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authority. Yet this must be done with such cautions as these: 1. Justify not any error, vice or weakness of your wives. They may be concealed and excused as far as may be, but never owned or defended. 2. Urge not obedience to any unlawful command of theirs. No one hath authority to contradict the law of God, or disoblige any from his government. You will but diminish your own authority with persons of any understanding, if you justify any thing that is against God's authority. But if the thing commanded be lawful, though it may have some inconveniences, you must rebuke the disobedience of inferiors, and not suffer them to slight the commands of your wives, nor to set their own reason and wills against them, and say, 'We will not do it.' How can they help you in government, if you suffer them to be disobeyed.
Direct. IV. • Also you must preserve the honour as well as the authority of your wives.' If they have any dishonourable infirmities, they are not to be mentioned by children or servants. As in the natural body we cover most carefully the most dishonourable parts (for our comely parts have no need 3), so must it be here. Children or servants must not be suffered to carry themselves contemptuously or rudely towards them, nor to despise them, or speak unmannerly, proud or disdainful words to them. The husband must vindicate them from all such injury and contempt.
Direct. v. "The husband is to excel the wife in knowledge, and be her teacher in the matters that belong to her salvation." He must instruct her in the Word of God, and direct her in particular duties, and help her to subdue her own corruptions, and labour to confirm her against temptations; if she doubt of any thing that he can resolve her in, she is to ask his resolution, and he to open to her at home, the things which she understood not in the congregation b. But if the husband be indeed an ignorant sot, or have made himself unable to instruct his wife, she is not bound to ask him in vain, to teach her that which he understandeth not himself. Those husbands that despise the Word of God, and live in wilful ignorance, do not only despise their own souls, but their families also; and making themselves unable for their duties, they are usually themselves despised
a 1 Cor. xii. 23, 24.
b 1 Cor. xiv. 35.
by their inferiors for God hath told such in his message to Eli, "Them that honour me, I will honour; and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed."
Direct v1. The husband must be the principal teacher of the family.' He must instruct them, and examine them, and rule them about the matters of God, as well as his own service, and see that the Lord's day and worship be observed by all that are within his gates. And therefore he must labour for such understanding and ability as is necessary hereunto. And if he be unable or negligent, it is his sin, and will be his shame. If the wife be wiser and abler, and it be cast upon her, it is his dishonour: but if neither of them do it, the sin, and shame, and suffering, will be common to them both.
Direct. VI. The husband is to be the mouth of the family, in their daily conjunct prayers unto God.'. Therefore he must be able to pray, and also have a praying heart. He must be as it were the priest of the household; and therefore should be the most holy, that he may be fit to stand between them and God, and to offer up their prayers to him. If this be cast on the wife, it will be his dishonour. Direct. VIII. The husband is to be the chief provider for the family (ordinarily).' It is supposed that he is most able for mind and body, and is the chief disposer of the estate. Therefore he must be specially careful, that wife and children want nothing that is fit for them, so far as he can procure it.
Direct. Ix. The husband must be strongest in family-patience; bearing with the weakness and passions of the wife : not so as to make light of any sin against God, but so as not to make a great matter of any frailty as against himself, and so as to preserve the love and peace which is to be as the natural temper of their relation.'
Direct. 6 X. The manner of all these duties must also be carefully regarded.' As 1. That they be done in prudence, and not with folly, rashness, or inconsiderateness. 2. That all be done in conjugal love, and tenderness, as over one that is tender, and the weaker vessel; and that he do not teach, or command, or reprove a wife, in the same imperious manner as a child or servant. 3. That due familiarity be
1 Sam. ii. 30.*
maintained, and that he keep not at a distance and strangeness from his wife. 4. That love be confident, without base suspicions, and causeless jealousies. 5. That all be done in gentleness, and not in passion, roughness and sourness. 6. That there be no unjust and causeless concealment of secrets, which should be common to them both. 7. That there be no foolish opening of such secrets to her as may become her snare, and she is not able to bear or keep. 8. That none of their own matters, which should be kept secret, be made known to others. His teaching and reproving her, should be for the most part secret. 9. That he be constant, and not weary of his love or duty. This briefly of the manner.
The special Duties of Wives to Husbands.
THE wife that expecteth comfort in a husband, must make conscience of all her own duty to her husband: for though it be his duty to be kind and faithful to her, though she prove unkind and froward, yet 1. Men are frail and apt to fail in such difficult duties as well as women. 2. And it is so ordered by God, that comfort and duty shall go together, and you shall miss of comfort, if you cast off duty.
Direct. 1. Be specially loving to your husbands:' your natures give you the advantage in this; and love feedeth love. This is your special requital for all the troubles that your infirmities put them to.
Direct. 11. Live in a voluntary subjection and obedience to them.' If their softness or yieldingness cause them to relinquish their authority; and for peace they are fain to let you have your wills; yet remember that it is God that hath appointed them to be your heads and governors. they are so silly as to be unable, you should not have chosen such to rule you as are unfit: but having chosen them, you must assist them with your better understanding, in a submissive, and not a ruling, masterly way. A servant that hath a foolish master, may help him without becoming master. And do not deceive yourselves by giving the bare titles
of government to your husbands, when yet you must needs in all things have your own wills; for this is but mockery, and not obedience. To be subject and obedient, is to take the understanding and will of another to govern you, before (though not without) your own; and to make your understandings and wills to follow the conduct of his that governeth you. Self-willedness is contrary to subjection and obedience.
Direct. 111. Learn of your husbands as your appointed teachers, and be not self-conceited and wise in your own eyes, but ask of them such instructions as your case requireth.' "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted to them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law: and if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home ";" (unless when the husband is so ignorant as to be utterly unable; which is his sin and shame. For it is vain to ask that of them which they know not.)
Direct. IV. Set yourselves seriously to amend all those faults which they reprove in you.' Do not take it ill to be reproved; swell not against it, as if they did you harm or wrong it is a very ill sign to "hate reproof ." And what doth their government of you signify, if you will not amend the faults that are reproved in you, but continue impenitent and grudge at the reproof? It is a miserable folly to desire to be flattered, and soothed by any, but especially by one that is bound to be faithful to you, and whose intimacy should make you as ready to hear of your faults from him, as to be acquainted with them yourselves; and especially when it concerneth the safety or benefit of your souls.
Direct. v. 'Honour your husbands according to their superiority.' Behave not yourselves towards them with unreverence and contempt, in titles, speeches, or any behaviour: if the worth of their persons deserve not honour, yet their place deserveth it. Speak not of their infirmities to others behind their backs; as some twattling gossips use to do, that know not that their husband's dishonour is their own, and that to open it causelessly to others, is their double shame. Those that silently hear you, will tell others behind your back, how foolishly and shamefully you spake to
a 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.
b Prov. xii. 1. x. 17. xv. 10. 31, S2. xvii. 19.
them against your husbands. If God have made your nearest friend an affliction to you, why should you complain to` one that is farther off? (Unless it be to some special, prudent friend, in case of true necessity for advice.) ·
Direct. vI. Live in a cheerful contentedness with your condition; and take heed of an impatient, murmuring spirit.' It is a continual burden to a man to have an impatient, discontented wife. Many a poor man can easily bear his poverty himself, that yet is not able to bear his wife's impatience under it. To hear her night and day complaining, and speaking distrustfully, and see her live disquiétedly, is far heavier than his poverty itself. If his wife could bear it as patiently as he, it would be but light to him. Yea, in case of suffering for righteousness' sake, the impatience of a wife is a greater trial to a man than all the suffering itself; and many a man that could easily have suffered the loss of his estate, or banishment, or imprisonment for Christ, hath betrayed his conscience, and yielded to sin, because his wife hath grieved him with impatiency, and could not bear what he could bear. Whereas a contented, cheerful wife doth help to make a man cheerful and contented in every state.
Direct. VII. In a special manner strive to subdue your passions, and to speak and do all in meekness and sobriety.' The rather because that the weakness of your sex doth usually subject you more to passions than men: and it is the common cause of the husband's disquietness, and the calamity of your relation. It is the vexation and sickness of your own minds; you find not yourselves at ease within as long as you are passionate. And then it is the grief and disquietness of your husbands: and being provoked by you, they provoke you more; and so your disquietness increaseth, and your lives are made a weary burden to you. By all means therefore keep down passion, and keep a composed, patient mind.
Direct. VIII. Take heed of a proud and contentious disposition; and maintain a humble, peaceable temper.' Pride will make you turbulent and unquiet with your husbands, and contentious with your neighbours: it will make you foolish and ridiculous, in striving for honour and precedency, and envying those that exceed you, or go before you. In a word, it is the devil's sin, and would make you a shame