صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

and afflictions, it is just that they should share of their fortunes. For when a husband falls into decay, or any sort of calamity, he involves his wife with him; they are inseparable companions in misery and misfortunes. And what can make amends for this, but their partaking also in their good fortune? Does not a man expressly promise this in the matrimonial contract, by which it is provided she is to have the use of things necessary, convenient, and delightful; to be as happy as his worldly condition can make her in a married state ? So he is unjust, as well as unkind, if he deny it; because she bargains for it upon her part, and he engages for it upon his. Nor does this obligation cease with the death of the husband; for if the wife survives, he must provide for her so long as she lives, according to the quality and condition they have lived in, if there be ability, and according to the custom of the place where they are. Whence note, that not only charlish men are to blame, who deny their wives, while living, what is convenient; but even the best natured men, who take no care of their support and maintenance, in case they outlive them, are properly bad husbands, who by their profuseness or idleness, by gaining and intemperance, expose them to want and misery, whom they leave naked and unprovided for, at the time of age perhaps when least able to help themselves ; or, it may be, encumbered with a charge of children to be maintained out of the widow's small incomo or hand-labour. . Such men in vain pretend to love and kindness, who are careless in this particular, and make not a provision for their widowhood, as they are able, but leave wives destitute and helpless; as if the sorrows of their solitary state were not sufficient to load them with trouble enough. Not that I blame those men, whose estate, calling, or industry, cannot completely furnish them with maintenance; but such, who carelessly, wastefully, or otherwise, when in their power, take no care to prevent it.

Nor must it be forgot that the apostle Jays it down as a duty of the husband to teach his wife what is for her eternal good and welfare, when he finds her ignorant of the means of salvation; for so much is implied in that command to the Corinthians, where St. Paul bids the wives learn of their husbands at home; which also tacitly implies, that a master of a family should endeavour after Christian knowledge, in order to perform this duty of instruction to · such as are under his care.

But above all, it is the mutual duty of husband and wife to be instant in prayer to God for each other, and to strive together for their spiritual and temporal welfare; not only by exhortation to the performance of virtue, and avoiding and forsaking of vice, but by constant example in the practice of every good work, both in their family and to every other object of pity and compassion; otherwise their love cannot be accounted perfect; for that love can never be supposed to be grounded on virtue and religion, that can easily permit any one to run to their temporal or eternal ruin, when in their power to prevent it. And therefore,

Those who intend to marry should not so much regard the outward shape or beauty, wealth, &c., as the spiritual qualifications of the persons to whom they desire to be joined ; which will make that state of life truly holy, and serve to the great end of the soul's salvation. Although a competency for the ease of life is to be regarded; yet a virtuous man or woman is of more value than all the wealth and honours the world can afford.

But, before we conclude, let us consider that solemn charge and declaration in the form of matrimony concerning those that, without regard to the laws of God and man, do rashly enter into that state. For whoever has betrothed himself by promise, to any other person before, or knowingly takes such a person in marriage, committeth adultery, because in justice they belong to those to whom they had made their first promise. And whoever marries within the degrees of kindred forbidden by God, is guilty of incest so long as they live together. So that they are not only sins at the time, but are evil in their effects; which might be prevented, if it were duly considered, as our church teaches, that marriage is an honourable estate instituted of God in the time of man's innocency; and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly ; but reverently, discreet ly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained ; and that as many as are coupled together otherwise than God's word doth" allow, are not joined together by God neither is their matrimony lawful.*

[ocr errors][merged small]

The origin of this curious ceremony, which has formed the subject of one Stothard's finest pictures, is described in the Spectator. As the papers in which the description occurs have an inmediate connexion with our general subject, and contain some very pleasant satire on the foibles of both sexes, we have copied them entire.

MR. SPECTATOR,—Having in your paper of Monday last published my report on the case of Mrs. Fanny Fickle, wherein I have taken notice, that love comes after marriage; I hope your readers are satisfied of this truth, that as love generally produces matrimony, so it often happens that matrimony produces love. .

It perhaps requires more virtue to make a good husband or wife than what go to the finish

* See the minister's exhortation before the office of matrimony.

ing any the most shining character whatsoever.

Discretion seems absolutely necessary; and accordingly we find that the best husbands have been most famous for their wisdom. Homer, who hath drawn a perfect pattern of a prudent man, to make it the more complete, hath celebrated him for the just returns of fidelity and truth to his Penelope ; insomuch that he refused the caresses of a goddess for her sake; and, to use the expression of the best of Pagan authors, “ Vetulam suam prætulit immortali. tati," his old woman was dearer to him than immortality.

Virtue is the next necessary qualification for this domestic character, as it naturally produces constancy and mutual esteem. Thus Brutus and Portia were more remarkable for virtue and affection than any others of the age in which they lived.

Good-nature is a third necessary ingredient in the marriage state, without which it would inevitably sour upon a thousand occasions. When greatness of mind is joined with this amiable quality, it attracts the admiration and esteem of all who behold it. Thus Cæsar, not more remarkable for his fortune and valour than for his humanity, stole into the hearts of the Roman people, when, breaking through the custom, he pronounced an oration at the funeral of his first and best beloved wife.

Good-nature is insufficient, unless it he steady and uniform, and accompanied with an

« السابقةمتابعة »