Bathshebaes INSTRVCTIONS to her Sonne LEMVEL: Containing a fruitfull and plaine Exposition of the last Chapter of the PROVERBS.

Describing the duties of a Great-man, AND The vertues of a Gracious Woman.

Penned by a godly and learned man, now with God.

Perused, and published for the vse of Gods Church, By Iohn Dod, AND William Hinde.

Printed at London by Iohn Beale, for Roger Iackson, and are to be sold at his shop neere the great Cunduit in Fleet-streete. 1614.

TO THE RIGHT Honorable, VVILLIAM Lord SAYE, and SEALE, together with the re­ligious Lady ELIZABETH his wife, Grace and peace in Christ Iesus.

MY GOOD LORD:

I Present you here with a di­uine Iewell, which as it was found by a rich Merchant in his field, so was it polished by the cunning skill of his owne most curi­ous hand. Jf you behold the quantitie, it may seeme but as a Mite: but if you consider the quality and vertue there­of, it is farre to bee preferred aboue much refined gold. For among o­thers, it hath this hidden vertue: that [Page] whosoeuer contemplates the lustre thereof with a chaste eye, it will reflect a sanctified illumination into his very heart. And seeing that by Gods pro­uidence it came to my hands, when as by the death of the Author it was like to haue been lost: I thought my selfe bound in conscience to communicate it with the Church of God for the pub­like good, rather then to keepe it still in my closet for my owne priuate be­nefit.

And howsoeuer the splendor of this Iewell will glad the heart of euery eye that seeth it, yet being well conside­red, you shall finde it belongeth by a more peculier right, to such among the sonnes and daughters of men, who are eminent for their birth, and honou­rable for their place and condition. And because the worth of the Iewel requi­red a Patron of no meaner ranke then one of the sonnes of Nobles: Eccles. 10, 17 I thought [Page] good to recommend this Iewell vnto your Lordships Patronage and protecti­on: and the rather, that it might bee some testimonie of the fauours which I haue receiued from: and of that duty wherein I acknowledge my selfe to be indebted vnto your Lordship. It is now your owne: oh let the light and lustre of euery beame therein, shine in your Person, and appeare in your practise: that to the glorie of God, the ioy of your friends, and solace of your owne conscience, Grace and Honour, Godlinesse and greatnesse, knowledge and sanctifica­tion, may be seene in you amiably to embrace, and beuatifully to adorne one another. For when after a long account you shall at the last come to cast vp your Summa totalis, you shall finde, that Godlinesse will proue the greatest gaine, Grace the richest treasure, and Gods fauour the highest honour. The Lord with his fauorable countenance [Page] blesse you and your vertuous Lady, and euery branch of your vine; Psal. 92.13, 14 that as the Lords planting you may so flourish in Gods courts, that branches be neuer wanting to your stocke, nor fruit vnto your braunches, that men may see that verified of your honourable vine, which the heathen man said of his golden tree;

Primo avulso non deficit alter
Aureus, & simili frondescit virga metallo.
Your Honours in all christian duty, to be commanded: WILLIAM HINDE.

AN EXPOSITION vpon the last Chapter of the PROVERBS. (*⁎*)

PROVERBS Chap. 31. Verse 1.

The words of King Lemuel, the collection wherein his mother in­structed him.

Verse 2.

What my sonne? and vvhat a sonne of my wombe? and a sonne of my vowes?

THE scope and drift of the first verse is set forth vnto vs, that it is the duety of Parents to teach and instruct their children, and [Page 2] that it is the Childrens duty, firmely to re­taine in memory the instruction, and pre­cepts of their Parents.

The drift, and scope, of the second verse is to shew, that children ought to be perswa­ded of the loue of their Parents, to the end that they bee the better confirmed and strengthened in the doctrine vvhich they teach them.

IN this Chapter, two things are to be ob­serued: First the Title: Secondly, An Ex­hortation, and admonition of Called also Bathshua. 1. Chron. 3.5 Bathsheba the mother vnto Salomon her sonne.

The title is described by a double effici­ent cause: First by Bathsheba the author, which is noted by her relatiue; to wit, the mother of Salomon: And Secondly, by Salomon the reporter, who also is declared by another relatiue; to wit, the title of King. It is further also described by the fi­nall cause, which is, that the mother should instruct her sonne Salomon.

Afterwards is declared the duty of chil­dren, which is faithfully to retain the whol­some precepts, and admonitions of their parents, and rather then they should be for­gotten, to commit them to writing, to the end, that they may in their practice of life, [Page 3] by their deedes expresse them, for the obe­dience of children, dooth not so much con­sist in bowing the knees to their Parents, in giuing them outvvarde honour and reue­rence, and in asking their blessing &c. as in obseruing the lessons, and instructions, vvhich are deliuered to them by their Pa­rents.

And as Salomon kept, and preserued those precepts, not for his owne vse onely; but also for the profit of the posteritie of the Church: So it behooueth children, after they haue applied them first to their owne vse, to haue care to teach them to their children begotten by them.

In Bathsheba the other efficient cause is to bee noted, the duety of Parents in gene­rall, and in speciall of mothers; which is,Eph. 6, 4 to bring vp and instruct their Children, euen their sonnes in the feare of God,1. Chron 28.9 Exo. 12, 26, 27 and to endewe them vvith lessons and precepts, which may bee of vse vnto them, not one­ly whilest they are vnder their nurturing, gouernment, and ouersight: but also may bee necessary and profitable vnto them for the framing and gouerning the vvhole course of their life:2. Tim. 1, 5 and that euen from their Tim. 3.15 Pro. 4.3 cradles; which appeareth by her lo­uing manner of speech toward him, calling [Page 4] him Lemuel, a thing obserued by mothers to their children, whilest they are in their ten­der yeeres.

Then it is also to be noted in what things chiefly is seene the loue of parents, which is lawfull, to wit, that by how much the more they loue their children, by so much the more plentifully and abundantly they should en­forme them in the feare of God. For whereas Bethsheba held her sonne Salomon most deere vnto her, as doth very manifestly appeare by the fourth chapter of the Prouerbs, verse 31 and by the second verse of this chapter, shee did witnesse and testifie this her loue, by a most diligent, and religious education of him, contrary to that which parents and mo­thers (especially in these dayes) doe; which doe expresse their loue to their children in cloathing them in gay apparell, feeding them with delicate meates, allowing them greater liberty, and licence of life, and by ouer much cockering of them. Which care as it is to bee vsed towards all children,1. Chro. 28.9.10.20. so more especially towards those of whom there is greater hope and expectation, that they shall one day liue in the publike sight of men,Gen. 49.1.2. and as it were in the face of the com­mon wealth, and of the Church. For, that it was knowne to Bathsheba, that Salomon her [Page 5] sonne should succeed in the Kingdome, it ap­peares 1. Kings 1.13.17. and that Dauid had three other sonnes borne to him by Bathshe­ba, it is manifest, 1. Chron. 3.5. And hitherto of the former part of this Chapter.

There followeth the speech or admoniti­on of Bathsheba the Mother,Verse 2. to her sonne Salo­mon, which consisteth in two things. First in an insinuating into fauour, or a foregarding of that which shee hath to speake, verse 2. Secondly, in the preceps shee giueth to him, verse 3. And in the whole chapter following.

In the former, Bathsheba doth it, that Salo­mon might vnderstand that he was only, and most deerely loued of her: and therefore that this her charge vnto him, poceeded from a most entire and feruent loue towards him.

Hitherto belongeth her affectionate speech; whereby shee giueth him to vnder­stand, that her loue towards him was the greater, and that by the feruent, and louing affection of her minde, shee would teach him more things, then by her words he could at­taine vnto.

From whence it is to be vnderstood, that in euery instruction or admonition, publike, or priuate, from equals, or vnequals, diligent heede is to bee taken, not onely that it doe proceede from loue, but also that it may bee [Page 6] made knowne vnto those to whom such ad­monition is giuen, that they are beloued of them, who in regard of their office and cal­ling, doe take vpon them to admonish and instruct them. As also by how much the grea­ter, and harder things are giuen in charge, it is meete that there bee so much the more plentifull, and more abundant testimony de­clared of their loue towards them that are admonished: But aboue all things it is most commendable to leaue testimony of this loue,Iosh. 7.19. whereas more sharpe medicines both of words and punishments are applied.

Which thing to any man that will apply his minde vnto it, may easily appeare to haue beene obserued of the Apostle, both in the Epistle to the Galathians: Gal. 4.14.19. as also in the second of the Corinthians: 2. Cor. 11.11. 2. Cor. 12.15. for as the Chyrurgions before they minister more sharpe and biting remedies, doe vse certaine lenitiues and mo­litiues: so in sharpe correction, a more plenti­full testimony of loue (as it were a mollitiue) ought to be set before.

Whereas shee calleth him the sonne of her vowes, it appeareth that shee not onely delt with Salomon for his godly education, but al­so commended this matter to God, without whom all her paines taken to enforme, and instruct him would be but lost and in vaine.

But whereas shee vsed not prayers onely but vowes, and that not one, but many, shee did therein declare both her singular loue towards Salomon, and her pietie towards God. Furthermore it ought to giue comfort and courage vnto parents, that there is such plentifull fruit of the mothers instruction, prayers and vowes, as they by that meanes may through Gods blessing haue a sonne ex­celling both in piety, wisdome, and glory. And hitherto of the first part of her speech.

It followeth that we speake of the instru­ctions, which are of two sorts. First of things to be eschewed, and auoided; and secondly, of things to be pursued and followed.

Verse 3.

Giue not thy strength to wo­men, nor thy waies to those that destroy Kings.

THe scope and drift of this Prouerbe, is, by propounding a grieuous losse and punishment to terrifie Salomon from filthinesse, a disswasion, or dehortation [Page 8] from filthy lusts, and the reason of this dis­swasion. Although I cannot according to my vow endow thee with lessons and instructi­ons, yet will I endeuour to doe what I can therein.

Besides, the aptnesse and pronenes of youth to fall into this sinne, a Kingly state, and con­dition doth many times kindle flames of lust,Ezek. 16. [...]8.49. and doth minister helpes vnto them: as first a bountifull table furnished with variety of delicates; then his seruants, and those which are conuersant with him, who because of their number being of sundry dispositions there will not want among them such as will be very forward and ready to stirre vp, and satisfie the lusts of Kings, as appeareth. Gen. 12.15. & 20.2. and 2. Sam. 11.3. & 2. Sam. 13.4.5.

But aboue all things, the greatest spurre and entisement to this sinne, is the hope of impunity, that there will be none that will punish them according to their desert, nor that will so much as dare to mutter against them, or to say, Sir why haue you done this? which if it were worthily weighed and con­sidered, ought to be a bridle vnto Kings, to keepe them backe, and restraine them from that vice.

Forasmuch as in neglecting this duty of [Page 9] admonishing them their estate should bee very dangerous, considering that euen Da­uid himselfe, after the adultery he had com­mitted, did not by repentance turne vnto God, before he was by the reprehension of the Prophet Nathan drawen out of that sinke of filthinesse, whereinto hee was fal­len.

The reason of this exhortation is draw­en from the inconuenience ensuing, to wit, that by this vice, Kings, and Kingdomes are destroyed. Iob 31.3.9.10.11.12.

And as in priuate men, by this vice their strength is infeebled, and made weake,Pro. 7.22.23. Hos. 4.11. Pro. 7. the powers, and faculties of the minde, are ta­ken away, and their whole estate is consu­med; so especially in Kings, who doe more grieuously offend, to the vtter ouerthrow of their Kingdomes, and the truth of this (as in a most cleere glasse) is to be seene.Iudg. 20.46. Iud 21.3. First in the Beniamites, who for the raui­shing of one woman, were almost rooted out, then in Dauid who lacked little,2. Sam. 12.10.11. but that he had lost the Kingdome, both from himselfe & his posterity. Lastly, in Salomon, 1. King 11.11. who notwithstanding he was the richest man that euer was, or will be, yet by his monstrous and beastly lusts, was brought to that state,Neh. 13.26. it requiring and exacting great [Page 10] tributes,1. King 4.7 & 7, 4 and subsidies of his subiects, he gaue occasion that ten tribes fell from his sonne.

True it is, indeed, that these men did all of them escape vtter destruction, be­cause they repented. But if God so seuere­ly and sharply punished two whole tribes, and two Kings, so notable and famous for their piety: Where shal that man be found, whose sinnes he will spare.

Verse 4.

Be it farre from Kings, ô Le­muel; be it farre from Kings to drink wine, or Rulers the desire of strong drinke.

Verse 5.

Least hee drinke and forget the ordinance, and so change the right of the children of affliction.

Verse 6.

Giue strong drinke vnto him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that are grieued in minde.

Verse 7.

Let him drinke that hee may [Page 11] forget his pouerty, and may remem­ber his griefe no more.

THe scope & drift of these verses is, to instruct and enforme Kings, and such as are in authority, and rich men, concerning the lawfull and moderate vse of wine.

In the Lawe, many kindes of meates were forbidden vnto all men, and conse­quently vnto Kings; but wee do not read of any kindes of drinkes that were there­by restrained, but onely from certaine particular persons. Numbers 6. Where­fore, at the first appearance it seemeth somewhat strange, and differing from the lawe which is heere commaunded, and the rather for that the drinking of wine is here forbidden to Princes, to whom of all others as in meates, so also in drinkes, de­licacy is most iustly allowed, as well for that they are well furnished with meanes to procure them, as also for that dainties of meates and drinks are most fit for them, to maintaine their royall port and dignity.

Whither also may be added, that they being pressed and ouercharged with most [Page 12] waighty affaires, it seemeth they should chiefly be recreated, and refreshed with such comforts of this life. But he which shall more thoroughly search into these words, shall easily perceiue that the vse of wine is not heere forbidden, but the im­moderate and excessiue drinking of it; which as it is by the Apostle condemned in all men Ephes. 5.18. So in Kings it is most offensiue, as those who both by their example do most hurt, and also for that their wits confounded, and robbed with excesse of wine, must needes cause corrupt and false iudgement; for both it is an hin­derance to the finding out of iustice in suites, and actions; and also must needes drawe them into error in giuing sentence, and iudgement.

Hereof it is that Salomon sayth: Eccles. 10 16.Eccl. 10, 16, 17 Woe vnto thee ô land whose King is a child, and whose Princes eate in the morning: and blessed art thou ô land, vvhose King is the son of Nobles, and vvhose Princes eate in time for strength, and not for drunkennesse.

Hitherto, also, may bee referred that which is in the tenth of Leuiticus; Leu. 10, 1, 9 that by the onely fault of the sonnes of Aaron bringing strange fire vnto the alter there [Page 13] was a lawe giuen of God, that the Priests (so long as they were in the Tabernacle, and Temple, and did minister the holy things) should not once taste wine; so that that there is a more sparing and strict vse of it, in the Ministery, than in the ciuill Ma­gistracie: To whom of all men the drink­ing of wine was neuer denied, as vnto the Ministers vnder the lawe at certaine times, which seueritie of the Lavve, seemeth to bee mitigated in the Ministers vnder the Gospell 1. Tim. 5.23.

But the excesse is described by the cause, viz. the desire of vvine, and strong drinke; for as of mony the vse of it is not forbidden, but the coueting and loue of it; so also of wine, not the vse, but the desiring, and lusting after it; by which immoderate vse men fall to ryot.

It is also worthy the obseruing, that shee describeth the discommoditie of the immoderate vse of vvine, by forgetting iudgement, and that which is by the lawe prescribed, and thereby she teacheth, that by the excessiue vse of strong drinke euen the skilfullest and most learned in the lawe, doe swarne from equitie and iustice, to the end, that no man trusting to his owne skil, [Page 14] and redinesse of his wit, should allowe himselfe the more liberty in drinking: for, although wine doth not, presently, take a­way the knowledge of the lawe; yet en­tring into the braine, it doeth (for a time) cause a forgetfulnesse of equity and iudge­ment, both in those which, according to the lawe doe purpose to giue sentence, and also much more in those which do not en­cline to iustice.

Ose 4.11Notwithstanding the continuall vse of it, or abuse rather, doth altogether wea­ken the minde, and vnderstanding: It is al­so of no smal force to diswade Iudges from ouermuch drinking of wine, least they change the iudgement of those, which bring their causes before them; whom here she doth call the children of affliction, by which manner of speech she seemeth to meane all those, which do bring iust causes in suite against others, for although they be placed in a diuers degree of affliction, and some more then others are oppressed and ouercharged with griefe; yet there is none which bringeth a good cause before a Iudge, but that hee is affected with griefe for some iniury that is offered him; but now with newe affliction to ouercharge him, which was already grieued and trou­bled [Page 15] with the suite it selfe, is both vniust, and cruell, and as in euery iudgement, a most sparing vse of wine is to bee obser­ued, so especially in capitall matters, and matters of life and death.

It is also the duty of Kings, and princes to prouide that those which are great men in the common weale, and doe sit as Iud­ges, be not giuen to wine, and good Bath­sheba in this her exhortation to her sonne, with Kings doth ioine other Princes.

In the 6. and 7. verses shee prooueth by the contrary, that wine is not to bee gi­uen to Kings, and Princes, because it is to be giuen to those that are ready to perish, and to such as are heauy in minde, to those that are employed in iudgement rather then to Iudges, rather to the afflicted then to such as liue in all plenty, and aboun­dance.

Hereof was that laudable custome a­mong the people of God, that a man dy­ing, his friends should be by others inuited to a banquet, and that there should be gi­uen them a cup of consolation Ier. 16. farre otherwise then now is vsed amongst vs, whereas the widowes that are ouerchar­ged with griefe for the death of their hus­bands, doe make a banquet to their neigh­bours, [Page 16] and kinsfolke, hereof also (it may be) came that custome, of making those drinke, which are going to execution, both among vs, and among the people of God, as may be gathered by the story of the sufferings of Christ: where it may be demaunded, why Christ refused to drinke wine,Mar. 15.23. when it was offered, contrary to that, which the ho­ly ghost doth here commaund by Bath­sheba. The answere is, that for the same ca [...]se Christ refused to drinke wine, for the which it is here commanded; least for­getting the torments and paines which he suffered for vs, hee should not pay the iust prize of our sinnes. Wherefore that he might remember vs, he would forget him­selfe, neither would he giue himselfe li­berty to drinke wine, before the punish­ment due vnto our sinnes, was quite taken away and satisfied, which ought to teach vs, that wee ought for the good of our neighbour, to abstaine from wine, 1. Cor. 8.13. Rom. 14.23.

But whereas it is not lawfull for those that are ready to perish, and such as are af­flicted in minde, to drowne themselues in drinke, to make themselues sencelesse and blockish, and yet a more liberall vse of wine is granted vnto them, then to those that [Page 17] sit in iudgements seat, thereof it followeth that Kings must drinke more sparingly, and Iudges, especially going to sit in iudge­ment.

Hitherto of those things which are for­bidden, and of the negatiue precepts there follow such things as are commaunded, which doe either concerne the common weale, or a priuate family, whereof the first is handled in the two next verses, the other in the chapter following.

Verse 8.

Open thy mouth for the dumbe in the cause of all the children of destruction.

Verse 9.

Open thy mouth, iudge righte­ously, and iudge the cause of the poore and needie.

THe scope and drift of these verses, is to declare, that wee ought to take vpon vs the defence, as of all men, so especially those that are destitute of helpe.

It is the duty of a iust and an vpright [Page 18] Iudge,Isa. 22, 23, 24. to take care for all men, and to be as it were a naile in a wall, whereupon may be hanged all vessels, as well cups as other implements and vtensils: but there ought to be a more speciall, and chiefe care had of those, who for their impotency, cannot, or dare not follow their iust cause, of which sort are widdowes,Isa 1, 23. Ier. 5, 28. orphanes, or pupils, and strangers.

And for that cause yee ought to imitate God the most iust Iudge, who professeth himselfe to be the God of the widdow,Exo. 22, 21, 22. Zach. 7, 10. of the orphant and straunger; that by how much the neerer such a one is to ruine, and ouerthrow; so much the rather should he feele experience of the Iudges helpe, for the maintenance of his cause.Iam. 1, 27.

Hereof it is which Iob saith, that he pur­chased the blessing of him that was ready to perish, to come vpon him, and that he caused the heart of the widdow to sing for ioy, that he deliuered the afflicted fa­therlesse, and him that had no helper. Iob. 29.12.13.15. That he was eyes to the blinde, feete to the lame, the which Bathshe­ba doth here command, when shee biddeth to open the mouth for the dumbe.

Verse 9.Yet shall hee not so fauour the poore in his cause, that he giue sentence on his side [Page 19] in a wrongfull matter:Exod. 23, 3. Leuit. 19, 15. for so it is in the law prescribed, that the poore man is not to be acknowledged in law, in a wrongfull mat­ter; as on the contrary part, if his cause bee good, the iudge shall not onely giue sen­tence on his side, but shall also take his cause in hand, and pleade for him.

In the former part of the chapter, haue beene handled things belonging to poli­cie and publike gouernement, there follow such things as belong to a priuate family. Wherein first is to be obserued the man­ner of the speech, not onely that is to say in the ori­ginall or he­b [...]ew. poeticall, as the rest of the booke: but moreouer also framed with greater skill and labour, euery verse beginning in order that is to say in the ori­ginall or he­b [...]ew. Alphabetically, and that for no other purpose: but that e­uery verse being diligently and carefully weighed and considered, may be the more faithfully retained in memory: for it is re­quisite that the holy ghost sharpening his stile, we should the more apply our wits and mindes vnto it: that he is it were po­lishing and refining his speech, we ought to haue our eares the more attentiue vnto it: finally, that he as it were setting an edge vpon his words, we ought so much the rather to labour that no part of them doe escape vs.

Furthermore, we are by this speech and charge taught, that euery one as he is set in higher place in the Common-wealth, and in the Church, by so much more carefully he is to endeuor, that in the choise of his wife hee take great heed, that hee match himselfe with one most fit for him. For, hence it is the holy Ghost doth here set be­fore vs,Leu. 2, 13, 14 what manner of woman a Princes wife ought to bee. Hence also it was, that heretofore the lawe did set downe,Ezek 44, 22 what manner of wife the high Priest ought to haue, and did limit her in more straight bounds.

And finally, hence it is that the Apo­stle dooth namely and expresly set forth, with what vertues it is necessary the wiues of Bishops,1. Tim, 3, 2, 11 and Deacons, should be endu­ed and adorned; which I do not remem­ber to haue beene performed by the holy Ghost, in any other sort of men. Where­by, what is the drift of this speech, it may easily appeare: to wit, that Bathsheba had respect to this, to teach and informe her sonne Salomon, what manner of woman he ought to begge of God in his prayers for his wife, and himselfe ought carefully and diligently to seeke after: and especially, for that the first and principal thing which [Page 21] Kings are wont to looke into is, the beau­tie and nobilitie of their wiues. And more­ouer also, that euery woman, maide, or wife should vse this as a glasse, wherby she may examine the beauty and deformity of her mind, that for her good gifts shee may bee thankfull to God; and contrariwise, may bewaile and correct her deformities.

Verse 10.

Who shall finde a woman of strength, for her price is farre aboue the Carbuncles, or Rubies.

Verse 11.

The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and hee shall not haue need of spoiles.

Verse 12.

She doth him good, not euil, all the dayes of his life.

THe scope & drift of these verses is, as also of those that follow vnto the 28. to set forth vnto vs the ver­tues of a good wife.

And these vertues are, first of all, briefe­ly comprehended in the 10. and 11. verses: [Page 22] afterward they are more largely expressed. And in the 10. verse she is expounded to be described by a general property: then are reckoned vp the vertues, which are more proper to the mother of the family, which are diuided into two parts, her duty to­wards the person of her husband, and to­wards the wole family, to the 25. verse.

Afterwards are rehearsed, the ver­tues which are common both to godly men, and godly women, from the 25. to the 28. verse. So as in this verse, compo­sed with such skill, there are two things contained; first the excellent vertue of a woman to the 28. verse: afterward, the re­ward of the same to the end of the booke. And her commendation is first set forth by her rarenesse, which is concluded by the difficultie and hardnesse to find her: which difficulty is declared by a question; Who shall finde her? By which question she doth plainly declare, that such a woman as here is described, the King ought diligently to seeke after, both by himselfe, and his friends searching into euery corner of his kingdome. For if faithfull seruants are to bee sought for from the vtmost parts of the kingdome:Psal. 101, 2, 6 much more wiues, which are ioyned in a more straight and inuiola­ble [Page 23] band: for which cause,Gen. 24 3, 4 we see that A­braham sent his seruant vnto another coun­try, to take a wife for his sonne Isaac. And if Assuerus for the beauty of a woman,Est. 2, 3 did cause all his kingdome to bee sought and surueyed: How much more ought Chri­stian Princes to seeke her for her vertue. And if wee shall well examine the matter, this is one and a chiefe cause of this rare­nesse; because there are so few men which doe seeke after such women. For if they were oftentimes, and of many men sought for, no doubt but there would be greater plenty of such women. But now, when women doe consider in themselues, that vertue and piety is not regarded, but beau­ty, nobility and riches; and that if onely they haue them, they please their wooers: Therfore are they so carefull for them, and doe set their rest vpon them. Whereof also it is, that the chiefe care of Parents is, to make them most beautiful, & most rich; altogether neglecting piety and good hus­wiferie. Howbeit, in their words, there is so great vanity, in their countenance so deepe dissembling, and in their manners, (for the time) so much counterfaiting and hypocrisie, that no man (although of the sharpest wit) is able to iudge soundly, and [Page 24] perfectly of them. Wherefore they which doe take this in hand, trusting vnto their owne wit, are most grossely deceiued, vn­lesse the helpe of God (first craued by praier) doe prosper and giue good successe vnto their labors. Wherefore Salomon in a­nother place saith,Pro. 19.14 & 18.22. that Inheritance is left vn­to children by their Parents, but a prudent wife is the gift of God: And in Ecclesiastes making mention of the great mischiefe of a wicked woman, he saith, that he which is good in the sight of the Lord,Eccles. 7.26. is deliuered from her, but that the sinner is snared by her. Shee is further described by another ad­iunct of her price, which is often wont to arise from the former rarenesse, for those things which are rare are good, and that which is rare is deere. But her price or worth is set forth by a comparison of the lesser, to wit, of carbuncles, not one, but many: vvhich also is amplified by a com­parison of the greater, for he doth not only say, that her value is a aboue carbuncles, but that it is far aboue them. So as it should seeme an vniust thing to bring them in comparison together, and as it were so weigh them together in balance.

That wife therefore may bee sufficiently endowed, which is well nurture; and that [Page 25] not onely because vertue of it selfe is a cer­taine treasure, but because God doth most commonly follow such a woman, with the blessing of riches. But the iudgment of men is farre otherwise: for except a woman be endowed either vvith a great stocke, or large rents, shee is no more esteemed for her piety, then a flint, or any other con­temptible stone vvhich lieth abroad in the streets and high-vvaies. But vvhat things are here spoken of a woman of strength, the same may also by a little turning of the word, bee fitly carried and applied vnto such a man.

After that he hath generally described this excellent woman, he deuideth her du­ty into two parts, whereof the former is concerning her duety towards her hus­band, the other towards the whole family. Both which being briefly comprehended in this verse, are afterwards more largely vnfolded. And that which concerneth the former, doth seeme rather to belong to the praise of the husband, then of the wife. For it is the commendation of the hus­band to trust his wife, not to be ouer iea­lous towards her, neither to suspect her faithfulnesse towards him: which many men doe, who vndeseruedly doe suspect [Page 26] their wiues. But hee which shall more throughly enter into this matter, shall finde it rather to bee referred to the praise of the wife: For he teacheth, that so great and so absolutely perfect is her faithfulne [...], both in words and behauiour, alone, and in company, that her husband may surely rest vpon her: For it is otherwise with this woman,Pro. 7.10.18, 19.20. then with that which is spoken of otherwhere. Whereof also that doth appeare, that it is not sufficient that wo­men doe keepe themselues chaste, and vn­touched of vicious men, vnlesse also they be of that integrity and vprightnesse, that they minister not so much as the least oc­casion of suspition. For you may see many women, which although sometimes they be farre from the crime of adultery, not onely in act, but also in consent; notwith­standing by reason of their gesture and be­hauiour, they are not free from all markes and notes of immodestie. Wherein the sincerity of elder times may condemne the loosenesse of this age:Gen. 26, 8, 9.10 whereas by the spor­ting onely of Isaac with Rebecca, their ma­riage (contrary to that which they preten­ted) was coniectured: which is so much the more worthy the noting, in as much as it was not lawfull for the brother to [Page 27] sport with his owne sister. For whereas Rebecca by the aduise of her husband,Gen. 26.7. had carried her selfe as Isaacs sister, and Isaac had carried himselfe as Rebeccaes brother, the counterfeiting of them both, was by this sporting discouered. Amongst pro­phane heathen in times past, such great ho­nesty of manners was obserued, that it was accounted an vnhonest thing,Alex. Gen. lib. 4. c. 20. p. 243. for Pa­rents with their children, and Fathers in law with their sonnes in law, to be bathed together in one bath.

But how much good and quietnesse there is in this faithfulnesse and chastity of the wife, whereby the husband is free from all suspicion of dishonesty, may bee easily discerned by the contrary torment of such men, as are vexed with the spirit of iealousie. And this by a little turning of the words, may be drawne to the due­ty of the man towards his wife. The other duety is prouiding for her familie, and it is declared by the effect of a woman of strength, to wit, procuring of plenty; espe­cially of houshould furniture, which is set forth by likning her to those, which hauing obtained the victory, and slaine their ene­mies: doe bring the spoiles home to their houses. By which metaphor hee sheweth [Page 28] that shee doth by her labour and industry helpe very much, for the maintaining of their estate. But hereof more shall be spo­ken in the rest of the Chapter.

Ʋerse 12.He afterwards returneth to the descrip­tion of her duety towards her husband, which first is propounded by the effect, that is, that shee will doe good vnto her husband; which is amplified by denying of the contrary. By which manner of speech he declareth that shee will doe nothing, but that which shall be good and commo­dious vnto him, for shee is giuen him of God for a helper.Gen. 2, 18. He teacheth therefore that it is the part of a good wife, to please her husband in all things, so farre as it may agree with the duty of a good and godly woman: for if for his good shee doth some­times that which may displease him, shee doth not against her duty. Hitherto there­fore shee ought to bend her endeauor, that shee may be praised without all exception. But there are to bee found many women, of whom it is said, shee is a faithfull and chast woman, but yet a froward peece, shee is a good wife, but curst, and somewhat too talkatiue, and hasty to answere. But of this woman it is generally said, that shee is loiall, gentle, & perfect in euery iust & good duty.

Afterwards this duty is amplified by the adiunct of the length of time; that is to say, all the daies of his life. It is growen to a common Prouerbe amongst vs, to call the first moneth after mariage, the hony moon: Wherby, men wil shew that the be­ginnings of mariage are pleasant, but that there follow after many bitter yeeres. By another similitude also, they do compare the ioy of a widow desiring mariage, to a fire of thornes, which after a short blaze is presently put out and quenched. But this duty of a godly woman is not comprehen­ded in lesse then the whole life of time. For she will not onely do good to her husband whilest he is young, but when he is old al­so, not only in health, but also in sicknesse, not only in prosperitie but also in aduersi­tie. And these duties are also to be perfor­med of the husband toward his wife, and so much the more grieuously doth hee of­fend, if hee swarne from his dutie, in as much as God hath made him more strong, and furnished him with greater gifts.

Verse 13.

She seeketh wooll and flaxe, and worketh it according to the wil­lingnesse of her hands.

Verse 14.

Shee is like the ships of the Merchant: Shee fetcheth her foode from farre.

Verse 15.

And rising vvhile it is yet night, shee giueth the portion to her house, and the ordinary to her maids.

Verse 16.

She thinketh of a field, which she taketh, of the fruites of her hand she planteth a Vineyard.

THis care for prouiding of wool and flaxe, seemeth little to agree with the wife of Salomon, so magnificent a King; for whom it should seeme to bee more fit, to be carefull to deck and trimme her selfe by the glasse, that her beautie might be the more gracious, and pleasing vnto the King: but especially, it seemeth to differ much from the roiall dignitie, and Princely maiestie, that she should with her [Page 31] owne hands handle the distaffe; and as it followeth after in the 19. verse, that shee should put her hands to the wheele, & her hands hold the spindle. For it seemeth she should sufficiently discharge the dutie of a mother of a family, if she do cause her mai­dens and seruants to doe this. But howso­euer things may seeme to vs and our car­nall iudgement, iudging of duty according to the present shewe; notwithstanding the wisedome of God hath thought this to a­gree with the Maiestie of the greatest Prin­ces, that they should exercise themselues both in these, and other duties belonging to women.

Wee read of Sara, Gen. 18, 6, 7 who beeing a great Princesse, yet shee kneaded dough,Gen. 27, 9, 17 and dressed meate. Of Rebecca wee read, how by her cunning in cookery, she was able to counterfait meates, to cause that to ap­peare to be venison, which indeed was not.2. Sam. 13, 5, 6, 9 Of Thamar the Kings daughter, how shee was so well practiced in cookery that shee was able to make daintie and pleasant meates for her brother, faining himselfe sicke. In this our age, if any woman be of more noble birth, or haue riches aboue o­thers, their manner is to bee so proud and disdainefull, that they thinke nothing may [Page 32] beseeme their greatnesse; but what is ioi­ned with notable idlenesse, and ceasing from all honest businesse, they may han­dle nothing which may make their hands hard, do nothing which may impaire their beauty.Gen. 20, 1 It appeareth by holy Scriptures, that Sara and Rebecca, euen in their olde age kept the traces and features of their beautie they had in their youth: and ther­fore no doubt but they had a care to con­tinue their beauty, that they might be most gracious and pleasing to their husbands: but that through this care of their beauty, they did cease from all honest labour and businesse; it neither can agree with their duty, nor with those excellent vertues wherewith they were endued. But if to Princesses and honorable women, it be not allowed to be idle, and to cease from honest businesse (whereas they notwithstanding, in regard of the weakenesse of their sexe, both are and ought to bee fauoured aboue others) can it bee lawfull for men to take vnto them this licence to liue at their plea­sure, without any imployment. Wherein the men of our age doe more grieuously offend then the women. For what man is there that hath rents and possessions aboue the common sort, which by this bounti­fulnesse [Page 33] of God towards him, doth not thinke himselfe freed and discharged from all honest imployment: so as hee thinketh he is in good state, if abstaining from doing wrong to others, he doe in the meane time giue himselfe to all loosenes of minde, spen­ding his time both in hunting, hauking, and other pleasures of this life. Furthermore whereas shee doth her selfe seeke wooll and flaxe, not staying till they should be proui­ded by her husband: hereby is set forth her readinesse to labor, which is proued by the words following; for whereas he saith, that shee doth these things according to the wil­lingnesse of her hands, hee doth thereby teach, that shee doth readily and cheere­fully goe about her worke, wherein aboue all things her strength is declared. For such things as are laid vpon vs by reason of our calling, ought to be done merrily and with a cherefull minde, for like as the sunne like a giant doth gird it selfe, that it may in 24. houres runne his whole circuit about the world; so likewise ought wee to stirre and raise vp our selues to that worke, which is laid vpon vs. Men therefore (which haue a minde of more courage, and are of greater strength of body) may bee ashamed to lye downe vnder the burden of such labors, as [Page 34] are enioyned them. And this cherefulnesse is therefore propounded, that he may shew that thereby the worke is the more easily and speedily dispatched.

Verse 14.It is though that the wife hath sufficient­lie performed her duty, if shee doe safely preserue and keepe those things which her husband hath brought in. But the holy Ghost teacheth vs, that it is the wiues duety to prouide those things wherewith the fa­milie is fed; and not such things onely as are neere at hand, but which also are brought from farre countries: from whence hee sheweth, that shee fetcheth them in mar­chants ships; because shee bringeth her foode from farre. Wherein seemeth some doubt, how a woman being by nature and calling, limited to keepe home, should fetch her foode from farre. Whereto I answere, that shee fetcheth her foode from farre, not by trauelling into forraigne Countries, or pas­sing the seas, but by sending the workes of her hands into strange Countries, from whence shee may receaue either Corne or other marchandize in exchange; and those things which at home are not to be had, shee may fetch from other places commodiou­slie. But those things, when they are spo­ken of the Queene, what woman is there, [Page 35] which ought in regard either of her owne, or her husbands honour, to bee freed from the duty of procuring those things which may be of vse, not onely for her selfe, but for the nourishing also of her whole family. So as not the least part of the pompe and mag­nificence of the King, may seeme to depend on the prouidence and labour of his wife and Princesse: by which meanes also commeth great freedome vnto the subiects, from tri­butes, taxes, subsidies, and other exactions. Wee reade that amongst some prophane heathen people, the reuenues of a whole prouince hath beene allowed to the Kings & Emperors wiues, to buy them pins & trifles.

And in this our age, women of noble pa­rentage and degree are so prodigally sump­tuous, that for the maintenance of their pompe, their apparell, their attendance, and their delicates, they are forced to make hauocke of their inheritance, as if they were borne and made for the wasting and consu­ming of the fruites of the earth. Hereof commeth the pilling and spoiling of their Citizens, enhaunsing of rents and fines of their tenants and Husbandmen, which till the ground.Verse 15.

Shee is further described, by an adiunct of her watchfulnesse, and taking little sleep: [Page 36] For, her mind being busied about her house­hold affaires, doth not suffer her to ouer­sleepe her selfe; but like a watch, dooth a­wake her betimes.

Many women there are, which although they giue themselues much sleep, being not­withstanding once wakened and raised, they do with great readines & diligence dispatch businesse of the house, and in that respect they are praise-worthy. But this womā here described by the holy Ghost, doth not only merrily and cheerefully buckle her selfe to dispatch her matters, but doth also betimes, and early set her hand to her worke. Hea­then people and strangers from God could see, that the Gouernour of the Common­wealth and the Councellor, ought not to sleepe the whole night: But the holy Ghost requireth this euen in the mother of a fami­ly, that shee should rise before the night be spent. True it is indeed, that it is said in the 104. Psalme, that man goeth forth to his la­bor at the sun-rising: but this is no let at all, but that those things which are to be done in the house, as well of men, as women, may be begun before day. For they cannot by the helpe of a lanthorne doe those things which are to bee done abroad, and in the field: whereas notwithstanding the things [Page 37] at home may bee dispatched by the candle­light. But if it doe not well beseeme a woman of strength to sleepe till day light; how ill may it beseeme a lusty man, which hath the strength of his limbes. And what things are in the sixt Chapter,Pro. 6.6 and in sundry other places layde to the sloathfull mans charge, the same no doubt, in like manner, may fitly be obiected to sloathfull and idle women.

This vigilancie or watchfulnesse he descri­beth by a double end, whereof the first is, that shee giueth to her whole family their foode, and that according to the sexe and degree of those which are of the family: for, it hath been before sayd in the 27. Chap. & 26.27. verses, that there is one kinde of diet for the men seruants, another for the maids, one diet also for slaues, another for free­men, one for those that are strong, another for such as are weake, one for the whole, a­nother for the sicke. The other end is that she setteth her maides and waiting seruants their taske: where is to be noted, that shee is carefull for foode for the whole family, but not that she doth therefore appoint the men seruanes their worke (which belon­geth to her husband) but onely to her mai­dens.

Then it is further to be noted, that she giueth foode, and that she appointeth the workes, and prescribeth both the portion and the taske. For there are women to be found which doe appoint worke enough, and more then enough, but doe allow but a small portion. Others there are which doe allow plentie of foode, but haue small care of the performance of their worke: neither of these is to approued, neither of them is free from danger; for the one be­wraieth a basenesse and vilenesse of the minde, the other bringeth pride and ar­rogancie.Verse. 16. Her diligence and watchfulnesse is further declared by the effect, to wit, that she considereth a field, which she purcha­seth and planteth with vines. For so farre is she from diminishing the Kings rents, as she doth rather enlarge them.Pro. 14.1 Prouerb. 14. It is said of a woman of strength, that she buildeth her house: which is amplified by the contrary. And this is a verie orderly thing, that to the end she may builde a house, she doe first set her minde to buy a fielde. For the rule is good of them, which say there is lesse profit in a house without a fielde, then a fielde without a house. Whereto also be­longeth the counsell of Salomon, Prepare thy worke without: Pro. 24 27 and make ready that which [Page 39] thou hast in the field, that afterward thou maist build a house.

Moreouer, here is to be obserued, that she doth not first prouide her selfe of plea­sant and delightful things, but those things wherwith these are maintained.

Verse 17.

She girdeth her loynes with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.

Verse 18.

Shee feeleth that her Mer­chandise is good: her light is not put out by night.

Verse 19.

She putteth her hands to the wheel, and her hands hold the spindle.

Verse 20.

Shee stretcheth forth her hand to the poore, and putteth forth her hands to the needie.

Verse 21.

She feareth not her family for the snowe: for her whole house­holde is cloathed vvith double rai­ment.

HEre first of all, is propounded to be considered, her continuall and vncessant labor to procure riches [Page 40] vnto the 20 verse: then doth he adde, for what vse she getteth wealth vnto the 24. v. In the former part are contained two ef­fects of a woman of strength, and a cause of the effects. The effects are comprehen­ded in the 17.19. and latter part of the 18. verse. And the cause of these effects is de­clared in the former part of the 18 verse. First of all therefore a man may here aske how this manner of speech which is here attributed to a woman, that she grideth her selfe with strength, and strengtheneth her armes, may stand with the glory of God, forasmuch as that which is proper to God alone is caried to a woman. For euen Kings themselues are altogether without strength,Psa. 18, 33, 34 35 Iam. 1. sauing that God doth gird them with might, whereof being depriued, pre­sently the become weake and feeble. Sure it is that the strength of the body, (euen as euery good gift) commeth from God aboue, in whom we liue, doe moue, and haue our being: yet so notwithstanding, as God doth not exclude our endeauour, no not so much as in the worke of sancti­fication:Acts 17.28 1. Tim, 8, 16 Ia. 4, 5, 8, 9, 10. much lesse in the worke of this life, for the performance whereof, there re­maineth not so great strength after the blot of sinne. And first of all she may well [Page 41] be said to gird her loines and her armes with strength, for that shee excerciseth her selfe and her body with labor: for as by idlenes & slothfulnes the strength is enfeebled in some sort, as yron vnused is eaten with rust, so by moderate exercise the strength is increased & augmented. Hereof is it that husbandmen & laborors hauing their health, the slothfull & sluggish are oppressed with sundry diseases.

Furthermore in another respect shee may well bee said to strengthen her loines, and her armes, for that shee conceiueth great hope to perfect these things which shee ta­keth in hand. For there are many which of a faint-hartednesse and base dispaire of their minde, dare not enterprise any excellent thing; or hauing begunne it, out of an opi­nion of difficulty to finish that which they haue imagined to themselues, doe cast it out of their hands vnexpected. So comes it to passe, that through a vile and base feare, and distrust, they doe as it were lay bands vpon themselues, and being fettered hand and foote, they become vnfit and vnable for any notable worke, wherein there appeareth a­ny shew of difficulty. Hereof the Israelites setting before themselues the height of the wals of the land of Canaan, & the taulnes of the men, reiecting alll hope of vanquishing [Page 42] that Country beganne to thinke of retur­ning into Egypt. Numb. 13.32. Deut. 1.

This cowardnesse and basenesse of minde in those, that belong vnto the Kingdome of Heauen is greater, for although there are some, which haue found the way and life ve­ry easie; yet many also are so discouraged with the difficulty thereof, that they will not once enter into this course. Which thing is manifestly declared in the words of Moses, Deut. 30.11.12.13.14.15. Also 1. Iohn 5.3. and Math. 11.30.

Heere the cause (as often els where) is in­serted as well of this which hath gone be­fore, as of other effects which doe follow: to wit, that shee findeth the fruit of her labour to be good, and to haue good speede in those things which shee hath labored. And this hee amplifieth by a comparison of the like: For as hee which tasteth good and delicate meates neuer proued before: with the sweet­nesse thereof, is entised and egged on to pro­cure the same againe, although it bee with some hard and sharpe labor; so this woman being taught by the experience of the fruit of her labour and industry, doth the more cheerefully follow the same.

Those therefore which are sloathfull and idle, for as much as they reape no fruit of [Page 43] their idlenesse, are not stirred vp with any desire to labour. Such also as with labour wearying both themselues and theirs, doe notwithstanding receiue none at all, or very small fruite of their paines (because God not being called vpon by them refuseth to giue his blessing) these men also must needes faint vnder the burden of their labours.Psal. 127, 1, 2 Hag. 1, 6, [...] As on the contrary this woman (whose labours God by his blessing doth prosper) making won­derfull gaine, is encouraged to vndergoe her paines. And no doubt but the Israelites when they had once tasted of the fruites of the land of Canaan, did the more couragi­ously ioine battell with the inhabitants thereof. Euen as also we see that good sen­ting hounds, with the onely sent of the beast, which they doe course, doe mend their pace, and with greater swiftnesse doe chase their pray. On the contrary it comes to passe in many, who when as through the blessing of God vpon their honest labours, they are grone to some wealth, do giue them­selues to idlenesse, and to their pleasures, till they haue wasted that which they had got­ten with paine.

This in matters belonging to the life to come, is more euidently perceiued; for that so many hearers of the Gospell, doe so coldly [Page 44] frequent the assemblies of the Church, in the preaching of the Gospell, administra­tion of the Sacraments, and other ordinary seruice of God: it proceeds from no other cause, but this, that they haue not tasted the fruit of the forgiuenesse of their sinnes, euen the peace of conscience. Whereas, if so be they had but tasted onely how good the Lord is, it cannot be vttered with what fer­uentnesse and zeale they would runne vnto the meetings of the Church, and would thirst after them,Psal. 42.1. Iam. 2.1.2 3. as the Hart chased by the dogges thirsteth after the waters.

There followeth another effect of the ef­ficient cause before declared: which is, that her light is not put out by night. It was said before that she preuenteth the day: Now he addeth that she so abideth to her worke, that she maketh not an end of her worke with the day, but draweth it forth and continueth it a great part of the night: Neither doth she (as some doe) labour by fits, but persist­eth and perseuereth constantly in her workes.

Hereof may be gathered that she breaketh her sweete sleepe, For rising so early and go­ing to bed so late; especially when she hath beene painefull in her worke; the sounder [Page 45] sleepe must needes fal vpon her, so as she (but with some violence) doth not awake. Which thing is to be obserued of all, both men and women. For as it is not lawfull to eate vnto a fulnes: so likewise it is not lawful to sleepe so long, till we haue satisfied our lust. It hath bin said before, how this woman of strength appointed maides their taske: he now ad­deth further, that she doth her selfe set her hands to worke. Hitherto also pertaineth she busieth her selfe in the same kinde of worke; with her maides, handling the whele and the distaffe, one after another. Although it be not vnlikely that she did spinne finer and costlier woole and flaxe, yet it is certaine that it was laboursome, and painefull, both the wheele & the spindle, whereto she was to put her strength, and vse her might.

For to what end is it, that it was sayd be­fore that shee girdeth her selfe with strength but that she should haue need of strength to do her worke: Wherto also pertaineth that, which is spoken in this verse that she putteth both her hands to the spindle. For, it is a thing layde vpon all the posteritie of Adam, not only to labour, but to labour hardly and with paine: For, notwithstanding that God hath appointed vnto women, such workes as haue lesse wearisomnes in them, in regard [Page 46] of the weakenesse of their sexe, and of their paines of childe-bearing: yet are they not freed from those duties, which are ioined with some paine and tediousnesse.

Furthermore, it is to be noted that by this her working, she is not only her selfe ex­ercised, but shee doth also take away all co­lor of idlenesse from her maides: for it were a shame for the maides to plucke their hands from such work as their mistris her self doth not disdaine to doe. For here is that Pro­uerbe true, which is sanctified by the holy mouth of Christ; that it is well with the seruant if he be in the same condition with his master, it is well with the hand-maide, if shee be in no worse case then her mistris. But this example of paines taking, which she giueth to her maides, is of more force to worke in their mindes, then many admo­nitions or chastisemēts which are vsed with­out example.

This point also is to be obserued, to con­firme and strengthen vs in the common du­ties of this life, as things acceptable vnto God; considering that the Anabaptists do esteeme of those things as too vile for Chri­stians to exercise themselues in: But the Pa­pists although they condemne not these things, yet they make the hands of godly [Page 47] women more slacke, whilest they doe so highly extol the counterfait workes of their Nunnes, no wayes approued by the holy Ghost.

Hee hath alreadie spoken of the industry and diligence which she vseth in the dispatch of her worke, and of the happy euent and successe thereof.

There followeth, both the varietie and number of the workes, wherein she is occu­pied: and also, the end whereunto they are referred, which doth crowne all her former workes; and without the which it skilleth not much, whether the mothers of families be sloathful or diligent in their worke. For, if she should only lay vp in a chest these her riches gotten with paine, should heape vp treasures, or bestow them in trifles and toies, there were no cause why this praise should be giuen her. But now when as both in get­ting them her industry is declared, and in disposing them her piety and wisdome ap­peareth; no sufficient cōmendation can ea­sily be giuen vnto her. For to som God hath plentifully and abundantly giuen discretion to bestow them to their iust and due vses.

In the verses following he describeth the ends,Ʋerse 20. whereto she referreth her riches got­ten with such diligence and continuall la­bor: [Page 48] wherof the first is, that she may succor the poore, and such as are oppressed vvith want. This is confirmed by the testimonie of the Apostle. Ephes. 4.28. & Prouer. 3.26.27.

Whereby appeareth, how few there are which are indued with true piety; for how few men shal be found, which do know this end of getting riches: And of those which propound vnto themselues this end, the number is farre lesse.

Furthermore, whereas shee stretcheth forth and extendeth her hand, it teacheth how readily and cherefully, how bountiful­ly also and liberally she doth it: for, God lo­ueth a cheerefull giuer: Psal. 112, 9 Eccles. 11.1 He sovveth his seede in a fat and fruitfull soyle, from vvhence he loo­keth for a hundred folde.

This manner of speech also declareth, that she is none of those delicate and tender women, which cannot indure to behold those that are in misery and affliction.

It is also to bee considered, that the first fruits of her labours are giuen to the poore: For whereas that which is distributed to the poore is sayd to be consecrated to the Lord; and there is none so ignorant which knowes not, that the first fruites are to be dedicated to God:Pro. 3, 9, 10 it is manifest that there is a princi­pall [Page 49] regard to bee had to the poore.1. King. [...]7.17 1 [...]

Her next care is for her family,Deut 26.13 14 Verse 21. that it be well and sufficiently cloathed, that there be none in all her householde, which should be in any sort hurt by the weather; either cold, heat, winde or raine &c. so farre are they from going with torne and ragged cloathes. In the 1. King 10. It appeareth, that the Queene of Saba gaue her iudgement of the wisedome of Salomon, by the apparell of his seruants. For as of the foode, so also of the cloathing of the household, the Go­uernors must be carefull, whereas diuers in many households, are not only not whol­somely apparelled, but not so much as ho­nestly and seemely couered: which as it is hurtfull to those of the family, so it is also an inconuenince to the Gouernors them­selues, in as much as their necessary busines, by these meanes is hindered for want of health.

Moreouer, where it is sayde that she fea­reth not her family for the snow, therein is some difficultie: for it seemeth not to swarne from the duty of a wife, and godly woman to feare the incommodities of her selfe and hers: for feare is a spurre vnto vs, to auoide those things whereof wee are afraid, for a wise-man, feareth the euill and eschevveth it.

Contrariwise, we may see many women which hauing little care of the diet and cloa­thing of their family, do leaue them destitute of things necessary. I answere, that it is want of feare, which proceedeth from hence, that being inconsiderate and vnadui­sed, they doe not foresee the things which are profitable for the family in the time to come; especially long time after. But this want of feare is vtterly to bee condemned: Howbeit that a woman, which in a due con­sideration of the inconueniences which may happen, doth stand in feare of them, and fearing doth stirre vp her selfe to all care and regard to prouide such things, which do belong vnto the maintenance of life, shee truely is not to be blamed.

And that woman which in a timely fore­sight of those things, whereby her houshold may be sufficiently maintained, doth so ad­dresse her selfe to all honest skill, and means to defend the same, as shee may safely and securely cast away all carefulnesse, and feare of her family, shee indeed worthely deser­ueth praise.Iob. 5.21 By this meanes commeth it to passe, that by diligent labor and continuall painfulnesse, men do rid themselues of ma­ny cares and griefes (wherewith, others are pained) when as they doe handle their mat­ters, [Page 51] according to the prescript of Gods Word.

Verse 22.

She prouideth her tents: fine linnen and purple is her cloathing.

Verse 23.

Her Husband is knowen in in the gates when hee sitteth with the Elders of the land.

Verse 24.

Shee maketh fine linnen which she selleth, and deliuereth a gir­dle to the Merchaunt.

HEr next care is for the furniture of her house, prouided and beautified with those ornaments which may most set forth the fairenes of the house, and the honor of the gouernor. For, it is not the least commendation of a Matrone, to prouide that the house be thoroughly furni­shed, of bedding, hangings, tapestry, and other such like necessaries, both for the ne­cessity of life, and also for honest delight: For a man may see many women very sumptuously attired, whose houses not­withstanding lie empty and vnfurnished.

Neither truly doth the praise of this wo­man consist in this, that shee buieth these or­naments with her mony, but because shee maketh and weaueth them at her owne house. Which is to bee vnderstood both of those things which haue beene spoken of before in the 20. and 22. verses, and also of those which follow vnto the 25: verse.

Vnto this carefulnesse, to prouide house­hold furniture doth succeed, care of trim­ming her owne body, and that with things farre more pretious, as fine linnen & purple. The which, although it seeme scarce to a­gree with the turning of the wheele, and handling of the spindle and distaffe: yet the holy Ghost hath thought them very agreea­ble. And here no doubt he bringeth in this woman so delicately apparelled, that hee might thereby commend these womanly workes and exercises vnto all posterity, as those which are worthy, and fit for such as are cloathed in very delicate apparel, so as their estate and degree will afford it. Which is not to bee vnderstood of all women, but according as euery ones estate will stretch; for this womans husband was among the chiefe, as appeareth in the 23. verse. But here some man may aske, whether it be fit that hee should first prouide for her owne selfe.

To whom I answere, that it is meete that shee prepare necessary couering for those of her houshould, before shee set her minde vpon delicacy, and finenesse of apparel for her selfe: euen as also shee ought to seeke for necessary foode for her family, before shee take thought for dainty meates for her selfe.

Whereupon it followeth,1. Tim. 2 9. 1. Peter 3 3. that those testi­monies against costly attire, which the Apo­stle speakes of, are not simply to be vnder­stood, but by comparison of godlinesse, more carefully to be sought for then the finenes of apparell. Neither is shee puffed vp with these so precious vestiments, conside­ring that shee is continually in labour: a meanes that God vseth to schoole men to humility, for the women which by deli­cacy of their apparell, and soft array of their bodies,Esay 3. are lifted vp in the pride of their hearts, doe thereby turne their purple into sackcloath.

Another effect or end of her continuall labour, consisteth in making ornaments,Verse. 23. whereby as by certaine markes and signes her husband may be knowne, and discer­ned from other men, which is amplified by an adiunct of the time, when he goeth and fitteth in the assembly of the Eelder, where [Page 57] specially it beseemeth him to be most come­ly apparelled.

But here some man may moue a doubt, how it may stand with the duty of a louing wife, that first shee prouideth ornaments for her selfe, and afterwards for her hus­band. Whereto I answere, that the out­ward ornaments of the body, are more fit for women then men, and that there com­meth credit and praise to the man by the comely apparell of his wife, euen as it would be to his discredit, if hee himselfe being gaily apparelled, his wife should be without or­naments. Sheee doth therefore trimme her selfe not so much for her owne, as for her husbands both credit and delight.

From all which things it appeareth that there is nothing so great or so small in the houshould, that there is none from the high­est to the lowest, from the head of the fami­ly euen vnto the foote, whom her care doth not reach vnto. For euen as in the common wealth those that are so carefull for one part, as they neglect another, they doe grie­uously offend: and contrariwise they doe safely gouerne the same, which doe extend their care ouer all. So likewise in a family, shee which is so carefull for her husband and children, that shee neglecteth her seruants [Page 55] and maides, doth very dangerously offend.

Some man will thinke that she is marue­lously diligent in vndergoing her labours,Ʋerse 24. which hath supplied so many and so great things, both for the necessities and orna­ments of her familie. But this woman is of such an inuincible minde, that these so great labours being endured, shee doth not rest there, but setteth vpon other workes also, which being finished, shee deliuereth to the merchants.

But all her other things in generall are costly: and such whereof otherwise by reason of the long and doubtfull cariage, the mer­chāt should neuer make perfect. For it is such linnen as is, weaued of very fine and slen­der threds. The valew whereof may easily be gathered, in as much as the body of Christ (of whose honourable sepulture the scrip­ture witnesseth) was wrapped in the same. And of the prize of the girdles, wherewith men and women are girt, the scripture is not without testimonies. 2. Sam. 18.11. Ierm. 2.32. Esay 3, 24.

Whereas by this manner of speech these lessons do belong euen vnto the Kings wife; it teacheth vs that it is no discredite for a Princess to deliuer vnto the merchants such workes as by her owne skill she hath made. [Page 56] It is knowne that in the auncient Romane common wealth, those of the chiefest nobi­lity, did sell the fruite of their orchards and gardens for mony: and there remaine yet in Germany (a sheard of the Romaine com­mon wealth) some signes of that custome. But amongst vs men are grown to that pride that they are accounted for base people, which should imitate that manner.

Verse 25.

Strength and honour is her clothing, and she laugheth.

Verse. 26.

She openeth her mouth in wisedome, and doctrine is vpon her tongue.

Verse 27.

She prieth into the waies of her househould, and eateth not the bread of idlenesse.

HItherto hath beene spoken of the vertues, which are more proper vnto the mother of the household there follow such vertues, as are common to all godly people both men and women. In the, 22. verse it hath been said, that she is cloa­thed and apparelled in fine linnen and pur­ple: [Page 57] but in this place he bringeth in mention of further a kinde of raiment.

This manner of cloathing is of the minde, as the former was of the body.Tim. 2, 9 Pet. 3.34 This is the same which the Apostles doth principally commend vnto women, and doth preferre before all other ornaments, though neuer so precious and without the which, euen she which is most neately and daintely cloathed is but naked and bare before God, the An­gels, and holy men.

But of this inward cloathing there are two parts set downe, strength, and honour and comelines: whereof in the one is noted the confidence of her minde, whereby being without feare she enioyeth rest and quiet­nesse: by the other those vertues, which be­side that they come from a minde well af­fected doe procure a singular bewty, worthy of all men to be looked vpon.

And truely what things haue beene spo­ken hitherto, as they doe belong to the due­ty of a good Matron, so may they sometimes be found in women, which are voide of all true piety, in Iewes, in Papists, in Turkes. But those things which doe follow, are of that kinde which as they doe onely fal vnto god­ly Matrons, so doe they adde great glory vn­to the former gifts, and doe as it were crown [Page 58] them. And first for the strength of the minde it is proued by the effect, that shee feareth not the inconueniēces of the time following, which in men either quite destitute, or light­ly endued with this trust in God, doth breed continuall vnquietnesse. This is that which the Prophet saith in the. 112. Psalm. vers. 7. That the righteous man is not affraid of euell ti­tidings. And the same which Salomon hath Pro. 28.1. That the righteous is bould as a young lyon. The cause whereof is assigned by the Prophet in the Psalme before resited, because his minde is strengthned. The cause also of which strengthning he doth there set downe because his soule trusteth in God: what is this else, but that which the Apostle teacheth, that through peace of conscience, which true faith worketh in the godly, they doe euen reioice in tribulation: and so farre are they from being discouraged in minde for feare of them, that not then truely when they are ouercharged with them, doe they faint, much lesse sinke vnder them. This singular tranquilitie of minde he declareth by an adiunct of laughing, because we doe vse to laugh at those, against whom we doe assure and promise vnto our selues certaine easie victory.

The blessed and happy estate of the god­ly [Page 59] is here in this place notably described, and their vndoubted assurance of eternall life, whereby they are as certaine and sure of the life to come, as they are either of their present life, or their life past: which they know cannot either be weakened or taken away by strength or craft, either of things aboue, or things beneath,Rom. 8. that neither pros­perity, nor aduersity, neither famine, nor the sword, nor death, nor the banding and fron­ting of all mischiefes opposed against vs, is able to driue vs from the fruition of life e­uerlasting. The contrary whereof the Pa­pists teach, which doe torment mens con­sciences with the continual torture of doub­ting and perplexitie. But this ought so much the more to confirme vs against all fearefull terrors, for that women by nature are fearefull and timerous.Luk. 16 12. Whereof it is that this is called our goods, euen as other commodities of this life, are by our Sauiour called others mens and not ours. Which ought to giue vs courage to seeke after those things, which no casualty may take from vs, being things which last for euer. In the goods of this life wee doe couet after those things, which are lesse subiect to change, as vnmoueable, rather then moueable. In mar­chandise those that are most staple are estee­med, [Page 60] which will continue longest without corrupting. And rents, and yeerely reue­nues of inheritance are preferred before mo­ney: why should we not then vse the same wisdome in these things which doe neuer faile.

And thus much of the inward strength, there followeth the honour or comelinesse; that is, those vertues which haue a comely sight in the iudgement of the Angels, and all godly men: where in the first place com­meth, that shee doth not vse speach, but wise­ly, and warily, which is very fitly applied vn­to this woman. For it is commonly knowne and growne to a Prouerbe, that women by nature are more talkatiue, so as greater care is to be had, and straighter watch to be kept least at any time the lockes and barres of wisdome and modesty being broken, the tongue before being silent, doe wander and stray abroad here and there. Whereunto it is a great helpe, that a woman be constant and continuing in her labour; for euen as the Apostle doth define idlenes,1. Tim. 5. & sloathful­nesse to be the seede of much talke in youn­ger widdowes, so continuance in labour, is a singular remedy against rashnesse, and for­wardnesse of the tongue.

The praise of her speech seemeth to con­sist [Page 61] not so much in the common speach of the things belonging vnto this life, which may be in infidels, as in another subiect of speach, it is a conference of holy matters. For he saith that the doctrine of benignity and kindnesse is in her tongue. By which manner of speach hee seemeth to declare both couenaunts of workes and of grace; whereof in the one the bounty of God to­wards vs doth stand; and in the other our loue both towards God, and towards our neighbour for Gods cause is required. For shee is not onely a hearer and reader of the word of God, but also shee conferreth ther­of with her children, with her maides, and with her husband, instructing her children and maidens, as we reade of Hester, (for ex­cept her maides had first beene instructed to celebrate the Fast, they had beene altogether vnfit) and asking of her husband those things whereof shee standeth in doubt.1. Cor. 5. Whether is to bee referred, that in the booke of the Kings the name of mother is added, as a furtherer either of piety, or impietie of the children. Whereby the Iesuites are confuted, which doe so straightly tie the women to the wheele and spindle, as they doe cut them off, and [Page 62] barre them from all conference touching the word of God, as absurde and far vnbe­seeming their sexe. See the examples of An­na: 1. Sam. 2. And of the wife of Manoah, 14. of Iudges. And of Mary, Luke 1. And of Priscilla, which both instructed and for­warded Apollo in the way of the Lord. Whereby appeareth how carefull godly women haue been for true knowledge out of the word of God: Whereas hee sayth that doctrine &c. resteth in her tongue, hee doth thereby plainly declare, how often she vsed speech, and how plentifully it dwelt in her house.

Col. 3.16.Whereby notwithstanding is not exclu­ded, that which is the principall thing in this point, that shee hath the doctrine of benig­nity and kindnesse written in her minde; yea her often talking of the word God, is an vndoubted argument of the same writ­ten in her heart. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.Math. 12.

Another effect of this matrone is; that shee searcheth and prieth into the whole carriage of her houshold, for it is not enough to appoint them what they shall doe, vnlesse shee doe as it were call them to account & reckoning, and finde out whether they haue well performed their taske: which is [Page 63] to be vnderstood not so much of matters belonging to the house (which are euen per­formed of infidels) sometimes as of holi­nesse which consisteth either in pietie, and godlinesse towards God, and righteousnesse towards men. For notwithstanding that the chastising and punishing of the men ser­uants, slaues, and of the sonnes that are of age, is to be reserued to the husband, yet it is her part to inquire into the waies of the whole family; which is also required of the father of the family.

Furthermore, the metaphor of (prying) seemeth to declare, that she doth sometimes search into the manners and faults of her seruants and houshold, euen when they are not aware and thinke nothing of it: euen as a spie or a scout, lieth in wait to looke forth whether the enemy approacheth vnto the City and tents.

The conclusion of all which is, that she eateth not the bread of idlenesse. For when shee getteth wooll and flax, when as rising in the morning before day, and sitting vp a great part of the night, she appointeth her family their portion, and her maides their taske, when as she setteth her owne hands to the wheele and spindle, when as shee proui­deth for her houshold cloathing, for her [Page 64] house furniture, for her selfe, costly apparel; and for her husband ornaments, when shee instructeth her family: And finally, inqui­reth into the waies of her whole houshold, it easily appeareth that shee eateth not the bread of idlenesse.

But those are said to eate the bread of idle­nesse, which do receiue their meate, when as no honest labor hath gone before, and which is not gotten by labour: Wherby is confirmed that which is commaunded of the Apostle,2. Thes. 3.10 that those that will not labour should not eate. But if it be therefore con­cluded, that she eateth not the bread of idle­nesse, because shee is so busied as wee haue sayd: it is euident that those are vtterly to be condemned of sloathfulnesse, not onely which labour not at all, but euen those also which in doing their worke are more slacke and negligent.

Verse 28.

Her children shall rise and pronounce her blessed, and her husband, which shall prayse her.

Verse 29.

Many daughters haue done [Page 65] vertuously, but thou hast excelled a­boue all.

Verse 30.

Fauor is deceit, and beautie is vanity: but a woman fearing the Lord she getteh to her praise.

Verse 31.

Giue vnto her the fruite of her hands, and let her workes praise her in the gates.

THe scope and drift hereof is, hauing propounded a reward to stirre vp women to higher vertues; it is a true speech that Honour nourisheth arts; and that all men are kindled with a desire of praise, and that those things are despised and cōtemned which are misliked of euery one. Which may be applied vnto the desire of vertue and godlinesse: for although to iust and vncorrupted Iudges, the fruite of their duty is the dutie it selfe, and it belongeth vnto the godly to seeke after vertue, for ver­tues sake, and a conscience towards God; yet God pittying our infirmity and slownesse to good workes, doth set before vs a reward, as it were a crowne to bee enioyed both in this life, and in the life to come; to the end he may correct our sluggishnesse, and drow­sinesse [Page 66] in well doing. Which being a thing necessary for men to whet them on to the desire of vertue, it is manifest that it is more expedient for women, as those which are weaker. Whereof it is that the holy Ghost doth make this garland of praise which he may set vpon the head of such a industrious woman, as he hath described that as by her vertue and pietie, so also by the reward of condigne praise, she may be discerned from other women.

Verse 28.The chiefe good of all is, that she think­ing and feeling her selfe happy, standeth not in feare of any danger which may befall her. But it is to be accounted in some degree of happines, if in regard of her good works she be worthely cōmēded of good men: especi­ally, when as by this cōmendation of her ex­cellēt facts is sealed vp the aprobatiō of her good works by God himselfe. But that her own children, are here brought in by the H. ghost for spreaders of her praises, it may seem somewhat strange. For, whereas (according to the testemony of the Prophet, (as wee haue heard before) A mans ovvne praise in his ovvne mouth hath no grace; It must needs be that the commendation of those of her owne family; especially, such as are more neerely ioined vnto her, is but of small force [Page 67] to set her forth, as that which may seeme to proceed, either of selfe-loue, or flattery, that they may gaine somewhat of her. I answer, that besides the proper sence, here is a figu­ratiue speech, wherein by children is vnder­stood, the dyet and apparell of her chil­dren, the honestie of the childrens manners; but chiefely their pietie and feare of God, wherewith by her carefull education; shee hath endued them, which are as it were so many mouthes and tongues, whereby the praises of a woman of strength are published.

Not vnlike vnto this is that which is saide in the 127. Psalme. Where he is pro­nounced blessed which hath a quiuer furni­shed with children, who shall not bee asha­med when he contendeth with his enemies in the gates. Hereof also proceeded that ex­clamation of the woman Luke 11.27. al­though shee were therein deceiued, if shee thought that Christ tooke any part of his wisedome, or goodnes of his mother, when as he was taught of himselfe.

He mentioneth this prayse of the chil­dren towards their mother, because her children, through her godly and wise edu­cation doe liue in that light and honour, which redoundeth vnto the commendation of their mother; whereas he saith that they [Page 68] shall rise, that they may praise her, he see­meth to set forth their ripe age, when as (by marriage or publique charge) they come a­broad, whereas those which were of vnripe yeares, seemed to lie at home in silence. For being come to yeeres, they are then either an honour, or dishonour to their Parents: as in the 127 Psalme, children are then like ar­rowes wherwith their parents enimies are ei­ther slaine or woūded when they are of age.

Hence doe Parents learne, which doe neg­lect the godly and honest bringing vp of their children that they nourish in their bo­some, which may afterwards bite them, when they grow to ripenesse of age; who whereas if they haue vsed diligence and in­deuour in well bringing vp their children, they haue wherewith to comfort them­selues, against their excesse and wickednesse whatsoeuer. As on the contrary, in the god­linesse and honesty of the children, they haue a ioyfull rest and comfort, wherewith to strengthen themselues and the manifold griefes and inconueniences of old age, being as it were their winter.

To omit that there haue beene some, who going to the gallowes for their lewdnesse, haue cursed their mothers, because of their foolish cockering, they haue beene left vnto [Page 69] themselues, and their owne lusts: as on the contrary, children being well nurtured, will blesse their mother, because shee hath in­structed them, chastened them, and kept them within the bounds of their duty.

Which testimony of children, like as also that of the husband, which followeth, al­though it be lessened in regard, that in blood they are very neerely knit vnto her; yet is it of the greater credite: because they are eye­witnesses of her actions, and whole conuer­sation. But children ought so much the ra­ther to stirre vp themselues vnto a desire of vertue and piety, as that by their praise or dispraise, credit, or discredit, their Parents are either honoured, or dishonored, as those which haue part with their children, as well in the one as in the other.

The honor therefore which by the com­mandement is due to Parents by their chil­dren, is not shut vp within their fathers house, but continueth throughout the whole course of their life, euen then truely, when being departed forth of their Parents house, they are spread abroad in the com­mon wealth, neither is the obedience due to their parents, then only violated, when they doe trangresse their commandements, but also when they doe defile themselues with [Page 70] any lewdnesse, and wickednesse in any kinde whatsoeuer; whereof also it is that Salomon said before, that the foolish sonne bringeth sor­row to his father.

Her husband shall praise her: This com­mendation also of her Husband seemeth to be of small force to set forth her praise, by reason of that neere coniunction, which is betweene them, which will diminish the au­thority and force of the praise, besides the danger of being sollicited to breake her fide­lity by his praising of her to others. The commendation therefore which her hus­band giueth her, is first of all in priuate and at home, which bringeth no inconuenience, and whereby the vertue and industry of the wife is increased.

Furthermore (as before in the children) so here there is a figuratiue speech; for the vigorous and good bearing of his age, his good disposition of body, and the orna­ments of his apparell (whereof we haue spo­ken before) but especially for that shee whet­teth him on to piety, euen then, when he holdeth his peace, doth aboundanly speak of the praise of his wife.

For as the holinesse of the wife commen­deth the piety of her husband,1. Cor. 11. because shee is as it were the image of the man: so the [Page 71] excellent piety and godlinesse of the man doth set forth a religious woman: which godlinesse, it is no doubt, but his vertuous wife hath in some measure wrought in him. Thus did Priscilla helpe Aquila in godlines, in which regard shee is by the holy Ghost set before her husband, although a faithfull man: as in the 14. of Iudges, Sampsons mo­ther is set before her husband Manoath. Af­ter the commendation of the children, and of the husband, there followeth also the praise of the holy Ghost, speaking by the pen of Salomon: who doth by a comparison of the lesser amplifie her praise. But shee is compared not with a carelesse, and sloath­full woman, but with a woman of strength, and not with one alone, but with many to whom shee is not equalled, but farre pre­ferred, and placed as it were in a higher e­state; but if it be asked, what women of strength these are, to whom this woman is preferred. I answere, they are those, which being void of faith towards God, doe not­withstanding imbrace chastity, loue their husbands deerely, prouide plentifully for the diet and clothing of their family, seeke woll and flax, set their hands to the wheele and spindle, rise before day, goe to bed late, are carefull for furniture for their house, of [Page 72] all sorts, doe decke both themselues and their husbands, doe thinke of a field which they buy, and plant it with vines: but in the meane time being void of faith, are feareful­ly terrified with the euils to come: yea, euen with shaddowes of euils, as before hath been declared out of the 25. 26 and 27. verses. And truly in this kinde there are found not onely Popish women, Iewes, and Turkes, but also some professors of the Gospell, but in shew onely: before all which (though in number infinite) one of these is farre to be preferred, not onely in these vertues, which are proper and perculiar to her; but in those also which doe fall into both kindes of wo­men. For although the same things be per­formed of them both, notwithstanding see­ing the one doth them of conscience to­wards God, the other of a certaine instinct of nature, or to get praise and commenda­tion amongst men, it appeareth that there is as much difference betweene them, as is betweene heauen and earth. Hereby ap­peareth, how precious a thing faith is, wherewith all our workes are, as it were, perfumed, to be acceptable vnto God, and without which, the most glorious workes stinck, and in their greatest glittering are not withstanding sinnes.

In this verse hee doth by another argu­ment, from a comparison, set forth her praise, where he preferreth her before a wo­man, that is exceeding faire and well fauo­red: where also there seemeth to be a mee­ting with a secret and priuie obiection; the obiection is drawne from an apparant charge of the Prophet, as if hee were not wise and skilfull enough in describing and setting forth this woman, neuer sufficiently praised: as he, which in the reckoning vp of her vertues, had forgotten two ornaments, her beauty and comelinesse, vnto which the Prophet answereth, by an adiunct of the deceit of fauour, and vanity of beauty. But vanity and deceit are not of one sort. For first of all they are deceitfull and vaine; because the beauty and good fauour is vani­shed and painted, whereby the fowlest wo­men haue appearance, and goe for faire, which vpon the feeling of the fire, or any o­ther heate melt away. Furthermore because that beauty and fauour, which pleaseth to day, displeaseth to morrow, and that which is now esteemed to be a trace of beauty in the eies of the louers, is by and by accomp­ted a wart or a wenne. As appeareth by the example of Amon, who being inflamed with the loue of his sister Thamar, because [Page 74] of her beauty: was as it were in a turning of a hand, in a deadly hatred of her.

Moreouer, it is very truly called desceit­full and vaine, because as it were a flower, it perisheth, with the least blast of the winde of the iudgement of God, indeed fauour and beauty is the gift of God, wherefore it is be­fore compared by Salomō vnto a ring of gold yet hath the holy ghost thought it vnworthy to be reckoned among the former vertues.

But by this former Iudgement of the ho­ly Ghost, God would note the folly of men, who in choosing their wiues, doe principal­ly inquire after that, whether shee bee faire and well fauoured, so as if shee haue those, although shee bee endued with none of the former vertues, yet shee is accounted fit for them. And contrariwise shee which is indu­ed with the former vertues, vnlesse shee haue also fauour and beauty, is scorned and dis­pised of all men: wherein the madnesse of men doe notably bewray it selfe, that they doe carry themselues soe carelesly and disso­lutely in a matter of great weight, and wher­in consisteth the quietnesse of this whole life, and no small helpe to the life to come. If a man buy a horse, is he so mad that hee will rest onely in the colour and shape of his body neuer looking whether he be lame or broken winded. Or if a man buy a golde [Page 75] ringe, doth he thinke himselfe satisfied that in shew onely it glistereth like gold? or doth he not rather bring it to the touchstone, to try whether it be pure gold or gilt onely.

The estimation of fauour & beauty, is yet diminished by the vnfit praise, which is not meet for a woman indued with them; which is amplified by a comparison of the dislike: because a woman fearing God is worthy of praise: for notwithstanding that fauour and bewty (in regard that they are the gifts of God) doe deserue commendation, yet shee which hath them, seemeth not to deserue praise, seeing they are gotten by no skill or labor of hers, no, not so much as by her will: for except it were giuen her of God euen from the cradle, shee should labor in vaine to get it: but the feare of God, notwithstanding it be the gift of God, yet is it not giuen at the first, but to such, as doe will and desire it (God inclining their wil & affection) & being once begunne it receiueth increase through our desire care and industry.

So as notwithstanding, a faire and beau­tifull woman for her beauty may be praised; yet in comparison of that notable and sin­gular commendation which is rightfully done vnto the woman that feareth God, she is not to bee thought praise-worthy. And [Page 76] then by a comparison of the greater is lesse­ned the praise of beauty, and comelinesse is beaten downe: and this deniall and lesse­ning of the praise of good fauour and beau­ty, is more strongly declared, by this word, (she doth get praise vnto her selfe) as if the beautifull and well fauoured woman did not so.

Hereby is refuted not onely the vanity of men, but also their ingratitude towards God, which do imploy the whole power of their wit and learning, for the praise of beauty and fauour, not onely generally in the whole body, but particularly in euery part of it, from the head to the heele, vsing thereunto all the flowers and colours of their eloquence, wherewith they garnish and set them forth, who in the meane time in the commendation of vertue, are either dumbe, or cold.

He goeth 31 forward in the reward and re­compence of this woman of strength, where the holy Ghost by the Prophet doth cal vp­on all men, that they should yeeld vnto her the prayse due vnto her vertues and notable workes. The holy Ghost therefore doth ex­hort her husband, that both while he liueth, & when he is going to death, he should deale liberally with her in diet, cloathing and o­ther [Page 77] lawfull and honest delights of this life, and should graunt them vnto her bountifully & plentifully for her vse. Hee exhorteth her children and seruants, that they do vse all singular reuerence and obedience towards her: neither doth he exhort onely those of her familie, but also all others; yea euen the Magistrates themselues, so often as occasion is offered (as when women are brought in iudgement before them, for some slip in their manners, it is not vnseasonable to set before their eyes the laudable conuersation of this vertuous woman) that they doe im­ploy themselues to set forth her praise: For notwithstanding that this woman, together with her notable workes be shut vp and li­mited within the wals of her owne house, yet her praise passing forth, and climbing vp the top of the house commeth & appeareth at the holy seate of Iustice.

Whom therefore God commendeth and thinketh worthy to be praised, in the extol­ling of them, we ought to imploy, not onely our tongues, and pennes; but euen also as it were our shoulder, wherewith being borne vp, and vnderpropped, they may bee, as it were, lifted vp into an open place, from whence their vertue may be seene of all.

The which ought to confirme vs in the [Page 78] study of vertue; especially when we know that the hearts and tongues of all men are in the hands of God, so as hee is able to bend them euen in those that are voide of all pie­tie, to publish the praises of the godly, as ap­peareth by the examples of Ioseph and Mo­ses abiding in Aegypt. But if men in this be­halfe be dumbe and vnthankfull: yet it ought to strengthen and retaine vs in our duty, that God by his heauenly voice doth vouchsafe to praise vs: and moreouer in time to come, in the greatest assembly of the whole world, he will, as it were in the highest court com­mend vs, which ought most plentifully to satisfie vs, both then, when men are not on­ly silent in our commendations, but further also when they doe vndeseruedly speake e­uill of vs.

FINIS.

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