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be well provided with marriage prudence and understanding, that you may be able to instruct and édify your families, and may live with them as men of knowledge 9, and may manage all your business with discretion'. 4. See that you be provided with resolvedness and constancy, that you vex not yourself and relations by too late repentings; and come not off with had I wist,' or 'non putaram.' Levity and mutability is no fit preparative for a state that only death can change. Let the love and resolutions which brought you into that state, continue with you to the last. 5. See that you be provided with a diligence answerable to the greatness of your undertaken duties. A slothful mind is unfit for one that entereth himself voluntarily upon so much business; as a cowardly mind is unfit for him that listeth himself a soldier for the wars. 6. See that you are well provided with marriage patience; to bear with the infirmities of others, and undergo the daily crosses of your life, which your business, and necessities, and your own infirmities will unavoidably infer. To marry without all this preparation, is as foolish as to go to sea without the necessary preparation for your voyage, or to go to war without armour or ammunition, or to go to work without tools or strength, or to go to buy meat in the market when you have no money.
Direct. iv. “Take special care, that fancy and passion overrule not reason, and friends' advice, in the choice of your condition, or of the person.' I know you must have love to those that you match with: but that love must be rational, and such as you can justify in the severest trial, by the evidences of worth and fitness in the person whom you love. To say you love, but you know not why, is more beseeming children or mad folks, than those that are soberly entering upon a change of life of so great importance to them. A blind love which maketh you think a person excellent and amiable, who in the eyes of the wisest that are impartial, is nothing so, or maketh you overvalue the person whom
you fancy, and be fond of one as some admirable creature, that in the eyes of others is next to contemptible, this is but the index and evidence of your folly. And though you please yourselves in it, and honour
it with the name of love, there is none that is acquainted with it, that will give it any better name than lust or fancy. And the marriage that is made by lust or fancy will never tend to solid content or true felicity; but either will feed till death on the fuel that kindled it, and then go out in everlasting shame: or else more ordinarily it proveth but a blaze, and turneth into loathing and weariness of each other. And because this passion of lust (called love) is such a besotting, blinding thing, (like the longing of a woman with child) it is the duty of all that feel any touch of it to kindle upon their hearts, to call it presently to the trial, and to quench it effectually, and till that be done (if they have any relics of wit and reason) to suspect their own apprehensions, and much more to trust the judgment and advice of others.
The means to quench this lust called love, I have largely opened before. I shall now only remember you of these few. 1. Keep asunder, and at a sufficient distance from the
The nearness of the fire and fuel causeth the combustion. Fancy and lust are inflamed by the senses. Keep out of sight, and in time the fever may abate. 2. Overvalue not vanity. Think not highly of a silken coat, or of the great names of ancestors, or of money, or lands, or of a painted or a spotted face, nor of that natural comeliness called beauty : judge not of things as children, but as men: play not the fools in magnifying trifles, and overlooking inward, real worth. Would you fall in love with a flower or picture at this rate ? Bethink you what work the pox, or any other withering sickness will make with that silly beauty which you so admire: think what a spectacle death will make it. And how many thousands once more beautiful, are turned now to common earth! And how many thousand souls are now in hell, that by a beautiful body were drowned in lust, and tempted to neglect themselves! and how few in the world you can name that were ever much the better for it! what a childish thing it is to dote on a book of tales and lies, because it hath a beautiful, gilded cover! and to undervalue the writings of the wise, because they have a plain and homely outside! 3. Rule your thoughts, and let them not run masterless as fancy shall command them. If reason cannot call
off your thoughts from following a lustful desire and imagination, no wonder if one that rideth on such an unbridled colt be cast into the dirt. 4. Live not idly, but let the business of your callings take up your time, and employ your thoughts. An idle, fleshly mind is the carcase where the vermin of lust doth crawl, and the nest where the devil hatcheth both this and many other pernicious sins. 5. Lastly and chiefly, forget not the concernments of your souls : remember how near you are 'to eternity, and what work you have to do for your salvation : forget not the presence of God, nor the approach of death. Look oft by faith into heaven and hell, and keep conscience tender ; and then I warrant you, you will find something else to mind than lust; and greater matters than a silly carcase to take up your thoughts, and you will feel that heavenly love within you, which will extinguish earthly, carnal love.
Direct. v. 'Be not too hasty in your choice or resolution, but deliberate well, and throughly know the person on whom so much of the comfort or sorrow of
life will necessarily depend.' Where repentance hath no place, there is the greater care to be used to prevent it. Reason requireth you to be well acquainted with those that you trust but with an important secret, much more with all your honour or estates : and most of all, with one whom you must trust with so much of the comfort of your lives, and your advantages for a better life. No care and caution can be too great in a matter of so great importance.
Direct. vi. • Let no carnal motives persuade you to join yourself to an ungodly person; but let the holy fear of God be preferred in your choice before all worldly excellency whatsoever.' Marry not a swine for a golden trough: nor an ugly soul for a comely body.. Consider, 1. You will else give cause of great suspicion that you are yourselves ungodly: for they that know truly the misery of an unrenewed soul, and the excellency of the image of God, can never be indifferent whether they be joined to the godly or the ungodly. To prefer things temporal, before things spiritual habitually, and in the predominant acts of heart and life, is the certain character of a graceless soul!: And he that in so near a case doth deliberately prefer riches or comeliness in another, before the image and fear of God,
doth give a very dangerous sign, of such a graceless heart and will. If you set more by beauty or riches than by godliness, you have the surest mark that you are ungodly. If you do not set more by them, how come you deliberately to prefer them? How could you do a thing that detecteth your ungodliness, and condemneth you more clearly? And do you not shew that
either believe not the Word of God, or else that you love him not, and regard not his interest? Otherwise you would take his friends as your friends, and his enemies as your enemies. Tell me, would you marry an enemy of your own, before any change and reconciliation? I am confident you would not. And can you so easily marry an enemy of God? If you know not that all the ungodly and unsanctified are his enemies, you know not, or believe not the Word of God: which telleth you that “ The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be, so then they that are in the flesh cannot please Gods.” 2. If you
fear God yourselves, your chief end in marriage will be to have one that will be a helper to your soul, and further you in the way to heaven : but if you marry with a person that is ungodly, either you have no such end, or else you may easily know you have no more wisely chosen the means, than
had chosen water to kindle the fire, or a bed of snow to keep you warm. Will an ignorant or ungodly person assist you in prayer or holy watchfulness, and stir you up to the love of God, and a heavenly mind? And can you so willingly lose all the spiritual benefit, which you should principally desire and intend? 3. Nay, instead of a helper, you will have a continual hinderer : when you should go to prayer, you will have one to pull you back, or to fill your minds with diversions or disquietments! When you should keep close to God in holy meditations, you will have one to cast in worldly thoughts, or trouble your minds with vanity and vexation. When you should discourse of God and heavenly things, you will have one to stifle such discourse, and fill your ears with idle, impertinent, or worldly talk. And one such a hindrance so near you, in your bosom, will be worse than a thousand further off. As an ungodly heart which is next of all to us, is our greatest hin
Rom. viii. 7, 8.
drance, so an ungodly husband or wife, which is next to that, is worse to us than many ungodly neighbours. And if you think that you can well enough overcome such hindrances, and your heart is so good, that no such clogs can keep it down, you do but shew that you have a proud, unhumbled heart, that is prepared for a fall. If you know yourselves, and the badness of your hearts, you will know that you have no need of hindrances in any holy work, and that all the helps in the world are little enough, and too little to keep your souls in the love of God. 4, And such an ungodly companion will be to you a continual temptation to sin. Instead of stirring you up to good, you will have one to stir you up to evil, to passion or discontent, or covetousness, or pride, or revenge, or sensuality. And can you not sin enough without such a tempter ? 5. And what a continual grief
will it be to you, if you are believers, to have a child of the devil in your bosom! and to think how far you must be separated at death! and in what torments those must lie for ever, that are so dear unto you now! 6. Yea such companions will be uncapable of the principal
art of your love. You may love them as husbands or wives, but you cannot love them as saints or members of Christ. And how great a want this will be in your love, those know that know what this holy love is,
Quest, ‘But how can I tell who are godly, when there is so much hypocrisy in the world ?' Answ. At least you may know who is ungodly if it be palpably discovered. I take not a barren knowledge for ungodliness, nor a nimble tongue for godliness : judge of them by their love : such as a man's love is, such is the man: if they love the Word, and servants, and worship of God, and love a holy life, and hate the contrary, you may close with such, though their knowledge be small, and their parts be weak. But if they have no love to these, but had rather live a common, careless, carnal life, you may well avoid them as ungodly.
Quest. “But if ungodly persons may marry, why may not I marry with one that is ungodly?' Answ. Though dogs and swine may join in generating, it followeth not, men or women may join with them. Pardon the comparison (while Christ calleth the wicked dogs and swine"), it doth
t Matt. vii. 6.