Chapter 6. Wives.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Saviour of the body."

"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." Ephesians 5:22-23, 24.

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." Colossians 3:18.

Let us go back, for a few moments, to the first pages of Holy Writ. It is always instructive for us to do so. The Spirit of God Himself points back, in our chapter, to that time. We can but follow His direction.

There was a garden, eastward in the land of Eden, planted by the Lord God, (lit. Jehovah,) Himself. It was a scene of perfect earthly bliss and happiness, because the Lord God had made it, and sin was not known. No groan was heard, to disturb the constant peace and harmony, that pervaded the whole. Everything there was light, life and happiness, fresh and beautiful in its first bloom, as it had just come forth from the hand of its Maker.

And in that garden, which He had planted, the Lord God had placed man, made in God's own image, but formed by Him of the dust of the ground. (Alas! how soon did man forget the latter part of his being!) He had put Adam there to dress and keep it, not in the posture of a bondman, stooping, in the sweat of his face, to a ground, cursed for his sake, that yields to his labour, besides the herbs for his food, "thorns also and thistles" — the rods of chastisement, and constant memento's of his fall. No, God had placed Adam there as the king, centre and head of the whole of the lower creation, a figure of Him who was to come. He was to have "Dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over everything living that moveth upon the earth." The Lord of lords, and King of kings, who had invested Adam, his vassal-king on earth, with such power, and given him that lovely garden of Eden for his royal residence, had also Himself installed Adam in his place, and made the whole of the lower creation pass in review before its new sovereign, just as a king, on his accession to the throne, reviews his army, and makes his subjects, represented in their nobles or chiefs, pass before his presence, to bestow or confirm titles and names. Never since that day, has there been, or will there be, in this sinful world, such a coronation scene, until the millennial morn, that great coronation day, shall dawn, when the last Adam, under whose feet God has put all things — the heavens as well as the earth — shall come, as the Lord of lords, and King of kings, to reign over the earth. But He will not come alone. His Church, His Bride — "The Lamb's Wife" — most precious title! will come along with Him, to reign with Him over the blissful and peaceful millennial earth — that happy moment for which the whole creation, subject to the bondage of corruption for man's sake, is groaning and travailing in pain together until now.

It was not so with Adam in that lovely garden of Eden. There was a king, but no queen, to share the crown with him. When the "Sons of God" (i.e. angels) above in the heavens "shouted for joy," on looking down upon that perfect scene of earthly bliss and beauty, they had one common interest and motive for joy, even the glory of God that made their hearts beat with one common impulse. — Even "The morning stars sung together," when that bright creation scene sprung into existence. They had fellowship in their joy. But man was alone amidst that lovely scene, alone in his power — alone in his honour — alone with his thoughts alone with his heart. Each of those numberless creatures subject to Adam's dominion, from the eagle in mid air down to the singing birds on the trees, from the roaring lion down to the bleating lamb, that was feeding in peace alongside with him (as it will be again at a not far distant happier age), and lower down to the mute inhabitants of the waters — each had its mate, to share the enjoyment of its new existence, — but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. Man was alone in the midst of a paradise, and therefore it was no paradise to him. There was a void in his heart, with all the abundance of that beautiful garden around him. There was no kindred heart to share and respond to his feelings; no kindred spirit to understand his thoughts and to take sweet counsel with; no countenance, to be the mirror of his own, to reflect his smiles of happiness; no familiar voice to answer to his, or to join in sweet harmony with his voice of praise and thanksgiving, when Adam looked up from the paradise around him, to the heavenly residence of his divine Liege-Lord above, the Father of lights, from Whom every good gift and every perfect gift cometh. Adam knew what was light, for the sun and the moon and the stars of heaven declared the glory of Him, who clotheth Himself with light as with a garment, and who is the Father of lights." But he knew not what was love, for in the wide universe around him, there was no object to draw out that love, that gives itself for the beloved object, loses itself in it, and shares everything with it. But the blessed God, who is not only Light, but who is also Love, knew it.

"And the Lord God said: It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make an help-meet for him," (lit. "An help that is his equal.")

Had not He Himself an object for His divine love, even His only-begotten, yet co-equal Son, in whom the Father's heart found its daily delight, before angels or heaven and earth had been called into existence?

"The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from beginning, or ever the earth was when there were no depths, I was brought forth — when there were no fountains abounding with water — before the mountains were settled, before the hills was brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him."

Wondrous words! Still more marvellous grace, that the Spirit of God should have written them, and given to such as us, such an insight into that eternal relationship between Father and Son! But still more stupendous grace, that adds:

"Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men."

Oh love, all praise excelling, as it passes knowledge That love between Father and Son, though divine, and therefore perfectly happy and satisfied, if we may say so, and though the Son was daily His Father's delight, and rejoiced always before Him, yet that divine love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, wanted to go beyond itself, and to manifest itself outside itself. Love as well as light cannot be hidden, but manifests itself in the wider range of a creation, called forth by His word, by Whom all things were made, and upheld by the word of His power — a range that not only embraces millions of angels in heaven and creatures on earth, whom that divine love provided for and made perfectly happy, each in their proper sphere and place. But that the vast range into which that love had expanded should contain, as the especial objects of it, children of disobedience, enemies of God, this it is, that makes that love so truly divine, and constitutes its highest glory — the glory of redeeming love — and the glory and riches of divine grace, which is the result of divine love.

Yes, dear fellow-heir of glory! The Father's love wanted many sons to be brought to glory, whom He had predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ Himself. He wanted His heavenly house there above, which is as large as is His divine heart, and where there are "many mansions," to be filled, not only with the brilliant hosts of His angelic servants (holy and blessed though they be!), but with children (once lost prodigals in a far country, in filthy rags, feeding with the swine), in glorious bodies, His daily delight for eternity, as his Son was from eternity, and will be for eternity. That blessed Son of His love, who had to shed His blood upon the cross, to fit them for that glorious house, far above the sun and stars, and to provide them, according to His power, with glorious bodies, like His own, fit for that glorious abode, will come, (and, oh! that may be today!) to fetch us up to, and introduce us into that Father's house, and present all of them (not one will be missing) to His and our Father "Behold, I and the children which thou hast given me." Blessed hope, to be turned at any moment, into a still more blessed reality!

But the Father's love wanted not only children for Himself, but a bride for His Son, and He has given us to Him. "Thine they were, and thou hast given them to me." (John 17.) A bride — taken not from among His holy angels, who do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word, but from among the sons of men, fallen, sinful, and rebellious men! That bride is to dwell with Him in His Father's house above, whilst the terrible vials of divine wrath will be poured out upon this earth, where once the cross stood, and where He bought her, whom He loved and has washed in His own blood from her sins. She will dwell there with Him, in the daily perfect, peaceful enjoyment of His love, and the object of the Father's perfect delight and love in heaven, as we are now, though being in this world, as He is, beloved, being "accepted in the Beloved One." She will dwell there with Him, until the last vial shall have been emptied upon this poor world, and Babylon, the great whore, shall have met her threefold deserved fate, and the heavenly hallelujahs will chime, and announce, that "the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."

We have turned away, for a few moments, from that bright and happy scene of a yet undefiled paradise, to a higher and brighter one, which will be ours, and never be defiled nor lost. Let us now return, for a little while, to the earthly type of our blessings in an heavenly paradise, and above all in Him, who is the centre of it. And may God's blessed Spirit of truth, of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, under His sure guidance, use these precious types of God's wondrous counsels, which He has given us in the very first pages of Holy Writ, and open them up to us, and apply them to our hearts and consciences for fruit in praises to God and in our daily lives.

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh."

Wondrous scene! foreshadowing that deepest mystery of divine love, power, grace, and wisdom; a scene without parallel, even in the divine record, except by its anti-type on Calvary and at Pentecost! The Holy Ghost, when referring to it in our chapter, through the inspired apostle of the Gentiles, to whom those three great mysteries of God, as to his church, had been revealed (Eph. 3 and 5, and 1 Cor. 2:15) says: "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church,"

The One, Who had formed Adam out of a piece of clay, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, we behold here bending over the sleeping man, to form a help-meet for him — not from the dust of the ground, but from flesh — then sinless flesh — even the rib out of Adam's side. It is the Same, Who after 4,000 years of poor humanity's probation, was to give His flesh for the life of the world. He who had said: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will give him an help-meet," was one day, when hanging — between heaven and earth — upon the cross, to be alone in the most terrible sense of that word, to gain His "helpmeet," i.e., His bride — His wife to be His companion in a glorious heavenly home. He was to be alone — not in a paradise — but in the wilderness — to stand firm and immovable, and to bind the strong man, and to spoil him of his goods, whilst the first Adam, who now was lying sleeping before Him, soon fell at the first trial amidst the abundance of a paradise. He was to be alone, during his life-time, like a sparrow on the housetop, though followed and surrounded by thousands; for none understood Him, not even His own disciples. He was to be alone in the agonies of Gethsemane, when the prince of this world was approaching to bring all the power of death he wielded, to bear upon Him. His disciples, whom He wanted to be near Him and watch, whilst He prayed, fell asleep. They had forgotten their Master's watchword, which He gave, at the very threshold of that place, not only to them, but to us all. Poor sentinels! the enemy coming suddenly, found them sleeping, and the one who could not "watch one hour" with his Master, denied Him afterwards. And at last — alone upon the cross, after His own had forsaken Him! When the assembly of the wicked, the bulls of Bashan, the lions, and the dogs enclosed Him, He was alone — forsaken of His God. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die; else it would have abode alone. But, blessed be His gracious and glorious Name! — He could not, nor would He be alone, even in glory. He must and will have His glorious and spotless bride with Him there. That same wondrous Psalm, that opens with the cry of agony of the forsaken One upon the cross — contains, as soon as He has been "heard from the horns of the unicorns," these blessed words: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." He could, He would not be alone, either as to His earthly people in the millennial blessing, when He will say: "Eat, friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved;" Or even in His Father's house above, surrounded by all the glories of heaven; He cannot be alone.

"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me, where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."

And not only so, but:

"And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one."

Let us remember also these words of our gracious Lord's prayer, beloved; as we find them reiterated by the Spirit of God in Eph. 4:1-3. May the Lord keep you and me, beloved Christian reader, from any spirit of selfish and independent isolation, whilst in strictest separation from all that is contrary to His Will, as expressed in His Word, which is truth. Soon will He, Who would not that "man should be alone," come again.

"In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Everlasting praise be to Him, who has procured for us such a hope, and who Himself is our hope.

The Risen One, who has breathed upon those for whom He had died, the spirit of resurrection-life, as His breath, and had made the first Adam a living soul, was the Same, Who took the rib out of sleeping Adam's side, and made Adam's helpmeet out of it. The soldier's spear was one day to pierce His own side, and draw forth the blood and the water, to fit that bride, which the Father had given Him, to dwell with Him in glory.

If, before such a sublimely mysterious scene, one may be permitted to express oneself, for a moment, after the manner of men, one cannot help thinking, with deep and holy reverence, what thoughts and feelings must have filled and moved the divine mind and heart of the blessed "Last Adam," when He, bending over the sleeping first Adam, began to carry into effect (though then but in an earthly sense) those wondrous deep counsels, in which He had agreed with His Father (Gen. 1:26, and John 17). Thoughts — feelings, beyond all human ken and expression, like those that filled and moved the Father's heart, when He saw Abraham with his son Isaac wending their way up Mount Moriah (where afterwards Solomon built a temple to the Lord) near the spot where one day the cross of God's own beloved, only-begotten Son was to stand. Then that heavenly Father's heart poured itself out in blessings upon the one on Moriah, who is the Father of all them that believe:

"By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gates of his enemies;"

"And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."

Ah! beloved fellow-pilgrim and fellow-heir of glory Abraham's raised hand with the knife was stayed by the voice, that called to him from heaven: "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."

But that blessed One did not restrain His own hand from His only Son, when the time had come, and He spoke again:

"Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones."

Did He withhold that terrible cup from the lips of His beloved Son, in response to that thrice-repeated appeal of agony in the garden of Gethsemane? No. The cry from the cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" proves it.

For Adam, to gain his help-meet, it required but a deep sleep and a painless operation but to the One who performed it, it cost something more than a sleep: — death, even the death of the cross! — The sword of divine judgment had to fall upon Him, who was God's "Fellow," in order that such as you and I, reader, might be raised, not merely from the dust of the ground, but from the deep mire of our sins, where we were once wallowing in rebellion against God, to the rank and title of Christ's "Fellows" (Comp. Zech. 3 and Heb. 1).

The blessed One, Who one day was to bow His head upon the cross and say: "It is finished," had accomplished His work with Adam. He awoke from his sleep, and was no longer alone. Before him stood the "woman," taken from the man, and his beautiful "help-meet." There she stood before Adam, in her virginal beauty, amongst the beauties of the undefiled young creation around Adam, she the fairest and purest of all. From that moment, the garden of Eden was to Adam not only the "Garden of the Lord," Who had planted it, but a paradise; for that blessed God, "Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy," had given him a companion, to enjoy its beauties and abundance, knowing that joy, without one to share it, is but selfish, and therefore no real joy. His own self, though not yet wretched, sinful self, lost itself in another being, his equal, sprung from himself, "Bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh." And as she was taken out of his side, so they were "One heart and one soul." When Adam looked around him at the beautiful scene, over which the Lord God had placed him as the centre and head, and when he tasted of the abundance of the garden of the Lord, there was one, the fairest of all, at his side to share it, whose face reflected every joyful emotion of his own heart, and whose eyes reflected every sunbeam from his own, of an affection, sinless and pure, as it had been planted in their hearts by that blessed God, Who is love, as He is light.

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every thing that moveth upon the earth."

Thus God had formed and consecrated with His own blessing the sacred tie of marriage, as the first relationship among men upon the earth, He, Who created man in His own image, had made them, male and female, and said "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh."

Therefore they were no more twain, but one flesh, What God Himself joined, none was to put asunder. Thus it was "from the beginning."

But there was one to whom the garden of the Lord, with its happy human inmates, amidst that blissful scene of light, peace, love, and harmony, was an eyesore, for it reminded Him of a still brighter, higher and happier place which he had forfeited. Through his own wicked error he had fallen from his own steadfastness. And ever since his character had been to envy and hate everything that was of God, and therefore good, and to try and defile and destroy everything which God had established in and for blessing. He determined to blight that fair and happy scene and its inmates with his poisonous breath of sin, and not only so, but to dislodge Adam from his seat of supremacy, and to usurp his place as the prince of the world, by making man to obey him, and to disobey God, and to believe him who made God a liar. And when the sun was shining, through the verdant branches, on the golden fruits of the trees of the Paradise, and upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that was in the midst of the garden, the serpent made its noiseless approach, and began the attack upon the weaker part: the woman taken out of man. The very first word. ("yea") implied suggestion, and the very first sentence a suggestion and suspicion against God's goodness, until it waxed bolder, and made God a liar, man not only permitting it, but acting upon it. Alas! the old tale is ever new, and will be, to the end of the chapter.

The woman was deceived; instead of being Adam's helpmeet, she lent herself an instrument to Satan, to make her husband share in her transgression. It was done step by step. She listened to Satan — she spoke to Satan — she believed Satan — she looked at the forbidden tree — she lusted after its fruit — she "took of the fruit thereof" — "and did eat" — "and gave to her husband and he did eat."

Lust had conceived and brought forth sin, and sin, when it was finished, brought forth death.

Satan, whose constant aim it was and is, to defy and frustrate the counsels of God, seemed to have succeeded. He had dethroned Adam, and substituted himself as the prince of the world. But the moment of his triumph is always the moment of his defeat, for the greater glory of God. No sooner is the first Adam brought to fall, then the last Adam appears, in the promise of the "woman's seed," Who was to bruise the head of the serpent, that was to bruise His heel. The greatest of God's glories, the glory and riches of His grace in redeeming love, is brought to light, through Satan's instrumentality; and God's great plan: "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him," instead of being frustrated by Adam's fall, that fall, sad as it was, only becomes, in God's hand, the first stepping-stone for its accomplishment. (Comp. Ps. 8, and Heb. 2.) It was the same at the Cross. When Satan seemed to triumph over the last Adam, having put him to death, slain by wicked hands, it was only to find himself, like Goliath, beheaded with his own sword, when He, who had taken part of flesh and blood, through death destroyed him, that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them by it (i.e. the Cross.) That same Cross, where Satan and his satellites appeared to triumph, when their shout of derision arose, "Ah! so would we have it," became, according to God's wondrous counsels, not only the gate of heavenly glory in a heavenly Paradise, with the blessed last Adam, with Whom the dying thief went in company straight up to that Paradise; but in that wondrous 22nd Psalm, which opens with the cry of the Forsaken One upon the Cross, we find the Cross, at the end, to be also the gate for ever widening blessing flowing, from and through it, as the entrance for the earthly blessings in the millennial paradise for God's earthly people, "when the meek shall eat and be satisfied; when they shall praise the Lord that seek Him," and their soul "shall live for ever," until, at last, all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and "all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him." "For the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the governor among the nations." — (the true Joseph.) "All they that be fat upon earth, shall eat and worship, all they that go down to the dust, shall bow before Him, and none can keep alive his own soul." Then, the Son of Man, Who, in the days of His humiliation, as Jesus of Nazareth, was made a little lower

than the angels, and Whom the eye of faith now sees crowned with glory and honour, will, "in the dispensation of the fulness of times, appear as the last Adam, the glorified Man, coming from His heavenly paradise (where the marriage-supper of the Lamb has just been celebrated), on the white horses of victory, setting out with His bride, for His earthward journey towards a millennial paradise, His head encircled with many crowns, as "KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." Then, after His enemies have been made His footstool, the counsels of God, as foreshadowed in the first Adam, will be accomplished in the Last. Then Israel, His earthly people, after their night of sorrow will see Him, Whom they pierced, and their tears of deepest contrition and repentance, will change into tears of joy; "weeping endureth for a night and joy cometh in the morning," and the great Coronation Shout will arise, when their Deliverer's feet shall tread on the Mount of Olives: "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" Then God's plan, as to man's dominion over the earth not only, but over the higher creation, will be fully realised in Christ, the Second Man, Who is the Lord from heaven.

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, And the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"

But though the heart loves to look onward to that happy time, when God's blessed counsels as to man, all of which centre in that ever Blessed and ever Perfect Man, Jesus of Nazareth, Who alone could accomplish and has accomplished them by the blood of His Cross, will be fulfilled, we must recall ourselves from our digression, to our present humbling and sorrowful subject — man's fall amidst the abundance of an earthly paradise.

Sin had entered into the world. Satan had succeeded in dethroning man and taken his place as prince of this world. The kingdom of darkness began. The young creation, scarcely sprung into existence, had been nipped in the bud by the withering blast of sin, and under the poisonous blight that had fallen upon it, the first bloom of its young beauty died away. Created things, though still pleasant, now began, to bear death's stamp, and instead of the sweet tone of peaceful harmony, that had pervaded the whole, the groan of sorrow and pain went up to heaven from the suffering creation, that had become subject to vanity and to the bondage of corruption for man's sake.

Man, fallen and dethroned, became an exile for ever from his former happy home, driven out from the garden of Eden by a merciful God, lest he should eat also of the tree of life, and thus perpetuate his misery on the cursed ground of the earth. The paradise, and the befitting garment* of innocence had been lost, never to be recovered. The second garment (in Gen. — man's own outfit and stitchwork — had only discovered his nakedness and shame, instead of concealing it. But God did not expel Adam and his wife from the garden of Eden, without clothing their nakedness with the third, i.e., the garment of His own make and provision, the very character of which was, at the same time, the typical expression of that great gospel-truth, which, like Rahab's scarlet line, runs through the whole Word of God, from Abel's sacrifice, until the Book of Revelation, that is: "Without shedding of blood is no remission." Its very material was thus the practical illustration, as it were, of the first gospel, announced by a merciful God Himself — not unto Adam (for he had not only sinned, but attempted to excuse himself, nay, to accuse God Himself, in an indirect way), but in Adam's hearing, (for God is both holy and gracious, blessed be His Name!) and in the form of judgment upon the serpent.

{*If we may use this word ("garment") here in the sense of mere attire, not of a covering, for there was nothing to cover in the state of innocence.}
"Soon as the reign of sin began,
 The light of mercy dawned on man;
When God announced the blessed news;
 The woman's seed thy head shall bruise."

True and righteous, indeed, are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! Grace and righteousness are perfectly combined, may it be in government, or in redemption. By the woman's instrumentality the serpent had introduced sin into the world and ruined man; and "the womans seed," was to bruise his head and to rescue fallen man. But grace must reign through righteousness. Righteousness and peace were to meet, mercy and truth to kiss each other one day upon the Cross, where the Same, Who clothed Adam and Eve, and announced the first glad tidings in their hearing, was to die, the Just for the unjust, to bring a fallen and hostile race back unto God, by faith in His blood, and reconcile them by the blood of His cross.

But, though God is love, He is also light, i.e., He is holy and true. Therefore, after having announced those first glad tidings, in fallen man's hearing, in His crushing judgment upon the serpent, as the author and root of all evil, He proceeds to pass His righteous sentence upon Adam and his wife: first upon the woman for she was the first to sin; nay, she had also persuaded her husband into it, which appears to be evident from the words the Lord spoke to Adam; "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree," etc. Therefore sentence is first passed upon her. How invariable, from the very first, are God's eternal principles in judgment, as in all His ways! His solemn sentence runs thus: — "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children: (what a difference to His first words to Adam and his wife in the 28th verse of the first chapter of Genesis!) and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,"

True and righteous, indeed, are His judgments! Where she had sinned, there she was punished. Her lust had conceived and brought forth sin; therefore her sorrow and conception was greatly to be multiplied, and in sorrow she was to bring forth children; she had forgotten her place as Adam's "help-meet," and taking the lead, had misled him into that terrible first sin of disobedience against God, and thus ruined his and her own happiness for ever! Therefore God's just sentence is — "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."

Was then Adam's guilt attenuated by his wife's sin? Far from it! On the contrary, the very thing he alleges as an excuse ("the woman, whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat,") God pronounces to be the reason for Adam's judgment, "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy" [not for her]" sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it thou wast taken, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Thus we see, that the responsibility of the man's guilt, instead of being shifted on the woman, or, at the least shared by her, because of her having taken the initiative, only falls with its full, yea, redoubled weight upon Adam, because he had permitted her to do so. If the man Adam failed to maintain his place as the head of the woman, which he was from a creatural reason, (comp. 1 Cor. 11) even before sin had come in, this only increased his guilt, as said already, instead of attenuating it. ("Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife," etc.) The commandment, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, had not been given to the woman, but to the man, before the woman had come into existence. Therefore the full weight of responsibility rested upon Adam in every sense. The brighter and higher his position had been, as head of the lower creation, and as head of the woman, the darker was his sin, and the deeper his fall. "Because thou" (not you) "hast eaten of the tree," and "Cursed is the ground for thy sake," etc. (Comp. Rom. 5:12-19.)

Then, under the weight of that solemn sentence of God, the fallen man and his wife took their tearful leave of that beautiful garden of the Lord, lost for ever to them through their folly and sin. But the weight had been relieved through God's merciful promise. For the same Divine Voice, that had said to Adam: "Cursed be the ground for thy sake," had also spoken to the serpent, "Thou art cursed," etc., and "The woman's seed shall bruise thy head."

That gracious promise had not been lost upon Adam's ear, and they took the relief it gave to their souls, with them, on entering upon a world and life of sorrow and care. Adam, no doubt, by faith in that promise, called his wife "Eve," (Heb. "Chavah") i.e., "living," "because she was the mother of all living."

And after his faith had begun to be answered, in the temporal sense, by Eve having borne children to Adam, and they had thus entered upon the second family-relationship, provided by a merciful God; the happy but responsible relationship of parents and children; do you not think, Christian reader, that both parents, when they, resting from the toil of the day, under the shelter of their poor abode, told their growing sons, along with the solemn and humbling tale of that lost paradise, and the cause of its loss, and the effect of it, as a warning to their young consciences, also told them of those words of God's gospel-promise, which they had been permitted to listen to, before they as exiles, had to enter upon their new existence of sorrow and toil? Those words had sunk down into the ears of Abel; and his sacrifice, to which God had respect, and by which he obtained witness, that he was righteous, and by which he, "being dead yet speaketh," showed, how deeply the words he had heard from his parents, had been lodged in Abel's conscience and heart. It was otherwise with Cain, alas! He was Eve's first-born, and she said, I have gotten a man from the Lord." How far motherly pride and natural affection may have influenced the training of the child, and thus prevented the good seed falling into good ground, is a question we cannot enter upon here.

We must leave now the sorrowful abode and family of our first parents, the exiles from a lost paradise, to turn to a brighter and happier abode; I mean the Christian's Family and Household.

Though still amidst a world of toil and sorrow, yea, of evil increasing everywhere yet what a privileged, bright and safe abode is that of the Christian family and household! Ah! beloved fellow-christian! That word of God's Gospel-promise, pronounced in the paradise, has been fulfilled more than 1800 years ago. "The woman's seed has bruised the serpent's head." For unto us also, though once sinners of the Gentiles, "strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world," yet partakers of the unconditional gospel-promise, pronounced by a merciful God in fallen Adam's hearing: — unto us also "a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, — Counsellor, — The Mighty God, — The Everlasting Father — The Prince of Peace." He, Who came, and will come a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel, has made peace by the Blood of His Cross, and given unto us His Spirit, Whose mind is life and peace, and Whose fruit is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," all of them qualities that characterise the atmosphere, and form the only true adornment and comforts of a Christian household and family. But let us now turn to a closer consideration of the first of those christian family-relationships, with which the Holy Spirit deals in our chapter. (Eph. 5.)

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body." (Eph. 5:22-23.)

"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." (1 Col. 3:18.)

In the preceding chapter I have entered fully into the difference between submission and obedience, and the meaning of the expression: "in the fear of Christ." And I can but trust and pray to God, that those few remarks I have ventured to offer, however imperfect, may have been according to the Lord's mind, and profitable to the souls of my readers and to my own. For that verse (21) forms the true threshold for entering upon our meditations on our Christian family relationships. They can only be profitable if we enter upon them with a mind hallowed and impressed by those words: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ."

The first word, that follows after "wives" in both the above passages of scripture, is "submit." It is the same in the Epistle of the Apostle Peter. Those two words thus closely connected by the Spirit, express the mind and will of God as to the "wives" character and position. Subjection and submissiveness, indeed, form the character of every truly godly woman, especially of those in the sacred and blessed relationship of marriage. As I have spoken extensively on the meaning of the word: submission, and the difference between submission and obedience, I only say once more, that, though submission and not obedience, is given in Eph. and Col. as the prominent Christian feature of the wives, from the reasons already mentioned, yet obedience forms no less an essential part of the Divinely required demeanour and character of the Christian "wife," as we shall see presently in the passage from 1 Peter 3 previously alluded to. How, indeed, could any contrary thought be admitted into the mind of any, with the words of that solemn sentence of the Lord God, to which we have just listened, still ringing in our ears, as it were.

Now, there are three reasons in Scripture for the subordinate place, in which it has pleased the Lord God, to place the woman:
1. On Creation ground
2. On governmental ground
3. On Church ground.

The first of them the Spirit of God gives us in 1 Cor. 11 where the divine injunction for the woman to have a "cover" on her head (as a sign that she is under authority), is connected, not with her being the first in the transgression, but with her position in creation, before sin had entered the world. v. 3-9, in connection with v. 10, show this clearly. But we had better read the whole passage:

"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth, with her head uncovered, dishonoureth her head; for that is even all one, as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man, indeed, ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power" (or, as the margin says a covering, in sign, that she is under the power of her husband) "on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God."

Thus we see, even from the natural point of view, God expressing His mind in most unmistakeable language, and branding with the mark of shame every woman who, even if only in her garment, disowns the place in which the Lord has put her. I can but refer to what has been said already on this subject in chapter two when speaking on the principle of divine order.

I am afraid, that in some places on the continent these divine injunctions, as to the woman's attire, are not regarded as they ought to be. We know that national habit and attire have a great deal to do with this irregularity (if it can be called by such a mild name), and therefore Christians in those assemblies are accustomed to see women make their appearance bareheaded in the "House of the living God," or, as is often the case, removing the head cover, on entering, as if a decent attire in the street were of more importance than in the presence of God. But national habit and attire cannot be admitted in divine matters, especially in the church of God, as a plea for a custom, which constitutes a flat and standing contradiction to the distinctly expressed will of God, announced by His Spirit in the above passages to Christian women of all times and nations. The plea, that no offence is given to their brethren there, by their doing so, fails entirely. For the divine injunction, given by the Spirit, is not because of their brethren, but "because of the angels." And are those pure heavenly attendants at the Divine courts above, whose very character it is, to do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word"; are those blessed and devoted "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," and who "desire to look into these things," less to be regarded than our fellow Christians? To me, when reading those words: "because of the angels," it always was and is a solemn and yet most happy thought, that besides Himself, Whose presence alone is light, life and happiness, those blessed, pure, holy, heavenly messengers are present at the assemblies of God, to study the manifold wisdom of God in His Church with adoring hearts, and with their devoted and tender interest in everything that is passing there, because it concerns the glory of God and the welfare of His saints.

Truisms, such as: "a cover on the heart is better than a mere cover on the head," will not avail to cover outward disobedience; for where there is inward obedience and submission, it will be sure to appear outwardly too; and where the heart is under the power and authority of the word of God, the "power" on the head will not be refused. I feel quite sure, that this is done unintentionally, from a want of spiritual understanding of the bearing of that important and so much neglected portion of divine truth (I mean 1 Cor. 11), but neglect or carelessness can be no excuse for disobedience to divine injunctions, just as little as the concluding words of the Apostle: "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God," could be used as an encouragement for disregarding the injunctions just given by himself, as inspired by the Holy Ghost. Those words are merely added, by the grace of God in the writer, to put a check upon the contentious spirit of the Corinthians, and guard them against undue legal pressure upon the consciences of their sisters in Christ; as this, after all, could never be made a matter of church discipline. Therefore the Apostle does not speak here the authoritative language of an apostle of Jesus Christ, as in that case of the flagrant evil (1 Cor. 5), but he appeals to their own judgment "Judge in yourselves: is it comely, that a woman pray* unto God uncovered." But to any godly woman under the sense of divine grace and truth, the apostle's speaking thus in grace, would not, in the least weaken, but, on the contrary, serve to increase her solemn sense of responsibility as to the divine truth, taught and insisted on in the above important passage of Holy Writ.

{*It is hardly necessary to say, that it is not a question here of praying aloud or silently. It is "pray unto God."}

The second reason, adduced for the woman's place of subjection, is governmental. We find this (besides the solemn sentence of the Lord God in Gen. 3:16) in 1 Tim. 2:11-14, where we have (v. 13), also the creatural aspect:

"But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing, (comp. Gen. 3:16), if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety."

It is not the purport of these pages, to enter upon the first part of the above portion of Holy Scripture, as to women's teaching in the church, much less can it be one's desire, to refer to those itinerating female preachers, who, on the stages of theatres, and on the platforms of town-halls, expose themselves night after night to the public gaze, some of them with a number of little children at home, or, what is worse, exhibiting their daughters at a tender age, as a spectacle to men, but not to angels.*

{*We have just heard of a most solemn instance of God's marked displeasure and judgment of such a flagrant disobedience to His own will as expressed in Titus 2:4-5.}

It is a relief to turn away from such, to a brighter and happier scene of Divine and patriarchal simplicity. I have alluded to it already: I mean the eighteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, to which the Spirit of God delights to point, through the inspired pen of the apostle Peter, as a pattern scene for all who desire, as true daughters of Sarah, to win "without the word," by "the conversation of the wives," them that "obey not the word, while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." That precious scene, to which every heart, taught by grace divine, ever returns for fresh blessing, will, at the same time, furnish us with a practical illustration of what I have said about outward and inward obedience.

We find there the Lord of Glory, with two of His holy angels, honouring with His presence the humble abode of His servant Abraham, resting under the tree, that overshadowed Abraham's tent, and accepting of His hospitality.

Sarah is not visible. She is in the tent; in her proper place and sphere. Abraham hastens into the tent unto Sarah and says: "Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth." According to modern notions of the meaning and limits of "he shall rule over thee," those words of Abraham would have constituted a flagrant interference with his wife's duties, and would have evoked a decided remonstrance from many a — shall we say, "daughter of Sarah?" But Sarah (who had no bible, and therefore had not read the third chapter of Genesis) simply obeys. We read further:

"And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf, tender and good, and gave it unto a young man, and he hasted to dress it."

In that patriarchal household, there was simple, unquestioning, swift and willing obedience everywhere. The Lord delights to visit such homesteads, for He is a God of order. No wonder then, that He, having seen Abraham's well-ordered household, where everybody and everything was, and moved in their proper sphere, should say, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him."

But we return to Sarah; for she, not Abraham, is just now the sweet and attractive object of our attention. Her modest and unobtrusive retirement within the tent, does not deprive her of her heavenly master's and His two companion's attention and honourable distinction.

"And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

"And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him."

Sarah then betrays her weakness of faith in Him, for Whom there is nothing too hard, and receives a gentle rebuke from the Lord for her unbelief. But there appears to me something exceedingly beautiful in the simple fact, that not only in that most instructive eleventh chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews (where Sarah, like all those presented to us in that divine picture-gallery of witnesses of faith, has obtained a good report), but also in that beautiful portion of the first epistle of the apostle Peter 1-6), referred to in our previous chapter, no mention whatever is made of Sarah's failure. And why? Not only because of her outward submission and obedience to her husband, so simply and beautifully appearing in the above quoted portion (Gen. 18), but because Sarah's obedience was that "of a meek and quiet spirit;" it was an obedience of the heart. I must remind the reader of what I have said a few pages before, as to the difference between inward and outward obedience. Thus Sarah, in Peter's epistle, again obtains a good report, not as a witness of faith, but as a pattern of true godly womanhood, in real heartfelt submission and obedience to the husband, because her submission and obedience were inward and therefore real.

Thus it is, that the failures as to faith, and even truthfulness ("for she was afraid"), are not recorded by the Holy Ghost in this precious portion (1 Peter 3) though in Genesis she is rebuked for both by Him, Who is and was always "He that is holy and He that is true." The way, in which the really inward obedience of the heart, that was in Sarah, is brought out in our portion by the Spirit of Him Who searches the reins and the hearts, and hears men's thoughts, is of exquisite beauty.

On the Lord's promise given to Abraham, that Sarah his wife, who was, like himself, past age, was to have a son, Sarah, who was in the tent door behind Him, on hearing this, "laughed within herself, saying, after I am waxed old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"

It is clear from these words, that Sarah's words as well as her laughter were within herself, i.e. not uttered audibly. (Comp. Gen. 17:17.) Therefore Sarah's words, "My Lord," as applied to her husband, were not uttered aloud at the time they were spoken; she only spoke them within. What a proof then, that, with her, those words were not a meaningless confession of the lips, but came in reality from the thoroughly submissive and obedient heart of a truly godly wife.

Little did Sarah think, when speaking thus to herself, that those words, "My Lord," whispered in the secret chamber of her heart, should, two thousand years after, be recorded in Holy Writ, by the Spirit of Him, Who was then her husband's guest, as a pattern for godly women of all ages, of genuine submission and obedience of the heart, that it might be spoken of throughout the world, for a memorial of her. Thus it is God owns and honours true obedience of the heart. And where this is, there will be always ready submission in words and action.

But let the word of the living God speak itself to the hearts of those of my much beloved and esteemed Christian readers, to whom this portion of Holy Writ is especially addressed, and may the Holy Spirit, Who has written them, engrave them on their hearts and consciences:

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel."

"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

"For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands."

"Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord, whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement,"

There are, therefore, three qualities, which would characterise a true "daughter of Sarah," i.e. every godly Christian wife, namely: —

1. Submission and obedience to her husband's rule. As the woman was the first to dishonour God by introducing disobedience into the world; so a godly woman will be the first to glorify God in the world by obedience.

The second quality of "Sarah's daughters" is "doing well," i.e., good works,

We find this beautiful and blessed quality of a godly woman also in the first Epistle of Paul to Timothy, (1 Tim. 2:9-10, a portion of which I have quoted already):

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array."

"But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

"Not afraid with any amazement." This, at the first aspect, might appear strange to some, as fear and timidity, and not courage or boldness, forms the woman's natural character. But we must not forget, that natural timidity has nothing to do with the quiet courage of faith, that forms a part of our new nature, if in the healthy exercise of faithful dependence, without difference of sex, because there is no male nor female as to the new nature. And whilst it is true, that there is nothing more repugnant and hideous than mere natural boldness in a woman, yet it is, at the same time, a well-known truth, borne out by historical facts of all ages, especially in the history of female martyrs during the persecutions of the earlier Christians, that the most godly, gentle, obedient and submissive women have been, at the same time, those who have given to the world and to angels the wondrous spectacle of a quiet courage of faith, which made them, amidst the most cruel tortures and excruciating suffering, rise superior not only to the fears of their nature, but to the terrors of a persecution, which, as to the most terrible circumstances, were in nothing behind those of the death of Stephen or other faithful martyrs.

As a historical illustration of what I have said, I give here, from a most valuable work on Church history*, an account of the martyrdom of Perpetua, who suffered the death of a martyr in Africa, during the persecution under the Roman Emperor Severus:

{*"Short Papers on Church History." by Andrew Miller.}

"Perpetua and her companions in all histories hold a distinguished place. The history of their martyrdom not only bears throughout the stamp of circumstantial truth, but abounds with the most exquisite touches of natural feeling and affection. Here we see the beautiful combination of the tenderest feelings and the strongest affections, which Christianity recognises in all their rights, and makes even more profound and tender, but yet causes all to be sacrificed on the altar of entire devotedness to Him, Who died entirely devoted to us. "Who loved me," as appropriating faith says, "and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20.

"At Carthage, in the year 202, three young men, Revocatus, Saturnius, and Secundulus, and two young women, Perpetua and Felicitas, were arrested, all of them being still catechumens, or candidates for baptism and communion. Perpetua was of a good family, wealthy and noble, of liberal education, and honourably married. She was about twenty-two years of age, and was a mother, with her child at the breast. Her whole family seem to have been Christians, except her aged father, who was still a pagan. Nothing is said of her husband. Her father was passionately fond of her, and greatly dreaded the disgrace that her sufferings for Christ would bring on her family. So that she had not only death in its most frightful form to struggle with, but every sacred tie of nature.

When she was first brought before her persecutors, her aged father came and urged her to recant, and say, she was not a Christian. "Father," she calmly replied, pointing to a vessel that lay on the ground, "can I call this vessel anything else than what it is?" "No," he replied. "Neither can I say to you anything else than that I am a Christian." A few days after this the young Christians were baptized. Though they were under guard, they were not committed to prison. But shortly after this, they were thrown into the dungeon. "Then," she says, "I was tempted, I was terrified, for I had never been in such darkness before. Oh! what a dreadful day! The excessive heat occasioned by the number of persons, the rough treatment of the soldiers, and finally, anxiety for my child made me miserable." The deacons, however, succeeded in purchasing for the Christian prisoners a better apartment, where they were separated from the common criminals. Such advantages could usually be purchased from the venal overseers of prisons. Perpetua was now cheered by having her child brought to her. She placed it on her breast and exclaimed, "Now this prison has become a palace to me!"

After a few days there was a rumour that the prisoners were to be examined. The father hastened to his daughter in great distress of mind. "My daughter," he said, "pity my gray hairs, pity thy father, if I am still worthy to be called thy father. If I have brought thee up to this bloom of thy age, if I have preferred thee above all thy brothers, expose me not to such shame among men. Look upon thy child — thy son — who, if thou diest, cannot long survive thee. Let thy lofty spirit give way, lest thou plunge us all into ruin. For if thou diest thus, not one of us will ever have courage again to speak a free word." Whilst saying this he kissed her hands, threw himself at her feet, entreating her with terms of endearment, and many tears. But though greatly moved and pained by the sight of her father, and his strong and tender affection for her, she was calm and firm, and felt chiefly concerned for the good of his soul. "My father's grey hairs," she said, "pained me, when I considered that he alone of my family would not rejoice in my martyrdom." "What shall happen," she said to him, "when I come before the tribunal, depends on the will of God; for we stand not in our own strength, but only by the power of God."

"On the arrival of the decisive hour — the last day of their trial — an immense multitude was assembled. The aged father again appeared, that he might, for the last time, try his utmost to overcome the resolution of his daughter. On this occasion he brought her infant son in his arms and stood before her. What a moment! What a spectacle! Her aged father, his grey hairs, her tender infant, to say nothing of his agonising importunities; what an appeal to a daughter — to a young mother's heart! "Have pity on thy father's grey hairs," said the governor, "have pity on thy helpless child; offer sacrifice for the welfare of the Emperor." Thus she stood before the tribunal, before the assembled multitude, before the admiring myriads of heaven, before the frowning hosts of hell. But Perpetua was calm and firm. Like Abraham of old, the father of the faithful, her eye was not now on her son, but on the God of resurrection, Having commended her child to her mother and her brother, she answered the governor and said, "That I cannot do." "Art thou a Christian?" he asked. "Yes." she replied, "I am a Christian." Her fate was now decided. They were all condemned to serve as a cruel sport for the people and the soldiers, in a fight with wild beasts, on the anniversary of young Geta's birthday. They returned to their dungeon, rejoicing that they were thus enabled to witness and suffer for Jesus' sake. The gaoler, Pudas, was converted by means of the tranquil behaviour of his prisoners."

"When led forth into the amphitheatre, the martyrs were observed to have a peaceful and joyful appearance. According to a custom, which prevailed in Carthage, the men should have been clothed in scarlet like the priests of Saturn, and the women in yellow as the priestesses of Ceres; but the prisoners protested against such a proceeding. "We have come here," they said, "of our own choice, that we may not suffer our freedom to be taken from us; we have given up our lives, that we may not be forced to such abominations." The pagans acknowledged the justice of their demand, and yielded. After taking leave of each other with the mutual kiss of Christian love, in the certain hope of soon meeting again, as "absent from the body and present with the Lord," they came forward to the scene of death in their simple attire. Their voice of praise to God was heard by the spectators. Perpetua was singing a psalm. The men were exposed to lions, bears, and leopards; the women were tossed by a furious cow. But all were speedily released from their sufferings by the sword of the gladiator, and entered into the joy of their Lord."

I have given this touching account of Perpetua's martyrdom, though her relationship as wife does not appear in it, but only that of daughter and mother.

But it suffices to illustrate the truth of what the apostle Peter gives as one of the characteristics of every true daughter of Sarah, that is, not to be afraid with any amazement. Wherever there is in a Christian woman true subjection and obedience of heart to the Lord, the Head in glory, and consequently to the husband, whom the Lord has given to her as her head on earth, there will be, coupled with true womanlike gentleness, always that quiet firmness and courage of faith, which is the result of true dependence upon, and communion with God, where alone the secret of His strength can be learned and is imparted. Thus the words "not afraid with any amazement,"* (i.e. "consternation") mean that quality of a godly wife, which keeps her from being alarmed and terrified by her adversaries, may they be adversaries without, as in Phil. 1:28, (and to this, it appears, the apostle here alludes) or, what is still worse, if the husband himself was an adversary of the divine truth. For however much, under grace, the christian wife was, and is bound to obey her husband implicitly, even if he was a heathen, or, as to our present age, an enemy and opposer of the truth, it needs hardly be said, that, where obedience to the husband's will is demanded from her, in distinct contradiction and opposition to God and His Word, the word always holds good: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." For the wives are told, to submit themselves unto their own husbands "as unto the Lord," and "as it is fit in the Lord." The meaning of these words is unmistakeable. The former of these expressions: "as unto the Lord," points the godly "wives" rather to the supreme authority of Him, Who is our Liege Lord, and Who, when appointing Adam to be lord and ruler over his wife, certainly did not mean to hand to the fallen and sinful man His own supreme Authority as sovereign Ruler and Lord over both Adam and Eve, his wife. Those words (Eph. 5), therefore "as unto the Lord," put the Blessed Person of the Lord Jesus Christ (not the person of the husband) as the paramount object before the heart and conscience of the Christian "wives," as the One, for Whom and to Whom they have to do everything. If the eye of faith in, and of affection to the Lord Jesus sees Him behind the husband, how happy and easy it is to obey the latter, especially if he should be a hard, unkind, exacting husband, or even an opposer and enemy of the truth. As another has observed very truly.

{*The word 'amazement,' like several other words in our common version, (as for instance the word: 'prevent' in 1 Thess. 4, 'vile' in Phil. 3, and many others) appears at the time it was made, to have had quite a different meaning from what it has now The true meaning is: 'consternation'; or, great terror, in contrast to the quiet evenness of faith in a well balanced believer's heart and mind.

"In this Epistle (Eph.) it is not merely God's control that is brought out, but special relationship. Here it is the Lord loving His own, with a love that has sacrificed everything for their sake. How can I doubt the blessedness and value of submitting myself to the Lord? The Christian wife may have a husband; and it may be very painful and hard to bear all; perhaps he makes nothing of you, and asks often what is unreasonable. But what will make it to be a light burden? "Submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord." Let me only see the Lord in the matter, instead of his inconsiderateness and bad temper, and my path is plain. I am to submit unto my husband as unto the Lord. It is made a matter not of mere duty, but of confidence in the Lord above everything — in His love, care and government. This is what the Holy Ghost first starts with, and makes it to be the best of all the various instructions that He is about to bring forth. He begins with the grand truth, that the Christian woman is entitled, to submit to her husband as unto the Lord. So that it is not made a question simply of affection, which would be human. This is a most necessary thing as a natural element, but it would be true if a person were not a christian at all. Neither is it a question of that which the husband expects, or of what I might think to be right. All these things belong to the region of proper feelings and morality. But the important thing is, that God cannot be with a Christian woman who walks in the habitual slighting of His ground for her in her relationship as a wife. He will not allow a christian to walk merely on moral conventional grounds. They may be right enough in their place. But if I am a Christian, I have a higher calling; and then, no matter, what may be the difficulty — even if the one to whom I owe my subjection, be not a Christian — here comes in the blessed guard: "Submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord." He entitles me, to see Himself behind the person of the husband, and I have got to follow Him and submit myself to him. In this thought there would be great comfort for the christian wife, who is ever so tried."*

{*Bible Treasury. Vol. 5.}

But those blessed words: "as unto the Lord," have not only a positive meaning as to trueness of heart to the Person of Him, Who gave Himself for us. They have also a negative meaning, as to faithfulness of conscience to Him, "that is holy, and that is true," as to negativing, i.e. saying "no" to anything that would involve positive sin, i.e. disobedience to the Lord's will, as expressed in His Own word. I say purposely: "as expressed in His own word." For our nature is so much inclined to say "no" to anything that interferes with our own will, and the subtle encroachments of the flesh, especially the religious flesh, that would gladly avail itself of any excuse for having its own way, are so many, that we cannot be too much on our guard, whenever we feel tempted to be disobedient to those, whom God has placed in authority over us I mean words such as these; "Here disobedience becomes a duty," often heard in cases of an apparent conflict between divine and human authority. I am always afraid, there is something wrong, when I hear such language. The word of God never puts it thus. It tells us be obedient to those in authority over us, but it tells us nowhere to be disobedient to them. For disobedience is sin, and God is not the author of sin. Such was not the language of Peter and John, when they found themselves in such a conflict. Their words, when before the authorities: "Whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard," — sound very different from words like those, referred to above.

At the same time, we must always remember what is said in Col. 3 where we find the same divine injunction given to the wives, only with this difference: "as it is fit in the Lord," instead of "as unto the Lord." This would more distinctly imply, what I have called the negative side of the expression, used in Eph. 5 "as unto the Lord." For here it is not only the Lord's Person ("unto the Lord") but the demeanour, becoming the handmaid of such a Master, that is applied to the conscience of the christian "wives." There is a deep meaning and great force for the heart and conscience of a truly godly "wife" in those two expressions, "as unto the Lord" and, "as it is fit in the Lord."

I have just given an instance, in the case of Perpetua, of true-heartedness to the Lord, amidst, and triumphing over the circumstances of martyrdom, so terrible to nature, and yet blended with the most tender and touching expression of natural affections as daughter and mother, but sacrificing all to the lover of her soul, who not only loveth His own unto the end but Whose love is strong as death, Who "has washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

I now desire to call to my reader's memory, in a few words, the domestic Christian virtues of a godly "wife," who, in the stormy times of the Reformation, shed through her household the peaceful light of a truly pious Christian "wife," as a practical illustration of what is "fit in the Lord." I mean Catherine von Bora, the wife of Luther. Well known though the incidents of her life may be to my readers, yet perhaps they will bear with me, if I recall to their mind the picture of one, whose life was such a beautiful illustration of those words of the wise, inspired king

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou exceedest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

"Luther himself," says one of his biographers, "speaks of his marriage as a happy one." True, the sex did not then receive the same delicate regard, which is shown to it among us at the present time. Plain and simple honesty, in striking contrast with modern French manners, characterised the age of the Reformation, and connected with this, the decided tone, in which the husband was then accustomed to speak as the master of the household. The obedience of the wife was a matter of direct and simple reality, and was spoken of as such without circumlocution or ambiguity. … Luther, too, was a man who told all his private thoughts and feelings, and it would be strange indeed, if a man of such a temperament should never see nor mention a wife's little imperfections. He at one time remarks "Katy is kind, submissive in all things, and pleasing; more so (thank God) than I could hope, so that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus." Again he says, in 1538, thirteen years after his marriage: "Even if I were a young man, I would sooner die than marry a second time, knowing what I do of the world, though a queen should be offered me after my Katy." "A more obedient wife," he observes again, "I could not find, unless I were to chisel one out of marble." And again, I prize her above the kingdom of France or the State of Venice; she is a pious, good wife, given me of God."

If we wish to see his creed in respect to a wife's place in a household, we have it undoubtedly in these words, addressed once to "his Katy," as he was fond of calling her: "You may persuade to anything you wish; you have perfect control," to which was added, by way of explanation, "in household affairs. I give you the entire control, my authority being unabated."

As a practical commentary on these words of Luther, I give the following little incident from the same source:

"A student, who had finished his course of study, and was about to leave Wittenberg penniless, came to Luther for a little aid. But Luther's pocket was empty, and his wife, who was present, was as destitute of money, Luther expressed his regret, that he was unable to render him any assistance. But as he observed the sadness of the young man, his eye fell on a silver goblet, which he had received as a present from the Elector. He looked at his wife inquiringly, and she returned a look which meant: 'No.' He, however, took the costly gift and gave it to the student. The latter refused it, and Katy seized the opportunity of interposing another significant look. Luther said, 'I have no need of silver cups; take it to the goldsmith, and get what you can for it, and retain the money.'"

Luther complained of being invited so often from home. He preferred to be more in his own family circle. He loved to sit in his own garden, his wife with her work at his side, and his children enjoying their sports. "The best gift of God," he said, "is a pious and amiable wife, who fears God, loves her family, with whom a man may live in peace, and in whom he may safely confide." When he journeyed, his wife accompanied him if she could. She was often his companion in his study, taking an interest in his writings, and reminding him if he forgot to reply to the letters he received. On one occasion, when writing his commentary on the twenty-second Psalm, he shut himself up, with nothing but bread and salt, for three days and nights, till Catherine was alarmed for him, and caused a blacksmith to open the door, and there they found Luther lost in deep meditation."

"The sweets of domestic life," says Merle D'Aubigne, "soon dispersed the storms that the exasperation of his enemies had gathered over him. His Ketha, as he styled her, manifested the tenderest affection towards him, consoled him in his dejection by repeating passages from the Bible, exonerated him from all household cares, sat near him during his leisure moments, worked his portrait in embroidery, and often amused him by the simplicity of her questions. A certain dignity appears to have marked her character, for Luther would sometimes call her My Lord Ketha.* His letters overflowed with tenderness for Catherine; he called her his dear and gracious wife, his dear and amiable Ketha. Luther's character became more cheerful in Catherine's society, and this happy frame of mind never deserted him afterwards, even in the midst of his greatest trials."

{*Meus dominus Ketha, mea dominus Ketha, meus domina Ketha.}

"In his temporary illness in 1526," says another, of Luther's biographers, "when it was expected he would leave her a widow with her infant child, she showed remarkable fortitude, as well as faith and patience. 'You know,' he said to her, 'that I have nothing to leave you but the silver cups.' 'My dear doctor,' she replied, 'if it is God's will, then I choose that you be with Him rather than with me. It is not so much I and my child that need you, but many pious Christians. Trouble not yourself about me.'"

"When Luther was at Coburg in 1530, he heard of the illness of his father, and yet his own life was in such peril that he could not safely make the journey to see him. At this both he and Catharine were much distressed. Soon afterward the news of his death reached him. "I have heard," he says to Link, "of the death of my father, who was so dear and precious to me." Catharine, to comfort him, sent him a likeness of his favourite daughter Magdalene, then one year old. "You have done a good deed," says Veit Dietrich, Luther's amanuensis, "in sending the likeness to the doctor, for by it many of his gloomy thoughts are dissipated. He hath placed it on the wall over against the dining table in the prince's hall."

"The foregoing," continues the same biographer (Dr. Barnas Sears), "are only a few of the evidences of conjugal affection and domestic happiness in the family of Luther, which are to be found in his writings and in those of his contemporaries. Aside from these common frailties, found in the great and good no less than in others, there appears to have been nothing to interrupt the personal happiness of these individuals in each other."

I trust, my readers will not find these extracts too lengthy, which have given us a glimpse into the family life of the great reformer. They have but furnished another proof that "a prudent wife is from the Lord, and a virtuous woman a crown to her husband." From that modest Christian homestead of God's chief witness at those troublous times, around which the "God of this world," the "prince of the power of the air," attempted to gather all the clouds and winds at his disposal, and against which he directed his lightnings and thunders, there was a steady light shining, and scattering the darkness, in the power of God's word and of His Spirit. But not only so. There was, amidst the general corruption of the so-called ministers of Christ in those days, a light shining in and from Luther and his Katy's dwelling, which told more than the writings and sermons of the Reformers upon the consciences of the people, when they saw with rejoicing how those great God-honoured witnesses of truth and the gospel, as husbands and fathers became models of the flock in the most intimate and important relations of life.

I have not given the above historical extracts to make divine truth interesting through history, God forbid! His word, which is truth, does not require the hand of an Uzzah, to support and assert its own power and dignity. But if our Blessed Lord Himself did condescend to use parables and historical allusions, to illustrate and to impress upon the hearts and consciences of those who heard Him, the Divine Truth He taught, and if the Spirit of God in that precious portion of Holy Writ, the eleventh chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, presents to us a divine picture gallery as it were, from sacred history, of those blessed witnesses of faith, by way of practical illustration of the character and power of faith, we cannot be far wrong, if in our feeble measure, we have attempted to do the same, provided this be done in sobriety of truth; for the attempt, so frequent in our times, alas! to spice divine truth with the human ingredients of constant anecdotes, is worse than folly. It is mischievous to the testimony and to souls It is like the dead flies that cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.

It is, therefore, simply as a practical illustration of the blessed position, influence, and testimony which is the happy portion and privilege of godly Christian "wives" that we have given the above extracts. Catharina von Bora, Luther's excellent helpmeet, deserves the greatest honour, because she, as little as her so greatly honoured husband, appear to have ever understood and entered into, the divine mystery of the Church of God, as the Body of Christ, as revealed to His great Apostle of the Gentiles, and laid down in His inspired writings. Just as little the Reformers appear to have understood of the truth of the Christian's heavenly calling and hope, as to the coming of our Blessed Lord. And if, with their scanty and clouded knowledge of Church truth, Luther's and Catharina's homestead appeared so bright (at least, as far as this could be with such a small amount of knowledge) what ought to be the family lives and households of Christians now-a-days, who have been taught and know these wondrous truths, and to whom such a testimony has been committed! I am afraid, not a few of us have to hide our faces in shame and confusion, when considering what poor, feeble, flickering lights have been burning on the candlesticks of our households, so that in the dim light the comers-in, often scarcely have been able to discern the Christian family likeness in the features of such households! "The light" has been neither "clear nor dark." We cannot add with the prophet, May there be "light at evening time," for it is the last and darkest hour of the night, and daybreak is near. But is not this the very reason, beloved, why the lights in our households should shine all the brighter, that the Lord, when He cometh, may find our lamps not only "trimmed," but filled with oil and burning brightly? May the Lord pour upon His Church the "spirit of grace and of supplication," not only in a general, but individual way, upon "all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart."

We have dwelt at some length on the governmental grounds for the subordinate place assigned in Scripture to the "wives," for it is an important one. We now come to

3. The Church ground for the Christian "wives'" place of dependence. This we find in our chapter (Eph. 5:23-24):

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so the wives to their own husbands in everything."

In the preceding (22) verse, as we have seen, the Spirit of God appeals in a more individual way to the heart of the Christian wife, to submit herself unto her own husband as unto the Lord, i.e., to do it heartily, as unto the Lord (Eph. 6:5, and Col. 3:23). Verse 21 appeals to the conscience, and v. 22 to the heart of the Christian "wife."*

{*There are two all powerful motives for the heart of the Christian wife," given in v. 22. First, he is "your own" (not only "your") husband. The word in the original here is much stronger than in v. 25. The second and higher motive is: "as unto the Lord." Thus it is to be submission in love to the husband, who leaves his father and his mother to cleave to his wife, and thus to be her own husband, and to Jesus Christ, Whose love passes knowledge, and Who left His Father for her, that she should be a member of His body of His flesh, and of His bones (v. 30). What a perfect combination of the most precious motives (Christ Himself always to be "the motive") for a Christian "wife" to submit herself to her husband. It cannot be difficult to submit yourself to one whom you love as "your one," in obedience and love to Him Who is "your own" Saviour, and also "your own" Lord!}

First of all we have to notice in our (23) verse, that the husband is not said to be the head of the wife in the (Creation) sense of 1 Cor. 11:3, because "the head of the woman is the man," but: "even as Christ is the head of the Church." This ground is just as superior to the former as heaven is higher than the earth. We are here altogether on heavenly ground. Neither is it on the more humbling ground of government, as reminding of sin and its sad consequences as connected with the earth; but we have here, independent, and far above earth and sin, the immutable counsels of God as to the Church, as having been made good by the Cross of Christ, and carried into effect by the power of God, having raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might …" and gave Him to be the Head over all to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him Who filleth all in all."

What an infinitely superior ground and motive of submission for the Christian "wife," elevating (if realised by faith) in the same proportion as the two first were humbling, and yet each of them a salubrious and necessary ingredient in the whole compound of this divine receipt for the healing of what sin has done to mankind.

Now those glorious and immutable counsels of God, as to Christ and the Church, have been carried out already, as we know from the above and other portions of Scripture, and through the Spirit Who dwells within us, and by faith, as far as concerns the exaltation of Christ as the Head, and His union with the Church. They have thus far become a blessed fact. I say advisedly, a fact. For the whole force of vv. 23 and 24 lies in the fact, that as Christ is the Head of the Church, so the husband is (not, "is to be," or "ought to be") the head of the wife. Christ is "the Head of the Church," and He is "the Saviour of the body" (i.e., the Church as His body). Just so is the husband the head of the wife, and the saviour (i.e., natural keeper and protector, under God's mercy), of her who forms a part of himself.

In the same way we read in the following verse: "Therefore as the church is subject* to Christ, so also the wives unto their own husbands."

{*Or: "subjected to Christ," which is more correct, as rendering more exactly the meaning of this passage, which has, as I said, rather the force of a fact than of an exhortation,

The italics ("let the wives be") in our common version, entirely spoil the sense of this passage. The apostle does not say, "ought to be," or "let them be," as an exhortation to the "wives," but he tells them that they are subjected (not subject, which implies submissiveness) as a fact, to their husbands, according to God's own order and will, just as the Church is (as a fact) subject to Christ. Does this weaken, or ought this to weaken in any way, the sense in a Christian "wife," of her deep and solemn responsibility of submission to her husband? Just the opposite. That responsibility becomes all the more solemn. For if the woman, by the marvellous grace of God is placed in the same position to her husband as the Church is to Christ, she herself being a member of His body, as she is, in a natural way, one flesh with her husband, what must be the consequences for her, if she practically, i.e., in fact, denies that glorious fact of her union with, and subjection to Christ, of which she, as a member of the Church, His Body, is to be the daily reflector in her earthly relationship to her husband.

I would affectionately but solemnly remind my beloved and esteemed sisters in Christ, of the close connection in which the Spirit of God, Who is a God of order, has placed the Christian "wife" with the place of the Church, as to Christ.

"Therefore as the Church is subject to Christ, even so the wives to their own husbands in everything."

God says, as it were: I have put you in a place of subjection to your own husband, the same place, in which I have set My Church to My Son! I have placed you there, not because you have been the first in the transgression, but because of your connection with My dear Son, Jesus Christ, as a member of My Church, which is His body, and I want My counsels of glory, wisdom, grace, and love towards you in Christ Jesus, reflected by you in a world, where everything that is of Me, and belongs to Me, is daily denied and dishonoured.

What a place of honour God has placed the Christian "wife" in! Are you going to refuse it? or to deny it practically, after you have accepted it? Remember, it is a place where God has put you. It was your free choice, when you entered upon it, but seeking as we trust, and you would own yourself, His guidance, and according to His will. If you have taken that place without inquiring of Him, according to your own will, and have to suffer for it, this cannot alter your position, nor take you out of it, as long as you, or your husband, are in the body. You cannot alter the fact of your being subjected (according to God's will) to your husband, even as the Church is subjected to Christ. You cannot wrench yourself out of it, as little as you can wrench your arm from your body. If you try it, you may have to smart for it, but you are in that place. I know some, who have tried to do so, but they suffered acutely for it under God's governmental hand, and years of sorrow, trial, and misery in the life of many a Christian woman, yea, and gifted and devoted women, could be traced back to their attempting to step out of the place of subjection, in which God, or they themselves, under God's permitting government, had put them.

Mark the expression: "in everything." The word of God here is most decisive and clear, and leaves no loophole for any modification for such cases, as: husbands inferior to their wives in natural and intellectual capacities, or demanding unreasonable things, being unkind, yea, cruel. Most trying as such cases may be to faith and patience, there is no ambiguity in the divine injunction: "in every thing," always with the exception of cases, as mentioned above, where the will of the husband is in conflict with the supreme authority of God and His word. The mere pleading of "conscience" won't do, unless it be based on the Word of God. The open world and the religious world both constantly plead "conscience," either as an excuse for disobedience to divinely appointed authorities, or to cloak self-will and self-indulgence. Besides, there are many with morbidly scrupulous consciences; and is the divine authority of Holy Writ to be superseded or modified by such? However much such cases of honest but morbid consciences may call for our pity and sympathy and prayerful intercession, under no plea whatever dare we modify the Word of God, where its commandments are so clearly laid down as here (though the Scriptures are always clear in themselves, and will be made clear to those who understand or desire to understand the perfect will of God, as revealed in His own Word). Once begin to modify the written Word, and there is no knowing where you may stop. It is of the utmost importance for the spiritual safety and welfare of every Christian, to bear this in mind!

Far be it from me, in writing these pages, to attempt to frighten any of my Christian readers into subjection. The fear of the Lord, in which "is strong confidence," and which "is a fountain of life" and "tendeth to life," is very different from the bondage of the law, which is the ministry of death and condemnation; and the "fear of Christ," which (as mentioned in the preceding chapter) together with the "love of Christ," forms a part of the spiritual affections of the new nature towards Christ, is the very opposite to the "spirit of bondage unto trembling." God wants our hearts as well as our consciences. He says: "My son, give me thy heart." And Christ says: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." He wants the obedience of the heart as well as of the conscience, and, in fact, the "fear of Christ," is a matter of the heart just as much as of the conscience, because, as just remembered, it forms part of the spiritual affections of the new nature towards Christ, just as the heart (I do not say conscience) of a child that loves its father, fears him also, i.e., feels reverence for his authority and person.

But I would remind the reader of what was said in the first chapter, as to the reason why our domestic life so often falls short of being the expression and reflector of our heavenly relationships. It is on account of our sad lack of entering into and realising, in the power of the Holy Ghost, our heavenly relationships. If our consciences are honest before God, and our hearts true to Christ, His Spirit will be ungrieved, and thus in His power we shall be enabled to realise our heavenly relationships, as our other blessings in the heavenlies in Christ; and our family relationships will be the reflectors of the heavenly ones, in the same measure as we realise them. We are, thank God for His grace that has taught us! pretty clear about our safe and perfect heavenly portion and position in Christ. But how far does our condition of soul correspond with it? We know further, that our heavenly relationships, and our standing or position before God, do not depend upon our state or condition of soul (for this would be the law, we say, and say rightly) but they depend upon the person and work of our blessed Saviour and Head in glory, We know that, just as settled as is His work of redemption, finished upon the Cross, just as settled is our peace with God, for He has made peace by the blood of His Cross. And we know that, just as much as His blessed person is accepted in heaven, we are accepted before God, for we are "accepted in the Beloved." But let me ask again myself and you, beloved how far does our state of soul here below answer to our standing in Christ there above? Have we, like Enoch, this testimony, that we please God? And do we, like Paul, know not only that we are accepted in the Beloved, but labour that we may be acceptable to Him? We know further, the truth of our union with Christ, as being one Spirit with the Lord, and having been baptised by the Spirit into one Body, of which He himself is the glorified Head at the right hand of God. But does our behaviour in "the house of the living God," as well as in our own houses, in our families, practically exhibit and reflect this truth, and thus prove that we have learnt and hold it, not merely in our heads, but in our hearts?

A truly godly woman, who, not only with the eye of faith, sees Jesus, as her individual Saviour, "crowned with glory and honour," for his obedience unto death, even the death of the Cross, seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high, but as risen with Christ, seeks "those things which are above," where is "Christ," as the Head of the church, His body, sitting on the right hand of God, and keeps her eye, in the power of an ungrieved Spirit, fixed on His glory, and her heart on His all-beauteous person; will not fail, in her family circle, to reflect in meekness, subjection, and obedience, the character of her heavenly glorified Master, Who said, when on earth, in the days of His humiliation "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, that ye may find rest unto your souls." Ah! that rest of heart, the absence of which is so painfully noticeable in so many a Christian Martha. And why? Because she has not, like Mary, in the submissive posture of sitting at the Master's feet, learnt and understood, that He did not utter those precious words, before He Himself first had turned to His Father, and said, in submission to His will: "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."

Her eye being thus on Christ, and her heart thus feeding on Him, she will as surely reflect her heavenly relationship, as a member of His body, the Church and the Bride of the Lamb, as the moon by night reflects upon the earth the light of the absent sun, because she is there above in His light. And will not you, beloved, perhaps much tried sister in Christ, our Head, you, who have learnt in Spirit at the feet of your Master and Head there above, to be in submission to your master and head here below, and thus to keep His word and the word of His patience, receive a bright reward from Him, Whose seal and smile you have now already in your conscience? Is not that smile of approval more than enough, to make up for the frowns and unkind words and harsh treatment of a hard, perhaps unconverted husband? Does not Christ know, and will He not publicly own and honour you, as He once did His humble handmaid Mary, far above many of your busy Martha sisters, when "the marriage supper of the Lamb is come, and the outburst of the joyful heavenly Hallelujahs will chime in the marriage of the Lamb's wife: "Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."*

{*Just before this, the manifestation as to the saints, before the judgment-seat of Christ, spoken of in the preceding chapter, will have taken place; as it appears most likely, the saints will then and there have judged themselves — not: be judged — for everything done in the body, may it be good or bad. This appears to be the meaning of: "His wife hath made herself ready," which, of course, cannot refer to salvation, as little as "the fine linen in which she will then be arrayed, and which is not "the Righteousness of God," (as to salvation in Christ) but "the righteousnesses (plural) of the saints,"}

Your place then will not be a low and mean one, trying and hard though it may have appeared on earth. You will then wear the royal crown of the kingdom, and reign, like other "companions in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ," with Him in glory over the earth (where He once was mocked with a crown of thorns, and spit upon and crucified), because you reflected His character in your earthly tabernacle and household on earth, during the "little while" of His absence, and thus showed, that you had not only the mind of Christ, but had entered into, and understood and expressed His mind as to the Church, His body, for which He gave Himself. You had understood what He meant by saying:

"Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so the wives to their own husbands in everything."

Oh! there is no sight on this sad earth so refreshing and lovely, as a Christian household, graced by a submissive and obedient wife and faithful mother, whose words and actions breathe the spirit of her gentle, heavenly Master, and who, "without words," by her chaste conversation, coupled with fear, in the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, wins hearts for Christ, and preaches Him by her daily walk, and thus adorns the doctrine and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, a light to all that are in the house, and to the comers in. Many a husband may be a Nabal, but if his wife is a true Abigail, David's Son and Lord will know how to honour her.

"Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is above rubies."

But on the other hand, there is no more repulsive spectacle in the whole creation than that of an unsubdued "Christian woman!" To such, one can but say: "You know not yet the very first pages of your Bible! The Syrophenician woman knew more of the third chapter of Genesis than you do, therefore you get neither the meat nor the crumbs."

May the Lord grant, that in these latter days many more Christian households may be blessed with the quiet and salubrious influence of godly house-wives (and there are not a few of them in this highly-privileged country), true "daughters of Sarah," whose adorning is not "the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but the hidden man of the heart, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price," and who thus adorn themselves "after the manner of the holy women in the old time, who trusted in God, being in subjection unto their own husbands," and "sober, loving their own husbands, loving their children, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." And what is more: that thus their earthly hearths may be the reflectors of the heavenly light to which they belong, as "lights in the Lord," and "children of light," "amidst a crooked and perverse generation," thus proving by their heavenly life on earth, that they are living in heaven.