U GODLY MARRIAGES FROHIBITED. BY REV. W. THISTLETHWAITE, M.A.

Deut. VII. 3, 4. either shalt thou make marriages tviíh them ; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto hh son, nor his davghter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they wiU tum away thy son from foUonnng we, that they may serve other gods ; so rmll the anger of the Lord hé kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. IsRAEL was to be a peculiar people unto tbe Lord, a holy nation, whoUy appropriated to his service to honour him among the surrounding nations, and shew forth his prake. Hence they were to keep themselves separate from all others who knew not the Lord. They were to make no covenant with them, nor

U GODLY MARRIAGES &C. 253 adiDÍt them to teims of friendship and intercourse. Above all they were to beware of any intermarriages mth them. Such intimate connection with them would be the most likely way of leading them to embrace their habits and manners^ and seducing them into their idolatrous practises, and therefore the Israelites were strictly prohibited from entering into them. The prohibition is formally given in the text ; " Thou shalt not make marriages with them." The effect is plainly stated; " For they will tum away thy son fi-om foUowing me, that they may serve other gods." And the fatal consequence of such transgression is instantly added ; " So will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you and destroy thee utterly." I. We wiU, in the first place, consider some ÍQstances recorded in scripture, of such

mamages, effects, and consequences. They commenced at an early part of the world's history. We read in the sixth chapter of Genesis, that " when man began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were bom^ unto them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took

254 U OODLY MARRIAGËS them wives of all which they choose :" that is, the descendants of Seth, who had preyiously adhered to the worship of 6od, inteimarried with the descendants of Cain, who had renounced the Lord, and set up idols for themselves. And what was the effect ? Many of the progeny of these became indeed mightj men, and men of renown in the concen^ and revolutions ofthe earth; but we find Ihat " God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagmation of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." And what was the comequenee? Thus we read, " It repented the Lord that he had made man, and it gríeved him at his heart And the Lord said, " I wiU destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth ; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them." Thus through the intermixture by marriages of the godly with the ungodly, the corruption of msnkind became universal, and the flood came and destroyed them all with the exceptton of oah and his family. — 'There arê Ii(^entable

PROHIBITED. 266 inBtances of this transgression in the history of the Israelites, which were ever foUowed hy the same eflFects and consequences. Thus we read in the third chapter of the book of Judges and the fifth versp. " The children

of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites^ Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites ; and fliey took their daughters to be their wives, and gáv^ their daughters to their sons." ow what was the effect? Thus it follows. " And served their Gods, and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves." And then what foUowed? Thus we read, " Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushan-ri^-thaim, king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Isra^l served Chushan-rísha-thaim eight years." This was the case with Ihe people colleclively. There is also a stríkmg instance in their history of an individuai being led away from God tkrough the samje cause. That iadividual was the renowned kiug Solomon. The wisdom

256 U 60DLY MARRIAGES of Solomon is proyerbial. His pietj abo stands highly on reciord. For of tin» jm may read strong proof from aU that he said, and the prajer which he prajed^ at the dedicatíon of the temple, in the eighth chapter of the íirst book of Kings. Bnt this wise man and this pions man was led astray. Even be departed from God, and forgat" him^ and became sottish and idolatrons. and solely from this canse. Thns we read of him in the beginning of the eleventh chapter of the s^one book, the first book of Kings. " But king Solomon loved many strange women, together wiúi the danghter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites ; of the nations conceming whidi the Lord said unto the children of Israel, ye shall not go in unto them, neither shall thev come in unto you ; for surely they will tnm away your heart after their gods : Solomw clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred

concubines." And what was the eflFect ? ** HBs wives tumed away his heart. And he went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of ihe Zidoniaiis,

PROHIBITED. 257 and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites, and huilt a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon : and likewise did he for all his strange wives, wbich bumt incense and sacrificed unto their gods." And what was the consequence ? In the next verse we have it. " And the Lord was angrj with Solomon, because his heart was tumed away from the Lord God of Israel." Oh ! it is a deplorable thing when the heart of a wise man and a pious man is tumed away from the Lord. But so it was with Solomon. And so it may be, nay so it probably wiU be, with all who foUow after his fatal example. We see that these things succeed each other in regular order. The Lord's people go and make marriages with those who know not the Lord, but serve other gods, the world, and what not ? Then these

tum away the heart of the Lord's people from ser^ing the Lord. And then the Lord's anger is kindled against them, and he puuishes them in his wrath and sore displeasure. How important .then is the prohibition of the

260 U GODLY MARRIAGES be tbe intimate friend and constant companion of another who is a lover of pleasnre more than a lover of God is most incongruous, or that one who desires to order ali his concerns by the prínciples of the gospel shoold be closelj associated with another who acts solely on the prínciple of worldly interest But if the prínciple applies to connections^ partnerships, and fellowship of all kinds, how much more must it apply to a connection so intimate, so close, so indissoluble as tbat which is formed between husband and wife bj marríage ! Here is a counection in which the interests of both parties become one, in which they are constantly to live togetber, and iu which the pursuitSy habits> and all the circumstances of the dailj life of the one must necessaríly depend upon and be regulated by those of the other. Here is a connection iu which above all others the parties should take sweet counsel together, share each otlier's joys and sorrows, be of one heart and mind, love with the purest love which earth can con* secrate, and be joined t(^ether in a union so near and so dear as that our Lord himself has

PROHIBITED. 261 said of it, " They two shall be one flesh."

Ob ! then of what importance it is that they should be likeminded in the most important of all subjects, that they should think and feel similarly on that which interests the heart more than any thing else, on that which affects the happiness beyond any of the other circumstances of life, and which influences tbe whole character and conduct far more strongly than any other motive. This is a connection consecrated by God himself in paradise, and declared by his word to be ^^ honourable among all men ;" a connection hitherto in this country always entered into with the solemnities of religious ceremonies and vows ; and so I trust it ever wiU be by those who have any right feelings of its nature, and of the necessity of God's blessiug upon it; a connection also which by the law of God himself, as well as by the law of the land, can be dissolved only by the death of one of the parties. Can tbere be any other connection whatever tbat requires so mucb tbought, prttdence, and prayer, before it be entered

into? any that need so mucb discrimination

262 U GODLY MARRIAGES of cbaracter, so mucfa assurance of tfae prínciples of the party witfa wfaom it is to be formed ? Is there any otfaer wfaicfa involves so intimately not only tfae wfaole of tfae present happiness and future prospects of this life, but wfaicfa must also necessarily faave so great an iníluence on tfae prosperity of the soul, on tfae service of God, and tfae final faopes of faeaven. Hence theu there cannot be a more unjustifíable, imprudent, and dangerous step taken in life, than wfaen a pious person forms a marriage union witfa one wfao is witfaout a sound religious principle. How can two sucfa walk togetfaer, being not agreed as to the first of all principles and dulies ? How can tfaey go up to tfae faouse togetfaer as friends, and followers of tfae same Saviour? How can tfaey conduct the affairs of their family ? How can they pray togetfaer ? How can tfaeý be faelpers of eacfa other's faitfa ? Wfaat sympatfay, wfaat comfort, wfaat instruction or streugtfa can tfae religÍQus party derive írom tfae other who knows notíring of reHgion— has no feeling of its ]ove and power, and takes

PROHIBITED. 263 no interest of it in the heart ? What is likely to be tbe eífect. Distance aDd estrangement from the other on the most important and interesting of all subjects, discomfort» secret mournÍDg, misgivings of conscience, interruptions and hindrances of private prayer and the public means of grace. These wiU be enough to embitter the whole domestic life of one who errs so grievously. But worse than these things may be expected. And upon

something worse than earthly unhappiness is God's prohibition of such marriages founded. They wiU turn away the heart from following the Lord. There's the danger. I do not go so far as to sav that such will be the certain effect. But I do say that such effect will probahly foUow. The word of God teaches us to look for such an effect, and experience jMroTes that in most instances it thus happens. ow why is this ? Whence does it happen that the religious party almost invaríably suffers the loss of religion and is drawn away into the world, and gives up the Lord's service? Why is not the other party more commonly^ or at least as commonly, brought

264 U GODLY MARRIAGES over to embrace a better way? In great measure because of tbe depravity of homan uature. Irreligion, worldliness, pleasure, vanity , sin, are all congenial to . the heart oí fallen mau. Into these we fall easily. ature maies no struggle against thera, feels no pain in gliding into them. But religiou is contrary to our fallen nature. ature takes up a cross in entering upon it, and watchíulness, exertion, determination of spirit, and a constant use of all the means of grace and of every help that can be obtained, are ever necessary to keep it up in .health and vigour in the soul. It is uniformly described as a wrestling, a >ace, and a waríare* " The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." How then can the religious principle be kept up in sufficient life and power under a constant exposure to the starving, paralyzing, deadening influence of worldly principles from the person who is nearest in relation and dearest in love ? It becomes gradually uudermined, it gives way, it falls. God is renounced, and the world is chosen.

PROHÍBITED. 265 Let me observe however, in addition, that although this defection from religion arises in great measure from the depravity of our nature, yet I apprehend that the principal reason why the religious person suffers, rather than the in'eligious gains, by such an alliance, is because the conduct of the religious person in contracting such a marriage is in opposition to God, and contrary to his declared will and word. His displeasure is on such a marriage. Do I use too strong a word if I say, hís curse is on such a marriage. If those who profess to serve him, and to seek his favour, wiU not obey his word, if they wiil follow their own imaginations and desires, and choose tKeir owu passions or worldly interests, what can they expect but that he should leave íhqín ? This is the main canse of their declension. They have not regarded God in the most important matter of their lives. In a case of which he had forewarned them, in a connection which he had prohibited, in a command which he had given them to marry, if they do marry, " only in the Lord j" if, I say, in a case VOL. IV.

266 U GODLY MARRIAGES respecting which they have been so solemnly forewarned, so strictlj prohibited, so anthoritatively conunanded, thej allow themselves to be actuated by any other prínciples than his fear and love, and choose to act upon the allurements and snggestions of passion or interest, notfaing can be reasonably looked for as the resnlt, but that God will withdraw hhnself from them, that he wiU leave them to theír choice, and suffer them to be corrupted bj the dailj intercourse to which they have madlj and wickedly exposed themselves.

For be it ever remembered that this conwction is a voluntary one. othing can ever compel a person to form it. There is always the power of choosing or refusing to enter into it. And therefore the person who forms such a marríage, male or female, is inexcnsable^ and might from the first have counted upon the cost of being drawn away írom following the Lord. Here then in conclusion let me speak a word or two, first, to parents. Oh ! be very careful what connections you desire for yonr children. I speak to parents who profess to

PROHIBÍTËD. 267 regard the tfaings of Ood^ and to be cóncemed for their children's souls. Watch over their early intimacies, and wam them of the fatal rock on which they may shipwreck all their present happiness and prospects for eternitj. Seek aot for them ridies or rank. Deiáre prindples and characta'. There are doubtless circumstances of a mere earthly nature, on which it wiU behoye both you and Ihem to use prudence and diseretion; but never forget that here especially ** one tUng is needfid.'' That one thing is a relígious prindple and character, tiie fear of God and the love of the Saviour. This should be made indispensable. othing can compensate for the want' of it. Let it be ever understood that this is the principal object of your desire and approbation. Espeeially if your child ioo be religious^ you should be the more fiequent and earaest in your warnings and advice. Miserable would it make you should you see a beloved child, of whose piety you liad fonned the best hopes, led away from 6od through having entered into marríage witib an ungodly person. And if there should 2

268 U OODLY MARRIA6ES be canse for self-repFoach that you had coantenanced or eucouraged this eonnection from motives of earthly advancement for yonr child, oh ! you will feel many a piercing pang, and pass through manj a bitter hour. Christian parents, be anxious for your children with Christian anxiety. Look to their eternal interests in all things; watch over them; caution them ; advise them ; pray for them ; and use all your influence to lead them to God, and to make them adhere to him. Another word or two, in the next place, to the unmarried. Don't forget this subject^ nor disregard it. Don't smile at it, nor treat it contemptuously or lightly. It is of infinite importance to you. It concerns all your domestic peace and comfort, and your eternal happiness. Especially let it be most deeply regarded by such of you as make profession of religion. Adhere in steadfast principle and determinatiou to the rule of God's word, to marry " only in the Lord." Let that command be laid down as authoritative and decisive on the point. If through prayer and the blessing of God you obtain a partner of

PROHIBITEB. 269 pious dispositioii you wiU be blessed indeed. You wiU thus become a mutual support and comfort to each other in every trial of life; your prayers wiU ascend together to a throne of grace; you wiU walk together in the house of God as friends; your household will be ordered in all things on cougenial views and wishes; you wiU be equally engaged in bringing up your children^ if you have any, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Such is tlie ^siíe, young men, whom you should desire. Favour is deceitfuL and beautv is

vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she is to be prized. Such is the husband, young females^ that you should desire to have. On the principles of such a one you may depend with safety. On him you may repose your earthly cares, and from him you may expect to derive assistance and strength in foUowing the Lord. You may walk together happily through life and be glorified together in heaven.

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