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rished society of sinners injurious to his enjoyment and excellence ? So far as the society of sinners is not preferred, but rather attended with a cross, there is little to apprehend. But so soon as there is a pleasure in such a society, and a union of heart and spirit, then follows a direct and awful declension. Then the spirit and temper of the world is imbibed, privileges are disesteemed, duties are neglected, brethren are slighted, and gradually, but almost certainly, the result is--apostacy.
As marriage creates a bond of intimacy and common interest, incomparably closer and more affectionate than any other, so is it incomparably more likely to produce this apostacy than any other mode of connexion with sinners. It may therefore be expected, that the Christian who marries an unbeliever will resume gay company, vain amusements, and Sunday visits, and gradually cease from social meetings, Christian society, and secret duties. At length a place of worship is chosen where “another gospel” is preached, and ultimately comes excommunication from that “ little flock" with whom they were “ seeking a kingdom.” In the strong language of Pike, “ The day of their marriage is the day that sets the seal to their eternal ruin. According to the language of the Divine word, 'they marry, having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." This is not conjecture, it is not prophecy, it is not theory; it is historical fact, and matter of daily observation.
IV. They cannot rationally be expected to result in conjugal happiness.
Love to God necessarily begets a preference for the society of those who serve and resemble him. Christians withdraw themselves from the ways and company of the ungodly, not with reluctant obedience to command, but by an instinct which increases with the growth of grace. One of the first emotions of the new convert, and one which ranks among the strongest indications of a renovated heart, is love to the brotherhood. Even when the sinners, into whose company the young disciple is thrown, maintain a decorous deportment, yet a sense of uncongeniality of feeling makes intercourse constrained. The topic, which is to him most precious, must be omitted. If he utter the effu, sions of his heart, the sounds are strange in their ears, and unwelcome. On the other hand, their gay projects are to him as a dream of folly. The objects they seek, are those he has abandoned, and learned to despise. The amusements they prefer, he condemns. The emotions and opinions they advocate, are those he renounces, and must oppose. To choose the partner of one's bosom, the companion of one's life, from among such, is to abandon all hope of congeniality of heart and aim for ever.
Bind a dead body to a living man, and life itself becomes a burden. “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, what communion hath light with darkness, and what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever?”
Persons of opposite inclinations and habits can live peaceably together, only by keeping out of the way those points wherein the difference conssits. The Christian's mouth must therefore be closed on the most momentous of subjects, and the deportment trammelled, where there is the most need to be free. Poor, at best, is such a peace; and dearly
does the Christian purchase it, by the sacrifice of allegiance to God, and serenity of conscience.
But it will not be possible for a child of God to keep secret and silent on the subject which most engrosses the heart, nor to avoid conduct which will show the result of holy principle. By necessary consequence, collisions must occur. Do we believe the Scripture ? Let us then hear it: “An unjust man is an abomination to the just, and he that is upright in the way, is abomination to the wicked.” Proverbs xxix. 27. Our Saviour expressly predicts domestic discord, as one of the great trials which would ensue on the conversion of a part of a household, “ Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth ; I am not come to send peace, but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in law against her mother-in-law ; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”
The disagreement, in sentiment and practice, will not appear formidable during an acquaintance and courtship. In many cases, the irreligious party has adopted at that time a mode of deportment and conversation so conciliatory, as to inspire the most sanguine hope that he was a sincere inquirer after the truth, and would ere long be a decided Christian. But a few months only of married life elapse, before he ceases to accompany his wife to the evening meeting, and perhaps to the house of God.A few months more find him a decided, and perhaps bitter opposer. But, supposing the utmost candour and sincerity on each side, the difference between them will be far less observable before marriage than afterward. The parties see each other only in tranquil moments. Each is actuated by the same attachment; conversation grows out of similarity of pursuits and feelings; and the chief employment is to be pleasing and pleased. After marriage, they associate in the daily business of life, when each acts according to peculiar character, and established habits. It is not possible for a Christian and a sinner thus to associate, without the disclosure of dissimilarities. These dissimilarities must be peculiarly irksome, because they relate to fundamental principles; their exhibition is continual and unavoidable ; and the comfort of one party must be invaded, to secure that of the other. How is it possible, in such cases, to maintain that harmony, which is the very essence of domestic felicity? In proportion as spirituality abounds on one side, aversion must be felt on the other. If the display of religion be merely in the deportment, the reproof it conveys is keen and constant. If the torment of exhortation and entreaty be added, what but personal alienation is likely to be the consequence ? that is trying to sleep loves a noise ? Who that wishes to remain in darkness is fond of light—especially placed so near ?"
But allowing the most we may in relation to harmony, there cannot be happiness, at least on the side of the Christian. There is a bosom: friend, but no sympathy; toleration, but no assistance ; conversation, but no communion. Their highest motives and aims are as opposite and distinct as heaven and earth ; and, though united in a legal yoke, they neither love, hate, desire, nor do the same things. The more natural affection is displayed on one side, the more spiritual distress will be felt
on the other. And then the prospect of a speedy and eternal separation! What bitter tears are daily shed on this account! How many affirm this single fact to be their greatest earthly trouble ! This distress is severe when conversion has succeeded the marriage contract; for even a conscience void of offence in this matter is but a partial support. But, when there is a smarting consciousness that the counsel of friends and the word of God had been set at nought, in forming the disastrous union, and that now their own imperfections and sins tend to keep a beloved companion out of the ark of safety, how much deeper is the grief! Continually will that passage be likely to recur to their remembrance, “ If my children forsake my laws, and walk not in my judgments: if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments : then will I visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes."
The unhappiness in relation to the children of such marriages is too serious to be forgotten. The Christian mother is compelled to see her children taught what she dreads they should learn, indulged in what she knows should be prohibited, and furnished daily with an example, which, if they imitate, will be their undoing. If she urges her child to read the Bible, he may ask why he is required to do what his father does not deem necessary.
If she object to the dancing-school, or the theatre, or gay apparel, he regards her as standing in the way of his happiness. If she take him to the house of God, he seldom finds his father there. Where the father is the Christian, the case is no better. His little ones are either untaught in religious truth, or learn heartless forms. The golden years of early childhood are lost, or worse than lost, in regard to religious training; and when he comes to direct their ultimate education, he finds the garden grown up with rankling weeds. In the whole course of education, one parent takes the will of God for a rule, the other the will of man; constant jealousy is maintained on each side, lest the other acquire a predominant influence ; and for life, the house is divided against itself.
These considerations derive still greater force from the fact, that such children are likely to grow up a reproach to their parents,
and unhappy themselves. They will soon discover the want of unity, and unless nature is changed by grace, will cleave to the side of error. Sustained in their rejection of religion by the example of a parent, and becoming hardened by the practice of resisting example and advice, sin will acquire an unusual ripeness and intrepidity. This is on the supposition that one parent really exemplifies the power of godliness. If this be not the case ; if the professor be, as is more likely, so conformed to earth, as to show little or no superiority over nature, the evil is enhanced. The child cherishes not only opposition to religion, but contempt for it. In either case, the prospect is, that the progeny will go in the way of the transgressor.
History corroborates reason in this thing. The first blasphemer, who was stoned to death, was “the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian." Lev. xxiv. 10–14. Absalom, the murderer and rebel, was another. His mother was “ Maacha, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.” 2 Sam. iii. 3. Rehoboam, whose wicked folly rent Israel asunder for ever, was another.
“ His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess.” 1 Kings xiv. 21. On the contrary, a truly religious marriage gave to their happy parents, and to the world, an Isaac, a Jacob, a Moses, an Aaron, a Joshua, a Samuel, a John, and many more, whose services to the world and the church will be remembered through all ages. The pleasure of having a pious progeny, and the misery of the opposite, must, therefore, be reckoned in this calculation. I do not argue a certainty, and it will be conceded that probability is against the hope that such children will become pious. Matthew Henry says, “ If either side be bad, the corrupt nature will incline the children to take after that; which is a good reason why Christians should not be unequally yoked.”
The case is wholly different from that of those who are converted after marriage, or after a contract of marriage. The degree of piety apparent in the professor will be wholly different. The blessing of God, which is not to be expected in unauthorized circumstances, makes another, and a great difference.
The case of those who, being pious, and doing all they can, find their children reprobate, is also wholly different. There is not the disastrous influence of the disagreement just mentioned. They have, at least, the blessing of an approving conscience, and great reason to believe that after their death, if not sooner, their children will be brought to a knowledge of Christ.
(To be continued in our next.)
CONNUBIAL FELICITY. If a happy marriage has given and ensures to man peace at home, let there be no dread of the caprices of chance ; his happiness is sheltered from the strokes of fortune. A wife, gentle and affectionate, sensible and virtuous, will fill his whole heart, and leave no room for sad
What will he care for the loss of property when he possesses this treasure ? Is not his house sufficiently magnificent as long as she commands respect to it-splendid enough as long as her presence adorns it? A cottage where virtue dwells is far superior to a palace; it becomes a temple.
If he were deprived of a highly valuable office, he would scarcely notice it; for he occupies the first and best place in the heart of her he loves. If he be not separated from her, banishment cannot become to him an entire exile ; for in her person he views the image of his country
Through her exertions order reigns in his household, as well as peace to the soul. If injustice or ingratitude irritate or grieve him, her caresses will appease, and her smiles console him.
Her commendation is his glory; he thinks himself good when he raises her affections, and great when she admires him. He sees in her, reason personified, wisdom in action; for she feels all that the philosophers of every age haye only thought.
As modest as the violet, she shuns display, and diffuses in the shades around her the perfume of virtue and happiness.
Labours, pains, pleasures, opinions, sentiments, and thoughts are in common between them; and if she never expresses more or less than what she feels, he reads at a glance her thoughts and her gestures ; and even in her eyes, he can apply to her what used to be said of Pompey, when young, “ The thought was uttered before the voice had sounded.”
If he be ill, the double balm of love and friendship comes to his aid, numberless delicate and affectionate attentions dispel uneasiness, and waken hope. Pain itself smiles upon tenderness, and again knows pleasure.
If poverty should compel him to work for a livelihood, if the fatigues of war, or state affairs, should have exhausted his strength, or enfeebled his health, she alleviates the toil by sharing it.
How easy and short does the voyage of life appear with such a companion ! As to the fortunate isles, he always finds at the same time buds, flowers, and fruits ! His summer has retained and preserved the charms of his spring; and old age has drawn near without his perceiving its approach.
ESSAY ON THE PRESENT DUTY OF CHRISTIAN
[The following essay was written, with seventy-eight others, for a prize offered by a contemporary publication some months ago. We have thought it too good to be lost, being sure that every parent, as well as every teacher, may learn much from it. We are not exactly at liberty to name the writer, but should cordially rejoice were all our young ladies, who profess godliness, as active in doing good as the one whose pen has placed before us this excellent essay.-EDITOR.]
The duty of educating the young has been acknowledged more or less by all nations. The principle which leads them to do this, seems to be almost instinctive in the breasts of parents, for we find it in man in his most uncivilized state. There is a something analogous to it even in the brute creation, from the beast of the forest who leads forth her young in search of prey, to the little bird who instructs hers to flutter and to sing. The savage, but little raised above the brutes which perish, teaches his child to hunt and to plunder ; to revenge himself on his enemies; to distinguish himself by the number of scalps which he has torn from his slaughtered foes, or of victims whom he has sacrificed to his gods. As we rise higher in the scale of intellect, we observe proportional importance attached to the education of the young. The lawgivers of Greece and Rome enforced it in their codes, and Lycurgus in particular, “ looked upon it as the greatest and most important object of a legislator's care." Their most distinguished philosophers, as, for instance, Socrates, Plato, and Pythagoras, employed themselves in the work of tuition. The light of nature and of reason taught them the necessity of what we are taught by the laws of God.