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an infraction of this law among professors of religion. And here we may observe
-That it scandalizes others. It counteracts, discourages, and confounds ministers. It injures the minds of your fellow christians. le proves a distress to the strong, and“ a stumbling block to the weak." It turns that " which is lame out of the way." To your pious relations it occasions the most painful regret and anxie. ty. “ And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the Daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the Daughter of Elon the Hittite, who were a grief of mind unto Isaac and Rebeccah.—And Rebeca cah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life, because of the Daughters of Heth : if Jacob take a wife of the Daughters of Heth, such as these who are of the Daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?"
-It excites suspicion of your own religion. At least it shews that you are not alive to it principles and privileges: that if you ask its advice you can follow your own opinion ; and that if you profess to please it, you are not afraid to offend it. Would you marry an enemy your own, before you believed there was a change of disposition wrought in him? And why? Because you love yourselves--this would prevent it. And if the love of God prevailed in your hearts would you marry an enemy to God before you discerned in him an evidence of conversion ? "Do not I hate them O Lord that hate thee, and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect ha. tred. I count them mine enemies.” What do ye more than others ? Should not the line of distinction between the church and the world be not only real, but visible ?
Should not the christian universally appear ? Are not his choice and refusal, as well as his sorrow and joy to evince the empire of religion ? “ Whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” These are the injunctions of God. And we are to “ esteem all his command. ments concerning all things to be right, and to hate every false way,"
Again. We call upon you to remember the duties enjoined upon christians with regard to their house. hokls. The discharge of these duties in married life requires union, countenance, assistance. They cannot be performed to advantage, if at all, where in the heads of the family, there is a contrariety of convictions, dispositions, and pursuits. Peter therefore enforces his admonition upon husbands and wives by this motive, “that your prayers be not hindered.” For imagine the case we are condemning. Does the man seek the glory of God in all he does, and the woman her own glory; Does the woman make the will of God her rule, and the man his own will ? Instead of striving together, they draw adversely, and the design of the union is defeated. Are there children? Some will be likely to adhere to the father; some to the mother. Are there servants? Some will be likely to attach themselves to the master; some to the mistress. Thus the husband and wife will probably keep a perpetual watch over each other, unwilling to lose any of their respective influence; and the house will be divided against itself.
We observe also, that we personally need every assistance we can receive in our passage to heaven. There
is surely enough in ourselves, and in the way we travel to keep us back without engaging any oné constantly to retard our progress, either by opposition or diversion! What need often have we of council in spiritual darkness and doubts? of comfort in soul-trouble ? of stimulation by reproof or example in our religious languors ? “ Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone' when he walketh: for there is not another to help him up." He is a friend indeed who knows the road, will journey with us, and afford us seasonable succour: but what assistance is to be derived from one who has no éýes or hands, or who is going in a contrary direction? Is it enough when we want daily and hourly support, that a companion will not try to interrupt us?
For here--and this is another consideration here not to help is to hinder. The very attraction of the mind from high and holy things by continual discourse about other subjects, will be no inconsiderable detriment. For it is by the frequent recurrence of divine things in our thoughts and in our conversation, that we become spiritually-minded, and continue so. Pious emotions may be starved, where they are not assassinated. Fire will be extinguished immediately by water : but it will go out in time, even for want of fuel.
But we do not go too far when we say, that an irreligious connexion is likely to prove the most effectual instrument in the world to injure us, not only by weakening impressions, chilling our affections, and drawing us off by degrees from various duties, but also by perverting the judgement, and enticing to sin. “They
were mingled with the heathen, and learned their works; and they served their idols which became a snare unto them. Evil communications corrupt good manners. And here several additional things should be seriously considered. For instance.
-The example is near—is always in sight.
-Evil has more power over us than good. An'oath when heard, will make a deeper impression than a prayer. Profane images are more easily retained in the mind than pure ones. Evil falls in with our depravity; and always finds in us a friend to welcome and to strengthen it.
-The danger is greater if the unconverted party be the husband, as he has the advantage of superior authority and influence.
-The more attachment there is, the greater the hazard of moral injury :. for affection is wonderfully assimilating. Like fire it reduces every thing it seizes into its own nature. We are always in a great measure the same with the object of our regard. The image, by its frequent entrance into the mind, and by its residence there, leaves its impression and resemblance.
But if you should escape unhurt morally—which would be little less than a miracle--still you may experience bitter trials; and under these crosses you will not be able to look up to God for support and deliverance with the same cheerfulness and confidence you would feel if they were afflictions of his sending.-But you have chosen them.--Hence painful reflexions of mind. Hence you may expect to hear as the inquiry of conscience, and as the censure of Providence "Hast thou not procured this unto thyself. Thou hast done
foolishly, from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” Yea, something of this kind must be expected.—“If my children forsake my law, and walk not in my judg. ments: if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments: then will I visit their transgressions with a rod, and their iniquity with stripes.” He has said “if ye walk contrary to me, I also will walk contrary to you.” And he is a faithful God. And he is able to make good his word. He can take satisfaction out of our chosen delights. He can remove them in his anger. He can leave them to produce leanness in our souls. Though he forgives the iniquities of his people, he takes vengeance on their inventions.
To which we may add—and these are natural and unavoidable consequences--the painful anxiousness of living with those from whom you fear that you shall be separated for ever; and the peculiar disagreeableness of being connected with those who are incapable of the principal part of your affection. Love them you may indeed as husband or wife; but not as believers ; not as followers of our Lord to whom you are allied by stronger ties than human, and which can never be dis. solved. Must not this be a vast deduction of happiness ; a bitter ingredient in the cup; a kind of daily death?
The Mischief historically considered. We may take another view of the breach of this law, and see the evils that resulted from it as natural effects, . or as judgments from God as they are held forth in the
scriptures of truth.