PREACHED AT A MARRIAGE.
Genesis ii. 18.
And the Lord God said, It is not good, that the man should be alone; I will make him a help, meet for him.
In the creation of the world, when God stocked the earth, and the sea, with those creatures, which were to be the seminary, and foundation, and root of all that should ever be propagated in either of those elements, and when he had made man, to rule over them, he spoke to man, and to other creatures, in one and the same phrase, and form of speech, Crescite, et multiplicamini, Be fruitful, and multiply; and thereby imprinted in man, and in VOL. iv. c
other creatures, a natural desire to conserve, and propagate their kind by way of generation. But after God had thus imprinted in man, the same natural desire of propagation, which he had infused into other creatures too, after he had. communicated to him that blessing, (for it is so said, God blessed them, and said, Be fruitful, and multiply1) till an ability and a desire of propagating their kind, was infused into the creature, there is no mention of any blessing in the creation; after God had made men partakers of that blessing, that natural desire of propagation, he takes a farther care of man, in giving him a proper and peculiar blessing, in contracting and limiting that natural desire of his: he leaves all other creatures to their general use and execution of that commission, crescite et multiplicamini, the male was to take the female when and where their natural desire provoked them; but, for man, adduxit Deu s ad Adam; God left not them to go to one another, but God brought the woman to the mans: and so this conjunction, this desire of propagation, though it be natural in man, as in other creatures, by his creation, yet it is limited by God himself, to be exercised only between such persons, as God hath brought together in marriage, according to his institution, and ordinance. Though then societies of men do grow up, and spread themselves into towns, and into cities, and into kingdoms, yet the root of all societies is in families, in the relation between man and wife, parents and children, masters and servants: so though the state of the children of God, in this world be dignified by the name of a kingdom, (for so we pray by Christ's own institution, Thy kingdom come, and so Christ says, Ecce regnum, The kingdom of God is amongst you3) and though the state of God's children here, be called a city, a new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven*, and in David, glorious things are spoken of thee, 0 city of God\ yet for all these glorious titles of city and kingdom, we must remember, that it is called a family too; the household of the faithful: and so the apostle says, in preferring Christ before Moses, that Christ as the Son was over God^s house, whose house we are6. So that, both of civil and of spiritual societies, the first root is a family; and of families, the
1 Gen. i. 22, 28. * Gen. ii. 22. 8 Luke xvii. 21.
* Rev. xxi. 2. 5 Psalm Lxxxvii. 3. 6 Heb. iii. 6.
first root is marriage; and of marriage, the first root that grows out into words, is in this text; and the Lord God said, It is not good, Sec.
If we should employ this exercise only upon these two general considerations, first, that God puts even his care and his study to find out what is good for man, and secondly, that God doth provide and furnish whatsoever he finds to be necessary, faciam, I will make him a helper, though they be common places, we are bound to thank God that they are so; that it is a common place to God, that he ever does it towards us, that it is a common place to us, that we ever acknowledge it in him. But you may be pleased to admit a more particular distribution. For, upon the first, will be grounded this consideration, that in regard of the public good, God pretermits private, and particular respects; for God doth not say, non bonum homini, it is not good for man to be alone, man might have done well enough so; nor God does not say, non bonum hunc hominem, it is not good for this, or that particular man to be alone; but non bonum, hominem, it is not good in the general, for the whole frame of the world, that man should be alone, because then both God's purposes had been frustrated, of being glorified by man here, in this world, and of glorifying man, in the world to come; for neither of these could have been done, without a succession, and propagation of man; and therefore, non bonum hominem, it was not good, that man should be alone. And then upon the second consideration, will arise these branches; first, that whatsoever the defect be, there is no remedy, but from God; for it is, faciam, I will do it. Secondly, that even the works of God, are not equally excellent; this is but faciam, it is not faciamus; in the creation of man, there is intimated a consultation, a deliberation of the whole Trinity; in the making of woman, it is not expressed so; it is but faciam. And then, that that is made here, is but adjutorium, but an accessory, not a principal; but a helper. First the wife must be so much, she must help; and then she must be no more, she must not govern. But she cannot be that, except she have that quality, which God intended in the first woman, adjutorium simile sibi, a helper fit for him: for otherwise he will ever return, to the bomm esse solum, it had been better for him, to have been alone, than, in the likeness of a helper, to have ha l a wife unfit for him.
First then, that in regard of the public good, God pretermits private respects, if we take examples upon that stage, upon that scene, the face of nature, we see that for the conservation of the whole, God hath imprinted in the particulars, a disposition to depart from their own nature: water will clamber up hills, and air will sink down into vaults, rather than admit vacuity. But take the example nearer, in God's bosom, and there we see, that for the public, for the redemption of the whole world, God hath (shall we say, pretermitted ?) derelicted, forsaken, abandoned, his own, and only Son. Do you so too? Regnum Dei intra nos; The kingdom of God is within you; planted in your election; watered in your baptism; fattened with the blood of Christ Jesus, ploughed up with many calamities, and tribulations; weeded with often repentances of particular sins; the kingdom of God is within you; and will ye not depart from private affections, from ambition and covetousness, from excess,'and voluptuousness, from chambering and wantonness, in which the kingdom of God doth not consist, for the conservation of this kingdom? will ye not pray for this kingdom, in your private, and public devotions? will ye not fast for this kingdom, in cutting off superfluities? will ye not fight for this kingdom, in resisting suggestions? will ye not take counsel for this kingdom, in consulting with religious friends? will ye not give subsidies for this kingdom, in relieving their necessities, for whom God hath made you his stewards? weigh and measure yourselves, and spend that, be negligent of that, which is least, and worst in you. Is your soul less than your body, because it is in it? How easily lies a letter in a box, which if it were unfolded, would cover that box? unfold your soul, and you shall see, that it reaches to heaven; from thence it came, and thither it should pretend; whereas the body is but from that earth, and for that earth, upon which it is now; which is but a short, and an inglorious progress. To contract this, the soul is larger than the body, and the glory, and the joys of heaven, larger than the honours, and the pleasures of this world: what are seventy years, to that latitude, of continuing as long as the ancient of days? what is it, to have spent our time, with the great ones of this time; when, when the angels shall come and say, That time shall be no more, we shall have no being with him, who is yesterday and to-day, and the same for ever? we see how ordinarily ships go many leagues out of their direct way, to fetch the wind. Spiritus spirat ubi vult, says Christ; The spirit blows where he will; and, as the angel took Habakkuk by the hair, and placed him where he would, this wind, the spirit of God, can take thee at last, by thy gray hairs, and place thee in a good station then. Spirat ubi vult, he blows where he will, and spirat ubi vis, he blows where thou wilt too, if thou beest appliablo to his inspirations. They are but hollow places that return echoes, last syllables: it is but a hollowness of heart, to answer God at last. Be but as liberal of thy body in thy mortifications, as in thy excess, and licentiousness, and thou shalt in some measure, have followed God's example, for the public to pretermit the private, for the larger, and better, to leave the narrower, and worser respects.
To proceed, when we made that observation, that God pretermitted the private for the public, we noted, that God did not say, non bonum homini, it was not good for man to be alone; man might have done well enough in that state, so, as his solitariness might have been supplied with a further creation of more men. In making the inventories of those goods which man possesseth in the world, we see a great author7 says, In possessionibus sunt amici, et inimici, Not only our friends, but even our enemies, are part of our goods, and we may raise as much profit from these, as from those, it may be as good a lesson to a man's son, study that enemy, as observe that friend. As David says, Propitius fuisti, et ulciscens, Thou heardst them 0 Lord our God, and wast favourable unto them, and didst punish all their inventions 8; it was part of his mercy, part of his favour, that he did correct them. So we may say to our enemy, I owe you my watchfulness upon myself, and you have given me all the goodness that I have; for you have calumniated all my indifferent actions, and that kept me, from committing enormous ill ones. And if then our enemies be in possessionibus, to be inventoried amongst our goods, might not man have been abimdantly rich in friends,
1 Xenophon. 8 Psalm xcix. 8,
without this addition of a woman! Quanto congrumtius, said St. Augustine; How much more conveniently might two friends live together, than a man and a woman?
God doth not then say, non bonum homini, man got not so much by the bargain, (especially if we consider how that wife carried herself towards him) but that for his particular, he had been better alone: nor he does not say now, non bonum hum hominem esse solum, it is not good for any man to be alone; for, Qui potest capere capiat, says Christ: He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. What? That some make themselies eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven': that is, the better to unentanglo themselves from those impediments, which hinder them in the way to heaven, they abstain from marriage; and let them that can receive it, receive it. Now certainly few try whether they can receive this, or no. Few strive, few fast, few pray for the gift of continency; few are content with that incontinency which they have, but are sorry they can express no more incontinency. There is a use of marriage now, which God never thought of in the first institution of marriage; that it is a remedy against burning. The two main uses of marriage, which are propagation of children, and mutual assistance, were intended by God, at the present, at first; but the third, is a remedy against that, which was not then; for then there was no inordinateness, no irregularity in the affections of man. And experience hath taught us now, that those climates which are in reputation, hottest, are not uninhabitable; they may be dwelt in for all their heat. Even now, in the corruption of our nature, the clime is not so hot, as that every one must of necessity, marry. There may be fire in the house, and yet the house not on fire: there may be a distemper of heat, and yet no necessity to let blood. The Roman church injures us, when they say, that we prefer marriage before virginity: and they injure the whole state of Christianity, when they oppose marriage and chastity, as though they were incompatible, and might not consist together. They may; for marriage is honourable, and the bed undeftled"; and therefore it may be so. St. Augustine observes in marriage, Bonum fidei, a trial of one another's truth; and that is good; and bonum prolis, a lawful
9 Matt, xix. 12. 1» Heb. xiii. 4.
means of propagation; and that is good; and bonum sacramenti, a mystical representation of that union of two natures in Christ, and of him to us, and to his church, and that is good too. So that there are divers degrees of good in marriage. But yet for all these goodnesses, God does not say, non bonum, it is not good for any man to be alone, but qui eapere potest capiat; according to Christ's comment upon his Father's text, He that can contain, and continue alone, let him do so.
But though God do not say, non homini, it is not good for the man, that he be alone, nor quemvis hominem, it is not good for every man to be alone, yet, considering his general purpose upon all the world, by man, he says non bonum; for that end, it is not good, that man should be alone, because those purposes of God could not consist with that solitude of man. In that production, and in that survey, which God made of all that he had made, still he gives the testimony, that he saw all was good, excepting only in his second day's work, and in his making of man. He forbore it in the making of the firmament, because the firmament was to divide between waters and waters; it was an emblem of division, of disunion. He forbore it also in the making of man, because though man was to be an emblem of God's union to his church, yet because this emblem, and this representation, could not be in man alone, till the woman were made too, God does not pronounce upon the making of man, that the work was good: but upon God's contemplation, that it was not good, that man should be alone, there arose a goodness, in having a companion. And from that time, if we seek bonum, quia licitum, if we will call that good, which is lawful, marriage is that, if thou takest a wife thou sinnest not11, says God by the apostle. If we seek bonum quia bonus auctor, if we call that good whose author is good, marriage is that; adduxit ad Adam, God brought her to man. If we seek such a goodness, as hath good witness, good testimony, marriage is that; Christ was present at a marriage, and honoured it with his first miracle. If we seek such a goodness, as is a constant, and not a temporary, an occasional goodness, Christ hath put such a cement upon marriage, what God hath joined, let no man put asunder1*. If we
seek such a goodness, as no man, (that is, no sort nor degree of men) is the worse for having accepted, we see the holiest of all, the high priest, in the Old Testament, is only limited, what woman he shall not marry, but not that he shall not marry; and the bishop in the New Testament what kind of husband he must have been, but not that he must have been no husband. To contract this, as marriage is good, in having the best author, God, the best witness, Christ, the longest term, life, the largest extent, even to the highest persons, priests, and bishops; as it is, all these ways, positively good, so it is good in comparison of that, which justly seems the best state, that is, virginity, in St. Augustine's opinion, Non impar meritum, et Johannis et Abrahw: If we could consider merit in man, the merit of Abraham, the father of nations, and the merit of John, who was no father at all, is equal. But that wherein we consider the goodness of it here, is, that God proposed this way, to receive glory from the sons of men here upon earth, and to give glory to the sons of men in heaven.
But what glory can God receive from man, that he should be so careful of his propagation? what glory more from man, than from the sun, and moon, and stars, which have no propagation? why this, that St. Augustine observes; Musca soli prwferenda, quia mvit, A fly is a nobler creature than the sun, because a fly hath life, and the sun hath not; for the degrees of dignity in the creature, are esse, vhere, and intelligere: to have a being, to have life, and to have understanding: and therefore man, who hath all three, is much more able to glorify God, than any other creature is, because he only can choose whether he will glorify God or no; the glory that the others give, they must give, but man is able to offer to God a reasonable sacrifice13. When ye were Gentiles, says the apostle, ye were carried away unto dumb idols, even as ye were led1*. This is reasonable service, out of reason to understand, and out of our willingness to do God service. Now, when God had spent infinite millions of millions of generations, from all unimaginable eternity, in contemplating one another in the Trinity, and then (to speak humanly of God, which God in his Scriptures abhors not) out of a satiety in that contemplation
would create a world for his glory, and when he had wrought the first day, and created all the matter, and substance of the future creatures, and wrought four days after, and a great part of the sixth, and yet nothing produced, which could give him any glory (for glory is rationabile obsequium, reasonable service; and nothing could give that but a creature that understood it, and would give it,) at last, as the knot of all, created man; then, to perpetuate his glory, he must perpetuate man: and to that purpose, non bofium, it was not good for man to be alone; as without man, God could not have been glorified, so without woman man could not have been propagated.
But, as there is a place cited by St. Paul out of David15, which hath some perplexity in it, we cannot tell, whether Christ be said to have received gifts from men, or for men 1*, or to have given gifts to men, (for so St. Paul hath it) so it is not easy for us to discern, whether God had a care to propagate man, that he might receive glory from man, or that he might give glory to man. When God had taken it into his purpose to people heaven again, depopulated in the fall of angels, by the substitution of man in their places, when God had a purpose to spend as much time with man in heaven after, as he had done with himself before, (for our perpetuity after the resurrection, shall no more have an end, than his eternity before the creation had a beginning:) and when God to prevent that time of the resurrection, as it were to make sure of man before, would send down his own Son to assume our nature here; and, as not sure enough so, would take us up to him, and set us, in his Son, at his own right hand, whereas he never did, nor shall say to any of the angels, sit thou there: that God might not be frustrated of this great, and gracious, and glorious purpose of his, non bonum, it was not good that man should be alone; for without man God could not give this glory, and without woman there could be no propagation of man. And so, though it might have been bonum homini, man might have done well enough alone; and bonum hunc hominem, some men may do better alone, yet God, who ever, for our example, prefers the public before the private, because it conduced not to his general end, of having, and of giving glory, saw, and said, non bonum
"Psalm Lxviii. 18.
16 Ephes. iv. 8.
hominem, it was not good that man should bo alone. And so we have done with the branches of our first part.
We are come now to our second general part: in which, as we saw in the former, that God studies man, and all things nocessary for man, we shall also see, that whereinsoever man is defective, his only supply, and reparation is from God; faciam, I will do it. Saul wanted counsel, he was in a perplexity, and he sought to the witch of Endor, and not to God; and what is the issue? He hears of his own, and his son Jonathan's death the next day. Asa wants health, and he seeks to the physician, and not to God, and what is the issue? he dies. Do not say, says St. Chrysostom, Quwro necessaria, I desire nothing but that which is necessary for my birth, necessary for my place: quod non dat Dens, non est necessarium: God hath made himself thy steward, thy bailiff; and whatsover God provides not for thee, is not necessary to thee. It was the poor way that Mahomet found out in his Alcoran, that in the next life all women should have eyes of one bigness, and a stature of one size; he could find no means to avoid contention, but to make them all alike: but that is thy complexion, that is thy proportion which God hath given thee. It may be true that St. Hierome notes, who had so much conversation amongst women, that it did him harm, Multas in signis pudicitw, quamvis nulli virorum, sibi simus ornari; I know, says he, as honest women as are in the world, that take a delight in making themselves handsomely ready, though for no other body's sake but for their own. That maybe; but, manus Deo inferunt", they take the pencil out of God's hand, who go about to mend any thing of his making. Quod nascitur Dei est, quod mutatur diaboli, says the same father; God made us according to his image, and shall he be put to say to any of us, Non imago meet, This picture was not taken by the life, not by me, but is a copy of the present distemper of the time? All good remedies are of God; none but he would ever have conceived such an invention as the ark, without that model, for the reparation of the world; and he hath provided that means for the conservation of the world, marriage, the association of one to one: Plures costw Adw, nec fatigatw manus Dei1*: Adam had more ribs than one,
neither were God's hands wearied with making one; and yet he made no more. For him who first exceeded that, Lamech, who had two wives the first was Adah, and Adah signifies cwtum, congregationem; there is company enough, society enough in a wife: his other wife was but Zillah, and Zillah is but umbra, but a shadow, but a ghost, that will terrify at last.
To proceed; though God always provide remedies, and supplies of defects, it is not always in the greatest measure, nor in the presentest manner, that we conceive to ourselves. So much may be intimated even in this, that in this remedy of God's provision, the woman, God proceeded not, as he did in the making of man; it is not faciamus, with such a counsel, such a deliberation as was used in that case. When the creation of all the substance of the whole world is expressed, it is creavit Dii, Gods created, as though more Gods were employed; and in the making of him, who was the abridgement of all, of man, it is faciamus, let us make him, as though more persons were employed: it is not so in the woman, for though the first translation of the Bible that ever were and the translation of the Roman church have it in the plural, yet it is not so in the original; it is but faciam. I press no more upon this, but one lesson to ourselves, that if God exercise us with temporal afflictions, narrowness in our fortunes, infirmities in our constitutions, or with spiritual afflictions, ignorance in our understandings, scruples in our conscience, if God come not altogether in his faciamus, to pour down with both hands abundance of his worldly treasures, or of his spiritual light and clearness, let us content ourselves with one hand from him, with that manner and that measure that he gives, and that time and that leisure which he takes. And then one lesson also to the other sex, that they will be content, even by this form and change of phrase, to be remembered, that they are the weaker vessel, and that Adam was not deceived but the woman was*0. For whether you will ease that with Theodoret's exposition, Adam was not deceived first, but the woman was first deceived; or with Chrysostom's exposition, Adam was not deceived by a serpent, a creature loathsome, and unacceptable, but by a lovely person, with whom he was transported: or with Oecumenius' exposition;
19 Gen. iv. 19. 8° 1 Tim. ii. 14.
Adam was not deceived, because there is no charge laid upon him in the Scriptures, no mention that he was deceived in them, as it is said, that Melchizedek had no father nor mother, because there is no record of his pedigree in the Scriptures: or in Ambrose's exposition; that Adam was not deceived in prawaricationem, not so deceived as that he deceived anybody else: take it any way, and it implies a weakness in the woman, and an occasion of suppling her to that just estimation of herself, That she will be content to learn in silence with all subjection"; that as she is not a servant, but a mother in the house, so she is but a daughter, and not a mother of the church.
This is presented more fully in the next, that she is but adjutorium, but a help: and nobody values his staff as he does his legs. It is not an ordinary disease now, to be too uxorious; that needs no great dissuasion. But if any one man in a congregation be obnoxious to any one infirmity, one note is not ill spent: and let St. Hierome give this note, Sapiens judicio amat, non affectu, Discretion is the weight of love in a wise man's hand, and not affection. St. Hierome cannot stay there; he adds thus much more, Nihil fwdius, quam uxorem amare tanquam adulterant, There is not a more uncomely, a poorer thing, than to love a wife like a mistress. St. Augustine makes that comparison, That whensoever the apostles preached, they were glad when their auditory liked their preaching, Non aviditate consequentiw laudis, sed charitate seminandw virtutis; Not that they affected the praise of the people, but that thereby they saw, that they had done more good upon the people. And in another place he makes that comparison, That a righteous man desh'es to be dissolved and to be with Christ, and yet this righteous man dines, and sups, takes ordinary refections and ordinary recreations: so, for marriage, says he, in temperate men, Officiosum, non libidinosum, It is to pay a debt, not to satisfy appetite; lest otherwise she prove in ruinam, who was given in adjutorium, and he be put to the first man's plea, Mulier quam dedisti, The woman whom thou gavest me, gave me my death.
So much then she should be, a helper; for, for that she was made. She is not so, if she remember not those duties which
81 1 Tim. ii. 11.
are intimated in the stipulation and contract which she hath made. Call it conjugium, and that is derived a jugo, it is an equal patience in bearing the incommodities of this life. Call it nuptias, and that is derived a nube, a veil, a covering; and that is an estranging, a withdrawing herself from all such conversation as may violate his peace, or her honour. Call it matrimonium, and that is derived from a mother, and that implies a religious education of her children. De latere sumpta, non discedat a latere, says Augustine, Since she was taken out of his side, let her not depart from his side, but show herself so much as she was made for, adjutorium, a helper.
But she must be no more; if she think herself more than a helper, she is not so much. He is a miserable creature, whose creator is his wife. God did not stay to join her in commission with Adam, so far as to give names to the creatures; much less to give essence; essence to the man, essence to her husband. When the wife thinks her husband owes her all his fortune, all his discretion, all his reputation, God help that man himself, for he hath given him no helper yet. I know there are some glasses stronger than some earthen vessels, and some earthen vessels stronger than some wooden dishes; some of the weaker sex, stronger in fortune, and in counsel too; than they to whom God hath given them, but yet let them not impute that in the eye nor ear of the world, nor repeat it to their own hearts, with such a dignifying of themselves, as exceeds the quality of a helper. St. Hierome shall be her remembrancer, She was not taken out of the foot, to be trodden upon, nor out of the head, to be an overseer of him; but out of his side, where she weakens him enough, and therefore should do all she can, to be a helper.
To be so, so much, and no more, she must be as God made Eve, similis ei, meet and fit for her husband. She is fit for any if she have those virtues, which always make the person that hath them good; as chastity, sobriety, taciturnity, verity, and such: for, for such virtues as may be had, and yet the possessor not the better for them, as wit, learning, eloquence, music, memory, cunning, and such, these make her never the fitter. There is a harmony of dispositions, and that requires particular consideration upon emergent occasions; but the fitness that goes through all,
is a sober continency; for without that, matrimonium jurata fornicatio, marriage is but a continual fornication, sealed with an oath: and marriage was not instituted to prostitute the chastity of the woman to one man, but to preserve her chastity from the temptations of more men. Bathsheba was a little too fit for David, when he had tried her so far before; for there is no fitness where there is not continency. To end all, there is a moral fitness, consisting in those moral virtues, of which we have spoke enough; and there is a civil fitness, consisting in discretion, and accommodating herself to him; and there is a spirtual fitness, in the unanimity of religion, that they be not of repugnant professions that way. Of which, since we are well assured in both these, who are to be joined now, I am not sorry, if either the hour, or the present occasion call me from speaking anything at all, because it is a subject too mis-interpretable, and unseasonable to admit an enlarging in at this time. At this time therefore, this be enough, for the explication and application of these words.