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be sure to remember my sovereign on earth, that God would be pleased to enable his servant to reign on earth, as himself doth in heaven, in righteousness and mercy. But especially, in case of any seeming or real default or defect, though I do not think it a subject's duty to judge or censure his sovereign's actions, I am to be the more earnest in my prayers and intercessions for him; but upon no account to fight or rebel against him.
And, if I am thus strictly obliged to honour, obey, and pray for, a bad prince, how much more should I pay those duties to one, who represents God, not only in his authority, but in his holiness too? In this case, sure, as there is a double engagement to reverence and obedience, so I am doubly punishable, if I neglect to shew it, either to the prince himself, or those that are set under him; for the same obligations that lie upon me, for my obedience to the king, bind me likewise to obey his inferior officers and magistrates, that act under him; and that for this reason, because, as he represents God, so they represent him; and, therefore, whatever they command in his name, I look upon it as much my duty to obey, as if it was commanded by his own mouth, and, accordingly, do, from this moment, by the grace of God, resolve to put this duty in practice.
I am resolved, by the same divine grace, to be as constant in loving of my wife, as cautious in choosing her.
THOUGH it be not necessary for me to resolve upon marrying, yet it may not be improper to resolve, in case I should, to follow these rules of duty; first, in the choice of a wife: and, secondly, in the affection that I ought to bear towards her.
As for the first, I shall always endeavour to make
choice of such a woman for my spouse, who hath first made choice of Christ as a spouse for herself; that none may be made one flesh with me, who is not made one spirit with Christ my Saviour. For I look upon the image of Christ, as the best mark of beauty I can behold in her; and the grace of God, as the best portion I can receive with her. These are excellencies, which, though not visible to our carnal eyes, are nevertheless agreeable to a spiritual heart; and such as all wise and good men cannot choose but be enamoured with. For my own part, they seem to me such necessary qualifications, that my heart trembles at the thoughts of ever having a wife without them. What? Shall I marry one that is wedded already to her sins? or have possession of her body only, when the devil has possession of her soul? Shall such a one be united to me here, who shall be separated from me for ever hereafter, and condemned to scorch in everlasting burnings? No; if ever it be my lot to enter into that state, I beg of God, that he would direct me in the choice of such a wife only, to lie in my bosom here, as may afterwards be admitted to rest in Abraham's bosom to all eternity; such a one, as will so live, and pray, and converse with me upon earth, that we may both be entitled to sing, to rejoice, and be blessed together, for ever, in heaven.
That this therefore may be my portion and felicity, I firmly resolve never to set upon such a design, before I have first solicited the throne of grace, and begged of my heavenly Father to honour me with the partnership of one of his beloved children; and shall afterwards be as careful and cautious as I can, never to fix my affections upon any woman for a wife, till I am throughly persuaded of the grounds I have to love her, as a true Christian.
If I could be thus happy, as to meet with a wife of these qualities and endowments, it would be impossible for me not to be hearty and sincere in my affection toward her, even though I had the greatest temptations to
place them upon another: for, how could I choose but love her, who has God for her father, the church for her mother, and heaven for her portion; who loves God, and is beloved of him? Especially, when I consider, that thus to love her, will not only be my duty, but my happiness too,
As to the duty, it is frequently inculcated in Scripture, that husbands should love their wives, and that not with a common love, but as Christ loved his church, Eph. v. 25. yea, as their own body, ver. 28. or, as themselves, ver. 33. and they are so to love them, as not to be bitter against them, Col. iii. 19. not to be passionate or angry with them, upon every light matter, nor suffer their resentments to rise to that height, upon any occasion whatsoever, as to abate the least spark of conjugal affection towards them, but to nourish and cherish them, even as the Lord the church. In a word, to do all the kind offices they can for them, in their civil capacities, and to help and forward them, by all means possible, in the way that leads to heaven; that as they are united in the flesh, so they may likewise be united in the Spirit, and raised and rewarded together, at the general resurrection.
And, as love is the great duty, so is it likewise the chief happiness of a married state. I do not mean that love whereby she loves me, but that wherewith I love her; for, if I myself have not a cordial esteem and affection for her, what happiness will it be to me to be beloved by her? or rather, what a misery would it be to be forced to live with one I know I cannot love? As ever, therefore, I desire to be happy, I must perform my duty in this particular, and never aim at any other end in the choice of a wife, or expect any other happiness in the enjoyment of her, but what is founded in the principle of pure and inviolable love. If I should court and marry a woman for riches, then, whenever they fail, or take their flight, my love and my happiness must drop and vanish together with them.
If I choose her for beauty only, I shall love her no longer than while that continues, which is only till age or sickness blasts it, and then farewell at once both duty and delight.
But if I love her for her virtues, and for the sake of God, who has enjoined it as a duty, that our affections should not be alienated or separated by any thing but death; then, though all the other sandy foundations fail, yet will my happiness remain entire, even though I should not perceive those mutual returns of love, which are due to me from her upon the same bottom. But oh! the happiness of that couple, whose inclinations to each other are as mutual as their duties; whose affections as well as persons are linked together with the same tie! This is the chief condition required to make the state of matrimony happy or desirable, and shall be the chief motive with me to induce me to enter into it. For though it be no happiness to be beloved by one I do not love, yet it is certainly a very great one to be beloved by one I do. If this then be my lot, to have mutual expressions of love from the person I fix my affections upon, what joy and comfort will it raise in my heart? With what peace and amity shall we live together here? and what glory and felicity may we not promise
What is here said of the duty in choosing and loving of a wife, may be likewise applied to the woman's duty in choosing and loving her husband. But being not so immediately concerned in this, I pass on to my next Resolution.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to do my endeavour to give to God whatsoever children he shall be pleased to give to me; that as they are mine by nature, they may be his by grace.
I HAVE sometimes wondered at the providence of God, in bringing so many millions of people out of the loins of one man; and cannot but make this use of it, even to stir up myself to a double diligence, in bringing up my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. For, who knows, but the salvation of ten thousand souls may depend upon the education of one single child?
If I train up my son in the ways of religion, and teach him what it is to keep a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man; he will then not only have an inward sense of his own duty, but take all possible care to instil it into others, whether children or servants, that are committed to his charge: and these, again, will do the same to theirs, by teaching them to walk in the same path; till, by degrees, the piety and holiness of one man has diffused itself to all succeeding generations. But now, on the other hand, if I neglect the care of my son's education, and suffer the leprosy of sin and wickedness to taint and corrupt him, it is great odds, without an extraordinary interposition of divine grace, but the infection may spread itself over all my posterity; and so draw down upon me the curses and accusations of ten thousand souls in hell, which might otherwise have been praising and blessing God for me to all eternity in heaven.
Hence it is that I am resolved to endeavour to be a spiritual as well as natural father to my children; yea, to take more care to get a portion for their souls in heaven, than to make provision for their bodies upon earth. For, if he be accounted worse than an infidel, that provides not for his family the sustenance of