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  • Title: A Godly Form of Household Government (Modern)
  • Editor: Jessica Slights

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: Robert Cleaver
    Editor: Jessica Slights
    Peer Reviewed

    A Godly Form of Household Government (Modern)

    1From Robert Cleaver, A Godly Form of Household Government (1598)

    [Books offering advice on how to run a successful home were very popular among early modern readers. Like the contemporary self-help paperbacks that crowd bookstore shelves today, these guides treat such subjects as how to find a suitable wife or husband, how to have a happy marriage, how to manage an efficient household, and how to raise well behaved children. Unlike the secular emphasis of most modern manuals, however, those published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries emphasize the importance of Christian duty, and many were written by clerics. Typically these books uphold an ideal of gendered hierarchy and endorse a doctrine of wifely submission, though most also emphasize the need for some division of authority within the household, and many stress mutual respect, patience, and humility as essential traits for both partners in a successful marriage. A Godly Form of Household Government, written by Robert Cleaver and later revised expanded by him with the help of fellow Puritan minister John Dod, sold so well that it underwent nine editions in the period, and it is of particular interest to readers of Othello for the analogy it develops between the right ordering of the patriarchal family and the state, for its discussion of the potential dangers of friendship, for the details of the marital advice it offers to both wives and husbands, and for its comments on the proper response to infidelity.]

    A household is as it were a little commonwealth, by the good government whereof God's glory may be advanced, the commonwealth which standeth of several families benefited, and all that live in that family may receive much comfort and commodity. But this government of a family is not very common in the word, for it is not a thing that men can stumble on by chance, but wisdom must lead us unto it. . . .

    . . .

    The governors of a family be such as have authority in the family by God's ordinance, as the father and mother, master and mistress. To whom, as God hath given authority over their children and servants, so he would have them to use it to the wise government of them, not only for their own private profit, credit, or pleasure, but also for the good of those whom they are to govern. For by a wise government much good cometh to the parties governed. If masters then or parents do not govern but let servants and children do as they list, they do not only disobey God and disadvantage themselves but also hurt those whom they should rule. For when any have such liberty to do as they list, it make them grow out of order, to the provoking of God's displeasure, and curse against themselves, whereas if they had been held in by the bridle of government they might be brought to walk so as the blessing of God should follow them in their courses.

    If the governor be charged with weighty affairs, he may appoint one to govern his house, as Abraham and Potiphar did. Gen. 24.2, 59.4.

    All government of a family must be in comeliness or decency; that is, it must be such as is meet and convenient both for the governor and for the person governed.

    1. Tim. 2.3.

    And therefore it is impossible for a man to understand to govern the commonwealth that doth not know to rule his own house or order his own person, so that he that knoweth not to govern, deserveth not to reign.

    5Lordliness is unmeet in a household government, and yet familiarity with such as are under government breedeth contempt. Again for the persons governed, all in the family are not to be governed alike. There is one rule to govern the wife by, another for children, another for servants. One rule for young ones, another for old folks.

    . . .

    As to have a faithful friend is a matter available to thrift, so by his friends a man may be endamaged. There is a friendship which is very costly and chargeable to maintain. He that desireth familiarity with great men must have other things suitable, as costly apparel, well-trimmed houses, often invitings to banquets to recompense their kindness; he must follow their humors and not stick to neglect his affairs to have their company when he may. This will cost a man sweetly, but what shall be his gain? A friendly countenance before his face, and perhaps a dry flout behind his back, especially if things so not well with him for the world; then oh, it is pity a frank-hearted man, nobody's foe but his own, and such like. Salomon giveth thee warning of this kind of friendship, Prov. 23.1-3.

    There is another man's friendship which Solomon would have thee to avoid as hurtful unto thee (Prov. 22.24): "Make no friendship with an angry man, neither go with the furious."

    Margin: Prov. 18.19.

    The choleric man, though never so good a fellow while he is pleased, yet is soon turned to hate thee. And no heavier foe than he that was a friend, which Solomon declareth: "A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and their contentions are like the bar of a palace."


    If a man could always keep in with the angry man—which cannot be done without putting up many injuries—yet may that be hurtful. For the wise man addeth, "Lest thou learn his ways," that is, become like to him in furiousness. And that is as hurtful on the other wise, for "the furious man aboundeth in transgressions,"

    Prov. 29.25.

    which do often cost him the setting on even from men who, being by his rage hurt, work him some woe. Whereupon we say in a common proverb, "The angry man never wanteth woe." There be also trencher-friends, who to win favor and goodwill will smooth it in words, fawn, and glaver; they will say as you say, and bring you tales of your enemy so to feed your humor that he may wind within you, a beast that biteth sorest of all tame beasts. For while a simple-hearted man suspecteth no hurt, he watcheth his occasions to speed himself of a booty, a matter that by the counsel of the Holy Ghost oft repeated in the Proverbs is as carefully to be avoided as it is hurtful to a man's estate. If he can do none of these, yet he hath not lost his labor for he had many a good welcome for his fair talk. And by often resorting to thy house, he hath furnished himself with something to discredit thee, except thou hast walked marvelous warily, which a man can hardly do before flatterers.

    To end this matter of friendship, have some near friends but not many. Choose the best natured and best graced, that is, such as besides single-heartedness and plan simplicity are by grace brought to have conscience of the dealing. And lest under a show of simplicity, wiliness should be hid, try before you trust, and grow into familiarity not all at a push, but by steps. Tell things of no great secrecy as secrets to try their taciturnity. Be not over-credulous upon sight of a little kindness to account them amongst thy nearest friends. Many have been wiped of their commodities by falsehood in fellowship. Some have been betrayed by untrusty friends and brought into great troubles. Many, opening their minds to blabs that can keep nothing, have their purposes openly known and scanned before they can compass them, and so are oftentimes prevented through the malice of their enviers. . . .

    . . .

    The Duty of the Husband towards his Wife

    This duty consisteth severally in these three points. First, that he live with his wife discreetly, according unto knowledge. Secondly, that he be not bitter, fierce, and cruel unto her. Thirdly, that he love, cherish, and nourish his wife even as his own body and as Christ loved his church, and gave himself for it to sanctify it. But before we shall speak of these three points, we will a little touch the original and beginning of holy wedlock: what it is, when, where, how, and of whom it was instituted and ordained.

    10Wedlock or matrimony is a lawful knot, and unto God an acceptable

    Matt. 19.5-6.

    yoking and joining together of

    Gen. 1.27, 1 Cor. 6.16, Ephes. 5.31, Prov. 5.18-20.

    one man and one woman with the good consent of them both to the end that they may dwell together in friendship and honesty, one helping and comforting the other, eschewing whoredom and all uncleanliness, bringing up their children in the fear of God; or it is a coupling together of two persons into one flesh, not to be broken according to the ordinance of God, so to continue during the life of either of them (Gen. 2.24, Mal. 2.14, Rom. 7.3.).

    By yoking, joining, or coupling is meant not only outward dwelling together of the married folks as to be ordinarily in a dwelling place for the better performance of each other mutual duties (Matt. 1.18, 1 Cor. 7.10-13, 1 Pet. 3.7, Ruth 4.11-12), but also a uniform agreement of mind and a common participation of body and goods, for as much as the Lord saith that, "they too shall be one flesh," that is, one body.

    Gen. 2.24.

    This is to be remembered: that matrimony or wedlock must not only be a coupling together but also it must be such a coupling together as commeth of God and is not contrary to his word and will. For there be some marriages made whom God coupleth not together but carnal lust, beauty, riches, goods, and lands, flattery, and friendship; in such marriages God is not thought upon, and therefore they sin the more against him. These and such like marriages be disliked and condemned in the scripture (Gen. 6.12, Ezek. 10.1 etc., Matt. 24.38-9). God did appoint and ordain matrimony himself in paradise so that he is the author of the same (Gen. 2.20). Yea, and our savior Christ himself, who being the very natural son of God was born in wedlock although of a pure virgin, did honor and commend matrimony while he did vouchsafe to show his first miracle at a marriage (John 2.1), whereby he did declare that the Lord is able to make the bitterness of marriage sweet and the scarcity thereof to abound with plenty. . . .

    . . .

    The husband, his duty is first to love his wife as his own flesh. Then to govern her in all duties that properly concern the state of marriage in knowledge, in wisdom, judgment, and justice. Thirdly, to dwell with her. Fourthly, to use her in all due benevolence, honestly, soberly, chastely.

    1 Pet. 13.7, 1 Cor. 7.45.

    The wife, her duty is in all reverence and humility to submit and subject herself to her husband in all such duties as properly belong to marriage. Secondly, therein to be an help unto him according to God's ordinance. Thirdly, to obey his commandments in all things which he may command by the authority of a husband. Fourthly and lastly, to give him mutual benevolence. . . .

    . . .

    What the Duty of a Wife is towards her Husband

    This duty is comprehended in these three points. First, that she reverence her husband. Secondly, that she submit herself and be obedient to him. And lastly, that she do not wear gorgeous apparel beyond her degree and place, but her attire must be comely and sober according to her calling. The first point is proved by the apostles Peter and Paul, whereby they set forth the wives' duties to their husbands, commanding them to be obedient unto them although they be profane and irreligious, and that they ought to do so much the more that by their honest life and conversation they might win them to the obedience of the Lord.

    1 Pet. 3.1, Ephes. 5.22, Col. 3.18, 1 Cor. 7.3.

    15Now for so much as the apostle would have Christian wives that are matched with ungodly husbands and such as are not yet good Christians to reverence and obey them much more they should show themselves thankful to God, and willingly and dutifully perform their obedience and subjection when they are coupled in marriage with godly, wise, discreet, learned, gentle, loving, quiet, patient, honest, and thrifty husbands. And therefore they ought evermore to reverence them and to endeavor with true obedience and love to serve them, to be loath in any wise to offend them; yea, rather to be careful and diligent to please them that their soul may bless them.

    Wives must be serviceable and obedient unto their husbands, and stand in a reverend awe of them. Ephes. 5.33.

    And if at any time it shall happen that the wife shall anger or displease her husband by doing or speaking anything that shall grieve him, she ought never to rest until she hath pacified him and gotten his favor again. And if he shall chance to blame her without cause and for that which she could not help or remedy, which thing sometimes happeneth even of the best men, yet she must bear it patiently and give him no uncomely or unkind words for it but evermore look upon him with a loving and cheerful countenance, and so rather let her take the fault upon her than seem to be displeased. Let her be always merry and cheerful in his company, but yet not with too much lightness. She must beware in any wise of swelling, pouting, lowering, or frowning, for that is a token of a cruel and unloving heart except it be in respect of sin or in time sickness. She may not be sorrowful for any adversity that God sendeth, but always to be careful that nothing be spilled or go to waste through her negligence. In any wise, see that she be quick and cleanly about her husband's meat and drink, and to prepare him the same according to his diet in due season.

    Gen. 27.9.

    Let her show herself in word and deed wise, humble, courteous, gentle, and loving towards her husband, and also towards such as he doth love, and then shall she lead a blessed life. Let her show herself not only to love no man so well as her husband, but also to love no other at all but him unless it be for husband's sake. Wherefore let the wife remember that, as the scripture reporteth, she is one body with her husband so that she ought to love him none otherwise than herself, for this is the greatest virtue of a married woman; this is the thing that wedlock signifieth and commandeth, that the wife should reckon to have her husband for both father, mother, brother, and sister, like as Adam was unto Eve, and as the most noble and chaste woman Andromache said her Hector was unto her: "Thou art unto me both father and mother, / Mine own dear husband, and well beloved brother."

    Gen. 2.23-24, Matt. 19.5, 1 Cor. 6.16, Ephes. 5.31.

    And if it be true that men do say that friendship maketh one heart of two, much more truly and effectually ought wedlock to do the same, which far passeth all manner both friendship and kindred. Therefore it is not said that marriage doth make one man, or one mind, or one body of two, but clearly one person. Wherefore matrimony requireth a greater duty of the husband towards his wife and the wife towards her husband than otherwise they are bound to show to their parents. The apostle biddeth, "to rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

    Rom. 12.15.

    With whom should the wife rejoice rather than with her loving husband? Or with who should she weep and mourn rather than with her own flesh? "I will not leave thee," saith Elisha to Elijah.

    2 Kings 21.5.

    , so she should say, "I will never leave him till death." "Bear one another's burthen," saith Paul.

    Gal. 6.1

    Who shall bear one another's burden if the wife do not bear the husband's burden? Wicked Jezebel comforted her husband in his sickness

    1 Kings 21.5.

    , and Jeroboam's wife fought for his health, though she was as bad as he

    1 Kings 14.4.

    . God did not bid Sarah leave her father and country as he did bid her husband, yet because he bad Abraham leave his, she left hers too

    Gen. 12.1

    , showing that she was content not only to be his playfellow, but his yokefellow too. Beside a yokefellow she is called a helper, to help him in his labors, to help him in his troubles, to help him in his sickness like a woman physician, sometime with her strength and sometime with her counsel. For sometime as God confoundeth the wise by the foolish and the strong by the weak, so he teacheth the wise by the foolish and helpeth the strong by the weak. Therefore Peter saith, "Husbands are won by the conversation of their wives,"

    1 Pet. 3.1.

    as if he should say sometime the weaker vessel is the stronger vessel, and Abraham may take counsel of Sarah, as Naaman was advised by his servant.

    2 Kings 5.3.

    The Shunammite's counsel made her husband receive a prophet into his house,

    2 Kings 4.9.

    and Esther's counsel made her husband spare the church of the Jews.

    Esth. 7.3.

    So some have been better help to their husbands than their husbands have been to them, for it pleaseth God to provoke the wise with the foolish, as he did the Jews with the Gentiles.

    Deut. 32.21, Rom. 10.19.

    Besides a helper, she is called a comforter too,

    Prov. 5.18, 19.

    , and therefore the man is bid to rejoice in his wife, which is as much to say that wives must be the rejoicing of their husbands even like David's harp to comfort Saul.

    1 Sam. 16.23

    A good wife, therefore, is known when her words, and deeds, and countenance are such as her husband loveth. She must not examine whether he be wise or simple but that she is his wife, and therefore they that are bound must obey as Abigail loved her husband though he were a fool, churlish, and evil conditioned,

    1 Sam. 52.3.

    for the wife is as much despised for taking rule over her husband as he for yielding it unto her. Therefore one saith that a mankind woman is a monster, that is, half a woman and half a man. It beseemeth not the mistress to be master no more than it becommeth the master to be mistress, but both must sail with their own wind and both keep their standing.

    Lastly, we call the wife huswife, that is, house-wife. Not a street-wife, one that gaddeth up and down like Tamar

    Gen. 38.14.

    , nor a field-wife like Dinah,

    Gen. 34.1.

    but a house-wife, to show that a good wife keeps her house. And therefore Paul biddeth Titus to exhort women that they be chaste and keeping at home, presently after "chaste" he saith "keeping at home,"

    Tit. 2.5.

    as though home were chastity's keeper. And there Solomon, depainting and describing the qualities of a whore setteth her at the door, now sitting upon her stall, now walking in the streets, now looking out of the window

    Prov. 7.12.

    like cursed Jezebel, as if she held forth the glass of temptation for vanity to gaze upon.

    2 Kings 9.30.

    But chastity careth to please but one, and therefore she keeps her closet as if she were still at prayer.

    The angel asked Abraham, "Where is they wife?" Abraham answered, "She is in the tent."

    Gen. 18.9.

    The angel knew where she was but he asked that he might see how women in old time did keep their tents and houses. It is recorded of the Shunammite that she did ask her husband leave to go unto the prophet, though she went to a prophet and went of a good errand and for his cause as much as her own, yet she thought it not meet to go far abroad without her husband's leave.

    2 Kings 4.22.

    The second point is that wives submit themselves and be obedient unto their own husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is by God's ordinance the wife's head, that is, her defender, teacher, and comforter

    Ephes. 5.22, 23; 1 Cor. 11.3, 14.34.

    , and therefore she oweth her subjection to her husband like as the church doth to Christ, and because the example of Sarah, the mother of the faithful which obeyed Abraham and called him lord, moveth them thereunto.

    Gen. 18.12., 1 Pet. 3.6.

    This point is partly handled before in this first point, as in the duty of the husband to the wife.

    20As the church should depend upon the wisdom and will of Christ and not follow what itself listeth, so must the wife also submit and apply herself to the discretion and will of her husband even as the government and conduct of everything resteth in the head not in the body.

    Ephes. 5.24.

    Moses writeth that the serpent was wise above all beasts of the field and that he did declare in assaulting the woman that when he had seduced her she might also seduce and deceive her husband.

    Gen. 3.1.

    Saint Paul, noting this among other the causes of the woman's subjection, doth sufficiently show that for the avoiding of the like inconvenience it is God's will that she should be subject to her husband so that she shall have no other discretion or will but what may depend upon her head.

    1 Tim. 2.14.

    As also the same Moses saith, "Thy desire shall be subject to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."

    Gen. 3.16.

    This dominion over the wife's will doth manifestly appear in this, that God in old time ordained that if the women had vowed anything unto God it should not withstanding rest in her husband to disavow it.

    Num. 30.7.

    So much is the wife's will subject to her husband, yet it is not meant that the wife should not employ her knowledge and discretion which God hath given her in the help and for the good of her husband. But always it must be with condition to submit herself unto him, acknowledging him to be her head that finally they may so agree in one, as the conjunction of marriage doth require. Yet, as when in a lute or other musical instrument two strings concurring in one tune the sound nevertheless is imputed to the strongest and the highest, so in a well ordered household there must be a communication and consent of the counsel and will between the husband and the wife, yet such as the counsel and commandment may rest in the husband. True it is that some women are wiser and more discreet than their husbands, as Abigail, the wife of Nabal and others. Whereupon Solomon saith, "A wise woman buildeth up the house," and "blessed is the man that hath a different wife."

    Prov. 16.1, 18.22, 19.14, 31.

    Yet still a great part of the discretion of such women shall rest in acknowledging their husbands to be their heads and so using the graces that they have received of the Lord that their husbands may be honored not condemned, neither of them nor of others, which falleth out contrary when the wife will seem wiser than her husband. So that this modesty and government ought to be in a wise: namely, that she should not speak but to her husband or by her husband. And as the voice of him that soundeth a trumpet is not so loud as the sound that it yieldeth, so is the wisdom and word of a woman of greater virtue and efficacy when all that she knoweth and can do is as if it were said and done by her husband. The obedience that the wife oweth to her husband dependeth upon this subjection of her will and wisdom unto him. As 1 Pet. 3.6, Ephes. 5.3, Esther 1.1, 2-12. So that women may not provoke their husbands by disobedience in matters that may be performed without offence to God, neither to presume over him wither in kindred or wealth, or obstinately to refuse in a matter than may trouble household peace and quiet. For disobedience begetteth contempt of the husband, and contempt wrath, and is many times the cause of troubles between the man and the wife. If the obedience importeth any difficulty, she may for her excuse gently propound he same, yet upon condition to obey in the case the husband should persist in his intent so long as the discommodity importeth no wickness. For it is better to continue in peace by obedience than to break it by resistance. And indeed it is natural in the members to obey the conduct and government of the head. Yet must not this obedience so far extend as that husband should command anything contrary to her honor, credit, salvation, but as it is comely in the Lord (Col. 3.1, Ephes. 5.22). Therefore, as it were monstrous matter and the means to overthrow the person that the body should, in refusing all subjection and obedience to the head, take upon it to guide itself and to command the head, so were it for the wife to rebel against the husband. Let her then beware of disordering and perverting the course which God in his wisdom hath established, and with all let her understand that going about it she riseth not so much against her husband as against God, and that it is her good and honor to obey God in her subjection and obedience to her husband. If in the practice of this duty she find any difficulty or trouble, through the inconsiderate course of her husband or otherwise, let her remember that the same proceedeth not of the order established by the Lord, but through some sin afterward crept in which hath mixed gall among the honey of the subjection and obedience that the woman should have enjoyed in that estate wherein together with Adam she was created after the image of God. And so let her let her humble herself in the sight of God and be well assured that her subjection and obedience is acceptable unto him. Likewise, that the more that the image of God is restored in her and her husband through the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, the less difficulty shall she find in that subjection and obedience, as many in their marriage have indeed tried to their great contentment and consolation.

    Further, there is a certain discretion and desire of women to please the nature, inclination, and manners of their husbands, so long as the same imports no wickedness. For as the looking glass, however fair and beautifully adorned, is nothing worth if it show that countenance sad which is pleasant, so the woman deserveth no commendation that, as it were, contrarying her husband when he is merry showeth herself sad or in his sadness uttereth her mirth; for as men should obey the laws of their cities, so women the manners of their husbands. To some women, a beck of her husband is sufficient to declare that there is somewhat amiss that displeaseth him, and specially if she bear her husband and reverence. For an honest matron hath no need of any greater staff but of one word or one sour countenance. Moreover, a modest and chaste woman that loveth her husband must also love her house, as remembering that the husband that loveth his wife cannot so well like of the sight of any tapestry as to see his wife in his house. For the woman that gaddeth from house to house to prate confoundeth herself, her husband, and family (Titus 2.5). But there are four reasons why the woman is to go abroad: first, to come to holy meetings according to the duty of godliness; the second, to visit such as stand in need as the duty of a love and chrity do require; the third, for employment and provision in household affairs committed to her charge; and lastly, with her husband when he shall require her (Gen. 20.1 etc.). The evil and unquiet life that some women have and pass with their husbands is not so much for that they commit with and in their persons as it is for that they speak with their tongues. If the wife would keep silence when her husband beginneth to chide, he should not have so unquiet dinners, neither she the worse supper, which surely is so for at the same time that the husband beginneth to utter his grief, the wife then beginneth to scold and chafe, whereof doth follow that now and then most unnaturally they come to handy gripes, more beastlike than Christianlike, which their so doing is both a great shame and soul discredit to them both. The best means therefore that a wife can use to obtain and maintain the love and good liking of her husband is to be silent, obedient, peaceable, patient, studious to appease his choler if he be angry, painful and diligent in looking to her business to be solitary and honest. The chief and special cause why most women do fail in not performing this duty to their husbands is because they be ignorant of the word of God, which teacheth the same and all other duties, and therefore, their souls and consciences not being brought into subjection to God and his word, they can never until then yield and perform true subjection and obedience to their husbands and behave themselves so every way as Christian wives are in duty bound to do. But if wives be not so dutiful, serviceable, and subject to their husbands as in conscience they ought, the only cause thereof, for the most part, is through the want and neglect of the wise, discreet, and good government that should be in the husbands, besides the want of good example that they should give unto their wives both in word and deed. For as the common saying is, "such a husband, such a wife; a good Jack maketh a good Jill." For so much as marriage maketh of two persons one, therefore the love of the husband and wife may the better be kept and increased and so continued if they remember the duties last spoken of, as also not to forget these three points following.

    They must be one of heart, will, and mind, and neither to upbraid or cast the other in the teeth with their wants and imperfections any ways, or to pride themselves in their gifts, but rather the one to endeavor to supply the other's wants that so they both helping and doing their best together may be one perfect body.

    It doth greatly increase love when the one faithfully serveth the other, when in things concerning marriage the one hideth no secrets nor privities from the other and the one doth not utter or publish the frailties or infirmities of the other, and when of all that ever they obtain or get they have but one common purse together, the one locking up nothing form the other, and also when the one is faithful to the other in eating, drinking, and so in all their necessaries and affairs. Likewise, when the one harkeneth to the other, and when the one thinketh not scorn of the other, and when in matters concerning the government of the house the one will be counselled and advised by the other, and always the one to be loving, kind, courteous, plain, and gentle in words, manner, and deeds.

    Let the one learn ever to be obsequious, diligent, and serviceable to the other in all other things. And this will the sooner come to pass if the one observe and mark what thing the other can away withal or cannot away withal, and what pleaseth or displeaseth them. And so from thenceforth to do the one and to love the other undone. And if one of them be angry and offended with other, then let the party grieved open and make known to the other their grief in due time and with discretion, for the longer a displeasure or evil will rageth in secret the worse will be the discord. And this must be observed that it be done in a fit and convenient time because there is some season in the which if griefs were showed it should make greater debate. As if the wife should go about to tell or admonish her husband when he is out of patience or moved with anger it should then be not sit time to talk with him. Therefore Abigail, perceiving Nabal, her husband, to be drunk, would not speak to him until the morning.

    1 Sam. 25.36, 37.

    Both the husband and wife must remember that the one be not so offended and displeased with the manners of the other that they should thereupon forsake the company one of the other, for that were like to one that stung with the bees would therefore forsake the honey. And therefore no man must put away his wife for any cause except for whoredom, which must be duly proved before a lawful judge. But all godly and faithful married folks are to commend their state and marriage to God by humble and fervent prayer that he for his beloved son's sake would so bless them and their marriage that they may so Christianly and dutifully agree between themselves that they may have no cause of any separation or divorcement. For like as all manner of medicines, and specially as they that go nighest death as to cut off whole members, etc., are very loathsome and terrible; even so is divorcement indeed a medicine, but a perilous and terrible medicine. Therefore every good Christina husband and wife ought, with all care and heedfulness, so to live in marriage that they have no need of such medicine. As the holy scripture maketh mention of many wives and women that were wicked and ungodly, as partly may be seen by these quotations: 1 Kings 11.1-2, Prov. 21.9, 22.14, 25.24, 27.15; Eccles. 7.28-30. So, contrariwise, the same sacred scripture also commendeth unto us many women that have been devout, religious, and virtuous, as partly is manifest by that which hath already been said, and also by these places of scripture: Ruth 3.11, 1 Sam. 25.3, Prov. 14.1, 31.10; Matt. 28.1, 8-10; Luke 8.2-3, 14.1, 23.55-56, Acts 1.14, 9.36-39, 16.14-15, 17.4, 2 John 1, 2 Tim. 1.5). And whosoever shall observe it in the reading of the word of God shall find that is speaketh of the praise of an many and more good women as men; yea, and we are persuaded that if at this day a due survey should be taken of all men and women throughout her majesty's dominions that there would be found in number more women that are faithful, religious, and virtuous than men.

    25Now if a wife be desirous to know how far she is bound to obey her husband, the apostle resolveth this doubt where saith Ephes. 5.22 saying, "Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands as to the Lord." As if he had said wives cannot be disobedient to their husbands but they must resist God also who is the author of this subjection, and that she must regard her husband's will as the Lord commandeth one that which is good and right, or else she doth not obey him as the Lord but as the tempter. The first subjection of the woman began at sin, for when God cursed her for seducing her husband when the serpent had deceived her, so said, "He shall have authority over thee."

    Gen. 3.16.

    And therefore as the man named all other creatures in sign that they should be subject to him as a servant which cometh when his master calleth him by his name so he did name the woman also in token that she should be subject to him likewise, and therefore Ahasuerus made a law that every man should bear rule in his own house and not the woman;

    Esth. 1.20-22, Numb. 30.7-9.

    because she sinned first, therefore she is humbled most. And ever since, the daughters of Sarah are bound to call their husbands lord, as Sarah called her husband,

    1 Pet. 3.6.

    that is, to take them for heads and governors.

    Judg. 19.26.