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better furnished for an active, serviceable life, the great skill therefore in the discerning of our duties, lieth in the prudent pondering and comparing of the commodities and discommodities, without the seduction of fantasy, lust or passion, and in a true discerning which side it is that hath the greatest weight.
Here it must be carefully observed, 1. That the two first reasons for marriage (concupiscence and the will of parents), or any such like, have their strength but in subordination to the third (the final cause, or interest of God and our salvation). And that this last reason (from the end) is of itself sufficient without any of the other, but none of the other are sufficient without this. If it be clear that in a married state you have better advantages for the service of God, and doing good to others, and saving your own souls, than you can have in a single state of life, then it is undoubtedly your duty to marry: for our obligation to seek our ultimate end is the most constant, indispensable obligation. Though parents command it not, though you have no corporal necessity, yet it is a duty if it certainly make most for your ultimate end. 2. But yet observe also, that no pretence of your ultimate end itself will warrant you to marry, when any other accident hath first made it a thing unlawful, while that accident continueth. For we must not do evil that good may come by it. Our salvation is not furthered by sin : and though we saw a probability that we might do more good to others, if we did but commit such a sin to accomplish it, yet it is not to be done. For our lives and mercies being all in the hand of God, and the successes and acceptance of all our endeavours depending wholly upon him, it can never be a rational way to attain them, by wilful offending him by our sin! It is a likely means to public good for able and good men to be magistrates and ministers : and yet he that would lie, or be perjured, or commit any known sin that he may be a magistrate, or that he may preach the Gospel, might better expect a curse on himself and his endeavours, than God's acceptance, or his blessing and success : so he that would sin to change his state for the better, would
c Unmarried men are the best friends, the best masters, the best servants; but not always the best subjects : for they are light to run away, and therefore venturous, &c. Lord Bacon, Essay 8.
find that he changed it for the worse: or if it do good to others, he may expect no good but ruin to himself, if repentance prevent it not. 3. Observe also that if the question be only which state of life it is (married or single) which best conduceth to this ultimate end, then any one of the subordinate reasons will
that we have a call, if there be not greater reasons on the contrary side. As in case you have no corporal necessity, the will of parents alone may oblige you, if there be no greater thing against it: or if parents oblige you not, yet corporal necessity alone may do it: or if neither of these invite you, yet a clear probability of the attaining of such an estate or opportunity, as may make you more fit to relieve many others, or be serviceable to the church, or the blessing of children who may be devoted to God, may warrant your marriage, if no greater reasons lie against it: for when the scales are equal, any one of these may turn them.
By this also you may perceive who they be that have no call to marry, and to whom it is a sin. As 1. No man hath a call to marry, who laying all the commodities and discommodities together, may clearly discern that a married state is like to be a greater hindrance of his salvation, or to his serving or honouring God in the world, and so to disadvantage him as to his ultimate end.
Quest. · But what if parents do command it? or will set against me if I disobey ?'
Answ. Parents have no authority to command you any thing against God or your salvation, or your ultimate end. Therefore here you owe them no formal obedience: but yet the will of parents with all the consequents, must be put into the scales with all other considerations, and if they make the discommodities of a single life to become the greater, as to your end, then they may bring you under a duty or obligation to marry : not necessitate præcepti,'as obedience to their command; but necessitate medii,' as a means to your ultimate end, and in obedience to that general command of God, which requireth you to“ seek first” your ultimate end, even “ the kingdom of God, and his righteousness d.”
Quest. “But what if I have a corporal necessity and yet
d Matt. vi. 33.
I can foresee that marriage will greatly disadvantage me as to the service of God and my salvation ?'
Answ. l. You must understand that no corporal pecessity is absolute ; for there is no man so lustful but may possibly bridle his lust by other lawful means: by diet, labour, sober company, diverting business, solitude, watching the thoughts and senses, or at least by the physician's help; so that the necessity is but secundum quid,' or an urgency rather than a simple necessity. And then 2. This measure of necessity must be itself laid in the balance with the other accidents: and if this necessity will turn the scales by making a single life more disadvantageous to your ultimate end, your lust being a greater impediment to you, than all the inconveniences of marriage will be, then the case is resolved, “it is better to marry than to burn,” But if the hindrances in a married state are like to be greater, than the hindrances of your concupiscence, then you must set yourself to the curbing and curing of that concupiscence; and in the use of God's means expect his blessing.
2. Children are not ordinarily, called of God to marry, when their parents do absolutely and peremptorily forbid it. For though parents' commands cannot make it a duty, when we are sure it would hinder the interest of God our ultimate end; yet parents' prohibitions may make it a sin, when there is a clear probability that it would most conduce to our ultimate end, were it not prohibited. Because (1.) Affirmatives bind not 'semper et ad semper' as negatives or prohibitions do. (2.) Because the sin of disobedience to parents will cross the tendency of it unto good, and do more against our ultimate end, than all the advantages of marriage can do for it. A duty is then to us no duty, when it cannot be performed without a chosen, wilful şin. In many cases we are bound to forbear what a governor forbiddeth, when we are not bound to do the contrary if he command it. It is easier to make a duty to be no duty, than to make a sin to be no sin. One bad ingredient may turn a duty into a sin, when one good ingredient will not turn a sin into a duty, or into no sin.
Quest. ' But may not a governor's prohibition be overweighed by some great degrees of incommodity? It is better to marry than to burn. 1. What if parents forbid chil
dren to marry absolutely until death, and so deprive them of the lawful remedy against lust? 2. And if they do not so, yet if they forbid it them when it is to them most seasonable and necessary, it seemeth little better. 3. Or if they forbid them to marry where their affections are so engaged, as that they cannot be taken off without their mutual ruin? May not children marry in such cases of necessity as these, without and against the will of their parents ?'
Answ. I cannot deny but some cases may be imagined or fall out, in which it is lawful to do what a governor forbiddeth, and to marry against the will of parents : for they have their power to edification, and not unto destruction. As if a son be qualified with eminent gifts for the work of the ministry, in a time and place that needeth much help; if a malignant parent, in hatred of that sacred office, should never so peremptorily forbid him, yet may the son devote himself to the blessed work of saving souls : even as a son may not forbear to relieve the poor (with that which is his own) though his parents should forbid him; nor forbear to put himself into a capacity to relieve them for the future; nor forbear his own necessary food and raiment though he be forbidden. As Daniel would not forbear praying openly in his house, when he was forbidden by the king and law. When any inseparable accident doth make a thing, of itself indifferent, become a duty, a governor's prohibition will not discharge us from that duty, unless the accident be smaller than the accident of the ruler's prohibition, and then it may be overweighed by it; but to determine what accidents are greater or less is a difficult task.
And as to the particular questions, to the first I answer, If parents forbid their children to marry while they live, it is convenient and safe to obey them until death, if no greater obligation to the contrary forbid it: but it is necessary to obey them during the time that the children live under the government of their parents, as in their houses, in their younger years (except in some few extraordinary cases). But when parents are dead (though they leave commands in their wills) or when age or former marriage hath removed children from under their government, a smaller matter will serve to justify their disobedience here, than when the children in minority are less fit to govern themselves. For though we owe parents a limited obedience still, yet at full age the child is more at his own dispose than he was before. Nature hath given us a hint of her intention in the instinct of brutes, who are all taught to protect, and lead, and provide for their young ones, while the young are insufficient for themselves; but when they are grown to self-sufficiency, they drive them away or neglect them. If a wise son that hath a wife and many children, and great affairs to manage in the world, should be bound to as absolute obedience to his aged parents, as he was in his childhood, it would ruin their affairs, and parents' government would pull down that in their old age, which they built up in their middle age.
And to the second question I answer, that, 1. -Children that pretend to unconquerable lust or love, must do all they can to subdue such inordinate affections, and bring their lusts to stoop to reason and their parents' wills. And if they do their best, there are either none, or not one of many hundreds, but may maintain their chastity together with their obedience. 2. And if any say, 'I have done my best, and yet am under a necessity of marriage; and am I not then bound to marry though my parents forbid me?' I answer, it is not to be believed : either you have not done your best, or else you are not under a necessity. And your urgency being your own fault (seeing you should subdue it), God still obligeth you both to subdue. your vice, and to obey your parents. 3. But if there should be any one that hath such an incredible) necessity of marriage, he is to procure some others to solicit his parents for their consent, and if he cannot obtain it, some say, it is his duty to marry without it: I should rather say that it is ‘minus malum,' 'the lesser evil:' and that having cast himself into some necessity of sinning, it is still his duty to avoid both, and to choose neither; but it is the smaller sin to choose to disobey his parents, rather than to live in the flames of lust and the filth of unchastity. And some divines say, that in such a case a son should appeal to the magistrate, as a superior authority above the father. But others think, 1. That this leaveth it as difficult to resolve what he shall do, if the magistrate also consent not: and 2. That it doth but resolve one difficulty by a greater : it being very doubtful whether in domestic cases the authority of the parent or the magistrate be the greater.