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necessity of a holy life, and she do but resolve to obey the Lord, and save her soul, what an enemy and tyrant will her husband prove to her, (if God restrain him not!) so that the devil himself doth scarce do more against the saving of their souls, than ungodly husbands and wives do against each other.
2. Consider also that you live not up to the ends of marriage, nor of humanity, if you are not helpers to each other's souls. To help each other only for your bellies, is to live together but like beasts. You are appointed to live toge“ heirs of the
of life.” “ And husbands must love their wives as Christ loved his church, who gave himself for it that he might sanctify it and cleanse it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish P.” That which is the end of your very life and being, must be the end of your relations, and your daily converse.
3. Consider also, if you neglect each other's souls, what enemies you are to one another, and how you prepare for your everlasting sorrows: when you should be preparing for your joyful meeting in heaven, you are laying up for yourselves everlasting horror. What a dreadful meeting and greeting will you have at the bar of Christ, or in the flames of hell, when you shall find there how perversely you have done!? Is it not better to be praising God together in glory, than to be raging against each other in the horror of your consciences, and flying in the faces of one another with such accusations as these?" O cruel husband! O merciless, deceitful wife! It was long of you that I came to this miserable, woeful end! I might have lived with Christ and his saints in joy, and now I am tormented in these flames in desperation! You were commanded by God to have given me warning, and told me of my sin and misery, and never to let me rest in it, but to have instructed and entreated me, till I had come home by Christ, that I might not have come to this place of torment: but you never so much as spake to me of God, and my salvation, unless it were lightly in jest or in your common talk! If the house had been on fire,
1 Cor. vii. 5.
o 1 Pet. iji. 7.
p Ephes. v. 25–27. 9 1 Thes. v. 11. Heb. xii. 15. Col. ii. 19. Eph. iv. 16. Gen, xxxv. 2. 4. Lev, xix. 17. VOL. IV.
you would have been more earnest to have quenched it, than you were to save my soul from hell! You never told me seriously of the misery of a natural, unrenewed state! Nor of the great necessity of regeneration and a holy life! Nor ever talked to me of heaven and hell, as matters of such consequence should have been mentioned; but morning and night, your talk was nothing but about the world, and the things of the world'. Your idle talk, and jesting, and froward, and carnal, and unprofitable discourse, was it that filled
up all the time; and we had not one sober word of our salvation. You never seriously foretold me of this day: you never prayed with me, nor read the Scripture and good books to me. You took no pains to help me to knowledge, nor to humble my hardened heart for my sins, nor to save me from them, nor to draw me to the love of God and holiness by faith in Christ: you did not go before me, with the good example of a holy and heavenly conversation : but with the evil example of an ungodly, fleshly, worldly life. You neither cared for your own soul, nor mine; nor I for yours or mine own. And now we are justly condemned together, that would not live in holiness together!" O foolish, miserable souls, that by your ungodliness and negligence in this life, will prepare each other for such a life of endless woe and horror!
O therefore resolve without delay, to live together as heirs of heaven, and to be helpers to each other's souls. To which end I will give you these following Sub-directions, which if you will faithfully practise, may make you to be special blessings to each other.
Direct. I. ' If you would help to save each other's souls, you must each of you be sure that you
have own; and retain a deep and lively apprehension of those great and everlasting matters, of which you are to speak to others 8.1
It cannot be reasonably expected that he should have a due compassion to another's soul, that hath none to his own; and that he should be at the pains that is needful to help another to salvation, that setteth so little by his own, as to sell it for the base and momentary ease and pleasure of the flesh. Nor is it to be expected that a man should speak with any suitable weight and seriousness about
a care of
of your When you
r Numb. xvi. 27. 32.
s Gen. ii. 18.
those matters whose weight his heart did never feel, and about which he was never serious himself. First see that you feel throughly, that which would speak profitably; and that you be what you persuade another to be; and that all your counsel may be perceived to arise from the bottom of your hearts, and that you speak of things which by experience you are well acquainted with.
Direct. 11. - Take those opportunities which your ordinary nearness and familiarity affordeth you, to be speaking seriously to each other about the matters of God, and
your salvation. When you lie down and rise together, let not your worldly business have all your talk; but let God and your souls have the first and the last, and at least the freest and sweetest of your speech, if not the most. When have said so much of your common business as the nature and dispatch of it requireth, lay it by, and talk together of the state and duty of your souls towards God, and of your hopes of heaven, as those that take these for their greatest business. And speak not lightly, or unreverently, or in a rude and wrangling manner ; but with gravity and sobriety, as those that are advising together about the greatest matter that ever they had to do in the world.
Direct. u. When either husband or wife is speaking seriously about holy things, let the other be careful to cherish, and not to extinguish and put an end to the discourse:' There are two ways to cherish such discourse : the first is, by taking your turn, and bearing a due proportion in the discourse with wisdom and gravity ; but all cannot do this, some are but learners, and those must take the second way, which is, to ask for resolution in matters of which they doubt, or are uninstructed, and to draw on more by pertinent questions. The two ways by which such discourse is silenced are these: the first is, by the constant silence of the hearer; when a man talketh as to a post, that giveth him no answer, nor putteth any pertinent question, he will be wearied out at last, and will give over : the second is, by a cross, contradicting, cavilling, wrangling against what is spoken, or by interruptions and diversions ; when you come in presently with some worldly or impertinent talk, and wind about from sober conference to something that is unedifying: and some that will not seem merely profane, and vain, and worldly, will destroy all holy, fruitful conference, even by a kind of religious talk; presently carrying you away from heart-searching and heavenly discourse, to some controversy, or doctrinal, or formal, or historical matter, that is sufficiently distant from the heart and heaven. Take heed of these courses, if you would help each other.
Direct. iv. · Watch over the hearts and lives of one another, and labour to discern the state of one another's souls, and the strength or weakness of each other's sins and graces, and the failings of each other's lives, that so you may be able to apply to one another the most suitable help.' What you are unacquainted with, you cannot be very helpful in*; you cannot cure unknown diseases; you cannot give wise and safe advice, about the state of one another's souls, if you are mistaken in them. God hath placed you nearest to each other, that you might have so much interest in each other, as to quicken you to a loving care, and so much acquaintance with each other, as to keep you from misunderstanding, and so from neglecting or deceiving one another. And you should be always provided of those fit remedies, that are most needful and suitable to each other's
If that preacher be like to be dull and unsuccessful that is all upon mere doctrine, and little or nothing in close and lively application, you may conceive that it will be so also with your familiar conference.
See that you neither flatter one another through fond and foolish love, nor exasperate one another by a passionate or contemptuous kind of reprehension.' Some persons are so blinded with fond affection, that they can scarce see in husband, wife, or children any aggravated sin or misery; but they think all is well that they do, or not so ill as in another they would perceive it; but this is the same course that self-loving sinners take with their own souls, to their delusion and perdition. This flattering of yourselves or others, is but the devil's charm to keep you from effectual repentance and salvation : and the ease of such anodynes and narcotics doth endure but a little while. On the other side, some cannot speak to one another of their faults, without such bitterness of passion, or contempt, as tendeth to make the stomach of the receiver to loathe the
Matt. xxvii. 19.
medicine, and so to refuse it, or to cast it up. If common reproofs to strangers must all be offered in love, much more between the nearest relations.
Direct. vi. · Be sure that you keep up true conjugal love to one another, and that you grow not to disaffect the persons of each other. For if you do,
For if you do, you will despise each other's counsels and reproofs. They that slight, or loathe, or are weary of each other, will disdain reproofs, and scorn advice from one another; when entire affection greatly disposeth to the right entertainment of instruction.
Direct. vii. · Discourage not each other from instruction or reproof by taking it ill, or by churlish reflections, or by obstinate unreformedness. When you will not learn, or will not amend, you discourage your instructor and reprover. Men will be apt to give over, when they are requited with ingratitude, and snappish retortions, or when they perceive that their labour is all in vain. And as it is the heaviest judgment of God that befalleth any upon earth, when he withdraweth his advice and help, and leaveth sinners wholly to themselves ; so it is the saddest condition in your relations, when the ignorant and sinning party is forsaken by the other, and left to their own opinions and ways; though indeed it should not be so, because while there is life there is hope.
Direct. viii. ' So far as you are able to instruct or quicken one another, call in for better helps : engage each other in the reading of the most convincing, quickening books, and in attendance on the most powerful ministry, and in profitable converse with the holiest persons. Not so as to neglect your duty to one another ever the more, but that all helps concurring may be the more effectual. When they find you speak to them but the same things which ministers and other Christians speak, it will be the more easily received.
Direct. ix. ·Conceal not the state of your souls, nor hide your faults from one another.' You are as one flesh, and should have one heart: and as it is most dangerous for a man to be unknown to himself, so is it very hurtful to husband or wife to be unknown to one another, in those cases wherein they have need of help. It is foolish tenderness of yourselves, when you conceal your disease from your physician, or your helpful friend ; and who should be so tender