Page images

and help, in prosperity and adversity, in all household duties; but in no manner in sin.

3. It is the mark of imprudence and impiety, to choose such a husband as seems likely to persuade his wife to those things which are not fit in the Lord. They do this who marry Papists, or any other heretics, and wicked persons, without any difference, provided the hope of riches shine upon them from it.—And thus much concerning the subjection of the wife and its limitation.

Vers. 19. Husbands, love your wives, and be not biller

against them.

It is prudently said by Chrysostom, The scales should always be equally poised in exhortations. This Paul has accurately observed in this whole exhortation. In the foregoing verse he cast into one scale the duties of wives : now he places in the other the duties of husbands also; so that both should be equal in weight, neither the one being more than duly depressed, nor the other raised above what is meet. Therefore to come to the explication of the words: The duty of husbands is expressed in these words; by a precept enjoining love ; by an injunction forbidding bitterness.

1. First we must explain the precept, Husbands, love your wives.] The word for love must be referred as well to the passion as to the effect: Which is manifestly gathered from Ephes. v. 25, where the love of Christ towards the Church is proposed for an example to husbands; Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it. 'Hyárnce, he loved, indicates the affection ; Ilapędwxe, he gave himself, demonstrates the effect of the love.

In the first place, then, the Apostle requires the affection of love, namely, that the husband love his wife in

heart and mind. For this internal affection of love gives the heart itself to the thing loved, which is the most precious and first gift, and that, in fine, in which all other gifts are given when occasion requires : for love is diffusive of its good. It is not badly said by Aristotle, Rhet. 2. 8, Love is the wishing to any one what it conceives to be good for the sake of that one, and not for its own; and it is the endeavouring to accomplish this, as far as it can. Therefore he requires such an affection in the heart of the husband. But because we cannot thrust our eyes into the hearts of men, to see the internal affection, external effects are required in testimony of love: for the proof of love is the exhibition of its operation. Let us come to this.

The love of the husband ought chiefly to express itself in three effects.

First, it is shewn herein, that he lives freely and cheerfully with his wife in his own house; he is delighted with her presence and company; he suffers himself to be torn from her for any long time only by necessary causes, and then thinks himself to be cast elsewhere and to be thrown hither and thither, and at home with his wife to rest as in the wished-for haven. For although married persons ought to be so prepared in mind, that, if it be necessary, the one can bear absence from the other with equanimity; yet it is not to be allowed that the husband should hate or be weary of the company of his own wife, or willingly be elsewhere than with her; for true love is mostly delighted with the presence of the beloved, and is tormented as it were by the absence of the same. This effect of love we see in Christ towards his Church: for he never deserts her, or leaves her alone: but performs what he promised Matt. xxviii. 20, I am with you always even unto the end of the world. Thus, then, ought the husband also to be animated towards his wife, to be with her constantly unto the last breath of his life. This Solomon requires from all pious and good husbands in Prov. v. 18, 19, 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. And why wilt

"thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman and embrace the bosom of a stranger ? Yea, Aristotle himself considers it injustice in the husband, if he despise his wife, and indulge unlawful pleasures elsewhere : and he calls that undivided society of life, and due benevolence which the lrusband is bound to yield towards his wife, a pious and most holy dwelling together, and dignified station of marriage. The opinion, therefore, or rather impiety, of the Emperor Ælius Verus, is to be rejected; who is wrong in having affirmed, that the wife was a title of dignity, not of pleasure : as though wives should be satisfied that husbands condescended to honour them by contracting marriage with them; and in the mean time it might be allowed the husband to follow pleasures, or rather iniquity, out of matrimony, at his own discretion. Thus much of the first effect of love.

The second duty of love is, to direct and instruct his wife to his utmost in all those things which relate to the passing through this life well, or to the attaining eternal life. On this account the husband is called the head of the wife in sacred learning: that, as the body is directed by the head, so the wife should be directed by the husband to the common good of both. Aristotle writes, Oecon. 1. 8, that by a prudent husband nothing should be neglected of those things which tend to the instruction of his wife: and he alleges the cause ; namely, that she herself by being well informed may be capable of instructing her children. This also in Xenophon, in his Oeconomics, Ischomachus, whom that sweet writer proposed as an example of a good husband, as Cyrus, of a good king, says that he carefully did. Therefore he himself says, that he taught his wife, what might suffice for those cares which related to her office; and for this end, first songht from God, both that he himself might teach those things which would be best for either, and especially that she might learn the same. This duty of love (as you may perceive) was not concealed even from the heathen themselves, particularly as far as it relates to this life. But the sacred writers also extend this care of the husband to the other life : for he ought even

in the business of religion, and in those things which regard her eternal salvation, to instruct his wife. For this maxim is a sign of true love, to take care that his wife may rightly worship God together with himself in this life, whereby they may together enjoy God in the life to come. On this account, Paul, in 1 Cor. xiv. 35, refers the wife to the husband as to a domestic tutor; If the wives would learn any thing, let them ask their own husbands at home. Therefore the husbands ought to direct their wives in things earthly and secular; because they are co-partners in all earthly things : they ought also to instruct them in divine and heavenly things; because they are co-heirs of heavenly blessings, heirs together of the grace of life, as Peter says, 1 Epis. iii. 7.

The third and last effect of love is, to provide his wife with all necessary things. And in this respect it behoves the husband to imitate the care and providence of Christ : for he would have nothing wanting to his Church, which is either necessary or conducive to its welfare, as to clothing, food, and life : so the husband ought to acquire by his labour, and communicate to his wife out of love, whatever either the necessity or dignity of her person shall require. He who is not concerned about this duty, subjects himself to that heavy censure, If any man provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, 1 Tim. v. 8. Hence we may conjecture what is to be thought of those monstrous guttlers, who not only provide not for their family, but dissipate the things which were well provided, in play, in drinking, and harlots; the wife and children in the mean while pinched, and all but perishing for want and hunger. Neither the love of the husband, nor the faith of the Christian appears in these things : for whom that which they are wont to allege is no excuse, that they consume what is their own; for neither Divine nor human laws permit any one to abuse his goods through lust. Besides, the wife ought to be a partaker of all the goods which belong to the husband, no less than she is compelled to be a partaker in all his ills. And thus much of the three effects of love : which, the better to commend, we shall add a necessary caution by way of appendage.

He who is desirous of performing his duty in loving his wife, should beware of the vulgar error in choosing : Let him think from the beginning in entering upon matrimony, to choose, neither by the eyes alone, nor by the fingers alone, as Plutarch says, in Conjug. præcep.

They are said to marry by the eyes alone, who in choosing a wife regard chiefly her external form and beauty. That love, which rests upon so unstable a foundation, can in no way be firm and constant. Neither do I so intend this saying, as though it was unlawful to choose a modest woman from her face; (for we see the most religious and chaste patriarch Jacob to have preferred Rachel to Leah) but to be understood that external beauty is not especially, or by itself, to be sought after in marrying, but so far as it is the beauteous dress of a beauteous mind. Virtue is more agreeable where it appears in a beautiful person, says Virgil, Æn. lib. v. 1. 344. Therefore, let the first enquiry be as to manners : If they are found to be good, and worthy of commendation, then beauty should not be slighted; which is not improperly called by Tertullian, felicity of body, an accession to the plastic hand of the Divinity, and the genteel apparel of the soul. The opinion of Solomon in this matter is to be remembered, Prov. xxxi. 30, Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain ; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.

Now they are led into matrimony by the fingers, who only. regard what the wife shall bring in money; if the dowry satisfies, they are little or not at all solicitous about probity or piety. These are worse than the before-mentioned: for they respect beauty, that is to say, the good in the person; these, money, namely, the good apart from the person. Therefore, the love of the former is light; that of the latter, plainly nothing: for they seek not a wife, but a money-porter: after that they have laid their claws upon the money, they regard not of a straw the porter. But it is the character of the pious and the wise to prefer the wife to the money, rather than the money without the wife;



« PreviousContinue »