THE SI GLE CHRISTIA 'S RULE BY JAMES SMITH

"She is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord." — 1 Cor. vii. 39. This, though spoken of widows, is the law of Christ in reference to all unmarried Christians, and is imperatively binding upon them. To slight it, is to slight the authority of Christ ; to reject it, is rebellion against the King of kings and Lord of lords ; and to act contrary to it, is to ensure sorrow, grief, and woe. Celibacy is not sanctity, though it may tinder some circumstances be preferable to marriage : it is not required by the gospel, and in many instances cannot be approved by the Lord. Marriage is lawful, for God instituted it ; it is honorable, for God commends it ; it is desirable, for God blesses it ; it is instructive, for God speaks by it ; it is profitable, for thereby we become helpers of each other ; and it is sometimes necessary for the prevention of sin. But it must be according to the law, " only in the Lord.'' A Christian may only marry a Christian, for he is to " have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." It is not enough for the party to be moral, for morality is not religion ; or aii atten-

THE SI GLE CHRISTIA 'S RULE. 263 daiit on the means of grace, for many attend to whom the gospel is a savour of death unto death ;"

or a hopeful character, for of many it may be said, " They are not far from the kingdom of God," but they never enter it. . It must be a true beUever, one who is born again by the Holy Spirit, who is in the Lord. That is, a person vitally united to the Lord Jesus ; who lives upon Christ ; who walks with Him in faith and holi-, noss ; who is not ashamed to profess Him, nor afraid to confess Him before men ; who adorns tlie doctrine of Christ his Saviour ; a Christian not in word only, but in deed and in truth : and with no other can a believer unite in accordance with God's word, under the approving smile of the Holy Spirit, or with scriptural ground to expect the Lord's blessing. This law of Christ is plain ; no one can misunderstand it, but from wilful blindness. It is imperative ; it does not give leave to any one to qualify it, or excuse himself from conforming to it: if you are a Christian, you are solemnly bound to observe it ; and it is as much a crime to marry an unconverted person, as to steal, or to violate any one of the ten commandments. It is indispensable ; no one has authority to set it aside, or to say, " 1 am not bound by it." If a Christian, you are bound by it, and woe unto you if you break it. It is solemn ; for it is a part of that word by which Jesus will judge us at the last

264 THE SI GLE CHRISTIA 'S RULE. day ; therefore if you are tempted to trifle with it, remember you must be judged by it. It is reasonable ; " for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness ?" Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost ; but the body of

an unbeliever, however moral, or amiable, or lovely, is the temple of Satan, who is preferred and served in preference to God. You are a member of the body of Christ, but every unconverted person is a member of the body of Satan. You are alive to God, — every unregenerate person is dead in trespasses and sins. In a word, you are influenced by different spirits, are walking •n directly opposite roads, observe contrary rules, and serve two opposite masters. " How can two walk together except they be agreed?" They cannot with comfort, propriety, or as mutual helps. The consequences of mixed marriages are generally fearful : the xuiconverted partner becomes more hardened in sin ; the converted becomes carnalized and debased ; the family affairs cannot be conducted upon strictly Christian principles ; the children cannot be trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord ; there can be no family religion, though there may be a degree of the form of it ; and the cause of God must suffer by it. If thcr<ffore you have any regard for the authority oil God, if any concern to please the Lord Jesus Clirist, if any fear of

THE SI GLE CHRISTIA 'S RULE. 265 grieving the Holy Spirit of God, if any desire to maintain and increase your own spirituality, if any wish to be approved and commended at the judgment of the great day, — if you would not be cruel to the soul of the unconverted person, it you would not sow the seeds of sorrow, perplexity, and distress, if you would not make bitter work for repentance, observe carefully and to the letter, this law of our Lord Jesus Christ ; and when tempted to run counter to it, say, with holy Joseph, " How can I do this great wickedness,

and sin against God ?"

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