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great woman of Shunem. She proposes to her husband to have accommodations provided for Elisha; and when Elisha inquires how he is to reciprocate the kindness, he consults the woman what he will do for her: “Honour to whom honour is due." The history of such matters would be rather different in modern times. It would be, the Rev. D.D. breakfasted or dined, or lodged with the great Mr. – They did not understand, in those days, among the Israel of God, the art of woman-merging. She retained her individuality. As husband and wife have a joint interest in their pecuniary means, either has a right to give against the expressed will of their companion, if circumstances demand-if their associate is imbecile, churlish, or both. 1 Sam. xxv. Mr. Henry, in commenting on this portion, says, “ That Abigail gave this present to David, not only lawfully, but laudably, without her husband's knowledge, even when she had reason to think, that if he had known, he would not have consented to it," and proceeds to say, “Husbands and wives have a joint interest in their worldly possessions,” &c. But in commenting on Proverbs xiv. 1, “Every wise woman buildeth her house,” &c., he says, “ She looks upon it as her own to take care of, though she knows it is her husband's to bear rule in.” If so, how does he prove that Abigail gave of their worldly possessions, both “lawfully and laudably," against the express will of Nabal, when it was only Nabal's place to bear rule. She was both a robber and a usurper, from what he says on Proverbs. We have heard her conduct severely censured by some of our modern theologians. Though David was pleased with her conduct, of which he gave convincing proof, as he took her for a wife; and not only David, but the Spirit of God, speaking by David, approved of her conduct. But these were olden times; female etiquette, and the subordination of wives, were not then so well understood.
It is equally husband and wife's duty, to be well reported of, for good works; to bring up children, as far as nature has qualified them, and opportunity serves, Gen. 1, 23; Numb. xi. 12. It is equally their duty to lodge strangers, wash the saints' feet, John xiii. 14. It is also their duty to relieve the afflicted, and diligently follow every good work, Luke x. 30, 37; 1 Tim. v. 10. The man is spoken of as ruling the
house, 1 Tim. ïïi. 4. It is spoken of as the woman's duty to guide the house, 1 Tim. v. 14. “ The word translated • guide the house,' is the same as that from which our English word despot comes, which shows us, that it includes in it the idea of unlimited authority.” Religious Monitor, vol. 17, page 536.*
The man is represented as governing the male servants, and the woman the female. Ps. cxxiii. 2. When Hagar had fled from the face of her mistress, the Almighty accosted her, as Sarah's maid, and told her to return to her mistress. Gen. xvi. 9.
Let this suffice to show that husband and wife are equals personally, that they are also equals in giving to benevolent and religious purposes, and in the hospitalities of the house, and over the servants of the family.
We will now examine husband and wife's relative standing, in the parental relation. “The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband;" and in consequence of sanctification of either one, the children are holy, 1 Cor. vii. 14. Father or mother has equal authority to devote them to God, 1 Sam. i. 28. Hannah devoted Samuel to the Lord. There is no instance on scripture record, of a father devoting a child to the Lord in this manner. But that either parent has a right, (in the child's minority,) to do so, if the other does not object, we have no doubt. Either parent made marriage contracts for the child, Gen. xxi. 21; also chapter xxiv. And both parents were consulted as to marriage, Gen. xxviii. 7; Judges xiv. 2. It is the duty of both parents to instruct their children, Prov. iv. 1; xxxi. 1,9. Here Lemuel's mother directed him how he was to conduct himself personally, and also how he was to conduct the affairs of his kingdom. Now, although Solomon was the wisest of men, and had arrived at mature age and judgment, he was not ashamed to acknowledge the instructions of his mother. This shows that a mother's instruction is not confined to the nursery.
* The Religious Monitor, of which we will have occasion subsequently to speak, is a respectable periodical, edited by a minister of the Secession church, and supported, principally, by the patronage of its members, and is at this time published in Philadelphia, under the title of the Evangelical Repository, and edited by Rev. Joseph T. Cooper.
It is both father and mother's province to legislate for the child, provided, in all cases, that they keep the end of their authority in view, that is, to bring up their children “ in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Prov. i. 8, viii. 9. “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck;" and essentially the same, is vi. 20, and 2 Tim. i. 5. It is equally their duty to rebuke and chasten, Deut. xxi. 18—21. Children are to fear both parents. Levit. xix. 3: “ Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father.” We believe this is the only place in scripture, where fear is spoken of, relative to parents, and here the mother is placed before the father; not that she is to be more feared, but that she is to be equally feared. God has most particularly established the authority of the mother: as she is the weaker vessel, she is more liable to be disrespected.
It appears, on examination, that the " whole sex are not. put under subjection, and made inferior," for every man is to fear his mother and his father. It is a most unwise thing to endeavour to subvert the influence of the mother,-considering, that on her principally, devolves the arduous and momentous duty of training up children “in the way they should go." Her hand should be strengthened, and her heart encouraged in her important and honourable character, mother. The conduct of Solomon on his mother's approach illustrates the high esteem he had of the maternal dignity. 1 Kings ii. 19. There was not a man in the kingdom, (his father being dead) but what would have been expected to hare made obeisance when approaching the king. But on his mother's approach,“ he rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother, and she sat on his right hand,” though he was king and she a subject. Yet the regal dignity bowed to the maternal. The same penalty is annexed to the crime of dishonouring both parents, Prov. xxx. 17, and both of these authorities are alike established, with all the thunderings of Sinai, indirectly in the fourth precept of the decalogue, and directly in the fifth. To the latter there is annexed a proinise, and under the judicial law an appalling penalty.
It may be in consequence of the obtuseness of our mental
vision, but we cannot see that the father has a punctilio of precedency over the mother, in respect to the children. We have shown from positive declarations, legitimate inference, or approved example, that busband and wife are equals, personally, and they are conjointly rulers of the family. That they are alike accountable to God for the duties devolving upon them as possessors of property, and as rulers over the members of their household, whether servants or the strangers that are within their gates, Exod. xx. 8, 11, and that they have alike duties and authority in the parental relation. It is truly astonishing with what precision the Almighty has prescribed the duties devolving on woman in the family relation; he has left no room for man's legislation. No, God is the legislator of families, and has appointed husband and wife only as executive officers, and it is at their peril if either prevents their fellow-labourer from performing their Lord's work.
The xxxi. chapter of Prov. is a beautiful epitome of woman's standing and duties in the family relation. The woman there described is represented as exercising all the functions that would devolve on a widow,-10th verse, “ her price is above rubies,” inestimable. 11th, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.” He leaves her to the due exercise of her intellectual faculties, he considers her capable of " taking care of herself.” Our intellectual faculties are like our physical; exercise is indispensably necessary to promote their growth. He leaves her to think, act and speak, for herself. By the exertions of her physical and mental energies, her husband has no need of spoliations. 12th, “she will do him good, and not evil.” By giving her the due exercise of the nobler attributes of man, it will promote his good as well as her own, and it will do him no evil, it will detract nothing from his glory. 13th, “ she seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands,” &c. From what source is she to seek her wool and flax, if not from the head? “From which all the body, by joints and bands, having nourishment,” &c. It is the husband's province to provide with wool and flax. Hosea ii. 5. He provides her with the means, and she co-operates with him in his design; "she worketh willingly with her hands." It is the husband's duty to nourish and cherish the wife. But how could the
head nourish the body if the hands would refuse to put the food to the mouth, or if the stomach would reject it, or not digest it-she is an obedient wife according to God's ordinance, 14th, “She is like the merchant ships, she bringeth her food from afar.” She is not a mere domestic drudge, confined to the inside walls of her mansion. The queen of Sheba went to the uttermost ends of the earth, to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Man is not to live by bread alone. 15th, "She rises whilst it is yet night,” &c. She knows that drowsiness covers a man with rags, so, also, a woman. It is her province to see that her household has their meat in due season. 16th, “She considereth a field and buyeth it." She reflects before she purchases. What! a wife purchasing property on her own behalf! Yes, truly, a wife has a natural right to acquire property. 17th, “She girdeth her loins with strength.” Her moral and intellectual faculties become strengthened, as well as her physical, by the due exercise of all their functions. 18th, “She perceiveth that her merchandize is good.” She hath the approbation of her own mind, as God has given her ability and opportunity of performing her duty in the station he has placed her. 19th, “She layeth her hands to the spindle.” She is industrious; she knows that God's declaration is, that if any will not work, neither should they eat. 20th, “She stretcheth out her hands to the poor.” She is not the selfish churl that devotes her whole time and property to her immediate family. The poor and needy are also the objects of her solicitude, "the world is her country and its inhabitants her countrymen." 21st, “She is not afraid of the snow.” By her industry, her household are well protected from the inclemencies of the weather, and she inures those under her tuition to industry and economy; exercise strengthens both mind and body, prepares them to endure the chilling blasts of adversity: but she especially trusts in the promises of that God who clothes the grass of the field, knowing he will much more clothe her and hers, if they “ seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” 22d,“ She maketh herself coverings of tapestry.” She is not sordidly penurious in her clothing, nor is she gorgeously profuse, but dresses according to her ability. But, above all, she is clothed with the Christian graces, "the hidden man of the heart, even of a meek and