A Marriage-Present For the New-Married-Couple: Containing

Considerations and Advices, in order to per­swade young Married people to begin the Married life in the fear of the Lord.

With Directions and Prayers.

With plainness, intended for the meanest Un­derstanding.

By one that desires to be a true Son of the Church of Christ, as by the Gospel established.

As being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindred, 1 Pet. 3.7.

Printed in the year 1691.

God give you Joy. The hearty Wish of a Christian Friend to the Bridegroom and the Bride.


IT becomes all that love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, to promote the glory of God the Father, and according to their capaci­ties to further that great work for which Christ came into the world, by labouring to turn every one from their iniquities, that they may obtain salvation through faith in him. This is that blessing with which God sent his Son to bless the world; and which all should endeavour to bring others to be partakers of. And there­fore should use all means possible to instruct and perswade all to receive, and follow that Grace of God which appears in the Gospel; and teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, that we may live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world, in every state and condi­tion of life.

Therefore should we lay hold on every oppor­tunity that may probably be fit for that purpose. And I take this as a fit occasion, to put you in mind of that duty you are bound to, in respect of each other, in the married estate; that you may glorifie God, in helping one anothers Souls, that so the prayers and good wishes of your friends [Page 2]may not be in vain, but that your Joy may be full, true Joy in the Lord.

God give you Joy is the usual salutation to new married people; and indeed it is what every true Christian friend desires, That such may rejoice in the Lord, and Joy in the God of Salvation.

The Love of Christ should constrain us to love others as Christ loved us, for the souls good. And all that wish well to their Friends and Re­lations, that wish them Joy, if they are in ear­nest, and know what they say, This is Joy, to have the Lords favour, that is better than life it self. And therefore they should use such means as Gods word teaches, to promote that Joy they wish, the Joy that God gives.

But experience shows us, that too many are either ignorant or dissemblers in that wish, which is turned for the most part into a cold forma­lity, and words of course. And we also see the ill methods that too many new married folks take to make void such good wishes, and oppose their own true joys and real blessings.

Therefore I put this Paper into your hands, as becomes a Christian friend that desires to be a friend to your souls, to admonish and intreat you, that you make not void the good wishes of your friends by neglecting of God at first, nor op­pose your own joy by a careless and ungodly life. But that you take such care, that the beginnings of your mutual love may be seasoned with the Divine love. And that your first resolutions on your meeting together in the married state may be, so to abide with God, and so to live toge­ther in his fear, that God may live with you here, and you with him both here and hereafter.

However it may have been with you in the single and unmarried state, we usually call mar­riage a changing our condition; 'Tis my hearty and earnest desire, that your change may be for the best; and that you may so begin the world [Page 3]together as not to abuse it, but in the changed condition you may attend to the Lords service, to your souls true comfort and joy.

In every change of condition, we in some sort do begin a new course: so that we may justly apply our Saviours precept to all beginnings, so to enter on every state of life, that in the first place and chiefly we regard the fear of the Lord; Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; he joins also a promise to it, that outward bles­sings shall be added, Mat. 6.33. Therefore in so great a change as Marriage is, it highly con­cerns you, that the married life should be begun in the Lord. Your first and chiefest love should be to him from whom you have your being, and on whom you depend for all things, both present and to come; to whom you should live, and who's glory should be the design of all your acti­ons, because his you are, and not your own; Re­deemed to him by the precious blood of his Son Jesus Christ: And before that Great Judg you must give up an account of your selves at the last.

If you have been piously educated, then have you need to be careful, that the change turn not aside your heart from God. But as you have been charged by your Parents, Remember to live in the fear of the Lord, and abide with God in the married as well as in the single life. Re­member the Apostles caution, 2 Tim 3.14. Change of family, and acquaintances, and neighbours, are great occasions of good or evil; as those fa­milies, relations, or kindred, acquaintance, and neighbours are, amongst whom you happen to come. If they be ungodly and vain, you had need beware they tempt you not to leave off the way of Godly living. That which seems plea­sant to the flesh, is a strong perswasion to bring you to comply with vain worldly ways, especi­ally in beginning the married estate; they think [Page 4]it strange you will not do as others, in worldly vanity; and by degrees bring you to think it strange you should not, and by degrees to con­sent to join with them; and by unsensible degrees, and unperceiv'd methods, will they lead you from the good way, and you will leave your first love and good practice, and fail of the grace of God. Therefore you had need beware you change not to the worse: Or if there be among them but some ungodly, you had need beware you join not with them on worldly accounts rather than with the Godly, because poor, or on other accounts despised.

If they are Godly and Religious Friends and Neighbours among whom you come, Take heed you do not disgrace your pious education by growing slight and careless after marriage.

But if your education has not been in the nur­ture and admonition of the Lord, to look after true Godliness, then indeed you had need look to it, that the condition may be so changed, that the married estate may be a state of Godliness. Marriage should be in the Lord; only in the Lord, saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 7.39. 'Tis this only that makes marriage truly honourable and com­fortable. And if you have neglected that great thing, that one necessary thing till then, 'tis surely high time to begin the change.

When I ask young married people, if they desire and intend to live together in Godly love, and the fear of God; they usually answer, They hope so to do. And surely it would be impu­dent folly and sin, to dare to say otherwise. But I think it is plain in too many, that there is not really such an heart and hearty desire in them; but that they regard little more than brutish satis­faction and carnal enjoyments; Nay some be­have themselves to each other, as if they married only to be in a capacity to torment and vex one another, to do the Devils work, to hinder each others comforts both in soul and body.

I desire you would now put that forementioned question to your selves:

Do you desire and intend, and will you endea­vour to live together in Godly love, and in the fear of God, so as to be meet helps for each o­thers good both in soul and body?

What answer can you think reasonable to that question, Ay or No?

If you answer Ay; and think fit, that such an­swer should be taken should be taken for true, and no lye, that answer then gives judgment of your duty, what you ought to do; and if not brutish and sensless, must engage you so to do. The chief design of this Paper is to perswade and direct to begin the married life in the due fear of God, so that you may continue in the same. We call marriage a beginning of the world; and we may make it (if we use it aright) the be­ginning of the Kingdom of Heaven. The be­ginnings of Grace continued in, will surely end in Glory.

Sect. I. Some Questions to Conscience, in order to convince the Judgment, and prepare the mind to receive the following Advices.

THat your Judgment may be setled aright, to approve the best things, and to chuse the most excellent way, I shall offer several things to your consideration by way of Question, and let Conscience give the answer.

1. First, I earnestly intreat you in the fear of God, and as in his presenco, to think seriously, and ask conscience, Whether an holy and hea­venly love and life be not best to spend your days together in? As having God to dwell with you; to have a sense of his good providence o­ver [Page 6]you, and that your prayer may not be hin­der'd, but that you may ever have a grounded hope of his everlasting love?

2. Whether Marriage thus ordered may not be esteemed as the greatest earthly comfort? or on the other hand, Whether an ill managed Wedlock is not the greatest cross of humane life?

3. Whether God by his providence has not put it into the hands and power of married peo­ple to make themselves happy or miserable, as to this world at least, and in great measure also their souls in the world to come?

4. Whether you come together as Christians, or as Heathens? and without a holy endeavour to live in godly love, what do you more than Heathens?

5. Whether there be any love as Christians, if it be not with respect to the soul; and whether that can be meet help, for man or woman, that does not help the soul?

6. Whether Husband or Wise could take it well to hear the other say, I love thy face and thy fortune, thy beauty and estate, thy body and flesh, but for thy soul I care not if it be damn'd and go to the Devil. Whether such words would be taken as charming expressions and signs of love?

7. Whether an ungodly life and unholy pra­ctice be not as much as to say, they care not for the souls of one another, when they labour not to live together religiously, and so to keep each o­thers souls to God?

8. What answer canst thou give to thy own conscience at death, if thou hast not endeavou­red to live a religious life, whether married or single?

9. Whether that mystical union between Christ and his Church, his love in giving himself for it, as Eph. 5.25. And also that relation between [Page 7]God and his people, whom he has married un­to himself, Jer. 3.14. both which being repre­sented in that mutual union in the married state, do not intimate much of argument, for true and spiritual love, and to perswade you to labour to cleanse each others souls, and to keep each other without spot, and blameless, as for the coming of the Lord?

Read these questions over again, and ask one the other the Questions; and perswade and en­gage one another to consider seriously of these things. And if on serious consideration these questions being truly answered, according to con­science, in truth and soberness, do so far con­vince your judgment, and perswade (as I hope they will) that your hearts must at least secretly confess, and say, surely godly love, and a godly life is best; to love for the souls good is only true love: Then confess and own it to one ano­ther, and promise seriously so to live together as to help one anothers souls, and to endeavour each others Salvations, and then proceed to read the Advices following.

Sect. II. Containing Advices to new-marriea People, with Arguments to perswade, and Helps to perform them.

THe Advices I have to offer to begin the mar­ried state should be few, lest the beginning be past before they be read. Yet if the beginning be past they cannot be useless, because they are always of use in the married state. But in parti­cular to new-married people, especially if young, they are such advices whereby they may lay a good foundation, and build thereon solid com­forts, [Page 8]family comforts, lasting Christian comforts. Such as being continued, and daily followed, may render every day a day of comfort and good things; and if good in the beginning, cannot but be so in continuance; and spiritual good be­ing followed, always increases to more abun­dance.

Adv. 1. First therefore, I advise you to be­gin the married life in the fear of the Lord, with holy resolutions so to live together. I hope the former Questions have almost (at least) convin­ced you, that it is your duty so to do. Let there­fore good resolutions follow your convictions. Resolve, that your first living together shall be as Christians indeed. And let not Satan tempt you to delay, lest you quite forget. Resolve and en­deavour, that your first love may be as love in the Lord.

To help and encourage you thus to resolve in the beginning, remember these three things.

1. Remember, that the love of the flesh, or as led by the flesh, is not of God, as in 1 Joh. 2.16. Appetite and desires of the flesh bring beasts together.

2. Remember, that kindness and good nature, company, and to be helpful to one another in outward things, as of this life, are what become men and women as being rational creatures; and that these things may be found, and doubtless are found amongst Heathens, such as know not God in Christ Jesus.

3. Remember, that love in the Lord from a purified heart in earnest, fervency, and sincerity, as 1 Pet. 1.22. with desire to do good to each o­thers soul, and to help in the way of salvation, is that which becomes Christians, and not at all shortens, but rather increases and perfects kind­ness and good nature. And this is indeed marry­ing in the Lord, as 1 Cor. 7.39.

Therefore receive one another to the glory of God, as Christ received us, Rom. 15.7. And look on that providence that brings you together as order'd by the Lord. A prudent wife is from the Lord, saith Solomon, Prov. 19.14. And we may add, a prudent husband. A religious and good husband or wife is from the Lord, his provision or gift of his providing; whereas houses and riches, lands and inheritances, Joyntures and Portions are the gifts of Fathers, provisions of men, and as such they may decay or be lost: but the gifts of the Lord will abide for good; and such a gift by Gods grace you may be to each other.

Resolve then and endeavour at first to put for­ward and encourage one another to love and good works; as such as are come together, and appointed by Gods good providence in a particular manner to be helps to build up one another in your most holy faith, and to keep one another in the love of God, that you may toge­ther comfortably expect the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, Jude 20, 21. If this be the duty of all Christian friends, much more then is it the duty of such as are joined so near in the Covenant of the Lord, a Covenant of love and unity; so near an union, that (in the opi­nion of St. Paul) it resembles and may be com­pared to that love between Christ and his Church, as in that similitude before offered to considera­tion, Eph. 5.25.

Adv. 2. Secondly, I advise, That having re­solved (which I hope you will do) put those good resolutions in practice. Do not think that it is enough to approve and purpose, but set about the work in earnest, and that immediately; set­ting your selves at first to live together in Gods way, the way of Religion, that you may always so continue. And let your daily conversation be in the Lord, abiding with him according to the [Page 10]rule of the Gospel, perswading each other always to do that which is of good report, and as be­comes the servants of God.

These things are general, but the practice con­sists in particulars, and therefore to those parti­culars I proceed.

Adv. 3. In the third place, I advise you to pray together daily; speak unto God, call upon God for his favour and blessings. Begin this course as soon as you come together. Rising in the mor­ning, remember each other of prayers, and so with united hearts direct your prayer unto God, Psal. 5.3. So likewise every evening before you go to bed: the seasons God; people used, Psal. 55.16, 17. This is the practice of all that are Godly, Psal. 32.6. so often commanded and commended in the Scripture, that I think there needs no more to perswade you that it is your duty. Those words of our Saviour, Mat. 26.41. watch and pray; or those of St. Paul, pray with­out ceasing, 1 Thes. 5.17. are command enough to all that believe the Scripture to be the word of God. These general precepts contain your duty in par­ticular; for what God commands all, he com­mands every one; and those words of St. Peter, 1 Pet. 3.7. that your prayers be not hindred, sup­pose praying to be both the duty and practice of married people.

And if there had been no command to make prayer your duty, yet reason will advise you to it, as your interest, since God is pleased to give you leave. I therefore advise you to pray, as one of the best things you can do for one another, whether for soul or body. Because all that good you or your friends wish or desire for you, is from God; his gift, his blessing; without which all your own labour is in vain, as is plain from the whole 127th Psalm. Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it. It [Page 11]in vain to rise up early, to sit up late, and to eat the bread of carefulness. Whatsoever busi­ness you go about, whatsoever hopes of comfort in each other you may propose, whatsoever de­signs you may have of thriving in the world to­gether; without Gods blessing all will be in vain. In vain are all those seeming wishes of Joy from your friends, unless the Lord say Amen. If you begin not thus, and at first ask Gods blessing by prayer, how can you expect it? Nay you hinder your selves of that good your friends desire for you, and you seem to desire for your selves, un­til you seek it at the hand of God by prayer.

But if you will set your selves at first to seek Gods blessing by praying together, there are pro­mises in the Scripture sufficient to encourage you to hope; such as these: Those that seek me early shall find me, Prov. 8.17. Ask and it shall be given you, Mat. 7.7. If two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my father which is in heaven, Mat. 18.19.

What should you learn then from these Scrip­tures, but that you agree betimes to pray toge­ther, and with united hearts to go to God, and ask in hope.

O that I could perswade you to receive this advice, and heartily engage you to call upon God, that the Lord may be with you, and bestow his blessings upon you and yours! What can hinder you from this great duty and priviledge?

I know nothing that can be said against this advice; but by way of excuse, some will talk of their weakness, and not being able. But this is for the most part but a trifling pretence, which Satan teaches the unwilling in heart to plead: For I am fully perswaded, that God requires no­thing of his creatures, but what he knows they are able to perform, with his grace in using the means he has afforded; and so it will appear in [Page 12]this particular, if you consider the helps you have, and the nature of the duty, as reason and consci­ence must judg.

And first in respect of helps. If you have not been accustomed to this, but are strangers to God in that great and comfortable duty of Prayer, you may ask, how shall we call upon God, that are ignorant and cannot make prayers? Tho such thoughts savour of great ignorance, yet I will an­swer in your own way. That is, you may make use of some form of prayer, in some good books, of which sort there are many printed among us. If you have not a better, nor fitter for your condi­tion, you may use such as I have added at the end of this book.

If you say you cannot read, neither of you to help the other, your case is to be pitied; and then I advise you to try to learn. I have known seve­ral, of a willing mind, who have learnt to read when grown in years. The advantage is great, to be able to see at any time the will of God in the concern of thy soul, in his own word, in thy own language, and also to be able to use any choice form of prayer, suitable to your condi­tion, and so powerful to move your affections, and draw forth the desires of your hearts toward God, tho beyond your ability to compose.

But if you cannot learn to read, or in the mean time till you can, you are not without help; for you may get some honest godly friend or neigh­bour to read over a prayer to you, so long till you have learnt it, that you can say it your self.

But then you must take heed, that this saying over one form turn not to plain formality; that you should think as a child, that having said over the words you have prayed, tho your heart spoke not to God; and so look on a prayer as a charm, as if God was bound by those words in general, to shew his goodness to you, when your heart has [Page 13]not made one request or petition to God; that is, you have uttered words, but had no desires. This is an usual mistake, and dangerous error; so that in using forms of prayer, your care must be to keep your heart to the duty, earnestly desiring with your heart what you request with your lips.

But tho you have none of these outward helps, so that you can neither read, nor are furnished with a memory able to keep a form of words in mind; yet know, that the nature of the duty is such, that these wants will no way excuse you: Neither should you suffer this want to trouble you, if you are willing and desirous to pray, much less should you suffer it to discourage you, and hinder you from duty, and keep you from God, because you cannot say over a form of prayer: For con­sider, forms are but words, but prayer indeed is the speaking of the heart to God, whether there be voice heard, or words utter'd, or not; and without the heart, both the best composed form, and the greatest ability to utter words readily in extemporary free prayer, are utterly to no purpose. And if from thy heart thou speakest to God hum­bly, reverently, with understanding, as sensible of thy wants, sincerely, as by faith depending on him thro Christ; thou needst not be troubled for want of well placed words, for God wants not words, but knows the language of the heart and spirit, Rom. 8.27. he is the God of the spirits of all flesh, Numb. 27.16. 'Tis true indeed, that we want words to express the desires of our souls, and to quicken our affections, especially when praying with others. But when marriage has made you no longer two, but one flesh, and your interest and desires should be one, and the same that your prayers may not be hindred; tho the words are not so well plac­ed as may recommend to men, yet from a sin­cere and united heart they may recommend both to God. And to remove that bashfulness, and be­ing [Page 14]ashamed of words in one anothers hearing, remember 'tis not to approve your gifts and parts to each other, but to approve both your hearts to God; so that the fear of this want should not discourage, and so keep you keep you strangers from God.

Consider then the good things you have and enjoy, and be thankful. Remember 'tis fit to beg of God the continuance of them. Consider what evil things you either fear or already suffer; and beg the Lord to deliver. And if there be any thing in particular that either of you want or desire, this should be made known to the o­ther, that praying together you may join in that one thing, and pray one for another, as well as one with another. And if you are indeed truly sensible of your wants, and have an heart to go unto God, you have a God to go to, who will help your infirmities, even he who made mans mouth; he will put words in your mouths, and teach you what to say, so that you shall not want words for supplication and thanksgiving, to make your requests known unto God. And when you come thus to God with a sincere humble de­vout soul, in the name and mediation of Jesus Christ, this is prayer indeed, to which all forms whether set or extemporary (where such an heart is wanting) are no way to be compared. This is the language of the soul, the heart poured out to God in prayer.

Adv. 4. The fourth advice I give you, is to read the Scriptures together, the word of God. 'Tis the great comfort and help of your souls, and a blessed advantage of our Nation and the pre­sent time that we may; and that thereby we may have in our own Houses that word, promise, and Gospel wherein Christ, and thro him life and immortality and salvation is made known. Search the Scriptures for therein ye think you have eternal [Page 15]life. Jo. 5.39. So search that the word of Christ may dwell richly in you, in all knowledge and Spiritual un­derstanding. Col. 3.16. Therein is abundance of hid treasure, the unsearchable riches of Christ. Something of this should be read every day. Read­ing the Scripture should accompany Prayer, at least in the evenings. And let this practice be kept as a constant custome, unless some extraordinary providence, as sickness or the like hinder it. If you begin this at first it will with more ease be conti­nued, till duty becomes delight, and having tasted the sweetness and found the advantage, you will look for it, and think it as necessary as food or sleep. Job. 23.12.

And to this I add this further advice, that you read often good, sound, and plaine books of pra­ctical Godlyness. That is at such times as the busi­ness of your calling or trade does admitt: and tell each other of what good books you have read, and what good you have received by them.

But especially on the Lords day in the vacancy of publick ordinances, when you are not at Church then should you read, and not only read, but also encourage one another in an holy practice of such good things as the Scripture teaches, and other good books set before you, according to the holy Scripture.

Remember that if the husband cannot read, and has a wife that can, to account her worthy of double honour, and, if possible, of double love, on that account. But let that wife beware she be not puffed up to despise her husband, but know that she may yet learn of him, as in respect of Judgment, and understanding. 1 Cor. 14.35. She must not think her self his teacher, nor usurp authority over him. 1 Tim. 2.12. tho' in this par­ticular a meet helper and great advantage to him.

So also if the wife cannot read, and has an hus­band that can, let her prize him the more on that account, as a greater treasure, with whom she [Page 16]may have the comfort of a Christian conversa­tion according to knowledg, and living together as heirs of the grace of life. 1 Pet. 3.7.

If neither can read, then you had need be more diligent to spend such times of leisure, in holy and enlivening discourses, considering each others estate, as in the respect of your Souls; and call on one another, that both together may call on the Lord.

And if neither can read it is further advisable, that you endeavour to get acquaintance and familiari­ty, with some godly Christian neighbour that can read, whither you may often go, and spend the evenings (especially before Children come on to hinder) not to wast time as the worldly custome is, to talk of news you little understand, or of the affaires of the town, or parish that little or nothing concern you; but to desire them to read some portion of the Scripture, or other good book, to help you in the great concern of your Souls.

Or if your business in the world be such as ad­mits of taking prentices or Servants, labour to have such as can read, they may on that ac­count be of more advantage to the family then their bodily labour.

And this I alwayes look upon as duty, that, if Ser­vants cannot read, you endeavour that they may be taught; and if they can read, 'tis your duty to keep them to reading at fit times: and 'tis prudence so to do, as it is profitable to your selves and family.

I shall conclude these two last advices with a caution which I hinted before: that you be not ashamed of weakness and inability in private be­fore each other, either in respect of reading or praying. I mean not to neglect these private du­ties, because you think you cannot do them well enough, & therefore do not do them at all, because one shall not take notice how weak or ignorant, the other is.

This oftentimes is a snare, and great occasion of [Page 17]neglect, and if not carefully avoided, may make all the advices here offered, to be to no pur­pose, if you suffer this sinful bashfulness to hinder the beginning or setting about the work, till you think your selves better fitted and more able. Sa­tan and your own evil hearts will be ready to sug­gest this often, as a means to promote delay, and so 'tis made too often a continual hindrance.

But to prevent this, if possible, I propose these Considerations.

1. First consider, that marriage having now made you one flesh, there is no reason to be ashamed of doing your duty, tho' you perform it but weakly, because you ought in Justice to think, that so near a relation as part of your self, will not despise, but rather pitty, and help as one flesh. And as they ought, will cover with the robe of love, the infirmities that possibly may be discover­ed. Because now that which is the shame or dis­grace of one reflects on the other, and so becomes the disgrace of both, and for one to despise the o­ther, is to dishonour themselves, and none ever yet so hated his owne flesh.

Two members of the same body, may be touch­ed with grief for the weakness of each other, but not with shame, but rather help and beare the more of the burden, if either be weake; so the poor beasts drawing in the same yoke, are not ashamed to help tho' not so strong as their fellow. So tho' thou art sensible that thou canst not do as thou wouldest, yet do this duty as well as thou canst, and be not ashamed, for 'tis thy duty.

2. Secondly consider what great folly it is to pretend to be ashamed to do thy duty, because thou canst do it but weakly, and therefore to leave it undone when thou art not ashamed of thy sin, in neglecting such plain and necessary duties, which tend so much to the glory of God, thy interest in [Page 18]Christ for thy Souls good, and are so cheif a part of Christian love to thy yoke-fellow. Let Con­science tell thee which is worst, to do duty willing­ly and sincerely tho' weakly, or to let it alone un­done. Sure that is shame indeed.

3. Consider, that it is only want of use and exer­cise in this duty, that makes you bashful, and there­fore you are loath to begin, but if you will begin and master those first reluctancies, you will find that practice will make you dayly both bolder and abler.

4. This pretended shame and bashfulness will be a continual hindrance till you begin. This will make you draw back when convinced of duty, and Satan will hold this argument fast, and use it long in the war against thy Soul. And when there is nothing else to hinder but shame, if ashamed to day, the same argument will hold to morrow, and the like the next day, and so on, as a continual pretence for neglect, till you begin; but then no longer. For if once you have begun, shame is broken, and troubles you no more, or at least but weakly.

Now consider every one has a beginning: and beginnings, in all, are usually weak in respect of after improvements, and performances. Be not then longer ashamed to begin, 'tis God commands, the necessities of both your Sou's require, Christ has prepared the way, Heb. 10.19. Therefore put on boldness, and you will grow more able, and find more comfort.

Adv. 5. The fifth advice I give, is that you san­ctifie the Sabbath, the Lords day, joyne together in this at the first, and take the more diligent heed to do this, because you cannot but observe that it is generally too much neglected; notwithstand­ing that plain command of God. Ex. 20.8. There­fore [Page 19]as God has set that day apart from others, for himself, and commanded you to do so also, do you set that day apart to be spent by you in the Spiritual business of God and your Souls.

And if you know that either have neglected be­fore marriage, then you have the more need to deal faithfully; in warning one another, and tel­ling each other plainly of the Sin in that particu­lar: especially if you have been the occasion to one another of neglecting the Sabbath. This too often is the Sin of people of a mean or low con­dition (tho' not of those only) that make their wooing visits, appoint such meetings for idle walks mixt with folly and prophane discourse or idle chatt on that day. An ill beginning, and pos­sibly may be the cause in great measure of so many unlucky marriages, which afterwards go on in un­godly living, and tend to increase of misery.

If this then has been your case, you have the more need to bring one another to a sense of that sin, and to a speedy change and newness of life, when you have been the occasion of ensnaring each other in so great an evil.

Wherefore spend not your first Sabbath in idle and needless visits, to see new cousins and new neighbours. Neither spend that nor any other Sabbath at home in sloth and folly, under pre­tence of reading a chapter. But go both together to Church to the ordinances and publick assembly of Gods people, and never neglect as the man­ner of too many is Heb. 10.25. unless hindred by some extraordinary providence. And when you are returned home from the Ordinances, spend your time religiously: in reading some por­tion of the Scripture, or other good book. Or talking together of what you have heard read or preached in the publick, how it concerns or may concern either of you, and perswade and en­courage one another to an holy and serious pra­etice, & conclude as you begin the day with prayer. [Page 20]And so comfort your selves together and edisie one another. 1 Thes. 5.11. And by no means make it your custome to wander abroad on the Sabbath evenings, unless it be to some Religious neigh­bours, that mind the things of God, and keep up some good duty, as reading or repeating of Ser­mons or the like. And learn of such how to go­verne your family in the fear of the Lord, as every good man should. Josh. 24.15.

Or else on good and warrantable accounts, you may go and carry some good book to a neighbour that cannot read. And read to them and their fa­mily, for their Souls good and comfort.

Or else in the same Spiritual manner, visit such as can read, but do not; who you may justly doubt are careless of their Souls. And buy a book for that purpose, so may you do good both to your selves and them.

Or if you cannot read, not find a neighbour fa­mily to joyne with, that usually does so spend the Sabbath, labour to procure one that can read to go along with you in those Spiritual errands be­fore mentioned.

Or if, as Gods providence calls, you visit [...]h as are sick; (a thing usual on the Sabbath day, and not to be discommended) yet be not as idle look­ers on: only with Complement and how do you do: but bring unto them some Spiritual present from the Church, from Gods house, some word of exhortation, or comfort, or instruction as they may need. And supposing there be no elder grave and serious person that will speak as a Christian, do you speak as becomes Christs servant, for their Souls good, and discharge of your own Con­science.

O, if you have but an heart towards God, how many wayes have you to do good for your selves and others, and to spend that day in Re­ligion and Piety, the exercises of Charity, works of Mercy, and holy love! A joy and com­fort [Page 21]that the ignorant dark world are strangers to.

Adv. 6. One further advice I give in the sixth and last place, and that is, that you admonish and stir up one another to the Solemn and serious coming to the Lords Table, there to receive to­gether the Holy Sacrament of the Lords Supper, thereby to renew your vow in Baptisim; on your entrance on your changed condition in the mar­ried state. Therefore take the first opportunity after you are married, and help each other before to prepare for it. You are now become one, di­scover therefore freely the state of your Soules, to each other, your thoughts and knowledg in this matter, your hopes, your doubts and fears, and pray for one another, and direct and assist each other to understand and to do as God in his word requires, and promise together to watch over one another in the love and fear of the Lord, and to help each other to walk answerably to the Cove­nant; that being joyned to each other, you may both be united to Christ, one with him, and he with you.

But especially if neither have receiv'd the Sacra­ment, as 'tis too often the sinful neglect of young people, forgetting their Baptismal vow, and co­venant of their youth: 'tis then more necessary to call on one another, and a great token of true love to labour to bring each others Soul under the bond of the covenant. To see the Sinfulness of their neglect, and make one another sensible of it, and hasten that it may no longer continue.

Yet beware that you come not slightly and care­lessly to attend there, and, by mistake, take the Sacrament for a ceremony, Custom, fashion in Re­ligion, or you know not what, and so come igno­rantly and without faith, and so not only unpro­fitably but to your danger; But help each other to consider what the Sacrament is; why appointed; and how useful to you in every condition.

Learn to know that it was appointed by Christ himself as a solemn remembrance of what he has done and suffered for the Redemtion of mankind: and to be as a Seale of confirmation, to all true be­lievers, of their share and portion and interest in Christ, as indeed given to them according to the Covenant.

And on our part the Seal of renewing our Re­solutions of accepting of Christ, and giving up our selves to God according to the Covenant of God in his Grace and Mercy, as we promised or was promised for us at our Baptism: so we come to receive Gods renewed promises, and to renew our owne. And so it becomes (thro' Gods grace) a means of stirring up all Christian graces in us, and of keeping down the power of Sin, by the Spirit of Christ (according to the promise of God) and Divine assistance. And this it is indeed to all that come sincerely and in earnest, desiring to be and to continue true members of Christs Body, united unto him, and continuing in the Communion of Saints in stedfast Faith, and holy obedience, and joyful hope, & thankful love.

Come then together as fellow heirs of the same grace: and renew your Baptismal vow and en­gagement, with knowledg and understanding, thankfully and sincerely accepting of, and receiv­ing Christ as offered to your Souls by God the Father in the Gospel; believing the whole word of God, and resolvedly and thankfully giving up your selves to God thro' Christ; Heartily and sin­cerely consenting to the covenant, to be Gods people, and to take him for your God; his Son for your Saviour; his Spirit for your Guide, and Sanctifier; his Word for your Direction; his Pro­mises for your Comfort, Hope, and Trust: Re­nouncing all other, the devil and his workes, the world and its vanities, the flesh and its lusts, that in heart and practice you may so live, as the Go­spel teaches, in comfortable expectation of the [Page 23]Gospel-promises thro' Christ. For further help in this matter, read those Chapters which con­tain the institution; as, 1 Cor. 11.23. Lu. 22. Math. 26. And such Books of that subject as you can have, as Mr. Glanvil on the Sacrament. The Key of Knowledg short and plain. The whole duty of Man, Sunday 3d. Some one of these, read together, and talk together, and enquire of each others Souls welfare, of knowledg, saith, repen­tance, charity, and resolution of holy obedience, by renewed life, in the married estate, giving up your selves to God thro' Christ, and promise this to each other, and both to God.

And if you have never been at the Sacrament, then after such private preparation, go together to your minister whom Gods providence has set over you, to watch for your souls, and desire his help in setling the case of your souls, for increase of knowledg, strengthening of faith, quickening repentance, and directing your practice in every good thing. And so receive to the renewing of your Covenant, and to be further strengthened in Grace.

But when I say, go to your Minister, I suppose him such an one as you may think a fit guide for your souls, honest, holy, and a lover of God, and the unseen Jesus, and for his sake a lover of souls. Such as the Apostle describes 1 Tim. 3. and 2 Tim. 2.15. Or if you cannot discern all this in him, get one that is religious, given to Piety.

But if so be that your habitation be where a sot, or trifler, has thrust himself into the Ministry, or creept in by ways not allowed of in Gods word, nor the Constitutions of the ostablished Church, grounded upon that word; who spends more time in idle company, or vaine sports, and fleshly plea­sures, then in the things of God, that denyes in life the power of Godliness. I cannot, I dare not advise you to go to such an one, nor to commit the care and conduct of your souls to him, that [Page 24]regards not his own, which may indeed more hin­der then help your soul: But as that Exhortation in the Book of Common-Prayer provides, to some other discreet and learned Minister of Gods word. That so by his assistance and Spiritual counsel you may come worthily, and renew the Covenant. And in all be sure that you be sincere, in earnest, and deale faithfully with God and your souls, which will end in comfort, and go far to cover many infirmities.

These are the Advices which I now give you, and which I therefore give because chiefly neces­sary, and therefore I heartily intreat you to Con­sider of them at first, and enter betimes on the way of living together in the fear of God.

There are divers other things, the duties of married persons, which it is not my purpose to speak of now: you may find them in several good books, and at your leisure read them, for the quickening of Christian love and holyness, and in­crease of Grace. And unless you set about these chief things betimes, and betake your selves in earnest to God at first; it will be in vain to set other duties before you. But if it please the Lord to open your hearts to set on the practice of these things betimes, I doubt not but you will find the comfort and advantage both of these things, and others also, as you may partly perceive in the next Section.

Sect. III. Shewing the advantages that new­married people have to begin to live together in a Religious course of life. And the Be­nefits of such a beginning.

THat I may further prosecute these my wishes and advices, I will here add something of perswasion that may incline you to take this way of holy love, and life, and joy, by entring be­times [Page 25]on a course of religious living. I shall there­fore in this Section, endeavour to shew that it is both, what you may do with most advantage at first, and also that in which you will find many ad­vantages and comforts afterwards.

And therefore for encouragement I will make it plaine that this may be done at first with most ease. 'Tis not a dissicult task (one would think) at any time to begin to be good and do good. It always carries its own encouragement and ad­vantage along with it. But we find by experience that corrupt nature is not so easily changed; yet there are some particular advantages in beginning betimes, and new-married people have some pe­culiar advantages at their first coming together in respect of doing this good work, entring on this good way with more ease, which favourable cir­cumstances they are not like to find afterward, if they let slip the present Opportunity.

Some of those advantages most easily observed are such as these.

1. The first advantage is the change of your condition: for however it has been with you be­fore in respect of life and conversation; yet upon marriage you are put upon a change as to the man­ner of life: and that is like being come to a turn­ing way, you may as easily go to the right hand as to the left, if you are but willing. If you have been seasoned with Grace before marriage; no doubt but the way of God will be more easily turn­ed to. But if you have not; yet now on your change you have a new choice, and being to be­gin the practice of your living together, you may as easily begin in a religious and holy, as in a pro­sane and irreligious way; you are not yet preju­diced by former carelesness in that manner of life which is but now beginning. But if you now at first neglect, you loose the present advantage, and prejudice your selves against the good way of the Lord, and every dayes neglect or evil practice [Page 26]will make the work seem harder to be set about.

2. The second advantage is, that at first it is most easy to perswade one another, the affections are then most yeilding and complyant. So that Then you may have the greatest hopes to prevaile one with the other, and so engage together in a holy and religious life. Especially if one have been accustomed to the way of true Godliness be­fore, this may now the more easily prevail with the other to joyn in the good and the right way. The influences of the first love are great, and new­married people are prepared (for the most part) to suit themselves to each others tempers and in­clinations, and do most easily yeild to each others defires as in promising to leave off something that is offensive to the other; or to do something that is pleasing. And we are sensible how strong and prevailing the perswasions of new-married people are to each other, in that they work great changes upon some. Now the perswading to fol­low such advices as these, being to those things that are undeniably good, must necessarily meet with the less opposition, when the husband stirs up the wife, or the wife the husband, to that which is for the souls good, and comfortable to it in this present life.

3. A third advantage you have at your first com­ing together is, that some such thing is expected; in doing of this, you do what is looked for at your hands. In a Country where the Gospel is pro­fessed, new kindred, friends and neighbours, will be enquiring as to matter of Religion, and some­thing they will expect, tho' they are not in earnest with it themselves, and will make some Judg­ment of your life hereafter, by the manner of your first beginning to live together. Your part­ner and yoke-fellow, will be looking for this; and if bred up Religiously, will think it strange that the way of Religion should not continue; and al­though not bred up so; yet the man will expect [Page 27]that the woman be well inclined, and tho' he re­gards not Religion himself will expect that she should at some time speak something of that Na­ture. And the woman that regards her husband, in respect of his Knowledg, will look that he should help and assist her in Spiritual things, and that he by this should give the first testimony of true love. And what indeed can professed Chri­stians offer better then true Christian love to souls, in the way of God, and sincere Religion? The best is expected; and this being offered at first, will be accepted, and esteemed (as indeed it is) the best we can offer. So then the way is pre­pared, and this makes it easy: 'Tis easy to do that which is generally expected you should do. And indeed you may well wonder at your selves if Sa­tan should so deceive you, that you should fall short of your own Expectations.

4. The fourth advantage that young married people have to set about Religious duty's both secretly and in their families, at their first coming together is, that then those hindrances of Chil­dren, and a great deal of worldly business is not justly to be pleaded in excuse, which afterwards may; tho' there is no reason, that these or any thing else should keep from God in Christ, in whom and on whom we live. Nothing can ex­cuse you from the care of your souls; without that no good can come, nor profit be expected, tho' you should gain the whole world. Yet the corruption of nature, and the policy of Satan, being joyned will make such arguments appear reasonable: and expe­rience shews us, that such vaine pleas are too pre­vailing, and in time raise such difficulties, as are hardly to be removed, but may with ease be pre­vented at first, when they cannot be pretended.

Let these advantages then perswade you to try what you can do at first to engage each other to promise to be faithful to God, and one to the o­ther in living together religiously: praying and [Page 28]reading together, & helping one anothers Souls, & watching to prevent sin, in each other, and in re­solving to rule your family as the Lords Servants. Consider what comfort you may have in perswad­ing and engaging one another to these things, when you know not but hereby you may be the means of saving each the other.

And if either of you can prevail for a promise (which I can scarce doubt if sincerely desired at first) then let each write their name or make some mark at this place for a remembrance of the pro­mise. And look on it sometimes to quicken to continuance in mutual duty, and to comfort you, in that you have begun to look in earnest towards the Lord. And in case of coldness and neglect of Duty, that one may shew it to the other as a gentle and silent admonition, a token whereby to remem­ber the early holy promises of Your first Love. It may be a means to keep you from back-sliding, and make you ashamed to fall off from so good an en­gagement and promise, so as having begun in the Spirit to end in the flesh.

But before I conclude this Section, I will set be­fore you some of those benefits you may obtain by early beginning in this holy way. I hope I have made it manifest to be easy enough to a willing mind. And I also hope, that what follows of the benefits which will come thereby, will yet give further encouragement, and encline your hearts to be willing to enter on so comfortable and hope­ful a practice.

1. There is the benefit of credit and reputation in the world. Tho' Religion be generally too much slighted, yet we may observe, that most men will commend those that on marriage, break off from their evil ways, and settle themselves to mind and do that which is good.

2. Next there is the benefit of hopefull proceed­ing. [Page 29]A good beginning generally has got the reputa­tion in the world, as giving the most probable hope of a good ending. A good foundation gives the pro­mise of a lasting building. And in any thing to have begun well is esteemed more then half the work.

But 'tis not only hopefull in the judgment of men, but God in his word both commands and commends early beginnings. So that this is Gods way, and in his way you may justly expect his bles­sing, and that beginning betimes, you shall con­tinue in the good way. Train up a Child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not de­part from it. Prov. 22.6. That is, such do not usual­ly miscarry, tho' sometimes they may. So also be­gin the married state in the fear of God, and per­swade and engage one another at first to set your selves in the good and the right way, and then you will not easily depart from it afterward, but more easily continue living in the Love of God and each other when you are old.

3. A third benefit you will have because early beginnings in good, prevent those ill habits, and customs in evil which are so hard to be changed, and difficult to be broken. And in this case a re­solved beginning in a Religious way, will prevent those corrupt inclinations to slight God and his way, and the living as beasts, without God in the world, and prevent that hardening of heart against the word preached, and all that danger of delaying sloth, which usually grows by continuance.

4. A fourth benefit is, that the beginning in a Religious way to live together, and going on con­stantly, tho' weakly, will make the practice easy and natural, and custome comes up to a second na­ture: This takes off all that indisposition and re­luctancy, which must sometime or other be re­moved before it will be well with you; and the [Page 30]sooner the better; this will make the practice of holy living, not only easy but pleasant, as skill and knowledg increases; Therefore the advice is good (tho' of an heathen) chuse the best way, and custom will make it easy, and delightful. And you will look for reading and prayer, as you do for your meat or sleep. And what seem'd difficult at first by use and practice will become easy, pleasant and necessary.

5. The fifth benefit is this: the beginning at first to exercise a Godly love, to endeavour to bring each other to the knowledg and love of God and Christ, and the holy Spirit, by a serious pra­ctice of Religion, will best settle true and lasting affection toward each other; for that love which is on the Spiritual account, and for the Souls good is like to be lasting. We are apt to judg of each other by our first most intimate and familiar con­verse, what appears before may be the effect of Caution, but the intimate familiarity of marriage makes discoveries without reserve: and when you find in each other, when most retired, a sober conversation, tending to piety, vertue and true Religion, in the life and power of Godliness, and consider that the end of such a conversation is Christ and lasting love, The same yesterday, to day and for ever; There are peculiar charms, and a winning sweetness in such a discovery, which will cause you to value each other the more, when one or both may say with a well grounded confidence: God has given me one of his children to be my yoke-fellow.

6. Lastly to all there may be added the Spiritual benefit, or advantage of the divine help. Which never fails such a course of life, Those that seek me early shall find me. Prov. 8.17. And the sooner this is obtained, the better it will be for you: for in this is union to Christ, and thro' him to God; [Page 31]and if you abide in this Spiritual love to one ano­ther, you abide also in the love of God, and are under the comforts of his promises of blessing: so tho' there may be troubles, losses, disquiets, as to outward things, yet herein is the hope and assu­rance of being within the everlasting Covenant of God, ordered in all things and sure. There are also promises of outward prosperity, to encourage to this. Godliness has the promise of the life that now is: as well as of that which is to come. 1 Tim. 4.8. The Tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. Prov. 14.11. By acquaintance with God, peace and good are obtained. Job. 22.21. He gives all things needful and makes not his gifts sorrowful. His bles­sing maketh rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Prov. 10.22. Entertain him, and he will preserve you. Remember him, and think upon his name, and your name shall be written in his book of remembrance. Mal. 3.16.

But those that will not entertain God, but say to him depart from us, and what can the Almighty do for us? Job. 22.17. It is vaine to serve God, and what profit is there that we have kept his ordinances? Mal. 3.14. To what purpose is it to pray, or read, or look to keeping of the Sabbath, to hinder us in our business, and take up our spare time, that we shall have none for pleasure and recreation, they are well that have time for these things, they may do them, thus they call the proud happy.

Such triflers may (if they please at their peril) en­joy the delights of the flesh, and the hony moone of carnal earthly pleasures, & may slourish for a time, chearing their hearts in their youth, and walking in the sight of their own eyes. But all that time they are laying up a curse, which shall one time or o­ther spoile all their worldly delights, their house shall spew them out, and it self shall be overthrown with the curse. Prov. 14.11. Which at last shall bring them to the King of Terrours, who shall de­liver them over to the just Judgment of the Al­mighty [Page 32]Then shall they know that there is a difference between the righteous and the wicked, be­tween him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. Mal. 3.18.

More benefits and Spiritual advantages might be shewed, and indeed these Spiritual arguments are of greatest weight, but those, that are not sen­sible of the force of these, will not be able to discern those of a finer and more Spiritual nature. Therefore I will say no more on this Section, only this: Now is the time most fitting, and so it offers it self as every way favoured with circumstances of advantage, and gives hope of continuance and prosperous success, if as soon as you come toge­ther, these may be some of the first, as they are re­ally the best expressions, of true love. But if these advices are slighted now, and the time slipt, and put off (Felix like) till a more convenient oppor­tunity, 'tis greatly to be feared that you will ne­ver find it.

And so it will appear in the following Section.

Sect. IV. Shewing the disadvantages that new-married people put themselves under, by put­ting off, and delaying to enter on a course of Religious living together at first.

THE entertaining of excuses in your family, is a sign of an unwilling mind, and if excuses prevail to put off longer, you will find them real hindrances, tho' the heart is convinced of the usefulness of such a course. For if you only ap­prove of it as fit and convenient, but own it not as necessary; your family will suppose you are not yet settled, and therefore not prepared enough, and you will think that hereafter you will set about [Page 33]it, when all (as you think) hindrances are re­moved.

'Tis therefore fit to bring these excuses under the censure of Judgment and conscience, and then I am perswaded you will find delaying the greatest hindrance: and in setting about the work the Lord will so help, that all those fancied hindrances will appear little or nothing.

But if you suffer your selves to delay, and pre­tend to gain fitter time; you will find that to be no advantage, but the means of finding more arguments still to put off further, till at last it come to a setled course of neglect, and then will you slight all thoughts and purposes of piety alto­gether.

Those that will not suffer themselves to be made clean, as soon as they know of their being dirty, nor use the means to heal a wound as soon as they are sensible of their smart and danger, they allow filth to harden, and corruption to spread further, and themselves become less able to suffer a cleans­ing or searching cure than they were when they first excused and neglected.

That therefore you may more plainly see the disadvantage of delaying, by multiplying argu­ments for excuses and hindrance, I shall shew this in particular.

1. While you delay, excusing your selves by hin­drances, consider that what you think to be hin­drance at first, may continue to be so alwaies: as suppose on the new married State, the hindrances are visiting, or being visited, new acquaintance among new kindred, it will be the same on any change of dwelling: New neighbours and new acquaintance; so that this may be always. And if you allow so much time necessary to be taken up in pretended civility, and think you are thereupon excused, and that therefore there is no time need­ful for real religion, but because you allow so much [Page 34]time for complement with the world, you have no time to be in earnest with God; the very same excuses or those very like them, will be hindrances as long as you live. For other excuses will succeed on as good, and it may be on better reasons. As particularly, you will think so much time has been spent in these visits, that now all is little enough to recover your worldly business that you are cast behind in, and when that is recovered, then you will set about a religious life: but before that comes, something else uses to intervene, to such excusers, and they seldom come to the end of the line, so as to have no new excuse.

But as delay breeds this disadvantage, so pray consider, 'tis only the token of an unwilling mind, and you are utterly without true excuse both to God and your own consciences: for these visitants (who give the first seeming ground of excuse) do not use to accompany you to your chamber and observe your bed; So that in the greatest of your straits if you have a willing mind, you may begin to pray together, and the bed side is no unfit altar for such a morning and evening Sacrifice.

2. The delay at the beginning may be still con­tinued by sickness, in breeding, and the coming on of children. Poor young infants must be looked to; sickness or frowardness in them will be ac­counted a just and reasonable hindrance, and is used too often as a pretence, when it meets with a delaying and unwilling mind, when indeed there is no just reason so to pretend; as in the fourth ad­vantage in the last Section. 'Tis easy to find an excuse for what we have not a mind to. It may indeed be allowed sometimes as an interruption, but cannot be allowed as a continual hindrance, while there is the cradle or the mothers breast to keep peace and quietness for the time of reading and prayer.

3. A third disadvantage is the possibility of an increase of worldly business, and this may succeed as a continual hindrance; when company and vi­sits can be no longer a pretence, as in the first Pa­ragraph of this Section; So that if you begin not at first, when business is less, how can a beginning be expected when business is really more.

4. The ill custom of negligence will make the heart more dull, and dead to all that is good; con­firmed habits are not easily to be removed; you will be apt to fancy, that so long you have done well enough without prayer and reading, or any reli­gious duty, and may still do so.

And then tho' there be no excuse left, yet you will continue in the neglect; and this at last will turn to contempt, and so you will cast it off quite.

5. Fifthly, a great disadvantage of delaying and putting off, may arise under a seeming good pre­tence, that is of being fitter and more able here­after. You will be apt to think that knowledg and ability will come with age, you are yet too young, when elder you shall be more able and then it will come of it self. But this is a sore delusion of Satan, for you will labour still under the same disadvantage, and be as unskilful in the way of righteousness when old, as when young, unless you begin to practise, when young. And when you find ignorance and inability still continue, whereas you thought it would be otherwise; you will be apt to judg this work is not to be done: and then to think it is not required, at least of you, but of the better learned and more able: and you will be ready to say; God requires no more then he gives, & he knows you cannot, when indeed 'tis not the want of ability but of a willing mind. And the fault is your own negligence, who would so long delay; your own sinful negligence, that whereas in [Page 36]that time you have delayed, you might have been able by use and exercise; yet are you as far to seek, as when being young, and delayed to that time of age. Heb. 5.12. Still to seek for a beginning and still complaining of that, which you pretended hindred you at first. Whereas if you had begun in due time, you would have found that use and pra­ctice (through Gods blessing) would have rendred you able and knowing, now by neglect you find your selves both weak and ignorant. And so tho' 'tis possible that one may be more capable of learn­ing a trade at five and twenty years old, then at fifteen, yet we see none put off learning so long. Because then is the time to use it: and use by that time makes those that begin early, then to be ma­sters; which if they had deserred on hope of bet­ter ability, they had certainly been as much to seek then as at fifteen.

But these particulars are as it were more imme­diately from your selves, but there are other disad­vantages of an higer nature; 'tis true indeed they are disadvantages caused by your own ne­glect, but now depend more immediatly on a su­periour power, and stand as brazen walls, a disad­vantage next to impossible to be overcome. And that is the long slighting the offers that God has made, provoking him to withdraw his divine in­fluences, and to leave you without further calls, admonitions and helps. When the holy and bles­sed Spirit has long waited to be gracious, and it will not yet be, that you will be perswaded, but are still delaying, and shifting off duty with excuses, he then departs as grieved Eph. 4.30. The striving and inward motions of the Spirit cease as quenched. 1 Thes. 5.19. Then as a ship forsaken of the wind thou canst not move. You can do nothing without Christ. Jo. 15.5. And he has offered and called, but you would not consent, and he that on­ly can help is now departed in displeasure. O what [Page 37]a sore and dreadful disadvantage is this, procured by neglect and sinful delay! And what danger are you in lest you should be hardned and undone for ever! God has called for your first love, and you have put him off with trifing excuses; And can you think that what you would not have on invi­tation is so cheap a trifle, that you cannot miss it, but it must be allowed you when you will? No no, trifler, 'tis not so: this is such a disadvantage as may make them tremble that are under it, and if well considered will set you upon timely endea­vours to prevent the Danger.

7. Lastly there is another disadvantage of the same sort with that last mentioned, and that is the curse of God that the negligent lie under all that time that they refuse God and Christ, and the ho­ly Spirit, and blessing to dwell with them. While you neglect the serious practice of Religion in private, you lose all the benefit of the publick ordi­nances, and the private instructions and good wishes of your friends. You hear the word preach­ed or read, but 'tis in vain while you neglect to practice it. You do but deceive your selves Jam. 1.22. And put your selves further under the curse of God. And from this neglect the curse grows more heavy, tho' you perceive it not. Here is in­deed that dreadful disadvantage as the Apostle tells us. Heb. 6.7.8.

Those that receive the dew of heavenly instru­ctions from Gods word read or preached, or from such books as this, and yet bring forth only briers and thorns, excuses and neglect, they are nigh to Cursing.

And this is indeed a dreadful state; But I have spoken something on this account before in the last Paragraph of the former Section, and there­fore conclude this.

Sect. V. Shewing that married people ought to take care of each others Souls, and to per­swade each other to the practice of holiness.

I Have set before you the good and the right way, to make the married life a comfortable, joyful, happy state; I have shewed you the advan­tages of entring on those offered joyes betimes, and the disadvantages of delaying; even the long los­ing the most comfortable part of the married state, and the danger of losing your Souls for ever. Now some may think it a very needless thing to add more to perswade; But while Satan and Corrupt nature are so prevailing, and true Christian love appears so little, there is reason to fear, that many will not be prevailed upon by this, and much more also. True Christian love is grown so rare, that often 'tis not found among those called Christians in the same family, and nearest relations; the love and care of each others Souls, is that which is least regarded, and of all duties of Relations and Kindred, this is neglected or forgot. Men readi­ly entertain Satans Suggestions in this respect, and the best arguments are of no force, when op­posed by such thoughts as these. 'Tis not my duty: I am not bound to it: I think it may go down well with them that so live together as you have advised: I think I should like to do so; But as for perswading my partner, my wife, or my husband, I have nothing to do with that. To preach is the Ministers work; let every one look to themselves, each take their own way; we may do well enough without joyning in Religious duties, or at least without perswading one another to them. Such are the thoughts of poor corrupted creatures, not willing to joyn with Christ in the way of Gods [Page 39]appointment. Now to prevent the stop which such thoughts may cause, and that without doubt­ing or shifting by excuses you may with full pur­pose of heart cleave to the Lord; I desire you would consider these things.

1. Consider seriously of such thoughts, as in the presence of God. Can you verily think that God will allow of such a plea, and excuse? does Gods word any where approve or favour it? Nay does not his word direct and command the contrary? what else is the meaning of those texts: Comfort your selves together, and edifie one another. 1 Thes. 5.11. Exhort one another daily while it is called to day. Heb. 3.13. Consider one another to provoke to love and to good works. Heb. 10.24. If these and the like texts make it the duty of assemblies, and communities of Christians, to perswade one ano­ther for their Souls good, much more then is it the duty of neerer relations, and becomes a com­mand of greater force to such, and renders those that neglect it utterly without excuse. Consider what is the meaning of that word of the Lord Gen. 4.10. What hast thou done? The voice of thy Bro­thers blood crieth unto me. 'Tis the Lords reply to that froward rash answer, and inconsiderate excuse of Cain, who said, am I my brothers keeper? And let conscience judge if the like word may not be spoken to you, if you endeavour not to preserve (if possible) a neerer and bosom relation. Beware then lest the voice of a perishing Soul cry against thy sinful negligence.

2 Consider, tho' it were not thy plain Christian duty to endeavour to win thy companion, to Gods way by perswading; yet be sure it is not thy duty to forbear perswasions: And where there is but a probable appearance of doing good, common hu­man prudence will set you on perswading, if in­deed you love. But if you reply, that these things [Page 40]best come of themselves, and that perswasions are for the most part of small purpose: consider if men are hardly brought to the way of piety by perswa­sion, will they more easily be brought to it by hav­ing nothing said to them? for shame blush at such folly.

3. Consider, if lawful possible promises do bind to duty, ought you not to be as good as your word, and to do what you promised? Now on that ac­count of promise, 'tis certainly your duty both in sight of God and man. You have solemnly pro­mised as in the presence of God, and God requires it of you, and all true Christian friends, and sober Christians are looking how you will behave your selves.

That you may more distinctly remember your promises, I advise you to take these helps.

1. Read over sometimes the office of Matri­mony as in the Common Prayer-Book, and with seriousness and consideration, think on your mar­riage Vow; and what you promised to each other when you consented to the married state. That is to live together in love according to God; holy ordi­nance. I suppose you know that is to be meet helps to each other, this is the appointment of God from the beginning. And does this Ordinance or ap­pointment of God respect help only in order to the good of the Body, and not help for the Soul also? I am fully perswaded that none dare say so, but that it fully includes the help for the Souls good also. And then think whether it be not your duty to de­fire each the other, and endeavour to perswade each other to take the good and the right way for your Souls good, to live together according to Gods holy ordinance, as you have promised.

2. Read over the prayers then to be used, and think whether you did then truly desire those [Page 41]things, or else minded them not, and so mocked God. Or do you yet desire those things indeed? If you do, you must acknowledg it your duty to endeavour to engage each other to that holy pra­ctice, so to live together in holy love, according to Gods Law, and that you may see your Children Christianly and vertuously brought up, to the praise and honour of God, that you your selves hinder not those blessings you then begged of God.

3. Read also those well chosen Scriptures, that teach the duties of husbands and wives to each o­ther, and let them be as notes of memorial to bring you to your Bibles, and so to bring you to your duty, to perswade each other, that you may thro' Christ Jesus come together to God.

I wish these things may be considered and pre­vail also. I know they are sufficient (if seriouslly considered) to incline the mind, and if that be but made willing, I make no doubt but that I shall convince you that you are able, and that you can do much by way of perswasion, if you please.

Sect. VI. Shewing that young people are able to perswade one another, (if they are indeed willing) to enter on Gods holy way.

I Might now justly leave it to your consciences to judg; and am confident you must approve in the general of what I am perswading you to. But I know that tho' you are convinced, that is, fully perswaded, that you ought to do so, yet while cor­ruption prevails, the unwilling heart will find some thing to hinder from doing: And tho' at last you are convinced that 'tis your duty, and that you ought to call upon, and to perswade each other to lead a Religious life, yet you are ready to say, or [Page 42]think, that you know not how to do it, and there­fore there is but small likelyhood that you should prevail, and therefore you resolve to let it alone altogether. You may say, I am periwaded that I ought to do it, but I cannot tell how to do it, and therefore I will not do it.

Thus an unwilling mind is easily discouraged in this matter; especially in such as have not before some savour of Religion and liking to a Religious life.

To such I answer and say, you may endeavour if you are willing indeed: to endeavour is certain­ly in your power, especially at first, when all cir­cumstances make such endeavours more easy and hopeful in respect of success; as I shewed before in the former part of the third Section.

Besides you have endeavoured in other things when there was as little likelyhood of prevailing, and in cases to which you were as much strangers, as you are in this: so also may you endeavour now in this, and how can you tell but you may prevail?

If you enquire what you may do to win each others love to the Lord, and to perswade each o­ther to walk in his ways, call to mind what ways you took to gain the affection of each other for marriage, the like method of intreating and enter­taining, followed with equal diligence and care, in all probability will be succesful, and may be as effectual in this matter as in the other.

1. Remember what wayes you took to get ac­quaintance, and to find opportunities of favoura­ble acceptance. So now be as watchful to pro­cure opportunities to bring each other to God. And when alone in secret, seek to perswade to this: And observe which is the fittest season to bring either to a promise.

2. Remember how careful then you were, to do nothing to displease one another, but that you might still find the same favourable countenance. So now much more labour that all your carriage [Page 43]may be so pleasing, that all things on both parts may be so ordered, that the duties of Religion may be delightful and not seem a burden.

3. Then you could forbear many things which you knew were displeasing to each other; so now also forbear all that may hinder each other in this good thing. Let the man avoid all unnecessary spending of time abroad, and let the woman avoid all negligence at home, that all things may be in order for reading, and prayer, at the hour ap­pointed.

4. Then you could talk of love, and almost no­thing else, and make great pretences at least, now then talk as much and as often of the love of God, and his love to Souls. and of your love to the Souls of one another, and talk of the Goodness of God and of his holy waies; that thereby you may ex­cite and inflame each other with love to God, and goodness, and what you could talk of without any help but natural inclinations, now in this you may have the help of God, his word, his grace, and ho­ly Spirit.

5. Then you could use arguments to win love, and propose advantages, enquire reasons of de­nial, and answer their objections. So may you now use arguments to win each other to the love of God: shew each other the advantages of an holy and heavenly living together. How it will strengthen natural affection, end enable to bear all crosses, and worldly troubles: Ask what should hinder a resolution to joyn in so good, so com­fortable a design, and answer what may be said a­gainst it with the Spirit of love and mildness.

6. Then you would take no denial, but ask a­gain and again. So may you now to win each other to the ways of God. And be not wearied, for this is well doing. Continue to use the fittest opportunities, till you have perswaded each other, to be willing to embrace the ways of God, to go to God together, to go to heaven together.

Can you deny me this? (you may jnstly say) this that is so much for our comfort, both in sickness and in health, and even in death it self? I will ne­ver leave asking till I have obtained.

7. Remember how then you could bear with pa­tience, all peevishness, and mourn at refusal, with­out anger: so now wait in the Spirit of meekness, endeavouring to win.

Could you then beg, and wait, and intreat ac­ceptance, and rejoyce, if at last you obtained con­sent and agreement, and cannot you do so now? without some such endeavours as these, where is the love you talked of? where is that true love to thy partner, and dear yoke-fellow? Where is thy love to thy own Soul? And where is thy love to thy dear Lord? And especially if either find the o­ther backward, and yet lost in the flesh, and either in words or actions, discovering an enmity to a Godly life: They had need mourn for their con­dition in secret, and pray for them in secret, but give not over as lost, but wait and woo with pa­tience, and hope, and prudence. How knowest thou but at last it may prevail, and that God may make thee the happy instrument of saving the Soul of thy Partner? 1 Cor. 7.16.

I shall now conclude with some few considera­tions to encourage to this duty: or serious en­deavours at least. You are hereby in a probable way of reaping much comfortable fruit.

1. Consider, if this be attained to, that both are willing, and desirous, and resolved thus to seek the Lord, and to live in his way as in covenant with him; how great the blessing of holy peace and comfort, will be at present in this life; God dwel­ling in such families, where his Worship is set up, and his holy way followed. God promises to such and sayes I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people Lev. 26.11, 12. And if you love indeed and seek the welfare of each o­thers [Page 45]Souls, this must needs yeild the pleasant fruit of mutual comfort, in each other at present. And without that all worldly advantages and seem­ing comforts will be but bitter troubles.

2. Consider, when you have won each other to this holy practice, there is comfort in hope, a well grounded hope, of which you will be able to ren­der a reason to any that may ask you. 1 Pet. 3.15. Hereby in this present life you are laying a good foundation, for an holy family, if God hereafter shall increase you with Children, and Servants: you have chosen for them the best portion, the most secure protection, even the Almighty pre­server. And in some measure have done your du­ty, answerable to your prayers, in taking care that your Children may be Christianly & vertuously brought up, to Gods Glory: and may justly expect such a prosperity that may not be a snare, but that your Souls may prosper, or a sanctified adversity for you and yours. And then in the end of life, and finish­ing your dayes on earth, how great a comfort will it be to think, that all shall meet in heaven, pleasant and comfortable in this life. And the more pleasant in this, that in death you shall not be divided, neither one from another, nor either from God. And then the comforts, already tast­ed, will be enlarged to the full.

Methinks this consideration singly it self, is enough to quicken and perswade to endeavour, that is, the having a grounded hope of meeting together in the glories of heaven, and joys of the blessed, and of being instruments of bringing and establishing that good in a family, which death cannot destroy.

3. Consider it will be matter of comfort to those that do endeavour, whether man or woman: whe­ther they prevail or not. If you prevail with an ungodly husband, or wife, to turn from the er­rour [Page 46]of their ways, to do that which is good, and right, in the sight of the Lord, you shall save a Soul from death. Jam. 5.20. And cause joy in heaven, which is at the conversion of a sinner. Luc. 15.10. A comfort in it self. Besides the benefit your self enjoy, in the holy conversation of one renewed, of whose renewing you your self have been the happy instrument, thro' Gods Grace in the Lord Jesus. But tho' you prevail not, indeed that con­sideration is sad, where there is love to a Soul, to have spent much labour in vain; Yet there is com­for in this, that it is not in vain in the Lord. This was the comfort of the great Prophet Isaiah com­plaining for want of success, and may be yours, surely your Judgment is with the Lord, and your work and reward with God. Is. 48.4. If the filthy will be filthy still, and the ungodly will be ungodly still, their blood shall be upon their own head, and you that endeavour to perswade with sincerity, have delivered your own Soul, and shall ever bea [...] in your bosom that comfortable testimony of a good conscience, and peace from God, that passeth understanding, shall keep and comfort your hearts and minds thro' Christ Jesus. P [...]il. 4.7. And he that shall come, will come quickly, and his reward is with him, to give to every one according as their work shall be, Even so come Lord Jesus. The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

An ADVERTISEMENT To such as have been long married.

'TIS possible these papers may come to the hands of such as have been long married, or at least so long as to be past the title of new­married people; and may therefore think that that this does not concern them; But I desire such to consider that it concerns them much every way. For either they are such as have lived according to Gods holy way, or not.

1. If they have indeed lived together in that holy love, which these papers perswade to, then they speak peace to them from God. And give them the joy and comfort of all the blessings proposed as motives, and advantages. And I doubt not, but that they have experience of the comforts of an holy heavenly life, and must testi­fie the truth of what is here advanced. And doubtless they do find encouragement enough to go on in that way to the end,

2. But if they have not so lived together, then they find themselves spoken to in every advice and motive; especially in the fourth and fifth Section. Every line calls more loudly to such in the words of the Apostle. Eph 5.15. Awake thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light.

Have you so long neglected so great a blessing, and continued under the curse, and tempted the Almighty to give you up to hardness of heart? O see the goodness, and patience, and long suf­fering of God! Give judgment your selves be­tween God and your Souls! Have you not neglected the best way too long? And shall not his patience lead you to repentance? shall not the time past suffice, to have lived without God? should not the love of Christ constrain you to this holy love of each others Souls? Let it do so then now at the last. And set about what is here advised to, as new married people should, and reap at last the too much neglected blessings. 'Tis never too late to begin to do well. Nay you should labour the more earnestly, considering how you have blockt up your own way by your sinful ne­glect. Repent therefore, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance.

Prayers for Gods blessing & assisting grace to the married couple. These first in order taken out of the publick Office, and fitted for private use.

When you are come home on the Wedding-day, or at Evening, and so for some dayes after, read first those Scriptures declaring the mutual duties of man and wife, or else some other portion of Scripture with attention. And then kneeling down together, endea­vour to lift up your hearts to the Lord and say.

O Eternal God, creator, and preserver of all man­kind, giver of all Spiritual Grace, the author of everlasting life, send thy blessing upon us thy ser­vants, who have this day consented together in ho­ly marriage, and have engaged our word in truth to each other, to live together as man and wife ac­cording to thy holy word, and have received a pub­lick blessing in thy name. Bless us O Lord we be­seech thee in secret, and grant that as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so we may sure­ly perform and keep the Vow and Covenant be­twixt us made, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy Law, thro' Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God the Father, God the Son, and God the ho­ly Ghost, bless preserve and keep us; O Lord mer­cifully with thy grace look upon us, and so fill us with all Spiritual benediction and grace, that we may so live together in this life, that in the world to come, we may obtaine life everlasting. Amen.

O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jo­cob, bless us thy Servants, and sow the seeds of eternal life in our hearts. Help us to attend di­ligently on thy holy word, so that we may profit and learn thereby, and be doers thereof. Look O Lord mercifully upon us from heaven, and bless us. [Page 50]And as thou didest send thy blessing upon Abra­ham and Sarah, to their great comfort, so vouch­safe to send thy blessing upon us thy Servants, that we obeying thy will, and always being in safety un­der thy protection, may both abide in thy love, and in holy Christian love to each other, to our lives end, thro' Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God who by thy mighty power hast made all things of nothing, who also (after other things set in order) didst appoint that out of man (created after thine own image and similitude) woman should take her beginning, and knitting them together, didst teach that it should never be lawful to put asunder those whom thou by Matri­mony hadst made one: O God who hast consecrat­ed the state of Matrimony to such an excellent mystery, that in it is signified, and represented, the Spiritual marriage betwixt Christ and his Church; look mercifully upon us thy Servants, whom thou hast brought to joyn together in the marriage co­venant. That I may love this my wife according to thy word, as Christ doth love his Spouse the Church, loving and cherishing her as my own flesh. And also that this woman, whom thou hast given to be my wife, may be loving and amiable, faithful and constantly obedient in all Christian love, and in all quietness and peace, be a follower of holy and godly Matrons. O Lord bless us both, and grant us to inherit thine everlasting King­dom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Almighty God who at the beginning didst create our first parents, Adam and Eve, and didst sanctifie and joyn them together in marriage, pour upon us the riches of thy Grace, sanctifie and bless us, that we may please thee both in body and Soul, and live together in holy love to our lives end. Amen.

These you may use, or so many of them as you think best, only take heed that you may with the words express the true and hearty desires of your Souls to God, alwayes concluding with the Lords Prayer, as our Saviour in his Gospel hath taught us to pray saying:

OUR Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our tre­spasses, as we forgive them, that trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the pow­er, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

And then add,

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the holy Ghost be with us evermore. Amen.

A prayer to obtain Children, to be used by those for whom it is necessary.

O Merciful God and heavenly Father, by whose gracious gift mankind is increased, we beseech thee assist us both with thy blessing that we may neither of us be barren, but both of us fruitful in Children: and also may live together so long in godly love and honesty, that we may see our Children Christianly and Vertuously brought up, to thy praise and honour, thro' Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or instead of these you may make use of either of those that follow, which of them you shall think most suitable to your condition, to make known the desire of your heart to the heart-searching God.

The married persons joynt request unto God, taken out of Mr. Hieron's help to Devotion.

THou (O most blessed God) didst first ordain the married state: and it is thy providence, by which we which were two, are now made one flesh, having mutually resigned our selves either to other by our entrance into this holy League. It is the desire of our Souls to live together to thy glory, and to the contentment each of other. This we cannot do without thee, (for of our selves be­sides sin we can do nothing) unto thee therefore do we commend our most earnest and humble suit, that it may please thee so to besprinkle our Souls with the dew of thy grace, that from thence may spring a plentiful increase of Sobriety, of righte­ousness, and of holiness in our lives. Allay in us all sensual and brutish love, purifying and sancti­fying our affections one toward another, that we may in nothing dishonour this honourable state, nor pollute the bed of marriage, which thou thy self in thy word hast called undefiled; but may use this thine ordinance in that holy sort, that carnal lusts may be slaked and subdued, not in­creased or inflamed thereby.

Endue us with a godly care to acquaint our selves with thy blessed word, that we may know and understand what duty is required at our hands, what authority tempered with love and compas­sion, and freed from all bitterness is committed to the husband; what obedience and submission with reverence is commended in the wife; what faith­fulness in matrimonial duties either to other is en­joyned; what providence and care is expected of the man, and what assistance and help of the wo­man.

And when we know, and have learned these things, grant that it may be our study to practise them, that so the husband may be as a faithful [Page 53]guide to his wife, and the wife a crown and credit to her husband.

Make us wise to observe the natures and dispo­sitions one of another, that in all lawful things, the one may seek to please and content the other; the one may know how to bear with, and to forbear the other, not winking at any evil in one another, but discreetly chusing the fittest opportunities for mutual admonishing, without all shews of tyran­ny in the one, or of presumption in the other. Open our hearts, that we may faithfully and chear­fully communicate one to the other, that sweet­ness which we find in heavenly things, that sowe may go hand in hand towards heaven. And that our chief love and delight either in other, may be grounded upon the hope we have, that we are heirs together of the grace of life. In our family link us together in one common care, to oversee the wayes of our houshold, to seek the promoting and advancing of thy Kingdom, the good instru­ction and education of our Children and servants.

Finally O Lord so unite and joyn us together in fidelity of affection, that we may ever devote our selves to the procuring of the present and eternal good one of another: that so living here comfor­tably, we may reign with thee perpetually, in that thy Kingdom, which the blood of thy Son hath prepared for those that love and fear thy name. Unto which Kingdom, O Lord, reserve us, even for thy Son's sake, and for thy mercies sake. Amen.

Another to the same purpose.

O Lord our God who art pleased to look in mer­cy on thy poor creatures thro' the Lord Jesus Christ, and dost promise to hear the prayers made to thee in his name: we beseech to hear our pray­ers and supplications, incline our hearts to pray, and be pleased to hear, and answer us graciously, for Christ Jesus sake. Thou, O blessed Lord, hast [Page 54]ordained the state of marriage; and by thy good providence hast brought us together in that holy bond, that we might be meet helps for one ano­ther. And now O Lord we beseech thee frame both our hearts to holy desires, to be helpful to each o­ther both in soul and body. And help us by thy Grace, that we may live together in holy love, and assist each other in faith and repentance and sin­cere obedience to thy holy word and will. That we may live together in thy fear, and be both of us ever in thy favour. Put it into our hearts (good Lord) daily to pray, and call upon thy holy name, one with another, and one for another. Enable us to read thy holy word diligently; enlighten our understandings, that we may thereby know thy will; and quicken us by thy Grace, and good Spi­rit, that we may be doers of thy Word. And that being taught thereby, we may learn truly to san­ctifie thy Sabbaths; and to give up our selves to thee our God, heartily and entirely in frequent, se­rious, and solemn renewing the Covenant, at thy holy Table, in the blessed Sacrament of the Lords Supper; and that we may live together as in Co­venant with the Lord, and do all that good thou hast appointed us in this state and condition of life, to which thou hast called us.

Pardon we beseech thee all our Sins for Christ Jesus sake. And all that vanity whereby we may have ensnared each other, since our first acquaintance, either in thought, word or action, savouring too much of the flesh, and unbecoming Christian purity. Keep us henceforth in holy Spiritual love, that we defile not the honourable marriage-bed, by desires too sensual, but that we may be instruments of each others chastity and pu­rity, both in Soul and Body.

Take from us all dullness of mind and back­wardness to Religious duties, and both teach and enable us so to order our worldly affairs, that our minds and hearts may be alwayes free for thy ser­vice and worship.

Give us we beseech thee, the Spirit of wisdom and of a sound mind, that with all gravity and so­berness we may govern and rule our selves and fa­milies, in thy faith and fear, and love (as becomes those that are followers of the holy and blessed Je­sus) as taught by thy holy word.

Be pleased to make us both instruments of good to others, especially to our kindred and neighbours to the comfort and releef of those that are in want, to the instruction of the ignorant, to the reprov­ing and reforming the ungodly, and to the good of all. We pray thee also to make us diligent in our calling, not [...]lothful in business, but as serving the Lord. And so bless our labours and honest en­deavours in worldly things, that we may have a competency for our selves and ours; and to give to those that want.

And further O heavenly Father we humbly in­treat thee, to give us both thy Grace, that with pure hearts we may fervently love one another, and provoke one another to love and good works, and watch over each other for the Souls good. And deal faithfully with each other, not suffering one one another in carlesness of our Souls, or in any sin, without due, serious, seasonable, and com­passionate warning, in thy fear. And good Lord give each of us such an heart, that we may be wil­ling to be warned of our sin and danger, and de­sirous to be reformed. And good Lord help us so to live together, as abiding in Christ Jesus, that which ever of us thou shalt please to call out of this world first, may leave the comfort of a well ground­ed hope to the surviver, that both at last shall meet, in purer and undefiled love and joy, in the inheri­tance of the promises, together with the Spirits made perfect thro' the blood of the holy Jesus, in thy heavenly eternal Kingdom. For the sake and thro' the mediation of Jesus Christ our only Sa­viour and Redeemer. Amen.

A prayer to be used in secret by the married man or woman in respect of each other.

O Most merciful Father, and eternal God, who hast appointed, and sanctified the state of marriage, by thy Command and word, and by thy good providence hast now joyned me with a part­ner and companion for the married life. Guide me I beseech thee by thy good Spirit, that I may do my duty in this state of life to which it hath pleased thee to call me. That I may not make the liberty thou givest me, an occasion to the flesh, nor thro' weakness turn thy permissions to sensu­ality. Pardon, I beseech thee, all my infirmities and failings in that matter, and help me that in all circumstances, I may keep a conscience void of of­fence, both towards thee my God, and towards men. That I may sincerely perform my duty to­wards thee, and with a pure heart be fervently af­fectionate to my dear yoke-fellow. That I may be a good guide, and example to my family, and in all quietness and sobriety, patience, and prudence, a follower of those who have served thee with god­liness, and walked in thy Commandments blame­less. And guide I beseech thee, my dear yoke-fellow, and endue (him or her) with thy Grace and blessing both in Soul and Body. O keep (him or her) I beseech thee from all temptations, and all inclinations to evil: Give (him or her) an heart to hear and obey thy holy word, and keep (him or her) from all sickness and bodily dangers. And so keep us both, in thy fear, and holy love to each other, that we may receive good and religious counsel of each other, and truly follow the same, and watch for each others Souls good. So that at the end of a chast and holy conversation in the Lord we may together enjoy the promised felicity of thy chosen, in thy everlasting Kingdom thro' our dear and on­ly Redeemer the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

A prayer to be used by the woman when conceived with child.

O Merciful God, and heavenly Father, who hast made all things and preservest all things and hast appointed marriage as the way of continuing the generation of mankind: I desire to be thank­ful that thou hast called me to the holy state of marriage, and in that state hast given me the bles­sing of the marriage bed, even strength to con­ceive with Child. The fruit of the Womb is a blessing from thee, O God, alone, which all the treasures on earth cannot purchase: And now O Lord I beseech thee continue thy blessing, giving me strength both to bear and bring forth, let the sickness and illness attending conception bring me more seriously to consider of the sin of our first pa­rents, how the woman was in the transgression, and thereby my sorrows multiplied, that I may be tru­ly humbled for my natural corruption, which, Lord, in thy mercy pardon and cleanse me from thro' the blood of Jesus Christ; and give me com­fort, in that gracious promise of the Seed of the Woman, that should break the Serpents head. Lord I humbly beg that the expectation of pains and sorrow in travel and bringing forth, may bring me to more serious thoughts of my Soul and my duty, and may quicken me to repentance, and stir up my heart, to lay faster hold on Christ Je­sus by a lively faith that all my sins may be forgiv­en; and that I may be more watchful to all Chri­stian duties of my place; and that I may wait with patience the appointed time, and be prepared for life or death, as thou shalt be pleased to appoint.

And that I may be saved in childbearing Lord strengthen me with thy grace, and keep me by thy power, that I may continue, in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. And when the time appointed for delivery shall come, help me pa­tiently [Page 58]to bear the pangs and thro's and sorrows. And let them be sactified to the humbling of my Soul and bring me thro' all I beseech thee, by thy power and goodness. And give me a living child, with all its parts, limbs, and sences in due order. And grant me in due time a safe recovery of for­mer strength, that I may no more remember the an­guish for joy that a man is born into the world, to be­come a member of Christs Church: that I may be glad in the Lord, who is pleased to make me a chanel of blessings to my husband and family.

Or if thou seest fit, to finish my life by this danger in child bearing; be pleased to receive me to life eternal in thy heavenly Kingdom. But if it be thy blessed will, I desire humbly to live to see my young one brought up, in thy faith and fear. That I may dedicate it to thy self in holy Baptism. And instruct it betimes in thy holy word, that I and those thou givest me, may be thine for ever. Lord hear and help thy poor handmaid, that has no help but thee. To thee I desire to make my re­quest's known, with thanksgiving for all thy mer­cies. To thee O Lord, I commit my whole con­cern, as to a faithful creator. Do thou O Lord hear and help and forgive me, and do for me what in thy heavenly wisdom seems best. Even more then I can ask or think; and all for the sake, and thro' the mediation, of thy beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

A prayer to be used in a family, either morning or evening, by changing the conclusion.

O Lord! Almighty God, King of Glory, who from the height of thy habitation dost behold all the inhabitants of the earth, considering all their wayes, and providing for them of thy good­ness: we, O Lord, have received abundantly of thy bounty, and loving kindness, for which we desire to return praise and thanksgving. And [Page 59]now we beg the continuance of thy mercy to us. Thou commandest us to call on thee. And Lord whither can we come but unto thee, O Lord our strength and our redeemer? O shed abroad thy love in our hearts, and stir up our Souls to lay hold on thee, that we may not seek thy face in vain. Lord give ear to our prayer, & answer us graciously.

Lord we confess we are unworthy to call on thy holy name, by reason of those many sins with which we are defiled; full of corruption by na­ture, having sin dwelling in us, and alwayes pre­sent with us; by which we offend daily both in thought, word, and deed. We have broken thy holy law by neglecting those duties which thou hast commanded us, and doing those things which thou hast forbidden. And we have added to our sins much slightness and contempt, not regarding thy wrath; much impenitency, being unsensible of the filth of sin; and carelesness in not seeking to be cleansed from sin thro' the boold of Christ Jesus, tho' thy mercy hath provided that redem­ption for us: O Lord to us belongeth confusion of face, because we have sinned against thee, shouldest thou, Lord, be extream to mark all that is done amiss who could abide it?

But with thee there is mercy and forgiveness that thou mayest be feared: thou hast appointed to poor sinners an Advocate, thy Son, Jesus Christ, the Righteous who is the propitiation of our sins, and sits at thy right hand to make intercession for us. In his name O Lord, and for his sake we beg that thou wouldest pardon all our sins, and blot out all our transgressions. Give unto us that true and lively faith, that sincere and hearty repentance, that true conversion and new obedience, that our sins may be blotted out, and we justified freely by thy grace thro' the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And being reconciled unto thee thro' the blood of thy Son, be pleased to take us into thy protection, and defend us against all the power of [Page 60]sin, and deceits of Satan. O let not sin reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof, but let the blood of Christ purge our consciences from dead works, to serve the living God. That every one of our Souls may be zealous of doing good to thy glory. Teach every one of us to know our several duties, and by thy grace enable us to do them to thy glory, and the good and Comfort of one another.

Bestow upon us the blessings of this life, so far as may be for our Souls good; give unto us, continue with us, & renew for us bodily health, and strength, and all our senses. Provide for us food and raiment, and make us content with the portion thou givest, and what in thy wisdom thou seest fit to deny us in the things of this life, teach us to bear the want with humility and contented submission, and be pleased to make it up unto us in Spiritual blessings, that we may use the world without abusing it, and improve every providence to thy glory.

Good Lord prepare us for our latter end; enable us so to love that we may die in the Lord, and live for ever with our God.

Be pleased to bless thy whole Church, especially this nation, in turning every one of us from our iniqui­ties, that our sins may be pardoned, our Souls san­ctified, & our lives reformed, to thy glory & praise, so that we may enjoy peace and truth in our dayes, having thy Gospel still continued among us. To that end we beseech the bless all our governours with holy wisdom, and all the ministers of thy word; e­specially thy Servant under who's ministry we are, that he may faithfully deliver thy word, to the edi­fication of our Souls. Comfort all the afflicted with mercies suitable to their distresses, particularly such as we know, or those that desire to be remembred by us. Lord Sanctifie all their afflictions to their Souls good. Bless all our friends and relations with renewed sanctified hearts and lives, that we may have Godly comfort in them, & they in us, & all of us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Conclusion for Morning.

WE bless thee O Lord for that thou hast kept us in peace & safety this last night, and refresht our bodies with quiet rest and sleep: we pray thee continue thy goodness to us this day, keep us in all our thoughts words and actions from all sin. Enable us for our work and business, that we may do good in our place; keep us from sickness and e­very sad providence, & bring us to the evening in peace, that our Souls may praise thee. And in the end of our lives receive us to thy everlasting kingdom for the sake of Je­sus Christ our Lord; in whose name and words we sum up all our desires, as himself hath taught us, to pray saying:

Conclusion for Evening.

WE thank thee O Lord for thy good providence o­ver us this day past, for keep­ing of us, and providing for us. Pardon we beseech thee all our sins, and failings this day; keep us in peace and safety this night; refresh our bodies with sleep convenient for us; bring us to the morn­ing in peace, and be present with us when we awake. Guide and preserve us the next day, & all our dayes, & nights, that we may finish our lives in peace in thy fear, and holy joy, and enter into thy everlasting kingdom in heaven, for Christ Jesus sake our only Lord and Redeemer, in whose holy name and words we conclude pray­ing as himself hath taught us, saying:

OUR Father, which art in heaven, hallow­ed be thy name, thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deli­ver us from evil: For thine is the Kingdom, And the power, And the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


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