Page images
PDF
EPUB

riage, as mutual help and comfort, &c. which may make it lawful'.

Direct. 11. •To restrain your inordinate forwardness to marriage, keep the ordinary inconveniencies of it in memory. Rush not into a state of life, the inconveniencies of which you never thought on. If you have a call to it, the knowledge of the difficulties and duties will be necessary to your preparation, and faithful undergoing them: if you have no call, this knowledge is necessary to keep you off. I shall first name the inconveniencies common to all, and then some that are proper to the ministers of the Gospel, which have a greater reason to avoid a married life than other men have.

1. Marriage ordinarily plungeth men into excess of worldly cares: it multiplieth their business, and usually their wants. There are many things to mind and do: there are many to provide for. And many persons you will have to do with ; who have all of them a selfish disposition and interest, and will judge of you but according as you fit their ends. And among many persons and businesses, some things will frequently fall cross: you must look for many rubs and disappointments. And your natures are not so strong, content and patient, as to bear all these without molestation.

2. Your wants in a married state are hardlier supplied, than in a single life. You will want so many things which before

you never wanted, and have so many to provide for and content ; that all will seem little enough, if you had never so much. Then you will be often at your wit's end, taking thought for the future, what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and wherewith shall you and yours be clothed.

3. Your wants in a married state are far hardlier borne than in a single state. It is far easier to bear personal wants ourselves, than to see the wants of wife and children: affection will make their sufferings pinch you. And ingenuity will make it a trouble to your mind, to need the help of servants, and to want that which is fit for servants

" Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for the middle age, and old men's nurses. So that a man may have a quarrel to marry when he will. Lord Bacon, Essay 8.

to expect. But especially the discontent and impatience of your family will more discontent you than all their wants. You cannot help your wifé, ånd children, and servants to contented minds. O what a heart-cutting trial is it, to hear them repining, murmuring, and complaining! To hear them call for that which you have not for them; and ġrieve at their condition, and exclaim of you, or of the providence of God, because they have it not! And think not that riches will free you from these discontents : for as the rich åre but few, so they that have much have much to do with it. A great foot must have a great shoe. When poor men want some small supplies, rich men may want great sums, or larger provisions, which the poor can do without. And their condition lifting them up to greater pride, doth torment them with greater discontents. How few in all the world that have families, are content with their éstates !

4. Hereupon à married life containeth far more temptations to worldliness or covetousness, than a single state doth. For when you think you need more, you will desire more: and when you find all too little to satisfy those that you provide for, you will measure your estate by their desires, and be apt to think that you have never enough. Birds and beasts that have young ones to provide for, are most hungry and rapacious. You have so many now to scrape for, that

you

will think you are still in want : it is not only till death that you must now lay up; but you must provide for children that survive you. And while you take them to be as yourselves, you have two generations now to make provisions for: ånd most mén áre as covetous for their posterity, as if it were for themselves.

5. And hereupon you are hindered from works of charity to others : wife and children are the devouring gulf that swalloweth all. If you had but yourselves to provide for, a little would serve; and you could deny your own desires of unnecessary things; and so might have plentiful provision for good works. But by that time wife and children are provided for, and all their importunate desires satisfied, there is nothing considerable left for pious or cha

Lamentable experience proclaimeth this. 6. And hereby it appeareth how much a married state doth ordinarily hinder men from honouring their profession.

ritable uses.

It is their vows of single life that hath occasioned the Papists to do so many works of public charity, as is boasted of for the honour of their sect. For when they have no children to bequeath it to, and cannot keep it themselves, it is easy to them to leave it for such uses as will pacify their consciences most, and advance their names. And if it should prove as good a work and as acceptable to God, to educate your own children piously for his service, as to relieve the children of the poor, yet is it not so much regarded in the world, nor bringeth so much honour to religion. One hundred pounds given to the poor shall more advance the reputation of your liberality and virtue, than a thousand pounds given to your own children, though it be with as pious an end, to train them up for the service of the church. And though this is inconsiderable, as your own honour is concerned in it, yet it is considerable, as the honour of religion and the good of souls are concerned in it.

7. And it is no small patience which the natural imbecility of the female sex requireth you to prepare. Except it be very few that are patient and manlike, women are commonly of potent fantasies, and tender, passionate, impatient spirits, easily cast into anger, or jealousy, or discontent; and of weak understandings, and therefore unable to reform themselves. They are betwixt a man and a child: some few have more of the man, and many have more of the child; but most are but in a middle state. Weakness naturally inclineth persons to be froward and hard to please; as we see in children, old people, and sick persons. They are like a sore, distempered body; you can scarce touch them but you

hurt them. With too many you can scarce tell how to speak or look but you displease them. If you should be very

well versed in the art of pleasing, and set yourselves to it with all your care, as if you made it your very business and had little else to do, yet it would put you hard to it, to please some weak, impatient persons, if not quite surpass your ability and skill. And the more you love them, the more grievous it will be, to see them still in discontents, weary of their condition, and to hear the clamorous expressions of their disquiet minds. Nay the very multitude of words that very many are addicted to, doth make some men's lives a continual burden to them. Mark what the Scripture

saith; “ It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house. It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.-A continual dropping in a very rainy day, and a contentious woman are alike.-One man among a thousand have I found: but a woman among all those have I not foundf.”

8. And there is such a meeting of faults and imperfections on both sides, that maketh it much the harder to bear the infirmities of others aright. If one party only were froward and impatient, the stedfastness of the other might make it the more tolerable: but we are all sick in some measure, of the same disease. And when weakness meeteth with weakness, and pride with pride, and passion with passion, it exasperateth the disease and doubleth the suffering. And our corruption is such, that though our intent be to help one another in our duties, yet we are apter far to stir up one another's distempers.

9. The business, care, and trouble of a married life, is a great temptation to call down your thoughts from God, and to divert them from the “ one thing necessary 5," and to distract the mind, and make it indisposed to holy duty, and to serve God with a divided heart, as if we served him not. How hard is it to pray, or meditate with any serious fervency,

when you come out of a crowd of cares and businesses ! Hear what St. Paul saith, “ For I would that all men were as I myself

-- I say to the unmarried and the widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.-I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, that it is good for a man so to be : such shall have trouble in the flesh. But I would have you be without carefulness: he that is unmarried, careth for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord : but he that is married, careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely,

I Prov. xxi. 9. 19. xxv. 24. xxvii. 15. Eccles. vii. 28.

& Luke x. 42.

and that you may attend upon the Lord without distraction. He that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart, that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that marrieth doeth well, but he that marrieth not doeth better b." And mark Christ's own words, “ His disciples say unto him, if the case of a man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.—He that is able to receive it, let him receive iti."

10. The business of a married state doth commonly devour almost all your time, so that little is left for holy contemplations, or serious thoughts of the life to come. All God's service is contracted and thrust into a corner, and done as it were on the bye: the world will scarce allow you time to meditate, or pray, or read the Scripture : you think yourselves (as Martha) under a greater necessity of dispatching your business, than of sitting at Christ's feet to hear his Word. O that single persons knew (for the most part) the preciousness of their leisure, and how free they are to attend the service of God, and learn his Word, in comparison of the married !

11. There is so great a diversity of temperaments and degrees of understanding, that there are scarce any two persons in the world, but there is some unsuitableness between them. Like stones that have some unevenness, that maketh them lie crooked in the building; some crossness there will be of opinion, or disposition, or interest, or will, by nature, or by custom and education; which will stir up frequent discontents.

12. There is a great deal of duty which husband and wife do owe to one another; as to instruct, admonish, pray, watch over one another, and to be continual helpers to each other in order to their everlasting happiness ; and patiently to bear with the infirmities of each other. And to the weak and backward heart of man, the addition of so much duty doth add to their weariness, how good soever the work be in itself: and men should feel their strength, before they undertake more work. - 13. And the more they love each other, the more they

h 1 Cor, vii. 7, 8. 26–28. 32-35. 37, 38.

i Matt. xix. 11, 12.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »