Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

. (page 64 of 121)
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I see it negUded by others older tiUinmffsdf, even by mtf
ewm brothers and sisters. Would it be any excuse for
yonr neglecting salvation altogether, if they were to do
•o T Certainly not ; for religion is a personal concern
the obligations of which are in onr case, in no degree
dependant on the manner in which they are acknow-
ledged by others. The more it is forgotten by others,
the more we should feel excited to practise its dnties
oarselves. Your obedience is not to be withheld be-
canse your friends or relatives neglect theirs. It may
be, that your decision will have a favorable influence
on their minds: if not, and even on the contrary, yoo
ahould by such an act incur their displeasure, you are
not to let this operate on your heart. Your duty to
Christ is paramount to all other considerations, and
yoo must obey him though it be by taking up your
croM.

I do not like the mode of admission to our churches.
" I do not like to be examined as to my religious views
or experience, nor to snbmit the state of my mind, to
the consideration of the church.'' If yon mean to say
you refuse all examination, this savors of pride or igno-
rance, and plainly manifests either that you do not un-
derstand the nature of a Christian church, or under-
standing it, refuse to submit to its discipline ; in the
latter case, I do not see how you can be a Christian ;
in the former, you must be better instructed before you
associate yourself with the faithful. If you mean only,
that you would rather not either irrtte, or deliver ver-
kdlff brfore the ckwrchy your views and feelings on reli-
gion, I roply, that no church oucht to insist upon it;
aU tbev ought to do, is to state what \a their usual cus-
tom ; but if yoo have scruples of a tender conscience,
they ought to be satisfied with the report of the pastor
and brethren who have conversed with you.

ItremUe at t^ denundationt tthere it is declared by the
apostle, "He that eateth and drinketh mnworthilw, eateth and
^hnketh damnation to himsdf" This word had better
have been rendered "mdgment" as it refers to those
Tisitations of temporal punishments, with which the
members of the Corinthian Cfhurch were punished for
their profanation of the Lord's Supper. It certainly
was not the apostle's intention, as some weak and
timid minds seem to think to teach that sins committed
after this act of Christian communion, are unpardona-
ble. Transgressions committed afler a participation
of the euchanst, are, it is confessed, additionally benious,
because committed against increased privileges and
obligations, but thej are still pardonable through " the
blo(^ of Corist which cleanseth from all sin."

J maybe a Christian, and get to heaven withotU beinf
united wkh the Chmrch. That there are some in tbis
case, I have no iloobt ; but it becomes a question
whether any one can really be a Christian, who knows
it to be a duty, and yet wilfully neglects it under the
pretext just stated.

I do not Hke the Chnrch which is formed in the place
whereJHve. J mm neither jfleasedmth the pastornor the
p(^pic If the minister is unholy and errooeous, or



the people divided into parties, and tiestitute of both
peace and purity, this excuse may be admitted ; but if
the obiection apply to ^e talents of the minister, or the
worldly cirouuMtances of the Church, we are discover-
in£ a spirit of pride and worklly-mindedness, in thus
refusing to obey the command of Christ, which renders
our faith very questionable, or -proves it to be very
weak.

Having thus explained the nature, and stated the
advantages of church fellowship, and replied to some of
the excuses by which a neglect of it is attempted to be
justified, I must leave the subject to your serious con-
sideration. It is perfecdy obvious to every thinking
and observant mind, that the obligations to thu act of
duty, are not felt, at least as they ou|^ht to be, by maUy
who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious." Ty>
such persons I recommend the consideration of those
passages in which a profession of onr faith before menj
is most awfully deman<ied. " Whosoever," saith dor
Lord, " shall confess my name before men, him will I
confess before my Famer which is in heaven: and
whosoever shall deny me before meb, him wiU I also
deny before my Father which is in heaven." Thsse
words occur also, with little variation, in the Gospel of
Luke. The same sentiment is conveyed by the apos-
tle Paul : " If thou shalt confess uith (% mott^ the Lord
Jesos, and shak believe in thy heart that God hath rais-
ed him from the dead, thou shalt be saved : for w^
. the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and wkh
the mouth confession is made unto salvation^" In these
passages, and others of a similar meaning, a confbssion,
or profession, for the words are nearijr the same in sig-
nification,* bears a very close connection with the hope
of mlvation : and how any one can be said to make a
confession of Christ, who does not connect himself with
a Christian church, I am certainly at a loss to under-
stand.

On this subject I refer for a more enlarged viei^, to
niy treatise on *' Christian Fellowship, or the Choreh
Member's Guide."



CHAPTER XXm.

05 THE CBOICS OF A COMPAlTIOir FOR UTB.

" The first blessing," says Bishop Taylor, " God gave
to man, was society ; and that society was a marriage ;
and that marriage was confederate by Go(f himseif,
and hallowed by a blessing, l^he first mirads that
Jesus Christ ever performed, was to do honor to a
weddinff, which he graced with his presence, and sup-
plied with a part orbits provision. Celibacy, like the
fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in a peipetual
sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined, and oies in
singularity ; but marriage, like the useful bee, bniUs a
house, and gathers sweetness from every flower and
unites into societies and republics, and sends out colo-
nies, and feeds the world with deUcacies, and keeps
order and exercises man^ virtues, and promotes the
interest of mankind, and is that state of good things to
which God hath designed the present constitution of
the worid."

" But then wifh how much oAition, and eidrsme
care, and sound discretion, and fervent pnjir, oaAi
tbis union to be formed ; for they who enter into ttie



* Perhaps the English words professkin and e&id&B-
moD have this differenoe of significadon,«4be fstmer
means the unasked avowal of our faith ; the btter, the
acknowledgment of our sentiments when reqmrsd to
declare them : answerable to whieh professors means
Christians in general; strnfisssoia^ tbosa who in tiBMS
ofpersecutienaekiiowMge tbtirftBtimiMsat dkede-
oMod of their petseco toff t.



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70



CHRISTIAN FATHER'S PRESENT.



flUte of marriage, caat a die of the greatest oontingencj,
and yet of the gmteat interest in the world, next to the
last throw for eternity. Life or death, felicity or a last-
ing sorrow, are in the power of marriage. A woman
indeed ventares most, for she. hath no sanctuary to re>
tire to from an evil husband : she must dwell upon her
sorrow which her own folly- hath produced, and she is
more under it, because her tormentor hath a warrant
of prerogatiTO, and the woman may complain to God
as subjects do of ^rant princes, but otherwise she hath
DO appeal in the causes of unkindness. And though
the man can run firom many hours of hia sadness, yet
be must return to it again ; and when he sits among
his neighbors he remembers the objection that lies in
his bosom, and he sighs deeply."

Who then that is wise, would not be slow to decide,
where so much depends upon the decision ; and grow
np in a habit of putting the aflfections and the imagina-
tion under the control of the judgment f If it be im-
portant to exercise deliberation in reference to those
connections which knay be dissolved at pleasure, how
mqch more in the case of those which nothing can ter-
minate but the stroke of death !

The first piece of advice I ofier is, noe to think of this
important affair too toon, nor suppose it necessary that n,
young person of eighteen or nineteen shatdd begin to pay
tmd receive particuuw attentions. Do not court the sub^
iect, nor permit your imagination to be for ever dwell-
ing upon it. Rather put it froA you than bring it
near. Repress that viiionary and romantic turn of
mind, which considers the whole space thatlies between
you and the altar, as a dreary waste, all beyond it as a
paradise : in innumerable instances the very reverse
has been the case, and the exchange of a father's for a
husband's house has been like the departure of Adam
and Eve from the garden of Eden to a wide uncultiva-
ted wilderness. " The stags in the Greek epigram,
whose knees were clogged with frozen snow upon the
mountains, came down to the brooks of the valleys,
hoping to thaw their joints with the waters of the
stream; but there the frost overtqpk them and bound
them fast in ice, till the ;|roung herdsmen took them in
their stranger snare. It is the unhappy chanee of some
persons, finding many inconveniences upon the moun-
tains of single life, they descend into the valleys of
marriage to refresh their troubles, and there they enter
into fetters, and are bound to sorrow by the cords of a
man's or a woman's peevishness; and the worst of the
evil is, that they have to thank their own follies, for
they fell into the inare by entering an improper way ;"
add I may be permitted to add, by entering it too early
and too hastily.

It is on this ground that novels, the most pernicious
mental poison the press can disseminate, are so much
to be deprecated ; they in6ame the imagination with
visionary scenes and adventurous exploits, on a subject
which the heart ought never to approach but under the
ffuidance of a sober judgment Young people should
Be cautious in their social intercourse, of converting
this subject into matter of merriment, much more
should they beware of aiding and abetting each other
in the formation of such connections. Never, be the
confidant of individuals who are engaged in an affiiir
of this kind unknown to their parents : nor be the me-
dium of communication between them. Third per-
sons, who have been ambitious of the honor of match-
making, have oflen done mischief to others, which,
however they afbrwards lamented, they were never
able to repair. I know some whose lives have been
embittered, and ever will be, by seeing the mefhl con-
wquenceS of those ill-fated unions, of which they were
in great measure the authors.

My next admonition is, Take extreme care qf hasty
entan^enunts. Neither give nor receive particular at-
tentions, which cannot be mistaken, till the matter is
well weighed. Keep your affisctioni shut up at home



io your hearts, while vour judgment, aided by pni-
dence, prepares to make its report

When the subject comes fairly before your attentioa,
nutke it immediately known to yowr parents. Conceal
nothing from them. Abhor the very idea of clandes-
tine connections, as a violation of every duty you owe
taGod and man. There is nothing heroic in a secret
correspohdence. The silliest giris and weakest men
can maintain it, and have been most freqnentlj
engaged in it Spurn the individual who would come
between you and your datural guardians. Harken to
the opinions of ^-our parents, with all that deferaoce
which is due to it. Rare are the cases in which joa
should act in opposition to their wishes.

Be guided in this affair by the dkiates qf mimu.
Never think of forming a connection till toere is a
rational prospect of temporal provision. I am not
quite sure that the present age is in this respect mors
prudent than the past It is all very pretty and pleas-
ing, for two young people to sing of love In a cottage,
and draw picturesque views of two affectkinate hearts
struggling together amidst the difficulties of life: bat
these pictnres are seldom realized. Connections that
begin in imprudence^ generally end in wretcbedneai.
Young people who marry without the consent of their
parents, when that consent is withheld, nol from
caprice but discretion, oflen find that they are not unit-
ed like two doves, by a silken thread, but like two of
Sampson's foxes, with a fire-brand between them. I
call it little less than wickedness to marry withoot a
rational prospect of temporal support

Right motives should ever lead to this union. To mar-
ry for property only, is most sordid and vile. We are
informed that in some parts of the East Indies, it is
thought no sin for a woman to sell her virtue at the
price of an elephant : and how much more viruionsin
reality is she, who accepts a man for the sake of hisfo^
tune ? Where there is no affection at the hymeneal
altar, there must be perjury of the most awful kind;
and ho who returns from church with this guilt Qpop
his conscience, has brought with him a curse to his
habitation, which is likely to make his prize ot littls
worth. When such persons have counted their money
and their sorrows together, howuviUingly with the price
of their slavery would they buy again their liberty ; aod
80 they could be released from each other, give up
all claims to the golden fetter which had chained them
together.

Personal attractions alone are not enough to form a
ground of union. It is an ill baud of affections to tie
two hearts together by a little thread of red and white.
Few things are more superficial or evanescent than
beauty. The faireyt flower oflen fades the soonest.
There ought to be personal attachment I admit, bat
that attachment should be to the mind as well as the
body. Except we discern something lovely that will
remain when the color of the cheek has faded, and the
fire of the eye is extinguished, and the symnietry of
the form has been destroyed, we are engagin| oar
affections to an object which we may live towitnea
only as a sort of ghost of that beau^ which we once
loved. There should be temper and qualities of miod
which we think will please us, and satisfy us, when
the novelties and charms of personal attractions have
faded for ever.

In the case of pious young people, neither perMoal
nor mental qoalincations, nor the union of both, should
be deemed a sufficient ^ound of union in the absmx
of religion. The directions of Scripture on this hsad
are very explicit. " Be not unequsJly yoked together
with unbehevers ; for what fellowship hath ^^^^^
ness with unrighteousness ; and what communion hsth
light with darkness 7 or what part hath he that believeth
with an infidel T" 2 Cor. vi. 14, 16. "She is at
liberty to marry whom she will, only in the Lord.
1 Cor. vii. 39. This is a declaratran of the will of



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;\



CHRISTIAN FATHER'S PI?



God. It is a clear UDeqaWooal annunciatioa of his
miod on the subject. Viewed as advice, it is wise, for
it is giveo by one who is infallible ; but it is more than
adrice, it is the command of one who has authority to

SiTern, the right to judg:e, and the power to punish,
e who instituted marriage, has thus laid down the
Jaw, as to the principles upon which it is to be con*
ducted. Pious young persons are here commanded to
unite themselves only with those who appear to be par-
takeri of similar dispositions. An infraction of this
law is followed with many evils.

Jtojmds oihen: it disconraffes ministers: grieves
the church, and is a stumbling-block to the weak. It
is a source of inexpressible regret to parents. *' And
Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith,
the daughter of Beeri, the Hittite, and Bashemath, the
daughter of Elon, the Hittite, which were a grief of
mind unto Isaac and Rebekah ;" and Rebekah said to
Isaac, '' I am weaiy of my life, because of the daugh-
ters of Heth : if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of
Heth, such as these who are of the daughters of the
land, what good shall my life do me." This is deeply
affecting, and it is bat the feelinc of every truly Chris-
tian parent concerning bis children when they act as
£miu did.

But consider the influence of an unsuitable connec-
tion on fotmehes. We all need helps, not hinderances
to heaven. Our personal reli|[ion requires props to
keep it up, not weights to drag it down. In this case,
iiot to be helped is to be hindered. The constant com-
panionship of an irreligious husband, or wife, must be
most injurious. The example is always near, — it is
the example of one we love, and which has, on that
account the ^ater power orer us. Affection is asu-
inilating ; it is easy to imitate, difficult to oppose those
tve love. Your own religion is put in awful peril daily.
But if yon should escape tmkmt, still what sorrow will
such an association produce. What a dreadful, heart-
rending idea, to love and live with those from whom
vou fear you shall be separated for ever: to be moving
houriy to a point, when you shall be torn from each
other for eternity. How sweet the consciousness
which lives in the bosom of a pious couple, that if
separated to-morrow, thev have an eternity to spend
tocetfaer in heaven : but the reverse of these feelings
wfll be yours, if yon marry not " in the Lord."

Besides, how many interruptions, of conjugal felicity
will yon experience. Dissimilari^ of taste, even in
iMser matters, sometimes proves a great bar to happi-
DOSS. Between those who are so nearly related, and so
constantly together, there should be as great a likeness
of disposition as possible. But to be unlike in the
most momentous of all concerns, is an affair of per-
petoal recurrence ! ! Is this the way to be happy ?
Win the strongest affection surmount this obstacle, or
oQght the experiment to be made T

And then, think an the it^lmenceii will kace am oil fmr
SomettiearrttngemmtB on your servants, and especially
r ckUdren, should you have any. You will be



the dinnerparty; and

- ^-'lies, does the life ol

the high object of

[d dance ! ! Do

, look mora




loppers, and'
" Is it



not

them, if

with



left alone, and perhaps counteracted, in the great busi-
ness of family religion. Your plans may be thwarted,
your instructions neglected, your influence opposed.
Your offspring, partaking of the evil nature common
to their species, are much more likely to follow
the woridly example than the spiritual one.

TKt Serwtwrt ts tvpfeto with vnUttmc M qfthsaril resaift-
ing from the iiedett tfrMigunu marriagti. This was
the sin which nlled the old world with wickedness, and
prepared it for the deluge. Some of Lot's daughters
married in Sodom, and perished in its overmrow.
|«hyniii»l and Esau married irreligious persons and
were both rejected, and turned perteeutors. The first
captivity of die Jews, after their settlemtnt in the Holy
land, is ascribed to this canse.* What dkl David snf-



• Jodgesiii.



fer from this f
to all ages, r
lamented, so
followed by J

But I nee
nature: thef
what irregtf
known to I
were divicV

Young f
on very ii
regard are
sidering t/
cided ? {
church f0

.. At/.

nends be not<luit»«M»«,

'et, by being united with tkem, tony ..^

)ut are we to do evil that good may come t Is
riage to be considered one of the means of pnce T It
IS much more probable that such a connection will do
injury to the pious party than good to the unconverted
one. I have seen the experiment often tried, but
scarcely ever succeed, of marrying an unregenerata
person with the hope of converting him. Dr. Dodd-



'&



ridffe says, he never knew one instance in which this
end was gained.

I do not mean to say, that religion, though india*
pensable, is ths oidif jfrertqmsUe m the individual to
whom you should unite yourselves. Temper, age,
rank, mind, ability to preside over domesuc cares,
should all be taken into the account. Many, when
expostulated with on their being about to form an un-
suitable connection, have replied, *' Oh be is a very
good man, and what more would yoa have T" Many
things : a good disposition, industrious habits, a proba-
bility of supporting a family, a suitableness of age and
station, a congeniality of ffenerai taste. To marry a
person wUhant piety, is sinnil; to manj/or piety alam,
IS A>olisb.

Again I entreat you to recollect that the marriage
union is for life ; and if it be badly formed, is an evil
from which there is no refuge but the grave, no cu/9
but in death. An unsuitable connection, as soon as it
is found to be so, throws a gloom, not merely over
some particular periods of our time, and portions of
our history, but over the whole : it raises a dark and
wide spreading cloud, which extends over the whole
horizon of a man's prospect, and behind which he sees
the sun of his prosperity go down for ever, while it is
yet noon. It is a subject on which the most delicate
reserve, the most prudent cautk>n, and the most fer-
vent prayer, are indispensably necessarv. It is not, as
it is too frequently thought and treated, a mere spor-
tive topic to enliven discourse with, or an enchanted
ground for the imagination to rove in, or an object for
a sentimentid mind to court and dally^ with ; it is a se-
rious business, inasmuch as the happiness of many is
concerned in it ; their happiness not for a part of their
Uvea, but the whole of it ; not for time only, but for
eternity. And, therefore, aldioogh I would not sur-
round the altar of Hymen with scare-crows, nor invest
it with shades as deep as those of the aepulchre, wluch
men are more afraid than eager to approach; so
neither would I adorn It with the cariands of folly till I
have rendered it as ftivolous as ttie ball-foom, where
men and women are paired for the dance, with no re-
gard to congeniality of mind, with no refertace to fa
tore happiness, and no object but amusement. j



CHAPTER XXIV.

OR KCBpnro nr vixw the obkat bhd or tm,

Nbtxb was there a mon rational or important qoM-
lion propoaed for tka eonadenition of tfao boman m-



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70



.•Christian father's present.



fUte of marriage, caitj^bich staads fint in the Gate-
mod yet of the gmteiChiidrea, have been taught from
laat throw for eteroflrbat ia man's chief end 7" Thia, 1
iog sorrow, arejtfmal and most impottant, for every
indeed venturg^hoold certainly ask himself, " What is
tire to from JIB of my existence 7 I find myself in a
sorrow wi|ne innumerable objects present themselves
more ujlCce, each soliciting ray bean, and each ciaim-
of prMe most worthy of its supreme regards. I have
Ues of mind ca{)able of hign pursuits. 1 perceive,

^universal experience, that my .stay in this world
^ QU b» very short, for I am only a stranger and sojour-
ner here npoo earth, as all my fathers were ; and as I
am anxious not to go out of ttie world without answer-
iqg the end for which I came into it, I would wish to
know the chief purpose for which I exist." Such a re-
flection ia what every one should make, but which very
few 4io make. Would they fritter away tbeir lives, as
they do on the most comemptible trifles, if they seri-
oasly inquired for what purpose their lives were
given t

What, then, t« the durfead of man ? You will per-
ceive, I lay all the stress of the inquiry on the adjec-
tive; for there are many ends to be kept in view,
DMiiy purposes to be accomplished, many objects to be
sought. We must provide for our own sustenance
and the comfort of our family : we should store our
miqd with useful knowledge : endeavor to be useful,
ornamental, and respectable members of society : and
there are many other things which may be lawfully
pursued ; but we are now considering that one great
ttfeett tohchU paramomU to all otker$, to tehich ail others
fim$t be enbiorvient, and the lots qfvshkh will constitute
life, whatever else we might have gained, a lost ad-
venture.

There are five claimants for this high distinction,
this supreme rank, in the objects of human pursuit,
the pretensions of which shall be separately examined.

lUcheSt with peculiar boldness, assert their claims to
be " Ms ons thing needful" and multitudes practically
confess the justice of the demand. Hence, there is no
deity whose worshippers are more numerous than
Mammon. We see many all around us who are ob vi-
onsl^jT making this world the exclusive object of their
solicitude. Wealth is with them the main chance.
For this they rise early and sit up late, eat the bread of
carefulness and drink the water of afflictiyn. This is
their language, " I care for nothing if I niay but suc-
ceed in business, and acquire property. I will endure
any fatigue, make any sacrifice, sufler any privation, so
that 1 at last may realise a fortune." It is perfectly
evident that beyond this they have neither a wish nor



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 64 of 121)