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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


married state, and therefore it is meet that

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may serve God

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 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 wella," 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 " he 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 poined 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

a 1 Cor. vii. 7. 38

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