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In order to this mutual submission, there must be a spirit of humility. These St. Peter places in connexion. “ Be ye all subject one to another, and be clothed with humility.” This will dispose Christians to think soberly of their own knowledge and goodness, and in honor to prefer one another. An undue opinion of themselves is the cause of all their assuming behavior. It is this, that makes them treat superiors with insolence, equals with rudeness and inferiors with contempt. It is this, that makes them forward to dictate, and backward to be advised ; obstinate in their own ways and impatient of control ; confident in their own opinions and deaf to the voice of reason. It is this, that makes them create imaginary, and overrate real injuries ; resentful of reproof, and scornful of instruetion. This is the main source of contentions, and the greatest bar to reconciliation.
A humble view of ourselves will produce quite contrary effects. This will make us swift to hear, slow to speak, open to conviction, ready to retract our errors and confess our faults, free to receive advice, and prompt to acknowledge a kindness. This will lead us to give honor where it is due, to condescend to men of low estate, to bear the infirmities of the weak, and to follow peace with all men,
Religion begins in humbleness of mind—in a conviction of our own guilt and unworthiness. In this conviction we must apply to the mercy of God in the name of Jesus for pardon, grace and glory. In this humble application of the soul to God, through a me. diator, consists true and saving faith. Faith is a meek, submissive, peaceable grace. It begins in a sight of ourselves as sinners, and in a view of Christ as a gracious and sufficient Saviour. The life of the Christian is by the faith of the Son of God; and this faith operates to increasing humility, condescension and love. The nearer he keeps to Christ, the more he will learn from him, and the more he will be as
similated to him who is meek and lowly. The stronger is his faith, the deeper will be his humiliation, and the more ardent and diffusive his love. “Let us therefore purify our souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethten; and love one another with a pure heart fervently, as becomes those who are born of incorruptible seed, even by the word of God, which liyeth and abideth forever."
Duties of Husbands and Wives.
EPHESIANS v. 22
Wives submit yourselves to 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 to Christ, so let their wives be to their own
husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the churche
and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any suck thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies : He that loveth his wife loveth himself ;--for no man ever yet hated his oron tesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church ; for we are members of his body, of his fesh and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they (wo shall be one fesh. This is a great mystery ; but I speak concerning Christ and the churck. Nevertheless, let every one of us in particular so love his wife, even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
THE Apostle having, in the preceding part of this epistle, stated and inculcated the various duties, which Christians more generally owe to one another, comes now to the consideration of the relative and domestic duties.
In the words just read, he particularly explains and powerfully urges the duties of the conjugal relation.
As this is the first, so it is the most important relation, that ever existed in the human race ; and the obligations arising from it, ought to be seriously consid. ered and sacredly regarded. The happiness of the relation, its usefulness to civil and religious society, the honor of the family, the education of children, and the interest of religion in the world, much depend on the prudent and faithful discharge of the duties which the husband and wife owe to each other. Of these duties, there is no passage in scripture, which gives a clearer view than this before us. But while we attend to this, we shall naturally introduce other passages relative to the same subject.
You will here observe,
That there are some duties- which these correlates owe to each other in common.
That there are some particularly incumbent on the wife toward her husband. And,
That there are some especially incumbent on the husband toward his wife.
These several obligations I shall explain ; and shall also apply in their place the arguments which the Apostle uses to enforce them.
I. I begin with those which are common to both the correlates.
The husband and wife are, in some respects, equals. Hence there are several duties alike incumbent on both. The Apostle alluding to the union of the first pair, and to the first institution of marriage, says, “A man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be jointo his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
This relation is founded in mutual consent; and the consent does, or ought to proceed from mutual affection, and to be preserved by mutual kindness.
As these relatives are one, and have one common interest, they ought to act with an undivided concern for the happiness of the family.
Being one flesh, they are to dwell together as heirs of the grace of life. The husband is not to put away his wife, nor she to depart from him.
They are alike bound to mutual fidelity, and a chaste conversation. They are to avoid, not only the gross violations of the conjugal vow, but that light behavior and wanton language which indicate an impure mind, or which might insensibly transfer, the affections to an unlawful object, or create the suspicion of a wandering desire.
They are under equal obligations to study each other's peace and comfort, to take part in each other's pains and distresses, to assist in each other's duties and services, and to support each other's reputation and honor. Every thing of this kind is comprised in the Apostle's direction, “ To render to each other due be. nevolence."
The instruction and education of their children and domestics; the giving and receiving of seasonable ad. vice; and praying with and for one another, are duties common to both, and implied in that expression of St. Peter," that they live together as heirs of the grace of life, that so their prayers may not be hindered.”
II. There are some duties peculiarly incumbent on the wife. These the Apostle expresses by the terms submission, reverence, obedience and subjection,
“ Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord for the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. As the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in every' thing. Let the wife see, that she reverence her husband.”
He cannot intend, that the wife in every thing should yield an implicit obedience to her husband, as the church to Christ; but only that she should be subject to him in all things agreeable to the will of Christ. So he states her obedience in his epistle to the Colossians, “ Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands, as is fit in the Lord."