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they are, fin cafe the parents be dead), is to be made known to the church-officers of that congregation, to be recorded.
The like is to be obferved in the proceedings of all others, although of age, whofe parents are living, for their first marriage. And, in after-marriages of either of thofe parties, they shall be exhorted not to contract marriage without first acquainting their parents with it, (if with conveniency it may be done), endeavouring
to obtain their confent.
Parents ought not to force their children to marry without their free confent, nor deny their own confent without juft caufe.
After the purpofe or contract of marriage hath been thus published, the marriage is to be not long deferred. Therefore the minifter having had convenient warning, and nothing been objected to hinder it, is publickly to folemnize it in the place appointed by autho rity for public worship, before a competent number of credible witnelles, at fome convenient hour of the day, at any time of the year, except on a day of public humiliation. And we advife that it be not on the Lord's day.
And because all relations are fanctified by the word and prayer, the minifter is to pray for a bleffing upon them, to this effect:
"Acknowledging our fins, whereby we have made ourselves "lefs than the leaft of all the mercies of God, and provoked him to "embitter all our comforts, earneftly, in the name of Chrift, to en "treat the Lord (whofe prefence and favour is the happiness of every condition, and fweetens every relation) to be their portion, "and to own' and accept them in Chrift, who are now to be joined "in the honourable eftate of marriage, the covenant of their God: "and that, as he hath brought them together by his providence, he "would fanctify them by his Spirit, giving them a new frame of "heart, fit for their new eftate; enriching them with all graces "whereby they may perform the duties, enjoy the comforts, un. "dergo the cares, and refift the temptations which accompany that "condition, as becometh Christians.'
The prayer being ended, it is convenient that the minifter do briefly declare unto them, out of the fcripture, į.
"The inftitution, ufe, and ends of marriage, with the conjugal "duties, which in all faithfulness, they are to perform each to o"ther, exhorting them to ftudy the holy word of God, that they <s may learn to live by faith, and to be content in the midst of all "marriage cares and troubles, fanctifying God's name, in a thank
ful, fober, and holy ufe of all conjugal comforts; praying much "with and for one another; watching over, and provoking each "other to love, and good works; and to live together as the heirs "of the grace of life.'
After folemn charging of the perfons to be married, before the great God who fearcheth all hearts, and to whom they must give a itrict account at the laft day, that if either of them know any caufe by precontract or otherwife, why they may not lawfully proceed to marriage, that they now difcover it; the minifter (if no impediment be acknowledged) fhall caufe firft the man to take the woman by the right hand, faying thefe words...
IN. do take thee N. to be my married wife, and do in the prefence of God, and before this congregation, promife and covenant to be a loving and faithful husband unto thee until God fhall feparate us by death.
Then the woman shall take the man by the right hand, and fay thefe words:
IN. do take thee N. to be my married husband, and I do, in the prefence of God, and before this congregation, promife and covenant to be a loving, faithful, and obedient wife unto thee, until God fhall feparate us by death.
Then, without any further ceremony, the Minister shall, in the face of the congregation, pronounce them to be husband and wife, according to God's ordinance; and fo conclude the action with prayer to this effect:"
"That the Lord would be pleafed to accompany his own ordi66 nance with his bleffing, befeeching him to enrich the perfons 110w "married, as with other pledges of his love, fo particularly with "the comforts and fruits of marriage, to the praise of his abundant "mercy, in and through Chrift Jefus."****
A register is to be carefully kept, wherein the names of the parties fo married, with the time of their marriage, are forthwith to be fairly recorded in a book, provided for that purpose, for the rufal of all whom it may concern.
Concerning Vifitation of the Sick.
IT is the duty of the Minifter not only to teach the people committed to his charge in public, but privately, and particularly to admonish, exhort, reprove, and comfort them, upon all seasonable occafions, fo far as his time, ftrength, and perfonal fafety will permit.
He is to admonish them, in time of health, to prepare for death; and, for that purpose, they are often to confer with their Minister about the estate of their fouls; and, in times of ficknefs, to defire his advice and help, timely and feasonably, before their strength and understanding fail them.
Times of fickness and affliction are special opportunities put into his hand by God, to minifter a word in feafon to weary fouls: Becaufe then the confciences of men are or should be more awakened to bethink themselves of their spiritual estate for eternity; and Satan alfo takes advantage then to load them more with fore and heavy temptations: Therefore the Minifter, being fent for, and. repairing to the fick, is to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to adminifter fome fpiritual good to his foul, to this effect.
He may, from the confideration of the prefent fickness, inftruct him out of Scripture, that diseases come not by chance, or by diflempers of body only, but by the wife and orderly guidance of the good hand of God, to every particular perfon fmitten by them. And that, whether it be laid upon him out of displeasure for fin, for his correction and amendment, or for trial and exercife of his graces, or
for other fpecial and excellent ends, all his fufferings fhall turn to his profit, and work together for his good, if he fincerely labour to make a fanctified ufe of God's vifitation, neither despising his chaftening, nor waxing weary of his correction.
If he fufpect him of ignorance, he shall examine him in the principles of religion, efpecially touching repentance and faith; and, as he feeth caufe, instruct him in the nature, use, excellency, and neceffity of those graces; as alfo touching the Covenant of grace; and Chrift the Son of God, the Mediator of it; and, concerning remiffion of fins by faith in him.
He shall exhort the fick perfon to examine himself, to search and try his former ways, and his estate towards God.
And if the fick perfon fhall declare any fcruple, doubt, or temptation that are upon him, inftructions and refolutions shall be given to fatisfy and fettle him.
If it appear that he hath not a due fenfe of his fins, endeavours ought to be used to convince him of his fins, of the guilt and defert of them; of the filth and pollution which the foul contracts by them; and of the curfe of the law, and wrath of God due to them; that he may be truly affected with, and humbled for them: And withal make known the danger of deferring repentance, and of neglecting falvation at any time offered; to awaken his confcience, and rouze him up out of a ftupid and fecure condition, to apprehend the juftice and wrath of God, before whom none can ftand, but he that, loft in himself, layeth hold upon Chrift by faith,"
If he hath endeavoured to walk in the ways of holiness, and to ferve God in uprightness, although not without many failings and infirmities; or if his fpirit be broken with the sense of fin, or caft down through want of the fenfe of God's favour; then it will be fit to raise him up, by fetting before him the freeness and fulness of God's grace, the fufficiency of righteousness in Chrift, the gracicus offers in the gospel, that all who repent, and believe with all their heart in God's mercy through Chrift, renouncing their own righteousness, fhall have life and falvation in him. It may be alfo ufeful to fhew him, that death hath in it no spiritual evil to be feared by those that are in Christ, becaufe fin the fting of death is taken away by Chrift, who hath delivered all that are his from the bondage of the fear of death, triumphed over the grave, given us victory, is himself entered into glory, to prepare a place for his people; So that neither life nor death fhall be able to feparate them from God's love in Chrift, in whom fuch are fure, though now they must be laid in the duft, to obtain a joyful and glorious refurrection to eternal life.
Advice alfo may be given, as to beware of an ill grounded perfuafion on mercy, or on the goodness of his condition for heaven, fo to disclaim all merit in himself, and to caft himself wholly upon God for mercy, in the fole merits and mediation of Jefus Chrift, who hath engaged himself never to caft off them who in truth and fincerity come unto him. Care alfo must be taken, that the fick perfon be not caft down into defpair, by fuch a fevere representation of the
wrath of God due to him for his fins, as is not mollified by a fenfible propounding of Christ and his merit for a door of hope to every penitent believer.
When the fick perfon is beft compofed, may be leaft difturbed, and other neceffary offices about him leaft hindred, the minifter, if defired, fhall pray with him, and for him, to this effect:
"Confefling and bewailing of fin original and actual, the mifer"able condition of all by nature, as being children of wrath, and "under the curfe; acknowledging that all difeafes, fickneffes, death, " and hell itself, are the proper iffues and effects thereof; implor"ing God's mercy for the fick perfon, through the blood of Chrift; " befeeching that God would open his eyes, difcover unto him his "fins, caufe him to fee himself loft in himself, make known to "him the cause why God finiteth him, reveal Jefus Chrift to his "foul for righteoufnefs and life, give unto him his holy Spirit, to create and ftrengthen faith to lay hold upon Chrift, to work in "him comfortable evidences of his love, to arm him against temp"tations, to take off his heart from the world, to fanctify his pre"fent vifitation, to furnish him with patience and strength to bear "it, and to give him perfeverance in faith to the end.
"That, if God fhall please to add to his days, he would vouch"fafe to blefs and fanctify all means of his recovery, to remove the "difeafe, renew his ftrength, and enable him to walk worthy of "God, by a faithful remembrance, and diligent obferving of fuch "vows and promifes of holiness and obedience, as men are apt to "make in times of fickness, that he may glorify God in the remain❝ing part of his life.
"And, if God have determined to finish his days by the prefent "vifitation, he may find fuch evidence of the pardon of all his fins, "of his intereft in Christ, and eternal life by Chrift, as may cause his inward man to be renewed, while his outward man decayeth ; "that he may behold death without fear, caft himself wholly upon "Chrift without doubting, defire to be diffolved and to be with "Christ, and so receive the end of his faith, the falvation of his foul, "through the only merits and interceffion of the Lord Jefus Chrift, "" our alone Saviour and all-fufficient Redeemer,"
The Minister shall admonish him alfo, (as there fhall be caufe,) to fet his house in order, thereby to prevent inconveniencies; to take care for payment of his debts, and to make reftitution or fatisfaction where he hath done any wrong; to be reconciled to those with whom he hath been at variance, and fully to forgive all men their trefpaffes against him, as he expects forgivenefs at the hand of God.
Laftly, The Minifter may improve the prefent occafion to exhort thofe about the fick perfon, to confider their own mortality, to return to the Lord, and make peace with him; in health to prepare for fickness, death, and judgment; and all the days of their appointed time fo to wait until their change come, that when Chrift, who is our life, shall appear, they may appear with him in glory.
Concerning Burial of the Dead.
When any perfon departeth this life, let the dead body, upon the day of burial, be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for public burial, and there immediately interred, without any ceremony.
And because the customs of kneeling down, and praying by, or towards the dead corps, and other fuch ufages, in the place where it lies before it be carried to burial, are fuperftitious; and for that, praying, reading, and finging both in going to, and at the grave, have been grofsly abused, are no way beneficial to the dead, and have proved many ways hurtful to the living; therefore let all fuch things be laid aside.
Howbeit, we judge it very convenient, that the Chriftian friends, which accompany the dead body to the place appointed for public burial, do apply themselves to meditations and conferences fuitable to the occafion; and that the minifter, as upon other occafions, fo at this time, if he be prefent, may put them in remembrance of their duty.
That this shall not extend to deny any civil refpects or deferences at the burial, fuitable to the rank and condition of the party de ceafed, whiles he was living..
Concerning Public Solemn Fásting.
Hen fome great and notable judgments are either inflicted upon a people, or apparently imminent, or by fome extraordinary provocations notoriously deferved; as alfo when fome fpecial bleffing is to be fought and obtained, public folemn fafting (which is to continue the whole day) is a duty that God expecteth from that nation, or people.
A religious falt requires total abflinenice, not only from all food, (unless bodily weakness do manifeftly disable from holding out till the faft be ended, in which cafe fomewhat may be taken, yet very fparingly, to fupport nature, when ready to faint,) but alfo from all worldly labour, difcourfes, and thoughts, and from all bodily delights, and fuch like, (although at other times lawful,) rich apparel, ornaments, and fuch like, during the faft; and much more from whatever is in the nature, or ufe, fcandalous and offenfive, as gaudifh attire, lafcivious habits and gestures, and other vanities of either fex; which we recommend to all Ministers, in their places, diligent ly and zealoufly to reprove, as at other times, fo especially at a fast, without refpect of perfons, as there fhall be occafion.
Before the public meeting, each family and perfon apart are pri vately to use all religious care to prepare their hearts to fuch a folemn work, and to be early at the congregation.