Page [unnumbered] A GOOD WIFE GODS GIFT: AND, A WIFE INDEED.
Two Mariage Sermons.
By THOMAS GATAKER B. of D. and Pastor of Rotherhith.
PROV. 12. 4.
A vertuous Woman is a Crowne to her Husband: But she that shameth him is as rottennesse in his Bones.
LONDON, Printed by IOHN HAVILAND for FVLKE CLIFTON. 1623.
TO THE WOR∣SHIPFVLL MY LO∣VING COSENS, Mr. IOHN SCVDAMORE of Kenchurch in He∣reford-shire, and Mrs ELIZABETH SCVDAMORE his Wife, many happy daies together, with all true Blessednes, both temporall and eternall.
RIght deere, and vnfeinedly belo∣ued in Christ Je∣sus, I haue a long time much desi∣red some good occasion of testi∣fying mine hearty affection to your selues in particular among others of Page [unnumbered] that Familie, which I acknowledge my selfe so deeply indebted vnto. And I seeme now at length to haue lighted on that, that I haue so long longed for. Being to publish a wedding Sermō of a worthy Friend deceased, (which * I wish, if Gods good will had so beene, he had liued to doe himselfe) contai∣ning matter concerning the holy dispo∣sition & Christian managing of Ma∣riage Feasts; I thought good to ad∣ioyne to it (being it selfe but short) some Meditations of mine owne, of somewhat a neere subiect, the occasion of such Feasts, to wit, A good Wife, by Salomon said to be Gods Gift. That which here I addresse vnto you, as to remaine a Monument of mine hearty wel-wishing vnto you, so to abide by you, as a Monitor to put you both in minde, what a blessing of God Page [unnumbered] you enjoy either in other, and what cause you haue to be thankefull to him either for other. Since it pleased God by his prouidence and your Friends a∣greement to bring you together, and to knit that sacred knot betweene you, I haue not yet bin so happy, as to be an eie-witnes of your Christian and religi∣ous cohabitation & conversation: but haue by many beene informed of it, to my great ioy, that you tread both in the steps of your pious Parents, and therein shew your selues to be their Children, a not according to the flesh onely, but (which would haue bin their greatest comfort, had they suruiued to haue seene it, and shall be your chiefest happines both here and hereafter) according to the pro∣mise, euen of eternall saluation, an∣nexed to the gratious Couenant of Page [unnumbered] Faith in Christ; which by your god∣ly practise you shew your selues to haue common interest in with them. And indeed to speake in the Holy Ghosts language, then b are we truly the Chil∣dren of our religious Parents and An∣cestors, when in goodnes and godlines we take after those that we come of. c They are Abrahams Children, that doe Abrahams workes; and d that tread in the steps of Abra∣hams Faith, who is the Father of all the Faithfull. Those that take other courses, and degenerate,) as e too many do,) from the Faith and Pietie of their Parents, are in Gods account, as our Sauiour termeth the Jewes, but fa bastardly brood; rather g Hit∣tites Page [unnumbered] and Canaanites, then hright Hebrews, or itrue Israelites, though they come of Abraham or Israel ei∣ther after the flesh. They are not kthe Israel of God, vnto whom the blessing is promised of mercy and peace; yea of lpeace, peace; that is, of mmuch peace,ntrue peace,oall manner of peace, such peace as pno wicked one euer had or can haue. Which qpeace far surpassing all humane conceipt, that you may constantly retaine in part here, and attaine finally vnto the full fruition of it hereafter; rhold on, I beseech you, in that good course, that by Gods goodnes you haue already entred into, and haue made some good progresse in. Hold on, I say: yea shold out: For t it is holding out to the end, that must bring you to uthe end of your Page [unnumbered] Faith, the saluation of your Soules. And that you may so doe; (be∣cause xstanding still is dangerous; and y vnlesse daily we win ground, we soone fall behinde hand and goe back∣ward;) let it be your continuall care, and constant endeuour, zto grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ; to whom bee glory both now and for euer: And to whose holy protection committing you and yours now and for euer, I take leaue of you for the present, and rest in Him
Your affectionate Kinsman and hearty well-wisher, Thomas Gataker.
A GOOD WIFE GODS GIFT.
PROVERBS 19. 14.
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.
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 n•t. 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.
TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFVL, AND his louing Kinsman, Sir ROBERT HARLIE Knight of the BATH; And to the right worthie and religi∣ous, the Ladie BRILLIANA his Wife.
RIght Worshipfull; A former Sermon of mine concerning matter of Mariage being now the second time called for to passe the Presse; In stead of adding to that, which some desired, I was aduised and re∣quested Page [unnumbered] rather by others to annex this. Where∣unto hauing yeelded, I knew not which way bet∣ter to direct it than to your selues; ut whose happy conjunction some part of it was prea∣ched, the residue through streits of time being for that time suppressed. What then you should haue heard, if the time had permitted, both your selues may now reade (if you please) with some further enlargement, and others also (if they thinke it may be of vse to them) vnder your Names. Therein, as in a Glasse, as you, Worthy MADAM, may (I doubtnot) see your selfe liuely deciphered; so you, Blessed SIR, yea thrice blessed in this your happy choise, might learne, but that (I know) you are not now to learne it, what a pretious Iewell God hath in her bestowed on you, and how great a measure of thankfulnesse you owe to him for his mercy to you therein. Yea both of you may behold here, what a blessed estate and condition of life it is, that GOD hath pleased to call you vnto, where the same is managed through his grace according to his will; notwithstanding those vile and foule aspersions here in part Page [unnumbered] laid open, that those of that Romish faction are wont to cast vpon it. If of those that abuse this holy and diuine Ordinance, and carry themselues otherwise therein than they ought, there seeme to any a Censure ouer-harsh here to be passed; Let them consider that it is no other than Gods word giueth good warrant for; and let them take heed, lest by censuring it, they giue suspition that themselues come within compasse of such Censure. To your selues (I am assured) no Apology shall need either for it, or mine addressing it to you. But hoping it will be accepted, as it is inten∣ded, as a testimonie of my sincere and in∣tire affection to you both; with hearty prayers to GOD for your happy cohabi∣tation to be long continued to his greater glory, your mutuall comfort, and the fur∣ther benefit of those that may haue depen∣dance vpon you: I commend you to*him, and his gracious Word, who vouch∣safe thereby to build you further in those good graces that hee hath begun in you, that you may haue inheritance Page [unnumbered] with those that are here truly sanctified, and shall hereafter bee eternally saued.
Your Worships to be commanded in the Lord, THO. GATAKER.
A Wife in Deed.
PROV. 18. 22.
THis Booke of the Prouerbs is the *Christian Mans Ethicks: And it hath this preeminence aboue most, if not all, the Bookes in the Bible; that many of them are Sententious,a this consisteth all of Sentences. For what are Diuine Prouerbs, but bselect and choise Sentences. So that we need not stand pick∣ing or culling here: As hee said of Cyrus his Court, (and I wish might be said of ours) cthough a man should seeke or chuse blindfold, hee could not misse of a good man; though wee goe here at aduenture, wee cannot doe amisse, wee are sure to meet with some choise matter or other. It is the manner of the Lear∣ned in reading of Authors, to set dmarks in the mar∣gine,Page 2 vpon such passages as are most remarkable. But there is Gods owne Marke set vpon euerie Sen∣tence in this Booke, not by Salomon onely, but by the Spirit of God himselfe.
Among the rest of these select Sentences, there are some, and those not a few, that containe matter* concerning Mariage, either the Praise and commen∣dation of a good Wife, or the dispraise, discommen∣dation, yea and detestation of a bad.
The Sentence contained in my Text, is concer∣ning the former, though not wholly without some * secret intimation of the latter; as in the opening of it shall appeare.
And in it we may obserue these Particulars;*
- 1. The partie commended; a Wife:
- 2. The commendation giuen her; Good:
- 3. The meanes of compassing her, by seeking, implied in the word, Findeth:
- 4. The principall Doner or Giuer of her; God:
- 5. The nature and qualitie of the gift; a Fauour.
For the first of them: A Wife? may some say, What? Is euerie Wife, or euerie woman then such as *Salomon here saith? yea, doth not the same Salomon himselfe elsewhere say, that some Wife there is, e that pulleth downe the house? that is, not as a corro∣siue at her Husbands sides, but fas corruption in his bones? or glike a continuall dropping in a rainie day, that maketh a man wearie of his home, and either driueth him out of doores, or will not suffer him to rest within? And that hit is better for a man to dwell on the house top, exposed to wind and wea∣ther; or ito liue in the wildernessekamong wilde Page 3 beasts, than to keepe house with such an one.
To this there are diuers answers giuen. *
For first some say, that la Wife so long as she conti∣nueth a Wife; that is, so long as she is not disloyall, but is honest, as we say, of her bodie, though shee bee neuer so contentious, vnquiet, or inconuenient o∣therwise, is to be esteemed as a Benefit. As ma bad Magistrate, say they, is yet better than none: (nBet∣ter a Tyranie, than an Anarchie:) so a bad Wife is yet better than none at all.
But this seemeth scarce sound.
For first, it were but a verie sorrie commendation of a Wife, to say, Better such an one than none at all.oWhat manner of good call you that, saith Ierome, and before him pTertullian, that is not deemed or ter∣med good, but in comparison of some greater euill? That is not good, to speake properly, but qlesse euill onely.
Againe, when Salomon saith, that rit is better to liue on the house-top, or abroad sin the wilde wilder∣nesse, than with such an one, hee plainely implieth, that (as tSophocles saith of some friends) it is much better to be without her than with her; to liue soli∣tarie, than to liue with such.
But neither doth this satisfie.
For first, Salomon seemeth to speake here rather of the fruit and benefit that commeth by a Wife, where she is such as she should be, than of the bare end for which she was made, or is giuen: And greater is *the euill, if being made and giuen for such an end, she proue contrarie thereunto.
Againe, howsoeuer ccthe Woman was at first made for mans good: Yet is not euerie Wife giuen of God for good, but some, as Salomon saith, † of worldly wealth,*for the euill of him that is to haue her: as xSaul sometime gaue Micol his Daughter to Dauid, that shee might bee a snare to him. As Rulers are some∣time giuen in wrath:yI gaue them, saith God, a King in my wrath: so are Wiues also sometimes giuen not in mercie, but in wrath.zThe Sinner, saith Salomon, and he that God is angrie with, shall light vpon such.
Thirdly, others answer, (and their answer is more probable) that it is a a Synecdoche, a putting of the generall for the speciall; or b an Ellipsis, a defectiue speech; that there wanteth the word good: as cwooll, for white wooll; and da Male for a sound M•le: so ea Wife for a good Wife; which the vulgar Latine therefore hath put into f the T•xt.
This may well seeme somewhat: but yet this is not all: there seemeth somewhat yet more in it than so.
A Wife, saith Salomon; or, ga Woman: I need say no more; h as if an euill Wife were not a Wife, an euill Woman were no Wife. As in the Iewish Tal∣mud, Page 5 an vngracious Sonn• is called ia Sonne no Sonne; and in Scripture, a foolish People is called k a People no People. And in the Greeke Riddle,*an Eunuch, a Man no Man; and the B•t, or the Flitter-mouse, a Bird no Bird: and the Ferula, or Giant Fennell, a tree no tree; and the P•mice, a stone no stone: So a bad Wife in Salomons reckoning, a Wife no Wife.
It is like that of S. Iohn:lHe that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his Commandements, lieth. But what then? Doth euerie one that knoweth God, keepe his Commandements? Doth not S. Paul say of some, that mwhen they know God, they glorified him not as God? yea, but nsu•h knowledge, in S. Iohns account, is as no knowledge: it is at least oas good as none. So, pExecute iudgement, saith God; and hee saith not, right iudgement; because qWrong iudgement is no iudgement, but mis iudgement, saith Augustine. And ra Name, saith Salomon, (and hee saith not, a good Name; as if an euill Name were no Name) issbetter than riches; or tthan a good ointment. And those re∣bellious builders of the Tower of Babel;uLet vs get vs a Name: and those great ones before the Floud,xMen of Name, or renow•…. And on the contrarie, we say of some, that they are yMen of no note, or no Name; that is, zof no great note, of no good Name; as it other than such were none. And in like sort here Salomon, He that findeth a Wife, meaning onely a good Wife; as if none but such deserued that Name.
So that the Point of Instruction which wee ob∣serue hence is this, that Page 6She that is not a good Wife is as good as no Wife.
a I count that no Dowrie, saith one that is com∣monly * so called; b nor doth the Spirit of God count her a Wife, though she be vsually so recko∣ned; where pietie, honesty, sobriety, modesty, and wisdome are wanting. cA bad Wife is as no Wife in Gods account.
And that not without good Cause.
For she is but a Shadow without Substance; shee hath da Title without Truth: She beareth the Name; but doth not the Worke of a Wife. For what is a Wife, but ea Woman giuen to Man to be an Helpe and a Comfort to him? But as fthe Father of a foole shall haue no ioy of him: So the Husband of a bad or a foolish Wo∣man, is like to haue little ioy, or helpe, or comfort of her. And how is she a Comforter, that yeeldeth no comfort? How an Helper, that affordeth no helpe? They are gFriends in Name, saith one, but not in deede, that sticke not by a man, but faile him, when he standeth in neede of them: So is she ha Wife in Name, but not in Deed, that affordeth not her Hus∣band that Helpe and Comfort that a Wife ought, and that at first she was intended for.
The Prophet stileth some iPastors, Idol-Shepherds. And why so? Surely, because they are as Images or Idols, that k beare the Names, but haue not the Nature of that whereof they are Images;l they are Page 7 not in truth that that they are termed: mthey haue mouths, and speake not; eies, and see not; eares, and heare not; hands, and feele not; feet, and walke not: they haue the limmes and lineaments of a Man, but without motion and action: And so those; n they are called Seers; but they see not; and Watchmen, but they watch not:o they beare the Name of Fee∣ders; but they feed not; they haue the Titles of Tea∣chers and Preachers indeed; but they neither preach, nor teach at all. In like manner well may shee bee tearmed an Idol-wife that beareth the Name of a Wife, and sitteth in the house as p the Image of a Wife, but doth no part of the office or duty of such an one. Surely, as St. Iames saith, that rFaith without Fruits is liuelesse and dead, assa Body with∣out Breath: such Faith is tno Faith indeed, but a meere uCarcasse of Faith: So a Wife without Works, shee that beareth a Wiues Name, but doth not a Wiues worke, is no Wife indeed, but a liuelesse Image of a Wife, or (as xLamechs second Wiues Name im∣porteth) ya shadow onely of such an one.
And if she be so that performeth not the Office of a Wife; what is she then that doth the contrary? Who when she should be aan Helper, prooueth ban Hinderer; in the best things especially: like c the Friend, that prooueth a Foe, when he should shew himselfe a Friend? when she should be a com∣sort,Page 8 proueth a crosse, a curse, a discomfort? Shee that was made and ordained d for Mans special good,e crossing the end of her owne Creation, and Gods Ordinance therein, proueth the meanes of his grea∣test euill? Like the Scribes and Pharises, that fsat in Moses Chaire, professing themselues and pretending to be gPastors of Gods People; but, as our Sauiour telleth them, were indeed hTheeues, and Robbers, and iMurtherers of them, kWolues either lin Shep∣herds weeds, ormin Sheeps clothing, such as not only fed not, but nkilled and destroyed those, o whom they ought to haue fed and saued. And certainly the good Wife is not so great a Blessing, but the bad is as great a Crosse.p No greater Comfort vnder the Sunne than the one, q nor discomfort than the other.
Againe, A Wife is as ra part, or a limbe of her hus∣band. As Children are said to be spart of their Pa∣rents; because they haue their being originally from them: So the Woman may well bee said to bee a part or limbe of Man, because shee had her be∣ginning and her being originally from him. For tThe Woman is of the Man, saith the Apostle; and Page 9not the Man of the Woman: as Children are of their Parents, and not their Parents of them. The uWo∣man was made of the Mans rib. She was at first xta∣ken out of man; and is therefore by Creation as a limbe reast from him. And the was afterward ioyned againe in Mariage with Man, that by Nuptiall coniun∣ction becomming zone flesh with him, she might be as a limbe restored now and *fastned againe to him.
Euerie Wife should bee then as a part of her Hus∣band; as a limme of him that hath her. But the Wo∣man that beareth the Name, and standeth in the roome of a Wife, but doth not the office and dutie of a Wife, is but as aan eye of glasse, or a siluer nose, or an i•orie tooth, or ban iron hand, or ca woodden leg, that oc∣cupieth the place indeed, and beareth the Name of a limbe or a member, but is not truly or properly any part of that bodie whereunto it is fastned; it is but dequiuocally so called.
Yea, those artificiali and equiuoca•••imbs, though they bee not properly parts, nor stand the bodie in much stead: yet are they rather helpfull, than hurt∣full or harmfull any way to it; they helpe to supply a place defectiue, that would otherwise stand vacant, and by supplying it, to conceale in part such eble∣mishes, as would otherwise lie more open to the eye of others.
But with a bad Wife, an vndiscreet woman, it is far worse. Shee not onely standeth her Husband in no stead, but thee is fa sore burden, and a foule blemish,Page 10 and not an eye sore onely, but euen an heart-sore to him that hath her. gShehshameth him, saith Salo∣mo•, and is ias rottennesse in his bones. And she may therefore be compared rather to ka wart, or a wen, and that sited and seated in some conspicuous part; (for l she is as ointment in ones hand that cannot bee concealed) which as it is no benefit, so it is a burden and a blemish to the bodie; or to a wolfe, or a cancer, that m consumeth the flesh, wasteth the vitall parts, and eateth euen to the verie heart. For nno sorer vlcer than a bad friend, in Sophocles his iudgement; than a bad wife, in Salomons account.
Well saith oAugustine of vngodly and bad-liued Christians, that p though they bee in the bodie of the Church, yet are they no part of it: they are but as ex∣crescencies, or as excrements, or q as bad humours in mans bodie: the Bodie is but the worse for them; and r were better without them. And the like may be said of such Wiues as these are. The one are in the House, as the other are in the Church: (Such sa Wife in the house, as a worme in wood, saith Ierome:) wasters and consumers both of the Husband and of it. And if the Wife be one, as Salomon telleth vs, that helpeth to tbuild vp the house: surely shee that hel∣peth to pull downe that that the Wife buildeth, may well bee •uled, ua foolish woman, if you will, but no Wife.
Augustus Caesar vsed to terme his three vntoward Page 11Children, his xthree materie impostumes, or his three vlcerous cancers. And if foolish and vngracious children may well be so termed, as y being no better to those that breed them: much more may a per∣uerse Wife, being no better euen in zSalomons iudge∣ment than either of those to him that hath her; the rather since that as shee came from a part neerer the heart than they, so her peruersenesse may well goe neerer the heart with him, than their vntowardnesse with them.
As well therefore may a wart, or a wen, or a wolfe, or a cancer bee termed a part of the bodie, as that wo∣man be termed a Wife, that is but a blemish, as a wart; or a burden, as a wen; or a continuall heart-sore, as a wolfe; or corruption and rottennesse, as a cancer or a gangreane, in the bones of him that hath her. And no maruell then, if a bad Wife bee not accounted with God as a Wife, when shee is (not onely as good as, but) farre worse than no Wife; when it is so much better to be without her, than with her.
Now this Point then may serue,
First for Examination for women hereby to exa∣mine * themselues, whether they be Wiues or no.
But, What needs that? may some say. Tis well*enough knowne already, that wee are wiues and maried women. We were contracted before companie; and ma∣ried openly in the face of the Congregation, all ceremo∣nies and circumstances obserued that could bee required, or are vsuall in such cases. And the Church booke where we were maried, will testifie as much.
I answer. All this may bee, and yet thou no Wife* for all that. A maried woman thou mayst be, and yet Page 12no Wife. For, though thou wert contractedabefore a thousand Witnesses; and married publikely in the frequentest and most solemne assembly, not by the hand of an ordinarie Minister, but of a Bishop or an Archbishop, no rite or Ceremony omitted, either the Wedding Ring, (that Tertullianb more than once mentioneth, and c freeth from taint of Superstiti∣on) or any other: Yet art thou no Wife, if thou doest not the dutie of a Wife; if thine Husband haue not that good of thee that Gods Spirit here speaketh of.
Let me shew it thee by the like.
The Iewes were all circumcised; and yet God saith by Ieremie that dhe will visit all those that are vn∣circumcised, and ethe Iewes among the rest. Why? might some men say; were not the Iewes circumci∣sed then? No; saith the Prophet; fThose other Nations are vncircumcised in the Flesh; and you Iewes, though circumcised in the Flesh, yet are vncircumci∣sed in spirit. And g that outward Circumcision of the Flesh, saith Saint Paul, it is nothing, without the in∣ward Circumcision of the Spirit. And, hCircum∣cision is accounted no other than Vncircumcision, if a man be not a keeper of the Law. Or, to come neerer home: iBaptisme saueth; saith Saint Peter. But what then? might some thinke: Are all that are bap∣tised sure to be saued? yea vndoubtedly, kall that are effectually baptised: But the Baptisme that I speake of, saith the Apostle, is lnot the putting away of the filth of the Bodie, but mthe purging and clensing of Page 13 the Soule. As a man then, though he haue beene dipt ouer head and eares in the Font, may yet in Gods rec∣koning remaine still vnbaptised, euen n as much as any Infidell, Heathen or Pagan, that was neuer offered vnto Baptisme; In like manner may a Woman be ioyned to an Husband, yea and liue long with him as a Wife, and yet for all that be in Gods estimation as no Wife.
But how may a Woman know then whether shee * be a Wife or no?
I answer: Reade ouer the Rules that oS. Paul* and pS. Peter prescribe Maried Women; and exa∣mine thy selfe by them. Reade ouer q the Descrip∣tion that Salomons Mother maketh of a good Wife; and compare thy selfe with it. There is set downe a Paterne and a Precedent for thee. There is ra Looking Glasse for thee (as S. Iames speaketh of Gods Word in generall) to see thy selfe in, and to shew thee what thou art. And it were to be wisht that as s the Philo∣sopher willed his followers to view themselues oft in a glasse, that if they found themselues faire and come∣ly, they might be carefull to haue their cariage and courses correspondent, if otherwise, they might striue by morall abilities to make amends for and re∣compence what were wanting that way: so that euery Maried Woman did, if not once a day, or once Page 14 a weeke, yet once a month at least seriously looke her selfe in this Glasse. Which it is to be feared that too many are theresore very loth to looke into, be∣cause they know how they shall finde themselues there before-hand: And as t that old withered Har∣lot therefore cast away her looking Glasse, because she could not therein see her selfe such as she would; so they shunne this Glasse, not affecting it, because they cannot see themselues therein such as they should. But u let vs set the Glasse before them that they may looke on it, and view themselues in it if they will: which if it shall shew them themselues farre other than they would seeme to be, it is not the fault of the Glasse, but their owne; let them blame them∣selues, and not it.
A Wife then, say those Apostles, is one, that is asubiect and obedient to her Husband, as her Head.
But many by this Rule, will hardly proue Wiues; being bMistresses (as Ierome speaketh) rather than Wiues, to those that haue them, or rather cwhom Page 15 they haue;dbeing maried rather to them, then hauing maried them, as he speaketh. So that their Husbands (if they may so be termed that are so mated) may say, that e when they receiued their Wiues 〈◊〉, (if they •ad ought at least with them; for euen f those that bring nothing oft are as 〈◊〉 in this kinde, as those that bring most) ther sold away their owne libertie, and tooke in ga M•…e in •…d of a Wife; as the Cynickes Master d••ha Ma•…r in stead of a Seruant; and Nazianzen sai•h that i some Wiues doe in stead of an Husband: One that will krule and ouer-rule them, as he said that lQueenes, or mQueanes rather n of 〈◊〉 condition, their Concubines did Kings; and of the Persian Monarks, when that State most flourished, it was a common by-word, that other were Ma••ers of the whole world, and their wiues their Ma•…, not vnlike Cato his complaint also sometime of his Countri•en;Page 16pAll Men rule their Wiues, we rule all Men; and our Wiues rule vs; One that will guide and gouerne him that should be q her Guide, yea and, it may be, com∣mand him r more imperiously than many a Master would his Slaue. They are sno Men, saith one, but Bond-men to their Wiues, or t to their Portions at least, that endure it. And they are no Wiues sure, but Mistresses, or more than Mistresses, that offer it.
Againe, she is a Wife, as uSalomons Mother de∣scribeth her, that is not a good Houswife onely in the House, but a good Wife also to her Husband; that xdoth him good all his daies, all the daies, at least, that she liueth with him.
Shee is a Wife then indeed, and none but shee, in whom these two concurre, that shee is both a good Hous-wife, and a good Wife too to him that hath her. But how many Maried women are there, in whom neither of these are? how many in whom they meet not? How many are there not Hous-wiues, but yDrones rather? liuing wholly on the sweat of their Husbands browes, as the Drone doth on the honey that the Bee maketh and bringeth in? How many though not Drones, yet Droiles rather than Wiues? that will toile and moile indeed about the house, as we say, like horses; but are withall z of so crooked and crabbed a nature, of so currish, vnquiet, and contentious a disposition, that their Husbands can Page 17 haue no ioy, nor comfort at all of them: there can be no comfortable cohabitation or conuersing with them.
There may be good cause therefore euen for mar∣ried Women to examine themselues whether they be Wiues or no: since that if they answer not that, which Gods word and will, yea which the very Name giuen them, requireth of them, they are as no Wiues in Gods account.
But here a Question or two would be answered. *
For first, may some say: If such a Wife be no Wife, may a Man then lawfully put away such a Wife?
I answer; No: As the Rabbines speake, aThe*bone thou must gnaw, that is fallen to thy Lot. There is ba knot of God betweene you, that cannot be vn∣knit. cGod hath ioyned her vnto thee either in mer∣cie, or in wrath; to be, as he saith of Rulers,d ei∣ther a Nurse to thee, or a Scourge. And eThose that God hath ioyned together, Man may not seuer.
I answer; No: gThou owest it to God. And it is not default of dutie on her part, that can discharge thee of thy debt to him. As Basil saith of Rulers,hWe must obey, the good as God, the bad for God. And Page 18S. Peter of Masters, that iSeruants must forkcon∣science sake be subiect to the froward as well as the cour∣teous. So must thou doe the dutie of an Husband as well to a bad as to a good Wife, for conscience of Gods command. Doe thou thy dutie for God, and thou shalt haue thy reward from God. As our Sauiour saith l of those that relieue the poore, though they cannot re∣quite them, yet God will reward them; so though she doe not with kindnesse answer thee, God will requite thee, in the Resurrection of the Righteous.
And so much briefly for Answer to those two Questions.
Secondly, this Point may serue as for Examina∣tion, so for Premonition, to those that are to enter in∣to * this estate, that they consider seriously before∣hand, what they vndertake, that they weigh well what they goe about: Not thinke as many doe, that they marrie for their ease, or they marrie to be maintai∣ned; to be maintained in sloth and idlenesse, or in vanitie and pride: like those, who, as Bernard spea∣keth, mthinke to liue without Care, when they haue gotten a charge or a cure.. No: thou mariest to be a Wife; and that is not na naked Name, or a bare title; it is the Name of an Office, that hath many Duties an∣nexed to it. oIt is not good for man to be alone, saith God; I will make him an Helpe. He doth not say, I will make him a wife: or, I will make him a woman, that may be an Helpe to him: though hee meant so to doe: but, I will make him an Helpe. So that A wife is a Woman ioyned to Man to be an Helpe to him: And for a Woman to be a Wife, is to be an Help to her Hus∣band. But wherein to be an Helpe?pLet the youn∣ger Page 19 Women, saith the Apostle, marrie,qbreed, (that is, beare, and bring vp) children, and gouerne the fa∣milie. That is the end of their Mariage: and to doe that, is to be a Wife. And that therefore must euerie woman that intendeth to marrie, fore-thinke of, re∣solue on, and make account of before hand, if euer she meane to be a Wife.
rMariage is honourable, as the Apostle saith: And the Name of a Wife is an honourable Title. We are wont to giue them place before those that bee yet vnmaried, vnlesse they be farre vnequall other∣wise. But seuerie dignitie hath some dutie annexed vnto it. And t it is not equall that those that refuse the one, should expect euer to enioy the other. Yea, the greater the honour is, the greater is the dishonour, if the dutie be not done that that honour exacteth.
Thirdly, it may serue, as for Premonition, so for Ad∣monition; for premonition to those that intend or desire to enter, for admonition to those that are en∣tred already. Art thou a maried woman then? As Ie∣rom saith to the Monk;uRead what thou art here called, and be that that thou art stilēd. Thou art stiled a Wife. But thou art no wife, if thou doest not a Wiues worke: no more than xthe Shepherd is a Shepherd if he feed not his flocke. Consider therefore well what the dutie of a Wife is, that thou mayest indeed faithfully and conscionably performe it; that thou mayest make good what in that Name is required of thee. Else as one saith well, that ythe verie title of godli∣nesse Page 20 maketh the vngodly man guiltie: so z the verie Title that thou art called by, will one day condemne thee. And it had better for thee neuer to haue taken that Name on thee, if thou doest not that that the Name importeth. For as it were no sinne for a man not to feed a Flocke, if a he did not beare the Name, and take vp the place of a Pastor, if he were not called so to doe: So it were no sinne for a Woman, not to bee in this manner an Helper to Man, if shee did not beare the Name, and supply the place of a Wife, if she were not called to be such an one.
And this is a great fault, with much griefe to bee spoken of, among many Professors, that they seeme verie carefull of the obseruance of the generall duties of Christianitie; but are too too carelesse of perfor∣mance of the speciall duties of their particular states and places: Forward Christians (to see to) in the ge∣nerall; but failing fouly and fearefully, when it commeth to the particular; carelesse housholders, (and you know what b the Apostle saith of such;) sond Parents; negligent and vndutifull seruants; no good Husband to Wife; no good Wife to Husband: like a blinde Eye in the bodie, that hath sense and mo∣tion, the generall faculties, common to it with the other parts, but wanteth sight, that is c the proper function and office of it: or a lame hand, that is as sensible, yea more sensible it may be than any other Page 21 part of the bodie, but either cannot, or doth not any worke. That which bringeth a foule scandall oft vpon Christian profession; when wee shall heare, as many complaine, that they haue found more faith∣full and diligent seruice in such seruants as haue gi∣uen little shew of sauing or sanctifying grace, than in such as haue made great profession of pietie; so others againe, that more louing and kinde cariage, and more dutifull demeanour towards their Hus∣bands, is found in diuers women, though well na∣tured, yet not religiously nurtured, than in many that would seeme to haue made great progresse in pietie: when many meere ciuill persons liue more lo∣uingly, more comfortably, more contentedly toge∣ther, than not a few of those doe, (wheresoeuer the fault be, sometime in the one partie, and sometime in both,) that are otherwise verie forward and eager professors. As d if Nature were able to doe more than Grace could doe: or as if true pietie and godli∣nesse did not exact of Men and Women, a diligent, carefull, and conscionable performance of good Duties,e as well in the one kinde as in the other.
Fourthly, it may serue for Information, to informe vs how God esteemeth of such as are faultie or defe∣ctiue this way. Art thou a Wife; but not a good Wife? God esteemeth thee as no Wise; yea, as no Woman; for f the same word signifieth either.
gSearch, saith God to Ieremie, all Ierusalem tho∣row, if thou canst finde a Man; or if there be any one that dealeth vprightly: as if the rest, those that were not such, or did not so, were no Men. As h the Cy∣•ick sometime said, that there was a great throng of Page 22 folke where he had beene at a solemne meeting, but few Men; and hauing called Men to come to him, when many came flocking about him, hee beat them away, and said, i he called Men, and not them; there∣by implying that they were not such Men as hee meant. And surely, as such Men were no Men in his account: yea, bad Men are in truth no Men, how so∣euer they seeme to be such: kYou are much mistaken, saith he, if you take them all for Men that you meet with. They are Men in shape, but beasts in minde;lMen out∣wardly,mBeasts, if not nworse than beasts, inwardly.oAll the difference, saith one, is, that the one goeth vp∣right, (and yet p some will hardly grant that too) whereas the other groueleth vpon the ground. So bad Wiues are no Wiues in Gods account, nay, nor Wo∣men; but wilde beasts, as q the Cynick sometime spake, in the likenesse of Women; yea worse rather than such, as Salomon also plainely implieth, when he saith, that rit is better to abide with wilde beasts in Page 23 the wildernes, than to be tied to keep house with such.
And the like may and must bee said of the other partie. As the Wi•e is no Wife, i• shee bee not a Good Wife: so is the Husband no Husband, if hee bee not a good Husband. He is sno man, but a beast, saith Chryso∣stome; a wilde beast rather than an Husband, that is not kinde and courteous, that i• ha•s• and currish to his wife. He is no husband, if he do not the duty of an hus∣band; as she is no wife, if she do not the worke of a wife.
And t where both parties are herein faultie, and u rather bide than liue vnquietly together, we may well say of them, 〈◊〉 we vse to say, that they liue to∣gether, as Dog and Cat; not as Man and Wife, but as bruit beasts, or not so well rather, as euen *wilde beasts are wont to doe. They are no better at all in Gods sight than such: and they must looke one day to answer, not onely for the wrong that they doe either to other, but for the wrong also that they doe vnto God and his ordinance, by bringing through their fault a foule imputation vpon it.
Fiftly, this may serue for a Caueat to such as are yet to chuse. Doest thou want a Wife, and wouldest haue one? Make enquirie for a good Wife; else thou wert better haue no Wife; better without her, if she be a bad one, than with her.
Oh could I but getxa rich Wife, a wealthie one,Page 24 saith one; I were well, I were made for euer. And, Let mee haueya faire one, saith another, and I care for no more.zGiue me the woman, saith Sampson, for she pleaseth mine eye. But as that worthie Grecian once said, that hee would rather haue for his Daughter, aa Man without money, than money without a Man: So better were it for thee to haue a wife withoutbwealth orcbeautie, than to haue wealth or beautie without a wife; and so d bee as farre from hauing the comfort of a Wife, as if thou hadst no Wife at all. eA man, saith one, may haue many Friends (f such as we com∣monly call friends) and yet among his many friends, hee may finde little friendship. And so may a man haue many a Wife, such as vsually beare the name of Wiues, and yet finde little enough of that good in any of them, that Salomon here intimateth to bee in a Wife.
If thou wouldest haue a Wife then, g seeke thee a good Wife; seeke thee a fit Wife. For if shee be not a good Wife, and a fit Wife; (and she is no good ••fe for thee, if she be not fit for thee;) thou shalt haue no Page 25 Wife of her. As a learned man said sometime of Rome hauing beene somewhile there, that a man might hSeeke Rome in Rome, and yet not finde her there; Rome was so much altred from that that it had beene: And the Orator of Sicilie, after Verres had gouerned there, that men isought Sicilie in Sicilie, it was by him so impouerished: And a Reuerend Pre∣late of ours, of Bellarmines latter works, that many kmissed Bellarmine in Bellarmine; they were so much vnlike to, and came so far short of his former. So mayest thou finde much want, and misse of a wife in a wife, if thou makest thy choise amisse. And so consequently doe thy selfe exceeding great wrong, embracing, with lIxion, a cloud in stead of Iuno, or m with Paris,na shadow without substance, a sorrie helpe, oa cold comfort, a wife, and yet no wife, in re∣gard of any ioy or comfort in her, in regard of any helpe or furtherance from her. And were it not much better for one to be altogether without? For what can be more miserable than to haue a Wife, as p couetous wretches haue wealth; to haue the bur∣den of a Wife, and to want the benefit of her, to haue the care, and not the comfort? whereas the man that liueth single, as hee misseth of the one, so hee is yet withall freed from, and eased of the other.
Page 26 Lastly, Is such a Wife in Gods account as no Wife? Let such then neuer looke for respect or regard with * God, for any recompence or reward from God. If thou dost not a Wiues worke, neuer looke for a Wiues wages, neuer looke for a Wiues reward. There is no Christian Seruant, that serueth his master faithfully and conscionably, but q he shall for the same from God receiue a royall reward. And much more the Christian Wife, that doth carefully her dutie to him, whom God hath ioyned her vnto. Such as they be rDaughters of faithfull Sara; so they shall haue their part and portion with her. But for the rest, since s they refuse to doe the work, they haue no rea∣son to expect or looke for the wages. Their wils they may haue with their Husbands while they liue here; but they are neuer like to haue any reward at Gods hands. How can they hope that he should reward them as Wiues, who reputeth them as no Wiues? yea tworse therefore than no Wiues, because they ought to haue beene Wiues, and did beare the Name of such.
In a word; wouldst thou be a Wife in Gods account? Thou must then be a Wife not in Name, but in Deed. For, uHe is not a Iew, saith the Apostle, that is a Iew outwardly:xNor is that Circumcision, that is out∣ward in the Flesh. But he is a Iew, that is a Iew with∣in: and that Circumcision that is in the heart and the Spirit is the Circumcision, whose praise is not of Man, but of God. So shee is not a Wife, that is, a Wife is Name; but she is a Wife, that is, a Wife in Deed: She Page 27 is that Wife,y whose praise and reward is both of Man and God; or if not of Man, yet doubtlesse of God: From whom, as shee doth the worke of a Wife, so shee is sure to receiue the reward of a wife, though Man should not yeeld it.
And so passe we on to the second Point; from the*Partie Cōmended, to the Cōmendation here giuen her.
A Wife then (such an one as deserueth the Name*of a Wife, as is a Wife not in Name only, but in Deed, not in Title barely, but in Truth) isaan exceeding great Benefit, a meanes of much good to him that hath her: He that findeth a Wife, findeth Good, saith Salo∣mon. Good; that is, much good, exceeding great good: (For it is spoken bby way of excellency or eminency;) as if hee could not well tell how to expresse how much good might by her accrue to the Husband of such an one. And, cShee will doe him good, saith Salomons Mother, and no euill, so long as euer they shall liue together. *An whole treasurie of good there is in a good Wife.
To point onely at some generall Heads of this Good, that such a Wife bringeth with her. For the Time will not suffer me to insist long on ought.
First, for Societie:dMan naturally affecteth com∣pany * and Societie; and eshunneth Solitude.fSocietie is the very Soule and Life of Mans Life.g There is Page 28 no comfortable fruition, or delightfull possession of ought without it. But hSolitude is vncomfortable:pThere is no warmth in it, saith Salomon.
kIt is not good, saith God himselfe, for Man to be alone. For some other Creatures it may be; but for him it is not, being l of a sociable Nature, as m ma∣ny of them are not: And yet euen those also, though waiuing others, yet n admit and affect some kinde of Societie, as that by name that wee now entreat of.
oTwo therefore, saith Salomon, are better then One: in mankind especially naturally so made. And A∣dam in Paradise, though he were truly happie, yet was he not fully Happie: his Happinesse was not compleat; he was nothing so well yet as he might be, while he was yet without a Mate. Yea p the Heathen man thought that though a Man were in Heauen, hee would haue little ioy or comfort, the lesse at least, of his being there, vnlesse he had some there like him∣selfe to conuerse with.
There is qmuch want of comfort then in Solitude; much Comfort in Societie. But r there is no Socie∣tie more neere, more entire, s more needfull, more kindly, more delightfull, more comfortable, more constant, more continuall, than the Societie of Man Page 29 and Wife; the maine tRoot, Source and Originall of all other Societies:u Which of all others therefore Man is naturally most enclined vnto: And without which therefore euen the Heathen held xthe House and Family halfe vnfurnished and vnfinished; and ynot fully happie, but halfe happie, though otherwise neuer so happie, till therewith it became compleat.
Secondly for Assistance.aIt is not good, saith God, for Man to be alone: I will make him an Helpe, or an Assistant; not a Mate only, but an Helpe; not a Companion only, but an Assistant too. bMan being a Creature of the kinde, not of those that loue only to flocke, and feed, and bide, and liue together, as Dawes and Stares doe; but of those that desire to combine, and worke and labour also together, as the Bee and the Pismire; hee stood in need, as of Societie, so of Assistance.cGod of his good∣nesse therefore prouided such a Mate for him, as might also be dan Helpe and an Assistant vnto him. And if Man before his fall in the state of innocencie stood in need of helpe, when his labour was no toile to him, no paine, but a pleasure; then much more since his fall, now that his trauell is become toile∣some vnto him, and the fruit of his sin hath brought so many burdens vpon him, which he was not be∣fore, Page 30 nor euer should haue beene encombred with, had he continued in his first estate.
eMuch need therefore hath Man of helpe. And, fTwo therefore, saith Salomon, are better than one: not only because g they impart comfort and courage mutually either to other: (for, hif two lie together, saith hee, they haue the more warmth:) but because they may helpe and assist either other: for iif two goe together, it giueth the more strength:kif the one fall, the other may helpe him vp againe: and ltwo may stand, where one may faile; and mdoing the more worke, they may earne the better wages. Now behold here a fit, and a readie Helpe. A fit Helpe, I say, for Man: For who fitter to helpe Man, than she, whom God himselfe hath fitted for man, and made for this very end to be a fit helpe for him?nI will make him such an Helpe, saith God, as shall beomeet for him: one that shall be as his match, asphis mate; one that being in all parts and abilities in a manner as him∣selfe, shall furnish him with qa second selfe, that may better and more fitly steed him, than any other help in some kinde can; that being rglewed as it were to him, and so becomming sone with him, may make him as two, who before was but one, as tseeing, saith the Heathen Man, now with foure eies, working with Page 31 foure hands, walking with 4. feet: whereof uthe one paire 〈◊〉 watch, while the other (if need be) take rest the one paire may work and walk, if the other •aint and f•ile.
Ye•an Help, as fit, so rea•ie at hand at all times, vpon all occasions at all assayes. xFriends that dwell a farre off, saith the Greeke Prouerbe, are as good as no Friends: because they are out of the way when a man standeth in need of them, when he hath occa∣sion to make vse of them; so that a man cannot haue their helpe, when he would. But here is yan Helpe euer at hand; as readie at all times to attend thee, as the Hand is to helpe the Head, or any other part of the Bodie is to doe seruice vnto it. And certainly z as there are offices not a few, that none can in many ca∣ses so fitly performe about a Man, as a Wife may: So there is no helpe that he hath, or ordinarily can haue, so readie at hand at all times as this helpe, because none so continually conuersant with him as Shee.
Thirdly, for Comfort and Solace. Societie is at all times very pleasing and delightfull: But in times of griefe and heauinesse, as the more needfull, so the more gratefull because greater need and vse of com∣fort* then. a The very •…t of a Friend is amiable, and his company acceptable at all times; but b ne∣uer more vsefull than in times of crosse and calami∣tie, in times of danger and distresse. c The accesse Page 32 of a meere stranger is at such times oft vnwelcome: d the presence of a Friend neuer more welcome than then. It putteth heart and courage into a man, when he is readie to sinke downe with despaire: e It putteth life into him and reuiueth him, when he is in a manner as a dead man, to see a Friend at hand, one that may either helpe to releeue and release him, or beare part of his burden with him, or f comfort and cheere him vp in the bearing of it, yea, or that may but bemoane him, and weepe together with him: For g euen that also is no small comfort sometimes.
And of Helpe and Assistance the same may be said. h A man hath need of it at all times. Wee are as ilimbes and members of one Bodie, that haue need one of another, and cannot so well at any time be without either other. But khelpe is nothing so needfull when we are free from aduersitie and affli∣ctions. l It is neuer more necessarie than in time of trouble and distresse. m When a member is euill af∣fected, it hath more need of aid from it fellow-mem∣bers, both to ease it of that labour that it was wont to take, and to procure and apply what may bee needfull for it.
Here is then a third Benefit that a good Wife affor∣deth. Page 33 For n who is neerer at hand, or fitter to mi∣nister comfort in such cases, to cheere vp a man in griefe and heauinesse▪ as oDauids Harpe did Saul,* to accompanie him, and attend him in sicknesse and weaknesse, as pA•ish•• did Dauid; to bee a• a Musitian to him in the one, as a Physitian in the o∣ther: as q to draw in the same yoke with him, in his labours and trauels, so to beare part of the burden with him in his crosses and troubles, which if r all true Christians in generall doe mutually with their Christian bre••ren, Christian Man and Wife much more.
This vse of a Wife, Paradise was not acquainted withall. sThere is no Consolation, where there is no desolation; saith Bernard. There is tno need of mer∣cie, where there is no mi•r•e; nor vse of comfort, where no crosse is. And i• in Paradise then, a place all of delight, ua garden of pleasure, there was yet need of he•pe and societie, and of the helpe and societie of such a one, whom yet there was not then this vse of: How much more then in this world, in this xvale of teares, where crosses are so rife, which there were not, and where the more crosses Man is encom∣bred with, and hath to encounter withall, the more need of Comfort and A••istance he hath?
Fourthly, for I••ue.aChildren, saith the Psal∣mist, and the fruit of the wombe, are an Inheritance of Page 34 the Lord.bGod blessed them, saith Moses, when hee said, Encrease, and multiply; and by so saying con∣ferred a power of propagation vpon them. For cGod▪ saith Augustine, when he blesseth, he doth what he saith.dThe power of propagation then is Gods blessing. And indeed what greater blessing could God bestow vpon Man? what greater honour & dignitie could he endow man withal▪ than this, to make him an able Instrument of procreating and producing one in all respects like himselfe, e the chiefe of Gods works; of f giuing being to a Creature endowed with Gods Image, wherein himselfe had beene created?
It hath been held as great, if not a greater honour,gto enrich, as to be rich; and hto make a King, as to be one. It was Mans preheminence aboue the rest of Gods Creatures, that i he bare by Creation the Image of his Creator; which none of them did, (the kAngels alone excepted) but he onely. It was a se∣cond honour, little inferiour, if at all, to the former, (and l wherin Man outgoeth euen the Angels them∣selues also) to be enabled by procreation to produce such another as God himselfe had created; and by so doing to come mto imitate and to resemble GodPage 35n•is Creator, andohis Father, not in Name and Ti∣tle onely, but in act, and in truth.
This was a great Be•e••t before Mans fall. In some respects it is farre greater since his fall. Man was then immortall:p he is now become mortall and corrupti∣ble. And want of issue is consequently now more vn∣comfortable, when men are subiect to mortalitie, than it had then beene, when Man was himselfe, to haue liued alwayes. qGood Lord, saith Abraham to God, what wilt thou giue me, when I goe childlesse?r Hee had little comfort of all his sgreat wealth and store, (t which is wont to make sterilitie the more vncom∣fortable, the greater it is) so long as hee wanted an Heire to leaue it vnto, when hee should leaue this World himselfe. And it was that in all likelihood that made u the Prophet Esayes message so harsh and hea∣uie to King Ezekiah, when hee brought him word that he should die; x because had he then died, hee had died without issue: For his Sonne Manasses that succeeded him, hauing yfifteene yeeres at least sur∣uiued that fit of sicknesse, was but ztwelue yeeres old at the time of his Fathers decease. But by means of propagation Man attaineth to aa kinde of immor∣talitie,Page 36 to a kinde of eternitie; and b in his posteritie suruiueth himselfe. *The Father, we say, is not dead, as long as the Sonne liueth. A Man is not vtterly ex∣tinct, so long as any one remaineth of his race.
To haue issue then is a great Blessing. And it is ca greater honour, saith Gregorie Nazianzene, to bee Father of one Sonne, than to bee Master of a thousand seruants. And * if issue be such a blessing, what is the meanes of obtaining it? If the dFruit bee so blessed, what is the eroot then that beareth it, and without which it cannot with comfort be had? For f with∣out a Woman, issue cannot at all, g without a Wife it cannot lawfully, without such a Wife it cannot com∣fortably bee had. And indeed what comfort can a man haue either of such issue as is a fowle staine and a reproach to him, the sight whereof cannot but mini∣ster continuall matter of remorse to him, and renue the memorie, so oft as hee seeth it or mindeth it, of his sinne and of his shame; or of issue by such an one, who when shee should be * the light of his eyes, and the ioy of his heart, is as a thorne continually in his eyes, and a sting at his verie heart?
Fiftly, for Remedie against Incontinencie. A bene∣fit likewise that before Mans fall was not, because then there was no need of it. hThe whole, saith our Page 37 Sauiour, need no Physitian. Nor needed Man there∣fore * then this Physuke, while hee was yet in perfect health. It is now otherwise with him; And, kto auoid fornication therefore, saith the Apostle, let each Man haue his Wife, and each Woman her Husband.
l There is in most Men and Women naturally an inclination and propension to the •…ll coniuncti∣on.mThe Man seeketh his rib, say the Rabbines; and the Woman the Mans side. The Man misseth his rib, and seeketh to recouer it againe: and the Woman would be in her old place againe, vnder the Mans arme or wing,n from whence at first thee was ta∣ken. o Nor is this affection and disposition at all euil simply of it selfe. But since that sinne came in by the fall of our first Parents, Mankind hauing lost that power and command of it selfe that before it had; this affection is not only p tainted and mixed gene∣rally with much silth, but it is growne so q violent, impetuous and head-strong with the most, that it is readie to break forth into grieuous inconueniences, if some course be not taken for the repression and re∣straint of it. Now r for remedie hereof in part hath God appointed this his Ordinance. Which cannot therefore but be esteemed as a singular Benefit and Blessing of all those that finde such infirmitie and sPage 38 defect in themselues; and howsoeuer they may be able so to containe themselues that it shall neuer breake forth into any grosse impure act, yet desire to keepe themselues tvnspotted as well in soule as in bodie, and to approue themselues vnto God in all puritie, as farre as may be, euen there also, where unone seeth but he himselfe.
Adde wee hereunto in the last place, that a wise Woman, a discreet Wife is no small xgrace and Honour to her Husband. And surely if any y outward thing may helpe to grace a Man, apparell, jewels, plate, hangings, house-furniture, attendants, followers, retinue, reuenew, issue, &c. then a worthie Wife as much as, yea much more than any such. z No grea∣ter grace to a Man, than to haue a discreet Wife, as no greater adisgrace than to be matched to a foole.
bThe Husband, saith Clemens of Alexandria, is a Crowne to his Wife. And, cA worthy Woman, saith Salomon, is a Crowne to her Husband:d Not a gold∣ring on his finger; (and yet e that is accounted some grace too:) nor fa Chaine of gold about his necke; (that is somewhat more in the eye, and is g vsuall only with great ones:) nor a brouch in his Hat; but ha crowne vpon his Head: euen a crowne of gold vp∣on the Head of her Husband, her Head: an ornament more conspicuous and eminent than any of the for∣mer; Page 39 the proper and peculiar iattire of Princes; the principall kensigne of the highest Honour.
The Romane LadielCornelia counted her two worthy Sons her chiefest Iewels, whom shee shewed therefore to a stranger lodging with her, that desi∣red to see what Iewels shee had: as of ma Spartan Woman also the like is reported. Her nChildren were the richest Iewels that shee had; She the pretiousest Iewell that her Husband had. They were her Crowne; as oSalomon also termeth them; Shee his. Well might Shee be termed her Husbands Crowne, who for his sake and her Childrens good, p refused a Crowne offered her after his decease. And well may the Husband of such a Wife esteeme her as his choisest Iewel, who by the testimony of Gods Spirit doth as much grace him that hath her, as a Crowne doth him that weareth it.
And thus you see some few Branches, and rude *Lineaments of that goodnesse and beneficialnesse of this diuine Ordinance, which the Spirit of God by the Pen of Salomon here pointeth vs vnto. A good Wife being, as you haue heard,
Now the due Consideration hereof may well serue;
First to controll those of the Church of Rome, who labour so by all meanes to vilifie, depresse and debase this Diuine Ordinance, as if they stroue who should cast most mucke, and durt, and dung, and filth in the face of it. Nothing is more odious and contumelious among them than the Name of a Wife, or a Wiued Person in some. The Name of a Concu∣bine (as wee shall shew) is more acceptable with them, and more gratious in their Eyes.
k Mariage is Honourable (saith the Spirit of God by the Apostle) and that among all Men. Yea lso Honorable (saith Chrysostome) that a man may with it ascend to the Episcopall Chaire; the highest Honour in the Church.mLet a Bishop (saith the Apostle) be the Page 41 Husband of one Wife. Which hee may well be, and yet nVnblameable; as is there also implied. And, oThe Mariage Bed (saith the same Apostle) is of it selfe free from filth.pIt is so; and they are so, that rise from it, saith Primasius: it is no Sinne or Blame; and consequently no blemish or staine to them. qWhat need they be ashamed (saith Chrysostome) of that that is honourable? What need they blush for that that defi∣leth them not? As for rWhore-mongers and Adulte∣rers; God indeed willsiudge, andtbe auenged on such.
But saith the Spirit of Satan speaking by these Men or Beasts rather; uMariage is dishonourable: dis∣abling men to holy Offices. For, xThose that be in the Flesh (so mis-apply they the yApostles words) can∣not please God. And, zThe Mariage Bed is filth, luxu∣rie, Page 42 vncleannesse, pollution, obscenenesse, &c. (Albeit Ignatius saith, that they haue athe Deuill in them that so say.) And, bIt is better for some men to com∣mit Whoredome, than to contract Mariage. For it is not ca lesse Sinne only (as some mince it) but dan ho∣nester matter for them, to be naught with many secretly, yea fto keepe (as it were) an Hundred Whores one af∣ter another, than to take openly one lawfull Wife.gA point (to vse Auentines words) well pleasing Whore∣master Priests, who in stead of one Wife, might haue dealing with six hundred Harlots.
Againe, dIt is better, saith the Apostle, to marrie, than to burne. And, eLet those therefore marrie, (that haue not f the gift of Continencie,) that cannot contain.gLet them containe, saith Hierome of Virgins, if they will not marrie; or let them marrie, if they cannot con∣taine. For that is hthe better course for them, saith Augustine, and long before him Cyprian,iif either they cannot or will not continue as they are. Yea not of Virgins barely, but of Votaries Epiphanius,kBet∣ter it is for one of them to take openly a lawfull Wife, than to be wounded daily (l inwardly) with vnseene shafts.
Page 43 Nay, say these Men, mBoth are bad, but the latter is the better: (as if they stroue directly herein t•…op∣pose the Apostle) nIt is better for some to burne, than to marrie, yea to doe that that is farre worse. For by Mariage their Votaries, Monkes, Friers and Nunnes, are disabled, saith Bellarmine, to the keeping of their Vow, which by Fornication, yea or a worse matter they are not. And, oby contracting Mariage, their Priests, they say, become Irregular: Whereas, as pby Whoredome, and Adulterie, yea or qSodomie and rBestialitie, though neuer so oft committed, if the fact be not notorious, they doe not. So that, sMari∣age in such, as our Rhemists say, is the very worst kinde of Incontinencie: worse belike indeed with them then either of those are. tA foolish perswasion, (to vse Saluians words; yea a sottish superstition:) to for∣beare, (nay, to condemne) that that is lawfull, and com∣mit that that is vnlawfull: to abstaine from the mariage Remedie, and to runne out into all impuritie; as Ber∣nard complaineth that uso many of them in his time did, that neither for multitude they could be concealed, nor for shamelesnesse did they seeke to be vn∣seene.xIt is not Mariage, saith he, but Adultery that God condemneth. And, ywhat comparison is there betweene a Wife and an Whore or an Harlot? saith Ierome.
Page 44 But thus they striue a to dishonour that that God hath ••onoured, to disgrace that that he hath graced;b preferring that before it (it is no new, butan old complaint) that cGod most of all detesteth and ab∣horreth. In so much that the Glossers on their Canon Law confesse, (adstrange matter, say they, and it is more than once in them:) that eLuxurie hath more fauour than Chastitie in their Law.
And so indeed hath it; For, fHe is admitted in∣to the Ministerie, that hath had a Wife and an Harlot, when he that hath had two lawfull Wiues successiuely, is excluded. Where, ghe that hath liued chastly (saith the Glosse) with a second Wife is refused, when a For∣nicator is not. And, hHe may be dispensed with for continuance in his office, that hath kept many Quean•s, when he that hath maried a second wife may not. A∣gaine, iA maried Priest may by no meanes be endu∣red. For, kif any Priest either openly or priuately con∣tract Mariage, he is ipso facto depriued; and there∣fore lmust by all meanes be remoued. But, mAn Whore∣master Priest the Bishop is not bound to depese. And though some nOld moth-eaten Canons will that Page 45such be deposed: yet those are now worne out of date; and oThey say now adaies, (saith the Glosse, and they father it vpon pBlessed Saint Syluester, though qa∣mong his Canons it be not found) that no man is to be deposed for Fornication, vnlesse hee continue still in it; because mens bodies are more fraile now than formerly they haue beene. And, *It is commonly held, saith an∣other Glosse, that for simple Fornication one ought •…t to be deposed: since that few are found free from that vice. Indeed, rif they keepe Harlots openly, (for here the Rule holdeth that the Glosse giueth, that sif they liue not chastly, yet they must doe that they doe close∣ly) or the be caught in the manner, and euidently conuict of it, (but ehow can that be, saith another Glosse; when no Lay-mans witnesse may be receiued,fnor may they bee beleeued deposing ought against a Priest, since they be their profest enemies; vnlesse they will themselues g confesse it?) hthen vnlesse with∣in a months space (for some time of respite they must haue) they put their Queanes away from them, suspen∣ded they may be from office and benefice, vntill they haue done due penance. And yet is that accounted itoo rigorous a course too, saith another Glosser, vnlesse it were for incest, or adulterie at least, albeit the delin∣quent were (not a bare Priest, but) a Bishop. Againe, kThe Maried Priest must belcompelled to abiure his Page 46 Wife; but mthe Whore-master Priest may by no meanes constrained to abiure his Whore: yea nhee ought not to abiure her. I might adde that those that haue beene principall enacters, eager vrgers, and seuere execu∣ters of these their Canons against maried Priests, haue yet made no bones of liuing otherwise indeed loose∣ly and filthily themselues. Witnesse oPope Hono∣rius his Legate, who in a Synode here at London, ha∣uing inueighed most bitterly against Priests Mariage, and made a solemne Decree against it, was the very next night taken himselfe with a Whore. As also Bi∣shop Hulderick, who telleth Pope Nicholas in an Epi∣stle of his to him, that ptheir Bishops and Archdea∣cons that make Priests mariage so vnsauourie, and com∣pell them to leaue their Wiues, are yet so leacherously gi∣uen themselues, that they neither abhorre or forbeare a∣dulterie, no, nor incest, nor Sodomie. But one Instance more of their Iniquitie in this kinde shall suffice. They haue a Canon, that qif a man shall haue had two Wiues successiuely, the one before Baptisme, the other af∣ter he was baptised, he shall by the Apostles Rule, (as they r mis-expound it;) sThe Husband of one Wife, be made vncapable of holy Orders: Which yet t hee should not haue beene, had hee before Baptisme in stead of taking that one Wife liued neuer so loosely Page 47 otherwise. And the Reason they giue for it is, u be∣cause the one being Sinne, was in Baptisme done away, the other being no Sinne, was not. This when it was questioned in Ieromes time, what saith he (though one otherwise xnot so equall to the Maried estate) to it? yThis is new learning, saith he, that something shall be reckoned therefore for sinne, because it is not sin.zAre all Whoredomes, defilements with common Queanes, impieties, paricides, incests euen with parents, the vnnaturall pollutions of either sex by extraordina∣rie lusts, washed off in Baptisme? And doe the staines of a lawfull Wife sticke on still? And are the Stewes then preferred before the Bride-chamber? Thatathey passe by that that is not lawfull, and obiect that that is. Orbis the Name of a Wife so foule a matter, that no∣thing can wipe it away? BelikecMen had need to take heed how they take wiues before Baptisme, and contract honest Mariage; Yea they were better to liue as those that haue Wiues in common; or rather by all meanes a∣uoid any Name of a wife whatsoeuer; lest that after they come to beleeue in Christ, it become preiudiciall vn∣to them that they had not Queanes, or Harlots before∣time, but Wiues.dThese are like the Scribes and Pha∣risies indeed, straining a Gnat, and swallowing a Camel.eThey punish Martage; and (not pardon onely, but euen) crowne Whoredome.fWhereas of the one it is Page 48 said, Mariage is Honourable, and the Mariage-bed is vn∣defiled; of the other, Whore-mongers and Adulterers God will iudge.gSure, if that that is filthie be clean∣sed in Baptisme, that that is cleane is not thereby defiled. And if for this one Particular Ierome charge them so deepely: how much more, all considered that before hath beene said, may they bee truly char∣ged (as their owne Glossers being Canonists also themselues confesse of them) to shew more grace and sauour to Incontinencie, than to Chastitie, and to set lawfull Wiues behind Concubines and Queanes? So that if it were, as these men seeme to say, nay as they peremptorily auow, it were not onely no great good, (as being no furtherance, but a mainehhinderance to greater good things;) but a grie∣uous and a foule euill, that Gods Spirit by Salomon here so highly commendeth.
But herein indeed they are not alone; they tread in the steps of diuers old iHeretikes, long since con∣demned, who then spake of it, as they now doe. And it is no maruell therefore if God iustly punish them for this their contempt of, and contumely offe∣red to that his holy Ordinance, by giuing them vp, as did the kHeathen sometime for their vnthankful∣nesse, and those ancient lHerctikes, whom therein Page 49 they concurre with, to the committing of such fil∣thinesse* and beastlinesse, as is m scarce once to be na∣med, that which euen their owne nAuthors them∣selues, not a few, confesse of them.
Secondly, Is a Wife such a Benefit, where shee is such as shee should be? This may serue to put vs in minde of the great corruption of Mans Nature, what a miserable deprauation Sinne hath brought vpon Mankinde, euen to the inuerting and corrup∣ting of the greatest Blessings of God both on vs and in vs.
For awhat greater curse, or heauier crosse befal∣leth a Man oft than a Wife? Or what one thing pro∣duceth more mischiefes and miseries than Marriage doth, where the parties are mismatched? Many a one * neuer knew what miserie meant, till he came to know what a Wife was.
And whence commeth all this but from Mans Page 50 corrupt Heart, that b like a Toad or Viper, turneth all that it taketh, and the juice of all that it feedeth on, though neuer so good and wholesome of it selfe, in∣to rancke poison? This their corrupt nature therefore must married folkes seeke to quell and to kill, if they desire to finde that fruit in, and reape that benefit by this Ordinance, that Salomon here speaketh of, and to enioy that sound comfort either in other, that Chri∣stian Man and Wife ought to doe. And this their Cor∣ruption must they ascribe it vnto, if they meete with the contrarie, and finde ought otherwise therein. cIt is not old Age, saith he, but the solly of old Men that maketh Old Age so burdensom as it is vnto many: Nor is it Mariage it selfe, but dthe folly of Maried Persons, that maketh the maried estate so comber∣some to many: it is not the hauing of a Wife, but ei∣ther thy Fault or hers that maketh her so burden∣some vnto thee.
Thirdly, Is a Wife such a Benefit, where shee is a Wife indeed? No maruell then if we finde e so much euill, where it is otherwise. fThe best things become worst, when they are once corrupted. The strongest Wine maketh the sharpest Vineger. No Creature more loue∣ly than Man, while he liueth: and none againe more gastly to looke on when life is once gone. Yea gno Crature more cruell or sauage than Man, when he de∣generateth Page 51 from his kinde: no Beast more beastly than Man, when he turneth hBeast. No maruell there∣fore if a Wife,i as shee is one of the greatest goods while she so cōtinueth, proueth on the other side one of the grteuousest euils, when she ceaseth to be such.
Againe, all euills, as the kElements, are most com∣bersome and burdensome, when they are out of their proper place; as Impietie in Professors, Iniustice in Iudges, because lImpietie is in the proper place of Pietie in the one, mIniquitie in the proper seat of Iustice in the other. In like manner from a Wife is matter of discomfort more grieuous, because dis∣comfort there is in the proper place of comfort, a great euill in the natiue seat and soile of a great good. And what greater Iudgement can befall any Man, than to haue those very things turned to his euill, that were at first ordained for his good; those things especially conuerted, or peruerted rather to his grea∣test euill, that were created for his chiefest good? To haue nhis Table made his snare,ohis bread his bane,phis raising his ruine,qhis delights his destruction;rthe wood of his owne house a gibbet to hang him on; his wife, that should be s*the light of his Eyes, and the ioy of his heart, to be such a continuall Eie-sore, such a perpetuall Heart-sore vnto him, as t neither he is able well to endure, nor by any meanes may be rid of.
Fourthly, Is a Wife such a Benefit, as is here im∣plied. Then those that haue beene carefull in ma∣king their choice, and haue in good likelihood com∣passed *Page 52 such an one as is here intimated, they may with comfort, cheerefulnesse and confidence enter vpon this estate, x with good hope and assurance of finding much good in it, of reaping and receiuing much benefit thereby.
It is the conceit of many that when Persons enter vpon Mariage, they doe but plunge themselues into ya world of cares,*an Ocean of troubles, an inextri∣cable Labyrinth of inconueniences and annoiances. As if that estate like za cursed soile, yeelded nothing, though neuer so well manured and managed, but thornes and thistles, but briers and brambles, but hemlocke and henbane, and the like noisome weeds. As if all the good and ioy of a mans life were gone, when he had once gotten this good; all the comfort of it were ouer, when this Comforter once came; and a a man were neuer like to liue merrie day, yea or mer∣rie houre after: And that b if a man would liue merrily and comfortably therefore, he should ne∣uer marrie.
To omit what might here be said, that *no course*Page 53of Life is free from Crosses: and that “ men doe not yet therefore either shunne or abandon other cour∣ses of Life in regard of those Crosses that either are incident vnto them, or that occurre in them.
It is true indeed that Mariage bringeth many more Cares, as more Charge, with it, then the single life is ordinarily encombred withall. But yet are † those Cares counter•ailed with many singular Comforts that the single life is berest of: and c such as may well weigh downe whatsoeuer of that kind may rise vp in opposition to cause discouragement in any that are to enter thereupon, d if they bee fitted either for other, that they may liue as Man and Wise should together. e From the want whereof the annoiances, inconueniences, mischiefes and mi∣series against this estate obiected doe for the most part arise; either because the parties matched sort not well together, or want wisdome and discretion to carrie themselues as they ought, either toward other.
Not to adde, that in regard of some such cares and encombrances as necessarily accompany that estate, to abhorre and abandon Mariage, being o∣therwise so beneficiall, and so excellent an ordinance of God, is as Clemens well obserueth, a note but of Page 54aa nice and effoeminate Disposition, b well besee∣ming those Philosophers that referred all to ease and pleasure, and placed their whole felicitie and happi∣nesse therein; who therefore aduised also their fol∣lowers to forbeare cMagistracie and Mariage; but as misliked by d others of them that were of a more generous disposition, so vnbeseeming Christian men that are, or should be of a farre other Spirit; and e sauouring too much both of disreputation of that diuine Ordinance, and of vnthankfulnesse to the Au∣thor of it.
Fiftly, let the maried Wife learne hence what to apply her selfe vnto, that she may be a Wife indeed. The more f good shee doth her Husband, the more Comfort he receiueth from her, the more Be∣nefit he reapeth by her; the more shee doth the of∣fice of a Wife, the more shee answereth the Name shee beareth.
And on the other side g shee ceaseth to be a Wife, yea to be a Woman, when shee ceaseth to be a meanes of good to Man: Since that the Woman was not made but h for Man, and i for his good; and therefore shee answereth not her originall, if she be not so. And in vaine will it be for her to beare the *Name of that shee is not.
Lastly, hence may the Maried Man also learne his lesson. For how ought he to make much of her, that is a meane of so much good to him? kGiue her, saith Salomon, of the Fruit of her Hands: requite her Page 55 in the same kinde againe. Iflshee doe thee good all thy daies; then oughtest thou all thy daies by all meanes in all kinds to seeke her good, her temporal, her spirituall, her eternall good. For mgood requi∣reth good; and one good-turne, wee say, asketh an∣other.
Otherwise if thou beest found failing herein, her goodnesse to thee shall one day witnesse against thee. And the better •he is to thee now, the worse it shall goe with thee then. Better it were for thee to haue no Wife, or one as good as none, if thou be not an Husband to her, as well as shee is a Wife to thee; if thou beest not an instrument of good vnto her, as well as shee is vnto thee. For looke n what is required on her part toward thee, is required the same on thy part toward her: which vnlesse thou answer her with, thou art no more an Husband to her, than shee, if shee should faile therein, were a Wife vnto thee.
But how may a man come by such a Wife, as is here spoken of? may some say: such a one as shall be a meanes of so much good to him that hath her?
Shee must be sought; saith Salomon. For ofin∣ding* implieth seeking. And p He that seeketh, fin∣deth; saith our Sauiour. We must not thinke, be∣couse Salomen elsewhere saith, that Houses and inhe∣ritance are of the Fathers, but a good Wise is of God; that therefore no industrie is to be vsed on our part, but that men should lie still, or sit them downe, ex∣pecting that God should drop Wiues downe out of the clouds for them, as Townes were said to come in∣to Page 56qTimotheus his toiles, while hee slept. No; vn∣lesse we seeke, we are not like to finde. And if by see∣king we may finde, if after much search made, wee may light on such an one, we are well.
Such a Wife then must be sought.
There is good Reason to seeke such an one in two Respects:
First in regard of the Rarity, the Difficulty. Because such are not easily found.*Where may we finde such a Man? saith Pharao of Ioseph, implying that such an other as hee could very hardly bee found. And, tWhere may a Man finde such a Woman? saith Salo∣mon. As he saith elsewhere of a faithfull Friend;uMany men will boast, each one of his honestie; but where shall a man finde a Friend truly Faithfull; x one that indeed deserueth that name? So many Women may promise great matters of themselues, or others vndertake for them: But it is yno easie matter, for all that, to finde out a good Wife, one that answereth the Name shee beareth. *Many Priests, and yet Few Priests too; saith one of the Ancients: many in Name,Page 57 but few in effect. So many Women, and few Wiues, may one well say; few such, among many, as Salo∣mon here entreateth of. zGood Wiues are rare Crea∣tures, as well as atrustie Friends are. And though I dare not say of them, as Elihu of ban able Pastor, Salomon of ca Wise Man, and some other of da true Friend; One such of a thousand. Yet may I well and safely say, that as well here as else-where, eThe greater Part exceedeth the better: there is fmore dros∣sie matter than pure mettall; more pebles than pearles. As the Cynicke sometime gsought for a Man in a mul∣titude of Men: so may such a Wife as Salomon here speaketh of, be sought, yea and scarce found some∣time, among a multitude of Women.
Secondly, In regard of the worth and dignitie. It is well worth a mans labour. Hee need not thinke much of his search, if he haue good successe in it. As the difficultie of finding requireth it; so the dignitie of the thing sought requiteth it.h It is no wisdome indeed to seeke after toies and trifles, matters of no moment, that will not recompence a mans paines, when without much difficultie they cannot be had. But a worthy Woman is a matter of worth. She is well worthy the seeking. She is ia greater blessing than either House or Inheritance: and kher price is abone Page 58 Pearles. And if there be l so much seeking generally on all hands after the one, much more may there iustly be as much after the other.
But how must shee be sought then?
I answer: First m by due and diligent considera∣tion of, and carefull search and inquirie into the na∣ture, qualitie, and disposition, and into the life, cour∣ses and conueisation, of the partie motioned or af∣fected for Mariage: whether shee bee so qualified as a Wife ought to be, and as is fit for one to be that should be thy Wife. For nfitnesse in speciall, as well as goodnesse in generall, is one maine ground of the good and benefit that a Wife is to bring to him, whom shee is matched vnto.
Secondly, by vsing the helpe and taking the ad∣uice of Friends. A course especially to be embraced and entertained of those that are themselues vnex∣perienced, or that are yet vnder the power of others. So did oIacob herein follow his Father Isaacks ad∣uice; contrarie to p the practise of his Brother E∣sau And qRuth was content to be ruled by her Mother in Law Naomi, though hauing not the power ouer her of a naturall Parent.
Thirdly, by seeking vnto those that are the Pa∣rents or Gouernours of such as they affect or desire, being yet vnder the power of such. So did rAbra∣hams Seruant deale with the Friends of Rebekka. And Page 59sSichem (though t he had beene before indeed too forward) with the Brethren of Dinah, and with her Father Iacob, by his Father Hamor; the very light of Nature leading and directing them thereunto.
Fourthly and principally by Prayer to*God. As did uAbrahams Seruant, when hee was sent to seeke a Wife for his young Master: And as xIsaak did when hee dismissed his Sonne Iacob with In∣structions and charge what course to take concer∣ning a Wife.
For (and so passe we to the next Point) God is the principall Doner here. He that will finde a Wife, saith Salomon, must obtaine her of God. And, pHouse and inheritance are of the Fathers; butqa prudent Wife is of God. From God therefore it is that a Good Wife must be had. And no maruell.
Secondly, tChildren, saith the Psalmist, and the fruit of the wombe is Gods Gift. And, uI gaue Abra∣ham Isaak; and Isaak Iacob and Esau, saith God by Io∣shua. And, xThey be the Children that God hath gi∣uen me; saith Iacob to Esau. If Children be his gift, the Wife is much more. Neither can we haue them without her; not her without Him.
Thirdly, Euery good Woman is Gods Daughter: as yAdam is said to be Gods Sonne:zYou shall be my Sonnes, and my Daughters; saith God. He hath a spe∣ciall interest, more than ordinary, in them: and they cannot therefore be had without him.
Page 60 Fourthly, aMariage requireth a coniunction of Minds, of Affections, of Willes. And b better it were, * that Men and Women should neuer come together, vnlesse they beare heartie affection either to other, vnlesse they ioine hearts as well as hands. But as cthe Kings Heart; so dthe hearts of all Men and Women are in Gods hand. As ehe made them all, and fhee alone knoweth and gvnderstandeth them all; so h he windeth and turneth them all which way he will, nor can any win or winde the Heart of any contrary to his will.
Now, as such a Wife is of God; so (which was the last Particular)
It is a speciall fauour of God for any Man to obtaine such an one.
As ithe Man that getteth Wisdome; so the Man that getteth a Wife,ka wise Woman, (for there is l the same Phrase vsed in both places) hath obtained a speciall fauour (that is, * a singular Blessing, and such as he is wont to conferre on such as hee specially fa∣uoureth) at Gods hands. mBlessed is the Man that feareth God, saith the Psalmist, and that walketh in his waies. And nhis Wife the fruitfull Vine, commeth in in the first place, as one of his chiefe Blessings; and his Children, the fruit of this precious plant, in the next. And, oHe is a blessed Man, saith the Son of Page 61Syrach, that hath lighted on a •ood Wife; and pthat liueth with an vnderstanding Woman.
Now this we may further and better conceiue by the Contrary.
Yea it is a speciall fauour of God to misse of the one. (rHe that is good in Gods eye, that is, is in fauour with God, shall escape her, saith Salomon) and a speciall fa∣uour of God then to light on the other. There is a single Benefit in the one; sa double Blessing in the other.
Againe, It is a speciall fauour of God: For as it is a fauour, that cannot be had without him: so it is a fa∣uour, that † he doth not ordinarily vouchsafe vnto euery one, no not vnto euery godly one. Many a goodtDauid is matched with a scoffing Micol. Ma∣ny u a iust and religious Iob, with a foolish and vn∣kinde Woman (if Woman at least) rather than Wife. We see many daily mismatched, and xvnequally yoaked,y to their great griefe. And our eares are too frequently filled with the complaints of such, as can shew where zthe shooe wrings them, but neither can tell, nor be told which way to finde ease.
Page 62 And as it is a fauour somewhat arare, that God vouchsafeth not euery one; so it is ba Blessing of*much moment, where he pleaseth to vouchsafe it. It is a Blessing that bringeth a kinde of Heauen vpon Earth; as the contrarie produceth a kinde of Hell here out of Hell: according to that which the Hea∣then Man well saith, that ceuery Man when he mar∣rieth, bringeth either a good or an euill Spirit into his house; and so consequently maketh his House, to himselfe at least, either an Heauen or an Hell.
Now the Consideration of these Points may well serue,
- Partly for Reprehension, and
- Partly also for Admonition.
For the former; It may first serue to reproue the Practise of those that seeke not at all; make no search or enquirie; but take Wiues as they stumble on them hand ouer head, (as many doe dFriends, whom a pint of wine drunke together, or a game at tennis, or a set at Maw maketh Friends;) as if they drew cuts, or ecast Lots for them, as some sometime haue done. f If thou wert to take an house, or to hire but a ser∣uant, saith Chrysostome, how carefull wouldest thou be to make diligent enquirie of the commodities and discommodities, conueniences and inconueni∣ences, Page 63 easements and annoiances of the one, who hath before dwelt in it, what neighbour-hood about it, and the like; and of the qualities and conditi∣ons, vices or good parts of the other, whom he had formerly serued, how behaued himselfe in their ser∣uice, how likely to proue fit for thy seruice, and the like. And g hast thou not much more cause to be carefull, yea curious in thine enquirie concerning her, whom thou mayest chance to make thy Wife? That so hIudgement, as it should doe, may goe be∣fore and lead Affection, and not follow and come after it. The rather since that i thine House if vpon triall thou mislike, thou maist leaue; or thy Seruant, if he please thee not, thou maist put off againe, vp∣on a quarter, or halfe a yeeres warning at most. But k thy Wife there is no casting off againe: she must all thy daies abide by thee, all hers at least, like enough to last as long as thou liuest. Nay there is l no wo∣man almost so vnwise or vnwarie, that will buy an earthen pitcher, or and it be but an halfe-peny pipkin, but she will view it well first, ring it, and trie it whe∣ther it be sound and whole or no: much lesse will they put any pretious liquor into bottell or vessell, but they will first sound it and smell to it whether it be sweet or no, and m trie it with water ere they trust Page 64 it with wine. Whereas Husbands and Wiues, Men and Women take at aduenture, without any kinde of in∣quirie; and they haue but a faire out-side, that is all they regard: It was n the fault of those before the Floud, and o the root and ground of that excesse of euill that brought in that vniuersall Deluge. Nor is it to be maruelled, if such rash and hastie proceeding produce hastie repentancep in these cases as in matter of qiudicature, and r other affaires oft it doth: If affection soone alter, where it was neuer well roo∣ted, or soundly setled: if s such as cast Lots for Wiues this day, be willing the next day to part with them againe.
Secondly, it serueth to reproue those, that seeke indeed, but seeke amisse; that seeke without light, yea that refuse to vse such light as would be lent them, and is tendred vnto them, and that, when they haue more need of it then they are, it may be, aware of. Such are they, the younger sort especially, that thinke scorne to take aduice of their Friends, imagi∣ning themseluestwise enough to aduise themselues, and to make their owne choise. u That that pro∣ueth the very bane, and vtter ouerthrow of many an one, that might well haue done well, if they would haue beene ruled by those that wished them well, and were both able and willing well to aduise them: but refuse to hearken to any good aduice, till it bee too late, when they come to be scourged soundly with a rod of their owne making.
Page 65 Thirdly, it serueth to reproue others that seeke * amisse in another sort: they knocke at the wrong doore, they goe not the right way to worke; that seeke x by indirect courses to ensnare the hearts and entangle the affections of those whom they de∣sire, being vnder the power of others, passing by their Parents, or others vnder whose power they are; and whom as yGod hath set in his place, so hee hath in part imparted to them his power of disposing. Such cannot expect any blessing from God on their seeking, seeking contrarie to his word and will.
Fourthly, those especially come here to be repro∣ued, that passe wholly by God, neuer looke vp to him: vse their owne industrie, it may be, and take aduice of their Friends, but neuer thinke on or looke after him that ought to be their principall aduiser, their chiefe Counseller, their best Friend, either to craue his aduice or to aske his good will. And no maruell, if so much neglecting him, they speed ac∣cordingly, they misse of that z that without him cannot be had. a Thou wouldest take it euill, that any man should be a Suitor to thy Daughter, and ne∣uer come to aske thee thy good-will. Much more may God take it euill that thou shouldest seek to win his Daughters loue without crauing his good leaue.
Fiftly, Is such a Wife a speciall Fauour of God? Then be carefull to reconcile thy selfe in the first place vnto God, if thou wouldest hope, or doest de∣desire to haue such a speciall fauour at his hands. If thou desirest a Mans Daughter, thou wilt seeke to get her Fathers good-will: And if there haue beene any breach formerly betweene thee and him, thou wilt Page 66 vse all good meanes of working an accord and a∣greement betweene you, ere thou wilt come to make suit to him, to bestow his Daughter vpon thee. For little hope couldest thou haue to preuaile with him in a suit of that nature, b* so long as there were jarre and enmitie between you otherwise. And how canst thou hope to obtaine the like fauour at Gods hands, if there be enmitie and hostilitie betweene him and thee?
Lastly, let such maried persons as God hath bles∣sed in this kinde, learne hence what cause they haue to be thankfull to God either for other. Yea let the jarres and discord that they see betweene other Men and Women mismatched, and the crosse and cursed cariage of them either toward other, together with the manifold annoiances and grieuous mischiefes and inconueniences that ensue ordinarily thereup∣on, be a meanes to put them in mind of Gods great mercie and goodnesse to them, and of his speciall fa∣uour towards them; and to make them the more thankfull vnto him for the same.
And since that they haue receiued either other from God, let them herein striue to shew their thank∣fulnesse vnto God, by endeuouring to bring either other neerer vnto God, by c helping either other forward in the good waies of God: Doe either with other, as Anna did with her Sonne Samuel, as d she had him of God, so she bestowed him on God againe; returne either other againe to God, and labour to re∣turne them e better than they receiued them. The better they shall make either other, the better shall they enioy either other: and the nearer they shall Page 67 bring either other to God, the more good, through Gods Goodnesse, shall they haue either of other. The more Man and Wife profit in the Feare of God, the more comfortably and conten∣tedly shall they liue toge∣ther, the better shall it be for them both.