the badness of your consequence. Unbelievers may marry, and yet we may not marry with unbelievers. “ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? For ye are the temple of the living God wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, &c.u»
Quest. “But I make no doubt but they may be converted: God can call them when he will : if there be but love, they will easily be won to be of the mind as those they love are?' Answ. 1. Then it seems because you love an ungodly person, you will be easily turned to be ungodly. If so, you are not much better already. If love will not draw you to their mind to be ungodly, why should you think love will draw them to your mind to be godly? Are you stronger in grace than they are in sin? 2. If you know well what grace is, and what a sinful, unrenewed soul is, you would not think it so easy a matter to convert a soul. Why are there so few converted, if it be so easy a thing ? You cannot make yourselves better by adding higher degrees to the grace you have: much less can you make another better, by giving them the grace which they have not. 3. It is true that God is able to convert them when he will : and it is true that for aught I know it may be done. But what of that? Will you in so weighty a case take up with a mere possibility? God can make a beggar rich, and for aught you know to the contrary, he will do it: and yet you will not therefore marry a beggar? nor will you marry a leper, because God can heal him? Why then should you marry an ungodly person, because God can convert him? See it done first, if you love your peace and safety.
Quest. “But what if my parents command me to marry an ungodly person ?' Answ. God having forbidden it, no parent hath authority to command you to do so great a mischief to yourself, no more than to cut your own throats, or to dismember your bodies.
u 2 Cor. vi, 14-16.
Quest. But what if I have a necessity of marrying, and can get none but an ungodly person ?' Answ. If that really be your case, that your necessity be real, and you can get no other, I think it is lawful.
Quest. “But is it not better have a good-natured person that is ungodly, than an ill-natured person that is religious, as many such are? And may not a bad man be a good husband ?' Answ. 1. A bad man may be a good tailor, or shoe-maker, or carpenter, or seaman, because there is no moral virtue necessary to the well-doing of their work. But a bad man cannot be simply a good magistrate, or minister, or husband, or parent, because there is much moral virtue necessary to their duties. 2. A bad nature unmortified and untamed is inconsistent with true godliness : such persons may talk and profess what they please; but "if any man among you seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain *.” 3. I did not say that godliness alone is all that you must look after : though this be the first, yet more is necessary.
Direct. VI. Next to the fear of God, make choice of a nature, or temperament that is not too much unsuitable to you. A crossness of dispositions will be a continual vexation : and you will have a domestic war instead of love, especially make sure of these following qualities.: 1. That there be a loving, and not a selfish nature, that hath no regard to another but for their own end. 2. That there be a nature competently quiet and patient, and not intolerably froward, and unpleasable. 3. That there be a competency of wit: for no one can live lovingly and comfortably with a fool. 4. That there be a competent humility : for there is no quietness to be expected with the proud. 5. That there be a power to be silent, as well as to speak : for a babbling tongue is a continual vexation. ;
Direct. viii. ·Next to grace and nature, have a due and moderate respect to person, education and estate.' 1. So far have respect to the person as that there be no unhealthfulness to make your condition over-burdensome; nor any such deformity as may hinder your affections. 2. And so far have respect to parentage and education as that there be no great unsuitableness of mind, nor any prejudicate opin
* James i. 26.
ions in religion, which may make you too unequal. Differing opinions in religion are much more tolerable in persons more distant, than in so near relations. And those that are bred too high in idleness and luxury, must have a thorough work of grace to make them fit for a low condition, and cure the pride and sensuality which are taken for the honourable badges of their gentility; and it is scarce considerable how rich such are : for their pride and luxury will® make even with all, and be still in greater want, than honest, contented, temperate poverty.
Direct. ix. 'If God call you to marriage, take notice of the helps and comforts of that condition, as well as of the hindrances and troubles; that you may cheerfully serve God in it, in the expectation of his blessing. Though man's corruption have filled that and every state of life with snares and troubles, yet from the beginning it was not so; God appointed it for mutual help, and as such it may be used. As a married life hath its temptations and afflictions, so it hath its peculiar benefits, which you are thankfully to accept and acknowledge unto God y. 1. It is a mercy in order to the propagating of a people on earth to love and honour their Creator, and to serve God in the world and enjoy him for ever. It is no small mercy to be the parents of a godly seed; and this is the end of the institution of marriage. And this parents may expect, if they be not wanting on their part; however sometimes their children prove ungodly. 2. It is a mercy to have a faithful friend, that loveth you entirely, and is as true to you as yourself, to whom you may open your mind and communicate your affairs, and who would be ready to strengthen you, and divide the cares of your affairs and family with you, and help you to bear your burdens, and comfort you in your sorrows, and be the daily companion of your lives, and partaker of your joys and sorrows. 3. And it is a mercy to have so near a friend to be a helper to your soul; to join with you in prayer and other holy exercises; to watch over you and tell you of your sins and dangers, and to stir up in you the grace of God, and remember you of the life to come, and cheerfully accompany you in the ways of holiness.“ A prudent wife
y See Eccles. iv. 10-12.
2 Mal, ii. 15.
is from the Lord a.” Thus it is said, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord b.”
Direct. x. 'Let your marriage covenant be made understandingly, deliberately, heartily, in the fear of God, with a fixed resolution faithfully to perform it.' Understand well all the duties of your relation before you enter into it: and run not upon it as boys to a play, but with the sense of your duty, as those that engage themselves to a great deal of work of great importance towards God and towards each other. Address yourselves therefore beforehand to God for counsel, and earnestly beg his guidance, and his blessing, and run not without him, or before him. Reckon upon the worst, and foresee all temptations which would diminish your affections, or make you unfaithful to each other: and see that you be fortified against them all.
Direct. XI. Be sure that God be the ultimate end of your marriage, and that you principally choose that state of life, that in it you may be most serviceable to him; and that you heartily devote yourselves, and your families unto God; that so it may be to you a sanctified condition. It is nothing but making God our guide and end that can sanctify our state of life. They that unfeignedly follow God's counsel, and aim at his glory, and do it to please him, will find God owning and blessing their relation. But they that do it principally to please the flesh, to satisfy lust, and increase their estates, and to have children surviving them to receive the fruit of their pride and covetousness, can expect to reap no better than they sow; and to have the flesh, the world, and the devil the masters of their family, according to their own desire and choice,
Direct. xu. 'At your first conjunction (and through the rest of your lives) remember the day of your separation.' And think not that you are settling yourselves in a state of rest, or felicity, or continuance, but only assuming a companion in your travels. Whether you live in a married or an unmarried life, remember that you are hasting to the everlasting life, where there is neither “marrying nor giving in marriage." You are going as fast to another world in one state of life as in the other. You are but to help each
b Prov. xviii. 22. See Prov. xxxi. 10–12, &c. c 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30.
a Prov, xix. 14.
other in your way, that your journey may be the easier to you, and that you may happily meet again in the heavenly Jerusalem. When worldlings marry, they take it for a settling themselves in the world ; and as regenerate persons begin the world anew, by beginning to lay up a treasure in heaven; so worldlings call their marriage, their beginning the world, because then as engaged servants to the world, they set themselves to seek it with greater diligence than ever before. They do but in marriage begin (as seekers) that life of foolery, which when he had found what he sought, that rich man ended with a “ This I will do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods : and I will say to my soul, Soul thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry: but God said unto him, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided a ?” If you would not die such fools, do not marry and live such worldlings.
Tit. 2. Cases of Marriage.
Quest. 1. •What should one follow as a certain rule, about the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity ? seeing 1. The law of Moses is not in force to us. 2. And if it were, it is very dark, whether it may by parity of reason be extended to more degrees than are named in the text. 3. And seeing the law of nature is so hardly legible in this
Answ. 1. It is certain that the prohibited degrees are not so statedly and universally unlawful, as that such marriage may not be made lawful by any necessity. For Adam's son's did lawfully marry their own sisters.
2. But now the world is peopled, such necessities as will warrant such marriages must needs be very rare, and such as we are never like to meet with.
3. The law of nature is it which prohibiteth the degrees d Luke xü. 19, 20.
e The case of Polygamy is so fully and plainly resolved by Christ, that I take it not to be necessary to decide it, especially while the law of the land doth make it death.