Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
~ Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:28, Proverbs 5:18-19
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
~ Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
~ Ephesians 5:2
The Fourth Treatise, Of Husbands’ Particular Duties, by William Gouge.
1. Of the general heads of this Treatise.
Ephesians 5:25. Husbands love your own wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, &c.
As the wife is to know her duty, so the husband much more his, because he is to be a guide, and good example to his wife, he is to dwell with her according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7), the more eminent his place is, the more knowledge he ought to have now to walk worthy thereof. Neglect of duty in him is more dishonourable unto God, because by virtue of his place he is the image and glory of God (1 Cor 11:7), and more pernicious not to his wife only, but also to the whole family, because of that power and authority he hath, which he may abuse to the maintenance of his wickedness, having in the house no superi- our power to restrain his fury: whereas the wife, though never so wicked, may by the power of her husband be kept under, and restrained from outrage.
Wherefore to go on in order, in laying down the husband’s duties (as we have the wife’s) we are to consider,
1. The duties themselves.
2. The reasons to enforce them.
In setting down the duties we must note,
1. The matter wherein they consist.
2. The manner how they are to be performed.
The Apostle compriseth the whole matter of them all under Love, which is the sum and head of all. This we will first handle: and then proceed to other particulars.
2. Of that love which husbands owe their wives. (See Treatise 3, Section 2.)
This head of all the rest, Love, is expressly set down, and alone mentioned in this, and in many other places of Scripture, whereby it is evident, that all other duties are comprised under it.
To omit other places, where this duty is urged, in this place, Love is four times by name expressed, beside that it is intimated under many other terms and phrases (Eph 5:25,28,33).
Whosoever therefore taketh a wife, must, in this respect that she is his wife, love her: as it is noted of Isaac (the best pattern of husbands noted in the Scripture) he took Rebekah, she was his wife and he loved her (Gen 24:67).
Many good reasons hereof may be rendered.
1. Because no duty on the husband’s part can be rightly performed except it be seasoned with love. The Apostle exhorteth all Christians to do all their things in love (1 Cor 16:14): much more ought husbands: though in place they be above their wives, yet love may not be forgotten.
2. Because of all persons on earth a wife is the most proper object of love: nor friend, nor child, nor parent ought so to beloved as a wife: she is termed, the wife of his bosom (Deut 13:6), to shew that she ought to be as his heart in his bosom.
3. Because his place of eminency, and power of authority may soon puff him up, and make him insult over his wife, and trample her under his feet, if an entire love of her be not planted in his heart. To keep him from abusing his authority is love so much pressed upon him.
4. Because wives through the weakness of their sex (for they are the weaker vessels) are much prone to provoke their husbands. So as if there be not love predominant in the husband, there is like to be but little peace betwixt man and wife. Love covereth a multitude of imperfections.
5. Because as Christ by his love first manifested provoketh the Church to love him, so an husband by loving his wife should provoke her to love him again: shewing himself like the sun which is the fountain of light, and from which the moon receiveth what light she hath: so he should be the fountain of love to his wife.
Object. Love was before laid down as a common duty appertaining both to man and wife: how is it then here required as a particular and peculiar duty of an husband?
Answ. In regard of the general extent of love it is indeed a common duty belonging to the one as well as to the other, yea belonging to all Christians, to all men: for it is the very nature of love, and an especial property thereof, to seek not her own things (1 Cor 13:5), but the good of others, which all are bound to do by virtue of the bond of nature; more than others, Christians by virtue of the bond of the spirit: among Christians, especially wives and husbands by virtue of the matrimonial bond: of married couples, most of all husbands by virtue of their place and charge. Their place is a place of authority, which without love will soon turn into tyranny. Their charge is especially and above all, to seek the good of their wives: as wives are the chiefest, and greatest charge of husbands, so their chiefest and greatest care must be for them: the parents and friends of wives as they give over all their authority to their husbands, so they cast all care upon them; wherefore that husbands may take the more care of their wives, and the better seek their good, they ought after a peculiar manner to love them. Husbands are most of all bound to love: and bound to love their wives most of all. Thus this affection of love is a distinct duty in itself, peculiarly appertaining to an husband: and also a common condition which must be annexed to every other duty of an husband, to season and sweeten the same. His look, his speech, his carriage, and all his actions, wherein he hath to do with his wife, must be seasoned with love: love must shew itself in his commandments, in his reproofs, in his instructions, in his ad- monitions, in his authority, in his familiarity, when they are alone together, when they are in company before others, in civil affairs, in religious matters, at all times, in all things: as salt must be first and last upon the table, and eaten with every bit of meat, so must love be first in an husband’s heart, and last out of it, and mixed with every thing wherein he hath to do with his wife.
3. Of an husband’s hatred and want of love.
Contrary hereunto is hatred of heart: which vice as it is very odious and detestable in itself, so much more when the wife is made the object thereof. As love provoketh an husband to do his wife what good he can, so hatred, to do her what mischief he can. Moses noteth a man’s hatred of his wife to be a cause of much mischief (Deut 22:13): for the nearer, and dearer any persons be, the more violent will that hatred be which is fastened on them.
Hence was it that a divorce was suffered to be made betwixt a man and his wife, in case he hated her (Deut 24:3): which law questionless was made for relief of the wife, lest the hatred which her husband conceived against her should work her some mischief, if he were forced to keep her as his wife: which Christ seemeth to imply in theses words, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives (Matt 19:8). This therefore being so pestilent a poison, let hus- bands take heed how they suffer it to soak into them.
Neither is it sufficient for an husband not to hate his wife, for even the want of love, though it be only a privation, yet is it a great vice, and contrary also to the forenamed duty of love. Where this want of love is, there can be no duty well performed, even as when the great wheel of a clock, the first mover of all the rest, is out of frame, never a wheel can be in good order. They that think lightly hereof, plainly discover that there is little or no love of God in them at all: for if the Apostle’s inference be good, taken from a man’s neighbour or brother whom he hath seen, it will much more be good having relation to a wife (1 John 4:20): for how can he who loveth not his wife, (whom God hath given to him as a token of his favour, and as an help meet for him, to be in his bosom, and ever in his sight, yea to be no more two, but one flesh) love God whom he hath not seen? If any man saith, he loveth God, and hate his wife, he is a liar. Let husbands therefore by loving their wives give evidence that they love God.
4. Of an husband’s wife maintaining his authority. (See Treatise 3, Section 9.)
All the branches which grow out of this root of love, as they have respect to husbands’ duties, may be drawn to two heads:
1. A wife maintaining of his authority.
2. A right managing of the same.
That these two are branches of an husband’s love, is evident by the place wherein God hath set him, which is a place of authority; for the best good that any can do, and so the best fruits of love which he can shew forth to any, are such as are done in his own proper place, and by virtue thereof. If then an husband relinquish his authority, he disableth himself from doing that good, and shewing those fruits of love which otherwise he might. If he abuse his authority, he turneth the edge and point of his sword amiss: instead of holding it over his wife for her protection, he turneth it into her bowels to her destruc- tion, and so manifesteth thereby more hatred than love.
Now then to handle these two severally, and distinctly:
1. That an husband ought wisely to maintain his authority, is implied under this Apostolical precept, Husbands dwell with your wives according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7), that is, as such as are well able to maintain the honour of that place wherein God hath set you: not as sots and fools without understanding. The same is also implied under the titles of preeminence which the Scripture attributeth to husbands, as Lord, Master, head, guide, image and glory of God, &c. (See Treatise 3, Section 3.)
The honour and authority of God, and of his Son Christ Jesus, is maintained in and by the honour and authority of an hus- band, as the King’s authority is maintained by the authority of his Privy Counsel and other Magistrates under him; yea, as an husband’s authority is in the family maintained by the authority of his wife: (for as the man is the glory of God, so the woman is the glory of the man (1 Cor 11:7)).
The good of the wife herself is thus also much promoted, even as the good of the body is helped forward by the head’s abiding in his place; should the head be put under any of the parts of the body, the body and all the parts thereof could not but receive much damage thereby: even so the wife and whole family would feel the damage of the husband’s loss of his authority.
1. Quest. Is it in the power of the husband to maintain his own authority?
Answ. Yea, in his more than in any others: for note the counsel of the Apostle to Timothy, (though in another case, yet very pertinent to this purpose) Let no man despise thy youth (1 Tim 4:12). It was therefore in Timothy’s power to maintain his honour, and not to suffer it to be despised; and so is it in an husband’s power.
2. Quest. How may an husband best maintain his authority?
Answ. That direction which the Apostle given to Timothy to maintain his authority, may firstly be applied for this purpose unto an husband; Be an ensample in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in pureness: as if he had said, If thou walk before them worthy of thy place and calling, and worthy of that honour and respect which is due thereunto, shewing for the fruits of love, faith, and other like graces, assuredly they will reverence thy youth; but if otherwise thou carry thyself basely, and not beseeming a minister, thou givest them just occasion to despise thee. Even thus may husbands best maintain their authority by being an ensample in love, gravity, piety, honesty, &c. The fruits of these and other like graces shewed forth by husbands before their wives and family, cannot but work a reverend and dutiful respect in their wives and whole house towards them: for by this means they shall more clearly discern the image of God shine forth in their faces.
Object. Very goodness and grace itself is hated of wicked and ungodly wives: it was an act of piety that made Michal despise David.
Answ. 1. Grant it to be so: yet this may be a good direction for such husbands as have not such wicked wives.
2. This doth not always so fall out, no, nor yet for the most part in those that are wicked; true virtue and integrity doth oft cause admiration in such as love it not.
3. Though some be of so crooked and perverse a disposition as to take occasion of contempt, where none is given, yet shall that husband justify himself before God and man, that carrieth himself worthy of has place.
5. Of husbands losing their authority.
Contrary is their practice who by their profaneness, riotousness, drunkenness, lewdness, lightness, unthriftiness, and other like base carriage, make themselves contemptible, and so lose their authority: though a wife ought not to take these occasions to despise her husband, yet is it a just judgment on him to be despised, seeing he maketh himself contemptible.
Contrary also to the forenamed directions is the stern, rough, and cruel carriage of husbands, who by violence and tyranny go about to maintain their authority. Force may indeed cause fear, but a slavish fear, such a fear as breedeth more hatred than love, more inward contempt, than outward respect.
And contrary is their servile disposition, who against their own judgment yield to the bent of their wife’s mind in such things as are unlawful: they will lose their authority rather than give discontent to their wife: which is a fault expressly forbidden by the law (Deut 13:6,7): and yet a fault whereinto not only wicked Ahab (1 Kings 21:7,9), but also wise Solomon fell (1 Kings 11:4): how heinous a fault, and how grievous a fall this was in Solomon, the fearful issue thereof sheweth. Like to him not in wisdom, but in its point of egregious folly, are such as upon their wife’s instigation, suffer Priests and Jesuits, to lurk and celebrate Masses in their houses, and yield to be present thereat themselves. Like to Ahab are such Magistrates as suffer their wives to oversway them in course of Justice: hence it cometh to pass that more petitions and suits are made to the wives of Magistrates in the cases of Justice than to the Magistrates themselves: and the favour of their wives is more esteemed than their own: so as the power of governing, and the main stroke in determining matters, is from their wives; they are but the mouths and instruments of their wives, in so much as among the common people the title of their places and offices is given to their wives. Some husbands suffer this by reason of their fearful, and foolish disposition, wanting courage and wisdom to maintain the honour of their places against the insolency of their wives: others upon a subtle, covetous, wicked mind, that by the means of their wives there may be more freedom for receiving bribes. Among these I may reckon those who against their own mind, to satisfy their wives’ mind, suffer both wives and children to follow the fashion, to attire themselves unbeseeming their places, to frequent light company, with the like; and also those who upon their wife’s importunity are moved (as Samson was) to reveal such secrets as are not meet to be known.
Husbands may hearken to their wives’ moving good things, but they may not obey them in evil things: if they do, their fault is double: 1. in doing evil: 2. in losing their authority.
Let husbands therefore be very watchful against their wives’ evil instigations. Satan laboured to supplant Job by his wife: and by this doth he subvert many in these days.
6. Of husbands’ high account of wives. (See Treatise 3, Section 3.)
As authority must be well maintained, so must it be well managed: for which purpose two things are needful:
1. That an husband tenderly respect his wife.
2. That providently he care for her.
An husband’s tender respect of his wife is Inward, Outward.
Inward in regard of his Opinion of her, Affection to her.
Outward in regard of his carriage towards her.
For an husband’s opinion of his wife, two things are to be weighed. 1. Her place. 2. Her person.
1. Her place is indeed a place of inferiority, and subjection, yet the nearest to equality that may be: a place of common equity in many respects, wherein man and wife are after a sort even fellows, and partners: Hence then it followeth that,
The husband must account his wife a yoke-fellow and companion (1 Peter 3:7). This is one point of giving honour to the wife: and it is implied under that phrase whereby the end of making a wife is noted (Gen 2:18), which in our English is translated, meet for him, word for word as before him, that is, like himself, one in whom he might see himself, or even (to use our Apostle’s word) himself (Eph 5:28). These phrases imply a kind of fellowship: as also the many prerogatives that are common to both, which have been noted before (see Treatise 3, Section 4).
As a wife’s acknowledgement of her husband’s superiority is the ground-work of all her duties, so an husband’s acknowledgement of that fellowship which is betwixt him and his wife, will make him carry himself much more amiably, familiarly, lovingly, and every way as beseemeth a good husband towards her.
7. Of that fellowship which is betwixt man and wife, notwithstanding a wife’s inferiority.
Object. Fellowship betwixt man and wife cannot stand with a wife’s inferiority and subjection.
Answ. They are of very mean capacity that cannot see how these may stand together. Is there not a fellowship betwixt superiour and inferiour Magistrates in relation to their subjects? yea the Scripture mentioneth a fellowship betwixt Christ the head and other Saints in relation to the glory whereof all are made partakers (for it termeth us joint heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17)) and in relation to God’s people a fellowship betwixt God and his ministers (for it termeth them labourers together with God (1 Cor 3:9)) yet none can deny the Saints, and Ministers to be inferiour and in subjection to Christ, and God. But distinctly to answer the objection.
1. There may not only be a fellowship, but also an equality in some things betwixt those that in other things are one of them inferiours and subject: as betwixt man and wife in the power of one another’s bodies: for the wife (as well as the husband) is therein both a servant, and a mistress, a servant to yield her body, a mistress to have the power of his.
2. There may be fellowship in the very same things wherein is inferiority: for fellowship hath respect to the thing itself, inferiority to the measure, and manner: as in giving light the sun and moon have a fellowship, but in the measure and manner the moon is inferiour: the moon hath not so much light as the sun, and that which it hath it hath from the sun: and as in governing, the King and other Magistrates have a fellowship, but in the measure, and manner of government they are inferiour to him: Even so is it betwixt man and wife, in many things wherein there is a fellowship, the wife is notwithstanding inferiour: so as inferiority may stand with fellowship.
3. There are no unequals betwixt which there is so near a parity as betwixt man and wife: if therefore there may be a fellowship betwixt any that are superiour, and inferiour one to another, then much more betwixt man and wife.
As the soul therefore ruleth over the body, by a mutual and loving consent and agreement, so must a man over his wife.
8. Of husbands’ too mean account of wives.
Contrary is the conceit of many who think there is no difference betwixt a wife and servant but in familiarity: and that wives were made to be servants to their husbands, because subjection, fear and obedience are required of them: whence it cometh to pass that wives are oft used little better than servants. A conceit and practice savouring too much of heathenish, and sottish arrogancy. Did God at first take the wife out of man’s side, that man should tread her under his feet? or rather than he should set her at his side next to him above all children, servants, or any other in the family, how near, or dear unto him soever? for none can be nearer than a wife, and none ought to be dearer.
9. Of husbands’ good esteem of their own wives. (See Treatise 3, Section 5.)
2. For the person of a wife, An husband ought to esteem that particular person to whom by God’s providence his is joined in marriage, to be the fittest, and best for him. This is implied under that particle of restraint (own) noted by the Apostle where he saith husbands love your own wives (Eph 5:25), and again presseth it under a comparison of the body (as your own bodies (Eph 5:28)). Every one thinketh his own body best and fittest for him. A man might happily wish some defects or enormities in his own body to be amended, and desire that his were like an others, more strait, strong, and comely than his own, yet would he not have his head to be upon that other man’s body: the same opinion ought a man (that would love his wife) to have of her.
Good reason there is for him so to do: for true is the proverb, if it be rightly taken, marriages are first made in heaven, that is, God hath an over-ruling hand in ordering them: which Solomon implieth by that opposition which he maketh betwixt wealth and a wife (Prov 19:14): that is from our fathers, this from the Lord: in which respect he saith, he which findeth a wife receiveth favour of the Lord (Prov 18:22). If therefore thou art loved of God, and lovest him, he will make thy wife prove a good thing to thee.
Object. A wife may be a very lewd and wicked woman: how then can she be accounted the best wife?
Answ. 1. It may be she was good enough when first she was brought to thee, but thou by thine evil example, or negligent government, or hard usage, hast made her so bad as she is. Which if it be so, then is she to be considered not as thou hast married her, but as thou didst marry her.
2. Though she be not in relation to other wives the best in condition, yet in relation to thee she may be the best in event: if not for thine ease and quiet, yet for trial of thy wisdom and patience: and so as a school of virtue she may be unto thee. As a skilful pilot’s sufficiency is tried and known by tempestuous seas, so a man’s wisdom by a troublesome wife. Yea she may be given thee as a punishment of some former sins, as seeking after a beautiful, honourable, rich, proper wife, rather than a religious and honest one: or seeking her without any direction or help first sought of God, or otherwise than thou hast war- rant from God, as by stealth, and without parents’ consent; or some other sin in another kind, to bring thee to repentance: or as a means to restrain and wean thee from some future sins whereunto thou are subject, and so prove a blessed cross to keep thee from a fearful curse.
10. Of husbands’ preposterous opinion of their own wives.
Contrary is a corrupt and perverse opinion which many have of their own wives, thinking them of all other the worst and unfittest; yea though they be such as every way both in gifts and qualities of mind, and also in grace and comeliness of body deserve all good respect and esteem. Whereas others (which look with a single eye) commend their good parts, they misinterpret and misjudge all: if their wives be religious, they think them hypocrites: if grave, sober and modest, melancholy: if they take occasion (though never so just) of going abroad, gadders, and lightfooted. This bad opinion of their wives is a cause that their hearts are clean removed from their own, and set upon strange flesh: whereby the devil gaineth what he desireth, that is, to put asunder such as God hath joined together, and to join those whom God hath put asunder.
11. Of husbands’ entire affection to their wives. (See Treatise 3, Section 7.)
An husband’s affection to his wife must be answerable to his opinion of her: he ought therefore to delight in his wife entirely, that is, so to delight in her as wholly and only delighting in her: In this respect the Prophet’s wife is called the desire or de- light, or pleasure of his eyes (Eze 24:16): that wherein he most of all delighted, and therefore by a propriety so called.
Such delight did Isaac take in his wife as it drove out a contrary strong passion, namely the grief which he took for the departure of his mother: for it is noted that he loved her, and was comforted after his mother’s death (Gen 24:67).
This kind of affection the wise-man doth elegantly set forth in these words, Rejoice with the wife of thy youth: Let her be as the loving hinds, and pleasant roe, and be thou ravished always with her love (Prov 5:18,19). Here note both the metaphors, and also the hyperbole which are used to set forth an husband’s delight in his wife. In the metaphors again note both the creatures whereunto a wife is resembled, and also the attributes given to them. The creatures are two, an hind and a roe, which are the females of an hart and a roe-buck: now it is noted of the hart and roe-buck, that of all other beasts they are most enamoured (as I may so speak) with their mates, and even mad again in their heat and desire after them.
These metaphors hath Solomon used to set forth that unfeigned and earnest, entire and ardent affection which an husband ought to bear unto his wife: which being taken in a good sense, and rightly applied, so as they exceed not the bonds of Chris- tian modesty and decency, are very fit, and pertinent to the purpose: if we stretch them beyond modesty, we wrong the penman of them, or rather the Holy Ghost that directed him, and propound a pernicious pattern unto husbands.
The attributes given to the forenamed creatures much amplify the point: the former is termed a loving hind, the latter a pleasant roe, word for word an hind of loves, a roe of favour, that is, exceedingly loved and favoured: (for to set forth the ex- tent of God’s love unto his Son, Christ is called the son of his love).
These comparisons applied to a wife, do lively set forth that delight which an husband ought to take in her, and yet is it much further amplified by the hyperbole used in this phrase, be thou ravished with her love, word for word err thou in her love, by which no sinful error, or dotage is meant, but a lawful earnest affection: implying two things especially: First so far to exceed, as to make a man oversee some such blemishes in his wife, as others would soon espy and mislike: or else to count them no blemishes, delighting in her never a whit the less for them. For example, if a man have a wife, not very beautiful, or proper, but having some deformity in her body, some imperfection in her speech, sight, gesture, or any part of her body, yet so to affect her, and delight in her, as if she were the fairest, and every way most complete woman in the world. Secondly, so highly to esteem, so ardently to affect, so tenderly to respect her, as others may think him even to dote on her. An husband’s affection to his wife cannot be too great if it is kept within the bonds of honesty, sobriety and comeliness. The wife’s affection ought to be as great to her husband, yet because of the husband’s place of authority, he must especially take all occasions to manifest this his inward affection. Read the Song of Songs, and in it you shall observe such affection manifested by Christ to his Spouse, as would make one think he did (with reverence in an holy manner to use the phrase) even err in his love and dote on her. A good pattern and precedent for husbands. For nothing is more lovely than a good wife.
12. Of the Stoical disposition of husbands to their wives.
Contrary is the disposition of such husbands as have no heat, or heart of affection in them: but Stoic-like delight no more in their own wives than in any other women, nor account them any dearer than others. A disposition no way warranted by the word. The faithful Saints of God before mentioned, as also many other like to them, were no Stoics, without all affection: nor did they think it a matter unbeseeming them after a peculiar manner to delight in their wives (witness Isaac’s sporting with his wife (Gen 26:8)) for this is a privilege which appertaineth to the estate of marriage. But that I be not mistaken herein, let it be noted that the affection whereof I speak is not a carnal, sensual, beastly affection, but such an one as may stand with Christian gravity and sobriety: having relation to the soul of a man’s wife as well as to her body, grounded both on the near conjunction of marriage, and also on the inward qualities of his wife.
Thus far of an husband’s inward respect of his wife. It followeth to speak of his outward carriage towards her.
13. Of an husband’s kind acceptance of such things as his wife doth. (See Treatise 3, Section 10.)
S. Peter giveth a general rule for an husband’s outward carriage to his wife, which is, that he dwell with her according to knowledge, that is, as a man able to order his carriage wisely to his own honour and his wife’s good, that so she may have just cause to bless God that ever she was joined to such an husband.
Out of this general these two branches sprout forth.
1. That an husband give no just offence to his wife.
2. That wisely he order that offence which is given by her.
To avoid giving of offence he must have respect,
1. To that which she doth as duty to him.
2. To that which he doth as duty to her.
In regard of the former two things are requisite:
1. That he kindly accept what she is willing and able to do.
2. That he wisely commend and reward what she doth well.
Thus having for orders’ sake laid down these heads, I will distinctly handle the several points.
The first particular wherein an husband sheweth himself to be a man of knowledge in walking before his wife, is by a kind and respective acceptation of every good duty which his wife performeth. Abraham in testimony of his good acceptance of Sarah’s pains in nursing her child, made a great feast when the child was weaned (Gen 21:8): and Elkanah on a like respect gave liberty to his wife to do what seemed her best (1 Sam 1:23).
A great encouragement must this needs be unto wives to be subject unto their husbands in all things, when they observe no part of their subjection to be carelessly neglected, but rather graciously accepted: it quickens the spirit of a wife to think that her care and pains in pleasing her husband shall not be in vain.
14. Of husbands slighting and rejecting their wives’ goodness.
Contrary is their practice who thinking all which a wife doth to be but her duty, take little or no notice thereof; or if they cannot but take notice of it, yet lightly regard it, and slightly pass it over. This oftentimes maketh a wife even repent the good she hath done, as David repented the service which he had done for Nabal (1 Sam 25:21). The truth is that wives ought rather to look unto God for his acceptation than unto their husbands: and though their husbands will take no notice, or not regard what good thing they do, yet for conscience sake, and for the Lord’s sake to do their duty: But yet notwithstanding considering our weakness and backwardness unto every duty, it cannot be denied but that an husband’s slight regarding of his wife’s goodness is an occasion to make her weary thereof: and that he doth as much as in him lieth to make her repent thereof.
But what may we say of such as scornfully reject their wife’s duty, yea like them the worse for making conscience thereof, and so (clean contrary to the rule of Christianity) overcome goodness with evil? (Rom 12:21) Surely they shew a very diaboli- cal spirit to be in them: and cannot but minister much grief, and offence to their wives, and make that which they do to be very irksome and tedious. Fathers ought not to provoke their children, much less husbands their wives (Eph 6:4).
15. Of husbands’ courteous accepting their wives’ reverend carriage. (See Treatise 3, Sections 11 and 55.)
For the better conceiving of this so needful a point I will somewhat more particularly and distinctly apply the same to the several duties of a wife: which were drawn to two heads – Reverence, Obedience.
For the first, if a wife manifest her dutiful respect of her husband by any reverend behaviour, gesture, or speech, he ought to meet her (as we say) in the midst of the way, and manifest his gracious acceptance thereof by some like courteous behaviour, gesture, and speech, being seemly, not foolish.
Object. Thus shall an husband abase himself, and disgrace his place.
Answ. The courtesy which I speak of as it cometh from a superiour, being a mere voluntary matter and a token of kindness and favour, is no abasement of himself, but an advancement of his inferiour: a great grace to her, no disgrace to him. Abram was counted of the Hittites a Prince of God, yet in communing with them he bowed unto them (Gen 23:6,7). It is noted as a commendable thing in Esau, that though at that time he was his brother’s superior (at least he took himself so to be) yet observing how Jacob reverenced him, bowing seven times to the ground, he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck (Gen 33:3,4). Most pertinent to the point is the example of King Ahasuerus, who beholding Esther’s reverend stand- ing before him, held out his sceptre unto her, which in a King is a great courtesy (Esth 5:2).
But to put the matter out of all question, let the example of Christ noted in Solomon’s Song be observed, and we shall find his courtesy every way answering the reverence of his Spouse.
16. Of husbands’ too great loftiness.
Contrary is a lofty carriage of husbands to their wives, who overlook all reverence shewed by wives, no more respecting their wives in this case, than children or servants: or than King’s do respect the reverence of their subjects. Oft have I noted that there is a great difference betwixt a wife and all other inferiours, in which respect all evidences of reverence should much better be respected; yet we know that Kings and Queens will put out their hands to be kissed by their subjects when they kneel before them, which is a token of courtesy: how much more ought husbands to shew courtesy? Unworthy they are to be reverenced of their wives, who too lord-like overlook them.
17. Of husbands’ ready yielding to their wives’ humble suits. (See Treatise 3, Section 15.)
Again, it being a token of reverence in a wife humbly to make known her desire to her husband, he ought to shew so much courtesy as readily to grant her desire: this courtesy the forenamed Ahasuerus afforded to Esther (Esth 5:3): David to Bathsheba (1 Kings 1:28): Isaac to Rebekah (Gen 28:1): Abraham to Sarah (Gen 16:6), and many other husbands to their wives. Abraham shewed herein such respect to his wife, that though the thing which she desired were grievous to him, yet he yielded to his wife (Gen 21:10,11).
Object. God first commanded him so to do.
Answ. This addeth the more force unto the argument, shewing that it is God’s express will, that an husband should shew this kind of courtesy to his wife. Much more ought a man to do at his wife’s request than at any other’s, whether friend, child, or parent: yea much more free, forward and cheerful ought he to shew himself in granting his wife’s request than any other’s: provided notwithstanding that her desire be of that which may lawfully be granted: to yield in things unlawful is to lose his authority, as was shewed before (see Section 5).
18. Of husbands’ harshness to their wives.
Contrary is the harshness of their disposition who yield to their wives’ request as an hard-milch-cow letteth down her milk, not without much ado: whereby the grace of all their yielding is taken away. There can be no courtesy in yielding, when it is against their mind and will forced from them: their wives must ask, and entreat again and again, yea be forced to use the mediation of others to persuade their husbands to yield to their request before they will yield, if at all they yield. What is this but to proclaim to all the world that there is no affection in them to their wives? If a wife’s breath be strange to her husband, assuredly his heart is first strange to her: which is the ready way to make him set his heart on strange women.
19. Of husbands forbearing to exact all that they may. (See Treatise 3, Sections 38, 39, 43, 44.)
As a wife’s reverence so also her obedience must be answered with her husband’s courtesy. In testimony whereof, An husband must be ready to accept that wherein his wife sheweth herself willing to obey him. He ought to be sparing in exacting too much of her: in this case he ought so to frame his carriage towards her, as the obedience which she performeth, may rather come from her own voluntary disposition, from a free conscience to God-wards, even because God hath placed her in a place of subjection, and from a wife-like love, than from any exaction on her husband’s part, and as it were by force.
Husbands ought not to exact of their wives, whatsoever wives ought to yield unto if it be exacted. They must observe what is lawful, needful, convenient, expedient, fit for their wives to do, yea and what they are most willing to do before they be too peremptory in exacting it. For example,
1. Though the wife ought to go with her husband, and dwell where he thinks meet, yet ought not he (unless by virtue of some urgent calling he be forced thereto) remove her from place to place, and carry her from that place where she is well settled without her good liking. Jacob consulted with his wives, and made trial of their willingness, before he carried them from their father’s house (Gen 31:4).
2. Though she ought cheerfully to entertain what guests he bringeth into the house, yet ought not he to be grievous and burdensome therein unto her: the greatest care and pains for entertaining guests lieth on the wife: she ought therefore to be tendered therein.
If he observe her conscionable and wise, well able to manage and order matters about house, yet loath to do any thing without his consent, he ought to be ready and free in yielding his consent, and satisfying her desire, as Elkanah (1 Sam 1:23): and if she be bashful and backward in asking consent, he ought voluntarily of himself to offer it: yea and to give her a general consent to order and dispose matters as in her wisdom she seeth meet, as the said Elkanah did: (Do (saith he to his wife) what seemeth thee good (Prov 31:11)) and the husband of that good housewife which Solomon describeth.
A general consent is especially requisite for ordering of household affairs: for it is a charge laid upon wives to guide the house (1 Tim 5:14): whereby it appeareth that the businesses of the house appertain, and are most proper to the wife: in which respect she is called the housewife: so as therein husbands ought to refer matters to their ordering, and not restrain them in every particular matter from doing any thing without a special licence and direction. To exemplify this in some particulars, it appertaineth in peculiar to a wife,
1. To order the decking and trimming of the house (Prov 31:21,22).
2. To dispose the ordinary provision for the family (Prov 31:15).
3. To rule and govern maid servants (Gen 16:6).
4. To bring up children while they are young, with the like (1 Tim 5:10; Titus 2:4). These therefore ought he with a general consent to refer to her discretion (2 Kings 4:19): with limitation only of these two cautions.
1. That she have in some measure sufficient discretion, wit, and wisdom, and be not too ignorant, foolish, simple, lavish, &c.
2. That he have a general oversight in all, and so interpose his authority as he suffer nothing that is unlawful or unseemly to be done by his wife about house, children, servants, or other things: for,
1. The general charge of all lieth principally upon him.
2. He shall give an account unto God for all things that are amiss in his house. 3. The blame of all will also before men lie upon him.
But those two cautions provided, he ought together with his general consent put trust in his wife (Prov 31:11) (as Potiphar did in Joseph (Gen 39:6)) making herein a difference betwixt a wife, and all others whether children of years, friends, or ser- vants whom he employeth in his affairs. Them in every particular he may direct for matter and manner, and take a strait ac- count of them for expenses laid out, or other things done: because what they do is wholly and only for another. To his wife (who is a joint parent of his children, and governour of his house, to whose good the husband’s wealth redoundeth, and in that respect doth for herself that which she doth for her husband) greater liberty, and licence must be given.
20. Of husbands’ too much strictness towards their wives.
Contrary is the rigour and austerity of many husbands, who stand upon the uttermost step of their authority, and yield no more to a wife than to any other inferiour. Such are they,
1. Who are never contented or satisfied with any duty the wife performeth, but ever are exacting more and more.
2. Who care not how grievous and burdensome they are to their wives: grievous by bringing such guests into the house as they know cannot be welcome to them: burdensome by too frequent, and unseasonable inviting of guests, or imposing other like extraordinary businesses, over and above the ordinary affairs of the house. Too frequent imposing of such things, cannot but breed much wearisomeness. Unseasonable (as when the wife is weak by sickness, child-bearing, giving suck or other like means, and so not able to give that contentment which otherwise she would) cannot but much disquiet her, and give her great offence.
3. Who hold their wives under as if they were children or servants, restraining them from doing any thing without their knowledge and particular express consent.
4. Who are over busy in prying into every business of the house, and will have their hand in all. Besides that such husbands afford no opportunity to their wives of giving proof of the understanding, wit, wisdom, care, and other gifts which God hath endowed them withal, they take away that main end for which a wife was given a man, namely, to be an help (Gen 2:18). Such husbands cannot but neglect other more weighty matters, which more properly belong unto them. For observe it and you shall find, that such husbands as are most busy about the private affairs of the house appertaining to their wives, are most negligent of such affairs as appertain unto themselves: they think they walk in integrity, but yet are they not just nor wise therein: for the just man walketh in his integrity (Prov 20:7), and the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way (Prov 14:8): that integrity which appertaineth to his own peculiar place; and his own way: but every fool will be meddling (Prov 20:3), namely, with things not belonging to his place.
5. Who are over suspicious of their wives, and thereupon over strict in taking account of them. S. Paul calleth surmises evil (1 Tim 6:4), and that not without just cause: for evil they are in their nature, and evil in their effects, being occasions of many mischiefs: but in none so evil as in husbands over their wives. If a wife’s fidelity (to whose good the welfare of the family, and increase of the stock redoundeth as well as to the husband’s) be without just cause suspected, who shall be trusted? It is the overthrow of many families, that servants are trusted, and not wives.
Thus far of an husband’s kind acceptance of that which his wife is willing and able to do.
21. Of husbands encouraging their wives in good things.
The love which an husband oweth to his wife, further requireth that he wisely commend and reward what she hath well done. That which the Apostle saith of the Magistrate’s authority, may fitly be applied to an husband’s in relation to his wife, Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same (Rom 13:3). It is expressly noted in the description of a good husband, that he praiseth his wife (Prov 31:28,29): and in that he saith, Give her of the fruit of her hands (Prov 31:31), it is implied also that he rewardeth her.
This is an undoubted evidence of his good acceptance of her duty, and a further encouragement to stir her up to go on and continue in well doing. Yea this is also an evidence of his joy and delight both in her person, and also in her well doing. If there be no delight in one’s person, well doing will rather stir up envy than joy: and they that envy a man’s well doing, will never commend, or reward him for it.
In an husband’s commending of his wife this caveat must be put: that he so order his commendation as it favour not of flattery, or dotage: nor yet stir up lust or envy in others.
22. Of husbands ungrateful discouraging their wives.
Contrary is an ungrateful, if not envious disposition of such husbands, as passing by many good things ordinarily and usually every day done by their wives without any approbation, commendation or remuneration, are ready to dispraise the least slip, or neglect in them; and that in such general terms as if they never did any thing well, so as their wives may well complain and say as it is in the proverb,
Oft did I well, and that hear I never: Once did I ill, and that hear I ever.
Yet such will be ready to praise other men’s wives, and upbraid their own wives with the examples of those other, when their own do far excel them in all kind of goodness. What doth this shew but that either they take no notice of their own wife’s goodness, or else by reason of the commonness thereof little regard it? If their wives have not the more grace in them, this disposition is enough not only to discourage them from doing any good duty, but also to breed jealousy in them, and to alienate their hearts from them.
23. Of an husband’s mildness. (See Treatise 3, Section 10.)
Hitherto of that respect which an husband is to have of that duty which his wife performeth to him.
For avoiding just offence, an husband must further have good respect to that which as duty he doth to his wife. As kindly he must accept duty at his wife’s hands, so mildly he must perform that duty which he oweth to her.
This mildness is an especial fruit, and evidence of love, and a notable means to take away all offence that otherwise might be taken from many things which he doth. Sugar and honey are not more pleasant to the tongue, than mildness to the heart; it causeth such things as otherwise are irksome and grievous to the soul, to be well taken and applied, even as bitter pills dipped in sweet syrup, or rolled up in the soft pap of an apple, are soon swallowed down and well digested. If an husband desire to be accounted a servant of the Lord he must learn this lesson: For the servant of the Lord must be gentle to all men (2 Tim 2:24). If any other servant of the Lord, much more husbands: if to all men, most of all to their wives: and that in many respects.
1. Because of the near union betwixt man and wife.
2. Because of the joint authority she hath with him over others: that herein he may be a precedent and example to her.
3. Because of her weakness: glasses are tenderly handled: a small knock soon breaks them.
24. Of husbands’ bitterness.
Contrary is bitterness, a vice expressly forbidden, and that in particular to husbands. A vice that cannot stand with an husband-like love: whereupon the Apostle commanding the one forbiddeth the other, Love (saith he) and be not bitter (Col 3:19). Nothing more turneth the edge of his authority, perverteth the use of his government, provoketh the stomach of his wife, maketh his words and deeds less regarded, than bitterness. It is as gall and wormwood mixed with sweet and whole- some meats, which causeth that they cannot be well digested, but with violence are spit out again so soon as ever they be tasted. Men in authority are much prone hereunto: and therefore O husbands be so much the more watchful against it, love your wives and be not bitter unto them.
25. Of the titles which an husband giveth to his wife. (See Treatise 3, Section 13 and 14.)
The forenamed mildness of an husband must be manifested in his – Speech, Carriage.
For so far as reverence extends itself in the duties of wives, must mildness be extended in the duties of husbands.
Whether an husband’s speech be to his wife before her face, or of her behind her back, it must be sweetened with mildness (see Treatise 2, Part 2, Section 36).
1. For his speech to her, 1. the titles wherewith he calleth her, 2. the instructions which he giveth her, 3. the commandments which he layeth upon her, 4. the reproofs wherewith he checketh her, must all be mixed with mildness.
Among other titles, the most ordinary and usual title (wife) is a mild and kind title, and least offensive of all other: if an husband give any other title to his wife, it must be such an one as manifesteth kindness, familiarity, love, and delight. Such are all the titles which Christ giveth to the Church, as Spouse, Love, Dove, with the like. I do not deny but that in the Song of Solomon, and in other places of Scripture many titles are given and speeches used by Christ to the Church which are not meet to be used by husbands to their wives, because they are metaphorical, and hyperbolical: but yet in them all we may observe tokens of amiableness, kindness, and mildness, which is the end for which I have alleged his example.
But contrary are such titles as on the one side set the wife in too high a place over her husband, as Lady, Mistress, Dame, Mother, &c. And on the other side set her in too mean a rank, as woman, wench, &c. And their Christian names contracted, as Sal, Mal, Bess, Nan, &c. and names of kindred, as Sister, and Cousin: and, opprobrious names, as slut, drab, queen; and names more befitting beasts than wives, as Cole, Brown, Muggle, &c.
Object. These are titles of mildness, kindness, and much familiarity: for husbands call their wives by these names, not when they are angry with them and displeased, but ordinarily, and usually, even when they are best pleased.
Answ. The mildness and familiarity which is required of an husband must be such as may stand with his authority and place of eminency (as some of those names do not,) and with that near conjunction which is betwixt man and wife above all others (as other do not), and with Christian gravity and discretion (as other do not). Christians therefore must take heed that by their practice they justify not corrupt customs.
26. Of an husband’s manner of instructing his wife.
2. To instruction the Apostle expressly annexeth meekness. Instruct (saith he) with meekness, those that oppose themselves. If Ministers must use meekness when they instruct their people, much more husbands when they instruct their wives: if in case of opposition meekness must not be laid aside, then in no case, at no time.
In this case to manifest meekness, let these rules be observed.
1. Note the understanding and capacity of thy wife, and accordingly fit thine instructions: if she be of mean capacity, give precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little: a little at once oft given (namely every day something) will arise in time to a great measure, and so arise, as, together with knowledge of the thing taught, love of the person that teacheth will increase.
2. Instruct her in private betwixt thyself and her, that so her ignorance may not be blazed forth: private actions passing be- twixt man and wife are tokens of much kindness and familiarity.
3. In the family so instruct children and servants when she is present, as she may learn knowledge thereby: there can be no more meek and gentle manner of instructing, than by one to instruct another.
4. Together with thy precepts mix sweet and pithy persuasions, which are testimonies of great love.
Contrary is an harsh and rough manner of instructing, when husbands go about to thrust into their wives’ heads, as it were by violence, deep mysteries which they are not able to conceive, and yet if they conceive not, they will be angry with them, and in anger give them evil language, and proclaim their ignorance before children, servants, and strangers. This harshness is ordinarily so fruitless, and withal so exasperateth a woman’s spirit, as I think he were better clean omit the duty than do it after such a manner.
27. Of an husband’s manner of commanding his wife any thing. (See Treatise 3, Sections 43, 51, 52, 63, 64.)
3. The commandments which an husband giveth to his wife, whether they be affirmative (bidding her to do something) or negative (forbidding her to do this or that) must all be seasoned with mildness. For which end respect must be had to the matter and manner of his commandments.
In regard of the matter the things which he commandeth his wife to do, must be
1. Such as are indeed lawful and honest.
2. Such as she is persuaded to be so.
3. Such as beseem her place.
4. Such as are of weight and moment.
And on the contrary, the things which he forbiddeth must be,
1. Such as are indeed unlawful to be done.
2. Such as he can evidently prove unto her to be unlawful.
3. Such as are unbeseeming her place.
4. Such as will have some evil and mischievous effect if they be done.
1. To command a thing unlawful, or forbid a thing which ought to be done, is to bring his own authority into opposition with God’s: in which case he bringeth his wife into this strait, either to reject God’s commandment or his. How then can she think that her husband loveth her, when he bringeth her into such snares and straits, that she must needs fall into the gulf of God’s displeasure, or knock against the rock of her husband’s offence? Mildness is far from such commandments.
2. The like may be said of such things as to a wife’s conscience seem to be sinful, if they be enjoined to her; or her bounden duty, if they be forbidden: especially if she have any ground for her conscience out of God’s word. The conscience is subject to God alone: if it be forced it would be a fearful horror, and a very hell in that party whose conscience is forced: She that doubteth is condemned if she do that whereof she maketh doubt.
1. Object. In doubtful matters the commanding power of a governour is sufficient warrant and ground to resolve the conscience of them that are under authority.
Answ. 1. In things merely doubtful concerning which the party in subjection hath not warrant out of God’s Word one way or other, it may be so. But when the conscience doth not doubt and hang in suspence, but is out of some ground taken from God’s Word persuaded that that which is commanded is unlawful, or that which is forbidden is a bounden duty, than to do this, or to leave that undone, is to the party so persuaded a sin: and this is the doubting (whereof the Apostle speaketh) that condemneth a man. In this case to urge a wife to do this, or not to do that, is to urge her to sin: which a mild spirit and loving heart will not do.
2. Though the husband’s command be sufficient warrant to the wife, and if he peremptorily press her to this or that, she ought to yield, yet the love and mildness required of an husband should make him so to tender her as to remit something of his power, and when he seeth her conscience troubled about his command, to relieve her conscience by forbearing to press that which seemeth so burdensome to her. A husband may sin in pressing that too much upon his wife, which she upon his press may without sin yield unto.
28. Of an husband’s wise carriage when his wife is erroneously scrupulous. (See Treatise 4, Section 66.)
2. Object. What if an husband upon his knowledge observe his wife to be erroneously scrupulous, and to misinterpret and misapply the word of God which she maketh the ground of her scruple?
Answ. He must first labour to resolve her conscience by a plain discovery of her error; which is a true and a great token of love: if notwithstanding all that he can do in that kind she cannot be brought to yield to that which he would have, then he must carefully observe these two things.
1. Whether her refusing to yield, be an obstinacy, or weakness. 2. Whether it be above a slight or weighty matter.
By the reasons which she rendereth, and her manner of pressing them, he may discern whether weakness, or obstinacy make her stand out against him: if the reason which she resteth on taken from God’s word be doubtful, and to one that hath not a good sound judgment, and a sharp discerning wit, it may appear to make something for her, it is to be presupposed that there is more weakness than stoutness in her. But if she can render no good reason, but only take every shew that any way seemeth to incline to her-wards, and peremptorily holdeth the conclusion, and stiffly standeth on her own resolution, though the vanity of her pretences be evidently discovered to her, so as she hath not any thing further to object; or if she render no reason at all but her own thought, conceit and will, and yet refuseth to yield, surely obstinacy possesseth her heart. In case of obstinacy it is very expedient that an husband stand upon his power to maintain his authority, and by the best wisdom he can (using only such means as are lawful) bring her to yield from her stoutness to that which he requireth: especially if the matter be weighty: as in case a religious man have been married to a popish wife, and she by no reason will be moved to forbear going to Mass, or yield to go to the preaching of the Gospel. But if through weakness she cannot be persuaded of the lawfulness of that her husband requireth, and the matter required be of no great consequence, nor the weakness of her conscience cause any great error, an husband ought so far to manifest his mildness as to forbear to press her conscience.
29. Of an husband’s forbearing to press things unbeseeming a wife’s place. (See Treatise 3, Section 43 and 44.)
3. Things unbeseeming the place of a wife are dishonourable unto her: for an husband to urge his wife by strict charge to do them, implieth more rigourousness than mildness. Had the spirit of that stout Monarch Ahasuerus been more mild towards his wife, he would not have so far pressed his wife unto so unseemly a thing as he did, namely, to come before all his Princes and people to make shew of her beauty. It is true indeed (as we shewed before (see Treatise 3, Section 28)) that she offended in refusing to yield thereunto, he peremptorily requiring it; but that offence on her part doth not justify his fact, and free him from all blame: it is noted, that he was merry with wine when he gave that commandment (Esth 1:10), whereby is intimated, that his practice was more beseeming a drunken, than a sober man: such is their practice who exact of their wives to do such businesses as beseem amid servants rather than wives, or strumpets rather than honest women; as to go to taverns, ale-houses, play-houses, and such places where light companions be.
30. Of an husband’s pressing his authority in weighty matters.
4. To use a man’s authority about weighty matters, matters of moment maketh it to have such weight in it, as it will much better be regarded: for thus a wife will either be brought to yield unto that which is commanded, or to condemn herself for not yielding: yea thus a wife may see, that it is not his own will so much which maketh him to use his authority in commanding, as the necessity of the thing itself, which redoundeth especially to her good that doth it: for the performance of a duty is for the most part most advantageable to the party that performeth it, so as hereby an husband sheweth love to his wife in pressing that which he presseth.
This token of love that it may the better appear, it is behoveful that an husband add to his commandment just and weighty reasons, that thereby his wife may the better discern the meetness, lawfulness, expediency, and necessity of the things commanded. We know that all the things which God commandeth are weighty and necessary: yea his Will (being the very rule, and ground of all goodness) maketh things absolutely necessary, yet unto his commandments he useth to add weighty reasons; shewing on the one side the benefit and blessedness that will come to such as obey his commandments; and on the other side, the mischief and misery that will fall on their pates who refuse to obey; whereby he sheweth the great good re- spect which he beareth to us, and the earnest desire he hath of our good. Thus may an husband even in his commandments shew much love and kindness.
31. Of husbands’ too great pride in commanding.
Contrary is the peremptory pride of husbands, when they will have their own will done: it booteth not whether the thing commanded be lawful or unlawful, whether their wives’ consciences can yield unto it or no, whether it stand with the hon- our of their places or no, and whether it be weighty or light; their will it is it should be done, and done it shall be, there is all the reason they will give. Some think it a glory to command what they list; and think that there is no proof of their author- ity, and of their wives’ subjection, but in such things as upon their own will without any further ground or reason, they command. If such husbands meet with confronts; if though they command much, they find not answerable performance; they may thank themselves, who run the ready course to have their authority contemned and even trodden under foot.
32. Of husbands rare and mild using their commanding power.
Respect must be had by husbands to the manner of using their authority in commanding as well as to the matter. In regard of the manner his commandments must be:
1. Rare, not too frequent.
2. By way of entreating, not too peremptory.
Authority is like a sword, which with over much using will be blunted, and so fail to do that service which otherwise it might when there is most need. A wise, grave, peaceable man, may always have his sword in readiness, and that also very bright, keen, and sharp: but he will not be very ready to pluck it out of his scabbard; he rather keepeth it for a time of need, when it should stand him in most stead. Such husbands therefore as are too frequent in their commands, shew themselves not grave, nor wise, nor lovers of peace.
As the use of an husband’s authority in commanding must be rare, so when there is occasion to use it, it must be with such mildness and moderation tempered, as an husband (according to S. Paul’s example) though he have power to command that which is convenient, yet for love’s sake must rather entreat it. Note how mildly Abram frameth his speech to his wife, Say I pray thee (saith he) thou art my sister (Gen 12:13). Though the thing he required favoured of too much weakness, yet his manner of requiring it was well beseeming a kind husband.
33. Of husbands’ insolency and peremptoriness.
Contrary is the insolency of many, who cannot speak to their wives, but in commanding-wise. Their authority is like a swaggerers sword, which cannot long rest in the sheath, but upon every small occasion is drawn forth. This frequent use of com- manding, maketh their commandments nought regarded. The like may be said of them who are too peremptory in commanding: there must be no saying of nay, to that which they say: upon command they will have their mind done, and no other way: no persuasion, no entreaty shall be used: they will rather not at all have their will done, than not upon absolute command: nay they will not suffer others, in case of any refusal, to entreat, or persuade, but will try what absolutely they can do by authority. Thus as by trying to bend steel how far it will go, it oft breaketh; so by putting their authority to the utter- most trial, they oft lose all their authority: in which case the mends (as we speak) is in their hands.
34. Of an husband reproving his wife. (See Treatise 3, Section 47.)
4. The authority and charge which God hath given to an husband over his wife, do require that as good and just occasion is offered, he should reprove her: for this is an especial means to draw her from those sins, wherein otherwise she might live and lie, yea and die also; and so live, lie, and die under God’s wrath: out of which misery and wretchedness to free a wife, is as great a token of love, as to pull her out of the water when she is in danger of drowning, or out of the fire when she is in dan- ger of burning. Solomon thus styleth reproofs, reproofs of life (Prov 15:31), and expressly noteth reproofs to be the way of life, a means to breed and preserve spiritual life, and to bring one unto eternal life, and so to escape death and damnation (Prov 6:23). In theses respects rebukes are called a precious balm or excellent oil which may heal a wound, but make none: it breaketh not the head, as the Psalmist speaketh (Psa 141:5). Upon this ground, no doubt, it is noted of many good husbands, who were without all question, loving, kind, meek, and mild husbands, that they reproved their wives: as Jacob (Gen 30:2), Job (Job 2:10), David (2 Sam 6:21,22), and others.
35. Of neglecting reproof.
Contrary is a servile and timorous mind of many husbands, who are loath to offend, and (as they think) to provoke their wives; and thereupon choose rather to let them continue in sin, than tell them of it. Wherein they both dishonour their place, and the image of God, which by virtue of their place they carry, and also in effect and in truth hate their wives; which the Law implieth, where it saith, Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, but shalt plainly rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him (Lev 19:17).
36. Of well ordering reproof in the matter thereof. (See Treatise 3, Section 47.)
That an husband may evidently demonstrate that his reproving his wife is indeed a fruit of his love, he must have an especial care to sweeten it, especially with mildness: for it is the bitterest pill that by an husband can be given to a wife. It is a verbal correction, and in that respect a middle means (as I may so speak) betwixt admonition and correction; partaking somewhat of both: it goeth no further than words, and so is an admonition: the words of a reproof are sharp, and so it is a correction: though it be but a mild correction, yet it is a sharp admonition; and all the correction which by himself an husband can give his wife: for we shall after shew that he may not proceed to blows, and strokes (see Section 44).
To sweeten reproof with mildness, expect must be had (as before was noted of commanding) both to the matter, and also to the manner thereof.
The matter of reproof must be 1. Just, 2. Weighty.
Justice requireth that it be a truth, and a known truth, even a thing whereof he is assured, for which he reproveth his wife. Christ in giving direction for reproving aright, layeth down this as a ground, If thy brother shall trespass (Matt 18:15), &c. a trespass therefore must go before reproof: where no trespass is, there reproof is unjust.
Again, the Apostle adviseth that an accusation should not be received but under two, or three witnesses (1 Tim 5:19); whereby he implieth that a light report must not be received, but where blame is laid, there must be two or three witnesses to confirm it, so as he that censureth may have good and sure ground for that which he doth: indeed that advice was in particular given about an elder, but from the less to the greater it will follow to be a good advice concerning wives: for no kind of person must be more wary in laying blame upon another and reproving for the same, than an husband on his wife.
Equity further requireth that the matter for which an husband reproveth his wife be weighty; namely for some fault that is dangerous to her soul, hurtful to their estate, contagious by reason of ill example to children, and others in the family, but most of all for sin against God which provoketh his wrath, and pulleth down his heavy curse upon him, her, and the whole family.
When that for which a wife is reproved is a truth, a known truth, and a weighty truth, the husband in performing this duty justifieth his deed, sheweth that there was need thereof, and so giveth evidence of his love, maketh his reproof to pierce the more deeply, and so maketh her the more ashamed of her fault; whence it will follow, that either she will amend her fault or at least will have her mouth stopped, so as she shall have nothing to except against it. The reproof of the three Saints before mentioned, Jacob (Gen 30:2), Job (Job 2:10), and David (2 Sam 6:21,22), were answerable to these points of Justice and wis-
dom: and the effects thereof answerable to those which we have noted in this reason, as the silence of the three wives implieth: for none of them replied again.
37. Of undue reproof.
Contrary to the forenamed Justice and equity are overlight credulity and undue suspicion. Credulity is when credence is given to every light report, and thereupon blame laid upon the wife before any just proof be made of that for which she is blamed: whereby it oft cometh to pass, that she is wrongfully and unjustly blamed: which if she be, what good fruit can pro- ceed from such reproofs? yea what evil fruits are not like to proceed from thence, as secret discontent (if not malice and hatred) and open contentions and brawlings?
The like may be said of light and causeless suspicion, which is the mother of jealousy, and the very bane of marriage, from whence the devil taketh great advantage against them both, seeking thereby to unloose that knot which God hath so firmly knit betwixt them. Suspicion to the mind is as a coloured glass to the eye, which representeth things to the sight not as in- deed they are in their own true colour, but as the colour of the glass is. Suspicion will make a man pervert every thing that his wife doth, and blame her many times for such things as are praise-worthy: in which case what can be thought, but that an husband seeketh advantage against his wife, rather than any good unto her?
If to those two forenamed vices (credulity and suspicion) he add rashness and hastiness in reproving, and make every small and light matter which any way he disliketh, matter of reproof, doth he not proclaim to all that shall know it, that he loves chiding more than he loves his wife? Yea is not this the ready way to make all his reproof (if not scorned) lightly regarded? What then will be the profit of them?
38. Whether an husband may reprove his wife for such things as he is guilty of.
To the matter of reproof some add, that an husband ought not to reprove his wife for that fault whereof he himself is guilty: but I make doubt of this direction. I deny not but that he ought to have an especial care that he be not guilty of that crime for which he blameth his wife; otherwise, 1. he blunteth the edge of his reproof, so as readily it cannot pierce into her heart. 2. He causeth it to rebound back again upon himself with these reproaches, Physician heal thyself (Luke 4:23): Hypocrite first cast the beam out of thine own eye (Matt 7:5). Thou that teachest another teachest thou not thyself? (Rom 2:21) 3. He is an heavy witness against himself; for in that he judgeth another he condemneth himself (Rom 2:1). But thereupon to infer, that because he is guilty of such vices as are in his wife, he ought not to reprove her though she be worthy to be reproved, is scarce sound and good divinity: for thus he maketh himself guilty of a doubt fault, one of committing the sin himself, the other of suffering his wife to lie therein: whereas if he reproved his wife, he might thereby reclaim both her and himself: for I doubt not but his reproving of his wife would strike deeper into his own conscience than if a third should reprove them both. How were Judah and David stricken to the heart after they had given sentence against such crimes as they themselves were guilty of? (Gen 38:26; 2 Sam 12:13) It is a good advice that no man be guilty of that which he reproveth in his wife, but it is no good rule to say, no man ought to reprove his wife of that whereof he is guilty.
39. Of well ordering reproof in the manner thereof.
Like directions to those which were given for the manner of commanding must be observed in the manner of reproving. Reproofs therefore must be Rare, Meek.
When reproofs are seldom used, not but upon urgent and necessary occasion, 1. It sheweth that an husband taketh no delight in rebuking his wife, but is even forced thereto. 2. It maketh his wife much more regard it. 3. It is like to work a more perfect cure, for seldom and rare reproofs do commonly pierce most deeply.
Contrary is continual chiding, and finding fault with a wife for every thing amiss: if not only the wife herself, but a child, or servant, or any else in the house do amiss, the wife shall be blamed for it. This is too common a fault in husbands: whereby they much provoke their wives; yea and many times make them no more regard a reproof than any other word. For as birds which always abide in belfries where much ringing is, are not a whit afrighted with their loud sound; so wives who have their ears from time to time filled with their husband’s rebuke, by use are brought, nothing at all to be moved therewith.
2. That a reproof must be given in meekness is clear by the Apostle’s general precept of restoring one in the spirit of meekness (Gal 6:1): for a right manner of reproving is thereby particularly intended. Now of all with whom we have to do, no fitter object for meekness than a wife, who in a more peculiar manner than any other is thine own flesh.
Meekness hath respect both to secrecy of place, and to softness of words.
When an husband is alone with his wife, then is the fittest season for reproof: thus will reproof be answerable to Christ’s direction: tell him his fault between thee and him alone (Matt 18:15) (saith Christ of a brother): but no brother must be tendered more than a wife. Thus will it also soak better into her soul, when no conceit of dishonour and discredit shall arise up to hinder the work of it: which conceits will be ready to arise when a reproof is given in public before others. Thus likewise will occasion be taken away from children and servants of despising her: which otherwise they would quickly take, if before them she should be rebuked; gathering from thence, that she is kept under as much as they: now because she is with him a joint governour of them, he ought by all means to maintain her reputation before them.
1. Quest. What if she regard not a rebuke in secret?
Answ. He may follow Christ’s direction, Take one or two more, namely wise, grave, faithful friends, if it may be, of her kindred, as her parents (if she have any living) or such as are in course of nature next to parents (if they be not partial on her side) and before them rebuke her (Matt 18:15): but by no means before any of the house under her government.
2. Quest. What if her fault be public, such an one as may be an ill example to them of the house, it being committed in their sight, or brought some other way to their knowledge?
Answ. Wisely he must so manifest his dislike of her fault, as he no way impair her honour: he may therefore declare that such a thing was not well done, and fore-warn his household of committing the like; yea roundly threaten them that if any of them do the like they shall dearly repent it; and if such as are under correction offend therein, the more surely and severely correct them, even because they have taken example. Thus shall he testify a great good respect of his wife, and also a thorough dislike and hatred of her sin.
2. A soft tongue (as Solomon noteth) breaketh the bones, that is, softeneth an hard heart, and beateth down a stout stomach (Prov 25:15). How will it then work upon a soft heart, and gentle disposition? If therefore an husband look to do good by reproving his wife, his reproof must be so ordered, as it may seem to be rather a gentle admonition, than a sharp rebuke. He may and ought plainly to declare her fault unto her, but in mild and meek terms, without reviling, opprobrious and ignominious words.
Quest. What if her fault be an heinous notorious sin?
Answ. In an extraordinary case some sharpness may be used: as the reproofs of Jacob (Gen 30:2), Job (Job 2:10), and David (2 Sam 6:21,22) do shew, for they were every one of them sharp: but yet this sharpness must not be made bitter by any evil language. A woman’s wickedness may not move an husband to be forward, and outrageous; but rather to be the more watchful over himself, that he contain himself within the bounds of discretion and moderation. For which end it is meet that hus- bands lay it down for a rule, never to rebuke their wives when they are in passion. Passion raiseth a dark mist before the eyes of reason; which, while it remaineth, keepeth reason from giving any good direction. Yea passion is as a fire, and it so incenseth a man, and distempereth him, that in his disorder he can keep no mean or measure. Howsoever a man be not able to rule himself when passion is stirred up, yet, if before hand while his eye is single, and his whole body light (Matt 6:22), while he is in tune (as we speak) and well tempered, he resolvedly determine with himself not to do such or such a thing in his passion; that fore-going resolution will be an especial means to make him forbear doing that in passion, which if he should do, he could not in passion well order and moderate. For if once he begin to do a thing in passion, the least provocation that can be, will be as bellows to blow up that fire into a flame.
In regard of the violence of passion (wherein women by reason of the weakness of their judgment are for the most part most violent) it is also the part of a wise man to forbear this duty of reproving his wife even when she is in passion. For as it is needful that he should be in case well to give a reproof, so as needful it is that she should be in case well to take a rebuke. Passion both filleth and festereth ones heart. The heart then being full of passion, what room is left for good advice? will a man pour wine into a vessel full of water, or stay, till all the water be drained out?
The heart also being so festered as it savoureth of nothing but passion, what good can then good advice do?
It is therefore an especial point of wisdom, and sheweth a good respect that a man beareth to his wife, yea it savoureth of much meekness and moderation for an husband, well to weigh both his own and his wife’s temper when he reproveth her, and to forbear doing it while either he or she be in passion.
40. Of indiscreet reproving a wife.
Contrary is the indiscretion of husbands who regard not place, nor persons, nor time, nor temper of themselves or their wives, nor any other circumstance in reproving, but like Saul (who at a table where a great feast was, in presence of his No- bles and Captains, when he was enraged with anger, with most virulent and bitter speeches not rebuked only but reproached also his son, and that with such words as he spared not his own wife; for in his passion he called his son, son of the perverse rebellious woman (1 Sam 20:3)): like this foolish and furious Saul, I say, they take the most open place of the family before children, servants, and whole house, to reprove their wives; and that with such bitter and disgraceful terms, as either they provoke their wives to answer again for maintaining (as they think) their own credit and reputation, (thus Jonathan was provoked to answer his father again (1 Sam 20:32)): or else give them of the house that behold her thus trampled under foot, occasion to set their feet also upon her.
Most husbands are forward enough to reprove, but few do it in meekness, and moderation. They cannot do it but in company, nor without bitter words. Many in rebuking their wives, stick not to use all the evil terms that they can think of, even such as tend not only to their wife’s dishonour, but also to their own and their children’s infamy. The reason whereof is, be- cause they never rebuke but when they are in passion, and so scarce know what they do: whereby also they stir up passion in their wives, and yet for all that refrain not any whit the more, but rather grow more violent: as when the heat of two first meet together, the flame must needs be the greater. This being the preposterous practice of many husbands, is it any marvel that ordinarily so little good, and so much hurt is done by reproving? Nay, would it not be a wonder, if any good, and no hurt should be done thereby? This therefore though it be a duty, yet a duty rarely and with great moderation to be used.
Thus far of an husband’s mildness in his speeches to his wife.
41. Of an husband’s amiable countenance towards his wife. (See Treatise 3, Section 10).
An husband’s carriage towards his wife must be answerable to his speech, or else all the mildness thereof will seem but complemental.
A man’s carriage compriseth under it, his Countenance, Gesture, Actions: in all which must mildness be seated.
1. His countenance in his wife’s presence, and towards his wife, must be composed to an amiable pleasantness. His authority over her, and eminency above her, may not make him forget the near conjunction and union betwixt them.
Under the face and countenance I comprise head, brow, eyes, lips and such other parts which are, according as they are framed, signs of amiableness, or discontentedness. Now among, and above other parts of the body, the outward composition of the countenance doth soonest and best declare the inward disposition of the heart. By Esau’s pleasant countenance Jacob perceived that he was pacified in his heart towards him, and thereupon said, I have seen thy face as though I had seen the face of God, that is, an amiable, gracious countenance (Gen 33:10). On this ground David desired God, to lift up the light of his countenance upon him, that thereby he might know the favour and love of God towards him (Psa 4:6). On the other side by a frowning and lowering face, by hanging down the head, putting out the lips, with the like, anger, malice, grief, with other like affections of heart, are manifested: by Cain’s casting down of his countenance God discerned anger and envy to be in his heart (Gen 4:6): by Laban’s countenance Jacob observed that his affection was turned from him (Gen 31:2). A wife then beholding mildness and amiableness in her husband’s face, beholds it as the face of God, and therein as in a looking glass beholds the kindness and love of his heart, and so hath her heart thereby the more firmly knit unto him, and is moved the more to respect him.
42. Of husbands’ too great austerity.
1. A lofty proud countenance, as of an imperious Lord over his vassals.
2. A grim stern countenance, as of a judge over poor prisoners.
3. A lowering frowning countenance, as of a discontented creditor over a desperate debtor.
4. A fierce fiery countenance, as of an angry King over a subject that hath displeased him.
These and such like countenances as they manifest a proud, stout, furious discontented disposition of heart, so they cannot but give great discontent to a wife, yea and much affright her being but a weaker vessel, and alienate her heart and affection from him.
43. Of an husband’s familiar gesture with his wife.
II. An husband’s gesture ought to be so familiar, and amiable towards his wife, as others may discern him to be her husband, and his wife may be provoked to be familiar with him. They which this way are ready to shew themselves kind and mild husbands, are prone to exceed and so to fall into an extreme on the right hand: for some are never well but when they have their wives in their laps, ever coddling, kissing, and dallying with them, they care not in what company; thus they shew more lightness, fondness, and dotage, than true kindness and love, which forgetteth not an husband-like gravity, sobriety, modesty and decency.
Some stick not to allege Isaac’s sporting with Rebekah (Gen 26:8), to countenance their lasciviousness.
But they forget that what Isaac did, was when he and his wife were alone: he was seen through a window. Much greater lib- erty is granted to man and wife when they are alone, than in company. Besides there are many other ways to shew kindness and familiarity, than by lightness and wantonness.
44. Of an husband’s strangeness to his wife.
Contrary to the familiarity I speak of, is (as we speak) strangeness when an husband so carrieth himself towards his wife as if she were a stranger to him: if he come in company where his wife is, of all other women he will not turn to her, nor take notice of her. This fault is so much the greater if such a man be of a free pleasant carriage, and use to be merry and familiar with other women. Though his mirth and familiarity be such as is not unbeseeming a Christian, yet his carriage being of another temper towards his wife, it may be a means to breed jealousy in her. Many think outward kind gesture towards a wife to be fondness, but if they knew what a means it is to stir up, increase, and preserve love in a wife’s heart to her husband, they would be otherwise minded.
45. Of an husband’s giving favours to his wife.
III. Actions are of all other the most real demonstrations of true kindness, wherein an husband must not fail, as he would have his kind speech, countenance, and gesture to be taken in the better part. Kindness and mildness in action consisteth in giving favours (as we speak) unto his wife. This is expressly noted in Elkanah, who every year gave favours to his wives (1 Sam 1:4,5). Thus an husband as he testifieth his love to his wife, so he will much provoke her to do all duty to him. A small gift, as an action of kindness freely given, not upon any debt, but in testimony of love, doth more work on the heart of her to whom it is given, than much more given upon contract, or for a work done, whereby it may seem to be deserved.
In giving favours to a wife, an husband ought to be more bountiful and liberal, than to others, that so she may see thereby he loves her above all; as it is noted that Elkanah gave Hannah a worthy portion, because he loved her (1 Sam 1:4). And in giv- ing favours it is best to bestow them with his own hands, unless he be absent from her.
46. Of husbands beating their wives.
Contrary are the furious, and spiteful actions of many unkind husbands (head too head) whose favours are buffets, blows, strokes and stripes: wherein they are worse than the venomous viper. For the viper for his mate’s sake casteth out his poison: and wilt not thou, O husband, in respect of that near union which is betwixt thee and thy wife, lay aside thy fierceness and cruelty? Many wives by reason of their husband’s fury, are in worse case than servants: for —
1. Such as will not give a blow to a servant, care not what load they lay upon their wives.
2. Where servants have but a time and term to be under the tyranny of such furious men, poor wives are tied to them all their life long.
3. Wives can not have so good remedy by the help of law against cruel husbands, as servants may have against cruel masters.
4. Masters have not such opportunity to exercise their cruelty over servants as husbands over wives, who are to be continually at board and bed with their husbands.
5. The nearer wives are, and the dearer they ought to be to their husbands, the more grievous must strokes needs be when they are given by an husband’s hand, than by a master’s.
6. The less power and authority that an husband hath to strike his wife, than a master to strike a servant, the more heavy do his strokes seem to be, and the worse doth the case of a wife seem to be in that respect, than of a servant. Not unfitly therefore is such a man (if he may be thought a man rather than a beast) said to be like a father-queller and mother-queller.
Quest. May not then an husband beat his wife?
Answ. With submission to better judgments, I think he may not: my reasons are these,
1. There is no warrant throughout the whole Scripture by precept, or example for it: which argument though it be negative, yet for the point in hand is a forceable argument in two respects. 1. Because the Scripture hath so plentifully and particularly declared the several duties of husbands and wives: and yet hath delivered nothing concerning an husband’s striking and beating his wife. 2. Because it hath also plentifully and particularly spoken of all such as are to correct, and of their manner of correcting, and of their bearing correction who are to be corrected, and of the use they are to make thereof; and yet not any thing at all concerning an husband’s punishing, or a wife’s bearing in this kind. The Scripture being so silent in this point, we may well infer that God hath not ranked wives among those in the family who are to be corrected.
2. That small disparity which (as I have before shewed (see Section 4)) is betwixt man and wife, permitteth not so high a power in an husband, and so low a servitude in a wife, as for him to beat her. Can it be thought reasonable that she is the man’s perpetual bed-fellow, who hath power over his body, who is a joint parent of the children, a joint governour of the family, should be beaten by his hands? What if children or servants should know of it? (as they must needs: for how can such a thing be done in the house and they of the house know it not?) can they respect her as a mother, or a mistress who is under correction as well as they?
3. The near conjunction, and very union that is betwixt man and wife suffereth not such dealing to pass betwixt them. The wife is as a man’s self, They two are one flesh (Eph 5:31). No man but a frantic, furious, desperate wretch will beat himself. Two sort of men are in Scripture noted to cut and lance their own flesh, idolaters as the Baalites (1 Kings 18:28), and demoniacs, as he that was possessed with a legion of devils (Matt 5:5). Such are they who beat their wives, either blinded in their understanding, or possessed with a devil.
Object. He that is best in his wits will suffer his body to be pinched, pricked, lanced, and otherwise pained, if it be needful and behoveful.
Answ. 1. A man’s heart will not suffer him to do any of these himself: there are surgeons whose office it is to do such things; if the surgeon himself have need of any such remedy for his own body, he will use the help of another surgeon. If the case so stand as a wife must needs be beaten, it is fitter for an husband to refer the matter to a public Magistrate (who is as an ap- proved and licenced surgeon) and not to do it with his own hands.
2. Though some parts of the body may be so dealt withal, yet every part may not, as the heart, which the wife is to the man.
3. The comparison holdeth not. For the forenamed pinching, lancing, &c., is no punishment for any fault, as the beating of a wife in question is, there is no question but a man that hath skill may if need be open a vein, lance a boil, splinter a broken bone, or disjointed joint in his wife’s body, which may be more painful than correction: and herein the comparison holdeth, but not in the other.
2. Object. There is as near a conjunction betwixt Christ and his Church, as betwixt man and wife: yet Christ forbeareth not to correct and punish his Church.
Answ. There is a double relation betwixt Christ and the Church: he is an husband unto it, having made it of his flesh, and of his bones (Eph 5:30): and a supreme Lord over it, having all power in heaven and earth committed unto him (Matt 28:18). In this latter respect he punisheth, not in the former. An husband is not such a supreme lord over his wife: therefore Christ’s example, is no warrant to him.
4. There is no hope of any good to proceed from an husband’s beating of his wife: for where the party corrected is persuaded that the party which correcteth hath an authority or right so to do, it will not be brought patiently to take it: but will resist, and strive if it be possible to get the mastery. Let a stranger strike such a child of years or a servant as will patiently bear many strokes at a parent’s or master’s hand, they will turn again at that stranger, and endeavour to give as good as he brings: now a wife having no ground to be persuaded that her husband hath authority to beat her, what hope is there that she will patiently bear it, and be bettered by it? Or rather is it not likely that she will, if she can, rise against him, over-master him (as many do) and never do any duty aright? A fault in a wife is not taken away but increased by blows.
Object. Smart and pain may make her dread her husband, stand in awe of him, and do her duty the better.
Answ. Such dread and awe beseems neither the place of an husband to exact it, nor the place of a wife to yield it. Though perforce she may be brought to yield some outward subjection, yet inward hatred to her husband’s person may be joined therewith, which is as bad, if not worse than outward disobedience.
Object. She may be of so outrageous a disposition, as, but by force, she will not be kept in any compass.
1. Answ. It hath been of old time answered, that no fault should be so great, as to compel an husband to beat his wife.
2. Answ. Other forceable means may be used besides beating by her husband’s hands: she may be restrained of liberty, denied such things as she most affecteth, be kept up, as it were, in hold; and, if no other means will serve the turn, be put over to the Magistrate’s hands, that if she be of so servile a disposition, as by no other means she will be kept under than by fear and force, by smart and pain, she may fear the Magistrate, and feel his hand, rather than her husband’s.
Object. If a wife wax so mannish, or rather mad, as to offer to strike and beat her husband, may he not in that case beat her to make her cease her outrage?
Answ. I doubt not but that that good provision which is made in law to preserve a man’s life, may be applied to this purpose. The law simply condemns all murder; yet if a man be so assaulted, as there is no way to preserve his own life, but by taking away his life that assaults him, it condemneth not him as a murderer, because he did it in defence of himself. So if an hus- band be set upon by his wife, it is lawful and expedient that he defend himself, and if he can do it no other ways but by strik- ing her, that is not to be reckoned an unlawful beating her.
47. Of an husband’s bearing with his wife’s infirmities.
Hitherto of the husband’s avoiding of offence, a word concerning his bearing with offence.
A general duty it is, common to all of all sorts, to bear one another’s burden (Gal 6:2): in which extent even a wife is to bear her husband’s burden, because he, as everyone else, is subject to slip and fall, and so hath need to be supported. Yet after a more special and peculiar manner doth this duty belong to an husband, and that in two respects.
1. Of the two, he is more bound than his wife, because in relation to his wife he is the stronger: for she is the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7). But the strong are most bound to bear with the infirmities of the weak (Rom 15:1).
2. He is bound to bear with his wife more than with any other, because of that near conjunction which is betwixt them: he that cannot bear with his wife, his flesh, can bear with no body. The reason alleged by the Apostle to move a man to dwell with his wife according to knowledge, and to give honour to her, intimated in this phrase, as to the weaker vessel, sheweth that this is a peculiar duty belonging to an husband, wherein, and whereby he may both manifest his knowledge and wisdom, and also do honour to his wife. For why is he put in mind of her weakness, but to shew he should bear with her?
As that phrase intimateth the duty, so also it intimateth a good reason to enforce it. For precious things, whereof we make high account, the weaker they be, the more tenderly, and charily are they handled, as Cheney dishes, and crystal glasses: and of all parts of the body, the eye is most tenderly handled. Now what things, what persons are more dear and precious than a wife? yet withal she is a weak vessel: therefore she is much to be born withal.
For an husband’s better direction herein, difference must be made betwixt infirmities: for some are natural imperfections, other are actual transgressions. Natural imperfections are inward, (as slowness in conceit, dullness in apprehension, short- ness of memory, hastiness in passion, &c.) or outward (as lameness, blindness, deafness, or any other defect, and deformity of body). These infirmities should breed pity, compassion, commiseration, yea and greater tenderness and respect, but no offence. Note Abraham’s example in this case: his wife was barren, yet he despised her not for it, nor upbraided her with any such thing.
Actual transgressions are breaches of God’s law: whereof such are here meant, as are most directly tending to his own disquiet, and disadvantage, as shrewishness, waywardness, niceness, stubbornness, &c. In the bearing of these must an husband especially shew his wisdom, and that sundry ways.
1. By using the best and mildest means he can to redress them, as meek admonition, seasonable advice, gentle entreaty, and compassionate affection. Elkanah supposing that his wife offended in her passion, thus dealt with her and supported her.
2. By removing the stone whereat she stumbleth, by taking away the occasion (so far as conveniently he can) which maketh her offend. Thus Abram, and that by God’s advice, put Hagar and her son out of the house, because they were an offence to Sarah.
3. By turning his eyes away (if the matter be not great, but such as may be tolerated) and taking no notice of the offence, but rather passing by it, as if he perceived it not. Solomon saith, that it is a man’s glory to pass over a transgression (Prov 19:11): and he exhorteth a man not to give his heart to all the words that men speak (Eccl 7:23).
4. By forgiving and forgetting it (if notice be taken thereof) Jacob took notice of Rachel’s wrath, and froward demand, for he rebuked her for it (Gen 30:1,2): yet in that he readily yielded to that which afterwards she moved him unto, it appeareth that he forgave the offence, if not forgot it.
The best trial of a man’s affection to his wife, and of his wisdom in ordering the same, is in this point of bearing with offences. Not to be offended with a wife that giveth no offence is not praise-worthy: heathen men may go so far. Note what Christ saith of this case, If ye love them which love you, and do good to them that do good to you, what thanks and reward have ye? for publicans, and sinners do the same (Matt 5:46; Luke 6:32,33): but gently to forbear, and wisely to pass over of- fences when they are given, not to be provoked when there is cause of provocation ministered, is a true Christian virtue, a virtue beseeming husbands better than any other kind of men.
48. Of husbands’ testiness.
Contrary is testiness, and peevishness, when husbands are moved with the least provocation, like tinder catching fire at the least spark that falleth upon it: yea many are like gunpowder, which not only taketh fire, but also breaketh out into a violent flame, upon the least touch of fire: as gunpowder is dangerous to be kept in an house, so such husbands to be joined so nearly to wives as marriage joineth them. If it be said, that as gunpowder doth no hurt, if fire come not at it; so they are good and kind, if they be not provoked and displeased. I answer, that we have a proverb that saith, The devil is good while he is pleased, yet it is not safe to have the devil too near. It is as impossible (considering man’s weakness) that he should live and converse with any, and not give offence, as for flint stones long to beat and dash against one another, and no spark of fire to come from them. How then may it be thought possible for a wife, who is so continually conversant with her husband, and the weaker vessel, to live without giving him offence? It is no very kind speech, which husband’s use, especially if they be told of their unkindness, Let my wife deserve favour, and she shall have it. How little favour would such husbands have of Christ their husband, if he should be of that mind towards them?
Thus far hath been handled the first part of an husband’s well managing his authority, by a tender respect of his wife. The second is a provident care for her.
49. Of an husband’s provident care for his wife.
An husband that tenderly respecteth his wife, but providently careth not for her, sheweth more affection than discretion: he may have a kind heart, but he wants a wise head. How then can he be a good head unto his wife? Some present contentment she may have by him: but small profit and benefit can she reap from him. Those duties therefore which have been delivered must be done, but these that follow must by no means be left undone.
An husband’s provident care is noted in that office of Christ, wherein an husband resembleth him, namely, to be a Saviour of the body (Eph 5:23), as hath been before declared (see Treatise 1, Section 15 and Treatise 3, Section 73). It consisteth
1. In providing things needful for his wife. 2. In protecting her from things hurtful.
1. A careful providing of things needful is a principal part of that honour, which husbands are to give unto their wives. For where the Apostle saith, that Elders are worthy of double honour (1 Peter 3:7; 1 Tim 5:17), he meaneth maintenance as well as reverence. The Apostle counteth him worse than an infidel, that provideth not for his own, and specially for those of his own house (1 Tim 5:8). Who are of an husband’s house, if not his wife? in his house, who more properly his own than his wife? If then an husband provide not for his wife, what is he to be accounted?
Great reason he should provide for her, because he hath taken her from her parents and friends, and hath received that portion which they allotted her, and hath authority committed unto him over her, and she is put in subjection under him: her friends having given away her portion, and their power over her, and committed all to him, will take no further care for her: she being in subjection under him cannot without him provide for herself. Who then shall provide for her if he do not, whose wholly and only she is?
Contrary is their mind, who take a wife only for their own content, or delight, or gain, and never think of that charge which together with a wife they take upon them. According to their mind is their practice: of when they have a wife they neglect her in everything but what may stand with their own ends. Much have they to answer for: and so much the more, because a wife is an especial pledge of God’s favour (Prov 18:22).
50. Of an husband’s providing means of spiritual edification for his wife.
In this provident care which an husband ought to have of his wife, we will consider the Extent and Continuance thereof. It ought to extend both to herself, and to others.
In regard of herself, to her Soul and Body.
For her Soul, means of spiritual edification must be provided, and those both private and public. Private means, are holy and religious exercises in the house, as reading the word, prayer, catechizing, and such like; which being the spiritual food of the soul are to be every day, as our bodily food, provided and used. An husband as a master of a family must provide these for the good of his whole house; but as an husband, in special for the good of his wife: for to his wife, as well as to the whole house he is a King, a Priest, and a Prophet.
By himself therefore, for his wife’s good, ought he to perform these things, or to provide that they may be done by some other. Cornelius himself performed those exercises (Acts 10:2,30). Micah hired a Levite (though his idolatry were evil, yet his care to have a Levite in his house was commendable) (Judg 17:10). The Shunammite’s husband provided a chamber for the Prophet, and that especially for his wife’s sake, for it was at her request (2 Kings 4:11).
Public means are the holy ordinances of God publicly performed by God’s Minister. The care of an husband for his wife in this respect is, so to order his habitation, and provide other needful things, as his wife may be made partaker thereof. It is expressly noted of Elkanah that he so provided for his wives, that they went with him every year to the house of God (1 Sam 1:7; 2:19): the like is intimated of Joseph the husband of the virgin Mary (Luke 2:41). In those days there was a public place and house of God, whither all God’s people (how far soever they dwelt from it) were to resort every year: the places where Elkanah and Joseph dwelt, were far remote from the house of God, yet they so provided, as not only themselves, but their wives also went to the public worship of God. Now there are many houses of God, places for the public worship of God, but yet through the corruption of our times, the ministry of the word (the most principal means of spiritual edification) is not everywhere to be enjoyed: therefore such ought an husband’s care for his wife in this respect to be, as to dwell where she may have the benefit of preaching the word, or else so to provide for her, as she may weekly go where it may be had.
If men of wisdom and ability make a purchase, or build an house for their habitation, they will be sure it shall be where sweet rivers and waters are, and good pasture ground, and where all needful provision may be had. God’s word preached is a spring of water of life; the place where it is preached a pleasant, profitable pasture; all needful provision for the soul may there be had. Let this therefore be most of all inquired after: and no habitation settled but where this may be had.
51. Of neglecting their wives’ edification.
Contrary is their practice, who having their calling in places where the word is plentiful, yet upon outward respects of pleasure, delight, ease, and profit, remove their families into remote places where preaching is scarce, if at all; and there leave their wives to govern the family, not regarding their want of the word, for as much as they themselves oft coming to London or other like places by reason of their calling, enjoy the word themselves. Many citizens, lawyers, and others are guilty of great neglect of their wives in this respect.
So also are they, who abandon all religious exercise out of their houses, making their houses rather stews of the devil, than Churches of God. If for want of means, either public or private, a wife live and die in ignorance, profaneness, infidelity, and impenitency, which cause eternal damnation, assuredly her blood shall be required at his hands: for an husband is God’s watchman to his wife (Eze 3:18).
52. Of an husband’s providing things needful for his wife’s body.
To the body also must an husband’s provident care of his wife extend: and that both in health and sickness. In health by providing such things as are needful to preserve health, as competent food, raiment, and the like necessaries. Where the Prophet to aggravate the misery of the people saith, Seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name (Isa 4:1), intimateth, that it was an husband’s duty to provide bread and apparel, that is, all necessaries for his wife. Which the law also implieth, where it enjoineth him that taketh one wife upon another, not to diminish the food and raiment of the former (Exo 21:10). In sickness such things are to be provided as are needful either to recover her health, or to comfort, cherish and refresh her in her sickness.
This was before noted among common mutual duties (see Treatise 2, Part 2, Section 29); for by virtue of the matrimonial bond it belongeth both to man and wife: but to the man it appertaineth by virtue of that power and charge which he hath over his wife: and therefore it was needful here to be touched.
53. Of an husband’s provident care for his wife about her child-bearing. (See Treatise 3, Section 49.)
Most proper to this place is that provident care which husbands ought to have of their wives both before and in the time of their travail and child-bed: and that in two things especially.
1. In procuring for their wives to the uttermost of their power and ability, such things as may save their longing, in case they do long (as in all ages women in the time of breeding and bearing child, have been subject thereunto). For it is well known, that it is very dangerous both for mother and child to want her longing: the death sometimes of the one, sometimes of the other, sometimes of both hath followed thereupon.
2. In providing such things as are needful for their travail and lying in child-bed. This time is especially to be provided for, in many respects.
1. Because it is a time of weakness, wherein the woman cannot well provide for herself.
2. Because her weakness is joined with much pain: the pain of a woman in travail is the greatest pain that ordinarily is endured by any for the time: none know it so well as they that feel it: and many husbands because they are not subject thereto, think but lightly of it: but if we duly weigh that the Holy Ghost when he would set forth the extremity of any pains and pangs, resembleth them to the pains of a woman in travail, we may well gather, that of all they are the greatest (Psa 48:6; Isa 13:8; 21:3; Jer 4:31; 30:6; Micah 4:9): which is further manifested by the screeks and outcries which not only weak, and faint- hearted women utter in the time of their travail, but also are forced from the strongest, and stoutest women that be, and that though before hand they resolve to the contrary. Neither may we wonder thereat; for their body is as it were set on a rack (if at least the travail be sharp) and all their parts so stretched, as a wonder it is they should ever recover their health and strength again: or that they should hold out the brunt, and not die with their travail, as Rachel (Gen 35:16), and the wife of Phinehas (1 Sam 4:19,20), and many in all ages have done. Surely among ordinary deliverances I know none so near a mira- cle, none wherein the Almighty doth so evidently manifest his great power and good providence, as in the safe delivery of women. Besides the great pang of travail, women are also after their delivery subject to many after-throws which are very painful. From all these pains and great weakness which befalleth women in child-bed, especially if they nurse their children, men by reason of their sex are freed: Now then to apply this point, seeing women are brought to such pains and weakness in bringing forth those children which are the man’s as well as hers, and he freed from all; is it not very just and meet that he should provide all things needful for her welfare, ease, and recovery of strength?
3. Because the want of things needful is at that time very dangerous: dangerous to the health and life of the woman and child also.
54. Of neglecting wives in their weakness.
Contrary to an husband’s provident care in general are those vices which were taxed in the treatise of common duties, as grudging at the charges bestowed on a wife: Covetousness, Prodigality, and Idleness (see Treatise 2, Part 2, Section 30 and 39).
But contrary in particular to an husband’s care for his wife in child-bed, is the inhumane and more than barbarous unkindness of many husbands, who no whit consider the weakness of their wives in this case, to help, ease, and comfort them, but rather make their burden much more heavy. For,
1. Some through covetousness refuse before hand to afford means to their wife to provide such things as are needful for herself and child: and when the time cometh, if their wife be desirous of a midwife that requireth somewhat more charges than she that is next, she shall have none if she will not have the next. And as for a nurse to tend her, they think their maid will serve the turn well enough: they need not be at the charges to bring a nurse into the house. In regard of convenient lodging some will not stick to say, Cannot my wife be brought to bed in a room without a chimney as well as the virgin Mary? Why should my wife need more things than she did? Yea further there be many that when the time that their wife should be delivered approacheth near, carry her from all her friends into a place where she is not known, lest her friends should by importunity draw him to expend and lay out more upon his wife than he is willing. In the time while their wife is weak in child-bed, many are loath to allow them any other diet than is for themselves and children provided in the house, not considering that her stomach cannot be like theirs.
Many other such bitter fruits of unkind husbands arising from covetousness might be reckoned up, whereby husbands plainly shew that they love their wealth better than their wives: they had rather lose them than part with that.
2. Others through jealous suspicion forbear not even in the time of their wives’ pain and weakness, to upbraid them with lightness, and to say that the child is none of theirs. To lay this to a wife’s charge unjustly, is at any time a most shameful and odious reproach: but in the time of childbirth whether just or unjust, a thing too too spiteful and revengeful. Some wives are so far overcome thereby, (especially in the time of their weakness) as they are not able to bear it, but even faint and die under the reproach: others more stout vow never to know their husbands again. Many like mischiefs follow on such unkindness.
55. Of an husband’s providing for his wife according to his estate and ability. (See Treatise 3, Section 38.) In an husband’s providing for the body of his wife respect must be had to the measure, and to the manner.
The measure must extend to his ability: for an husband ought to maintain his wife in as good an estate and fashion as him- self; by marriage she is advanced to as high an estate, and dignity in relation to others as he is: and for her own use she is made a partner of all his goods, and accordingly ought to partake thereof.
For the manner, he must suffer her (if at least he observe her to have any competent discretion) to order such things as are needful for herself according to her best liking: as Elkanah in another case said to his wife, Do what seemeth thee best (1 Sam 1:23).
Both in the measure and in the manner of providing, there must be a difference put betwixt a wife, and servants or children.
These may have their portions of meat, apparel, and like necessaries, proportioned out and stinted unto them, which is un-meet to be done to a wife. Neither is it needful that so plentiful a provision be made for them as for her.
56. Of an husband’s niggardliness to his wife.
Contrary is an husband’s niggardly dealing with his wife: when the allowance she hath is both far under his estate, and also so given her by little and little, as if she were a child. Many husbands make their wives drudge at home, fare hardly, and go meanly; who are themselves brave in apparel, frolic in their feasting abroad, and so exceed their wives as they are ashamed to be seen in company with them. They who marry their maids, or others of meaner rank than themselves, oft so deal with them: esteeming them but as servants and mean persons though they be their wives. But it hath been before shewed (see Section 6), that wives by marriage are advanced to their husband’s dignity, how mean soever they were before.
57. Of husbands allowing their wives to bestow on others, as they see good occasion. (See Treatise 3, Sections 23, 29, 33.)
So far ought the provident care of an husband for his wife to extend, as she may have (beside things needful to herself) to bestow on such as it is requisite for her to give unto: as namely, on children and servants in the house, and others also out of the house. For so much is noted in Solomon’s description of a good wife; She giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens (Prov 31:15): all her household is clothed with scarlet (namely, by her ordering and disposing the matter) (Prov 31:21). Her children rise up and call her blessed (Prov 31:28), as for her general carriage in the family, so for her particular favours bestowed on themselves. As for others out of the house, it is also noted, that she stretcheth out her hand to the poor, and reacheth forth her hands to the needy (Prov 31:20). These things she did by virtue of that power and liberty which her husband gave her: as appeareth by two points there noted:
1. In that before any mention is made of those things which she did, it is said, The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her (Prov 31:11).
2. In that, after all her good deeds are reckoned up, it is said, Her husband praiseth her (Prov 31:28).
After this pattern it is meet that other husbands (whose wives are wise and faithful) should deal with their wives: that in the house they might have the more honour of children and servants: and that out of the house they might give the better trial of their charity.
For considering the many excellent promises that are made to works of mercy and charity, and the many terrible threaten- ings that are denounced not only against such as exercise cruelty, but also against such as shew no mercy: considering also that wives together with their husbands, are heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7), it is very needful yea even necessary, that they should manifest their faith by some work of mercy and charity. Now unless her husband do give unto her something at her own discretion to bestow on others, true and through trial of her merciful and charitable mind cannot be made. If she give of that which her husband hath reserved to himself, as her giving is unlawful, so she may be thought liberal, not because she is merciful, but because notwithstanding her liberality she parteth with nothing of her own: yea though she have a general consent to give as she seeth cause of the common goods of the family, yet is not that so sure and sound a trial of her charity, and mercifulness, as if she had something of her own which she might retain or give away as pleaseth herself; and what she gives not away, lay up as her own stock proper to herself. For there is naturally such a self-love in man, and a de- sire to keep that which is proper to one’s self, that he is very loath to part with any of it, unless conscience and grace alter this corruption of nature, and so move him readily to lay out something on charitable uses. But otherwise of that which in whole or in part belongeth to another (be that other, husband, parent, master, friend, or any else) he is easily moved to be liberal and bountiful: a man will willingly cut a large thong (as we speak) out of another’s leather.
It is known that many children and servants, who, when they come to be possessors of their own, are very niggards and misers, have been liberal of their parents’ and masters’ goods unto the poor. Yea partners in a stock will be much more forward in giving away that which is common with another, than that which is proper to each of them. The truest trial of a merciful and charitable heart lieth in the distribution of that which is proper to one’s self.
It is therefore meet upon this very ground, that an husband should according to his ability let his wife have some stock, and portion of her own, free to herself to dispose as she seeth good: intimating unto her that the principal end why he provideth so plentifully for her, is, that she may shew forth the fruits of her faith by some works of charity: and exhorting her so to do. Many religious, wise, kind husbands thus do: some giving quarterly allowance in money to their wives, others giving their wives power to receive a certain portion of rent out of certain lands or houses; others making their wives an absolute estate of some inheritance, and suffering them to receive the profits and revenues thereof; others giving them certain fees of their offices, or of their trade; others, that are poor, suffering them to work for themselves, and dispose their earnings as they see cause: some one way, some another: every one in his place best knoweth the means how to gratify his wife in this kind: it shall be sufficient for me to have laid down the general rule.
58. Of husbands’ too great straitness over their wives.
Contrary is their strait-handedness to their wives, who allow them no more than may be for their own private use. They think it a great matter and as much as an husband is bound to do, to let her have apparel, meat and drink, and such necessaries as are befitting her rank, but all other over-plus they think needless. Thus their wives are not only deprived of means to gain respect of their children and servants at home, and to gratify such as are obedient and ready to do service to them, but also to perform such works of mercy as both opportunity requireth, and also their conscience moveth them to do. Yea many wives of rich husbands are brought to great shame hereby, in that being in places where there is just occasion of con- tributing to some charitable use, and by reason of their rich and costly apparel it is expected they should be bountiful, they have not any thing at all to bestow. The fault of some husbands in this respect is great many ways. As 1. in that they bring shame and grief to their wives, whom they ought with all tenderness to respect. 2. In that they dishonour their own places: for they who take notice of this straitness to their wives, will be ready to judge them both covetous, and unkind. 3. The omit- ting of that work of mercy which their wives should have done shall be laid to their charge: they shall hear that dreadful doom: Go ye cursed unto everlasting fire, for I was an hungered and ye fed me not &c. and if they answer, When saw we thee an hungered &c. it shall be replied, In that ye suffered not your wives to do it, you did it not.
Thus much of the extent of an husband’s provident care for the good of his wife. It followeth to speak of the continuance thereof.
59. Of an husband’s care to provide for his wife so long as she shall live.
The continuance of an husband’s provident care for his wife must be so long as she liveth, yea though she out-live him: not that he can actually when he is dead provide for her, but that he may before his death so provide for her, as she may have wherewithal to maintain herself, and to live according to that place whereunto by him she is advanced: at least that he leave her not only so much as he had with her, but something more also in testimony of his love to her, and care for her. Husbands have the example of Christ to press this duty upon them: for when he went away from his Church here on earth, he left his Spirit, which furnished it with gifts as plentifully, as if Christ had still remained with her, if not more abundantly (Eph 4:8).
For the better performance of this duty, husbands which die before the wives, must observe among other things two especially.
1. That plain and expressly they declare their mind and will before they die, lest their wives should be circumvented and defrauded of that which they intended them. Thus did David upon the motion of Bathsheba, he settled his estate, and caused Bathsheba’s son to be actually crowned before he himself gave up the Ghost: which he did, as for other weighty reasons, so in particular for his wife’s good, as may be gathered from that reason she alleged to the King in these words; Else when my Lord the King shall sleep with his fathers, I shall be reputed vile (1 Kings 1:21).
2. That he request some faithful friend in is stead to be an helper unto her; (as Christ commended his mother unto his disciple John (John 19:16,27)) which will be needful in regard of her weakness, by reason of her sex, and want of experience to manage such affairs especially as are out of the house.
At the time of a man’s departure out of this world from his wife, will the truest trial of his affection to his wife be given: for many that bear their wife’s fare in hand while they live with them, at their death shew that there was no soundness of affec- tion in their heart towards them: all was but a mere shew for some by-respects.
60. Of husbands’ neglect of their wives future estate.
Contrary are divers practices of unkind husbands. For:
1. Some through improvidence, unthriftiness and prodigality, disable themselves from doing good to their wives after their death; and so leave their wives nothing, or (that which is worse than nothing) in debt, and with a great charge of children. That care which husbands ought to have of their wives should make them think before hand of the time to come, and even for their wives’ sake be somewhat the more diligent, thrifty, and provident, and cut off many unnecessary expences, else their sin is doubled. 1. By a needful wasting their estate. 2. By neglecting their wives.
2. Others by fawning, or forcing means draw their wives to yield up that interest they have in money, goods, house or land by jointer, inheritance, or any other way, and yet make them no sufficient recompence in another kind: but at their death leave their wives in a far worse estate than they were in before marriage, beside a greater charge than they had before. As this is a great part of unkindness, so also a main point of injustice.
3. Others grudging against the laws under which they live for providing for a wife by thirds or otherwise, use all the fraudulent means they can to deprive her of that which otherwise the law would lay upon her. The civil politic laws of the place where we live ought to be the rule of our civil actions (so far as they are not repugnant to God’s word) and we ought for con- science sake to be subject unto them (Rom 13:5). Besides an husband ought (though the law forced him not) to leave at least the thirds to his wife, as a testimony of his love to her, and care for her: so as this also is a double fault. 1. A transgression of the law. 2. A note of unkindness.
4. Others having aged and sickly wives, or otherwise thinking that their wives may, or rather hoping that their wives will die before themselves, put off the making of their wills of purpose that they might not put in their wives’ thirds, but dispose them some other way. Besides that these husbands shew no good affection towards their wives, they provoke God to disappoint them of their hopes: and so he doth often-times: for he taketh them away before their wives, and so taketh them away, as having not time to make their will, not only their wives enjoy their thirds (which they so much desired to avoid) but also some other (whom of all in their lifetime they misliked) seize upon the other two parts.
61. Of an husband’s protecting his wife from danger.
Having shewed how an husband is to provide things needful for his wife: It remaineth to shew how he is to protect her from things hurtful. In regard of that protection which an husband oweth his wife, he is called the veil of her eyes (Gen 20:16): which phrase as it implieth Subjection on the wife’s part, so also Protection on the husband’s: to protect one, is as it were, to cover them, namely, from danger; to be negligent and careless of them, is, as it were, to lay them open to danger. The same duty is implied under another like phrase of spreading his wing over his wife (Ruth 3:9). The metaphor is taken from winged fowls, which to keep their young ones from hurt, use to spread their wings over them: this phrase and metaphor is also attributed to God, to set forth his protection (Ruth 2:12).
But most pertinent to this purpose is the title, Saviour, given to an husband in relation to his wife (see Treatise 1, Section 15 and Treatise 3, Section 73).
For this end the Lord who subjected a woman unto her husband, gave to his sex greater strength, courage and boldness than to hers, that he might protect her which is the weaker vessel. In this duty of protection Christ sheweth himself an excellent pattern and precedent unto husbands.
The better to perform this duty, an husband must be careful,
1. To prevent, as much as he may, such dangers as his wife is like to fall into.
2. To recover her out of such as she is fallen into.
For this purpose did David carry his wives into Gath lest, if they were left in Israel, Saul should work them some mischief (1 Sam 27:3): and again, when they were taken by the Amalekites, he recovered them (1 Sam 30:18).
According to that danger whereunto wives are subject, must an husband’s care of protecting his wife be manifested.
1. If she be in danger to be seduced and enticed, as Eve was, by any evil instruments of the devil, as Jesuits, Priests, Friars, profane, blasphemous, lascivious, or riotous persons; his care must be either to keep them away that they come not at her, or to put them away from her so soon as he can: he may not suffer them to harbour in his house.
2. If by any sleight she be drawn from his house, he must seek her, and fetch her again, as the Levite did his wife (Judg 19:2): or cause her (if he can) to be brought home again, as David caused Michal to be brought (2 Sam 3:13,14): especially if they be taken away by force, as Ahinoam, and Abigail, David’s wives, were (1 Sam 30:18).
3. If she be unjustly slandered, he is to maintain her credit and reputation as much as his own: as Christ accounteth himself despised, when his Church is, so must he (Luke 10:16). This care must he have of his wife’s credit, even after her death, as well as while she liveth (see Treatise 2, Part 2, Section 31). 4. What other mischief soever is intended or practiced against her, he must be a tower of defence to protect her, (as Ahasuerus was to Esther against Haman (Esth 7:7,8)) and that not only against strangers without the house, but also against children and servants in the house. Children grown to years, that are stout and stubborn, will be ready to rise up against their mother, especially if she be a mother in law, because she is the weaker sex: the countenance of a father for the most part keepeth most in awe. Wherefore the husband must be an help to his wife, and maintain her honour against them: yea though they be children of a former wife.
62. Of an husband’s maintaining his wife against children of a former venture, and servants.
Object. Mothers in law often prove unkind, and unjust step-mothers, and deal unmercifully with their husband’s children: must an husband in such cases assist his wife against his children?
Answ. The protection, I speak of, is in case a wife be wronged, then her husband is to do what he can to right her (as we speak). But if she be the wrong-doer, he may by no means bolster her up against his children, and so make their wrong the greater. Yet so far ought he to respect his wife, as by all the fair means he can, to labour to pacify her mind, and turn her heart towards them: and if he observe her heart to be clean alienated form them, then to put them forth to be brought up in some other place, and so to take away from her the object of her displeasure, that he and she may live more quietly together. For if a man must forsake father and mother, he must also forsake children, and cleave to his wife. Peace and unity betwixt man and wife must of all other be kept inviolable. Though thou cast away all, nothing can happen more troublesome to thee than not to have a quiet wife at home. Thou canst find no sin more grievous than to have contention with a wife.
If a wife must be maintained against the stubbornness of children, much more against the insolency of servants: for which purpose the example of Abraham is recorded, whose servant might have privilege above other, because he had made her his bed-fellow; yet when she waxed insolent against her mistress, first he put her into her mistress’s hand to do to her as it pleased her; and afterwards he cast her out of his house.
63. Of neglecting to maintain their wives.
Contrary is a dissolute carelessness of husbands, who care no more to help and succour their wives than any other.
1. Some more fear to offend their wives than they care to do them good, and in that respect they let any sort of people come to their wives that are welcome to them. If Magistrates in a Commonwealth shall answer for suffering seducers to come into their dominions to deceive their people, much more shall husbands answer for suffering them to come and deceive their wives.
1. Because they have a greater charge over their wives than Magistrates over their people.
2. Because wives ought to be dearer to husbands than people to Magistrates.
3. Because they may sooner espy them in their house, than Magistrates in the Commonwealth.
4. Because they may be much more easily kept out of an house, than out of a Commonwealth, or a city.
2. Others care not whither their wives wander: and if they do go out of their house, they shall never be sought after by their husbands: though this may be a just punishment on wandering wives, yet is it not just for husbands so to deal with them. If Christ our husband should so deal with us, we should soon be lost: for we oft go astray like wandering sheep, but he is that good shepherd, who seeketh after the lost sheep until he find it (Luke 15:4).
3. No marvel then that many husbands are no more affected with the ill reports and rumours raised against their wives, when they so little regard who come to them, or whither they go. Assuredly the discredit of a wife will turn to the man’s dis- honour: for as a virtuous wife is a crown to her husband, so by the rule of contraries, an infamous wife is a shame to her husband (Prov 12:4). If therefore not for his wife’s sake, yet for his own sake a man ought not to carelessly pass over the ill reports which are raised against his wife.
4. There be such unkind husbands as are moved with no ill usage done unto their wives, nor will hear any complaint that they make unto them: yea if they see them misused, they will either not seem to see it, or but smile at it, and so go their way, and suffer their wives to right themselves as well as they can. As this beseemeth not any Christian to suffer his neighbour to be wronged, (for it is noted as a commendable matter in Moses, that when he saw two Hebrews striving together, he took his part that had wrong done to him, and reproved the other (Exo 2:13)) so much less an husband, to whose safe-guard his wife is committed. Nature teacheth us that the head is as much affected with a wrong done to the body, as to itself: so ought an husband.
5. As the wrong which is done by those who are in subjection in the house under the wife, is greater than that which is done by strangers: so is the husband’s fault the greater in suffering it: for he hath more power over them in his house, than over others. What then may we think of such, as either by their connivance, or by taking part against their wives, suffer both children and servants to insult over them? Assuredly those husbands themselves will find some smack of the bitter and evil fruit thereof: and that not only by that great discontent which their wives must needs take thereat; but also by that contempt which will follow on their own persons, both by their wives (who cannot think them meet heads to govern others) but also by their children and servants, who thereby will take occasion to wax proud, and presumptuous against him. By despising the weaker, men grow by little and little to despise the stronger. This men of wisdom and experience well know: whereupon in Commonwealths and policies governed by wise men, the authority of inferiour Magistrates is upheld and maintained: superiour Magistrates will not suffer them who are in authority under them to be despised: for it is well known, that it tends not to the honour and ease only, but to the safety also of the supreme Magistrate, to have the power and authority of inferi- our Magistrates respected, and not trampled under feet. It argueth therefore both want of affection, and of discretion and understanding in husbands, to suffer child, servant, or any other in the house to insult over their wives, who are joint gov- ernours with them over the house.
64. Of an husband’s first beginning to love his wife.
The general matter together with the particular kinds of husbands’ duties being thus far handled, The manner also of per- forming them is to be delivered.
To instruct an husband in the manner of performing his duties to his wife, the Apostle layeth down two patterns, 1. Christ, 2. Ourselves.
As Christ loveth his Church, and as we love ourselves, so must men love their wives. That we may the better follow these patterns, we must distinctly note how Christ loveth his Church, and how we love ourselves.
The love of Christ to his Church is commended unto us in six several points: which are 1. The order, 2, The truth, 3. The cause, 4. The quality, 5. The quantity, 6. The continuance thereof.
I. For the Order, Christ began to love his Church: he manifested his love to her before she loved him: as the air heated by the sun is hot, and a wall on which the sun-beams smite, giveth a reflection of heat back again: so the Church, as it were heated and warmed at heart by the sense of Christ’s love, loved him, as the Apostle expressly noteth, (We love him because he loved us first (1 John 4:19)): and the Church herself acknowledgeth saying, Because of the savour of thy good ointments (where- with we are revived, and cheered) the virgins love thee (Cant 1:2).
There is in us by nature no spark of love at all: if Christ by his loving of us first, did not instill love into us, we could no more love him than a living bird rise out of a cold egg, if it were not kept warm by the dams sitting upon it.
Thus must an husband first begin to love his wife. His place of eminency, and authority requireth, that he should be to his wife, a guide, which title is expressly given to him by the Holy Ghost, to teach him to go before her, and by his example to instruct, and incite her to do her duty. What a shame would it be for a man who is the image and glory of God, the head of his wife, in the same place to her that Christ is to his Church, to be provoked by his wife’s wife-like carriage (she being the weaker vessel, under him, to learn of him) to lover her? (See Treatise 1, Section 10.) Reasons there be to stir up a wife to endeavour to prevent her husband in doing her duty, which if she do, it is the greater glory to her; but this pattern of Christ should stir him much more to strive to go before her.
65. Of husbands repaying unkindness for love.
Contrary, is their disposition, who having loving and dutiful wives, are notwithstanding nothing moved to love them again: but are as unkind and churlish as if they had the most peevish, and perverse wives that could be. But what shall we say of such as love their wives the less, yea and hate them for their forwardness to love, and (in testimony of true love) to perform all good duty? What, but that they are very devils incarnate? For it is the devil’s property to overcome good with evil. These make the doctrine of a wife’s subjection to seem harsh, and a careful performance thereof, an heavy burden. Never shall they partake of Christ’s love, that in their place shew themselves so unlike to Christ.
66. Of the truth of husbands’ love. (See Treatise 3, Section 57.)
II. The truth of Christ’s love was manifested by the fruits thereof to his Church: He gave himself for it. It was therefore not in word only, no nor only in heart, but in deed also. Thus his love proved profitable, and beneficial to his church, which thereby was cleansed, and made a glorious Church. Had he only borne a tender compassion and pitiful affection towards it, or laboured only with comfortable and sweet words to uphold and succour it, it had still lain polluted with sin, in the power of the devil, and under God’s wrath, and so received no profit and benefit at all.
So must husbands love their wives in truth and in deed. Such a love is required of a man to his brother (1 John 3:18): much more therefore to his wife, who is not only a sister (as the Apostle expressly styleth her (1 Cor 9:5)) but nearer than sister, mother, daughter, friend, or any other whatsoever. This therefore serveth to press the practice of all the forenamed duties appertaining to an husband.
67. Of husbands’ dissimulation.
Contrary is their dissimulation and hypocrisy, who make great shew of much love, and pretence of earnest affection, using many outward complements, but fail when they come to the truest trial, the deed. Some like suitors or wooers, will promise mountains, but not perform mole hills: others will coddle and kiss their wives much, but trust them with nothing, nor pro- vide for them things requisite: there be that will weep much when their wives are sick, yet not afford physic and such like things for their recovery: yea many will carry a fair face all their life long towards their wives, and at their death leave them nothing to live by.
Hence it is that many who by others are accounted to be very kind husbands, are by their wives found to be far otherwise. If trial be made of husbands’ love by their practice and performance of the forenamed duties, it will be found that they for the most part come as far short in love, as wives in subjection.
68. Of the freeness of husbands’ love.
III. The cause of Christ’s love, was his love, as Moses noteth, He set his love on you, because he loved you (Deut 7:7,8). His love arose only, and wholly from himself, and was every way free: as there was nothing in the Church, before Christ loved her to move him to love her, so can there be nothing that he could hope for afterwards, but what himself bestowed. Indeed he delighteth in that righteousness wherewith, as with a glorious robe, she is clothed; and with those heavenly graces, where- with as with precious jewels she is decked: but that righteousness, and those graces are his own, and of his free gift, He pre- sents it to himself a glorious Church (Eph 5:27).
In imitation hereof husbands should love their wives, though there were nothing in wives to move them so to do, but only that they are their wives: yea though no future benefit could after be expected from them: true love hath respect to the object which is loved, and the good it may do thereunto, rather than to the subject which loveth, and the good that it may receive. For love seeketh not her own (1 Cor 13:5).
Christ’s love in this branch thereof should further move husbands to do what lieth in their power, to make their wives wor- thy of love: thus will it be in truth said, that they dwell with their wives according to knowledge (1 Peter 3:7): and thus will their love appear to be as Christ’s love, free.
69. Of husbands loving for advantage.
Contrary is their love which is only for their own content and advantage. Many can love no further than they may have some bait to allure their affections, as beauty, wealth, honour, or the like by-respects; or at least hope of some inheritance or por- tion above that which they have, or of some favour that they expect from their wife’s friends. This cannot be a true sound love: such a man may be thought to love his wife’s beauty, inheritance, and friends rather than his wife. This love cannot last.
70. Of the purity of husbands’ love.
IV. Christ’s love for the quality is an holy, pure, chaste, love: as he himself is, so is his love, as is evident by the effect thereof: for it moved him to sanctify and cleanse his Church, to make it a glorious Church without spot (Eph 5:26,27), he did there- fore no way pollute or defile his Spouse: and that his love might the better appear to be chaste love, cast only upon one Spouse and not many, he united all his Saints together by the bond of his Spirit, and made them all one body (1 Cor 12:12,13).
Hereby husbands must learn so to be affected towards their wives as may stand with holiness, and chastity: though much love be required, yet it may not overflow those banks. Marriage is honourable and a bed undefiled (Heb 13:4). It must there- fore be used as an undefiled thing. This indeed appertaineth to the wife as well as to the husband. But because he is the head, and guide of his wife, and ought to be as a pattern and president before her, as Christ is before him, therefore is it more spe- cially applied to him. The purity of an husband’s love here spoken of, hath a double use,
1. It restraineth an husband’s love to his own wife. There is a general Christian love whereby all occasions of doing good are taken, with which an husband may, and ought to love others: and a particular matrimonial love, whereby he is moved to prefer his wife before all, and to have his heart set and fixed on her, and so proper and peculiar to her.
2. It orders and moderates his love, so as it turneth not into sinful lust, whereby that estate, (which in itself by virtue of God’s ordinance, is holy) is polluted.
71. Of husbands’ lightness.
Contrary, is not only adultery whereof we have spoken before (see Treatise 2, Part 2, Section 5 and 8), but also wantonness, lightness, and uncleanness with his wife. For many intemperate and unchaste husbands, giving the reins to their headstrong lusts, manifest as much unseemliness and plain filthiness in their words, gestures, and actions (to say nothing of their thoughts which are not seen) to their wives, as others do to strumpets and harlots; which is a most shameless thing, and I am even ashamed to mention: but because it is mentioned, let such know, that they shall be accounted among such whore- mongers and adulterers as God will judge (Heb 13:4).
72. Of husbands loving their wives more than themselves.
The quantity of Christ’s love cannot be expressed: for the measure of it was above measure. He gave himself for his Church (Eph 5:25), and in that respect he calleth himself that Good shepherd that gave his life for his sheep (John 10:11). Greater love than this hath no man (John 15:13). What will not he do for his spouse, that gave his life for her?
This may seem to be too high a strain, and pitch of love for an husband to attain unto: a matter wherein he is to leave his pattern, and not to follow Christ: but yet S. John addeth even this extent to the love of our brethren: We ought (saith he) to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16): therefore by just consequence for our wives. But that this extent be not stretched too far, and husbands cast into a pit of needless peril, two cautions must be noted,
1. That there be an absolute necessity, to bring us to this strait of parting with our life: which is, when the good we aim at in the behalf of our wives cannot any other way be effected, but by venturing our life. There was no other way to redeem the Church, but by the blood of Christ.
2. That the good we intend in this case to our wives be of greater value than our temporal life: as is the good of her soul, the saving of it. Thus the Apostle saith, I will most gladly be bestowed for your souls (2 Cor 12:15). Which mind men must much more carry towards their wives. It was for our salvation that Christ gave himself.
73. Of husbands’ unkindness.
Contrary is their unkindness that prefer every trifle of their own before the good of their wives: their profit, their pleasure, their promotion, clean draw away their hearts and affections from their wives. If any extraordinary charge must be laid out, or pains taken for their wives’ good, little love will then appear: whereby it appears that there was no true and sound love settled in their hearts towards their wives. As gold and other like metals are tried by the fire, so love by afflictions and crosses.
74. Of combats in pretence of wives’ honour.
Contrary in another extreme is the over-bold and over-heady pretended manhood of such husbands as upon every jealous surmise and slight report, are ready to make challenges of fight, and to enter into single combats and duels, on pretence of maintaining their wife’s honour. This being no warrantable course of righting a wrong, no honour can redound to the wife thereby, but much dishonour and danger to the husband. If he prevail over his adversary and kill, he is made guilty of murder thereby, and so reproach and shame must needs come to himself, wife, and whole family: if he be overcome and slain, she may be reputed more guilty than she was before. And oft it falleth out that God in just judgment giveth over the chal- lenger into his adversary’s hand, because he hath undertaken so indirect a course.
75. Of husbands’ constancy in love. (See Treatise 3, Section 6.)
VI. The continuance of Christ’s love was without date: Having loved his own, he loved them unto the end (John 13:1). His love was constant (not by fits, now loving, then hating) and everlasting (Hosea 2:19) (never repenting thereof, never changing or altering his mind) no provocations, no transgressions could ever make him forget to love, and cease to do that good which he intended for his Church: note what he said to her even when she revolted from him, Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return again to me (Jer 3:1): and again, My mercy shall not depart away (2 Sam 7:15).
For his love resteth not on the desert of his Church, but on the unchangeableness of his own will. As this manifested Christ’s love to be true sound love, so it made it profitable and beneficial to the Church, which, notwithstanding her many frailties, by virtue hereof is glorified.
This last branch must be added to all the former branches of an husband’s love, or else they will be all in vain and to no purpose. This giveth the truest trial of sound love. Such was the love betwixt David and Jonathan: the soundest love that ever was, betwixt party and party. This bringeth the greatest glory to the party which loveth: and the greatest benefit to the party which is loved. That a man’s love may thus remain firm and inviolable,
1. He must be sure to lay a good foundation; he must ground his love on God’s ordinance: and love his wife in regard of the matrimonial bond which knitteth them together, and that near union which thence ariseth; and so it will last so long as that knot lasteth.
2. He must further support and strengthen it with an inviolable resolution to be changed and altered with no provocation, but rather to pass by all infirmities; endeavouring in love to redress them if possibly he can: if not, to bear with them.
76. Of husbands’ variableness.
Contrary is their variableness, whose love is ready to turn as a weather cock with every blast of a contrary wind: now tender- hearted, then again hard-hearted, now smiling, then lowering: now giving this and that favour, then denying every thing, even such things as are needful.
Many whose love was as hot as fire while their wives were young, or their friends lived, or while they pleased them, when those occasions are taken away, prove in their love as cold as ice.
Again others by some continuance in doing good to their wives, think it a burden: and waxing weary clean leave off their former good course; which plainly sheweth that they never truly and entirely loved their wives.
By this pattern of Christ here propounded to husbands, we have on the one side a good direction to teach us how to love our wives, as hath been particularly declared; and on the other side, matter of humiliation, in that it sheweth us how far short we come of our bounden duty. Howsoever, wives may most complain of their burden, because it is a Subjection whereunto by nature we are all loath to yield: yet I am sure the heaviest burden is laid upon the husband’s shoulders: and much more easy it is to perform the part of a good wife, than of a good husband (see Treatise 1, Section 10).
77. Of husbands loving their wives as themselves. (See Treatise 3, Section 59.)
To the example of Christ the Apostle annexeth the pattern of one’s self, in these words: So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies (Eph 5:28).
Quest. Is not the former pattern sufficient? Is this latter more excellent, more perfect?
Answ. Christ’s example is a full, complete, perfect, and every way sufficient pattern; far more excellent than this of a man’s self: this is not annexed to add any thing to that, or in regard of the excellency hereof, but only in regard of our dullness, to make the point somewhat more plain and perspicuous. For this pattern is more sensible and better discerned. Every one knoweth how he loveth his own body: but few or none know how Christ loveth his Church. Besides, that example of Christ may seem too high and excellent for any to attain unto, even intimitable; therefore to shew that he requireth no more than a man may perform, if he will set himself with care and conscience to do his duty, he addeth the pattern of one’s self; that which one doth to his body, if he will, he may do to his wife.
No direction can be taken from this latter pattern, but might be referred to the former, as most of the former (though in a far meaner manner) may be referred to the latter. For the love which a man beareth to himself is true, and entire without all dissimulation: the most dissembling wretch in the world (who in his dealings with other men doth nothing uprightly) nor will nor can dissemble with himself; though other men shall never know the depth of his heart, yet the spirit which is in him, even himself, knoweth it (1 Cor 2:11): so as this pattern also presseth truth and sincerity on husbands in their affection towards their wives: of all other they may not dissemble and deal doubly with them, but let them know the entireness of their affection towards them: and see they neither fawn on them, nor flatter them. They which pretend great love to their wives in shew only, offend against nature itself. As the foresaid love of a man’s own self is for manner entire and true, so also free not forced: and for measure as great as possibly it can be, and or continuance, constant, and so like to Christ’s love. But there are two points especially to be considered in the love of one’s self which above others are most sensibly discerned in this pattern. 1. Tenderness. 2. Cheerfulness.
No other man will or can so tenderly handle a man’s hand, arm, leg, or any other part of his body, as himself: he is very sensible of his own smart.
The metaphors which the Apostle useth in these words, He nourisheth and cherisheth it, do lively set forth this tenderness (Eph 5:29): for they are taken from fowls and birds which very charily, and tenderly hover over their young ones, covering them all over with their wings and feathers, but so bearing up their bodies as no weight lieth upon them.
Thus ought husbands with all tenderness, and mildness to deal with their wives, as we have before noted in many particulars: only this example of a man’s self I thought good to set before husbands, as a lively pattern wherein they might behold a precedent without exception, going before them, and whereby they might receive excellent direction for the better perform- ing of the particulars before noted.
Again, no friend, no parent, no other party will or can so willingly and cheerfully do any kindness for one, as a man for him- self. This among other is one especial point which the law aimeth at, when it enjoins a man to love his neighbour as himself, namely, as willingly and readily as himself (Lev 19:18). Whatsoever a man doth for himself he doth much more cheerfully than for another. There needeth no other proof than experience. Let men take notice of their own mind and disposition when they do things for themselves, and this will be as clear as the light when the sun shineth forth at noon day.
Such an affection ought husbands to have to their wives: they ought more willingly and cheerfully to do any thing for their wives than for parents, children, friends or any other. Though this cheerfulness be an inward disposition of the heart, yet may it be manifested by a man’s forwardness and readiness to do his wife good: when his wife shall no sooner desire a kind- ness, than he will be ready to grant it: as Boaz saith to Ruth, I will do to thee all that thou requirest (Ruth 3:11); yea, if by any means he may know that this or that will be behoveful to her, though she desire it not, yet to effect it for her: which was the mind of the said Boaz to Ruth, as the history in many particulars sheweth.
Contrary is the disposition of those husbands who so grudgingly, repiningly, and discontentedly do those things which they do in their wives’ behalf, as their wives had rather they were not done at all. The manner of doing them causeth more grief to tender hearted wives, than the things themselves can do good.
Hitherto of the manner which husbands ought to observe in performing their duties. The reasons to enforce the same remain to be handled.
78. Of Christ’s example, a motive to provoke husbands to love their wives.
The forenamed examples of Christ and of ourselves as they are patterns for our direction, so general motives to provoke and stir us up the more to perform all the forenamed duties after the manner prescribed.
A greater, and stronger motive cannot be yielded than the example of Christ. Example in itself is of great force to provoke us to do any thing: especially if it be the example of some great one, a man of place and renown.
But who greater than Christ? What more worthy pattern? If (as was shewed (see Treatise 3, Section 74)) the example of the Church be of great force to move wives to be subject to their husbands, the example of Christ must needs be of much greater force to move husbands to love their wives. A great honour it is to be like unto Christ: and his example is a perfect pattern.
Two things there be which in Christ’s example are especially to be noted to move husbands to love their wives.
1. That great inequality which is betwixt him and his spouse.
2. That small benefit which he reapeth by loving her.
For the better discerning of that inequality, the greatness of Christ on the one side, and the meanness of the Church on the other, are duly to be weighed.
Christ’s greatness is in Scripture set forth by comparing him with creatures, and the Creator. Compared with creatures he is far more excellent than the most excellent, as the Apostle by many arguments proveth in the first chapter to Hebrews, that whole chapter is spent in proof of this point: And in another place it is said that He is set far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come (Eph 1:21).
Compared with the Creator he is no whit inferiour to him, but equal (Phil 2:6): Being the brightness of glory, and the ex- press image of his person (Heb 1:3): and that Word of whom it is said, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God: All things were made by him (John 1:1,3), &c. So as he is the very Creator himself, external, in- finite, incomprehensible. Thus is Christ’s greatness inexplicable.
The meanness of the Church is as low on the other side: she is a creature, fashioned out of the earth, proceeding from the loins of corrupt Adam, not only finite, but in itself vile and base: The Prophet Ezekiel doth set her forth in her lively colours as she is in herself (Eze 16:1). Compared therefore unto Christ she is nothing, less than nothing (Isa 40:17). What equality, what proportion can there then be betwixt Christ and her.
But if man and woman be compared together, we shall find a near equality: and that both in the points of their humiliation, and also of their exaltation. In regard of the former, they are both of the same mould, of the same corrupt nature, subject to the same infirmities, at length brought to the same end. In regard of the latter the best and greatest privileges are common to both of them: they are both made after the same image, redeemed by the same price, partakers of the same grace, and heirs together of the same inheritance.
Quest. What is then the preferment of the male kind? What is the excellency of an husband?
Answ. Only outward and momentary. Outward, in the things of this world only: for in Christ Jesus they are both one (Gal 3:28). Momentary, for the time of this life only: for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the Angels of God in heaven (Matt 22:30): then all subjection of wives to husbands ceaseth.
To conclude this point, the inequality betwixt Christ and the Church, and equality betwixt man and wife being such as hath been declared; seeing Christ vouchsafeth to love his Church, ought not man thereby be moved to love his wife?
The other point concerning the small benefit which Christ reapeth by his Church, will yet further enforce the point: for illustration whereof we will note the great benefit which man reapeth by his wife.
The benefit which Christ reapeth from the Church is in one word nothing for Christ is in himself All sufficient: he neither needeth any thing, nor can receive any thing: If thou be righteous, what givest thou to him? Or what receiveth he of thine hand? (Job 35:7) Yet abundantly he bestoweth all manner of gifts, temporal, and spiritual, earthly and heavenly. It was not therefore his own good that he respected in loving the Church, but her good: for he being God became man (1 Tim 3:16); being Lord of heaven and earth, he took upon him the form of a servant (Phil 2:6,7); being rich he became poor (2 Cor 8:9): having the Keys of hell and of death (Rev 1:18), and being the Lord of life (Acts 3:15), he humbled himself, and became obedient unto the death (Phil 2:8): thus to shew love to his Church he left much for her sake, but received nothing of her.
But the benefit which man reapeth from a wife is very great: for It was not good for a man to be alone (Gen 2:18): in so much as He who findeth a wife findeth a good thing (Prov 18:22); and that in all the points of goodness, a profitable thing, a comfortable thing, a delightful thing. They know not the benefit of the married estate, who prefer single life before it, especially if the married estate be ordered by God’s word, and man and wife careful to perform their own duty each to other (see Treatise 2, Part 1, Section 27).
To apply this point also, and to bring it to the conclusion: If Christ who can receive nothing from the Church notwithstanding love her, ought not men much more to love their wives, who many ways receive much good from them, and without whom they cannot well be?
This example of Christ is the rather to be noted, because it clean wipeth away all those false colours, and vain pretences which many allege as reasons, to shew that there is little reason they should love their wives: some of their pretences are these.
1. Their wives are of a far meaner rank than themselves; should they then perform duty to their inferiours? They commonly who marry their kitchen maids, or others far under their degree, allege this pretence.
Answ. I might reply, That marriage advanceth a wife to the degree of her husband: and that it was his own folly to marry one so mean: but for the purpose and point in hand, let any tell me, whether the supposed disparity betwixt them and their wives, be in any degree comparable to that which is betwixt Christ and the Church: yet Christ thinketh not much to do duties of love to his Church.
2. There is nothing in their wives worthy to be loved.
Answ. This very thing, that such an one is thy wife, is matter enough to make her worthy of love. But what was there in the Church to make her worthy of Christ’s love? If it be said that she is endued with many excellent graces, which make her amiable in Christ’s sight: I answer, that of herself she hath none of those graces, Christ hath bestowed them upon her, and so made her amiable: and thus oughtest thou to endeavour by using all good means thou canst to make thy wife answerable to thy love: but howsoever, to love her.
3. Their wives give just occasion to be hated by reason of their peevishness, stoutness, insolency, and other like intolerable vices.
Answ. No occasion may seem just to move an husband to hate his wife: nor any vice seem to him intolerable: with goodness he ought to overcome evil. If notorious sins seemed intolerable to Christ, or that he thought any occasion just to cause hatred, many that are of his Church would oft draw his hatred upon them: but Christ hateth never a member of his Church.
4. There is no hope that ever I shall receive any help of my wife, or benefit from her.
Answ. There is little charity in such as can conceive no hope: for love hopeth all things (1 Cor 13:7): but yet the case so standeth with Christ. The Church is so utterly unable to help or benefit him, as he may justly say, he cannot hope to receive any thing from her. Christ loveth the Church for her own good, not for his; so ought husbands. Thus if Christ’s example be well weighed, and observed of husbands, it will afford matter enough to remove every doubt or scruple raised to alienate their affections from their wives. Fitly therefore hath the Apostle set it before husbands, both to direct them how to love their wives, and also to move them so to do.
79. Of a man’s love to himself, a motive to provoke him to love his wife.
To the same purpose that Christ’s example tendeth, tendeth also the pattern of a man’s self. Great is the affection that a man beareth to himself, to his own flesh, his own body: he never hateth, but ever loveth himself: no sore, no disease, no pain, no stench that the flesh bringeth to a man, can make him hate it: but rather all manner of infirmities do make him the more to pity, tender, and cherish it. This is a work of nature: the most heathenish, and barbarous, that ever were, do it. Now a wife being to a man as his body and his flesh (for they two are one flesh) and God having commanded men to love their wives as their own bodies, these conclusions will necessarily follow from this motive:
1. He that loveth not his wife is more carried with the instinct of nature, than with the express charge of the God of nature. Nature’s instinct moveth him to love his body. But God’s express charge moveth him not, to love his wife.
2. He that loveth not his wife is worse than an infidel and a barbarian, yea than a very beast: for all these love their own bodies, and their own flesh: but a wife (by God’s ordinance) is as one’s body, and his flesh.
3. He that loveth his wife loveth himself: the Apostle himself in these very words layeth down this conclusion: from whence by the rule of contraries this also will follow, He that loveth not his wife, loveth not himself.
4. He that loveth not his wife cannot but bring woe and mischief upon himself. For the damage and mischief which followeth on a wife, through any neglect of duty on her husband’s part, followeth also on him: as the mischief which followeth on the body through any negligence of the head, lighteth also on the head.
If these be not motives sufficient to provoke an husband to love his wife, I know not what can be sufficient.