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is,“ Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fit in the Lord," Col. iii. 18; “ in everything,” Eph. v. 24. Nevertheless man is not to hold her as a servant, but receives her into a part of that empire which God proclaims him to, though not equally, yet largely, as his own image and glory: for it is no small glory to him, that a creature so like him should be made subject to him. Not but that particular exceptions may have place, if she exceed her husband in prudence and dexterity, and he contentedly yield: for then a superior and more natural law comes in, that the wiser should govern the less wise, whether male or female. But that which far more easily and obediently follows from this verse is, that, seeing woman was purposely made for man, and he her head, it cannot stand before the breath of this divine utterance, that man, the portraiture of God, joining to himself for his intended good and solace an inferior sex, should so become her thrall, whose wilfulness or inability to be a wife frustrates the occasional end of her creation ; but that he may acquit himself to freedom hy his natural birthright, and that indelible character of priority, which God crowned him with. If it be urged, that sin hath lost him this, the answer is not far to seek, that from her the sin first proceeded, which keeps her justly in the same proportion still beneath. She is not to gain by being first in the transgression, that man should further lose to her, because already he hath lost by her means. Oft it happens, that in this matter he is without fault; so that his punishment herein is causeless; and God hath the praise in our speeches of him, to sort his punishment in the same kind with the offence. Suppose he erred; it is not the intent of God or man to hunt an error so to the death with a revenge beyond all measure and proportion. But if we argue thus, This affliction is befallen him for his sin, therefore he must bear it, without seeking the only remedy: first, it will be false, that all affliction comes for sin, as in the case of Job, and of the man born blind, John ix. 3, was evident: next, by that reason, all miseries coming for sin, we must let them all lie upon us like the vermin of an Indian Catharist, which his fond religion forbids him to molest, Were it a particular punishment inflicted through the anger of God upon a person, or upon a land, no law hinders us in that regard, no law bút bids us remove it if we can ; much more if it be a dangerous temptation withal; much more yet,
if it be certainly a temptation, and not certainly a punishment, though a pain. As for what they say we must bear with patience: to bear with patience, and to seek effectual remedies, implies no contradiction. It may no less be for our disobedience, our unfaithfulness, and other sins against God, that wives become adulterous to the bed; and questionless we. ought to take the affliction as patiently as Christian prudence would wish: yet hereby is not lost the right of divorcing for adultery. No, you say ; because our Saviour excepted that only. But why, if he were so bent to punish our sins, and try our patience in binding on us a disastrous marriage, why did he except adultery? Certainly to have been bound from divorce in that case also had been as plentiful a punishment to our sins, and not too little work for the patientest. Nay, perhaps they will say it was too great a sufferance; and with as slight a reason, for no wise man but would sooner pardon the act of adultery once and again committed by a person worth pity and forgiveness, than to lead a wearisome life of unloving and unquiet conversation with one who neither affects nor is affected, much less with one who exercises all bitterness, and would commit adultery too, but for envy lest the persecuted condition should thereby get the benefit of his freedom. It is plain therefore, that God enjoins not this supposed strictness of not divorcing either to punish us, or to try our patience.
Moreover, if man be the image of God, which consists in holiness, and woman ought in the same respect to be the image and companion of man, in such wise to be loved as the church is beloved of Christ; and if, as God is the head of Christ, and Christ the head of man, so man is the head of woman; I cannot see by this golden dependence of headship and subjection, but that piety and religion is the main tie of Christian matrimony: so as if there be found between the pair a notorious disparity either of wickedness or heresy, the husband by all manner of right is disengaged from a creature, not made and inflicted on him to the vexation of his righteousness: the wife also, as her subjection is terminated in the Lord, being herself the redeemed of Christ, is not, still bound to be the vassal of him, who is the bondslave of Satan: she being now neither the image nor the glory of such a person, nor made for him, nor left in bondage to him ; but hath recourse
1 Cor. v.
to the wing of charity, and protection of the church, unless there be a hope on either side: yet such a hope must be meant,
be a rational hope, and not an endless servitude. Of which hereafter.
But usually it is objected, that if it be thus, then there can be no true marriage between misbelievers and irreligious per
I might answer, Let them see to that who are such ; the church hath no commission to judge those without,
But this they will say, perhaps, is but penuriously to resolve a doubt. I answer therefore, that where they are both irreligious, the marriage may be yet true enough to them in a civil relation. For there are left some remains of God's image in man, as he is merely man; which reason God gives against the shedding of man's blood, Gen. ix., as being made in God's image, without expressing whether he were a good man or a bad, to exempt the slayer from punishment. So that in those marriages where the parties are alike void of religion, the wife owes a civil homage and subjection, the husband owes a civil loyalty. But where the yoke is misyoked, heretic with faithful, godly with ungodly, to the grievance and manifest endangering of a brother or sister, reasons of a higher strain than matrimonial bear sway; unless the gospel, instead of freeing us, debase itself to make us bondmen, and suffer evil to control good.
“ Male and female created he them.”] This contains another end of matching man and woman, being the right and lawfulness of the marriage-bed; though much inferior to the former end of her being his image and help in religious society. And who of weakest insight may not see, that this creating of them male and female cannot in any order of reason, or Christianity, be of such moment against the better and higher purposes of their creation, as to enthral husband or wife to duties or to sufferings, unworthy and unbeseeming the image of God in them? Now whenas not only men, but good men, do stand upon their right, their estimation, their dignity, in all other actions and deportments, with warrant enough and good conscience, as having the image of God in them, it will not be difficult to determine what is unworthy ar. unseemly for a man to do or suffer in wedlock: and the like proportionally may be found for woman, if we love not to stand disputing below the principles of humanity. He that
said, “ Male and female created he them,” immediately before that said also in the same verse, “In the image of God created le hiin," and redoubled it, that our thoughts might not be so full of dregs as to urge this poor consideration of male and female, without remembering the nobleness of that former repetition ; lest when God sends a wise eye to examine our trivial glosses, they be found extremely to creep upon the ground: especially since they confess, that what here concerns marriage is but a brief touch, only preparative to the institution which follows more expressly in the next chapter; and that Christ so took it, as desiring to be briefest with them who came to tempt him, account shall be given in due place. Ver. 28. “ And God blessed them, and God said unto them,
Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth,” &c. This declares another end of matrimony, the propagation of mankind; and is again repeated to Noah and his sons. Many things might be noted on this place not ordinary, nor unworth the noting; but I undertook not a general comment. Hence therefore we see the desire of children is honest and pious ;
if we be not less zealous in our Christianity than Plato was in his heathenism ; who, in the sixth of his Laws, counts offspring therefore desirable, that we may leave in our stead sons of our sons, continual servants of God: a religious and prudent desire, if people knew as well what were required to breeding as to begetting ; which desire perhaps was a cause why the Jews hardly could endure a barren wedlock; and Philo, in his book of special laws, esteems him only worth pardon, that sends not barrenness away. Carvilius, the first recorded in Rome to have sought divorce, had it granted him for the barrenness of his wife, upon his oath that he married to the end he might have children; as Dionysius and Gellius are authors. But to dismiss a wife only for barrenness, is hard : and yet in some the desire of children is so great, and so just, yea, sometimes so necessary, that to condeinn such a one to a childless age, the fault apparently not being in him, might seem perhaps more strict than needed. Sometimes inheritances, crowns, and dignities are so interested and annexed in their common peace and good to such or such lineal descent, that it may prove of great moment both in the affairs of men and of religion, to consider thoroughly what might be
done herein, notwithstanding the waywardness of our school doctors.
GENESIS ii. 18. “And the Lord said, It is not good that man should be
alone; I will make him a help meet for him.' Ver. 23. “ And Adam said,” &c. Ver. 24. « Therefore
shall a man leave,” &c. This second chapter is granted to be a commentary on the first, and these verses granted to be an exposition of that
“ Male and female created he them:" and yot when this male and female is by the explicit words of God himself here declared to be not meant other than a fit help, and meet society, some, who would engross to themselves the whole trade of interpreting, will not suffer the clear text of God to do the office of explaining itself.
• And the Lord God said. It is not good.”] A man would think, that the consideration of who spake should raise up the intention of our minds to inquire better, and obey the purpose of so great a speaker : for as we order the business of marriage, that which he here speaks is all made vain; and in the decision of matrimony, or not matrimony, nothing at all regarded. Our presumption hath utterly changed the state and condition of this ordinance: God ordained it in love and helpfulness to be indissoluble, and we in outward act and formality to be a forced bondage; so that being subject to a thousand errors in the best men, if it prove a blessing to any, it is of mere accident, as man's law hath handled it, and not of institution.
“ It is not good for man to be alone.”] Hitherto all things that have been named, were approved of God to be very good: loneliness is the first thing which God's eye named not good : whether it be a thing, or the want of something, I labour not; let it be their tendance, who have the art to be industriously idle. And here 66 alone" is meant alone without woman; otherwise Adam had the company of God himself, and angels to converse with; all creatures to delight him seriously, or to inake him sport. God could have created him out of the same mould a thousand friends and brother Adams to have been his consorts; yet for all this, till Eve was given 'rim, God reckoned him to be alone.
“ It is not good.”] God here presents himself like to a