HAIL & FIRE - a resource for Reformed and Gospel Theology in the works, exhortations, prayers, and apologetics of those who have maintained the Gospel and expounded upon the Scripture as the Eternal Word of God and the sole authority in Christian doctrine.
"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psa 119:105 KJV
"These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:11 NKJV
"Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" Eph 6:17 KJV
"But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." Mat 23:8-12 KJV
ON THE SCRIPTURES
You shall all be taught of God: "Read the Scriptures as profitable Scriptures with the intention to profit. If you do not read with such a purpose, you read not the Scriptures of God, they become as another book unto you. ... But what are they profitable for? For doctrine, and a divine doctrine, a doctrine of life and happiness. It is the great promise of the new covenant, 'You shall be all taught of God.' The Scriptures can make a man learned and wise, learned to salvation, it is foolishness to the world, 'but the world through wisdom knew not God.' Alas! What then do they know? Is there any besides God? And is there any knowledge besides the knowledge of God? ... The doctrine of Jesus Christ written on the heart is a deep profound learning and the poor, simple, rudest people may, by the Spiritís teaching, become wiser than their ancients and than their ministers. Oh, it is an excellent point of learning, to know how to be saved. ... If you would seek unto God and seek eyes opened to behold the mystery of the word, you would become wiser than your pastors, you would learn from the Spirit to pray better, you would find the way to heaven better than they can teach you or walk in it."
Hugh Binning, "The Common Principles of the Christian Religion"
ON THE SCRIPTURES
"An awakened mind that thirsts after the Saviour, and seeks wisdom by reading and praying over the Scripture, has little occasion [necessity] for a library of human writings. The Bible is the fountain from whence every stream that deserves our notice is drawn ... we have personally an equal right with others to apply immediately to the fountain-head, and draw the water of life for ourselves. The purest streams are not wholly freed from the gout de terrior, - a twang of the soil through which they run; a mixture of human infirmity is inseparable from the best human composition; but in the fountain the truth is unmixed."
John Newton, QUOTES
HOME > Library > Books > "Certain Sermons or Homilies Appointed to be Read in Churches in the Time of Queen Elizabeth" > Sermon: "An Homily on the State of Matrimony"
~ Sermon ~
An Homily on the State of Matrimony
The word of Almighty God doth testify and declare whence the original beginning of matrimony cometh, and why it is ordained. It is instituted of God, to the intent that man and woman should live lawfully in a perpetual friendly fellowship, to bring forth fruit, and to avoid fornication: by which means a good conscience might be preserved on both parties in bridling the corrupt inclinations of the flesh within the limits of honesty; for God hath straitly forbidden all whoredom and uncleanness, and hath from time to time taken grievous punishments of this inordinate lust, as all stories and ages hath declared. Furthermore, it is also ordained, that the Church of God and his kingdom might by this kind of life be conserved and enlarged, not only in that God giveth children by his blessing, but also in that they be brought up by the parents godly in the knowledge of God's word; that thus the knowledge of God and true religion might be delivered by succession from one to another, that finally many might enjoy that everlasting immortality.
Wherefore, forasmuch as matrimony serveth as well to avoid sin and offence as to encrease the kingdom of God, you, as all other which enter that state, must acknowledge this benefit of God with pure and thankful minds, for that he hath so ruled your hearts that ye follow not the example of the wicked world, who set their delight in filthiness of sin, where both of you stand in the fear of God, and abhor all filthiness. For that is surely the singular gift of God, where the common example of the world declareth how the devil hath their hearts bound and entangled in divers snares, so that they in their wifeless state run into open abominations without any grudge of their conscience. Which sort of men that liveth so desperately and filthily, what damnation tarrieth for them St. Paul describeth it to them,
But yet I would not have you careless, without watching. For the devil will assay to attempt all things to interrupt and hinder your hearts and godly purpose, if ye will give him any entry. For he will either labour to break this godly knot once begun betwixt you, or else at the least he will labour to encomber it with divers griefs and displeasures. And this is his principal craft, to work dissension of hearts of the one from the other; that, whereas now there is pleasant and sweet love betwixt you, he will in the stead thereof bring in most bitter and unpleasant discord. And surely that same adversary of ours doth, as it were from above, assault man's nature and condition. For this folly is ever from our tender age grown up with us, to have a desire to rule, to think highly by ourself, so that none thinketh it meet to give place to another. That wicked vice of stubborn will and self love is more meet to break and to dissever the love of heart, than to preserve concord. Wherefore married persons must apply their minds in most earnest wise to concord, and must crave continually of God the help of his Holy Spirit, so to rule their hearts and to knit their minds together, that they be not dissevered by any division of discord.
This necessity of prayer must be oft in the occupying and using of married persons, that ofttime the one should pray for the other, lest hate and debate do arise betwixt them. And because few do consider this thing, but more few do perform it, (I say, to pray diligently,) we see how wonderfully the devil deludeth and scorneth this state, how few matrimonies there be without chidings, brawlings, tauntings, repentings, bitter cursings, and fightings. Which things whosoever doth commit, they do not consider that it is the instigation of the ghostly enemy, who taketh great delight therein: for else they would with all earnest endeavour strive against these mischiefs, not only with prayer, but also with all possible diligence; yea, they would not give place to the provocation of wrath, which stirreth them either to such rough and sharp words or stripes, which is surely compassed by the devil: whose temptation, if it be followed, must needs begin and weave the web of all miseries and sorrows. For this is most certainly true, that of such beginnings must needs ensue the breach of true concord in heart, whereby all love must needs shortly be banished. Then cannot it be but a miserable thing to behold, that yet they are of necessity compelled to live together, which yet cannot be in quiet together. And this is most customably every where to be seen. But what is the cause thereof? Forsooth, because they will not consider the crafty trains of the devil, and therefore giveth not themselves to pray to God that he would vouchsafe to repress his power. Moreover, they do not consider how they promote the purpose of the devil, in that they follow the wrath of their hearts, while they threat one another, while they in their folly turn all upside down, while they will never give over their right, as they esteem it, yea, while many times they will not give over the wrong part indeed. Learn thou therefore, if thou desirest to be void of all these miseries, if thou desirest to live peaceably and comfortably in wedlock, how to make thy earnest prayer to God, that he would govern both your hearts by his Holy Spirit, to restrain the devil's power, whereby your concord may remain perpetually.
But to this prayer must be joined a singular diligence, whereof St. Peter giveth his precept, saying, You husbands, deal with your wives
Howbeit, the common sort of men do judge that such moderation should not become a man: for they say that it is a token of a womanish cowardness; and therefore they think that it is a man's part to fume in anger, to fight with fist and staff. Howbeit, howsoever they imagine, undoubtedly St. Peter doth better judge what should be seeming to a man, and what he should most reasonably perform. For he saith reasoning should be used, and not fighting. Yea, he saith more, that the woman ought to have a certain honour attributed to her; that is to say, she must be spared and borne with, the rather for that she is the weaker vessel, of a frail heart, inconstant, and with a word soon stirred to wrath. And therefore, considering these her frailties, she is to be the rather spared.
By this means thou shalt not only nourish concord, but shalt have her heart in thy power and will; for honest natures will sooner be retained to do their duty rather by gentle words than by stripes. But he which will do all things with extremity and severity, and doth use always rigour in words and stripes, what will that avail in the conclusion? Verily nothing but that he thereby setteth forward the devil's work; he banisheth away concord, charity, and sweet amity, and bringeth in dissension, hatred, and irksomeness, the greatest griefs that can be in the mutual love and fellowship of man's life. Beyond all this, it bringeth another evil therewith; for it is the destruction and interruption of prayer. For in the time that the mind is occupied with dissension and discord there can be no true prayer used. For the Lord's Prayer hath not only a respect to particular persons, but to the whole universal; in the which we openly pronounce that we will forgive them which hath offended against us, even as we ask forgiveness of our sins of God. Which thing how can it be done rightly, when their hearts be at dissension? How can they pray each for other, when they be at hate betwixt themselves? Now, if the aid of prayer be taken away, by what means can they sustain themselves in any comfort? For they cannot otherwise either resist the devil, or yet have their hearts stayed in stable comfort in all perils and necessities, but by prayer. Thus all discommodities, as well worldly as ghostly, follow this froward testiness and comberous fierceness in manners; which be more meet for brute beasts than for reasonable creatures. St. Peter doth not allow these things, but the devil desireth them gladly. Wherefore take the more heed. And yet a man may be a man, although he doth not use such extremity, yea, though he should dissemble some things in his wife's manners. And this is the part of a Christian man, which both pleaseth God, and serveth also in good use to the comfort of their marriage state.
Now as concerning the wife's duty. What shall become her? Shall she abuse the gentleness and humanity of her husband, and at her pleasure turn all things upside down? No surely; for that is far repugnant against God's commandment. For thus doth St. Peter preach to them;
Howbeit, it can scantly be but that some offences shall sometime chance betwixt them: for no man doth live without fault; specially for that the woman is the more frail part. Therefore let them beware that they stand not in their faults and wilfulness; but rather let them acknowledge their follies, and say, My husband, so it is, that by my anger I was compelled to do this or that: forgive it me, and hereafter I will take better heed.
This let the wife have ever in mind, the rather admonished thereto by the apparel of her head, whereby is signified that she is under covert and obedience of her husband.
But peradventure she will say that those men loved their wives indeed. I know that well enough, and bear it well in mind. But, when I do admonish you of your duties, then call not to consideration what their duties be. For, when we ourselves do teach our children to obey us as their parents, or when we reform our servants, and tell them that they should obey their masters, not only at the eye, but as to the Lord9; if they should tell us again our duties, we would not think it well done.
Even thus was it done in old time, that every one did their own duty and office, and was not busy to require the duty of their neighbours. Consider, I pray thee, that Abraham took to him his brother's son11: his wife did not blame him therefore. He commanded him
But yet I mean not that a man should beat his wife. God forbid that; for that is the greatest shame that can be, not so much to her that is beaten, as to him that doeth the deed. But, if by such fortune thou chancest upon such an husband, take it not too heavily; but suppose thou that thereby is laid up no small reward hereafter, and in this lifetime no small commendation to thee, if thou canst be quiet. But yet to you that be men thus I speak: let there be none so grievous fault to compel you to beat your wives. But what say I your wives? No, it is not to be borne with that an honest man should lay hands on his maidservant to beat her. Wherefore, if it be a great shame for a man to beat his bondservant, much more rebuke it is to lay violent hands upon his freewoman. And this thing may we well understand by the laws which the paynims hath made, which doth discharge her any longer to dwell with such an husband, as unworthy to have any further company with her, that doth smite her. For it is an extreme point thus so vilely to entreat her like a slave, that is fellow to thee of thy life, and so conjoined unto thee beforetime in the necessary matters of thy living. And therefore a man may well liken such a man, if he may be called a man rather
But peradventure thou wilt object that the woman provoketh thee to this point. But consider thou again that the woman is a frail vessel, and thou art therefore made the ruler and head over her, to bear the weakness of her in this her subjection. And therefore study thou to declare the honest commendation of thine authority; which thou canst no ways better do than to forbear to utter her in her weakness and subjection. For, even as the king appeareth so much the more noble, the more excellent and noble he maketh his officers and lieutenants, whom if he should dishonour, and despise the authority of their dignity, he should deprive himself of a great part of his own honour; even so, if thou dost despise her that is set in the next room beside thee, thou dost much derogate and decay the excellency and virtue of thine own authority. Recount all these things in thy mind, and be gentle and quiet. Understand that God hath, given thee children with her, and art made a father, and by such reason appease thyself. Dost not thou see the husbandmen, what diligence they use to till that ground which once they have taken to farm, though it be never so full of faults? As for an example, though it be dry, though it bringeth forth weeds, though the soil cannot bear too much wet, yet he tilleth it, and so winneth fruit thereof. Even in like manner, if thou wouldest use like diligence to instruct and order the mind of thy spouse, if thou wouldest diligently apply thyself to weed out by little and little the noisome weeds of uncomely manners out of her mind with wholesome precepts, it could not be but in time thou shouldest feel the pleasant fruit thereof to both your comforts. Therefore, that this thing chance not so, perform this thing that I do here counsel thee. Whensoever any displeasant matter riseth at home, if thy wife hath done aught amiss, comfort her, and increase not the heaviness. For, though thou shouldest be grieved with never so many things, yet thou shalt find nothing more grievous than to want the benevolence of thy wife at home; what offence soever thou canst name, yet shalt thou find
But thou peradventure wilt say, that she is a wrathful woman, a drunkard, a beastly, without wit and reason. For this cause bewail her the more. Chafe not in anger, but pray to Almighty God. Let her be admonished and holpen with good counsel, and do thou thy best endeavour that she may be delivered of all these affections. But, if thou shouldest beat her, thou shalt increase her evil affections; for frowardness and sharpness is not amended with frowardness, but with softness and gentleness. Furthermore, consider what reward thou shalt have at God's hand: for, where thou mightest beat her, and yet for the respect of the fear of God thou wilt abstain and bear patiently her great offences, the rather in respect of that law which forbiddeth that a man should cast out his wife, what fault soever she be combred with, thou shalt have a very great reward. And before the receipt of that reward thou shalt feel many commodities; for by this means she shall be made the more obedient, and thou for her sake shalt be made the more meek. It is written in a story of a certain strange philosopher, which had a cursed wife, a froward, and a drunkard; when he was asked for what consideration he did so bear her evil manners, he made answer, "By this means," said he, "I have at home a schoolmaster, and an example how I should behave myself abroad: for I shall," saith he, "be the more quiet with other, being thus daily exercised and taught in the forbearing of her.'' Surely it is a shame that paynims should be wiser than we; we, I say, that be commanded to counterfeit angels, or rather God himself thorough meekness. And for the love of virtue this said philosopher Socrates would not expel his wife out of his house; yea, some say that he did therefore marry his wife, to learn this virtue by that occasion. Wherefore, seeing many men be far behind the wisdom of this man, my counsel is, that first and before all things, that man do his best endeavour to get him a good wife, indued with all honesty and virtue; but, if it so chance that he is deceived, that he hath chosen such a wife as is neither good nor tolerable, then let the husband follow this philosopher, and let him instruct his wife in every condition, and never lay these matters to sight. For the merchant man, except he first be at composition with his factor to use his interaffairs quietly, he will neither stir his ship to sail, nor yet will lay hands upon his merchandise. Even so let us do all things that we may have the fellowship of our wives, which is the factor of all our doings at home, in great quiet and rest. And by these means all things shall prosper quietly, and so shall we pass through the dangers of the troublous sea of this world. For this state of life will be more honourable and comfortable than our houses, than servants, than money, than lands and possessions, than all things that can be told. As all these, with sedition and discord, can never work us any comfort; so shall all things turn to our commodity and pleasure, if we draw this yoke in one concord of heart and mind.
Whereupon do your best endeavour that after this sort ye use your matrimony, and so shall ye be armed on every side. Ye have escaped the snares of the devil and the unlawful lusts of the flesh, ye have the quietness of conscience, by this institution of matrimony ordained by God: therefore use oft prayer to him, that he would be present by you, that he would continue concord and charity betwixt you. Do the best ye can of your parts to custom yourselves to softness and meekness, and bear well in worth such oversights as chance; and thus shall your conversation be most pleasant and comfortable. And although (which can no otherwise be) some adversities shall follow, and otherwhiles now one discommodity, now another, shall appear, yet in this common trouble and adversity lift up both your hands unto heaven; call upon the help and assistance of God, the Author of your marriage; and surely the promise of relief is at hand. For Christ affirmeth in his Gospel, Where two or three be gathered
Therefore give thanks to God for his great benefit, in that ye have taken upon you this state of wedlock; and pray you instantly that Almighty God may luckily defend and maintain you therein, that neither ye be overcomed with any temptation nor with any adversity. But before all things take good heed that ye give no occasion to the devil to let and hinder your prayers by discord and dissension. For there is no stronger defence and stay in all our life than is prayer: in the which we may call for the help of God, and obtain it; whereby we may win his blessing, his grace, his defence, and protection, so to continue therein to a better life to come. Which grant us he that died for us all: to whom be all honour and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
"An Homily on the State of Matrimony," a sermon from "Certain Sermons or Homilies Appointed to be Read in Churches in the Time of Queen Elizabeth of Famous Memory," (1864 Edition)
"The Holy scriptures ... are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" 2 Tim 3:15-17 KJV
Copyright © HAIL and FIRE