The Well-Ordered Family:
Wherein the Duties of its various Members are described and urged.
A small, but very comprehensive piece, suitable to be in the hand of every Householder; and may be especially seasonable in the present day.
By that eminently pious and learned Divine,
Mr. Isaac Ambrose,
Minister of the Gospel at Preston.
“But as for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24.15)
SECTION I. Of the Preparatives to Family Duties.
Now that we may more comfortably carry on these family duties, observe we, 1. Our entrance into them, and 2. Our proceedings in them.
For entrance, we must lay a good foundation for tractableness unto Religion in those that belong to the family. As, 1. In the governour. 2. In the governed.
1. In the governour; whose duty it is,
1. To endeavour in a special manner for knowledge in God’s Word; and for holiness of conversation in a Christian walking. This would tend much to the preservation of his authority; who otherwise will be slighted and disregarded, through an aptness in inferiours to take occasion therefrom.
2. “To marry in the Lord” [1 Cor. 7.39], and then to live chastely in wedlock, that there may be a holy seed [Mal. 2.15]. Now that he may marry in the Lord: 1. Let piety be the mover of his affection; and personage, parentage, and portion be only as a comfortable accessory, considerable in a second place. Christianity and grace, is the chief golden link and noble tie, which hath the power and privilege to make marriage a lovely and everlasting bond. 2. Let him ply [urge] the Throne of Grace with fervency of prayer. A good wife is a more immediate gift of God. Whence Solomon could say, “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord” [Prov. 19.14]. Such a rare and precious jewel is to be sued and sought for at God’s Mercy Seat, with extraordinary importunity and zeal; and if she be procured at God’s hand by prayer, he shall find a thousand times more sweetness and comfort, than if she be cast on him by an ordinary providence. 3. Let him observe and mark these six points in his choice:
1. The Report
2. The Looks
3. The Speech
4. The Apparel
5. The Companions
6. The Education
These are like the pulses that shew the fitness and goodliness of any party with whom he ought to marry.
3. To beware whom he admits to dwell with him; that they be tractable unto religious courses. See David’s resolution herein: “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.” [Ps. 101.6-7]
2. In the governed; whose duty it is both to join together in the performance of family duties with their governour, and to submit to his government: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” [Prov. 1.8-9]
These preparatives I pin upon the front or porch of this family. Now to the Family Duties themselves, and how they must be exercised.
SECTION II. Of the Duties of Governours in general.
In the proceedings of these Family Duties, we are to consider the duties, 1. Of the Governours. 2. Of the Governed.
1. The Governours. If (as it is in marriage) there be more than one—as first, the chief Governour, viz. the Husband: secondly, the Helper, viz. the Wife—both these owe duties to their families, and duties to one another.
1. The duties they owe to their families, are either, in general to the whole; or, in particular, according to their several relations.
1. That which in general they owe to the whole family, is either, to their bodies, or to their souls.
1. To their bodies. Concerning which, saith the Apostle, “He that provideth not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Tim. 5.8. Now as the Spirit of God chargeth us with this duty, so he setteth us about such things whereby this may be compassed. As, 1. That everyone should have some honest and good calling, and walk diligently in it: “Let him that stole, steal no more, (saith the Apostle, Eph. 4.28) but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good.” 2. That he bear a low sail, and keep within compass; remembering that of Solomon; “He that is despised, and hath a servant, is better than he that honoureth himself, and lacketh bread.” [Prov. 12.9]
2. To their souls. Concerning which, some duties, they are to perform to the family; and others, to require of the family.
1. The duties they must perform to them, are—
1. To provide that they may live under the public ministry. For otherwise how should they be brought into the sheepfold of Christ, if they hear not the voice of the chief Shepherd speaking unto them by those whom he hath sent?
2. To oversee the ways of their families, that they serve God: and as in all other duties, so especially in sanctifying the Sabbath. To this the very words in the fourth commandment do bind all masters of families: “Remember, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant” [Ex. 20.10]. Where the Lord speaks by name to the governours, as if he would make them overseers of this work of sanctifying his Sabbaths.
3. To set their house in order for the service of God, to offer prayers and praises to the Lord morning and evening. To this purpose, “pray continually” (saith the Apostle) 1 Thes. 5.17, which we must not understand of uninterrupted and incessant pouring out of prayers, as the Mussalians or Euchitae did, but of morning and evening prayers. The Apostle here speaking in reference and in analogy to the continual, or daily sacrifices. This was David‘s practice, “evening and morning, and at noon will I pray and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice,” Psal. 55.17. And this was Job‘s practice, who sent for, and sanctified his sons and daughters, “and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all: Thus did Job continually,” Job 1.5. And this was Abraham‘s practice wherever he came, “to build an Altar to God,” where God should be worshipped jointly by turn and his family (Gen. 12.7; 13.4; 21.33). And this was Christ’s practice for himself and his family, (Mat. 14.23; Mark 1.35; John 17.1 ff.).
4. To instruct their families privately in matters of religion, that they may not only profess, but feel the power of religion in their lives and conversations. This duty hath these specials belonging to it.
1. A familiar catechizing of them in the principles of religion. Thus were parents commanded of old; “Thou shalt teach these Words diligently unto thy Children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine House, and when thou walkest by the Way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut. 6.7; Prov. 22.6).
2. A daily reading of the Scriptures in their hearing, directing them to mark and to make Use of them: So Timothy was trained up by his Parents, and that “from his childhood,” 1 Tim. 3.15.
3. A careful endeavouring that they may profit by the public ministry. To this end: 1. They must prepare them to hear the Word, by considering God’s ordinances, promises, and their own necessities. 2. They must remember them to look in the Word for a Christ, and for Communion with him. 3. They must examine them after the ordinances, what they have learned, and what use they make of it. Thus Christ, after he had preached a parable to his disciples, he said unto them, “Know you not this parable, and how then will you know all parables?” and then he expounds the parable to them. (Mark 4.13).
2. The duties they are to require of the family, are both carefully to frequent the public ministry, and diligently to be conversant in the private worship of God, and constantly to practice all holy and Christian duties comprised briefly in the commandments of God. And they are to require these things, not only by telling them, calling on them, catechizing them, admonishing them, but if they be negligent, by correcting them.
Now this correction must be ministered both in wisdom and in patience.
1. In Wisdom; whose property it is to find out the right party that committed the fault, to consider of what sort and nature, the fault is, to weigh circumstances of age, discretion, and occasions. And to look to the mind of the doer, whether negligence or mere simplicity brought him to it.
2. In Patience; whose property it is to make the fault manifest to the offender, that his conscience may be touched therewith. To hear what the offender can say in his own defense, and accordingly to allow or disallow. To avoid bitterness, which sooner will harden the heart, then reform the manners of the offender. These rules being observed, and the heart lifted up in prayer to God for direction and blessing, this correction is necessary; as is evident in Gen. 30.2; Prov. 13.24; and 19.18.
These are the Duties that Governours owe to their Families in respect of their Souls; to correct them, catechize them, admonish them, call on them, read to them, pray for them, etc. only with these Limitations.
1. That they presume not above their callings. This was Paul’s exhortation, “That no man take this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” [Heb. 5.4]. The honour here, is the honour of the public ministry; except that, and I know not but that every governour of a family, who hath special abilities, utterance, memory, may read Scriptures, repeat sermons, pray, teach, and instruct out of the the Scriptures. 1 Pet. 4.10. Thus Jacob said to his household, “Put away the strange gods that are among you.” Gen. 35.2. “And without all contradiction (saith the Apostle) the less is blessed of the better,” Heb. 7.7. “And if the women would learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home,” 1 Cor. 14.35. Thus Origen would have the Word expounded in Christian families. And Augustine saith, “That which the preacher is in the pulpit, the same is the housholder in the house.”
2. That they presume not above their gifts. This was Paul‘s exhortation to every man, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” [Rom. 12.3]. Yet I deny not but in some cases they may lawfully depute or substitute someone in the family, whom they judge fittest unto the service and employment, which they themselves should ordinarily perform. As in case of old age and weakness of body. “Thus Samuel being old, made his sons judges” [1 Sam. 8.1]. Or in want of good utterance or expression of what is to be said. Thus Aaron was Moses his spokesman, and instead of a mouth, or in want of boldness and audacity, arising from a consciousness of weakness. Thus the good Centurion sent the Elders of the Jews to Christ to intercede for him. Or in case that a minister of the Gospel do sojourn in ones family, as Archippus did in Philemon his house. Or in case of necessary absence. Thus the Apostle Paul made Timothy his deputy to the Christian Thessalonians. Or in case the Lord hath bestowed more of his gifts and graces to one than another. I know not in this case, but that we may “covet earnestly the best gifts” in others, as well as in our own selves [1 Cor. 12.31].
SECTION III. Of the Duties of Parents to their Children.
The duties in particular which governours owe to the family, according to their relations, are either as parents to their children, or as masters to their servants.
The duties of parents to their children, are either to their bodies, or to their souls.
1. The duties of parents to the bodies of their children are in many particulars, but may be all compromised under this one head, A provident Care for their temporal Good; and this extendeth itself to all times, as 1. To their Infancy. 2. To their Youth. 3. To the Time of Parents’ Departure out of this World.
1. The first age of a child is his infancy, and the first part of its infancy, is while it remaineth in the mother’s womb. Here the duty lies principally upon the mother, to have a special care of it, that it may be safely brought forth. Why was the charge of abstaining from wine, strong drink, and unclean things, given to Manoah’s wife, but because of the child which she had conceived? [Judges 13].
The next degree of a child’s infancy, is while it is in the swaddling-band, and remains a sucking child. In this also the care more especially lies on the mother, whose duty it is to take all the pains she possibly may, for the education of her child, and especially to give her child suck, if she be able thereto. This not only nature, but Scripture sets forth:
1. By consequence, Gen. 49.25; Hos. 9.14; 1 Tim. 5.10.
2. By example, Gen. 21.7; 1 Sam. 1.23; Psal. 22.9.
3. By grant, the Word giving it as a ruled case not to be denied, Gen. 21.7; Cant. 8.1; Luke 11.27.
2. The second age of a child is its youth, from the time it begins to be of any discretion, till it be fit to be placed forth. Now the duty of parents at this time is: 1. to nourish, 2. to nurture their children.
Under Nourishment are comprised food, apparel, recreation, means for recovery of health when they are sick. In which, if parents provide not for their children, “they are worse than infidels” [1 Tim. 5.8]. And under Nurture are comprised good manners, a good calling, frequent admonition, reprehension, correction, the last remedy, which may do good when nothing else can. Prov. 19.18; 23.13-14; 29.17.
3. The last time to which parents’ provident care extendeth itself is the time of their departure out of the world. And then they are to set their house in order, and to leave their estates to their children.
2. The duty of parents to the souls of their children extends itself also to all times. As, 1. To their Infancy. 2. To their Youth. 3. To the Time of Parents’ Departure out of this World.
1. The first age of a child, is his infancy; and the first part of its infancy, is while it remaineth in the mother’s womb. Now the duty of parents at that time are these: 1. That they pray for their children: Thus did Rebekah, while the children were quick in her womb. Those parents that neglect this duty to their children, consider not rightly that they are conceived in sin. 2. That they make sure (so much as in them lies) that their children be born under the Promise, or under the Covenant, in respect of the spiritual part of it. How? By making sure that they be under the Promise or Covenant themselves. If God in Christ be their God, they may have a comfortable hope, that God will be the God of their seed, according to the Promise, “I will be thy God, and the God of thy Seed,” Gen. 17.7.
The next degree of a child’s infancy, is when it is born. And the duty of parents then is, to give up their children unto God, casting them into the hands of his providence, into the arms of his mercy, begging for them a gracious acceptation with God. And to tender them to the ordinance, the Sacrament of Baptism, to get the Seal of the Covenant set upon them, to get them marked out for salvation.
2. The second age of a child, is it’s youth. Now the duty of parents to their children at this time, is to train them up in true piety. “To bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” [Eph. 6.4]. To this end,
1. When children begin to read, let them read the holy Scriptures—so was Timothy trained up from a child—and thus will children suck in religion with learning.
2. Let children be catechized constantly from day to day. Only with this caveat, that parents deal with their children, as skillful nurses and mothers do in feeding their children, not to give them too much at once. Over much dulls a child’s understanding, and breeds wearisomeness to it. It is most suitable to give them “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, and there a little,” Isaiah 28.10. Thus shall they learn with ease and delight, and in time a great measure of knowledge will be gained thereby.
3. Let parents declare to their children, the admirable works that God in former times hath done for his Church, especially such works as he hath done in their time. Outward sensible things do best work upon children, and therefore this direction was given under the Law, Josh. 4.6 & 21.
4. Let parents be to their children a good pattern in piety, leading them to Christ by their examples. This will take place with children, more than all precepts or parental instructions. “But as for me (said Joshua) and my House, we will serve the Lord” Josh. 14.13. He sets himself first, as a guide to the rest.
5. Let parents reprove and correct their children for sin, and that the Lord may sanctify this correction unto them. Consider this, o ye parents, do you observe such and such sins in your children? Enter into your own hearts, examine yourselves, whether they come not from you. Consider how justly the hand of God may be upon you, and when you are angry with your children, have an holy anger with yourselves, and use this or the like meditation with your own souls: “Lord, shall I thus punish my own sin in mine own child? Shall I thus persecute the corruptions of mine own ancestors? How then mayst thou be displeased with me for the too carnal conception of my own child! It may be, I then lay in some sin, or I asked it not of thee by prayer: Be merciful to me, O Lord; and in thy good time, shew thou pity on me and my child!”
6. As children grow in years, and in the knowledge of Christ, and of Justification by Christ, let parents train them up in the exercise of all duties, as prayer, meditation, self-examination, watchfulness, and all means public and private. If this be done, the World to come may reap the benefit of their education. Such children as you bring up, such parents will they be (when you are gone) to their children; and such children shall they have, who are parents in the next generation, etc. You then are the very making or marring of the World. But on the contrary, if this be neglected, the rich man will rise up against you in the Day of Judgment, and condemn you. For he being in Hell, had a care of his father’s house, that they might be forewarned. He desired Abraham to send Lazarus to his brethren, to testify unto them that they came not to that Place of Torment; but you will not admonish your children, you will not teach them Moses and the Prophets. You will not shew them the danger of God’s heavy displeasure hanging over their heads. You will not, whilst you live, lead a good example before them. O you may fear that your children shall be furies of Hell to torment you. Now the Lord open your eyes to foresee, and to fly these judgments to come.
3. The last time to which the duty of Parents extends itself, is the time of their departure out of the World. And then they owe to their children: Good Direction, and Faithful Prayer.
For Direction: When parents observe their time to draw near, it is their duty then especially, to commend some wise and wholesome precepts unto their children, the better to direct them in their Christian course. So did Isaac, and Jacob, and David. The words of a dying parent are especially regarded, and make a deeper impression.
For Prayer: Then is the most proper time for parents to pray and to bless all their children. As they commend their own souls unto God’s grace: God’s providence and promises are the best inheritance in the World. And if parents (in their prayers) leave these to their children, they can never want anything that is good. O the faithful prayers of parents for their children (especially when they are leaving their children, and going to God) must needs, in, for, and through Christ, prevail mightily with God.
SECTION IV. Of the Duties of Masters to Servants.
The duty of masters to their servants is either to their bodies, or to their souls.
The duty of masters to the bodies of their servants, consists in these particulars: In a due provision of food for them, Prov. 31.15. and 27.27. In a wise care for their clothing, Prov. 31.21. In a well-ordering of their labour, so as they may be able to undergo it. In their ease, rest, and intermission from labour at seasonable times. In paying them sufficient wages, Deut. 24.14. In a careful preserving of their health, and using means for their recovery in case of sickness (Mat. 8.6), and that not of the servant’s wages, but of the master’s own charge, otherwise they undo not the heavy burden, but rather lay burden upon burden.
The duty of masters to the souls of their servants, consist in these particulars: In teaching them the principles of religion, and all duties of piety. In causing them to go to the public ministry of the Word and worship of God. In taking an account of their profiting by the public and private means of edification. In praying for them, and as they observe any grace wrought in them, in praising God for it, and praying for the increase of it. Nothing so much wins a servant’s heart, or the affections of any gracious heart, as the edifying of it in grace.
SECTION V. Of the Duties of the Husband and Wife.
The duties which the chief governour and his helper owe to one another, are either common and mutual, or proper and peculiar to each severally:
1. The common mutual duties betwixt man and wife.
1. The common mutual duties betwixt man and wife, are either of necessity to the being of marriage: as matrimonial unity, or matrimonial chastity; or of honesty to the well-being of marriage: as a loving affection of one another and provident care for one another. Mat. 19.6; Tit. 2.5; Mal. 2.15.
The former duties presupposed, there ought to be—
1. A sweet, loving, and tender-hearted pouring out of their hearts, with much affectionate dearness into one another’s bosoms. This mutual melting-heartedness, being preserved fresh and fruitful, will infinitely sweeten and beautify the marriage state. Now for the preservation of this love, let them consider:
1. The compassionate and melting compellations which Christ and his Spouse exchange in the Canticles, “My fair one, my love, my dove, my undefiled, my well-beloved, the chief of ten thousand.” Such a fervent and chaste love as this, all married couples should resemble and imitate.
2. The command of God to this purpose, “husbands love your wives,” Eph. 5.25. and “wives (or young women) love your husbands,” Tit. 2.4. Methinks this charge often remembered, should ever beat back all heart-rising and bitterness, all wicked wishes, that they had never met together, that they had never seen one another’s faces. When the knot is tied, every man should think his wife the fittest for him, and every wife should think her husband the fittest for her of any other in the World.
2. A provident care of one for another. Which extends to the body: “No man hateth his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it” [Eph. 5.29]; and to the good name: Joseph was “not willing to make Mary a public example” [Mat. 1.19]; and to the goods of this World; in which if there fall out any cross providence, they are both to join with Job’s spirit, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away” etc. [Job 1.21]. But especially to the soul; in praying together, for, and with one another. In taking notice of the beginning and least measure of grace, and approving the same. In conferring about such things as concern the same, mutually propounding questions, and giving answers one to another. In maintaining holy and religious exercises in the family, and betwixt their own selves, in stirring up one another to hear the Word, to receive the Sacraments, and conscionably to perform all the parts of God’s public worship. In case the one prove unconverted, let the other wait, and pray, and expect God’s good time. Or in case the one be a babe in Christ, or weak in Christianity, let the other deal fairly, lovingly, meekly, and let our Lord Jesus his tender-heartedness to spiritual younglings, teach us mercy this way, who is said to “gather the Lambs with his arms, and to carry them in his bosom, and gently to lead those that are with young” [Isa. 40.11].
2. The proper and peculiar duties to each severally, are—
1. Of the husband, whose duty it is, 1. That he dearly love his wife. 2. That he wisely maintain and manage his authority over her.
1. That he dearly love his wife.
For the former, 1. The matter of it is a dear love, a special love, and a more special then that common mutual love to one another. No question the wife is to love her husband, and a brother to love his brother, and a friend to love his friend; but more especially, or with a more special love, is the husband to love his wife. To this purpose she is called, “the wife of his bosom” [Deut. 13.6]; to shew, that she ought to be as his heart in his bosom. He must love her at all times, he must love her in all things. Love must season and sweeten his speech, carriage, and actions towards her. Love must shew itself in his commands, reproofs, admonitions, instructions, authority, familiarity with her. The rise of which love must not be from her beauty, nobility, or because she contents and pleaseth her husband, but especially because she is his sister in the profession of Christian Religion, and an inheritor with him of the Kingdom of Heaven. Because of her graces and virtues, as modesty, chastity, diligence, patience, temperance, faithfulness, secrecy, obedience, etc. Because she bears and brings him forth children, the heirs of his name and substance, and the upholder of his family. And because of the union and conjunction of marriage. Love growing on beauty, riches, lust, or any other slight grounds, is but a blaze, and soon vanisheth. But if grounded on these considerations, and especially on this union of marriage, it is lasting and true. The want hereof is the fountain of strife, quarreling, debate—which converts the Paradise of marriage into an Hell.
2. For the manner of this love; the Apostle gives it thus, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church” [Eph. 5.25]. Now the love of Christ to his Church, is commended to us in these particulars:
1. In the case of his love, which is his love: He set his love on you, because he loved you [Deut. 7.7]. His love arose wholly and solely from himself, and was every way free. So should husbands love their wives, though there be nothing in wives to move them, but merely because they are wives.
2. In the order of his love: Christ began it to the Church, before the Church could love him. And as a wall is first smitten on by the sun-beams, before it give a reflection of her heat back again: so the Church is first heated and warmed at heart by the sense of Christ’s love, before she love him again: “We love him, because he loved us first” [1 John 4.19]. “Because of the savour of thy ointments, therefore do the virgins love thee” [Cant. 1.3]. So should husbands begin to love their own wives. I know some wives prevent their husbands herein, and there may be reason for it; but the greater is their glory. This pattern of Christ should rather stir up the husbands to go before them.
3. In the truth of Christ’s love: This was manifested by the fruits thereof to his Church. “He gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it. and cleanse it, and present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle” [Eph. 5.26-27]. So must husbands love their wives in truth and indeed, by guiding them in the way of life, and path that is holy; for this is the truest character of a sincere love.
4. In the quality of his love: Christ’s love is an holy, pure, and chaste love. As he himself is, so is his love. Such must be the love of husbands, an holy, pure, and chaste love. Away with all intemperate, excessive, or anyway exorbitant pollutions of the marriage-bed! From which, if the fear of God, imitation of Christ, love of purity, awfulness of God’s all-seeing eye cannot draw, yet that slavish horror, lest God should punish such a couple with no children, or with misshapen children, or with idiots, or with prodigious wicked children, or with some other heavy cross; one would think should be able to affright them.
5. In the continuance of Christ’s love: Having loved his own, he loved them to the end. His love is a constant love, an everlasting love. No provocation or transgressions could ever make him forget his love. “Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers, yet return unto me.” Jer. 3.1. Such must be the love of husbands, affirm love, an inviolable love. The ground of it must be God’s ordinance, and the support of it must be an inviolable resolution, that no provocation shall ever change or alter it. Husbands must pass by all infirmities, endeavoring in love to redress them, if possibly they can; or if not, to bear with them.
2. That he wisely maintain and manage his authority over her.
The second duty of an husband is, wisely to maintain and manage his authority. Now the managing of it consists in two things:
1. That he tenderly respect her.
2. That he carefully provide for her.
1. He must tenderly respect her, as his wife, companion, yoke-fellow, as his very delight and the desire of his eyes, and never be bitter against her. This bitterness ordinarily turneth the edge of his authority. If therefore any matter of unkindness arise (as sometimes certainly will) then must he carefully with all lenity [tenderness or mercy], gentleness, and patience quiet all, and never suffer himself nor his wife to sleep in displeasure. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” [Eph. 4.26]. Or if he shall have occasion to reprove her, he must keep his words until a convenient time, and not do it in presence of others. And then utter them in the spirit of meekness and love. Surely if she be not corrected by a word of wisdom and discretion, she will never amend by threats, or any hasty, rigorous carriage. And if she once begin to lose her shamefacedness in the presence of her husband, it is likely there will be often brawlings and quarelings betwixt them, and the house will be full of disquietness. It is best therefore to deal wisely with her, to admonish her often, to reprehend her seldom, never to lay violent hands on her. And if she be dutiful, to cherish her, that she may so continue. If wayward, mildly to suffer her, that she wax not worse.
2. He must carefully provide for her. To this purpose he is called her head and saviour, as Christ is the Head of his Church, and the Saviour of the Body. The head (you know) is the fountain of motion, quickening, life, sense, and lightsomeness to the body. So should the husband be as the well-spring of liveliness, lightsomeness, lightheartedness to his wife. She hath forsook all for him, and therefore she should receive from him a continual influence of cheerful walking, and comfortable enjoying of herself. And a saviour (you know) both provides for, and protects the saved. Christ thus saved his Church. He is every way a sufficient Saviour, “able perfectly to save, even to the very uttermost“ [Heb. 7.25]. He saves soul and body, he saves from all manner of misery, from the wrath of God, the curse of the Law, the venom of all outward crosses, the tyranny of Satan, the sting of death, the power of the grave, the torments of Hell. Or, if sin be the greatest evil (as indeed it is) “he will save his people from their sins;” Mat. 1.21. I cannot say thus of the husband; yet an husband carrieth a resemblance of Christ, and is after a manner a saviour to his wife, to protect her and to provide for her. David compares her to a vine, intimating that as a vine is underpropped and raised by some tree or frame near to which it is planted, so is the wife raised to the height of honour by virtue of her relation to her husband. By his wealth she is enriched; by his honour she is dignified. He is under God and Christ, all in all to her. In the family, he is a King to govern and aid her; a Priest, to pray with her and for her; a Prophet, to teach and instruct her; a Saviour to provide for, and protect her to his utmost, if not to the utmost—which indeed is proper and peculiar to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Duties proper to the Wife.
1. That she be in submission to her husband.
2. That she be an helper to him all her days.
“Wives must be in subjection to their own Husbands: Sarah obeyed Abraham, and called him Lord” (Gen. 3.16; Eph. 5.22; 1 Pet. 3.16). But here is a case of conscience:
1. What if her husband be a son of Belial, an enemy to Christ? Must she then yield subjection? — Yes: because in his office her husband is as in Christ’s stead. The Church is compared to “a lily among thorns” [Cant. 2.2], she remains lily-like; white, soft, pleasant, and amiable, though she be joined with thorns, which are prickly and sharp. So a wife must be meek, mild, gentle, obedient, though she be matched with a crooked, perverse, profane and wicked husband. She must in this case remove her eyes from the disposition of her husband’s person, to the condition of his place; and by virtue thereof (seeing he beareth Christ’s image) be subject unto him as unto Christ.
2. What if her husband command things contrary to Christ? Must she therein be subject? — No: “Submit,” How? “as unto the Lord” [Eph. 5.22]. If she submits to things contrary to Christ, she submits not “as unto the Lord.” Conscientious wives must remember, they have an husband in Heaven, as well as on Earth, betwixt whom there is a greater difference, than betwixt Heaven and Earth. And therefore in case they bid contrary things, they must prefer God before man, Christ before all men.
2. Wives must be helpers to their husbands.
Now this helpfulness consists in these things:
1. That she be careful to preserve his person, in sickness or in health, in adversity, or prosperity, in youth or old age.
A most memorable and famous pattern for this purpose, is recorded by Uves [Vives]:
“A young, tender, and beautiful maid was matched to a man stricken in years, whom after marriage she found to have a very diseased body, full of loathful diseases. Yet notwithstanding, out of sense and conscience, that by God’s providence she was become his wife, she most worthily digested all with incredible patience. Friends and physicians advised her by no means to come near him, and for their parts, they utterly forsook him. But she (passing by with a loving disdain those unkind dissuasions) becomes to him in their stead, friend, physician, nurse, mother, sister, daughter, servant, everything, anything to do him good any manner of way. At last by extraordinary expense, and excessive charges about him, she came to some want of some necessaries; whereupon she sold her rings, chains, richest attire, plate, and choicest jewels. And when he was dead, and friends came about her, rather to congratulate her happy riddance, than to bewail her widowhood, she not only abhorred all speeches tending that way, but protested, if it were possible, she would willingly redeem her husband’s life with the loss of her five dearest children.” (Ioannes Lodovicus Vives, de Christiana foemina, Lib. a, p. 360).
Whence it appears that this worthy woman was wedded to her husband’s soul, not to his body; seeing no infirmity or deformity thereof, could cool or weaken the fervency of her love.
2. That she learn and labour to forecast, contrive, and manage household affairs, and business within doors, as they say: for which see a right noble glorious pattern in Proverbs 31.
3. That she help her husband, in setting forward the rich and royal trade of grace, in erecting and establishing Christ’s glorious Kingdom in their house, and especially in their own hearts. This is that one necessary thing, without which their family is but Satan’s Seminary, and a Nursery for Hell. This will marvelously sweeten all reproaches, cast upon them by envenomed tongues. This will sweetly seal unto them their assurance of meeting together hereafter in Heaven.
Where the husband and wife perform these and the like duties; there’s an happy family, there’s a college of quietness; where these are neglected, we may term it an Hell.
Thus much of the duties of governours; we now come to the governed.
SECTION VI. Of the Duties of Children to Parents.
Duties of children to parents, are either inward, as love and fear; or outward, as reverence, obedience, and recompense.
1. The inward duties which children owe to their parents, are love and fear. Love like sugar, sweetens fear, and fear like salt, seasons love. There must be a loving fear, and a fearing love. Hence the fear of a child is opposed to the fear of a slave; for a child’s fear being mixt with love, hath respect to the offence which a parent may take. But a slave’s fear, which is ordinarily mixed with hatred, hath respect to nothing but the punishment which his master may inflict upon him. This love-like fear is so proper to children, as that the awful respect which the saints bear to God, is called a filial fear. Children have received their substance, from the very substance of their parents, and therefore they are to perform this duty of love and fear to them.
2. The outward duties, or the manifestation of this love and fear in children, appears:
1. In their reverence, in speech and carriage: They must give to their parents reverent and honourable titles, meek and humble speeches, obedience, as becomes their age and sex. Thus Joseph and Solomon bowed, the one to his father, the other to his mother (Gen. 48.12; 1 Kin. 2.19). Contrary hereto is mocking and despising father and mother: of which, said Solomon, “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out;” Prov. 13.17. A phrase that sets forth the end of a notorious malefactor, that is hanged in the air till the ravens pick out his eyes.
2. In their obedience to their commands, instructions, reproofs, and corrections of their parents (Eph. 6.1; Prov. 1.8-9). The reason is because of God, whom the father represents, children must remember that whatever they do to their parents, they do it to God. When they please them, they please God. When their parents are justly angry with them, God is angry with them. Nor can they recover God’s favour (though all the saints of Heaven should intreat for them) till they have submitted themselves to their own parents. Only with this limitation, that they submit or obey them “in the Lord,“ Eph. 6.1.
3. In their recompense: This is a duty whereby children endeavour (as much as in them lies) to repay what they can for the parents’ kindness, care, and cost towards them, in way of thankfulness. “If any widow have children, or nephews, let them first learn to shew kindness at home, and to requite their parents,“ 1 Tim. 5.4. In sickness, they must visit them; in the time of mourning, they must comfort them; in want, they must provide for them. As the children of Jacob, who visited, comforted, and went to buy food for their father (Gen. 48.1; 37.35; and 42.3). In time of danger, they must endeavour their protection; as David did, 1 Sam. 22.3-4. “Let my Father and Mother“ (said he to the King of Moab) “I pray thee, come forth and be with you, till I know what God will do for me: And he brought them before the King of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.“
If God please to take children out of this world before their parents, and their parents be succourless, they must (as they can) provide for their well-being after their deaths. Thus Christ commended his mother to his disciple John, a little before he gave up the ghost. It is recorded of the stork, that when the dams are old, the young ones feed them; and when through age they are ready to faint in their flying, the young ones help them; and when they are past flying, the young ones carry them on their weak backs. Thus nature teaches children their duty, how much more should grace?
SECTION VII. Of the Duties of Servants to their Masters.
Duties of servants to their masters are either inward, as fear, outward, as reverence and obedience.
1. The inward duty is fear: “Servants be subject to your masters with all fear“ [1 Peter 2.18] and “account them worthy of all honour” [1 Tim. 6.1]. So proper is this fear to a servant, as where it is wanting, there is a plain denial of his master’s place and power. “If I be a master, where is my fear?” [Mal. 1.6] said God. Observe, I mean not an excessive slavish fear; as when a servant fears nothing but the revenging power of his master (such was the fear of that unprofitable servant, who could say to his master, “I knew that thou wert an hard man, and I was afraid” [Mat. 25.24]) but I mean an awful fear of provoking his master’s wrath, so as it makes him cast every way, how he may please his master, and such a fear draws him on cheerfully to perform his duty.
2. Outward duties, which issue from this fear, are reverence and obedience.
1. Reverence, which is manifested in speech and carriage. Thus servants must give reverend titles to their masters, as father, lord, master, etc. They must yield obeisance to them; as “the children of the prophets, when they saw that the Spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha, they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him” [2 Kings 2.15].
2. Obedience; which hath respect to the commands, instructions, reproofs and corrections of their masters, 1 Pet. 2.18-20. But here’s a case or two of conscience:
1. How far they must obey; or what is the extent of servants; obedience to masters? The Apostle answers, “Servants obey in all things your masters according to the flesh,“ Col. 3.22. It is not sufficient that servants perform well their duties in some things; they must do it in “all things.“ Yea in things that may be against their own mind and liking, if their masters will have it so. This is clear in the example of Joab, the king commands him to number the people: Joab declares himself, that he thinks it a very unmeet thing. “Why doth my lord the king delight (saith he) in this thing?”, etc. 2 Sam. 24.2. Yet against his judgment he yields unto the king’s peremptory command, “The king’s word prevailed against Joab.” Look as Peter, when Christ bid him launch out into the deep, and let down his net for a draught, “he answered and said, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net” [Luke 5.5]. So must servants say, when they have a peremptory command, though contrary to their own judgments, this or that in all humility, I suppose, or I propound to you, “Nevertheless, at your word I will let down the net,”—I will do as you please.
2. But what if God and master should command contrary things? In such a case the Apostle sets down an excellent limitation in these four phrases: 1. As unto Christ. 2. As the servants of Christ. 3. Doing the will of God. 4. As to the Lord. [Eph. 6.5-7]. All these imply that if masters command their servants anything contrary to Christ, they may not yield to it. Upon this ground the midwives of the Hebrew women, would not kill the Hebrew children, “They feared God (saith the text) and did not as the King commanded them,“ Exod. 1.17. In this case, Joseph is commended, in not hearkening to his mistress [Gen. 39]; and the servants of Saul are commended, for refusing to slay the Lord’s priests, at their masters command [1 Sam. 22.17]. When masters command or forbid anything against God and Christ, they go therein beyond their commission, and their authority ceaseth. So that servants may say, “We ought to obey God rather than Men,“ Acts 5.29.
Objection. But some may object that all men are alike, and that there is no difference as betwixt masters and servants; nay, it is expressly forbidden to be servants of men. 1 Cor. 7.23.
I answer, to be a servant, in that place, is not simply to be in subjection under another, but to be so obsequious to man, as to prefer him before God. Hence the Apostle elsewhere in the duties of servants, lays down this antithesis, “not as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ” [Eph. 6.6]; again, “doing service as to the Lord, and not to men“ [Eph. 6.7]. The meaning is that we must do duty to a master, not as merely to a man, but as to one in Christ’s stead. Masters, by virtue of their office and place, bear the image of Christ. Christ communicates his authority unto them, and so in performing duty to masters, we perform duty to Christ, and in denying duty to masters, we deny duty to Christ. Thus the Lord said to Samuel, when the people rejected his government, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” [1 Sam. 8.7]. Consider this, all ye that are servants: Though masters should neither reward your good service, nor revenge your ill service, yet Christ will do both. This is your prerogative that fear God, above all other servants. Others may serve their masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, and with good will, but only Christians and saints do service as to Christ; and this makes them not to content themselves with doing the thing, but to endeavour to do it after the best manner they can, so as God and Christ may accept of it.
I have now run through the family, and informed you of the duties both of governours and governed. Christians, look within you, look about you. “That man is not a good man, that is not good in all his relations.“ The same God that requires us to serve him as private persons, requires us to serve him in our relations. And therefore, though you be never so careful of your duty in the former respect, yet you may go to Hell for neglecting your duties, as masters, servants, husbands, wives, parents, or children. Nay, I’ll say a little more, that though you should be good in one relation, yet if you endeavour not to be good in every relation, you shall never go to Heaven: for the same God that commands you to serve him as a master, commands you to serve him as a Father, as an Husband, etc. “And he that keeps the whole Law, and offends in one point, is guilty of all,” James 2.10.
F I N I S.