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particulars, in a state of subordination to the other. What caution would be requisite in each of the parties, what especial caution would be requisite in the party destined to subordination, antecedently to such an engagement! How diversified, how strict, how persevering should be the inquiries of each respecting the other, and especially of the latter respecting the former! Unless the difpofitions, the temper, the habits, the genuine character, and inmost principles were mutually known; what rational hope, what tolerable chance of happiness could subsist? And if happiness should not be the lot of the two associates, would not their disquietudes be proportionate to the closeness of their union? Let this reasoning be transferred to the case of marriage.
Whether marriage establishes between the husband and the wife a perfect equality of rights, or conveys to the former a certain degree of superiority over the latter, is a point not left among Christians to be decided by fpeculative arguments. The intimation of the divine will, communicated to the first woman immediately after the fall, is corroborated by various injunctions de livered in the New Testament. 4 Let the “ wife see that fhereverence her husband.” “ Wives, submit yourfelves unto your own “ husbands as unto the Lord; for the huf« band is the head of the wife, even as “ Christ is the head of the church;-there“ fore as the church is fubject unto Chrift, " fo let the wives be to their own husbands “ in every thing (0)." The command in the second of these passages is so explicit, and illustrated by a comparison fo impressive, that it is needless to recite other texts of a similar import. The obedience, however, which is here enjoined by the Apostle, is not unlimited obedience. Were a husband presumptuoully to require his wife to infringe the property or other rights
(6) Ephes. v. 33.-22. 24.-See also Coloff. iii. 18.1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35:-1 Tim. ii. 11. 15.-Titus, ii. 5.1 Peter, iii. 1,
And it is very
of a third person, or to transgress any
of the divine laws, she would be bound to obey God rather than man. possible that he might be in other respects so unreasonable and injurious in his injunctions, that she might with justice conceive herself exempted, as to those particular instances, from the obligation of implicit submission to his authority. St. Paul directs children to obey their parents, and fervants their masters, “ in all things ()." Yet it is manifest that his direction was not intended to reach to things sinful, nor to other extreme cases which might be devised. It is reasonable, therefore, and it is also conformable to the general mode of conveying moral directions which is adopted in the Scriptures, to understand his strong declaration concerning the authority of a husband as limited by restrictions and exceptions, corresponding to those with which his equally strong declarations concerning
(p) Coloff. iii. 20. 22.
the authority of parents and of masters are manifestly to be understood. But though in cases such as have been supposed the duty of female obedience is suspended, it is suspended in these only. She who is commanded to " be subject to her head, the hul
band, as the church is subject to Christ, its “ head,” cannot reasonably doubt that obedience, when it can innocently be rendered, is a branch of her connubial duty.
A branch of duty in its nature so important and extensive, ought to be considered antecedently to marriage with religious fcrupulousness. And while the obligation is acknowledged, let not the ends for which it is imposed be misconceived. Let not pride or ignorance be for a moment permitted to suggest that the Father of the universe, in allotting obedience to the wife, has displayed a partial regard to the welfare and comfort of the husband. Eternal wifdom, incapable of error and of caprice, has in this dispensation consulted her happiness no less than that of her affociate. Yoy admit that it was desirable to prevent or to lessen the bickerings, the conflicts, the pertinacious contrariety of plans and projects, which, in a state imperfect as human nature is, would perpetually arise and involve families in unceasing confusion, were each party free from any obligation to acquiesce in the decision of the other. By what method then, were we to consult the dictates of unbiassed judgement, should we deem the object most likely to be attained? Undoubtedly by the method which Providence has adopted; by assigning to one of the partners in 'marriage a fixed preeminence over the other. If this point be once conceded, there cannot be room for much hesitation as to the only remaining question: to which of the two parties would it be wiseft and best that the pre-eminence should be assigned ? It is on man that the burden of the most laborious offices in life, of those offices which require the greatest exertions, the deepest reflection, and the