Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

independent of, or in opposition to the other; surely, it should be the ruling maxim of both to aim at but one common happiness, by one and the same set of means.

Consider again, what it is you contend about, whether it be your diversions, your expenses, the management of your affairs, or smaller matters depending on opinion and humour. Be it what it will, without the verge of God's commandments, it cannot be worth obstinately insisting on, since the forfeiture of quiet, contentment, and mutual love, is the price. Give it up therefore as a sacrifice, as a peaceoffering, to prudence and the prospect of happiness.

Your whole unwillingness, of either side, to do this, proceeds entirely from pride. You seek a victory, or you cannot bear the thoughts of a defeat. But both the example and religion of your Saviour teach you, that in such cases, to yield, is to conquer, and that there is no other defeat or slavery, but submission to your lawless passions. Yet in the face of this Divine Instructor, whose name and seal you still pretend to carry, you go on to dispute every inch of ground, without so much minding the importance or insignificance of the things in question, as the increase or diminution of the power you thirst after, till you find the sovereignty you are establishing, is like that of the devil, only a sovereignty in flames, in the midst whereof you reign indeed: but reign by terror, in misery and chains. It must surely be a very vain and a very horrible sort of mind, to which pre-eminence so tyrannical, and yet so infamous, can afford more pleasure, than all the sweets of that kind and generous commerce, which easiness of temper, and conjugal tenderness, settle between an affectionate and mutually condescending couple.

If you cannot enter with each other into a close, cordial, and temperate conference on the necessity of sacrificing every thing to peace, which I would recommend as an expedient the most prudent and promising that can be thought of; you should at least separately call yourselves to a severe account for the causes of your unhappiness. In this work, ask your understanding what you are doing, and your conscience, why. If you examine fairly, you will find enough, either of injuries, or unchristian resentments, to charge yourself with, and to justify Providence in the scourge of your present sufferings, if not your husband, or wife, in being the instrument employed to inflict them.

Then ask the feelings of your own mind and heart, whether the life you are now leading is fit to be continued, and in what it is likely to end. As soon as these questions, and their right answers have made the proper impressions, it will be your next business seriously and firmly to resolve on an immediate reformation of all your conjugal faults.

Your attempts to break the other party of his or her faults, either because they were ill managed, or because no management can prevent their seeming arrogant and invidious, have always proved unsuccessful, and probably ever will. Besides, you ought to consider, that yours are so many acts of provocation to those committed on the other side. Look therefore at home, and set every thing to rights within yourself, where you have a power, and then you will find, that a great deal more than one half of the preparation for peace is finished; for exactly in proportion as your power of rightly governing your own passions increases, in the same will your influence over those of your consort increase also. You know not yet, how irresistibly, and how like a charm, the meekness and sweetness of one mind communicate themselves to another. Be assured, it is just as swiftly and as powerfully, as the infection of bitterness and wrath (how that works you know too well) conveys itself from mind to mind. However, if this method is taken on both sides, it cannot possibly fail. Peace will be its first-fruits, and a plentiful harvest of love, of comfort, and happiness, will immediately follow. Since

you are not one, but two, give me leave to remind you of a few things separately, and you first who are the husband.'

You should never forget, that your wife hath put her person, together with her fortune, into your hands, as into those of the man she loved best, and confided most in; and that she did this, in a pleasing expectation of finding in you a generous and strenuous protector against all ill treatment from others, and all the distresses and troubles, which a man is better able to repel than a woman. To your stronger arms, and more courageous bosom, her feebler nature hath fled for refuge in the bustle of a crowded and boisterous world,

nor

through which she knew not how otherwise to make her way. How base, how unmanly a breach of trust would it be in you, to treat her with coldness, contempt, or cruelty ? to become her chief oppressor? and to force from her broken heart the melancholy wish, to be again where you found her, exposed alone to a world, hard indeed and deceitful, but less insensible and treacherous than you? It is true, she is not without faults; and who is ? Are you? But is she to be broke of those by methods fit only to be taken with a beast? Have you no pity for her weakness; you who must be lost for ever, if infinite pity is not afforded to your own? It is the property of a coward only to use any woman ill; of a treacherous and cruel coward to use that woman ill, who hath no protector under heaven, but you; and to whom you made the warmest protestations before, and the most solemn vows at, your marriage, of love as lasting as your life. What man in the world would hurt a dove or sparrow, though but a brute, to which he had neither offered, promised protection, if it should fly to his breast from the talons of a hawk? But, if you will not hear me, hear the word of God; to you and to all married men; ‘Ye husbands, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church ;' for which he thought it not too much to give his life. “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 own flesh, but nourisheth, and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.' Take notice that you are here (without any condition of proper behaviour on the part of your wife), forbidden to treat her with bitterness, and commanded to shew her that love which Christ hath for his church, and you have for yourself, and to do her honour. Nay, you are 'to see, that you love your wife, even as yourself, though she should be not a hair less infirm and faulty than yourself.

On the other hand, you who are a woman, and married, should never forget you are either. You should, at all times, and in every instance, bear in mind, that as a woman, gentleness and pliancy to every thing but vice is your distinguishing character. The person and face of an angel, without these peculiar ornaments of your sex, will not

set up

make you beautiful, nor even tolerable. There is nothing conceivable so unnatural, or so shocking, as you are, when you put on a masculine, not to say a boisterous, spirit, and

for an object of fear. As you was made to be loved, not dreaded, you are furnished with every preparative for the former, by the kind indulgence of nature ; and not with one for the latter, unless you will ascribe to nature that which she most abhors of all monsters, an affectation of rudeness and imperious violence, accompanied with so much fearfulness of mind and weakness of body. And as a married woman, you are still farther from your natural element, if you aim at a superiority over your husband, whom you are obliged by nature, by Scripture, and by your vows, to obey. As one weak, you sought at first for a protector; hath your vows of submission given you so much strength, that nothing but that protector will now serve you for a slave ? You want to carry all your points, and do what you please ; and 'we, in a violent stretch of courtesy, will grant you have none but good ends in view, but must, at the same time, take leave to demur to your manner,

both in point of agreeableness and prudence. If the agreeable way in every thing is the best, it must be more so in you, who was peculiarly calculated to please. How do you shock us with the reverse! Your manner is likewise altogether foolish, and shews you know not where your power is placed. It is not placed, as you imagine, in a knack of disputing, nor in the brandish of a high hand, nor, when these fail, in fits, either brought on by struggles too violent for your wretched frame of body, or opportunely pretended, as the last shift. No, your power lies in managing the softer and gentler passions. Here you might be irresistible, and do every thing, did not the insolence of your spirit set you above this amiable method. In the other way you can do nothing that will not cost you a thousand times more than it is worth. But I foresee you will be more apt to be angry at the most useful advice from a man, than at your own folly and pride ; I therefore earnestly beseech you, as you regard your vows, and fear God, to hear him at least, who saith unto you and all other married women; Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Let the wife see that she reverence her husband. Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands.' This last precept is followed by another, enjoining meekness and quietness of spirit, and forbidding an expensive vanity in dress. Compare your conduct, and the spirit it proceeds from, with these words of God, and judge for yourself, whether you know better than he does, what you should do. Consider also, that these precepts are positive, unconditional, and leave you no excuse for a failure in your duty, let your husband's behaviour be what it will.

Now tell us, both of you, whether, after all, you are determined to go on as heretofore, and give us a proof of less sense in two pretenders to rationality, than we often find in two oxen or sheep, who grow more tractable, and go more quietly in their yoke, the longer they have carried it; whether you are still resolved, at your own expense, to shew the world a monster, with one body and two heads, each of them furnished with two faces, to smile or frown on each other, as dissimulation or rancour shall set their features ; and whether, in a word, you can think of any longer racking your minds between the wide extremes of fond and angry fits, in so swift successions, that all the good part of mankind are amazed, how, after such transports of tenderness, you can ever hate each other; and all the bad, how it is possible, from hatred so keen, to return again to instances, of endearment, not exceeded between those who never quarrelled. Here is the very sting of your condition. These starts of affection serve but to give you a more thorough sense of the mutual hatred which immediately follows, and fills you with bitterness of soul. Could you live asunder, or avoid all occasions of kindness, you might at length take sanctuary in indifference. A palsy might take the place of this ague in your passions ; and once for all, benumb those too exquisite feelings, which contrariety, at present, rubs into rawness, and keeps perpetually alive. Time, which alleviates other miseries, would then cease to

« AnteriorContinuar »