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ing the higher Degree of Christian Holiness and Virtue; and forbids the Diffolution of Marriage by any Thing else but Infidelity to the Marriage Covenant. It is an easy Thing, at first Sight, to fee which of all these Institutions is the most perfect; which does most equal Justice to both Sexes; which enjoys most of the Happiness of Friendship, and which tends most to the careful Education of Children, and the good Provision for the Family, and the quiet Government of it.
An happy Institution, where Christians live up to it; but where they take the Liberties of Heathenism under the name of Christians, this sacred Religion serves only for their greater Condemnation.
2. This Observation concerning the more exact Rules of Christianity, with Relation to the difference of Sex, doth naturally lead us to another Inquiry, why our Saviour thought fit to abridge Christians of those Liberties which were indulged to God's own People the Jews ? This is plainly to be gathered from our Saviour's Doctrine. For those Liberties were not allowed them, because they were most rational in themselves : God who made all in the Beginning, designed one Help Meet, one Female to one Male, and he has wisely ordered it in his Providence since, that there is much about an equal Number of both Sexes born into the World ; a sufficient Indication that by the Voice of Nature, equal Measures should be dealt to both Sexes, and that Polygamy and Divorce ought not to be allowed to one Sex, more than to another. What was the Reason then of that greater
Indulgence to the Jewish Men ? Our Saviour tells us elsewhere, it was because of the Hardness of their Hearts. For God fits his Precepts to our Capacities. The Jews being bred up in greater Ignorance of a future State, it is no wonder if they were more carnal, and had they been tied up to such strict Rules, it would have drove them to more desperate Courses, of Poison and Murder, to get rid of their Wives. But the Light of the Gospel being far greater than that of the Law of Mofes, the Promises and Threatnings of it much clearer, the Precepts more Spiritual, the Grace accompanying it more Plenteous, the Spirit of it, not the fierce Spirit of Elias, but the mild and gentle Spirit of Christ; we are likewise more capable of being weaned from the more Brutal Liberty indulged the Jews, and of being confined to the Primitive Institution of Marriage, which is a sacred Friendship for Life: And therefore this teaches us another part
of our Duty and Character, which is, to Govern and Bridle our unruly Passions, and to become more fitted for Friendship and Society for Life.
3. It being very plain here, that the unruly Passions of Men are charged with all the terrible Consequences of them upon others, as it is said here, that be who putteth away his Wife, saving for the cause of Fornication, causėth her to commit Adultery; this should teach us to be very Serious and Considerate, and endeavour to have in View all the Consequences of our Actions, that we may fee as far into them as is possible, and contrive them accordingly. Most of the Errors of those who are not down-right Unbelievers,
are owing to a fhort-fightedness, and want of Confideration. It is not much to be doubted, that if, when we are about to do an ill Action, we could have a clear Foresight of all the evil Consequences that attend it, such a fearful Profpect would scare us from the Commission of it. But the Devil dresses up the Bait of his Temptations fo Artificially, that we cannot discover the fatal Hook which is under them. Yet this is mostly our own Fault, for God has taken care to acquaint us that the Wages of Sin are Death; and the Experience likewise we have, both in our felves and others, is sufficient to fill us full of ghastly Apprehensions of the bad Effects of our sinful Courses ; but we do not exert our Faculties; we suffer our selves to be so blinded with the present seeming Satisfaction there is in a sinful Course, that we look no further. It is true, this blindness is often from Unbelief, as it is said, 2 Cor. iv. 4. that the God of this World bath blinded the Minds of them which believe not. But it is true likewise, that want of Sense and Confideration, is a great part of Unbelief, or of that which we call a dead Faith, a Faith which operates no more upon us, than if we had it not. This Incogitancy and Inconfideration is frequently occafioned by some strong Passion, which, like a mighty. Torrent, carries the Thoughts all violently one way, that the Man cannot use the sedateness and calmness which is necessary to Confideration. It should be our part then to observe these strong Passions and Inclinations in our felves, and by giving our Minds a contrary Byass, to bring them as near as we can to a calmness and coolness of Thought, by which we
may be enabled to View as far as may be, into
4. I shall make but one Inference more from
All which might be prevented by a little Confideration, joined with Humility and good Tem
per. To conclude, it is true in this, if in any Thing in the World, that our Duty and our Interest are closely linked together; and that, (a) Godliness is profitable for all Things, having the Promise of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come. If ye know these Things, happý are ye if ye do them.
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, let us render, as is due, all Praise, Honour, and Glory, Might, Power, and Dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.
(a) 1 Tim. iv. 8.