A good vvife Gods gift and, a vvife indeed. Tvvo mariage sermons. By Thomas Gataker B. of D. and pastor of Rotherhith.
Gataker, Thomas, 1574-1654., Gataker, Thomas, 1574-1654. Two mariage sermons.
Page  1


PROVERBS 19. 14.
Houses and Riches are the Inheritance of the Fathers: But a prudent Wife is of the Lord.

THERE be two things especially that commend a worke, athe Author, and the Matter. Both of them conspire to commend this Booke, as in the Title of it they are both expressed.

bThe Prouerbs, or Parables of Sa∣lomon, the Sonne of Dauid, King of Israel.

For the Author, (to omit the Principall,cGods Spi∣rit:* for, dAll Scripture is inspired of God:) the Pen∣man of it was Salomon,e the wisest meere man that euer was in the world since Adam, by the testimonie euen of wisdome it selfe.

For the Matter; it is Prouerbs or Parables, (as the Page  2 word in the Originall signifieth) fMaster-sentences, such as rule or sway, and are or may be of principall vse in mans Life.

Now consisting for the most part of such Apho∣risms and short Sentences, from the beginning espe∣cially of the tenth Chapter; it is not necessarie, that they should haue any coherence one with another; neither indeed for the most part haue they.

Yet this and the next before it, haue some con∣nexion: g the former being of the inconuenience that commeth by a bad wife,

h This latter of the benefit that a good wife, that a wise and a discreet woman bringeth with her.

There Salomon compared two grand euils toge∣ther, and made a bad wife the worse of the twaine:

Here he compareth two great benefits together, and maketh a good wife the better of the two.

For the former; iA foolish sonne, saith Salomon, is his Fathers sorrow: and a brawling wife is as a conti∣nuall dropping.

kMala intestina gravissima. Euils are the more grieuous, the neerer, and the more inward they are; as diseases in the entrailes. And lmala domestica, do∣mesticall euils, vex a man most, when ma mans ene∣mies, as our Sauiour speaketh, are those of his owne house.

n It is no small inconuenience to dwell neere a bad neighbour; were such a one further off vs, he would be lesse troublesome to vs. And surely if to haue good neighbours be a matter of no small mo∣ment, Page  3 then somewhat also it must needs be for a man to want such, and much more for a man to haue them that dwell neere him euill-affected to∣ward him. An euill at the next doore may be bad enough, and may proue ouer troublesome; an euill within doores, at home, in a mans owne house much more.

But againe within doores there are degrees also: in a mans owne familie there are some neerer than others. A o sonne is neerer than a seruant, and p a wife than a sonne. q It is a sore crosse to be troubled, and it be but with bad seruants. It is no small vexation for a man to find vntoward & vnfaithful cariage toward him rin those that eat his bread, that feed at his boord; much more to sustaine it at the hands of her, that ta∣keth vp the same bed with him, sthat lieth in his bo∣some. No euill to a bad bed-fellow, * to a bosome∣euill, to that euill that lieth next the heart, either within or about the breast.

Againe, though true mercy and compassion in some measure extend it selfe vnto all those, whose miseries and calamities we are acquainted with: yet the misfortunes of our deare friends affect vs more than of meere strangers: And t the wrongs and in∣iuries offered vs by professed and pretended friends we are wont to take more to heart. uIt was not mine enemie, saith Dauid, that did me this wrong; for then I could haue borne it. But it was thou, ô man, my compa∣nion, my guide, and my familiar friend.

But Brethren are neerer than Friends. And how∣soeuer Salomon truly saith, that xa Friend sometime sticketh closer to a man than a Brother: yet in nature a Page  4y Brother is neerer than any Friend is or can be. There is a ciuill knot onely betweene Friend and Friend; there is a naturall band betweene Brother and Brother. And therefore, zA brother offended is harder to win than a strong Citie; and their contenti∣ons are asabarres of brasse.b It is easier glewing againe of boards together, that haue beene vnglew∣ed, than healing vp the flesh that is gashed and diui∣ded: and the reason is, because c there was but an artificiall connexion before in the one, there was a naturall coniunction in the other: so it is easier re∣conciling of Friends than of Brethren, there being a Ciuill bond onely broken in the disiunction of the one, a Naturall tiall violated in the dissentions of the other.

But Children they are yet neerer than either Friends or Brethren. They are dpartes nostri, viscera nostra; they are as eour very bowels, and part of our selues. And therefore no maruell if Salomon say, that fA foolish sonne is a sorrow to his father, and an heauinesse to his mother. And, gHe that begetteth a foole, begetteth himselfe sorrow: and the father of a foolehshall haue no ioy.

But behold here a further euill than any of the former. An euill wife, a contentious woman worse Page  5 than any of them all. Husband and Wife are neerer than Friends, and Brethren; or than Parents and Children. Children, though they spring from their Parents, yet they abide not alwaies with them. They are as i riuers rising from one head, but taking seue∣rall waies, making seuerall streames, and running apart in seuerall channels. But man and wife must bide by it. They are as two streames, that rising from seuerall heads, fall the one into the other, k mingle their waters together, and are not seuered againe till they are swallowed vp in the Sea. Chil∣dren are as l branches shooting out of one stem, di∣uided and seuered either from other, or as grifts and siences cut off, or boughes and branches slip∣ped off from their natiue stocke, and either planted or engraffed else-where. Man and Wife are as the stocke and sience, the one m ingraffed into the other, and so fastned together, that they cannot againe be sundred; or as n those two peeces in the Prophets hand inclosed in one barke, and making both but one branch. And oTherefore, saith the Holy Ghost, shall a man leaue father and mother, andpbe glewed vnto, or qcleaue fast to his wife: and Theyrtwo shall be one flesh.

The neerer the bond then, the greater the euill, where it falleth out otherwise than it ought. sA foolish sonne, saith Salomon, is the calamitie of his fa∣ther. And how is he his calamite? He is tsilius pudefaciens, such an one as shameth his Parents, and maketh them glad to hide their heads in the house. But u an euill wife is as the raine dropping in thorow the tiles, that maketh him weary of the house, Page  6 that vexeth him so that it driueth him out of doores.

Yea xas a dropping in a rainie day, when it is foule without and it droppeth within. So that it maketh a man at his wits end, vncertaine whether it be better for him to be abroad in the raine, or to bide within doores in the dropping. And for this cause Augu∣stine compareth an euill Conscience to a bad wife, (and it may seeme that he pleased himselfe somewhat in the similitude, y he maketh vse so oft of it:) which when a man hath many troubles and afflictions from without, and would looke home, hoping for some comfort from within, is much more trouble∣some to him than any of those his outward crosses are; is as a rocke or a shelfe to Sea-men in a storme, where they hoped to haue found harbour and shel∣ter against it.

Yea further, not as a dropping only that driueth a man from his house and home, and that when it raineth; but aas a continuall dropping in such a day: So that b a bad wife is worse than a quartane ague, wherein a man hath two good daies for one euill. He that hath an euill wife, is as one that hath an euill soule, a guilty conscience, that euermore sticketh by him, that euery where accompanieth him, is a con∣tinuall euill companion with him c at bed & boord, d such as he cannot shift off or shun. And no mar∣uell therefore if it be deemed the greatest temporall euill, because the most continuall, and the most in∣ward, for a man to be matched with an euill wife, or a woman with an euill husband: For what is said of the one, is as true of the other, the relation be∣tweene them being alike.

Page  7 To draw all to an head then. An vnkinde Neigh∣bour is a crosse: but e an vnfaithfull Friend is a great crosse; an vnnaturall Brother a greater; an vngra∣tious Childe yet a greater: but a wicked, vnquiet, or disloyall wife is the f greatest of all, and if we be∣leeue Salomon, goeth beyond them all. In regard whereof he also els-where pronounceth, that git is better to abide on a corner of the house top without, than to continue with such a one in a wide house: yea that hit is better to liue in the wildernesse with the wilde beasts, than with such.

But to leaue this that is without my Text, and yet next doore to it, (so neere here doe good and bad neighbour together) and to come neerer home: Some it may be hearing Salomon speake on this manner, might say, as our Sauiours Disciples some∣time said, iIf the case so stand betweene man and wife, it is good then not to marry.

Now to such Salomon seemeth to answer in the words of my Text, that It is not euill to marry, but it is good to be warie: that it is not the abuse or badnesse of some, that ought to make Gods ordinance the lesse valued, or the lesse esteemed, being in it selfe and of it selfe a matter of great benefit: that as the inconueni∣ence is great and grieuous that a bad wife bringeth with her; so the benefit on the other side is no lesse that com∣meth by a good wife, by a wise and a discreet woman: who is therefore here commended as a speciall Gift, as a principall blessing of God, such as goeth be∣yond any other temporall blessing whatsoeuer. And surely k as there is no greater temporall crosse or curse than the one; so is there no greater tempo∣rall blessing than the other.

Page  8 Now this Salomon to shew, as l before he compa∣red two great euils together, and found a bad wife to be the worse: so here hee compareth two great benefits together, and affirmeth a good wife to be the greater.

House and possessions, wealth and riches, land and liuing is m that, that most men regard, and looke after: yea men are wont to seeke wiues for wealth. But saith Salomon, as na good name, so a good wife, a wise and a discreet woman is better than wealth;oher price is far aboue pearles: For House and possessions are the inheritance of the fathers; but a prudent wife is of the Lord.

Which yet we are not so to vnderstand; neither the former part, as if worldly wealth, and riches, and possessions were not Gods gifts: for pIt is the bles∣sing of God that maketh a man rich:qvnlesse he build the house it will neuer be built: and rit is he that gi∣ueth men power to gather wealth together.

Nor yet againe the latter part; as if Parents had no hand, right or power in disposing of their chil∣dren, or in aduising them and prouiding in that kinde for them. sSampson requireth his Parents consent. And t God chargeth his people not to make matches betweene their children and the Ca∣naanites, either by giuing their daughters vnto the sonnes of the Canaanites, or by taking the Canaa∣nites daughters vnto their sonnes: which he would not doe, were not they at all to deale in the dispo∣sing of them. And many, no doubt, would they Page  9 take aduice of their Parents, and not follow their owne fancies, and make their wanton eye, or their wandring lust, their choser and counsailer in such cases, might doe much better than for want hereof they doe.

But the meaning of Salomon is this only, that the one is a more speciall gift of God than the other; that there is a more speciall hand of God in the one than in the other. As that is a lesse benefit than this: so that is in mans power more than this.

So that two points then here in Solomons words * offer themselues vnto vs:

The former, that uA good Wife is Gods gift.

The latter, that Gods prouidence is more speciall in a Wife than in Wealth.

For the former. A good wife is Gods gift. For a prudent wife, saith Solomon, is of the Lord. And xHe that findeth a wife, (that is, a good wife, as, ayname for a good name,z as if an euill wife were no wife, de∣serued not the name of a wife:) hath found a good thing; and hath obtained a speciall fauour from God.

It was one of the first reall and royall gifts that a God with his owne hand bestowed vpon Adam. And it must needs bee no small matter that God giueth with his owne hand. The Kings Almoner may cast small siluer about: but if the King giue a man somewhat with his owne hand out of his purse or pocket, it is expected it should be a peece of gold at least. The woman was Gods owne gift to Adam. And shee was Gods gift bestowed on him, b to consummate and make vp his happinesse. Though he were at the first of himselfe happie, yet Page  10 not so happie as hee might be, vntill hee had one to partake with him in his happinesse.

It was God that at first gaue Adam his wife; and it is God that giueth euerie man his wife to this * day. cGod, saith Abraham to his seruant, will send his Angell along with thee, and will prosper thee in thy iourney; when he sent him about a wife for his Son Isaak. And dThose that God hath ioyned together, saith our Sauiour, let not man seuer. As Augustine saith, that eHee that at the first created man without man, doth now procreate man by man: so he that gaue man a wife at the first immediately, doth still giue men wiues by meanes; f good ones in mercie, g euill ones in wrath; the one for solace and comfort, the other for triall, cure, correction, or punishment. h No mariages are consummate on earth, that were not first concluded and made vp in heauen: and none are blest here, that were not in mercie made there.

For the latter; There is a more speciall prouidence of God in a Wife than in Wealth. Humane wisdome * and fore-cast, endeuour and industrie, may strike a greater stroke, and haue a more speciall hand in the one than in the other. Men of wealth may leaue their heires land and liuing; but i they cannot so easily prouide fit wiues for them.

For first, they may bee deceiued in their choise. Many haue good skill in chusing of wares, in va∣luing of lands, in beating a bargaine, in making a purchase, that are yet but blinde buzzards in the choise of a wife. Yea the wisest that are may bee soone here ouer-reached. Since all is not gold, as Page  11 we say, that glistereth.kThe heart of man, saith the Prophet, i deceitfull aboue all things. And, lNone can tell what is in man or woman, but their owne spirit that is within them.

Secondly, they cannot lincke hearts as they list. A Father may finde out a fit wife, and thinke such a one a meet match for his Sonne: and her Parents may be also of the same minde with him, as willing to entertaine the motion as hee is to make it; and yet it may be, when they haue done all they can, they cannot fasten their affections. As mFaith, so nLoue cannot bee constrained.o As there is no affe∣ction more forcible; so there is p none freer from force and compulsion. The verie offer of enforce∣ment turneth it oft into hatred. There are secret lincks of affection, that no reason can bee rendred of: as q there are inbred dislikes, that can neither be resolued, nor reconciled. When Parents haue a long 〈…〉e beaten the bush, another oft, as wee say, c•…th the bird: affections are set some other way, and cannot be remoued. And things fall out many times so vnexpectedly, such strong liking ta∣ken to some suddenly not once thought on before, and such strange alienation of affections, where there hath been much labouring to lincke them, and that where outward inducements of person, estate, yeeres, &c. haue concurred, that euen a naturall mans dimme eye may easily see & discerne a more Page  12 speciall prouidence of God oft carrying things in these cases: And the tongues euen of such are enforced sometime to confesse, as the Aegyptian Magitians of Moses his miracles, rDigitus Dei hic est, There is a finger of God here; so with Rebekkaes prophane friends, in such Mariage matches; sA Domino factum est istud; This is euen Gods owne do∣ing; and there is no contradicting of it.

To make some Vse of these Points.

First, Is a good wife such a speciall gift of God? * Then is Mariage questionles a blessing, and no small one, of it selfe: one of the greatest outward Blessings that in this world man enioyeth. tBlessed is euerie one, saith the Psalmist, that feareth God, and that wal∣keth in his wayes. For thou shalt eat of the labour of thine hands: happie art thou, and it shall goe well with thee. Thy wife •…l be as the fruitfull vine by the sides of thine house: and thy Children like the Oliue plants round about thy table. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth God. In the first place commeth the Wife, as the first and principall blessing, and the Children in the next. And surely to reason back∣ward to that the Apostle doth: uIf the root, saith hee, be holy, the branches also bee holy: and, If the branches, say I, be holy, then the root that beareth them much more. So here, If the branches bee blessed, the root that beareth them much more. If Children bee a Blessing, then x the root whence they spring ought much more to bee so esteemed. yBehold, Children and the fruit of the wombe, are the gift of God, saith zSalomon. Children are the gift of God; but the Wife is a more speciall gift of God: shee commeth Page  13 in the first place, they in the second: And gifts are vsually answerable to the greatnes of the giuer. It was a wittie answer of a great Prince, when he was disposed to be rid of a bold begging Philosopher: he asked a groat of him, and the King told him, aIt was too little for a Prince to giue; hee requested the King then to giue him a Talent, and the King told him, bIt was too much for a Begger to craue. And surely God indeed in his speciall gifts to vs, is wont c to regard not so much what is fit for vs to aske or to expect, as what standeth with his goodnesse and greatnesse to giue.

dGod, saith Moses, looked vpon all that he had made, and behold all was verie good. And eEuerie creature, or ordinance of God, saith the Apostle, (and hee had spoken of Meat and Mariage in the words before∣going:) is good. All Gods Creatures and Ordi∣nances are good then; but some are more excel∣lent than others. And Mariage being of this latter sort, it is not holy onely, but euen honourable also. fMariage, saith the Apostle, is honourable among all men: and no disgrace then to any man. So are we to esteeme of it, and not to contemne what God hath graced, or to dishonour what hee hath honou∣red. We shall but wrong the giuer in debasing his gift.

Againe, is a good Wife such a speciall gift of God? Then if we finde in mariage, inconueniences, hinde∣rances, distractions, disturbances: Let vs learne what wee are to ascribe it vnto: Not to Gods gift or ordinance, but g to mans corruption abusing Gods gift, peruerting Gods ordinance, and turning Page  14 that to his owne euill, that God hath giuen him for his good. For h there is nothing but is good as it commeth from God. But as pure water may take a taint from i the earth that it runneth by, or k the channell that it runneth thorow, or l the pipe that conueigheth it, and m the Sunne beames receiue a tincture from the coloured glasse that they passe thorow: so our foule hands and filthie fingers oft soile and sully Gods Ordinances, and our filth and corruption doth ost so taint and infect them, that they lose not onely much of their natiue grace, and are so strangely transformed, that n God himselfe can scarcely discerne his owne in them, but they misse also of their fruit and efficacie, and o of good and commodious, through our owne default, be∣come euill and incommodious vnto vs. And as p Tyrannie in gouernment is not the fault of Gods Ordinance, but of mans corruption abusing it: so in these cases, the euill and inconuenience is not the fruit of Gods Ordinance, but of mans corruption accompanying it.

If wee shall finde then in the married estate trou∣bles and distractions, &c. (as q the single life is com∣monly commended for quietnes;) r let vs not ac∣cuse God; as Adam sometime closely did; sThe Page  15 woman, saith hee, that Thou gauest mee; shee gaue me of the tree, and I ate: as if hee had said, If thou hadst not giuen mee the woman, shee had not giuen me of the fruit; and if shee had not giuen mee it, I had not eaten of it.t Gods gifts are all good. But let vs lay the fault where it is; vpon our selues and our owne corruption, that u turneth honey into gall, and good nutriment, x as the foule stomacke into choller, or, y as the spider and toad, into venom and poyson. Else shall we be like those of whom Salomon saith; zThe folly of a man peruerteth his way, and his foolish heart fretteth against God.

Secondly, Is a good wife Gods gift? then let those that want them, learne how and where to seeke them. Doest thou want a wife, and wouldest haue one, and such a one, as thou maist haue com∣fort in? Seeke her of God, seeke her with God.

Seeke her, I say, first at Gods hands, seek her where shee is to bee had. Humble thy selfe in the sight of God, and betake thy selfe by prayer and supplicati∣on vnto God. *aEuerie good gift, saith Iames, is of God from aboue: and to be sought therefore at his hands: and if euerie good gift, this more specially, that is so speciall a gift, and of so principall vse. And, bEuerie Creature or Ordinance, saith Paul, is to be sanctified by prayer. And if euerie Ordinance of God should be sanctified by prayer; and it ought cto vshier all our actions, be they ciuill or sacred: then this also among others, yea this aboue and before others, d as that Page  16 which (through the blessing of God vpon it) may proue a matter of the greatest benefit vnto vs, and without it a meanes of the greatest euill.

Yea, seeke her as of God, so with God. Aske counsell at the mouth of God, when thou goest a∣bout * any such businesse. eThe Ordinances of God, saith the Apostle, are sanctified vnto vs, as well by the word of God, as by prayer. Then are they sanctified vnto vs by prayer, when wee craue leaue for the vse of them, and a blessing vpon the vse of them by prayer at Gods hands. Then are they sanctified vn∣to vs by the word of God, when wee haue warrant, and take direction, for what we doe in them, out of Gods word, when we faske counsell at Gods mouth. Then wee seeke them with God, when wee seeke them by good meanes, when we seeke them in due manner.

For when it is said that a good wife is of God; wee are not so to conceiue it, that we are in such cases to vse no meanes at all; but that wee are to vse none but good and lawfull meanes, such as God hath ap∣pointed, either prescribed or permitted. gThe wife is bound, saith the Apostle, while her husband liueth: but if her husband bee dead, shee is at libertie to marrie where she will, but yet,hin Domino, in the Lord.

Wherein they offend, either that goe too neere, matching within those degrees that i God hath in∣hibited: or that goe too farre off, matching k with such as for matter of religion they are prohibited to marrie; and so transgressing those rules and dire∣ctions that the word of God giueth.

As also those that bee vnder the gouernment of Page  17 others, or that desire those that bee in the power of others to dispose of; they then seeke in the Lord, when they aduise with, and are content to be dispo∣sed of by those, whom God hath giuen power ouer them; or when they seeke not to them in the first place, but to those, by whom God will haue them to be disposed. That which not Gods people alone, but l the Heathen also, by the light of Nature, saw to be equall and right. When they take other cour∣ses, they seeke beside God, and cannot hope or ex∣pect any blessing from God, whose order and ordi∣nance therein they breake. In a word, wouldst thou be blessed in thy wooing, in thy wiuing; Take God with thee in wooing, inuite him to thy wedding. Hee, if hee bee pleased, will m turne thy water into wine; if he be displeased, hee will turne thy wine into vineger.

Thirdly, learne hence what principally to aime at in the choise of a wise: to wit, at vertue and wis∣dome, discretion and godlinesse; for that is indeed true wisdome.

Salomon saith not, a faire wife is the gift of God. And yet is n beautie Gods gift; and o a gift of good regard. Neither saith he, a wealthie wife is the gift of God: And yet is p wealth also Gods blessing, where it is accompanied with well-doing. But, a discrcet, or a wise woman is the gift of God.

Page  18 Many indeed there are, that chuse their wife by the eye: qThe Sonnes of God saw the Daughters of Men to bee faire: and they tooke them wiues of them where they liked: as if they were to buy a pictùre or an image to hang vp in the house, or to stand some∣where for a shew. But rBeautie, saith the Heathen man, without vertue, is like a bait floating without an hooke; it hath a bait to entice, but no hooke to hold. And, sA faire woman, saith Salomon, without discre∣tion, is like a gold ring in a swines snout.tFauour is deceitfull, and beautie is butuvanitie: but a woman that feareth God is praise-worthie indeed.

Others againe regard wealth onely; as if they went about a purchase, as if they were to marrie not them but their money, x as if they were to wed not the wife, but her wealth. But Salomon, when he saith, Houses and Riches are the inheritance of the Fathers: but a prudent Wife is of the Lord: hee implieth that these things may bee seuered, the one may be with∣out the other. Lands may come by inheritance; when y vertue may not. zGoods they are where∣with men may doe good, but not such as make those good that haue them. aBetter it is, said the Heathen man, to haue a man without money, than to haue money without a man: so better it is to haue a wife without wealth, than to haue wealth without a wife. And surely, what comsort can a man haue of wealth with Page  19 such a wife, that shall be as a corrosiue to his heart, bas corruption and rottennesse in his bones?

Againe, let Parents learne here what to aime at in the education of their Children, whom they de∣sire to dispose of, and to dispose of so as they may bee a blessing, not a crosse or a curse to those that shall haue them: Not studie onely how to prouide portions for them: though an honest care also is to bee had in that kinde. cParents, saith the Apostle, ought to lay vp for their Children. And, dHe that pro∣uideth not for his issue, is worse than an Insidell. Nor how to trim them vp, and set them out, in whorish or garish manner, to make them baits to catch fooles with; but labour to traine them vp in true wisdome and discretion, in the feare of God, and such graces, as may make them truly amiable, as e well in Gods sight as in mans eyes; in houswifrie, and industry, and skill to manage houshold affaires: that so they may be helpers to their Husbands, (and not hinderers;) as f to that end they were made at first.

Yea hence let the wise learne what she is to striue to, and labour for, that the may be indeed a good gift of God: g Not so much to decke and tricke Page  20 herselfe vp to the eye, as to haue her inner man ador∣ned with holy skill and discretion, whereby to carrie herselfe wisely and discreetly in that place and con∣dition that God hath called her vnto: That shee may with the wise woman,hbuild vp the house; and be ia crowne, and k a grace to him that hath her. That l her Husband and Children may haue cause to blesse her, and to blesse God for her; and count it a blessed time when they came first to∣gether.

Let her consider what a fearefull thing it is to bee otherwise. For her that was m made for a helpe, to proue not an helpe but an hurt: for her that was giuen for a blessing, to proue a crosse and a curse. As one saith of Eve,nreaft from Adam as a rib, and shot by Satan at him as a shaft: bestowed on him by God to consummate his felicitie, but made by Sa∣tans slight and her owne default, the meanes of his extreme miserie.

Fourthly, let men bee admonished hence, whom to ascribe it vnto, if ought haue beene done in this kinde for them: euen to God himselfe principally, whose speciall gift a good wife is. Let vs take heed how in this case o we sacrifice to our yearne, or burne incense to our nt. Ascribe not what is done for thee, to the mediation of friends, or to thine owne plots and policies, smoothnesse of language, faire∣nesse of looke, or the like. No: acknowledge God to haue beene the principall agent in the businesse: regard man and thine owne means, but as his Instru∣ments. Of him she is, saith Salomon: not p as a Crea∣ture onely made of him, but as q one matched vnto Page  21 thee by him: nor s knit to thee by his ordinance, but as r assigned thee by his prouidence: For that is it, that Salomon here principally aimeth at.

Yea, let them hence learne what they owe vnto God, whom God hath vouchsafed such a blessing vnto. Hath God bestowed such a Wife on thee, as Salomon here speaketh of? It is a precious Iewell; such as thy Father could neuer leaue thee. It is a greater Treasure than the greatest Prince on earth, than the mightiest Monarch in the world is able to bequeath to his Heire. We see how Parents are oft troubled in making search for their Sonnes, and yet when they haue done their best endeuour, misse of that they desire. Wee might here rise by degrees on the better side, as we did before on the worse. As euils, so good things, the more inward the greater. A s trustie seruant is no small blessing; a t kinde neighbour is a great one; u a faithfull friend a grea∣ter; x a wise sonne yet a greater; and a prudent wife the greatest of all: a greater blessing than any of the former, that yet for temporall blessings may seeme of the greatest. And how do maried persons then stand engaged to God aboue others, whom he hath blessed in their choise? A great measure of thankfulnesse owe they vnto him, proportionable in some sort to the blessing bestowed on them.

Yea, as there is a greater measure of thankfulnesse Page  22 required of them, than of others whom God hath not blessed in that manner: so there is a peculiar kinde of thankfulnesse required on their part. All Gods fauours require thankfulnesse: and the more fauours the more thankfulnesse: but some speciall fauours require some peculiar kinde of acknow∣ledgement, proportioned to the qualitie of the fauor receiued. y Children are Gods gift: and our thank∣fulnesse to him for them is to be shewed in such du∣ties, as hee requireth of vs in the behalfe of them, z in the carefull education and training them vp in good courses. In like manner: Thy Wife thou hast of Gods gift: and thy thankfulnesse to him for her, must be shewed in the performance of such duties, as he requireth of thee in regard of her *, as of loue, of kindnesse, of concord, counsell, contentment, &c.

Fiftly, Is the Wife giuen vnto her Husband by God? then must she resolue to giue herselfe wholly to him as her Owner, on whom God hath bestow∣ed her, to whom hee hath assigned her. When Pa∣rents haue put out their Children, the Children must bee content to bee guided by those to whom they commit them: and when God hath giuen a Daughter, she must be content to liue with him, and be guided by him, whom God hath giuen her vnto. Neither is she to forsake him. For a they are not to bee sundred, nor seuered, whom God hath conioy∣ned and made one. And there is a foule brand ther∣fore vpon her, bthat for saketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the Couenant of her God. Nor to refuse to be ruled by him: but csubmit and subiect herselfe vnto him, vnto whom God hath giuen her: for Page  23dthat is comely, saith the Apostle, in the Lord: and to bee imbraced therefore of her, as her Lot by God assigned her.

Yea, is the Wife giuen the Husband by God? * then should hee esteeme her as a gift of God: and eliue with her, as with one giuen him and bestowed vpon him by God. f Wee cannot abide to see any thing that wee haue giuen another euill-vsed. And it be but a dog, an ound, or a whelp, if we see it neg∣lected, where wee bestowed it, wee are wont to take it euill. But g if we should see a Iewell of some value, bestowed by vs on a friend as a token of our loue toward him, set at light by him, or should find it cast aside in some corner, would we not much more be grieued at it, and iudge that hee set as light by our loue, as hee doth by our loue-token. And hath no God then iust cause to take it euill at thy hands, when hee shall see his gift abused, euill entertained, and worse vsed; when hee shall see her mis-vsed of thee, whom hee hath as h a speciall fauour bestowed on thee, and hath therefore giuen thee i a speciall charge well and kindly to vse? How are wee wont to be grieued, when wee see matters fall out amisse, where we haue been meanes to make the match? If the wife be mis-vsed, that we haue holpen one to, we are wont to count it a wrong to our selues. And no maruell then, if God himselfe take to heart the wrongs done by vs, to those that he hath joyned to vs, if k he haue a quarrell against him that shall trans∣gresse against her, whom he hath inseparably joyned to him, to be his Companion and his wife byla Coue∣nant of Salt.

Page  24 Lastly, if a good Wife bee such a speciall gift of * God, then a good Husband is no lesse. For m the Husband is as needfull for the Wife, as the Wife is for the Husband. nThy desire, saith God, shall bee vnto him. And if the Husband then be so to esteeme of his Wife, and to bee thankfull to God for her; then is the Wife no lesse to esteeme so of her Hus∣band, and to be thankfull likewise to God for him.

In a word, let both man and wife so esteeme ei∣ther of other, as joyned by Gods counsell, as giuen by Gods hand; and so receiue either other as from God, bee thankfull either for other vnto God, seeke the good either of other in God; and then will God vndoubtedly with his blessing, ac∣companie his gift to his owne glorie, and their mu∣tuall good.