The FORMATION of the Marriage Union

"Methinks it is a misfortune that the marriage state, which in its own nature is adapted to give us the greatest happiness this life is capable of, should be so troublesome a relationship to so many as it daily proves. But the problem generally proceeds from the unwise choice people make for themselves, and an expectation of happiness from things incapable of giving it. Nothing but the good qualities of the person beloved, can be a foundation for a love of judgment and discretion; and whoever expects happiness from anything but virtue, wisdom, good temper, and a pleasantness of manners, will find themselves widely mistaken." The Spectator

The preceding chapters make it evident, that marriage is a step of incalculable importance, and ought never to be taken without the greatest consideration and the utmost caution. If the duties of this state are so numerous and so weighty, and if the right discharge of these obligations, as well the happiness of our whole life, and even our safety for eternity, depend, as they necessarily must do, in no small measure upon the choice we make of a husband or wife—then let reason determine, with what deliberation we should advance to such a relationship. It is obvious, that no decision of our whole earthly existence requires more of the exercise of a calm judgment than this, and yet observation proves how rarely the judgment is allowed to give counsel, and how generally the imagination and the passions settle the question!

A very great portion of the depraved misery and of the crime with which society is afflicted, is the result of ill-formed marriages. If mere passion without prudence, or covetousness without love, be allowed to guide the marital choice, no wonder that it is improperly done, or that it is highly disastrous in its consequences; and how often are passion and covetousness alone consulted. "They who enter the marriage state, cast a die of the greatest contingency, and yet of the greatest interest in the world, next to the last throw for eternity. Life or death, felicity or a lasting sorrow, are in the power of marriage. A woman indeed ventures most, for she has no sanctuary to retire to, from an evil husband; she must dwell upon her sorrow, which her own folly has produced; and she is more under it, because her tormentor has warrant of prerogative, and the woman may complain to God, as subjects do of tyrant princes, but otherwise she has no appeal in the unkindness done to her. And though the man can run from many hours of sadness, yet he must return to it again; and when he sits among his neighbors, he remembers the objection that lies in his bosom, and he sighs deeply."

If however, it were merely the comfort of the married pair themselves that was concerned, it would be a matter of less consequence, a stake of less value; but the well-being of a family, not only for this world, but for the next, and equally so the well-being of their descendants, even to a remote period, depends upon this union. In the ardor of passion, few are disposed to listen to the counsels of their parent's prudence; and perhaps there is no advice, generally speaking, more thrown away, than that which is offered on the subject of marriage. Most people, especially if they are already attached to a selected object, although they have not committed themselves by a promise or even a declaration, will go on in the pursuit, blinded by love to the indiscretion of their choice; or desperately determined, with the knowledge of that indiscretion, to accomplish if possible, their purpose. Upon such individuals, reasoning is wasted, and they must be left to gain wisdom in the only way, by which some will acquire it—painful experience!

1. To others who may be yet disengaged, and disposed to hearken to the language of advice, the following remarks are offered—in the choice of a marriage partner, be guided by the advice of parents! Parents have no right to select for you, nor ought you to select for yourself, without consulting with them. How far they are vested with authority to prohibit you from marrying a person whom they disapprove, is a point of debate—very difficult to determine. If you are of age, and able to provide for yourselves, or are likely to be well provided for by those to whom you are about to be united, it is a question whether they can do anything more than advise and persuade. But until you are of age, they have positive authority to forbid; and it is an evil and harmful act in you, to form relationships without their knowledge, and to carry them on against their prohibitions!

Their objections ought always, I admit, to be founded on reason, and not on caprice, pride, or greed—for where this is the case, and children are of full age, and are guided in their choice by prudence, by piety, and by affection—they certainly may, and must be left to decide for themselves. Where, however, parents rest their objections on sufficient grounds, and show plain and palpable reasons for prohibiting a relationship, there it is the manifest duty of sons, and especially of daughters, to give it up. A union formed in opposition to the reasonable objection of a discreet father or mother is very rarely a happy one—and the bitter cup is rendered additionally bitter, in such a case, by the wormwood and gall of self-reproach! What miseries of this kind have we all seen! How many beacons are set up, if young people would but look at them, to warn them against the folly of giving themselves up to the impulse of an imprudent marital attachment, and following it to a close, against the advice, remonstrance, and prohibition of their parents. Very seldom does that unwise marital relationship prove otherwise than a source of wretchedness—on which the frown of an affectionate and wise father and mother fell from the beginning. For God seems to rise up in judgment, and to support the parent's authority, by confirming their displeasure with his own!

2. Marriage should in every case be formed upon the basis of mutual AFFECTION. If there be no love before marriage, it cannot be expected there should be any after it. Lovers, as all are supposed to be who are looking forward to this union, without love, have no right to expect happiness. The coldness of indifference is soon likely, in their case, to be changed into aversion and abhorrence.

There ought to be personal attachment. If there be anything, even in the exterior, that excites disgust—the marriage is forbidden by the voice of nature. I do not say that beauty of countenance, or elegance of form is necessary; by no means; a pure and strong attachment has often existed in the absence of these; and I will not take upon me to determine that it is absolutely impossible to love deformity. But we certainly ought not to unite ourselves with it, unless we can love it; or at least, are so enamored with the fascination of mental qualities that may be united with it, as to lose sight of the body—in the charms of the mind, the heart, and the manners. All I contend for, is, that to proceed to marriage against absolute dislike and revulsion—is irrational, base, and sinful.

But love should respect the mind, as well as the body; for to be attached to an individual simply on the ground of external beauty, is to fall in love with a doll, or a statue, or a picture. Such an attachment is lust or fantasy—but certainly not a rational affection. If we love the body, but do not love the mind, the heart, and the manners—our love is placed upon the inferior part of the person, and therefore, only upon that which, if wrecked by disease, may be next year a very different thing to what it is now! Nothing fades so soon as beauty! It is but like the delicate bloom of an attractive fruit, and if there be nothing agreeable underneath, will be thrown away in disgust when that is brushed off; and thrown away, too, by the very hand of him that plucks it!

It is so commonly remarked, as to be proverbial, that the charms of mind increase by acquaintance—while those of the body diminish; and that while the former easily reconciles us to a plain countenance. Mere external beauty fosters, by the power of contrast, a distaste for the internal dullness, ignorance, and heartlessness, with which it is united—like gaudy, scentless flowers, growing in a desert. Instead of determining to stake our happiness upon the act of gathering these blooming weeds, to place them in our bosom—let us ask how they will look a few years hence, or how they will adorn and bless our home? Let us ask—will the mind, united with that countenance, render its subject fit to be my companion, and the instructor of my children? Will that temper patiently bear with my weaknesses, kindly consult my tastes, affectionately study my comfort? Will those manners please me in solitude, as well as in society? Will those habits render my dwelling pleasant to myself and to my friends? We must test these matters, and hold our passions back, that we may take counsel with our judgment, and allow reason to come down and talk with us in the cool of the evening.

Such then, is the love on which marriage should be contracted—love to the whole person; love to the mind, and heart, and manners, as well as to the countenance and form; love tempered with respect; for this only is the attachment that is likely to survive the 'charms of novelty', the 'spoliation of disease', and the 'influence of time'—that is likely to support the tender sympathies and exquisite sensibilities of the marital state; and render man and wife to the verge of extreme old age—what it was the intention of him who instituted the marriage union they should be—the help and the comfort of each other.

By what language then, sufficiently strong and indignant, can we condemn those agreements, so disgraceful, and yet so common, by which marriage is converted into a money speculation, a trading enterprise, a mere business of pounds, shillings, and pence? How cruel a part do those parents act, who for the sake of an advantageous settlement, urge their daughters into a union, from which their hearts revolt; or persuade their sons to marry women, towards whom they feel no affection, merely for the sake of a fortune! Unnatural fathers and mothers! is it thus you would lead your children, decorated as sacrifices to the shrine of Mammon, and act the part of priests and priestesses yourselves, in the immolation of these hapless victims!! What will you assist in the rites of this legal prostitution? Can none others be found but you, the natural guardians of your children's interests, to persuade them to sell themselves, and barter all the happiness of their future lives, for gold? Will you make yourselves responsible for all the future miseries of your children—and your children's children—by recommending such a sordid agreement? Forbear, I entreat you, for your own sake, for your children's sake, and for the sake of society, to recommend a marriage, which is not founded on pure, and strong, and mutual affection!

Young people themselves, should be extremely careful on their own part to let no persuasions of others, no impulse of their own covetousness, no concern to be their own masters and mistresses, no ambition for worldly splendor—induce them to enter into a relationship to which they are not drawn by the solicitations of a pure and virtuous love. What will a large house, splendid furniture, colorful clothing, and fashionable entertainments do for their possessor, in the absence of marital love? "Is it for these baubles, these toys," exclaims the wretched heart as it awakens, alas! too late, in some sad scene of family woe, "is it for this I have bartered away myself, my happiness, my honor?" "How ill the scenes that offer rest, and heart that cannot rest agree."

O there is a sweetness, a charm, a power to please, in pure and mutual affection—though it be cherished in the humblest abode, and maintained amid the plainest circumstances, and has to contend with many difficulties—compared with which, the elegance and brilliance of worldly grandeur, are but as the splendor of an eastern palace, to one of the bowers of the garden of Eden. Let the man nobly determine to earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow, and find his daily task sweetened by the thought that it is for the woman he loves, rather than roll about in his chariot, and live a life of splendid indolence and misery, with the woman he does not love! And let women, as nobly and heroically determine to trust to their own energies, but especially to a gracious Providence, rather than marry without affection—for the sake of worldly toys!

Then there is another error committed by some; having been disappointed in a relationship which they hoped to form—they become reckless for the future, and in a temper of mind bordering upon revenge, accept the first individual who may present himself, whether they love him or not. This is the greatest degree of folly, and is such an act of suicidal violence upon their own peace, as can neither be described nor reprobated in terms sufficiently strong! This is to act like the enraged scorpion and to turn their sting upon themselves; and in an act of spite—to sacrifice their happiness to folly.

But in fact, on whom does this mad spite fall? Upon the individual who has done them no harm, but that of attempting to heal the breach that has been made in their happiness, and to whom in return they carry a heart which they have virtually given to another. How much more rational, how much more conducive to their own comfort, and how much more honorable is it in a case like this—to wait until time and piety have healed the wound, and left the heart at liberty for another attachment—and even to remain in perpetual celibacy, rather than marry without that which alone can constitute a virtuous marriage—sincere affection.

3. Marriage should ever be contracted, with the strictest regard to the rules of PRUDENCE.

Discretion is a virtue—at which none but fools laugh. In reference to no subject is it more frequently set aside and despised, than in that, which of all that can be mentioned, most needs its sober counsels. For love to be seen standing at the oracle of wisdom, is thought, by some romantic and silly young people, to be a thing altogether out of place. If they only were concerned, they might be left to their folly, to be punished by its fruits—but imprudent marriages, as we have already considered, spread far and wide their bad consequences, and also send these consequences down to posterity!

The 'understanding' is given to us to control the passions and the imagination; and they who in an affair of such consequence, as choosing a companion for life, set aside their reason, and listen only to the 'voice of passion', have, in that instance at least, forfeited the character of a rational being, and sunk to the level of those creatures who are wholly governed by appetite, unchecked by reason.

Prudence would prevent, if it were allowed to guide the conduct of mankind, a very large portion of human misery. In the business before us, it would allow none to marry until they had a likeliness of financial support. It is perfectly obvious to me, that the present generation of young people, are not distinguished by a discretion of this kind—many are too much in haste to enter the marital state, and place themselves at the heads of families, before they have any rational hope of being able to support their families. As soon almost as they arrive at the age of manhood, whether they have a competent income or not—before they have ascertained whether their business will succeed or not—they look round for a wife, and make a hasty, perhaps an injudicious, selection! A family comes on before they have adequate means of maintaining it; their finances begin to sink; bankruptcy ensues; their futures are ruined forever; they become burdens upon their friends; and their misery, together with that of the partner of their folly, and of their hapless children, is sealed for the term of their existence upon earth!

How many instances of this kind have we known, and which may be considered as sad, and true, and impressive comments on the imprudence of imprudent marriages. Let young people exercise their reason and their foresight; or if they will not, but are determined to rush into the expenses of a home and family, before they have opened sources to meet them, let them hear, in spite of the 'syren song of their imagination'—the voice of faithful warning, and prepare to eat the bitter herbs of useless regrets, for many a long and weary year after the nuptial feast has passed away!

Prudence forbids all UNEQUAL marriages. There should be an equality as near as may be in AGE; "for," says Mr Jay, "how unnatural, how indecent, is it to see an old man surrounded with infants and babes, when he can scarcely see or hear, because of the infirmities of old age! How unnatural, how odious is it to see a young man fastened to a piece of antiquity, so as to perplex strangers to determine whether he is living with a wife or a mother." No one will give the woman in the one case, or the man in the other, the credit of marrying for love; and the world will be ill-natured enough, and one can hardly help joining in the censoriousness, to say that such matches are mere monetary speculations; for generally speaking, the old party in the union, is a rich one; and as generally they carry a scourge for the other in their purse. A fortune has often thus been a misfortune for both!

Equality of RANK is desirable, or as near to it as possible. Instances have occurred in which respectable men have married servants, and yet maintained their respectability, and enjoyed a full cup of family comfort—but these cases are rare and generally contain some circumstances of peculiarity. And it is much less perilous for a rich man to descend into the valley of poverty for a wife—than it is for a rich woman to go down for a husband. He can much more easily raise his companion to his own level, than she can. Society will much more readily accommodate themselves to his error, than to hers. Much of the happiness of the marital state, depends upon the relatives of the parties, and if the marriage has offended them, if it has degraded them, how much of bitterness is it in their power to throw into the cup of enjoyment. Many a wife has carried to her grave the sting inflicted upon her peace, by the insults of her husband's friends—and in all such cases, he must receive a part of the venom!

"It has been said that no class of men err so much in this article, as ministers. But surely this cannot be admitted. It cannot be supposed that those whose office it is to inculcate prudence, should themselves be proverbial for indiscretion. It cannot be supposed that those whose incomes are limited, and whose circumstances demand economy, would bring into the management of them, those who have been trained up in delicacy and extravagance; and are helpless and wasteful. It cannot be supposed that men, whose office is respectable, and productive of social communion, would select vulgarity and ignorance, unfit to be either seen or heard, merely because it is pious. A minister is to inculcate order and regularity; and would he marry a female that would render his house a scene of confusion and tumult? A minister is to show how the claims of life and religion harmonize, and to assign to the duties of each, their own place and season; and would he marry a rattle-brain, who, instead of being a keeper at home, has been always rambling after some new preacher; who instead of quietly glorifying God in her own sphere of responsibility, has been endeavoring to excite public attention; who has been zealous in matters of doubtful disputation, but has treated, as beneath her regard, matters of common obligations? Need he be told, that a befitting behavior in a lower and private station, is the surest pledge of, and the best preparation for, a proper behavior in a higher and more private situation! A minister is to recommend neatness, and all the decencies of life—and would he marry an untidy slovenly woman? A minister is to show, that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, is in the sight of God, of great price—and would he marry a quarrelsome and abusive woman? A minister is to stand in the same relation to all his people who demand his love and service—and would he marry a woman who would fondly attach herself to a few cronies, listen to all their secrets, and divulge her own, and form schemes and schisms, which will render his residence unpleasant, or occasion his removal?"

To my brethren in the ministry I do recommend, and recommend with an earnestness which I have no language sufficiently emphatic to express—the greatest caution in this most delicate and important affair. In their case, the effects of an imprudent marriage, are felt in the church of the living God. If the wives of the deacons are to be "grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things," what less can be required of the wives of the pastors? "A pastor must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God's church?" 1 Timothy 3:2-5

But how can he exhibit in his family, the beautiful order and harmony which should prevail in every Christian family, and especially in every minister's house, without the intelligent and industrious cooperation of his wife—and how can this be expected of one who has no intelligence or industry? Not only much of the comfort, but of the character of a minister, depends upon his wife! And what is of still greater consequence, much of his usefulness! How many have been driven away from scenes of successful labor, or rendered uncomfortable in the midst of them—by their wives mismanagement—who have plunged their husbands into debt, and thus blasted their respectability—or by that pride, petulance, vulgarity, baseness, and busy meddling—by which they have involved them in perpetual strife with their neighbors, tradesmen, or their congregation!

Considering, therefore, how much mischief may be done by their wives indiscretion, ministers should raise imprudence in marriage to the rank of a great sin. And then their guilt in the commission of this sin is the greater, as they have less excuse for it than others; for they have only to exercise patience, and to restrain themselves from hasty and injudicious entanglements, and to avail themselves of the extended opportunity which their situation gives them, to obtain a companion that shall be to them, both as men and ministers, a helper of their joy.

Some widowers in selecting a second wife have consulted their children's comfort more than their own taste; whether this be right or wrong in their case, we shall presently consider; but certainly a minister while he is allowed the usual privilege of following his own arrangements, ought never to gratify his taste, at the expense of his official respectability, or at the risk of his usefulness—but in the choice of a wife, should be guided by a view to the comfort of his church—as well as by a reference to his own happiness.

4. Marriage should always be formed, with a due regard to the dictates of TRUE RELIGION. A godly Christian should not marry anyone who is not also godly. It is not desirable to be united to an individual even of a different denomination, and who, as a point of conscience, attends her own place of worship. It is not pleasant on a sabbath morning to separate, and go one to one place of worship, and the other to another. The most delightful walk that a holy couple can take, is to the house of God in company, and when, in reference to the high themes of redemption and the invisible realities of eternity—they take sweet counsel together. No one would willingly lose this blessing.

But oh to walk separately in a still more important and dreadful sense! To part at the point where the two roads to eternity branch off—the one to heaven, the other to hell; and for the believer to travel on to glory, with the dreadful consciousness, that the other party is journeying to perdition!! This is indeed dreadful, and is of itself sufficient to occasion no small diminishing of marital felicity. If however, the comfort of the parties only were concerned, it would be a matter of less consequence—but it is a matter of conscience, and an affair in which we have no option. "She is at liberty to marry whom she will," says the apostle, speaking to the case of a widow, "but only in the Lord." Now though this was said in reference to a female, all the reasons of the law belong with equal force to the other sex. This appears to me to be not only advice, but law—and is as binding upon the conscience as any other law that we find in the word of God; and the 'incidental manner' in which this injunction occurs, is, as has been very properly remarked, to the intelligent reader of scripture, the strongest confirmation of the rule in all cases, where marriage is in prospect, and where there has been no engagement previous to conversion.

As to the other passage, where the apostle commands us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, it does not apply to marriage, except by inference, but to church fellowship, or rather to association and conduct in general, in reference to which, professing Christians are not to join with unbelievers. But if this be improper in regard to other matters—how much more so in that relationship which has so powerful an influence over our character, as well as our happiness. For a Christian, then, to marry an individual who is not decidedly and evidently a godly person, is a direct opposition to the word of God!

And as scripture is against it, so also is reason; for "how can two walk together, except they be agreed." A difference of taste in minor matters is an impediment in the way of family comfort—but to be opposed to each other on the all-important subject of religion, is a risk, even as it respects our comfort, which no prudent person should be induced, on any considerations, to incur. How can the higher ends of family constitution be answered, where one of the parents has not the spiritual qualifications necessary for accomplishing them? How can the work of religious education be conducted, and the children be trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? And as it respects individual and personal assistance in religious matters, do we not all need helps instead of hindrances?

A Christian should make everything bend to religion, but allow religion to bend to nothing. This is the one thing needful, to which everything should be subordinate; and surely, to place out of consideration, the affairs of his eternal salvation, in so important an affair as marriage, show, either that the religion of a person who acts thus, is but profession—or likely soon to become so.

The neglect of this plain and reasonable rule is becoming, I am afraid, more and more prevalent. In the excellent treatise of Mr. Jay, he makes the following just and important remarks. "How deplorable is it that this Christian rule of marriage is so frequently trampled upon. The violation is, in the degree of it at least, peculiar to our own age. Our pious ancestors, would have been shocked at the practice, as appears from their invaluable writings. And I am persuaded that it is very much owing to the prevalence of these indiscriminate and unhallowed relationships, that we have fallen so far short of those men of God who are gone before us, in our seclusion from the world, in the simplicity of our lives, in the uniformity of our profession, in the discharge of family worship, and in the training up of our households in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

No one should contemplate the prospect of such a relationship as marriage, without the greatest and most serious deliberation; nor without the most earnest prayer to God for direction. Prayer, however, to be acceptable to the Almighty, should be sincere, and should be presented with a real desire to know and do his will. Many, I believe, act towards God, as they do towards their friends; they make up their minds, and then ask to be directed. They have some doubts, and very often strong ones, of the propriety of the step they are about to take, which are gradually dissipated by their supplications, until they have prayed themselves into a conviction that they are quite right in the decision, which they have, in fact, already made. To pray for direction in an affair which we know to be in opposition to God's word, and on which we have already resolved to act, is adding hypocrisy to rebellion. If there be reason to believe that the individual who solicits a Christian to unite herself with him in marriage, is not truly pious, what need has she of praying to be directed? This seems like asking the Almighty to be permitted to do that which he has already forbidden to be done in his word.

In the case of WIDOWS and WIDOWERS, especially where there is a family, peculiar prudence is necessary. I have known instances in which such people have sacrificed all their own tastes and predilections, and have made their selection with exclusive reference to their children. Such a sacrifice is indeed generous; but it may become a question whether it is discreet. It is placing their own comfort, and even character, in some degree of peril, neither of which can be lost without most serious damage to those very children whose interests they have so heroically consulted. This, however, is an error much more rare and venial than that of the opposite extreme.

How unseemly and inconsiderate is it for a sixty year old widower, to bring home a young wife, and place her over daughters older than herself, and introduce into the family circle aunts and uncles, younger than some of the nephews and nieces. Rare is the case in which such improper relationships are formed, without the authors of them losing much of their own reputation, and destroying much of the comfort of their families. Let not such men wonder, if their daughters by the first marriage, are driven from their home by the consequences of the second; and are led to form imprudent matches, to which they were led by the force of parental example, and urged by the consequences of parental folly.

In the selection of a second companion for life, where the first had been eminent for talents or virtues, much care should be taken that there be no great and striking inferiority, which would form a contrast ever present, and ever painful. The man who never knew by experience the joy of a happy marriage, can never know the ills of an imprudent one, as aggravated by the power of comparison. Let him who has thus known them, beware how he exposes himself to such helpless, hopeless misery.

Due care should also be exercised in reference to the children's interests. Has the woman about to be selected, that principle, that prudence, that self-control, that good temper, which, if she becomes herself a mother, will help her to conceal her partialities, for to suppress them is impossible, and would be unnatural, and to seem no less kind to her adopted offspring, than to her own? That man acts a most cruel, a most wicked, part towards the memory of his first wife, who does not provide for her children, a kind and judicious friend in his second wife. What is it but a dread of this that has made some women, when upon their dying bed, break through the rules of propriety, and recommend their successor in the arms, and heart, and house of their husbands? They trembled for their children, and seemed at that sad moment, to have become willing to be forgotten, provided their babes could find a second mother in her that was to fill their place. Let me then become the advocate of fatherless or motherless children, and entreat, for the sake, both of the living and the dead, a due regard for the comfort of these orphans.

Nor should less deliberation be exercised by the party who is about to take, or invited to take the care of another person's children. Have they love enough for the parent, to bear the burden of care for his children? Have they kindness enough, temper enough, discretion enough, for such a situation, and for such an office? There is no difficulty where the children are lovely in person, and amiable in temper; but when they have no personal attractions, no charms of mind, no endearments of character, then is the time to realize the truth of Mr. Jay's expression, "a wife may be supplied, a mother cannot."

The man or the woman that can act a parent's part towards a froward and spoiled child, must have more than nature, for this belongs only to a real parent, they must have principle and kindness, and need have grace. Let all who are invited to take the superintendence of a family, ask themselves, if they possess the requisites for the comfortable and satisfactory discharge of its duties. Let them enquire whether it is likely they can be happy in such a situation themselves; for if not, they had far better never enter it, as their unhappiness must inevitably fill the whole family circle with misery.

It cannot be sufficiently deplored, that all suitable preparation for the marriage state, is usually put aside for the busy activities of vanity, which in fact are but as dust in the balance of the marital destiny. Every thought, and anticipation, and concern, is too often absorbed in the selection of a house, and furniture; and in matters still more insignificant and frivolous. How common is it for a female to spend those hours day after day, and week after week, in communion with her seamstress, debating and discussing the subject of the color, and form, and material, in which she is to shine forth in nuptial splendor, (which ought to be employed in meditating the eventful step, which is to fix for life her destiny, and that of her intended husband)—as if the great object were to appear a mirthful and fashionable bride—rather than to be a good and happy wife. And most pitiable is it to see some mothers ministering to this folly, and flattering the vanity of their daughters, instead of preparing them by judicious and seasonable counsels, for discharging the duties of that new and important relationship, into which they are about to enter.

"Study," says an old author, "the duties of marriage before you enter into it. There are crosses to be borne, there are snares to be avoided, and manifold obligations to be discharged, as well as great felicity to be enjoyed. And should no provision be made? For lack of this forethought, result the frequent disappointments in the wedded life. Hence that repentance which is at once too soon and too late. The husband knows not how to rule; and the wife knows not how to obey. Both are ignorant, both conceited, and both miserable."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6