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heart hath made its choice, it is hardly brought to choose Christ; and therefore our days of youth are days of choice, in which we arc to " remember our Creator," Eccl. xii. 1. The Lord was merciful to me, in engaging me with Christ ere I settled any other way, Mat. vi. ult., "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven." 2. It is not convenient, I think, that people not come to the years of discretion should marry; I was thirty-two years of age when I married, and needed all the wisdom and experience that by age I acquired to manage a married lot. 3. As in all our ways we should acknowledge the Lord, so especially in going about marriage, that we may marry "in the Lord." For many years before I had thoughts of marriage, I earnestly besought the Lord, that if ever I should change my relation and manner of living, he would give me a comfortable yoke-fellow. And when the Lord opened a door, I durst not so much as make a visit without prayer; and I set a whole day apart before I did propose marriage to my wife, to know the Lord's mind whether I should go on or not, and to seek his blessing in case I should see it of the Lord to go on. 4. The great end of marriage is to get a " meet help" for furthering of the soul's condition and spiritual concernment. We are not therefore to match ourselves any way but such as may be conducible to that end; other ends and advantages are to be subordinate to this. 5. Therefore doth it much concern us that the person we marry be a prudent, pious, and virtuous person; fools or graceless persons we can never expect to be helpful to us this way; it is dreadful to take a lump of wrath in our bosom. He that marrieth a prudent godly woman is sure to have the Lord himself to his father-in-law. The seed of the woman aud of the serpent can never agree, dwell, and walk together; nor can an ox and an ass, yoked together, draw equally. 6. It is absolutely necessary that those we marry be persons of good moral parts, and especially that they be not of a cross but good humour naturally, and that they have some good measure of prudence; without these two you cannot live comfortably. Yea, grace, though I confess it makes fools (even naturally so) wiser, and makes the rugged lions cat grass like oxen, yet it doth not dcstroy nature; and if there be not the stricter watch, it will vent, and cause disorders in the family. That we live religiously and to God, we owe it to grace; but that, as men and women, we live in external peace and comfortably, is much from prudence and good natural humour. 7. It is a marvellous and a blessed thing where God is pleased to unite in the bonds of love first those he in his providence is pleased to join in marriage. This is the blessing of the Lord upon a marriage condition; this is it which makes the married walk faithfully, in sweet spiritual communion with God, in joint spiritual duties and exercises, and which makes it so comfortable; and this I found by experience. I found much sweetness in spiritual fellowship with my wife; the pleasantest time we ever had was these few hours we spent together in prayer, in reading the word, and the making of observable things out of it, in spiritual conference, and joint binding of ourselves to the Lord, in all which I found her very cordial; nor can I say I found fellowship with any other so sweet as with her. What a great advantage is it, and how necessary, to be united by love with these with whom we join in fellowship! 8. Grace makes persons not only good Christians but good in all relations. To say, a good woman, but a bad wife; a gracious man, but a mighty cross, peevish, sullen husband; a holy roan, but a wonderfully bad master or undutiful servant, is that which I truly think cannot be. And however some have very confidently endeavoured to make it out to me by several instances, yet truly, whatever may be truth in it, I could never yet see through or understand how it could be. 9. Marriage is one of the most important steps of a man's life: O then, with what fear, and trembling, and godly dependence, should we go about such a matter! I shall never forget what a minister said when marrying two certain persons, viz., That repentance mends all things but an ill-made marriage: it is either a mean of the greatest comfort or sorrow. 10. If any person be uncomfortably yoked, they may through grace be profitably yoked. To marry an ill, cross, and rugged person is indeed grievous; but it may be and has been blessed of God as the mean of greatest good. Thus I thought I was thereby encouraged against terrible effects of a bad choice; well, said I, if I fall not well, sure I am I shall thereby have the best opportunity and advantage to be mortified to the world that ever I had, and an ill wife may do that good for me which all my former afflictions could not do. 11. I have observed, that several gracious persons have been very unequally yoked with graceless persons, and that to be the sad lot rather of poor women than of men, and yet this hath been blessed of God to them, and they helped to carry well under it. 12. A marriage condition or state is both a blessed and comfortable state, and also a state liable to many inconveniences; I found this fountain to "send forth bitter and sweet." As it was a life of much contentment, and as I saw much of the love and goodness of God, so did I see the same seasoned with many ingredients, cares, and vexing fears, that I never found in a single state; so that if I were absent for four or five days, it was a terror to me to enter into the family, lest I should hear or know that either wife or children were unwell. 13. Although marriage be ordained for preventing of fornication and burning lust, 1 Cor. vii. 4, and for begetting of children to furnish the Church with an holy seed, yet are they not the only great ends of marriage; for aged persons that cannot get children, and such as never found these violent desires, may lawfully marry, and that for the great end of marriage, which is to have a suitable help, a suitable companion, who may in our pilgrimage be comfortable to us, and help us in our way to heaven. 14. Although increase of wealth or paying of debts be the ordinary great end of marriage, with continuance of our names, yet do I think it the meanest of ends. And just it is (as ordinary) with God to make the marriage of such uncomfortable, and to deprive them of the true comforts and blessings thereof, who have their eyes so much thereupon. This I may say, riches were not my aim, having preferred her whom I have married to several with greater portions, and in other things not inferior to her save only in virtue and piety. 15. It is a very hard thing to guide a marriage lot, and to walk prudently and in knowledge, to keep such a spiritual frame as to possess our vessels in holiness, and. like Enoch, to beget sons and daughters, and walk with God. Alas! I know not how to walk perfectly "in a perfect way," nor how to behave wisely in my house. I many times omitted opportunities of doing good, slighted others; many times slightly and perfunctoriously went about family duties, was carnal and excessive, was foolish in many things; yea, the comforts of a present life, wife, children, and relations, did blunt my desire after heaven, and I began to say in my heart, "It is good to be here." 16. Overvalued comforts are shortened, and a worm comes and consumes them, so that they wither to the ground. 17. Loss of comforts is as bitter, yea, much more than ever they were comfortable when enjoyed. As I much comforted myself in such a comfortable yoke-fellow, so it was exceeding bitter when the Lord withered such a gourd, Jonah iv. 6, 7. 18. Mercies obtained by, and received as the fruit of prayer, are double mercies. What was comfortable and useful to me in a yoke-fellow I obtained by prayer. 19. I think it a greater sin to marry on the Lord's day than to yoke a plough, inasmuch as the work and concern is greater; and I judge it to be one of the provoking profanations of the Lord's day, the sinful continuance of this; and I seldom ever see these marriages blessed that were celebrated on that day. They must be strangely mortified creatures that do not "find their own pleasures that day." I never durst do or advise to it. I am hardly free for ministers to marry persons; to give them exhortations, and to seek a blessing upon them I think very commendable; but to minister in the action, ceremony and rite, which is the badge of that relation, I think is no more competent to him, than to give a sasine in land. Yet, as times go now, I think it not altogether unlawful to marry by a minister; but it were to be wished this and other things were reformed, which, as they are relics of Popery, so do they tend to beget in us an opinion of marriage being a sacrament, seeing ministers only administer it; and commonly people think, that if ministers do not marry them, that they are not married at all. And this likewise begets the marrying on the Lord's day, seeing they take it for some spiritual action, performable only by ministers. Other things I might observe, but, fearing tcdiousness, I here end this chapter.
OF MY SUFFERINGS.
Of my public Sufferings in general.
It pleased the Lord, not only to exercise me with personal afflictions, but likewise for purging away and healing of my corruptions, for trial and exercise of my faith, patience, and sincerity, for humbling of me, and for manifesting his purity and holiness, and for confirmation and sealing of God's truth and ways, to honour me with public sufferings for his name; by being reproached, oppressed, and wronged, intercommuned, troubled with citations before courts on that account, wandering from place to place many times for fear of my life, imprisoned, fined, and banished, and threatened with death itself.
The cause and occasion of my sufferings was, dissenting from, and nonconformity to, the government of prelacy in the Church; for not coming to church to hear such ministers and officers as did officiate by an unlawful (to me) authority; for adhering to the persecuted, deserted party, who stood upon their former ground, cleaving to their former principles; and for taking upon me to preach without the bishop's authority. This, in short time, exposed me to the last of the laws against dissenters, and malice of the bishops, whose principles, ways, courses, and office, I was convinced were not of God, and by instinct was averse to. For as to any other thing, whether immorality or sedition, I could not be charged therewith, being as to man unblameable, of sufficiently loyal principles, and