Lorenzo Dow.

The dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete online

. (page 63 of 126)
Online LibraryLorenzo DowThe dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete → online text (page 63 of 126)
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engagements with nersons of one of the sexes,
and the formal ceremony is performed ; this is
not matrimony, but an imposition ; forasmuch
as the design of matrimony cannot be answer-
ed thereby.

3rd. Sometimes a banditti catch two persons
and compel them ceremonially to marry at the
point of the sword, to save their lives ; but
this is not matrimony : for it is neither sanc-
tioned by laws divine or human ; neither are
they obligated by such laws to live together.

4th. Some men have a plurality of women,
but they cannot be married to them all ; if the
first marriage was lawful the others are not,
" for two," saith he, (not three) " shall be one
flesh,;" moreover, when two persons enter into
marriage, they promise to forsake all others,



and be true to each other while they both
shall live ; therefore are not at liberty to have
any thing to do with other persons.

5th. Sometimes persons who are married
without just cause, leave their companion,
take up with another person, and live with him
or her : this is not matrimony, but adultery ;
and all such persons may expect to meet with
God's disapprobation in eternity; "for such
shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

6th. Two persons living together as hus-
band and wife, and yet feeling at liberty to
forsake the present, and embrace another ob-
ject at pleasure — this is not matrimony, but
whoredom : and " whoremongers and adul-
terers God will judge." Yet we may here ob-
serve : in many parts of the world, the politi-
cal state of affairs is such, that two persons
may live together by mutual consent as hus-
band and wife, where there is no formal cere-
mony performed, and yet be justified before
God : which was the case with the Jews, (in-
stance also if some were cast away upon an
island ;) but this is not the case in America,
except among the colored people, or heathen
tribes, as will be more fully shown under the
next head — in which I am to show,

Secondly, What matrimony is.

Some people believe in a decree, (commonly
called a lottery,) viz. That God has determined
in all cases, that particular men and women
should be married to each other : and that it
is impossible they should marry any other
person. But I say, hush ! for if that be the
case, then God appoints all matches ; but I
believe the devil appoints a great many ; for
if God did it, then it would be done in wisdom,
and of course it would be done right ; if so,
there would not be so many unhappy mar-
riages in the world as what there are. If one
man steals or runs away with another man's
wife, goes into a strange country, and there
marries her, did God decree that 1 AVhat
made God Almighty so angry with the Jews
for marrying. into heathen families; and why
did the prophet Nehemiah contend with them,
curse them, pluck off their hair, and make
them swear that they would not give their
daughters to the Ammonites, &c. as we read
in the 13th chapter of Nehemiah, if God
appointed such matches 1 Again, why did
John the Baptist exclaim so heavily against
Herod, for having his brother Philip's wife 1
If it was necessary, he could not help it :
therefore John talked very foolishly when he
said it was not lawful, for that was to say it
was not lawful to do what God had decreed
should be done. Notwithstanding I do not
believe in lottery, (so called,) yet I believe*



* I apprehend that every person who is marriageable,
and whose duty it is to marry— there is a particular oL-



36



REFLECTIONS ON MATRIMONY.



that persons who are under the influence of
divine grace, may have a guide to direct them
to a person suitable to make them a compa-
nion, with whom they may live agreeably :
but this can only be done by having pure in-
tentions, paying particular attention to the in-
fluence of the Divine Spirit within and the
opening of Providence without ; being careful
not to run so fast as to outrun your guide, nor
yet to move so slow as to lose sight thereof.

But to return : — Marriage consists in agree-
ments of parties, in union of heart, and a pro-
mise of fidelity to each other before God ;
" forasmuch as he looketh at the heart, and
judgeth according to intention." — 1 Sam.
xvi. 7. As there is such a thing as for per-
sons morally to commit adultery in the sight
of God, who never actually did so, Matt.
v. 28, so persons may be married in his sight,
who never had the formal ceremony perform-
ed. Observe, marriage is a divine institution;
was ordained by God in the time of man's in-
nocency, and sanctioned by Jesus Christ under
the Gospel ; he graced a marriage feast in
Cana of Galilee, where he turned water into
wine, John ii. 1. Now, that marriage consists
not barely in the outward ceremony is evi-
dent ; for this may be performed on two per-
sons of either sex, and yet no marriage ; for
the benefits resulting from marriage, cannot
be enjoyed through such a medium. If ma-
trimony is the formal sentence, who married
Adam and Eve ? and what was the ceremony
by which they were constituted husband and
wife? But if Adam and Eve were married
without a formal ceremony, then something
else is matrimony in the sight of God : of
course, it must be an agreement of parties as
above. Yet it is necessary to attend to the
laws of our country, and have a formal cere-
mony performed, [email protected]°> which is the EVI-
DENCE of MATRIMONY!! For we are
commanded to " be subject to every ordinance
of man, for the Lord's sake," 1 Peter ii. 13.
St. Paul saith — " Let every soul be subject
unto the higher powers, for there is no power
but of God : the powers that be, are ordained
by God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the
power, resisteth the ordinance of God : and
Ihey that resist shall receive to themselves
damnation," Rom. xiii. 1, '2. Moreover, with-
out this outward evidence it cannot be known
who are married and who are not ; so that
men could leave their wives and children to
suffer; deny they ever engaged to live with
such women, and having no proof thereof,
they could not be compelled by any law to



ject they ought to have ;— hut I helieve it possible for
them to miss that object, and he connected With one that
is improper for them — one cause of so many unhappy
families, fjrj- There is a providence attending virtue,
and a curse attending vice !



provide for such women and children. Once
more, unless the law is complied with, the
woman cannot be considered as his lawful
wife, (for what makes her his lawful wife, is
compliance with the law,) of course the chil-
dren are not lawful ; then it follows they are
adulterers and adulteresses ; else fornicators
and fornicatresses ; their children are illegi-
timate ; and after the death of the man, the
woman and children cannot heir his estate, if
he dies without a will.*

Question. If two persons contract for
marriage, and have pledged their fidelity to
each other before God, are they justifiable in
breaking that marriage contract ?

Answer. If one has acted the part of an
impostor, told lies, and deceived the other, this
is not marriage, but an imposition : of course
the person so imposed on is justifiable in re-
jecting such deceiver ! But if they both make
statements in truth, are acquainted with each
other's character, dispositions, practices, and
principles, and then, being in possession of
such information, voluntarily engage before
God to live together as man and wife, unless
something wicked, more than was or could he
reasonably expected, transpires relative to one
or the other of the two persons so engaged ;
S^° the person who breaks such contract
cannot be justifiable before God ! For I think
I have clearly proved such contract to be
marriage in his sight; and Christ saith, " who-
soever shall put away his wife except it be
for fornication, and shall marry another, com-
mitteth adultery ;* and who so marrieth her



* A Lawyer attempted to disinherit some Quaker
children, pleading that they were illegitimate, because
their parents were not married by a priest. The question
arose from his competitor. From whom or from whence,
did the clergy derive their authority to give indulgence
of marriage to some, and withhold it from others .' The
judge replied, the doctrine proves too much, — it proves
that we are all illegitimate ; for I recollect reading ol a
marriage in Paradise, and no priest there to celebrate it !
Hence it became a national question, and part of the
civil code, instead of pure ecclesiastical. There never
was a spiritual court in the United States, nor any Buc-
clebaggars, under the Popish idea of "order and succes-
sion." Here a question will arise, with regard to the
policy or justice of a man's keeping a woman, who was
virtuous when he took her, and she remains strictly true
to him ; and, after having retained her in keeping a num-
ber of years, she also having had children by him, he is
still at liberty to fling her oft', and bastardize their off-
spring! In Spanish Florida, if a man and woman live
together ten days, as husband and wife, — if he die, she
will be allowed to claim her part, (i. e. a wife"s part,) ol"
his property.

♦ Now, it appears furthermore, that the Jews con-
sidered a mutual contract as above — .Marriages are
sacred ; as is evident from Dent. xxii. 22. 28. "If a dam-
sel that is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, and a
man find her in a city, and lie with her, then ye shall
bring them both out into the gate of that city ; and ye
shall stone them Aith stones that they die ; the damsel
because she cried not, being in the city, and the man be-
cause he humbled his neighbor's wife." Now, observe,
the woman is styled a virgin, and yet a man's wife, be-
muse she was betrothed ; that is, engaged to him by
solemn contract. Take notice, the punishment inflicted
on such ?s broke their marriage contract was death—



REFLECTIONS ON MATRIMONY.



37



which is put away ("for fornication,") doth
commit adultery," Matt. xix. 9. From this
passage it is evident, that for the cause of for-
nication, a man may put away his wife, marry
another, and yet be justifiable in the eye of
the divine law. Moreover, if a man puts
away his wife for any other cause save forni-
cation, &c. and utterly refuseth to live with
her, she is at liberty to marry, but he is not.
This I think is what St. Paul meaneth in 1
Cor. vii. 15. " but if the unbelieving depart
let him depart ; a brother or sister is not under
bondage in such cases," i. e. they are free from
the law, for that is what they were bound by ;
of course, at liberty to marry again, for the in-
nocent are not to suffer for the guilty. Ad-
mitting the above to be correct, how many
such adulterers and adultresses there are in
the world ! — And what a dreadful account will
thousands have to give in the day of eternity,
for the violation of their most sacred promises ! !
But one is ready to say, I was not sincere
when I made those promises. Then you dis-
sembled to deceive, and told lies* to ensnare
the innocent ; like the devil when he trans-
forms himself into an angel of light, and the
greater shall be your damnation. " For all
liars shall have their portion in the lake that
burns with fire and brimstone," Rev. xxi. 8.
Many men will work an hundred schemes and
tell ten thousand lies to effect the most devilish
purposes, and after their ends are answered,
turn with disdain from the person deceived by
them, and make themselves merry to think
how they swept the pit of hell to accomplish
their design. "But whoremongers and adul-
terers God will judge ;" which brings me to
the last thing proposed. In which I am,

Thirdly, To point out some of the causes
of unhappy marriages.

Here I would observe, that Divine Wisdom
hath ordained marriage for several important



whereas there was no such punishment inflicted on those
who were not betrothed ; as you may read in the same
chapter, verse 23, 29. Why this difference in their pun-
ishment ? Answer. Because the crime was aggravated
by the violation of the marriage contract. God is the
same in justice now, that he was then ; and crimes are
not less under the gospel than they were under the law.
"Let them that read understand."

In the gospel as recorded by St. Matthew, this is farther
verified, Matt. i. IS, 19, 20, as exemplified in Mary the
mother of Christ, and Joseph : for before they came
together she is styled his. wife, and he her husband.
$7- This is the truth, and you cannot deny it. Strange
to think what numbers in the world for the sake of
human flesh and a little of this perishable world's goods,
will persuade their friends or children to sin against
God by breaking their marriage contract ! — The Devil
can but tempt, but mortal man compel ! ! I am here
speaking of contracts where there is no lawful objection.

* A man, (I do not say a gentleman,) in the West,
sought the destruction of an innocent and to ac-
complish his designs, "wished that heaven might never
receive his soul nor the earth his body, if he did not per-
form his contract," — and afterwards boasted of his worse
than diabolical act ; but God took him at his word — for
he was shot by an Indian, and rotted above ground '.



ends. 1st. For the mutual happiness of the
sexes in their journey through life, and as a
comfort and support to each other. 2d. That
souls may be propagated agreeably to the
divine will, capable of glorifying and enjoy-
ing him for ever. 3d. As the man without
the woman, or the woman without the man,
is not in a capacity to provide for a family,
Divine Wisdom hath wisely ordained their
mutual aid, in providing for, instructing, and
protecting offspring ; as guardian angels who
must give account. Besides the reason as-
signed by St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. But to return,
I would observe, 1st. Too many marry from
lucrative views ; their object is not to get a
suitable companion, who wjll sweeten all the
ills of life, but to get a large fortune, so that
their time may be spent in idleness and lux-
ury ; that they may make a grand appearance
in the world, supposing that property will
make them honorable. This being the lead-
ing motive, they direct their attention to an
object, which, if it was not for property, would
perhaps be looked upon by them with con-
tempt ; and profess the greatest regard for the
person, while the property is the object of
their affections. Perhaps the person is old ;
the ideas are — "This old man or woman can-
not live long ; then all will be mine, and I
shall be in such circumstances that I can
marry to great advantage ;*' forgetting there
are other people in the world just of their
own opinion ! The contract is made, the
sham marriage is performed, there is a union
of hand but not of heart, in consequence of
which they are not happy together. — The de-
ceived, on finding out the deception, wishes a
reversion in vain, which the other must sen-
sibly feel : for sin hath its own punishment
entailed to it ; therefore the curse of God fol-
lows such impure intentions. I appeal to
those who have married from these incentives,
whether these things are not so ! — 2d. Some
people take fancy for love ; they behold a
person whom they would almost take to be
an angel in human shape, (but all is not gold
that glitters,) and through the medium of the
eye become enamoured ; and rest not until
the object of their fancy is won. Beauty be-
ing but skin deep, sickness or age soon makes
the rose to wither; they are then as much
disappointed as the miser who thought he had
ten thousand guineas all in gold, but after
counting them over every day for twelve
months, the gilt wore off, by which means he
discovered his gold was only tarnished cop-
per ; of course lost its value in his estimation.
So when beauty fades, the foundation of hap
piness being gone, and seeing nothing attract-
ing to remain, it is not uncommon for an
object more beautiful to be sought. 3d. There
is such a thing as for persons to marry for



38



REFLECTIONS ON MATRIMONY.



love, and yet be unhappy ! Did I say marry
for love 1 Yes — but not their own love ;.
only the love of their parents or friends. For
instance, two persons of suitable age, char-
acter, disposition, &c. form attachments of the
strongest nature, are actuated by pure motives,
are united in heart, and enter into the most
solemn engagements to live together during
life ;* the parents being asked, utterly refuse
to give their daughter, without any sufficient
for such refusal. In the next place,
they si rive to break the marriage contract, as
made by the two young people. Perhaps the
man has not property enough to please them,
for worth is generally (though improperly)
estimated by the quantity of property a person
possesses, instead of a character, his prin-
ciples, his practices, &c. In order to effect
their wishes every measure they can invent is
pushed into operation, (and it is frequently
the case that family connections, and even
strangers interfere, who have no business so
to do ; but fools will be meddling ;) to change
the woman's mind, and make bad impressions
on the same with respect to the object of her
affections; they strive by placing their dia-
bolical optic to her eye to make her view
every thing in the worst light they possibly
can; promise great things if she break it off :
"all these things will I give thee, if thou wilt
fall down and worship me," (said the devil
once ;) threaten to place the black seal of
reprobation upon her if she fulfils her en-
gagements. Here the mind becomes as a
'• troubled sea which cannot rest ;" She is at
a loss to know what is duty — she loves her
parents, also the man to whom her heart has
been united — her affections are placed, her

h< i is pledged — she spends restless nights

and mournful days to know how to decide ! -
critical but important period ! Her present,
and perhaps her eternal peace depends upon
the decision ! After many struggles with her
own conscience, at length through powerful
persuasion she yields to the wishes of others —
betrays her trust, breaks her marriage con-
tract, tleserts her best friend, and pierces her-
self through with many sorrows.f Does this
decision give peace of mind '. By no means!
She is pained at the vevy heart, and flies to
some secret place to give vent to the sorrow
she feels. Follow her to the lonely apart-



* Some people sa ;• the bargain should lie conditional,
thus — "If my parents love you well enough, I will have
you." This just proves the point in hand, that they must
marry for the parents' love and not their own

t If the* woman is under age, the may pel haps he justi-
fiable on that account ; hut if she is of age it argues im-
becility ; for she has as much right to act for herself, as
her parents have to act for themselves ; "i course should
have a judgment and soul of her own '. II the fault is al-
together in herself, she proves at once she is not to be
confided in : and I would pronounce that man blessed
who has escaped a woman of so mean a principle— for
such a thing has scarcely been known among heathens.



ment — behold her there as pale as death — her
cheeks >edewed with tears ! What mean
those 1 eavy groans 1 What mean those
heart-breaking sighs 1 What mean those
floods of briny tears poured forth so free, as
if without consent 1 She was torn from the
object of all her earthly joy ! The ways of
God " are pleasantness, and all his paths are
peace," but she finds nothing save sorrow in
the way and path which she has taken —
therefore she is not in the way which she
ought to have went. Another man pays his
addresses to her ; by no means calculated to
make her a suitable companion — but he has
large possessions : and this being the object
her parents and friends have in view they do
and say all they can to get her consentable.
But parents should remember, that they can
no more love for their children, than they can
eat and drink for them. Through their en-
treaties she is prevailed on to give him her
hand, while her affections are placed on an-
other. Thus she marries for the love of her
parents — and goes with a heavy heart to the
marriage bed. They have laid a foundation
to make her unhappy while she lives ; and
may I not say, more than probable, to procure
her future miserv! For how can she be happy
with a man whom she does not love ! " How
can two walk together except they be agreed ?"
Where there is no agreement there can be no
union, and where there is no union, there can
be no happiness.. As the parents are not so
immediately concerned therein as the child,
they act very improperly in over-persuading
their child to marry. For if she is unhappy
in such marriage, she will have cause to re-
flect on them, and place her misery to their
account ; while she waits for the hour to
come to end her existence, and terminate the
misery which she feels! Marriage was in-
tended for the mutual happiness of the sexes —
for the woman was given to the man to be
"an help meet for him," Gen. ii. 18. Mar-
riage is an emblem of that union which sub-
sists between Christ and his Church, Ep/i. v.
32. Solomon saith, "Whoso findeth a wife,
findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of
the Lord," — Prov. viii. 22. Again, "a pru-
dent wife is from the Lord," — Prov. x\\. II.
I therefore conclude that a happy marriage is
the greatest blessing and consolation which
can be enjoyed on this side of eternity, next to
the love of God in the soul. Of course an un-
happy marriage is the greatest curse which is
endured on this side of hell, next to the hor-
rors of a guilty conscience. Quitting this. I
pass on to observe, that many make them-
selves unhappy after marriage. I shall 1st.
Notice some things in the conduct of men.
2dly, In the conduct of women. 3dly, Point
out some complex cases. 1st, It frequently



REFLECTIONS ON MATRIMONY



39



happens that wicked men pay their addresses
to religious women ; and in order to accom-
plish their desire, pretend to have a great re-
gard for piety, promise to do all in their power
io assist them on their way to heaven, and
call God to bear witness to a lie that they will
be no hindrance to them, &c. and many go so
far as to put on the outward garb of religion
that they may more easily betray with a kiss !
But shortly after marriage the wolf sheds his
coat, and openly avows his dislike to the
ways of godliness, and either directly or in-
directly declares that his wife shall not enjoy
the privileges of the gospel. Here the wife is
convinced of the insincerity of his promise,
which makes her doubt the sincerity of his
affection for her ; the house becomes divided,
and the foundation of their future misery is
laid ; and it will be a mercy of God, if they
are not a means of peopling the regions of the
damned, and at last go down to the chambers
of death together. 2dly, Some men pretend
to respect their wives — the wife looks up to
her husband as her head for protection, and,
as a reasonable woman, expects him to re-
dress her grievances. But alas : how is she
disappointed ! For he approbates that in
others which he could prevent without any
loss of property, or character; and appears to
delight in her misery. Instance those who
have religious wives, and suffer drinking,
swearing, frolicking, gambling, &c. about
their houses. Is it not natural for such women
to conclude their husbands have a greater re-
gard for such wicked beings than themselves'?
If so, how can my husband have that regard
for me which he ought to have ? And what
becomes of that scripture which saith, " so
ought men to love their wives as their own
bodies : he that loveth his wife loveth him-
self." — Eph. v. 28. Again, Col. iii. 19.
" Husbands love your wives, and be not bit-
ter against them." 3dly, A great many men
stay away from home unnecessarily, spend
their time in drinking, &c. expending their
money in the taverns, which ought to go to
the support of their families, while their wives
have not the necessaries of life, and are la-
boring night and day to keep their children
from starving. Thus many families are
brought to disgrace and misery by the wick-
edness of husbands. But one is ready to say,
I provide well for my family ; and am I not
at liberty to go and come when I please 1
Yes, as far as is expedient, but no farther, if
you do not wish to forfeit your wife's confi-
dence. I ask, what must be the feelings of a
woman left in such a case, when she knows
her husband has no lawful business to detain
him from home 1 What conclusion can she



Online LibraryLorenzo DowThe dealings of God, man, and the devil : as exemplified in the life, experience, and travels of Lorenzo Dow, in a period of over half a century: together with his polemic and miscellaneous writings, complete → online text (page 63 of 126)