Thursday, January 29, 2009

Conjugal Love

A neglected but worthy Puritan treatise on marriage is The Crown Conjugall or, the Spouse Royal Discovered in Two Sermons on Proverbs 12.4 by John Wing (1584-1630). Three extracts, one on the love of a husband to his wife, and two on the excellency of a godly woman, with particular respect to her creation, are worthy of note:

Secondly, consider the nature of this love [a husband's love to his wife], it must be the most dear, intimate, precious and entire that heart can have toward a creature; none but the love of GOD above is above it; none but the love of ourselves is fellow to it; all the love of others is inferior to it, even of our Father and Mother who begot and bare us, and of whose blood we are. The Fountain of love will have the current run stronger to the Wife than to any, or to all other; yea, all they shall dry up before this may fail. It must be the love of one member to another, of all members to the head, of the head to them again, and (in a word) the whole love of a creature to himself. Nay, what speak we of natural love (which is so much, too little shadow of this); nothing can sufficiently signify it unto us but the supernatural love of Christ to his spiritual spouse, which is such love as no man has, surpassing the same in all excellent respects whatsoever. Thus is the nature of this love. (pp. 55-56)

That, inasmuch as a Woman of grace is called her Husband's crown, we hence have this lesson for our learning; that [A GOOD WIFE IS THE HUSBAND'S BEST OUTWARD BLESSING]. She is the worthiest mercy that a man may have in this world. (pp. 25-26)
Fourthly, as he that will make her, so, the matter whereof she shall be made does conclude her excellency above all blessings. She must not be taken out of the matter of the earth, nor out of the body of any creature, these were too far from his affection, too mean in condition, and in too much subjection, to yield him a Fellow and a Companion which must fit in the second place of his heart, next under God and things heavenly, higher than all else that are earthly, but out of himself must she be built, even out of man, who was refined earth (so her original matter was better than his) and not out of any part, either at all superfluous or much inferior, but of his rib, out of his side (a member which I suppose no man would miss for money or sell another rib at any rate) to note how nearly equal with him, how dearly intimate to him, she should be; so being formed of his own flesh, built out of his own bowels, she must be better reputed and more preciously respected than all things else. (pp. 37-38)

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