Page images
PDF
EPUB

their living, and to order every thing well. Also, it pertaineth to men, saith Peter there, to give to women due honour, that is, that the man should not contemn nor despise his wife, or use her as his handmaid or servant, but to take her as fellow of his perpetual life, as joint heirs of God.

This place of Peter reproveth those men that contemn and despise their wives, will not use their company at bed, orat board, and other conversation of living ; but leave them, forsake thein, put them away from them : also, it reproveth all them that use their wives as their handmaids or servants; that use much chiding, or brawling, or fighting, with their wives; or use to bunch, beat, tread under their foot their wives, as dogs or swine, or if any other ungodly ways they do treat their wives, they be reproved of the Apostle. Therefore, let all such froward husbands amend, lest the plague of God fall on them, for their ungodly treating of their wives ;' whom they should know to be fellows with them, and bought with the precious blood of Christ, and called to be partakers of the heavenly kingdom, as well as they that be men.

Finally, it is the office of husbands to use the com- . pany of their wives, and to pay duty, as St. Paul calleth it (1 Cor. vii.), saying: “ Let the man give duty to his wife, for the man hath not power of his body, but the wife ; likewise, the wife hath not power of her body, but the husband.” St. Paul reproveth all those married men, that do not do their duty to their wives, but will take harlots to keep, besides their wives, but let all such adulterers take heed ; for the sword of the vengeance of God hangeth over their heads, and God will smite, peradventure, sooner than they suppose or believe. ;

This is a great secret or mystery : as he should say, this thing, that I have here spoken of, is a great mystery, and more than can be shewed by words; that is,

VOL. II.

that the love of Christ towards his church can no tongue express, nor heart think it; it passeth far all eloquence of tongue, or thought of man's heart, Even so should the love between man and wife be more, than any tongue by eloquence were able to express.

The Apostle, to make an end of the duties between the man and the wife, saith, it is the duty of the wife to be obedient to her husband, to fear him, to have him in honour and reverence, and esteem him as her lord and master; as Sarah called Abraham, her husband, lord (1 Pet. iii.). And this subjection of the wife must be without murmur or grudge, but willingly, and with gladness; for it is inflicted to women of God, for the transgression of Eye, as a pain for sin; therefore, let not the woman look at the husband, or at his duties to her, or whether he be good or evil, a Jew or a Gentile, a Scot or an Englishman, a Frenchman or Dutchman, a freeman or a bondman, rich or poor, a gentleman born, or yeo: man, gentle or ungentle, meek or froward ; but do her duty to her husband, that God requireth of her hands. Let her be obedient to him in all lawful things, love him, fear him, have himn in honour and reverence, be he never so evil, unkind, naughty, and poor. Let the wife be of honest conversation and living, that the husband may espy in her, nothing but that is chaste, womanly, good, just, virtuous, holy, and godly, no finder of fault with their husband's manners and conditions : but if they find any thing to be reproved with their husbands, to monish them of it secretly, between them alone; bearing with patience, the infirmities of the husbands, not wanton or light in words or conditions, no babblers or strayers abroad, but of few words, keepers of their houses at home; sober, sad, and constant lovers of their husþands, studying always to please their husbands and

none other ; that by their holy and chaste conversation they might bring their husbands, that were heathens, to the faith of Christ; and by their goodness, reform and amend the evilness of evil husbands. And so give no place to the deyil, that moveth them marvellously, that be married, to contention, strife, and debate; the one to contemn, despise, and abhor the other, and not to bear the manners of the other, nor love the other, nor do their duties the one to the other; and so the wife desireth another husband, and the husband another wise, for the man in his own wife he seeth nothing that pleaseth him. So that the devil blindeth his eyes, and setteth before the eyes of the man, all the spots and faults of his wife (as there is no man nor woman without faults); and all his wife's virtues, goodness, and good properties, worthy of commendation, he never remembers ; this thing worketh the devil, in the state of marriage, ofttimes, both in the man and in the woman ; and happy are they, that do not obey the devil, nor give place to the works of the devil, which thing the devil worketh, to make them that be married, to break God's commandments, and so to offend and displease God.

Also, to this helpeth the nature of man, which is never content with his state or lot; which setteth little by the thing it hath at pleasure, and desireth every thing it hath not, or is not lawful to havę. Wherefore, it ofttimes chances, that in the eye of the man, every woman is more fair, better, and more pleasant than his own wife. And ofttimes it chances, that the man is so blinded, that he forsaketh his own lawful wife, given him of God, for whom he should forsake all others, and despiseth her, and loveth an harlot, a drab, that is foul, and evil-favoured, and ugly. So the naughty nature of man despiseth that it hath, and desireth that it hath not, which to have is unlawful, and against God's law, So laboureth the

devil, to kill men in every state, and no man or woman is sure from the temptation of the devil. But give no place nor consent to the devil's temptation, and then his temptation shall not annoy or hurt you.

If the devil shall tempt any man or woman, as I have said before, let him give no consent to the devil, let the man have ever before his eyes, not the faults, but the virtues of his wife, and her goodness, what he is bound to her by the law of God, by reason of matrimony. Let him think every thing in his wife, worthy to be commended ; let him think his wife above all others, both better and fairer; for so she is to him, by the ordinance of God, which hath bound him to his wife only, that for her he should forsake all others, as long as she liveth ; that he should love none above her, or so well, and put her away from him for pone, or should keep none other besides her. That same thing, the wife also must think and do. The husband may use his lawful wise with a clear conscience as a lawful remedy against adultery and fornication ; to use other women than his own wife he cannot, with a clean and a clear conscience; for it is against God's law; and he, that doth so, offend. eth God, displeaseth God, and his conscience is spotted, for he committeth deadly sin.

Therefore, let the man think of his wife thus ; this woman is she, that God hath given to me, that I should embrace alone, that I should love her, as long as we should live together, that I should think her to me, most fairest of all women; better and alone meet for me, given of God to bring forth children, to continue the world to God's honour and glory ; for a lawful remedy against all kind of adultery, to dilate charity between her and me, her friends and my friends, her consanguinity and mine. And likewise, the wife should think of her husband, that he is given her of God, that she should have an eye, not to his faults, but to his virtues, and her duty towards him : that she should love him above all others, only study to please him ; to make herself free to none other, but to her husband alone ; to be obedient to him with all lowliness and gentleness; to have him in fear, honour, and reverence. .

Thus I have shewed, according to the doctrine of St. Paul, part of the duty of the man towards his wife, and of the wife towards her husband.

« PreviousContinue »