Page images

of you, and helpful to you, as you should be to one another? Indeed in some few cases, where the opening of a fault or secret will but tend to quench affection, and not to get assistance from another, it is wisdom to conceal it; but that is not the ordinary case. The opening your hearts to each other is necessary to your mutual help.

Direct. x. ' Avoid as much as may be, contrariety of opinions in religion:' for if once you be of different judgments in matters which you take to be of great concernment, you will be tempted to disaffect, contemn, or undervalue one another; and so to despise the help which you might receive : and if you fall into several sects, and follow several teachers, you will hardly avoid that contention and confusion, which will prove a great advantage to the devil, and a great impediment to your spiritual good.

Direct. xv. ' If difference in judgment in matters of religion do fall out between you, be sure that it be managed with holiness, humility, love, and peace, and not with carnality, pride, uncharitableness, or contention.' 1. To manage your differences bolily, is to take God for the judge, and to refer the matter to his Word, and to aim at his glory, and the pleasing of his will, and to use his means for the concord of your judgments; which is, to search the Scripture, and consult with the faithful, able pastors of the church, and soberly and patiently to debate the case, and pray together for the illumination of the Spirit. On the contrary your differences are carnally managed, when carnal reasons breed or feed them; and when you run after this or that sect or party, through admiration of the persons, and value not the persons for the sake of the truth, but measure truth by the opinion and estimate of the persons; and when you end your differences by selfish, carnal principles and respects : and hence it comes to pass, that if the husband be a Papist or otherwise erroneous, it is two to one that the wife becometh of his erroneous religion, not because of any cogent evidence, but because he is of the stronger parts, and hath constant opportunity to persuade, and because love prepareth and inclineth her to be of his opinion: and thus man instead of God, is the master of the faith of many 2. Your differences are managed in humility, when you have a just and modest suspicion of your own understandings, and debate and practise your differences with meekness and submission; and do not proudly overvalue all your own apprehensions, and despise another's reasons as if they were not worthy of your consideration, 3. Your differences must be so far managed in love, not that mere love should make you turn to another's opinion be it true or false, but that you must be


desirous to be of the same mind, and if you cannot, must take it for a sore affliction, and must bear with the tolerable mistakes of one another, as you bear with your own infirmities; that they cool not love, nor alienate your hearts from one another, but only provoke you to a tender, healing, compassionate care, and endeavour to do each other good. 4. And you must manage your differences in quietness, without any passionate wranglings and dissentions, that no bitter fruits may be bred by it in your families, among yourselves. Thus all true Christians must manage their differences in matters of religion ; but married persons above all.

Direct. xii. ' Be not either blindly indulgent to each other's faults, nor yet too censorious of each other's state, lest satan thereby get advantage to alienate your affections from one another. To make nothing of the faults of those whom you love, is to love them foolishly, to their hurt, and to shew that it is not for their virtues that you love them. And to make too great a matter of one another's faults, is but to help the tempter to quench your love, and turn your hearts from one another. Thus many good women that have husbands that are guilty of too much coldness in religion, or worldlymindedness, or falling into ill company, and misspending their time, are first apt to overlook all possibility of any seed of grace that may be in them, and then looking on them as ungodly persons, to abate too much their love and duty to them. There is great wisdom and watchfulness requisite in this case, to keep you from being carried into either of the extremes.

Direct. XIII. ' If you are married to one that is indeed an infidel, or an ungodly person, yet keep up all the conjugal love which is due for the relation's sake.' Though you can not love them as true Christians, yet love them as husband or wife.

Even heathens are bound to love those that are thus related to them. The apostle hath determined the case, 1 Cor. vii. that Christians must perform their duties to husbands or wives that are unbelievers. The faults of another discharge you not from your duty. As satan hath deceived some by separating principles about church communion, to deny almost all God's ordinances to many, to whom they are due; so doth he thus deceive some persons in family relations, and draw them from the duties which they owe for one another's good.

Direct. xiv. “Join together in frequent and fervent prayer.' Prayer doth force the mind into some composedness and sobriety, and affecteth the heart with the presence and majesty of God. Pray also for each other when you are in secret, that God may do that work which you most desire, upon each other's hearts.

Direct. xv. Lastly, 'Help each other by an exemplary life. Be that yourselves which you desire your husband or wife should be: excel in meekness, and humility, and charity, and dutifulness, and diligence, and self-denial, and patience, as far as you do excel in profession of religion. St. Peter saith, that even those that will not be won by the Word, may be won without it by the conversation of their wives : that is, the excellency of religion may so far appear to them, by the fruits of it in their wives' conversations, as may first incline them to think well and honourably of it, and so to inquire into the nature and reason of it, and to. hearken to their wives; and all this without the public ministry. A life of undissembled holiness, and heavenliness, and self-denial, and meekness, and love, and mortification, is a powerful sermon; which, if you be constantly preaching before those that are still near you, will hardly miss of a good effect. Works are more palpably significant and persuasive, than words alone.

Direct. vii. ' Another great conjugal duty is, to be help- . ful to each other for the health and comfort of their bodies n.'. Not to pamper each other's flesh, or cherish the vices of pride, or sloth, or gluttony, or voluptuousness in each other; but to further the health and cheerfulness of the body, to fit it for the service of the soul and God. Such cherishing or pleasing of the flesh, which is unlawful in each person to himself, is also unlawful (ordinarily) to use to another. But

" Rom. xiij. 13, 14. Ephes. v. 29. 31. Gen. ii. 18.

such as you may use for yourself, you may use also for your wife or husband. Not to live above your estates, nor as servants to your guts, to serve the appetites of one another by delicious fare; but to be careful of that health, without which your lives will be made unserviceable or uncomfortable : and this must proceed from such a love to one another as you have to yourselves : and that both in time of health and sickness.

1. In health, you must be careful to provide for each other (not so much pleasing as) wholesome food, and to keep each other from that which is hurtful to your health ; dissuading each other from gluttony and idleness, the two great murderers of mankind. If the bodies of the poor, in hunger, and cold, and nakedness must be relieved, much more of those that are become as your own flesh.

2. Also in sickness, you are to be tenderly regardful of each other; and not to be sparing of any costs or pains, by which the health of each other may be restored, or your souls confirmed, and your comforts cherished. You must not loathe the bodies of each other in the most loathsome sickness, nor shun them through loathing; no more than you would do your own. A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity 2:” much more those that are so nearly bound for sickness and health, till death shall separate them. It is an odious sin to be weary of a sick or suffering friend, and desirous that God would take them, merely that you may be eased of the trouble. And usually such persons do meet with such measure as they measured to others; and those that they look for help and comfort from, will perhaps be as weary of them, and as glad to be rid of them.

Direct. viii. 'Another duty of husbands and wives is to be helpful to each other in their worldly business, and estates a.' Not for worldly ends, nor with a worldly mind; but in obedience to God who will have them labour, as well as pray, for their daily bread, and hath determined that in the sweat of their brows they shall eat their bread; and that six days they shall labour and do all that they have to do; and that he that will not work must not eat. The care of

x Gen. xxvii. 14. y Eph. v. 29. 31. Job. xix. 17. ii. 9. z Prov. xvii. 17. · See Prov. xxxi. Gen. xxxi. 40, l'it, ij. 5. 1 Tim. v. 14.

V 8.

their affairs doth lie upon them both, and neither of them must cast it off and live in idleness (unless one of them be an idiot, or so witless, as to be unfit for care, or so sick or lame, as to be unfit for labour).

Direct. ix. 'Also you must be careful of the lawful honour and good names of one another.' You must not divulge but conceal the dishonourable failings of each other: (as Abigail, except in any case compassion or justice require you


open them to any one for a cure, or to clear the truth.) The reputation of each other must be as dear to you as your own. It is a sinful and unfaithful practice of many, both husbands and wives, who among their companions are opening the faults and infirmities of each other, which they are bound in tenderness to cover. As if they perceived not that by dishonouring one another, they dishonour themselves. Love will cover a multitude of faults. Nay, many disaffected, peevish persons will aggravate all the faults of one another behind their backs to strangers; and sometimes slander them, and speak more than is truth. Many a man hath been put to clear his good name from the slanders of a jealous or a passionate wife: and an open enemy is not capable of doing one so much wrong as she that is in his bosom, because she will easily be believed, as being supposed to know him better than any other.

Direct. x. “It is also a great part of the duty of husbands and wives, to be helpful to one another in the education of their children, and in the government of the inferiors of the family. Some men cast all the care of their children while they are young upon their wives : and

many women by their passion and indiscretion do make themselves unfit to help their husbands in the government either of their children or servants : but this is one of the greatest parts of their employment. As to the man's part, to govern his house well, it is a duty unquestionable. And it is not to be denied of the wife. “ I will that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house d.” Bathsheba taught


1 Sam. xxv. 25. Matt. xviji. 16. Matt. i. 19. 2 Sam. xi, 7. Prov. xxxi. 28. Eccles. vii. 3. Prov. xxii. 1. 2 Sam. vi. 20. Gen. ix. 22. 25.

c 1 Tim. iii. 4. 12. Gen. xviii. 19. xxxv. 2, &c. Jos, xxiv. 14. Psal. ci. d 1 Tim. v. 14.

« EelmineJätka »