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ance of which we dare not implore the aid of Christ, and which we do not judge to be pleasing and acceptable to God for Christ's sake, at least not to be displeasing and abominable. Let the avaricious, the lustful, the drunken, and indeed all the wicked, hence judge of their actions. · 4. We should not attempt even good actions relying upon our own strength, but resting upon Divine aid, and the mediation of Christ.
5. They abuse the name of Christ, who employ it for those things which tend to the reproach, not to the glory of Christ. Here the Papists sin grievously, who are wont to exercise all their superstitions, to obtrude all their errors in the name of Christ; they are not much unlike those indeed, who assume the name of Christ when they do the works of the devil. And thus much of the former part of the rule.
Giving thanks to God and the Father by him.] This is that other part of the Apostolic rule; in which we are advised how it behoves us to conduct ourselves towards God the Father. For the word God is to be taken personally in this place, and the word Father is added exegetically. Therefore to God and the Father is the same, as if he had said, to God who is the Father both of Christ and also our Father in Christ. The same form of speaking is used in Ephes. v. 30. But let us come to the point; Here are three things to be observed : 1. That we are to give thanks ; 2. To whom they are to be given; 3. By whom.
1. As to the first; Thanks are to be given both in the using of the creatures and in the success and issue of all things. The enjoyment of the creatures requires thanks from us as a debt; otherwise we are inferior to the brute animals. Hence that remark of the Apostle, 1 Tim. iv. 4, Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving. Moreover in every success and issue of things, and every action of ours, thanks are to be given; because all things co-operate for good to those, who undertake lawful and honest things by invoking the name of Christ. On this account, in Ephes. v. 20, he more fully expresses this duty in these words, Giving thanks to
God always and for all things. Neither is this duty to be performed on our own account only ; but we are bound to give thanks to God also for benefits towards our brethren, and so to the whole church. We give thanks to God always for you, &c. says the Apostle, 2 Thess. i. 3. It is plain, therefore, this duty of giving thanks is to be perpetual, &c.
2. To whom are thanks to be given ? To God the Father.] It is usual in the Scriptures, to prescribe this method as well of praying as of giving thanks, that each act should be directed to the person of the Father. But there is no other reason for this, than that the Father is the fountain of Deity, from whom, as from its primary author, all good things are derived to us, by the Son's niediation, and by the Holy Spirit working the same in us. That, therefore, the order of nature and of operation may be indicated, we invoke the Father as much as possible, we give thanks expressly to the Father : yet neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit is excluded from an alliance in this honour, since the essence of the three Persons is the same. We may even add that reason also; that the name Father affords us confidence in speaking with God : for when we invoke God the Father of Christ, faith immediately conceives, the same is now also become our Father in Christ.
3. By whom? By him ; namely Christ.] By Christ the Mediator, therefore, we ought both to invoke God, and give thanks after that God shall have heard us calling upon him ; for our thanks will not indeed be pleasing to God, unless by Christ and for his sake. Therefore it is proper to acknowledge, that there neither hath been any merit in us for obtaining blessings from God the Father, unless by Christ; nor is there any faculty within us of giving the thanks that are due, unless by the same Christ.
Instructions. 1. They who do all things in the name of Christ, will always have copious matter for giving thanks to God, whatever things may befal them.
2. We ought to acknowledge the blessing of God in all those transactions which happen well to us, not to attri
bute prosperous events to our own strength or counsels : for he never gives thanks with the heart, who sacrifices to his own drag. Hab. i. 16.
3. God the Father will not be invoked, praised, or worshipped, unless through Christ his Son and our Media.tor: relying therefore upon his merit and favour with the Father, we ought to render all these our duties to God. They therefore err, who choose to themselves other Mediators to God the Father.
Thus we have explained the universal exhortation of the Apostle, which has respect to all Christians alike. Now a particular exhortation follows, which is directed to certain orders of men variously.
Vers. 18, 19. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is
fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
The Apostle now enters upon a particular and domestic exhortation. And since, as Aristotle has rightly observed, Polit. i. 3, there are three alliances (or moral relations) of which every house is composed, of which the husband and wife constitute the first; the parents and children, the second; the master and servants, the third : the Apostle assigns precepts to all these; but he begins with the nuptial state, as the first and most worthy.
But it is to be observed that he requires the duty of the wife in the first place, although the husband obtains the more worthy place in the first alliance. A twofold reason may be assigned. 1. Because it is more difficult to perform the duty of subjection than of love: for to love and delight is pleasant; but to subject oneself and obey another, is for the most part troublesome and hateful. 2. Because the affection of the husband for the most part depends on the due subjection of the wife : for if she yield her subjection, unless he is dead to all moral sensibility, he cannot but return his love. But let us come to the words of the Apostle.
We have in this eighteenth verse, 1. A proposition; 2. A limitation of the proposition. This is the proposition, Wives ought to be subject to their husbands. The limitation, or mode of subjection is, As it is fit in the Lord.
In the proposition itself we shall briefly treat these four things. First, what subjection is considered in a general point of view. Secondly, in what things this particular subjection of wives towards their husbands consists. Thirdly, what are the reasons impelling women to yield this duty of subjection. Fourthly, what may be the impediments or obstacles, that this bounden duty should not be performed by them: for both these ought to be known that they may be avoided and removed.
1. The subjection, then, of one creature to another in general, is nothing else, if it be considered on the part of God, than a Divine disposition, whereby the more imperfect are subordinate to the more perfect, that by this subjection the former may be perfected, governed, and preserved by the latter. If it be considered on the part of the creature subjected, then the virtue of subjection is its ready inclination to obey this ordinance constituted by God him
We see without this appointed subjection neither natural affairs, nor political societies, nay, not even the world itself could consist. All earthly and sublunary things are subject to celestial ones; for since they are in their nature more imperfect and ignoble, they cannot attain to their perfection without this natural subjection. So in political societies, government and subjection are accounted not only among the things that are useful, but among the things plainly necessary. Hence citizens are subject to magistrates, soldiers to their commanders, for their good
* Arist. Polit. i. 3.
and advantage more than that of those to whom they are subject.
Corollaries. 1. The Author of the creatures would not have them to be confounded through disorder. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, 1 Cor. xiv. 33. They, therefore, are repugnant to God, who would take away the order of obeying and ruling.
2. It is not the mark of a base and abject mind, but of a generous one, and one not deviating from the law of creation, to be subject promptly and with a willing mind to his superiors. Whence that saying of the Heathen, The government over the good is easy ; every man in proportion to his depravily bears a ruler with a rude impatience.
3. They who shake off the yoke of due subjection, are blind to their own interest: for that old adage is true, mellapxía ’esi TOÙS Èuwpažlas untup, Obedience is the mother of prosperity.
But we must no longer cleave to generals : let us come to the particular subjection of wives. This, then, we say consists in three things :
First, in the internal act of the heart; when the wife acknowledges in her mind, that her husband is and ought to be her head and governor, and that she is the inferior, even on the mere ground that she is a wife, although in birth, riches, virtue, and prudence, she excel her husband. This submission of the heart is the fountain of outward subjection ; without this, all subjection is either forced or pretended. The Apostle seems to have had respect to this inward disposition in Ephes. v. 33, Let the wife reverence her husband. That pious Sarah possessed this is evident, who called Abraham her husband lord, not from the flattery of custom, but from the wish of testifying this subjection, 1 Pet. iii. 6.
Secondly, this subjection of the wife consists in the study of conforming her manners and affections, as much as possible, to the manners and affections of her husband in things indifferent and lawful : For the dissimilitude of manners has no tendency to love, says Aristotle, Oeconom. lib. i.