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Directions about Marriage; for Choice and Contract.

As the persons of Christians in their most private capacities are holy, as being dedicated and separated unto God, so also must their families be: HOLINESS TO THE LORD must be as it were written on their doors, and on their relations, their possessions and affairs. To which it is requisite, 1. That there be a holy constitution of their families. 2. And a holy government of them, and discharge of the several duties of the members of the family. To the right constituting of a family, belongeth, (1.) The right contracting of marriage, and (2.) The right choice and contract betwixt masters and their servants. For the first,

Direct. 1. Take heed that neither lust nor rashness do thrust you into a married condition, before you see such reasons to invite you to it, as may assure you of the call and approbation of God.' For, 1. It is God that you must serve in your married state, and therefore it is meet that


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you take his counsel before you rush upon it: for he knoweth best himself, what belongeth to his service. 2. And it is God that you must still depend upon, for the blessing and comforts of your relation : and therefore there is very great reason that you take his advice and consent, as the chief things requisite to the match. If the consent of parents be necessary, much more is the consent of God.

Quest. · But how shall a man know whether God call him to marriage, or consent unto it? Hath he not here left all men to their liberties, as in a thing indifferent?'

Answ. God hath not made any universal law commanding or forbidding marriage; but in this regard hath left it indifferent to mankind : yet not allowing all to marry (for undoubtedly to some it is unlawful). But he hath by other general laws or rules directed men to know, in what cases it is lawful, and in what cases it is a sin. As every man is bound to choose that condition in which he may serve God with the best advantages, and which tendeth most to his spiritual welfare, and increase in holiness. Now there is nothing in marriage itself which maketh it commonly inconsistent with these benefits, and the fulfilling of these laws : and therefore it is said, that he that marrieth doth well," that is, he doth that which of itself is not unlawful, and which to some is the most eligible state of life. But there is something in a single life which maketh it, especially to preachers and persecuted Christians, to be more usually the most advantageous state of life, to these ends of Christianity; and therefore it is said, that“ hé that marrieth not, doth better.” And yet to individual persons, it is hard to imagine how, it can choose but be either a duty or a sin; at least except in some unusual cases. For it is a thing of so great moment as to the ordering of our hearts and lives, that it is hard to imagine that it should ever be indifferent as a means to our main end, but must either be a very great help or hindrance. But yet if there be any persons whose case may be so equally poised with accidents on both sides, that to the most judicious man it is not discernible, whether a single or married state of life, is like to conduce more to their personal holiness or public usefulness, or the good

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a 1 Cor. vii. 7. 38.

of others, to such persons marriage in the individual circumstantiated act is a thing indifferent.

By these conditions following you may know, what persons have a call from God to marry, and who have not his call or approbation. 1. If there be the peremptory will or command of parents to children that are under their power and government, and no greater matter on the contrary to hinder it, the command of parents signifieth the command of God: but if parents do but persuade and not command, though their desires must not be causelessly refused, yet a smaller impediment may preponderate than in case of a peremptory command. 2. They are called to marry who have not the gift of continence, and cannot by the use of lawful means attain it, and have no impediment which maketh it unlawful to them to marry. “ But if they cannot contain, let them

marry; for it is better to marry than to burn 6." But here the divers degrees of the urgent and the hindering causes must be compared, and the weightiest must prevail. For some that have very strong lusts may yet have stronger impediments : and though they cannot keep that chastity in their thoughts as they desire, yet in such a case they must abstain. And there is no man but may keep his body in chastity if he will do his part : yea, and thoughts themselves may be commonly, and for the most part kept pure, and wanton imaginations quickly checked, if men be godly, and will do what they can. But on the other side there are some that have a more tameable measure of concupiscence, and yet have no considerable hindrance, whose duty it may be to marry, as the most certain and successful means against that small degree, as long as there is nothing to forbid it. 3. Another cause that warranteth marriage is, when upon a wise casting up of all accounts, it is apparently most probable that in a married state, one may be most serviceable to God and the public good: that there will be in it greater helps and fewer hindrances to the great ends of our lives; the glorifying of God, and the saving of ourselves and others. And whereas it must be expected that every con-. dition should be more helpful to us in one respect, and hinder us more in another respect; and that in one we have most helps for a contemplative life, and in another we are

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