Page images
PDF
EPUB

would be really desirable. If an impression in her favour has really been made on a man of sense and honour, it will be deepened rather than effaced by her dignified and retiring deportment. She may safely leave it with him to find means and opportunities of pressing his suit; while, on the other hand, many a young girl, by appearing too eager to take advantage of the slightest overture, has disgusted and discouraged a worthy admirer, or has made herself the sport of an unfeeling trifler. Should advances of an unequivocal character be made, a discreet young woman will do well immediately to consult her parents, if living, or some judicious, disinterested friend, whom she regards as their representative. Her confidence will be rewarded by the aid of their unbiassed judgment as to the character of the individual and the eligibility of the connexion, and by the protection it will throw around her character and interests. The man who would dissuade the object of his professed affections from imparting her secret to such a friend, would prove himself unworthy of her regard, and, in all probability, an interested adventurer, influenced by any motive rather than that of pure and honourable affection. The

young female who, in the exercise of early piety has been accustomed to hold intercourse with God, and to acknowledge him in all her ways, will feel this an occasion in which she especially needs Divine guidance, and will esteem it a peculiar privilege that she has access to an allwise and sympathizing Friend, to whom she may safely unbosom her perplexities and her desires.

She needs wisdom ; let her ask it of Him who gives liberally, and upbraids not. Let her sincerely seek to know the will of God concerning her ; let her earnestly pray to be preserved from mistake; that she may not be suffered to bestow her affections on one who is not a child of God, a fellow-heir with her of the grace of life, and who would not help, but hinder her in her progress heavenward. Let her

pray

for firmness and decision to deny and conquer herself, if an unwise partiality is begun to be felt. Let it be her sincere desire and her cordial unreserved surrender—"Lord, turn away

mine
eyes

from beholding vanity.”

.Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.” Thou shalt choose mine inheritance for me." Let her implore increasing measures of that holy influence which will make her contented with the allotments of Providence, and more concerned about preparation for the faithful discharge of duty in her present, or any other situation, than anxious about any change of circumstances according to her own, perhaps misguided inclinations. For want of this discreet and pious application to heavenly wisdom, too many, even well-inclined young people, have formed such connexions as have pleased their fancy, but plagued their hearts.

When deliberating on the wisdom and propriety of entering on an engagement of the nature here alluded to, it should be borne in mind that the importance of deciding aright is vastly enhanced by a consideration both of the nearness and the permanency of the connexion contemplated. It is very unpleasant to have a disagreeable master, servant, apprentice, neighbour, or occasional visitor : how much worse to have a disagreeable companion in the nearest and most intimate relation ; one against whom the door can never be shut; one who has access to the most private retreat—to the most retired hours ; one who is to be a constant companion, and from whose society there is no commanding any interval! Then, too, the intercourse is not only near and constant, but permanent : a disagreeable servant may be dismissed, or a service may be quitted; the term of an apprenticeship is limited, and will soon expire ; the visitor is but a transient and occasional evil; a change of residence on one part or the other may rid us of a disagreeable neighbour ; but the matrimonial connexion can terminate only with the life of one of the parties. Surely it ought to be discreetly and advisedly formed !

The first consideration ought to be of moral and religious character. This must invariably be the foundation of happiness in the married life. Let no young woman deceive herself with the idea that a bad man can be a good husband, or that he who neglects and disregards his duty to God, is likely to discharge it to his fellow-creatures; nor let her flatter herself with the delusive hope, that attachment to her alone will work any desirable change in his character. No; unless she would cruelly deceive herself, she must make her calculation on his present character and habits, and on the advance of the same. If he is a disobedient or a disrespectful son, it is reasonable to suppose he will be a tyrannical husband ; if his habits are self-indulgent and expensive, perhaps beyond his income now, it is not to be expected that he can maintain a wife

T

and family, or that he will practise the self-denial and economy needful to enable him to do so ; if he is now a sabbath-breaker, or a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God, there is no ground whatever to hope that he will be a suitable or a profitable companion for a young woman professing godliness, or that he will assist in teaching the knowledge of God to the rising generation. Where the character is objectionable or doubtful, no advantages in point of worldly circumstances can ever justify her in risking her happiness in such hands.

Among the matters which, though of minor importance when compared with personal character, are far from being trivial, is that of family connexions. It is true, that in a match of pure affection, the parties expect their happiness from each other; but their comfort, and perhaps their harmony, must be in no inconsiderable degree affected by the character and circumstances of family connexions on either side. If they are not respectable, it will be a perpetual source of mortification ; it will at least be a privation of all agreeable intercourse. If they are merely imprudent, it will probably lead to many anxieties and embarrassments. These things ought to be duly weighed and considered before-hand. It is not to be expected or desired that on the formation of a new connexion, the ties of birth and blood should be dissolved or disregarded, or that the individual should hide himself from his own flesh. If he were capable of doing so, it would present a poor pledge for his tenderness and affection in any new relation ; but certainly the con

nexions, as well as the individual, ought to be delicately yet carefully inquired into, and candidly communicated, before an engagement is formed. Both parties should consider whether they can accommodate themselves to each other's connexions, and resolve to treat them with kindness, courtesy, and respect; else that which ought to have been a barrier against forming the union, will prove a continual source of altercation to embitter it.

Congeniality in temper, taste, and pursuits, is also exceedingly desirable. There have been instances in which married persons have agreed to follow their separate objects, and to occupy, as it were, a different world from each other ; but if it be possible for such a state of things to subsist without actual disagreement, at least it must be in the privation of that intellectual intercourse in which much of the enjoyment of connubial life consists, and must have a tendency to cool and alienate the affections. The married life ought to be one of mutual dependence and thoroughly conjoined interests in every particular.

Nor ought circumstances and prospects to be overlooked. A mercenary spirit is odious and contemptible, and a match formed for interest is never happy ; yet a prudent attention to the probable means of support is indispensable both to integrity and comfort, and perfectly consistent with the purest and most disinterested attachment.

The attachment which bids fair for future comfort, is founded on mutual esteem and decided preference ; but then it is the part of discretion to ascertain, first, that there are no insurmountable

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »