« PreviousContinue »
other circumstances connected with marriage I have little to say, but I will just mention what an old divine thought proper to suggest many years ago. * Make sure (says he) of the following qualities—1. That there be a loving and not a selfish nature, that has no regard to another but for their own end.-2. That there be a nature quiet and patient, and not forward and unpleasant. -3. That there be a competency of wit (or wisdom,) for no one can live lovingly and comfortably with a fool.-4. That there be a competent humility, for there is no quietness to be expected with the proud.-5. That there be a power to be silent as well as to speak, for a babbling tongue is a continual vexation.” When you are brought into this new connexion, study to please; consider" the mercy of a beloved partner, a bosom friend, a fellow helper; pray together, prepare for trials, as well as be thankful for comforts. For this settling in life, as it is often called, is only the beginning of a new course of sorrows and joys, of pains and pleasures. An altar in your house, however, is the way to sweeten all your cares, and you may sit down together, and sing :
But, perhaps, some of my readers have entered into this situation before their conversion, and what can they do now? I answer, This must not dissolve the connexion: “ Fór what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wise ?»* Act with great prudence. Exert yourself in the use of every mean to produce a change. Bear affronts and contempt on account of religion. Observe the fittest opportunities for introducing sacred subjects. Do not despair of the little success of the first attempt; no, nor the useless attempts of months and years. There have been instances in which prejudice, obstinacy, ignorance, and passion, have stood out for a long season, and yet been brought down at last. Go on praying, and let there be all that meekness, kindness, patience, sympathy, tenderness, and propriety of behaviour, that shall leave them without excuse, and put it out of their power to bring any charge against you or religion: and who can tell, they may at last be won, and you become heirs together of the grace of life, and declare together the wonderful goodness of God.
Cautions as to novelty. Vain curiosity. Captiousness.
Disputation. Anger. Discontent. Bigotry. AMIDST the various objects which affect the human mind, those which are novel may
be sidered as the most powerful. Things new always strike us with peculiar force; and whether we are children or men, we cannot help being moved with any thing of an extraordinary nature that we never saw nor heard of before. There is, however, a kind of novelty in the religious world that ought to be guarded against : and here I refer to that by which many are influenced to go from place to place, to hear strange doctrines and new preachers. Like the Athenians, they spend their time in nothing else but telling or hearing something new. On a believer's first setting out, he is soon surrounded with these ; and the young christian must not wonder if he is invited by such to follow their example. They will tell you what great things they have heard of such characters; what a pity it is you should deny yourself the pleasure of hearing them; and what an advantage it would be were you to attend, notwithstanding you might leave your pew vacant at your own place. Now it is certain that there is no occasion you should be so tied as to make the place where you worship a prison; and there may be occasions when you may be called to hear others beside your own teachers. It would be hard indeed, were your liberty thus to be re
stricted.* But let me intreat you to beware of itching ears; for when once people are influenced by this spirit, they are never satisfied with any thing long together. For the novelty which was so soon excited, as soon also degenerates into familiarity; and the very persons that but a short time ago were all in a flame, are now as cold and indifferent! Hence they seek for another new object, which in a short time will meet the same fate ; and thus these novelists 6 are full of labour, so that none can utter it, whose eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor their ear filled with hearing.”+ Beware therefore of such a spirit, which, if indulged and suffered to grow, will make you restless and discontented. I do not know any people who get less good for themselves, and do less good to others, than such. They are so unstable, that there is no doing any thing with them. They are sometimes, indeed, so pleased with a minister, as to join his church, and profess that they are quite willing to sit under his ministry, and take up their abode there. But the first advertisement of some new and extraordinary preacher that is to advance some strange thing, discuss some particular doctrine, or preach upon a particular subject, has such an effect upon them, that they desert their new situation, and leave the pastor and the people to find out, if they can, what is become of them! Now, my dear reader, avoid such, and remember the words of the apostle, 56 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive."* You see it is a mark of weakness, emptiness, instability, thus to be influenced. But it may be said, the talents of some are so great, that it is really worth while to attend them; though it must be confessed, say they, that their spirit or conduct may not be altogether as they ought. So then gifts are to be the objects we are to look at. But what are gifts? Have not wicked men gifts? Does God sanctify them without grace
may be occasions also of leaving one church to join another, but this is a different thing.
+ Eccl. i. 8.
? Is it likely that you should obtain any real good from mere gifts, where God's blessing cannot reasonably be expected ? Certainly not. And here let me relate the following anecdote. A lady, in company with Mr. Grimshaw, was admiring a inan of talents : " Maclam," said he, “I am glad you never saw the devil.” “ Why ?” said she. “Why," answered Mr. Grimshaw," he has greater talents than all the ministers in the world. I am fearful, if you were to see him, you would fall in love with him, as you seem to regard talents without sanctity." Do not, there. fore, be led away by the sound of talents. Let' the ministry under which providence has called you be never wilfully deserted through the influence of novelty. There dwell, and pray fervently that it may prove to you increasingly edifying, consolatory, and instructing.
Another caution necessary to be suggested, is, that relative to vain curiosity. Curiosity is, of
Eph. iv. 14,