« PreviousContinue »
Promifes in all Ages of the World, from the first Man born, even unto this Day: And has wonderfully preferv'd his miraculous Providences amidst all her Enemies; has affur'd her of a final Victory over them; and eternal Triumph and Jubilee in HeaThis is an invincible Argument for the Truth of the Gospel, when it is fhew'd, that the fame Peculium which Chrift has fet up in His Church, had been deduc'd through feveral Oeconomies, from the Beginning of the World. And foretold by all the Prophets, from that time to the Coming of the Meffiah. And that Fold of the Sheep being finally Separated from the Goats, makes up the two eternal States, of Heaven and Hell.
It is likewife the moft Forceable Perfuafive that can be to the restoring of a Catholick Communion and Unity among all Christan Churches, the Members of this one Body.
And also it is the trueft Light and Rule hereby to govern the Difcipline of every particular Church within her felf, all with due Refpect to the preferving and supporting the true Notion and Prerogatives of the Peculium.
Among which, this of Marriage is a principal Part, which has been forgotten and neglected amongst Us and other Communions, contrary to both Their and Our Principles.
At first View, this Attempt may feem as tending to the Widening of our Differences, and keeping us at greater Diftance,
But when duly confider'd, it will have the quite contrary Effect. For they who are in Earnest with their Religion, will by this fenfible Motive, be brought to confider the more Spiritual and Eternal Confequences of being within the true Peculium; and will not, for small and indifferent Things, make a Schifm in the Church of which they are Members; And, for Pride or Peevishness, throw themselves out of the Fold of Chrift's Church, and Set up another of their own Contrivance.
And it will discover the Hypocrifie of thofe loofe Profeffors, who cannot abstain from Marriage, for the fame Reasons which they think fufficient to divorce themfelves from the Church, which is the Body of Chrift, and to tear it in Pieces by their Schifm.
It will beget a higher Regard of Religion, and it is to be hop'd, when other Arguments fail, that many may be perfuaded to leave their Schifm, when they cannot otherwife compass a rich Match, or one whom they Love: And this may be fuppos'd a Guard which God has put for the Security of his Religion.
And, as it may reduce many, fo it will cement thofe that are in the Peculium much
more firmly, when they confider, by what a holy and ftrict Tye they are united into one Body under Chrift the Head.
Let me go on then a little in this Preface, to pave the Way towards the enfuing Discourse,
Ther are two things to be confider'd in this Matter of Marriage into different Communions; Firft, as to the Inconvenience of it, the Prejudice and Hurt to Families, as well in their Spiritual as Temporal Concerns. And fecondly, as to the Lawfulness of it, which is the chief and great Point, and mainly to be confider'd.
I will therefor only touch upon the First; because the Reasons are obvious to any one, and the Examples frequent, and daily Complaints are heard, and the miferable Inconveniences feen, felt, and underfood.
It is a common Theam, how little the Promifes in Courtship, or Contracts upon Marriage, as to giving full Liberty in Religion, are regarded! And indeed they ought not to be regarded, and oblige only to Repentance, as being unlawful Oaths or Promifes. Can I Covenant (or ought I to keep it) to fuffer my Wife to go on in what I am perfuaded is a great Sin, to continue all her Life in an idolatrous Worhip, or in open and notorious Schifm, without fo much as once interpofing even my Advice, or attempting to fatisfic her Scruples,
or convince her Reafon? Will not the Blood of her Soul be requir'd at my Hand? Shall I be oblig'd to that Hardness of Heart towards her, which wou'd be a Sin in me towards a Stranger? It is Written, Lev.xix. 17. Thou shalt not hate thy Brother in thine Heart: Thou fhalt in any wife rebuke thy Neighbour, and not fuffer Sin upon him. Or, as our Margin reads it, Suffer Sin for him: That is, I shall anSwer for his Sin, if I do not reprove it. And can I tye my felf up from this Duty towards my Wife? Is not this hating her in my Heart? Is it not Saying, Let me have your Perfon or Estate, and I care not what becomes of your Soul? And shall not I answer for this to God? If I fuffer Sin upon her, without rebuking of it, shall not I fuffer Sin for her?
Then again, What Security can I have of her not tampering with her Children? If I be fo hard-hearted towards her, as to let her go freely (as I think) to the Devil: And whether I think truly or not, the Kindness is the fame; nay, and the Sin too in a great Meafure, because I go on in that which I think to be a Sin and Provocation to God, which is Provoking of Him to his Face: I say, tho' I shou'd be fo infenfible of my Duty to God or Man, as to fuffer this in my Wife, without Reproof; yet he may be better natur'd, and have not only more Senfe of God, but Bowels for her Children, than
to fee them perish (as She believes) both Soul and Body, for want of her Advice and Inftruction. And if the Husband be likewife religious, and make the fame Confcience of educating his Children, then will fame of them speak the Language of Ifrael, and fome the Speech of Afhdod; or, which is warfe, diffemble it, for fear of offending, till they come to be their own Mafters, And then ther is another Family corrupted, and the Infection gone to my Grand-Children, and whole Pofterity.
Ther are Agreements made in fome of thefe Marriages, that the Father shall have the Education of the Sons in His Religion; and the Mother of the Daughters in Hers: Or the Father of the first Child, the Mother of the fecond, &c.
That is, I give up fome of my Children to what I think a falfe Religion, and wherein I dare not venture my own Soul to have the Privilege of bringing others of them up in the true Religion: This is, if we are in earnest with Religion, to damn one (as far as in us lies) to fave another: A fad Bargain for our Children!
Especially confidering, that those I give up are certainly loft if I keep my Engagement: And I have no Affurance that Faith will be kept with me, as to my Share of my Children; fo that I deliver fome of them to certain Ruin, for the Hazard of faving others.