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affection. Did you actually design to raise either of these in those who looked upon you? What! while you and they were in the more immediate presence of God! What profaneness and inhumanity mixed together! But if you designed it not, did you not foresee it? You might have done so without any extraordinary sagacity. “Nay, I did not care or think about it.” And do you say this by way excuse ? You “scatter abroad arrows, fire-brands, and death ;”. and do not care or think about it!
8. O let us walk more charitably and more wisely for the time to come! Let us all cast aside, from this very hour, whatever does not become men and women professing godJiness : whatever does not spring from the love and fear of God, and minister thereto. Let our seriousness shine before men, not our dress : let all who see us know that we are not of this world. Let our adorning be that which fadeth not away, even righteousness and true holiness. If ye regard not weakening my hands and grieving my spirit, yet grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Do you ask, “ But what shall I do with the gay or costly apparel, and with the ornaments I have already? Must I suffer them to be lost? Ought I not to wear them now I have them?” I answer, there is no loss like that of using them; wearing them is the greatest loss of all. But what then shalt thou do with them. Burn them rather than wear them; throw them into the depth of the sea. Or if thou canst with a clear conscience, sell them, and give the money to them that want. But buy no more at the peril of thy soul. Now be a faithful steward. After providing for those of thine own household things needful for life and godliness, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the sick, the prisoner, the stranger, with all thou hast. Then shall God clothe thee with glory and honour in the presence of men and angels; and thou shalt “shine as the brightness of the firmament,” yea, “as the stars for ever and ever."
THE DUTIES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES.
I Am persuaded, it is not possible for me to write any thing so full, so strong, and so clear on this subject, as has been written near a hundred and fifty years ago, by a person of equal sense and piety. I shall, therefore, only abridge what he has written on the head, with some few alterations and additions. I beseech you all, who are more immediately concerned, to read it with the calmest attention, and with earnest prayer, that what is here written may be transcribed into your hearts and lives.
The First Duty of the Married, -CHASTITY, 1. THIS Duty is so manifest, that no person whatever can pretend ignorance of it. The law of God, the law of nature, and the laws of all well ordered societies enjoin it. The violation of this unties the marriage-knot, and dissolves the marriage-covenant. For our Lord himself, who utterly disallows of other divorces, yet allows divorce in case of adultery. “But may the person wronged admit the wrongdoer again, after the offence is known ?" I answer, “ They may, provided the offender give full, satisfactory proof of amendment.” We read not any command to the contrary. But if the offender persist in sin, then the innocent person, having full proof thereof, is bound to withdraw from the sinner.
2. Let any, who find strong temptations to this sin, 1, Constantly and conscientiously perform private duties. The blessing of God hereon will make him conqueror, over what before seemed most unconquerable. 2, Be diligent
in your calling, that you may have no leisure for inflaming imaginations. It is certain, an idle person, if occasion and constitution serve, will sooner or later prove adulterous. But diligence joined with hearty prayer, will preserve a man pure and undefiled. -3, Be exactly temperate. It is easy to put out the fiercest fire, by withdrawing the fewel. If, therefore, you would be chaste in your marriage, be sparing in your food. 4, Carefully shun every temptation, and all opportunities of sin; especially, shun as a rock the company of any person apt to tempt, or to be tempted : and consider, that the coldest water will be hot, if it be set near the fire.
3. These directions are such as agree to all, married or unmarried. There remains another help peculiar to the former, the due use of marriage. The ordinances of God will answer their end, if our abuse of them do not hinder, Now God has ordained marriage for this end, among others, to prevent fornication. Wherefore let it be used in the manner it ought, and it will surely answer its end. And in this respect the wife hath not power over her own body, but. the husband.” Neither “ hath the husband power over his own body, but the wife.” It is not in the choice of either, whether to live with the other, or not. But they are bound in conscience so to do, and cannot refuse it with out grievous sin. There may indeed be a separation for a time, if needful affairs require. But it is not lawful for either the man or the woman to leave the other totally or finally.
4. In this their society, two things are to be observed, that it may be sanctified and temperate. First, It must be sanctified, that is, made lawful and holy to them, by the word of God and prayer. The word of God clearly shews the lawfulness of it. For God has said expressly, “ Marriage is honourable among all men, and the bed undefiled.” But let it also be sanctified, or made holy by prayer. Solemnly pray for the blessing of God upon his ordinance, not forgetting to return him particular thanks for his infinite goodness herein. That this is requisite none can deny, that will
not deny the authority of St. Paul. For he' affirms, that marriage, as well as meat and drink, is sanctified by prayer and thanksgiving. As, therefore, it is a brutish profaneness for any man to sit down to his table, as an horse to the manger, without asking the blessing of God 'first, and to return from it as a fox from his prey, without praising him that gave him food and appetite; so it is great licentiousness for married persons to come together, as it were, brute beasts, without either prayer or thanksgiving. The hope of posterity, the stay of old age, the support of every man's house, the supply of the Church and Common-wealth, hang upon the fruit of marriage. Is it then more than needs, to ask the blessing of God in a thing of so great importance ? Surely we should bring his curse upon us, were we either to forget it as needless, or despise it as ridiculous. Yea, whereas marriage is instituted in part, for the subduing inordinate desires, it cannot answer that end without God's blessing: which how can we expect, if we scorn to ask it? Certainly, the men that use marriage in a brutish manner, not seeing God therein, nor sanctifying it to themselves by these means, will thereby become more and more brutish. Wherefore let no man scoff at a duty plainly commanded by God: but let us learn to know the full efficacy of prayer, and to reap the fruit of it in all things.
5. It must, Secondly, be, temperate. We are always to remember, God ordained marriage, chiefly for the increase of mankind, and not to kindle lustful desires, but to quench them. I confess, we should take great heed of laying snares upon men's consciences, and must be very careful not to bind them where God has not bound them. But this is a sure rule: the quantity of every thing must be suited to the end. This being considered, the married are not to provoke desires, but allay them, when they provoke themselves. They must not strive to inflame the passions, when they are cool, but when they are moved of themselves, to assuage them. In a word, marriage should be used as sparingly, as consists with the need of the persons married. A temperate use promotes purity: excess inflames lust, and
inclines to adultery. Wherefore, the foregoing rule should be carefully observed ; that the married come no oftener together than is needful to extinguish natural desires, when they would otherwise become troublesome to them. Now the sanctified use of marriage is also an help to the temperate use of it. But they seldom fail to exceed who do not take care to make all things holy by prayer and thanks giving.
6. Perhaps one might add, It should ever be accompanied with cheerfulness and willingness. They must neither deny themselves to each other, nor behave with grudging frowardness; but rather with readiness, and all demonstrations of sincere affection. The Scripture plainly testifies this, by the very term benevolence, or good-will. For no man can call that good-will, which is done churlishly and discontentedly: a behaviour that naturally tends to alienate the heart, and create suspicions of estrangement of affection.
Of the Love of Married Persons. 1. THE marriage-covenant binds all that enter into it to several other duties as well as chastity; but not under the 'same forfeiture. Failing in these, breaks God's command, but does not break the bonds of matrimony. No ill behaviour dissolves this, while we are not wronged as to the marriage-bed. Thou art still an husband or a wife, though thy yoke-fellow is wanting in many duties. Be careful, therefore, to do thy own part still, however slenderly thou art requited.
2. The duties common to husbands and wives partly respect themselves, and partly their families. All the former sort may be reduced to two heads, love, and the fruits of love. First, Love: their hearts must be united, as well as their hands; else their union will be more troublesome than can be imagined. Love is the life and soul of marriage, without which it differs from itself, as a carcase from a living