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Remember what God obliged parents to do against the lives of incorrigible children, Deut. xxi. 2. And that the honour of God, and the lives of our neighbours, should be preferred before the life of one offender, and their estates before his estate alone. 3. And that the light of reason telleth us, that a wife is to reveal a treason against the king, which is plotted by a husband; and therefore also the robbing of the king's treasury, or deceiving him in any matter of great concernment. And therefore in due proportion, the laws and common good, and our neighbours' welfare, are to be preserved by us, though against the nearest relation : only all due tenderness of the life and reputation of the husband is to be preserved, in the manner of proceedings, as far as will stand with the interest of justice, and the common good.
Quest. 111. 'May the wife go hear sermons when the husband forbiddeth her?'
Answ. There are some sermons which must not be heard ; there are some sermons which
may be heard, and must when no greater matter doth divert us; and there are some sermons which must be heard, whoever shall forbid it. Those which must not be heard are such as are heretical (ordinarily) and such as are superfluous, and at such times when greater duties call us another way. Those which may be heard, are either occasional sermons, or such lectures as are neither of necessity to ourselves, nor yet to the owning of God and his public worship. One that liveth where there are daily or hourly sermons, may hear them as oft as suiteth with their condition, and their other duties : but in this case, the command of a husband, with the inconveniences that will follow disobeying him, may make it a duty to forbear. But that we do sometimes publicly own God's worship, and church ordinances, and receive ministerial teaching for our edification, is of double necessity; that we deny not God, and that we betray not, or desert not our own souls. And this is especially necessary (ordinarily) on the Lord's days, which are appointed for these necessary uses. And here the husband hath no power to forbid the wife, nor should she (formally) obey his prohibition. But yet as affirmatives bind not 'ad semper,' and no duty is a duty at every season; so it is possible that on the Lord's day, it may extra
ordinarily become a duty to forbear sermons or sacraments, or other public worship. As when any greater duty calleth us away: as to quench a fire ; and to save men's lives ; and to save our country from an enemy in the time of war;
and to save our own lives (if we knew the assembly would be assaulted), or to preserve our liberty for greater service. Christ set us to learn the meaning of this lesson ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice.' In such a case also a mischief may be avoided, even from a husband by the omission of a duty at that time (when it would be no duty) for this is but a transposition of it. But this is but an act of prudent selfpreservation, and not an act of formal obedience.
Quest. iv. “If a woman have a husband so incorrigible in vice, as that by long trial she findeth that speaking against it, maketh him worse, and causeth him to abuse her, is she bound to continue her dissuasion, or to forbear?'
Answ. That is not here a duty which is not a means to do some good: and that is no means which we know beforehand is like, if not certain, to do no good, or to do more harm. We must not by weariness, laziness, or censoriousness, take a case to be desperate, which is not; nor must we so easily desist with so near a relation, as with a stranger or a neighbour. But yet Christ's indulgence of not exposing ourselves to be torn by dogs, and his word trodden in the dirt by swine, doth extend to relations as well as others. But then you must observe that she that is justly discouraged from sharp reproofs, may yet have hope that gentle and humble persuasions may succeed. And she that is discouraged from open, or frequent, or plain reproofs ; may yet have hope that secret, or more seldom, or more distant and general admonitions may not be lost. And she that is discouraged from one way of doing him good, may yet have many other ways (as to set some minister whom he reverenceth, to speak to him; to put some suitable book into his hand, &c.) And she that is discouraged at the present, ought not totally to despair, but may make some more attempts hereafter; either in some sickness, or time of mortality, or danger, or affliction, or when possibly time and consideration may have better prepared him to hear. And in the mean time she is to continue all conjugal affection
and duty, and a convincing, winning course of life; which may prove the most effectual reproof. ". Questa v. What should a woman do in controverted cases of religion, when her judgment and her husband's differ?'
Answ. 1. Some make a controversy of that which with all good Christians or sober persons, should be past controversy; and some controversies are indeed of real, if not insupérable difficulty. 2. Some controversies are about important, necessary things, and some about things of lesser moment. 3. Some are about mere opinion, or other men's practice, and some about our own practice.
(1.) In all differences of judgment the wife must exercise such self-suspicion, and modesty, and submission, as may signify her due sense, both of the weakness of her sex, and of her subjection to her husband. (2.) In things indifferent she must in practice obey her husband; unless when superior powers do forbid it, and that in cases where their authority is greater. (3.) She may modestly give her reasons of dissent. (4.) She must not turn it to an unpeaceable quarrel, or matter of disaffection, or pretend any differences against her conjugal duties. (5.) In dark and difficult cases she should not be peremptory, and selfconceited, nor importunate ; but if she have faith (that is, some more knowledge than he) have it to herself, in quietness and silence; and seek further information lest she err. (6.) She must speak no untruth, nor commit any known sin, in obedience to her husband's judgment. (7.) When she strongly suspecteth it to be sin, she must not do it merely in obedience to him, but seek for better satisfaction. For she is sure that he hath no power to force her to sin; and therefore hath no more assurance of his power in that point than she hath of the lawfulness of the thing. (8.) But if she prove to be in the error, she will sin on either side, till she recover. (9.) If a husband be in dangerous error, she must wisely, but unweariedly seek his reformation, by herself or others.
Cases about Divorce and Separation.
Quest. 1. “Is it lawful for husband and wife to be long absent from each other? and how long, and in what cases ?'
Answ. It is lawful to be absent either in the case of prayer which Paul mentioneth, or in case of the needful affairs of their estates, so long as may be no danger to either of them as to mental or corporal incontinency, nor to any other hurt which will be greater than the benefits of their absence, nor cause them to be guilty of the neglect of any real duty. Therefore the cases of several persons do much differ according to the different tempers of their minds, and bodies, and affairs. He that hath a wife of a chaste, contented, prudent temper, may stay many months or years in some cases, when, all things considered, it tendeth to more good than hurt : as lawyers by their callings are often necessitated to follow their callings at terms and assizes: and merchants may be some years absent in some weighty cases. But if you ask, whether the getting of money be a sufficient cause? I answer, that it is sufficient to those whose families must be so maintained, and their wives are easily continent, and so the good of their gain is greater than any loss or danger that cometh by it. But when covetousness puts them upon it needlessly, and their wives cannot bear it, or in
any case when the hurt that is like to follow is greater than the good, it is unlawful.
Quest. II. ' May husband and wife be separated by the bare command of princes, if they make a law that in certain cases they shall part: as suppose it to ministers, judges, or soldiers ?'
Answ. You must distinguish between the bare command or law, and the reasons and ends of that command : and so between a lawful command and an unlawful. In some cases a prince may justly command a separation for a time, or such as is like to prove for perpetuity, and in some cases he may not. If a king command a separation without sufficient cause, so that you have no motive but his authority, and the question is, whether formally you are bound to obedience : I answer, No; because what God hath joined, no man hath power to put asunder. Nor can either prince, pope, or prelate dispense with your marriage covenant. In such a case, it is as a private act, because God hath given them no authority for it; and therefore their commands or laws are nullities : only if a prince say, he that will be a judge or a justice shall part with his wife, it is lawful to leave
the office, and so obey the law. But if he say to all ministers of the gospel, you shall forsake your wives or your ministry, they should do neither, because they are divinely, obliged to both, and he hath no power to forbid them, or to dispense with that obligation.
But it may fall out, that the ends of the command may be so great as to make it lawful, and then it must be obeyed both formally for the authority of the prince, and finally for the reasons of the thing. As if the safety of the commonwealth should require, that married persons be soldiers, and that they go far off; yea, though there be no likelihood of returning to their families, and withal they cannot take their wives with them, without detriment or danger to their service; in this case men must obey the magistrate, and are called by God to forsake their wives, as if it were by death, Nor is it any violation of their marriage covenant, because that was intended or meant to suppose the exception of any such call of God, which cannot be resisted when it will make a separation.
Quest. 111. May ministers leave their wives to go abroad to preach the Gospel ?'
Answ. If they can neither do God's work so well at home, nor yet take their wives with them, nor be excused from doing that part of service, by other men's doing it who have no such impediment; they may and must leave their wives to do it. In this case, the interest of the church, and of the souls of many, must over-rule the interest of wife and family. Those pastors who have fixed stations, must neither. leave flock or family without necessity, or a clear call from God. But in several cases a preacher may be necessitated to go abroad; as in case of persecution at home, or of some necessity of foreign or remote parts, which cannot be otherwise supplied : or when some door is opened for the conversion of infidels, heretics, or idolaters, and none else so fit to do that work, or none that will. In
when the cause of God in any part of the world consideratis considerandis' doth require his help, a minister must leave wife and family, yea, and a particular flock to do it. For our obligations are greatest to the Catholic church, and public good ; and the greatest good must be preferred. If a king command a subject to be an ambassador in the most remote