Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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lence 1 The woman is not what she was, but the
wife, the mother, the Christian, are better than they
were. For an example of conjugal love in all its
power and excellence, point me not to the bride and
bridegroom displaying during the first month of
their union all the watchfulness and tenderness of
affection, but let tm^ look upon the husband and
wife of nfty, whose love has oeen tried by the lapse
and the changes of a quarter of a century, and. who
through this period and by these vicissitudes, have
|[rown in attachment and esteem; and whose ai&BC-
tion, if not elowin|[ with all the fervid heat of a
midsummer's day, is still like the siushine of an
October noon, warm and beautiful, as reflected
amidst autmnnal tints.

But, before I go away from this view of a hus-
band's e^cial onty, I must just advert to another
role of his regard which is laid down for him by
the a|>08tle. " So ought men to love their wives,
ms their 9W% bodies x he that loveth his wife loveth
kimself " A man's children are parts of himself^
his wife is himself: " for they two shall be one
flesh." " This is bis duty and the measure of it too ;
which is so plain, that, if he understands how he
treats himself, there needs nothing be added con-
eeraing his demeanor towards her; for what mighty
care does he take of his body, and uses it with ade-
licate tenderness, and cares for it in all contingen-
cies, and watches to keep it from all evils, and stu-
dies to make for it fair provisions, and is very often
led by its inclinations and desires, and does ^ever
contradict its appetites, but when they are evil, and
then also not without some trouble and sorrow."^
So let a man love his wife as his own body.

Can it be necessary to apply Uie force of wuHvts
to produce an appropriate attention to suck a duty 1
If so, I appeal to your unu of honor. Husbands,
call to recollection the wakeful assiduities, and the
tender attentions, by which you won the afiection
and the confidence of the woman, who forsook her
father and her mother, and the home of her child-
hood, to find a resting place for he^ heart in ^our
attachment ; and will ye falsify the vows you plight-
ed, and disappoint the hopes you raised f Is it ac-
counted a disgraceful stigma on a man's reputation,
to forfeit the pledges of a lover 7 oh ! how maeh
more dishonorable to forget those of a husband !—
Thar man has disgraced himself who furnishes just
occasion to the partner of his days, to draw with a
sigh, a contrast between the afiectionate attention
ahe received as a lover and as a wife.

I urge afiection to a wife, by the recollection of
thai s^lemii mowtetU, when, in the presence of heaven
and earth, before Qod's minister, and in God's
house, 3rou bound yourself, bv all tne deeply awftil
formalities of a kind of onto, to throw open and
keep open your heart, as the focmtain of her earthly
happiness, and to devote your whole life to the pro-
ak>tion of her welfare.

I appeal to your regard to jmtiee. You have



sworn away voursdf to her, and are no longer your
own. You nave no right lo that individual, and
separate, and independent kind of life, which would
lead you to seek your happiness, in opposition tO|
or neglect of hers, " Yo« twain are one flesh."

Humanity puts in its claim on behalf of jrour wife.
It is in your power to do luore for her haj^iness or
misery, than any other being in the universei short
of God himself. An unkind husband is a tormentor
of the first dass. His victim can never elude his
grasp, nor go bevond the reach d his cruelty, till
ahe IS IdAoIy released by the king of terrors who,
in this instance, becomes to her an angel of light,
and conducts her to the grave as to a shelter from,
her oppressor. For such a woman there is no test
on earth : the destroyer of her peace has her ever in
his power, for she is always in his presence, cor in
the fear or it : the circumstances of every place, and
every day, fomiih him with the occasions of cruel
neglect or unkiadness^ and it might be fairly ques-
tioned, whether there is to be fotmd on earth, a case
of greater misery, except it be that of a wretch tor-
tured by remorse and despair, than a woman whose
hMtrt daily withers under the cold looks, the chiU*
ing words, and rMpolsive actions of a husband, who
loveth her not Such a man is a mardarer, though
heescMpes in this world the murderer's doom ; aid
by a rennement of cruelty, he employs yeai^ in con-
ducting his- victim to her txkd, by the slow process
of a lingering death.

If nothing else can prevail, iiUerest should, for no
man can hate his wife., without haUng himself; for
"she is his own flesn." Love, like mercy, is a
duuUe blessing ; and hatred, like cruelty, is a double
torment We cannot love a worthy objeet without
rejoicing in the reflex beams of our own aflfection.
Next to the supreme regard we cherish towaxds
God, and which it is impossible to exercise and not
hold communion with angels in the joys of heaven,
connubial love is the most beatifying passion; ana
to transform tkis into unkindness, is to open at the
very centre of our soul, a source of poison, which,
before it exudes to torture others, torments our-
selves.

I cannot here avoid inserting the exquisite and
touching appeal, which Mr. Jay puts into the lipe of
married women to their husbands. " Honor us ; deal
kindly with us. , From many of the opportunities,
and means by which you procuns fitvoraUe notio^
we are excluded. Doomed to the shades, few of
the high places of the earth are open to us. Alter-
nately we are adored and oppressed. From oor
slaves you become our tyrants. You feel otir
beautv, and avail yourselves of our weakness. Yon
complain of our inferiority, but none of your be-
havior bids us rise. Sensibility has given us a
thousand feelings, whteb nature has kindly denied
voo. Alwa]i|s tmder restraints, we have little li-
berty of choice. Providence seems to have been
more attentive to enable us to confer happiness,
than to enjoy it. Every condition has for us flresh
mortifications; every relation new sorrows. We
enter social b^ids j it is a system of perpetual sacri-
fice. We cannot give life to others without hazard-
ing our own. We have sufiferings which you do not
share, cannot share. If spared, years and decays
invade our charms, and much of the ardor pro-
duced by auraction departs with it. We may die.
The grave covers us, and we are soon forgotten;
soon are the days of your mourning ended, soon is
our loss repaired : dismiased even from your speech,
tmr name is to be heard no more— a successor may
dislike it. Our children, after having a mother \>y
nature, may fall under the control of^a mother by
affinity, and be mortified by distinctions made be-
tween them, and her own oaring. Though the du*
ties which we have discharged invariably^be th«



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most important and necesniy, they do not shine:
they are too common to strike : thcfy procure no ce-
Idmty : the wife, the mother fills no historic page.
Oar prirations, oar confinements, oar wearisome
days, oar interrnpted, oar sleepless nights, the hoars
we have hang in aaxioos watchings over yoar sick
and djing ofipring." But we forbear.

I MOW COMB TO TBM SOmS BCIOOIID UPOM 1HB



The first I mention is mbjectum,

" Wires salmiit yoarselves anto yoar own fans-
hands as onto the liord ; for the husband is the head
of the wife, even as Christ is ^ head of the
charch; and he is the Savioar of the body. There-
fore as the charch ift sabject anto Christ, so let the
wives be to their own hasbands in every thing." —
The same thing is enjoined also in the epistle to the
Colossians. Peter nnites with Paul in the same
strain. **Ye wives be in subjection to yoar own
hasbands." Before I state the kind of sabjection
here commanded, it is necessary to state the natnre
of the authority to which it is to be pelded. Here
I woald observe, that with whatsoever kind and de-
gree of authority the husband is invested over the
wife, it is such asis in no way inccmpaMle wik, or
tnnches npon the strongest and tenderest ajfedion. —
And it is worthy of remark, *' that the apostle does
not enjoin hasbands to rale, nor instract him how,
bat merely to love : so that it seems to be with them,
as with bishops ana priests, to whom mach honor
is doe, bat yet so that if tney stand apon it, and
challenge it, they become less honorable."

It is such an authorinr, as is compatible vritk re-
ligion or the claims of Grod ; for no man has a right
to enjoin, and no woman is bound to obey any com-
mands which is in opposition to the letter or spirit
of the Bible. It is such an authority, as is consonant
wiik sovnd reason^ its injonctions most all be rea-
sonable, for surely it is too much to expect, that a
wife is to become a slave of folly, any more than of
cruelty. It Is an authority, that accords with ike
idea of companionship. It was very beautifully ob-
served bv an ancient writer, that when Adam en-
deavored to shift the blame of his transgression
upon his wife, he did not say,* the "woman thoa
gavest to me,** no such thing, she is none of his
goods, none of his possessions, not to be reckoned
amongst his servants ; but he said ** the woman thou
gavest to be with me," that is, to be my pardier, the
companion of my joys and sorrows.

Let conjo|^ authority be founded upon love, be
never exercised in opposition to revelation or rea-
son, and be regulated by the idea of companionship,
and then there need no particular rules for its
guidance J for within such limits, it can never de-
generate into tjrranny ; nor can it ever express its
suMects : to such a power any woman may bow,
without degradation, tor its yoke is easy and its
burden light. In every society, from that which
finds its centre in the father's chair, to thai which
in a wider circle rents upon the throne, there must
be precedence vested somewhere, and some ultimate
authoritv, some last and highest tribunal establish-
ed, for the decision of which, there lies no appeal.
In the domestic constitution this superiority vests in
the huid>and : be is the head, the lawgiver, the ruler.
In all matters touching the little world in the house,
hevis to direct, not indeed without taking counsel
with his wife, but in all discordimcy of view. A*, un-
less he choose to waive his riffht. is to decide; and
to his decision the wife should yield, and yield with
.grace and cheerftilness. No man ought to resign
his authority, as the head of the family, no woman
ought to wish him to do it : he may ^ve up his pre-
dilections and yield to her wishes, but be must not
abdicate the throne, nor resign his sceptre. Usurpa-
tion it always hateful, and it is one of the most of-



fensive exhibitions of it. where the husband is de*
graded into a slave of toe queen mother. Such a
woman looks contemptible even upon the throne. I
admit it is difficult for a sensible woman to submit to
imbecility, but she should have considered this be-
fore she united herself to it; having commined one
error, let her not fall into a second, but give the
strongest proof of her good sense which circumstan-
ces will allow her to ofier, by making that conces-
sion to superiorly of station, which there is no op-
portunity in her case for her to do to superiority of
mind. She mav reason, she may persuade, she may
solicit, but if ^norance cannot oe convinced, nor
obstinacy tum^, nor kindness conciliated, she has
no resource left but txy^mbmit : and one of the finest
scenes ever to be presented by the domestic econo-
my, is that of a sensible woman employing her ta-
lents and address, not to subvert, but to support the
authority of a weak husband; a woman who
prompts but does not command, who persuades, but
does not dictate, who influences, but does not com-
pel, and who, after taking pains to conceal her be-
nencent Inteiierence, submits to the authority which
she has both supported and guided. An opposite
line of conduct is most mischievous ; for weaxness,
when placed in perpetual contrast with superior
judgment, is rarely bund to its own defects; and as
this conciousness of inferiority, when united with
office is always jealous, it is both watchful and re-
sentful of any interference with its prerogative. —
There must be subjection then, which, where it can-
not be yielded to superior talents, because there ar«
none, must be conceded to superiority of station. —
But let husbands be cautious not to put the submis-
sion of their wives to too severe a test. It is hard,
very hard, to obey a ra.sh, indiscreet and silly ruler.
" If you will be the head, remember the head is not
only the seat of government, but of knowledge. If
you will have the management of the ship, see that
a fool is not placed at tne helm. Shall the blind
ofier themselves as guides Y*

The grounds of submission are many and strong.
Waiving all motives founded upon the comparative
strength of mind with which the two sexes may be
gifted, I refer my female friends, to less questiona-
ble matters. Look at the creation; woman was
made after the man " for Adam was first formed,
then Eve." She was made out of man, " for the man
is not of the woman, but the woman of the man."
She was made for man, " neither was the man cre-
ated for the woma n, b ut the woman for the man."
Look at the fall. Woman occasioned it " Adam
was not deceived, but the woman being deceived,
was in the trans|nression." She was thus punishea
for it, " Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he
shall rule over thee.'* Look at her history. Have
not the ctistoms of all nations, ancient ana modem,
savage and civilized, acknowledged her subordina-
tionf Look at the light in wUeh this subject is
vlaced in the New T^Sament* How strong is the
language of the text, " the husband is the head of
the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so
let the wives be to their own nusbands in every
thmg."

Let me then, my respected female friends, as you
would submit to the authority of Christ, as vou
would adorn the station that providence has called
you to occupy, as you would promote vour own
peace, the comfokt of your husband, and tne welfare
c£ vour family, admonish ^ou, meekly and grace-
fulnr to be subject in all things, not only to the wise
and good, but to the foolish and ill-deserving. You
may reason, as I have said before, you may expos-
tulate, but you must not rebel or refuse. Let it be
your glory to feel how much you can endure, rather
than despise the institutions of heaven, or violate



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those eDgagements into which you yolontaiily, and
80 solemniy entered. Let your sabmission be cha-
racterized Dy cheerfalness, and not by reluctant sol-
ienne&s : let it not be preceded hv a struggle, bat
yielded at once and for ever ; let there be no hold-
ing out to the last extremity, and then a mere com-
piSsory capitulation; but a voluntary, cheerful,
undisputed, and unrevoked concession.
a. The next duty enjoined upon a wife is rctb-



*' Let the wife see that she reverence her hns-
hand." This dutv is nearly allied to the last, but is
still somewhat diferent. By reverence, the apostle
means nothing of slavish, or obsequious homage,
bot thai re^Mct and deference which are due to one
whom we are commanded to obey. Your reve-
rence will be manifest in your wtras; for instance,
in your manner of speaking of him, you will avoid
all that would tend to lessen him in the esteem of
others ; all exposure of his ihults or minor weak-
nesses; all depreciation of his understanding or
domestic rale. Such gossip is detestable and mis-
chievous; for can any thing tend noore to irritate
him, than to find that you have been sinking him
in the esteem of the public 1 Reverence will be
durplayed In your manner of speaking to him. —
^£ven as Sarah obeyed Abraiiam, calling him
liord :" all flippant pedness, every tMng of con-
temptuous consciousness of superiority, ot dictation
and command, of unnecessary contracuction. of per-
tinacious and obtrusive dilatation, of scplaing ac-
cusation, of angry, reproaphibl complaint, of noisy
«nd obstreporous expostulation, skould be avoided.
Almost all domestic quarrels begin in words; and
it is usually in a woman's power to prevent them
by causing the law of kindness to dwell upon her
lips, and calming the gusts of her hu^Mmd's passion,
by those soft answers which turn away wrath. Es-
pecially should she be careful how she speaks to
Aim or even before him. in the company of her
family or of strangers; sne must not talk him into
silence ; nor talk at him ; nor sav any thing that is
calculated to wound or degrade nim, for a sting in-
flict^ in public is doubly char^ with venom; she
must not endeavor to eclipse hmi, to enmss the at-
tention of the company to herself, to reduce him to
a cypher which is valueless till she stands before
him. Tkii is not reverence; on the contrary, she
should do all in her power to sustain his respecta-
bility and dignity in puMie esteem; and her very
mode of addressing him, partaking at once of the
kindness of afiection, and the deference of respect,
is eminently calculated to do this. And should he
at ai»r time express himself in the language of re-
proof, even though that reproof be causel^, or im-
jnstly severe, let her be cautious not to foiget her
station, so as to be betrayed into a railing recrimi-
oatioB, a contemptuous silence, or a moody suUea-
Dess. Diificult, I am aware it is, to show reverence
and respect, where there are no other grounds for
it to rest upon than mere station; and as easy to
pay it where wisdom, dirnity and piety support the
claims of relationship ; out In proportion to die dif-
ficulty of a virtuous action, is its excellence ; and
hers IS indeed superior virtue, who yields to the re-
lationship of her husband that reverence which he
forbids her to pay to him on account of his conduct

Her reverence will extend itself to her condmct^
and lead her to an incessant desire to please him in
mXX things. It is assumed by the apostle as an indis-
putable and general fhct, that " the married woman
carrth how she may nlease her husband." All her
conduct should be framed upon this principle, to

S've him contentment, and to increase his delight
her. Let her appear contented with her lot, and
that will do much to render him content with his:
while, on the other hand, nothing is more likely to



generate discontent in his heart, than the appear^
ance of it in her. Let her, by cheerful g[ood humor,
difibse an air of pleasantness over his dwelling.
Let her guard as much as possible against a gloomy
and moody disposition, which causes her to move
about with the silence and cloudiness of a spectre ;
for who likes to dwell in a haunted house 1 She
should always welcome him across his threshold
with a smile, and ever put forth all her ingoiuity
in studying to please him^ by consulting his wishes,
by surprism^ nim occasi<nially by those unlocked
for and iDRenioos devices of a^ection, which, though
small in themselves, are the proo&of a mind intent
upon the business of giving pleasure. The greater
acts of reverent and respectful love^ are often re-
garded as matters of coarse, and as such produce
Utile impression ; but the leaser acts of attention,
which come not into the usual routine of conjugal
duties, and into the every day offices, which may
be calculated upon with almost as much certain^
as the comiuff of the hour which they are.to occupy,
these free-will o£krings of an inventive and active
regard, these extra: tokens of respectj and expres-
sions of regard, have a mighty power to attach a
husband to his wife; they are the cords of love, the
bands of a man. In all ner personal and domestic
habits, her first care then, next to that of pleasinc
Gkxl, must be to please him, and thus hold to herself
that heart, which cannot wander ft'om her without
carrying her happiness with it, and which, when
once departed, cannot be restored by any power
short of omnipotence itself.

3. MaxxNESB is especially mentioned by the apoa-
tie Peter, as a disposition which it is the duty of
every wife to cultivate.

He has distinguished and honored this ten^p«r
by calling it the omamtiU of a meek and quiet
spirit. Ii there be some virtues, which seem pre-
eminently to suit the female character, meekness
bears a high place amongst such. No one stands
in greater need of this disposition, thaa the female
head of a family : either the petulance and way-
wardness of children, or the ne^ects and miscon-
duct of servants, or the sharp words of a husband,
are almofit sure, if she be easily provoked, to keep
her in a state of irritation all the day long. How
trying is a peevish woman, how odious a brawling
one. " It is better to dwell in the wilderness than
with a contentious and angry woman." The graces
were females, says Mr. Jay, ao were the furies toa
The influence which meekness has sometimes had
in. a family is astonishing : it has quenched sparks,
and even coals of angwr and strife, which, but for
this, would have set the house on fire: it has mas-
tered the tiser and the lion, and led them captive
with the sUken thread of love. The strength of
woman li» not in resisting, but yielding ; her power
is in her gentleness ; there is more of real defence,
aye, and more of that aggressive operation too.
which disarms a foe, in one mild look, or one soft
accent, than in hours of flashing glances, and of
angry tones. When, amidst domestic strife, she
has been enabled to keep her temper, the storm has
been often scattered as it rose; or her meekness
has served as a conductor to carry off* its dreadfhi
flashes, which (»therwi8e would have destroyed the
dwelling.

Put on, then, the ornament of a meek and ouiet
spirit Pay less attention to the decoration of tha
person, more to that of the mind. " Your adorning
IS not to be that outward adorning, of plaiting the
hair and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of
apparel, but the hidden man of the heart which is
not corruptible.*' The language of another apostle
on this suDject is no less striking. " In like manner
also, I will That women adorn themselves in msdtsi
apparel, with shameftu^edneK and sobriety; not



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widi tnroMered hair, or gdd, or pearls, or cosUr
array ; bot, whkh becomcth iiomen professing eod-
lincss, with good workH." 1 Tim. li. 9, 10. Two
apostles, who both wrote as they were mored by
the Hc^ Ohost, in soch language as this^ baye de-
noanced as improper, and as nnbeconung a pro-
fession of godliness, a taste for iaimodest, expensire,
or decorative dress. Surely then, this object is
worthy the most serions attention of all Christian
females. By what sophistry can the letter, moch
more the spirit, of two passages of holy writ, so
Tery |[Aain and express in their terms as these, be
set asidel Thar they are set aside, is evident by
the appearance of aunost every congregation into
whicA we could enter on the Sabbath day, whether
within or without the establishment The race of
folly, one shoold really snpposej is at length almost
nm, for it does seem well nigh impossible, even by
the aid of oar neighbor, the French, for the women
of oor age to render themselves more snpremelv
ridicnlons than many of them have lately appeared.
What with the gaudmess of coloring and extrava-
gance of form, our religioas assemblies present
every thing at once to disgust oar taste, and to dis-
tress oor piety. It ia high time for the ChristiaB
teacher to callback the women ** professing godli-
BesB," from their wanderings in the regions of
feshionable folly, to the b<^ Scriptaress for the
holy Scriptures, it should be reaenabered, have laid
down a law for resolatittg the dress of the body, as
well as that of the mind. I do hold then, that
these passages of Scripture are stiU parts of reve-
lation, and as soch still btedkig npon the con-
science : If not, show me when they were cancelled.
I contend, that CkrisUan females ought to abstam
from exijensive, showy, and extravagant feshions
in dress, jewelry, and all kinds of personal decora-
tion. I am not arguing for a^seetarian costume, for
a religions uniform, for canonical shapes and co-
lon; nothing of the sort, but for simplicity, neat-
ness, economy; for, what the apostle calls modest
apparel, shamefecedncss, and sobriety; for the sptrit
of the passages, if not the very letter; for a distinc-
tioD between those who profess godliness, in their



Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 28 of 121)