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such cruelty or harshness as is contrary to our conjugal relation and to the office, of necessary love, is out of our power, because forbidden, as contrary to our duty; and so of other.
III. Those actions are out of our power, which are acts of higher authority than we have. A subject cannot reform by such actions as are proper to the sovereign, nor a layman by actions proper to the pastor, for want of authority. So a schoolmaster cannot do that which is proper to a patient; nor the master of a family that which is proper to the magistrate (as to punish with death, &c.)
IV. We have not power to do that which a superior power forbiddeth us (unless it be that which God indispensably commandeth us.) The wife may not correct a child or servant, or turn him away, when the husband forbiddeth it. Nor the master of a family so punish a sin, as the king and laws forbid on the account of public interest.
V. We have not power to do that for the power of sin, which is like to do more hurt than good; yea, perhaps to prove a pernicious mischief. If my correcting a servant, would make him kill me, or set my house on fire, I may not do it. If my sharp reproof is like to do more hurt, or less good than milder dealing; if I have reason to believe that correction will make a servant worse, I am not to use it; because we have our power to edification, and not to destruction. God hath not tied us just to speak such and such words, or to use this or that correction, but to use reproofs and corrections only in that time, measure and manner as true reason telleth us, is likest to attain their end. To do it, if it would do never so much hurt with a 'fiat justitia etsi pereat mundus,' is to be righteous overmuch.
Yea, great and heinous sins may be endured in families sometimes, to avoid a greater hurt, and because there is no other means to cure them. For instance, a wife may
be guilty of notorious pride, and of malignant deriding the exercises of religion, and of railing, lying, slandering, backbiting, covetousness, swearing, cursing, &c. and the husband be necessitated to bear it; not so far as not to reprove it, but so far as not to correct her, much less cure her; divines use to say, that it is unlawful for a man to beat his wife: but the reason is not, that he wanteth authority to do it; but, l. Because he is by his relation obliged to a life of love with her; and therefore must so rule, as tendeth not to destroy love: and 2. Because it may often do otherwise more hurt to herself and the family, than good. It may make her furious and desperate, and make her contemptible in the family, and diminish the reverence of inferiors, both to wife and husband, for living so uncomely a life. · Quest. But is there any case in which a man may silently bear the sins of a wife, or other inferior without reproof, or urging them to amend ?'
Answ. Yes: in case, 1. That reproof hath been tried to the utmost: 2. And it is most evident by full experience, that it is like to do a great deal more hurt than good.
The rule given by Christ, extendeth as well to families, as to others; not to cast pearls before swine, nor to give that which is holy to dogs': because it is more to the discomposure of a man's own peace, to have a wife turn again, and all to rend him, than a stranger. As the church may cease admonishing a sinner, after a certain time of obstinacy, when experience hath ended their present hopes of bringing the person to repentance, and thereupon may excommunicate him: 60 a husband may be brought to the same despair with a wife, and may be disobliged from ordinary reproof, though the nearness of the relation forbid him to eject her. And in such a case where the family and neighbourhood know the intractableness and obstinacy of the wife, it no scandal, nor sign of approbation, or neglect of duty, for a man to be silent at her sin "; because they look upon her at present as incorrigible by that means: and it is the sharpest reproof to such a one, to be unreproved, and to be let alone in her sin; as it is God's greatest judgment on a sinner, to leave him to himself, and day, be filthy still.'
And there are some women whose fantasies and passions are naturally so strong, as that it seemeth to me that in many cases they have not so much as natural free-will or power to restrain them: but if in all other cases they acted as in some, I should take them for mere brutes, that had no true reason : they seem naturally necessitated to do
I Matt. vii. 6.
as they do. I have known the long profession of piety, which in other respects hath seemed sincere, to consist in a wife, with such unmastered, furious passion, that she could not before strangers forbear throwing what was in her hand in her husband's face, or thrusting the burning candle into his face ; and slandering him of the filthiest sins; and when the passion was over, confess all to be false, and her rage to be the reason of her speech and actions: and the man though a minister, of more than ordinary wit and strength, yet fain to endure all without returns of violence till her death. They that 'never knew such a case by trial, can tell how all might be cured easily; but so cannot they that are put upon the cure.
And there are some other women of the same uncurable strength of imagination and passion, who in other respects are very pious and prudent too, and too wise and conscionable to wrong their husbands with their hands or tongues, who yet are utterly unable to forbear an injury of the highest nature to themselves ; but are so utterly impatient of being crossed of their wills, that it would in all likelihood cast them into melancholy or madness, or some mortal sickness: and no reason signifieth any thing to abate such passions. In case of pride, or some sinful custom, they are not able to bear reproof, and to be hindered in the sin, without apparent danger of distraction or death. I suppose these cases are but few; but what to do in such cases when they come, is the present question.
Nay, the question is still harder, “Whether to avoid such inconvenience, one may contribute towards another's sin, by affording them the means of committing it?
Answ. 1. No man may contribute to sin as sin, formally considered. 2. No man may contribute to another's sin, for sinful ends, nor in a manner forbidden or sinful in himself. 3. No man may contribute to another's sin, when he is not naturally or morally necessitated to it, but might forbear it.
But as it is consistent with the holiness of God to contribute those natural and providential mercies, which he knoweth men will abuse to sin, so is it in some cases with us his creatures to one another. God giveth all men their lives and time, their reason and free-will, which he knoweth they will abuse to sin : he giveth them that meat, and drink, and riches, and health, and vigour of senses, which are the usual means of the sin and undoing of the world.
Object. But God is not under any law or obligation as
Answ. His own perfection is above all law, and will not consist with a consent or acting of any thing that is contrary to holiness and perfection. But this I confess, that many things are contrary to the order and duty of the creature, which are not contrary to the place and perfection of the Creator.
1. When man doth generate man, he knowingly contributeth to a sinful nature and life : for he knoweth it is unavoidable, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh". And yet he sinneth not by so doing, because he is not bound to prevent sin by the forbearance of generation.
2. When one advanceth another to the office of magistracy, ministry, &c. knowing that he will sin in it, he contributeth accidentally to his sin; but so as he is not culpable for so doing
3. A physician hath to do with a froward and intemperate patient, who will please his appetite, or else if he be denied his passion, will increase his disease and kill him. In this case he may lawfully say, let him take a little, rather than kill him; though by so doing he contribute to his sin. Because it is but a not-hindering that which he cannot hinder without a greater evil. The sin is only his that'chooseth it.
And it is specially to be noted, that that which physically is a positive act and contributing to the matter of the sin, yet morally is but a not-hindering the sin by such a withholding of materials as we are not obliged to withhold (which is the case also of God's contributing to the matter of sin). If the physician in such a case, or the parent of a sick and froward child, do actually give them that which they sin in desiring, that giving is indeed such a furthering of the sin as cannot be lawfully forborne, lest we do hurt, and therefore is morally but a not-hindering it, when we cannot hinder it. 4. If a man have a wife so proud that she will go mad,
in John iii. 6. Ephes. ii. 2, 3.
or disturb-him and his family by rage, if her pride be not gratified by some sinful fashions, curiosities, or excesses, if he give her money or materials to do it with, to prevent her distraction, it is but like the foresaid case of the physician, or parents of a sick child.
In these cases I will give you a rule to walk by for yourselves, and a caution how to judge of others.
1. Be sure that you leave nothing undone that you can lawfully do, for the cure and prevention of others' sins; and that it be not for want of zeal against sin, through indifference or slothfulness, that you forbear to hinder it, but merely through disability. 2. See that in comparing the evil that is like to follow the impedition, you do not mistake, but be sure that it be indeed a greater evil which you avoid by not hindering that particular sin. 3. See therefore that your own carnal interest weigh not with you more than there is cause; and that you account not mere fleshly suffering a greater evil than sin. 4. But yet that dishonour which may be cast upon religion, and the good of souls which may be hindered by a bodily suffering, may come into the comparison. 5. And your own duties to men's bodies (as to save men's lives, or health, or peace) are to be numbered with spiritual things, and the materials of a sin may in some cases be administered for the discharge of such a duty. If you knew a man would die if you give him not hot water, and he will be drunk if you do give it him ; in this case you do but your duty, and he commits the sin: you do that which is good, and are not bound to forbear it, because he will turn it to sin, unless you see that the hurt by that sin is like to be so great (besides the sin itself) as to discharge you from the duty of doing good.
2. As to others, (1.) Put them on to their duty and spare
not. (2.) But censure them not for the sins of their families, till you are acquainted with all the case. It is usual with rash and carnal censurers, to cry out of some godly ministers or gentlemen, that their wives are as proud, and their children and servants as bad as others. But are you sure that it is in their power to remedy it? Malice and rashness judge at a distance of things which men understand not, and sin in speaking against sin.
Quest. 11. 'If a gentleman, e. g. of £500, or £1000, or