HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.
"You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. ... Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" 2 Cor 6:12-16 NKJV
"Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor 6:17-18 NKJV
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6 NKJV
"I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus" Phil 3:8 NKJV
"Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.' Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." 1 Cor 15:33-34 NKJV
"For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." 1 Cor 11:32 NKJV
"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor 10:31 NKJV
"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor 6:20 NKJV
"It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheles, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband." 1 Cor 7:1-2 NKJV
Read more in the full chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians.
Read Christian, Puritan, Reformed and Protestant exhortational works, Catholic and Protestant polemical & apologetical works, histories, and martyrologies, online: Hail & Fire Library
HOME > Exhortations > On Marriage, addressed to Young Christians by W. N.
by W. N.
excerpt from: Religious Tract Society
My dear Friend,
I LEARN from a letter which I received a few days ago from your excellent father, that you do not intend to continue much longer in single life. The relation in which I stand to you, and the interest I have always taken in your welfare, induce me to think that the following lines, though unsolicited, will not be unacceptable.
Marriage is honourable in all ranks of persons. It was originally ordained of God, and accompanied with his benediction. It contributed much to the beauty and the bliss of paradise. It was remarkably honoured at Cana of Galilee by our incarnate Saviour. It furnishes the favourite image of the sacred writers when they describe the union of Christ to his church. It has been sanctioned by the wisest and best men in all ages and nations; while the doctrine that forbids to marry is severely condemned.
The importance of the subject, in its own nature and consequences, deserves your most serious attention. ln many particulars, what is done wrong today may be easily corrected tomorrow; but it is not so in this case.
That which is to be determined once for all, should be well and truly weighed. It is a transaction that will strongly tinge the current of all your future life. Never had you so much need as now of prayer, and watchfulness, and self-government. If at all times the passions should be watched, and kept under the control of sober reason, more have you now occasion to be upon your guard. I have often witnessed with sorrow the fact that many who, in the ordinary concerns of life, are prudent and circumspect, appear, in reference to the most interesting aspect of this concern, thoughtless and careless.
In choosing a companion for life, you will, I hope, pay respect to suitableness of age, rank, family, and similar considerations. I am particularly desirous that you should choose a disciple of Jesus, because I am truly convinced that no other will be a true yoke-fellow, or a helpmeet for you.
I recollect reading somewhere of a Polish prince who carried about with him a miniature picture of his royal father. Frequently he would take it out from his bosom, and, with strong emotions of love and veneration, exclaim, 'Great Prince, may I never do any thing unworthy of thy name!' Consider, my dear brother, you are a Christian, You are called by that "worthy name" which all the angels adore. You have been baptized into that name. You have often joined with others, or desired to join with them, in celebrating our Saviour's dying love at his own table. You profess to sit down at the feet of Jesus, to hear his words - believing them to be divine oracles, the true sayings of God.
'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. - Whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. - Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. - Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God. - For ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's,' (Matt. 6:33; Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 10:31-32; 1 Cor. 6:20.) These general maxims should govern all your actions. How much is it then to te lamented that, in the article of marriage, so little regard should be paid to the law of Christ by those who are professedly his subjects! Many an ardent youth will say, 'Shall I, in this connection, please my own taste? Shall I gratify the wishes of my parents? Shall I receive a fund of domestic comfort? Will it enlarge my capital for the purposes of trade and commerce? Will it raise me higher in the state of society? Will it advance my respectability and influence in the town?' But a Christian will more earnestly inquire - 'Will this connection glorify God? Am I likely to be a helpmeet to a pious female? May I hope to be essentially benefited in the interests of my own soul? Will it enable me to be more useful in all the departments of life? Have I seriously prayed for divine direction in my choice, remembering, that, 'a prudent wife is from the Lord,' (Prov. 19:14). Have I combined watchfulness with prayer, knowing that diligence and dependence should always be found together? Could I comfortably invite Jesus himself and his apostles, were they now on earth, to the wedding?
Report says, that your attentions are already directed to a young lady of great respectability, but of whom there is no reason to believe that she fears God. I entreat, you, my dear brother, to weigh consequences, and to weigh them in the balances of the sanctuary. Let us anticipate your marriage and look at the object of your choice in various points of light. View her as a Companion. However warmly attached to your person, can you think she will be inclined to sympathize with you in the joys and sorrows you feel as a Christian? View her as a Mother. You will be anxious to train up your children (if providence shall give you children) in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. How can she enter into your views, and cooperate in realizing your plans? Alas! it must be expected that the children will speak the language of Ashdod, their mother's language, and not the Jewish language, which is their father's, (see Nehem. 13:24). Many and great are the difficulties of educating children well, when husband and wife engage with united hearts and hands in that arduous task. How much greater and more numerous must the difficulties be, when the case is otherwise! View her as a Mistress in the midst of her servants. Will she be careful to prefer pious servants? Will she be able to counsel them in their soul's affairs? Or, if they be ungodly, will she join you in labouring to effect their conversion? Will she take pains to regulate her household affairs so that the hours of family worship may be sacred, and as free from interruption as passible? View her as a Neighbour. When your pious friends visit you, will she cordially receive them - can she enjoy their society - or is it likely that you will be happy in the company she will invite to your house?
Reflect on the changes which may take place after marriage, both in your temporal and in your spiritual condition, and think how unsuitable an irreligious wife will be! Should it please the Lord to bless you with prosperity, will she not be blind to the operations of divine goodness? Can you expect that she will say, 'Come, let us honour the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase?' While your heart expands with some generous exertion of piety and benevolence, will she not say, 'Wherefore this waste?' Or if you are brought low by adversity, will she not be likely to exclaim, 'This is what you get by your religion?' When you are low and dispirited, will she cheer you with one of the songs of Zion? When internal corruption and external temptation fight against you, shall you need any hinderance from her that lieth in your bosom - have you not many hinderances to a holy life in your bosom already? You will sometimes, I trust, be favoured with high degrees of spiritual joy. How distressing will it be then for you to take up this lamentation: 'My dear companion, the wife of my youth, is a stranger to all this: she intermeddles not with my joy. My heart is glad, I sing and give praise: but, alas! she is dumb.' Remember the sun is not always visible, and the days of darkness may be many. When you are mourning in a time of spiritual desertion, what assistance or consolation can you expect from a woman, who, however valuable in other respects, never tasted the joys of communion with God, and therefore never bewailed the loss of such joys - how will she go about to comfort you? What if you anticipate your dying hour? You have a good hope through grace, that you shall be carried to Abraham's bosom; but oh! how piercing the thought of leaving her behind whom you love! You think of your childre - 'Ah, how will my little ones be educated, when I am no more on earth? Can the blind lead the blind?' You see no marks of grace, no hopeful signs; the thought of parting forever rushes into your mind, and mingles your sweetest hopes with bitterness not to be described. Or, if you recover and survive, and it fall to your lot to attend her dying bed, your distress will be, if possible, still more pungent. Not all your tenderness and charity will prevent you from feeling that piercing thought, that she is in a state of condemnation. How anxiously you will desire to catch some favourable word from her lips, that may inspire you with hope! How earnestly will you desire to comfort her - and what will you say? - But I forbear. Such a scene of misery and terror will never, I trust, be realised by you.
The intermarriages of the godly with the ungodly have been the fruitful source of innumerable evils. I believe it has been one of the most successful devices that Satan ever employed to mingle the church and the world together, to impede the progress of true religion, and promote the interests of his own kingdom. No pen can describe the private sorrows, or the public scandals, which have had their origin from this transgression.
You are willing to appeal 'to the law and to the testimony.' Let us then take a short review of the sacred books, and select, at least the principal passages to which your attention ought to be directed.
The Christian Rule.
It appears that the first Christians were so far from falling into the transgression which this pamphlet condemns, that, on the other hand, they even doubted whether the law of Christ did not require them to put away their unbelieving wives or husbands, though they were lawfully married, and, at the time of marriage, were equally in an unbelieving state. Paul, however, when writing to the Corinthians, plainly shows that Christianity required not the dissolution of the marriage tie: 'For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or, how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?' The whole of the seventh chapter of his first epistle relates to this subject. But if the unbelieving husband be dead, what does the inspired apostle say to the pious widow? 'The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord,' (1 Cor. 7:39). Have not the words of an inspired apostle the force of divine law ? Have we not, in this place, the Christian rule of marriage? And does it not extend to those Christians who were never married as well us to widows? It was not expedient for Paul himself, circumstanced as he was, to marry, but it was lawful; and, if he had taken a wife, he would doubtless have taken a sister in Christ. 'Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas?' (1 Cor. 9:5). 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness; and what communion hath light with darkness; arid what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?' 2 Cor. 6:14-16.
Remarkably worthy of notice appears the solemn charge which the Lord gave to Israel concerning the Canaanites: 'Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take to thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy you suddenly,' (Deut. 7:3-4). These admonitions being disregarded, from unhallowed marriages flowed all the miseries of the numerous captivities to which the tribes of Israel were subjected, (Judges 3:5-8). This the venerable Joshua foretold to his countrymen not long before his death. 'If ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you; know for a certainty that - they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes.' Josh, 23:12-13.
Parental Charges and Remonstrances.
The record of Abraham's anxiety in procuring a suitable wife for his beloved Isaac is very instructive. He calls his eldest servant, the confidential steward of all his possessions. No other person can be trusted: and even from him he requires an oath. 'And I will make thee swear, (said Abraham), by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell.' The piety, the fidelity, the tenderness, and the success, of Eliezer, in this delicate and important transaction are displayed with the inimitable simplicity of the sacred writers, (Gen. 24). Isaac and Rebekah, having been happily joined in a pious marriage themselves, would naturally care for their children. But in Esau they were grievously disappointed. 'And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bathshemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite: which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah,' (Gen. 26:34-35). And Rebekah said unto Isaac, I am weary of my life, because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me? (Gen. 27:40). In the first verse of the twenty-eighth chapter, Jacob receives a parental, and, I may add, a patriarchal admonition. 'And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. - And Esau, seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father, went unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had, Mahalah, the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife,' (Gen. 28:8-9). Samson's first error consisted in attaching himself to one of the daughters of the Philistines. His pious father and mother remonstrated in vain: 'Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?' This woman being taken from him, he forms a connection with a Philistine harlot at Gaza. Soon after we hear of his loving a woman in the valley of Sorek. whose nams was Delilah. This Delilah was a snare to him, and brought him to shame. See him in the prison-house at Gaza, bound with fetters of brass. His eyes are put out, and he is compelled as a slave to grind for his enemies. From his prison-house he is called only to make sport for those who make sport of him. He is deprived of his eyes, his comfort, his character, his liberty, and, at last, of his life. Alas! what foul blots were these in the life of a good man who judged Israel twenty years! Judges 14-16.
Contempt of the Marriage institution punished.
Balaam's infernal device to seduce the Israelites was unhappily successful. And what was this device? It was no other than to connect the sons of Israel with the daughters of Moab. This led to idolatry - idolatry brought down from the Lord a plague - the plague brought down to the earth twenty-four thousand men - and, in the event, Balaam himself was slain with the sword, (Num. 31:8-16). Solomon was amiable and venerable in his youth. 'Tis affecting to think that in old age 'his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel.' The great blemish of his character was this: 'King Solomon loved many strange women.' These women seduced him into idolatry, and this covered all the glory of his character, and all the lustre of his reign, with a dark cloud, (1 Kings 11:1-13). Ezra was a priest, and a ready Scribe in the law of Moses, and therefore well acquainted with the law of marriage. When the princes of the people came to him, and reported, 'The holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands,' (meaning the Canaanites, &c.) he says, ' When I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonished.' Then follows a large and humble confession, with a most fervent prayer, in which he ascribes all the evils of the Babylonish captivity to those unholy marriages, (Ezra 9). In the next chapter we see the people convinced of their sin, alarmed and terrified, promising amendment, offering rams in sacrifice for their trespass, and solemnly engaging to put away their heathenish wives. This painful business filled the hands of Ezra and others from the first day of the tenth month to the first day of the first month in the following year. Nehemiah was a most excellent governor. He had no small share of trouble in correcting the evil above-mentioned. His indignation against the sin is thus forcibly expressed. 'In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab. And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons or for yourselves. Did not Solomon, King of Israel, sin by these things? Yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then hearken unto you, to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?' Nehem. 13:23-27.
Obedience to the Commands of God honourably noticed.
The daughters of Zelophehad, descendants of Joseph, appear to have pleased the Lord by their conscientious regard to the Mosaic system, and to the law of inheritance in particular; and they had their reward. The Lord considered their case, and thus pronounced: 'Let them marry to whom they think best: only to the tribe of the family of their father shall they marry.' Their obedience to this injunction is also recorded to their honour . 'Even as the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad.' Num. 27 and 36.
Marriages remarkably sinful.
To this class we refer the case recorded in Gen. 6:1-3: 'And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.' At the end of this period came the tremendous flood, which drowned all the old world, Noah and his family excepted. - The sin of Ahab's marriage is particularly held up to our abhorrence: 'And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him,' (1 Kings 14:31-33, and 21:25). Jehoram, king of Judah, (son of the pious Jehoshaphat), was a very wicked king: 'He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab; for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.' (2 Kings 8:18). Nor did the mischief stop here. Ahaziah his son pursued the same impious course, 'for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.' 2 Chron. 22:3.
'Hail, wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Isaac and Rebekah form a lovely example, (see Gen. 24). Boaz and Ruth, also, are honourable names. Thus Boaz addressed his future bride: 'The Lord recompence thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.' Ruth 2:12.
Zacharias and Elizabeth were happy and exemplary in the conjugal relation. The same historian has informed us, 'that they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless,' (Luke 1:6). What a comprehensive description is this of eminent piety! They were righteous before God as well as before the world - their obedience was universal - they regarded both positive ordinances and moral commandments - they were blameless.'
'There was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And both Jesus was called and his disciples to the marriage,' (John 2:1-11). Jesus, on this occasion, gave not only his public sanction to the marriage institution, but his approbation to this union in particular. Who were the happy pair, we know not.
Aquila and Priscilla deserve our notice. Paul, for a time, lodged and laboured with them; 'for by their occupation they were tent makers.' When they had heard the eloquent Apollos, who spake boldly in the synagogue, 'they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.' (Acts 18:3, 26). In the illustrious catalogue of Paul's particular friends, they shine like stars of the first magnitude among smaller stars: 'Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus, who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles,' Rom. 16:3- 4.
Job was a man of preeminent piety. There was none like him in all the earth. The name of his wife is unknown. 'Curse God, and die,' was her impious and cruel language. She spake 'as one of the foolish women,' but received from her patient husband a serious exhortation and mild reproof, (Job 2:9-10). - David and Michal were very unequally yoked. But ' it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law.' When he danced and played before the ark in devotional ecstacies, she 'despised him in her heart,' (1 Sam. 18:25-26; 2 Sam. 6:20-23; 1 Chron. 15:29). - Moses and Zipporah supply another specimen. Twice this Ethiopian woman called him a bloody husband, reflecting apparently on his religion, (Exod. 4:24-26). But Moses was the meekest of men.
'The kindest and the happiest pair
Recommending these references to the Scriptures without further comment, to your most serious consideration, I hasten to subscribe myself,
Your affectionate Pastor
"On Marriage, addressed to Young Christians" by W. N., c. 19th cent.
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord" Col 3:18-20 KJV
Copyright © HAIL and FIRE