Genesis 2:18
The LORD God also said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make for him a suitable helper."
Complete SolitudeUrijah R. Thomas.Genesis 2:18-25
EveT. W. Richards, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
EveT. W. Richards, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
Genesis of WomanG. D. Boardman.Genesis 2:18-25
God's Ordinance of MarriageG. Calthrop, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
God's Provision for Man's NeedsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
God's Provision to Remedy Man's LonelinessJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 2:18-25
LessonsBp. Babington.Genesis 2:18-25
Loneliness is not GoodJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
Loneliness not GoodJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
MarriageW. G. Blaikie, D. D.Genesis 2:18-25
Meaning of WifeDictionary of IllustrationsGenesis 2:18-25
Society in the FamilyGenesis 2:18-25
The Creation of WomanJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
The Creation of WomanJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
The Creation of WomanHenry, MatthewGenesis 2:18-25
The FamilyW. G. Blaikie, D. D.Genesis 2:18-25
The True Life of ManR.A. Redford Genesis 2:18-25
The Woman a HelpJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 2:18-25
Woman, a HelpmeetGenesis 2:18-25
The commencement of human society. First we see man surrounded by cattle, fowl, and beast of the field, which were brought to him by God as to their lord and ruler, that he might name them as from himself. "What he called every living creature was the name thereof." Nothing could better represent the organization of the earthly life upon the basis of man's supremacy. But there is no helpmeet for man ("as before him," the reflection of himself) in all the lower creation.

I. HUMAN SOCIETY MUST SPRING OUT OF SOMETHING HIGHER THAN ANIMAL LIFE AND MAN'S MERE EARTHLY POSITION. The deep sleep, the Divine manipulation of maws fleshly frame, the formation of the new creature, not out of the ground, but out of man, the exclamation of Adam, This is another self, my bone and my flesh, therefore she shall be called woman, because so closely akin to man - all this, whatever physical interpretation we give to it, represents the fact that companionship, family life, mail's intercourse with his fellow, all the relations which spring from the fleshly unity of the race, are of the most sacred character. As they are from God, and specially of God's appointment, so they should be for God.

II. There, in home life, torn off, as it were, from the larger sphere, that it may be THE NEW BEGINNING OF THE NEW WORLD TO US, should be the special recognition of God, the family altar, the house of man a house of God.

III. The Divine beginning of human life is the foundation on which we build up society. THE RELATIONS OF THE SEXES WILL BE PUREST AND NOBLEST the more the heart of man unfolds itself in the element of the heavenly love. - R.

I will make him an help meet for him.


1. To develop his intellectual thinkings.

2. To culture his moral sympathies.

3. To aid him in the daily needs of life.

4. To join him in his worship of God.


1. The Divine compassion for a lonely man.

2. That marriage is to furnish man with true companionship of soul.

3. That marriage is to aid man in all the exigencies of life.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. The occasion.

2. The resolution.

3. The preparation.

4. The presentation.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. For intellectual development.

2. For moral culture.

3. For true enjoyment.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. For man's comfort.

2. For man's employment.

3. For posterity.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

1. For assistance in family government.

2. For the comfort of society.

3. For the continuance of the race.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)


II. This complete loneliness was A MARK OF IMPERFECTNESS OF LIFE.

III. This complete loneliness, marking an imperfect life, was THOROUGHLY UNIQUE.

(Urijah R. Thomas.)


1. A Divine parable.

2. Panorama of emergent woman. It is the golden hour for Divine instruction; for it is in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, that God openeth their ear, and sealeth up their instruction (Job 33:15, 16). Wrapped in his deep sleep, Eden's dreamer beholds the vision of his second self. He sees his Maker taking from out of him one of his own ribs, forming it into a woman, and presenting her in all her glorious beauty to himself, to be to him henceforth that blessed mate for whom he has unconsciously sighed. And so his God has in very truth given to His beloved in his sleep (Psalm 127:2). Nor is it altogether a dream. Awaking from his sleep, he beholds still standing by him the fair blissful vision. Instinctively recognizing the community of nature, he joyously exclaims; "This, now, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this shall be called woman, Isha because from man, Ish, was she taken."


1. Woman's formal inferiority to man. Woman, in the matter of outward, formal, scenic authority, is to yield to man. For every kind of organization, whatever it may be, political, military, financial, ecclesiastical, domestic, must have some kind of nominal head, or index finger — e.g., king, president, general, chairman, bishop, pastor, husband. Look at grand old fatherland. According to her theory of Government, England must have a monarch. And who sits on England's throne today? A woman — a pure, noble, true-hearted woman. But, because Victoria wears a crown as her nation's emblazoned figurehead, does it necessarily follow that she is intellectually superior to the Disraeli who holds her helm of state; or morally superior to the Spurgeon who preaches that there is another Sovereign, even one Jesus? Quite so is it with woman in her relation to man. According to Holy Scripture, she is subordinate to him. But this subordination implies in no sense whatever any essential inferiority. Woman is man's peer in all essential capacities — in capacities of sensibility, intellect, moral worth, humanhood. Woman is man's inferior simply in the matter of scenic, symbolic, formal authority.

2. Woman's essential equality. Man and woman, considered in their essence, are a unity. But, observe, unity implies complexity; that is to say, unity implies likeness and unlikeness, sameness and difference, community and diversity.(1) Community of man and woman. Woman is man's essential peer, his Alter Ego, his second self. There is nothing, then, in the essential nature of woman which should exclude her from the rights, privileges, activities, or duties, which inherently belong to the genus Homo. Whatever is legitimately open to man, not indeed as a man, but as a human being, is equally open to woman: for both are equally human. Woman as well as man can feel, think, reason, imagine, observe, classify, generalize, deduce. Woman as well as man can sell goods, plan buildings, make statues, resolve nebulae, discover elements, diagnosticate diseases, construct philosophies, write epics. There is nothing in the nature of woman as woman which should forbid her having a specific employment or vocation as distinctively as the brother brought up by her side. True, there are some things which woman cannot do as well as man: not because she is inferior in any of the essential attributes of humanity, but simply because she is inferior in the accidental element of physical strength.(2) Diversity of man and woman. Woman is something more than a supplement or appendix to man; woman is man's complement. Man and woman are the two poles of the sphere of humanity, opposite and complemental, complemental because opposite. And the one pole implies the other. Legislate as much as you please, you cannot abolish the fact of the sexes. Constituently, elementally the same, man and woman are organized on different bases. Like the stars, they differ in their glory (1 Corinthians 15:41). Each has certain excellences which are peculiar to each, and distinctive of each. Man's excellences are virtues; woman's excellences are graces; and I suspect that, in the judgment of Him who seeth in secret, the graces are diviner than the virtues.

3. Marriage a Divine institution.

4. The earthly marriage a type of the heavenly.

(G. D. Boardman.)


1. He must do, or else we should often perish.

2. And it is fit He should do so to magnify His free mercies. Let God's dealing with us move us to deal in like manner with our brethren, considering the poor and needy (Psalm 41:1) after the example of the disciples of Antioch (Acts 11:29).

II. GOD'S PROVIDENCE AND ABUNDANT GOODNESS FAILS US NOT TILL IT HATH SUPPLIED US WITH ALL THAT WE NEED THAT IS FIT FOR US. Let it quiet all our hearts in the consideration of our present condition, when our inordinate lusts provoke us sometimes to causeless complaints and murmurings upon supposed but mistaken grounds. Whereas —

1. Either we have that which we conceive we want, as Hagar wept for want of water when she saw not the well which was fast by her (Genesis 21:19). Or —

2. That which we want would do us hurt and no good if we had it, as the Israelites found by experience when they murmured for want of flesh (Numbers 11:33).

III. A SOLITARY LIFE IS AN UNCOMFORTABLE AND AN UNPROFITABLE LIFE. From whence, then, came the affecting and admiring of a monastical life which crosseth —

1. The very law of nature by which men are inclined to society; and —

2. God's ordinance who hath appointed us —(1) To cause our light to shine before men that they might glorify Him (Matthew 5:16). And to serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13). So that a solitary life —(a) Deprives God of His honour;(b) Men, and the Church especially, both of that increase of an holy seed, which they might have of the fruit of their bodies, of the comfort of their fellowship, the service of love which they owe, and of the examples of their godly lives;(c) Themselves in present, of many sweet comforts and needful helps, and hereafter of the increase of their reward enlarged according to the proportion of their present improving of their talents in advancing God's honour, and seeking and procuring the good of His children.


1. Otherwise our brethren have no benefit by us if we express our compassion in words only, and not in deeds (James 2:16), but prove like clouds and wind without rain (Proverbs 25:14).

2. We make our own thoughts or words evidences against ourselves when we know what our brother needs and help him not, and provoke God to neglect us as we neglect Him. See what He threateneth in such a case (Proverbs 24:11, 12).



1. Woe be to those foolish wives that pluck down the house which they should build (Proverbs 14:1), proving moths in their husband's estates by their idleness and wastefulness; and thorns in their sides, vexing those whom they should comfort, with their continual dropping; perverting those whom they should advise.

2. Let every man labour to be the better for his wife, and to that end —(1) Let him labour to be good in the sight of God.(2) Let him look well to his choice, that he may take a godly wife, and a wife fit both for his condition and disposition.(3) Let him dwell with his wife as a man of knowledge, governing her with all meekness, instructing her, and bearing with her infirmities (1 Peter 3:7).



X. A WIFE IS BUT AN HELPER TO HER HUSBAND. Not his guide, for she was created for the man, not the man for her (1 Corinthians 11:9), and that too, inferior unto him, both in dignity, and usually in abilities. So that she is truly and worthily called the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7).


1. In blood and parentage (see 1 Samuel 23.).

2. In estate.

3. Education.

4. Especially in the temper of her disposition.

5. But above all the rest, in religion; seeing there can be no fellowship of righteousness with unrighteousness, nor of light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14). Least of all between married persons.

(J. White, M. A.)

God has always been thinking what would be for the man's good. How, then, does God propose to meet loneliness? By making another man? Why, when He made a man to keep Cain company, Cain killed him! It would seem to be one of the deepest laws of human nature that man must kill man, and that the only chance of keeping society together is by the marvellous influence of woman. For man to be alone means suicide; for two men to be together means homicide; woman alone can keep society moving and healthful. The woman and the little child are the saviours of social order at this day all over the world. For woman to be alone is as bad as for man to be alone. Safety is in contrast, and in mutual complement. Reverence for womanhood will save any civilization from decay. Beautiful and very tender is this notion of throwing man into a deep sleep to take a rib from him as the starting point of a blessed companionship. So much is always being done for us when we are in states of unconsciousness! We do not get our best blessings by our own fussiness and clever contrivance: they come we know not how. They. are sweet surprises; they are born of the spirit, and are as untraceable as the veerings of the wind. This is the course of true love, and of marriages that are made in heaven. You cannot by searching, and advertising, and scheming find out a companion for the lonely soul. She will come upon you unconsciously. You will know her by a mark in the forehead which none but yourself can read.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. The Creator's care of man, and His fatherly concern for his comfort.

1. God's pity for his solitude.

2. His resolve to provide society for him.

II. The creatures' subjection to man, and his dominion over them. God brought the animals to Adam that he might name them, and so give a proof of —

1. His knowledge.

2. His power.

III. The creatures' insufficiency to be a happiness for man. Observe —

1. The dignity and excellency of human nature.

2. The vanity of the things of this world.

( M. Henry, D. D..)

Let us speak of —

I. The woman.

1. Her creation.

2. The purpose God had in view in creating her.

II. The wonderful institution by which man and woman are made one. It is wonderful that this institution should be found so early in human history.

III. The glorious union of which this institution is a type. Adam is a type of Christ; and since Christ was the spouse of the Church, then Eve was a type of the Church. And our conclusion therefore is that the marriage of Adam and Eve, and the marriage institute altogether, is typical of the union between Christ and the Church.

(T. W. Richards, M. A.)

1. How it is not said by God that it was not good for Adam to be alone, but for man to be alone; thereby in wisdom enlarging the good of marriage to man in general, that is, to some of all sorts, and not tying it to Adam alone, or to any sort only. Again, in saying it is not good, you see what the Lord regardeth in His actions and works, to wit, goodness and profit to the users, how good it may be, how comfortable: which is a good lesson for all such as regard in their deeds, their wills, their pleasures. Sis volo, sic iubeo, So will I, so command I; not respecting at all the good of any other. Shall sinful flesh disdain to do what the Lord of lords doth? He, though He have all power and authority, yet will not do only according to that, but He looketh how good it may be that He doth; and shall sinful flesh, dust and earth, upon a little authority be so proud, that their will must rule all actions?

2. Mark it with all your heart, how God doth consider before ever man see the want himself, what may be good for man, and entereth into purpose to make for him, and prepare for him what yet he wanted and had need of, saying, "Let us make man a helper like himself." Oh, how may we cleave and cling to the providence of this God in all comfort of our minds, that thus thinketh of what may be good for us before ever we think of it ourselves, and not only thinketh of it, but provideth it and prepareth it for us, saying in all matters as in this, Yet my servant such an one wanteth such a help, it is not good for him to be without it; come, therefore, let us prepare it for him, etc.

3. That woman is honoured with the title of a helper, not only showeth the goodness of the institution, as was noted before, but teacheth also how dear and beloved she should be to her husband, for whose good she was ordained and given. Who will not cherish, foster, and love what is given him for a help, not by man, but by God Himself? Her help chiefly consisteth in three things, in bearing him children, the comforts of his life, and stays of his age, which he cannot have without her. In keeping his body holy to the Lord from filthy pollution which the Lord abhorreth. The apostle so teaching when he speaketh thus, "For the avoiding of fornication, let every man have his own wife." And, thirdly, in governing his house, children, and family, and many ways tending his own person both in sickness and health. These all and everyone are great helps, and therefore the woman justly to be regarded for them.

4. But whereupon was woman made? Surely not of an outward but of an inward part of man, that she might be dear to him even as his inwards. Not of the head of man, lest she should be proud and look for superiority. Not of the foot of man, lest she should be contemned and used as for his inferior; but of his side, that she might be used as his fellow, cleaving to his side as an inseparable companion of all his haps whilst they two live. And as the rib receiveth strength from the breast of man, so doth the woman from her husband: his counsel is her strength, his breast should she account of to be ruled and governed by in all her ways, and seek to please him and ease him from all griefs as she any way can, knowing ever that she is most weak without her husband's breast, from which cometh all her strength and good comfort at all times. No creature had his mate made of his own flesh but man, and therefore no creature under heaven should be like man in the love of his mate, but man above them all.

5. It is, if you mark it, not only said that God made woman, but that He brought her to man: and thereby we are taught, that marriage is not every meeting of man and woman together upon their own heads, but when God bringeth them together, either to other: and God bringeth not together, except in His fear they meet with consent of parents and such as are interested in them.

(Bp. Babington.)

Let us pay particular attention to this language. Probably we have imagined the statement to mean that God would provide for man one who should be a helper to him, and whose nature and character would be suitable to his. Well, the words do mean this; but they mean also something more. Correctly rendered they would run thus: "I will make him a help as over against him"; or, "so as to meet him": that is to say, "I will create for him one who shall tally and correspond with him as his counterpart." And the expression seems to point to that oneness in diversity, to that moral, intellectual, and spiritual adaptation of one to the other, — which exists between the woman and the man. Why were the man and the woman not created apart, as the animals were, and afterwards brought together? Because Adam was to be the inclusive head of the human race: all were to be derived from him; he was to be the fountain from which every stream should flow. Therefore it was necessary that woman should not have an independent, but a derived existence — an existence derived from the federal head of the human race. As St. Paul says, "Man is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man."

I. Now in commenting upon the passage, let us take this as the thought which rises first before the mind — THAT IT WERE WELL IF THE RELATION BETWEEN THE TWO SEXES, AND EVERYTHING BEARING UPON THE MARRIAGE TIE, WERE LOOKED UPON AS BEING SOMEWHAT SERIOUS MATTERS. Of course no sensible man would speak in an unnaturally solemn tone about them. He would throw bright and cheerful colours upon the subject of courtship and marriage. He knows that this entrance into life ought to be characterized by joyousness. But yet, underlying the joyousness, there should be, we venture to think, for Christian people, a sense of seriousness and responsibility. Young women, for instance, should understand and value the influence which they exert in the world; whereas, too often, in their intercourse with the other sex, they condone worthlessness of character for the sake of showy and attractive qualities. And as to men, if they would see the relation of the sexes in the light which this narrative of Genesis throws upon it, the), would be more characterized than perhaps they are by chivalrous respect for womankind. They would honour a woman because she is a woman.

II. Our second thought CONNECTS ITSELF WITH THE SUBJECT OF WHAT IS COMMONLY CALLED "WOMEN'S RIGHTS." Now let us see our way clear in this matter. We do not suppose that the great end of woman is to get married: many say so and think so; but so do not we. Still less do we wish to be understood as implying that a woman is justified in regarding herself, or that others are justified in regarding her, as having in any considerable degree failed of the object of her existence, if circumstances should lead her to remain in a single condition. Yet whilst holding the view of the essential and independent dignity of womanhood, we lament over that mismanagement of human affairs, which necessitates in so many human beings a life of celibacy; and we trace up to the fact of the immense and most disproportionate preponderance of women in our modern civilization, the existence of many of the evils which are sapping the foundations of our social prosperity. "Well," you may say, "there is the fact: you cannot alter it." No: I know that we cannot alter it; but we can try to make the best of it. Recognizing that there are, and that as matters now stand there ever must be amongst us large numbers of unmarried women, we would do all we could to make it possible for them, or at least for many of them (for some do not require it), to attain to a position of independence by means of their own honest exertions. This, at the very least, is our duty. But do we fulfil it? Of course we do not. I need not say that in the case of the educated classes, and in the case of those who come immediately below them, the way to independent subsistence for women is barred and blocked up by innumerable obstacles, that the sleepless dragon of popular prejudice guards most of the avenues of access to the golden fruit of honourable success, and that those few women who, as the pioneers of the advance of their sex, contrive by persistent energy to break through the circle of iron that encompasses them, are only too likely to acquire an unattractive and unfeminine hardness, from the very strength of the effort which enables them to force their way. There is something here which is wrong, and wants amending. Our social arrangements necessitate celibacy for hundreds of thousands who, probably, would not embrace that condition by choice. And then we frown upon their efforts if they struggle to maintain — might they be permitted to do so — an independent foothold upon our common earth. One last thing more let me say, and this of the same general character with what I have already ventured to advance. I have no manner of sympathy with the cackle and clatter we sometimes hear about the relative excellencies of the two sexes — about the superiority of one or the inferiority of the other. To me the idea that a woman wants only a "clear stage and no favour," wants training, and education, and suitable circumstances, in order to develop as big a brain and as vigorous a muscle as man, and so to be able to cope with him in the struggle of life — to me such a thought is unutterably repulsive. The great charm of a woman is that she is diverse from man: not a man in a lower stage of development. She is the complement of the man: her nature, her disposition, her powers, supply what is lacking in his. The two together make a completed orb: apart they are only segments of the circle. But in order to stand in this relation to each other, it is obvious that they must not be alike, but diverse. I believe with our great modern poet, that "woman is not undeveloped man, but diverse." Nay, and I believe that the sexual differences of character, and disposition, and faculty, and nature generally which exist upon earth, will be found — of course in a certain modified form — to exist in the kingdom of heaven.

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)

God does nothing without a purpose: and therefore "the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman." We can readily understand that, had Eve been builded of the earth as Adam was, there would have been a relationship between them which was never intended. They might have been regarded as bearing towards each other in some degree the tie of a brother and sister, springing from the earth as the parent of both. But the love that was to exist between them was not designed to be the love of relationship, not the love of consanguinity, not the love of a brother and sister. Adam was to love Eve as being essentially a part of himself, as a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, as one that originated in himself, and actually derived her existence from his own body. And the great purpose which the Almighty had in view in this formation of woman was the institution of marriage. So that you are not to regard the formation of Eve simply as a creation of the woman, just as the formation of Adam was the creation of the man; but you must consider it as the production of Adam's wife, and as having involved in it the Divine purpose of the institution of marriage. And then you see at once why the peculiar process of creation was employed in taking the rib of Adam. And all this shows us and teaches us that marriage is a Divine institution of no ordinary import, and that its vows and obligations are to be regarded as in a high degree sacred. It should never be entered upon inconsiderately, nor should its festivity ever go on to such extent as to blot out its sacred character. If we fail to recognize its Divine appointment, and give it not the reverence which it claims by virtue of its Divinity, how shall we look for the Divine blessing? It should be all love — love from the beginning to the close of the compact; like the ring, which belongs to our ceremony, having no end, emblematic of eternal love. And this is a mystical love: it is not the love which nature plants and nourishes wherever she has established kinsmanship, or where she has joined soul to soul in the bonds of friendship. It is a mystic love, which takes its stand upon Divine institution, and can be traced only to the recorded circumstance of creation — "The rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman." And it strikes us as a wonderful thing, that this institution should be found so early and so prominently placed among the brief records of creation. We should, perhaps, have rather expected that it would have had its position among the Levitical appointments. It behoves us, then, to inquire whether there was any special purpose of the Almighty, whether there was any hidden mystery involved in the institution. There appears to be something so remarkable in the creation of the woman, and there is something so expressive in Adam's remark: "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh"; and the appointment is altogether so wonderful, that there must be some meaning in the history beyond that which appears upon the surface, and beyond that which our remarks have hitherto included. Now, we know that in many particulars Adam was a type of Christ our Redeemer. "Husbands," says the apostle, "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it." And, after speaking and exhorting concerning marriage, he quotes the very words employed by Adam at its first institution, and adds, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." If, then, Adam was the type of Christ, and Christ is the spouse of the Church, it follows as a logical deduction that Eve was a type of the Church. And our conclusion therefore is this, that the marriage of Adam and Eve, and the marriage institute altogether, is typical and emblematical of the union between Christ and His Church. And thus, in the very first page almost of the Bible (and there is hardly a page or a letter that has not reference to the same wonderful subject), we find redemption hinted at, and a Redeemer pointed out, and a Church suggested. Here is the gospel, here is the glad tidings of mediation in the very alpha of Divine revelation, and it is never lost sight of, even to the omega. And here, then, we arrive at the deep mystery of the marriage institute: here we learn why its appointment is such a prominent feature in the concise history of creation. If, then, we have reasoned correctly, and Eve be thus a type of the Church, then it would prove a matter of profitable investigation to observe how the position and the directions of Adam and Eve apply in their fulfilment to Christ and the Church. But we can only hint at these things, and leave this wonderful subject for private meditation. There can be no question but that the opening of Adam's side for the formation of Eve had had reference to that opening of the side of the second Adam for the formation of His Church, which took place upon the cross at Calvary; for the Church, the ransomed of Sion, owes all its existence and all its salvation to the water and the blood which issued upon the spear stroke of the soldier, and without which, we are told, there could have been no remission. And this opening of the side also was effected during a deep sleep; for, when the soldiers came to Him, they found that He was dead already: it was a deep sleep, the deep sleep of death. Let us, then, be true to ourselves and to our profession; so that, after having taken upon us the vows of marriage to Christ, we may never be spoken of as a wicked and adulterous generation.

(T. W. Richards, M. A.)


II. THE IDEAL OF THE FAMILY. The family is one of nature's combinations, being composed of several constituent parts; and it shows the same properties as are usually found in the other combinations of nature. In such combinations we find two things: first, a natural affinity or attraction of the parts to each other; and second, harmony and repose when the combination is effected, as if some invisible cement has been made use of to bind the whole into one. Harsh, frictional combinations are foreign to nature. The oxygen and hydrogen that combine to form water have a natural affinity to each other, and the product is so beautifully harmonious that no one could have fancied beforehand that water was not a simple substance. The most striking instance of harmonious combination in nature is that of light, where the seven colours of the rainbow give birth to a product in which the faintest trace of discord can never be found. Nature, in arranging her forces, makes a similar provision in that combination which we call the family. The intention of nature, or rather of the Creator, seems obvious here, although that intention is often frustrated by the perversity of man. In the first place, a natural affinity draws the man and woman together. There is not only the natural affinity of the sexes, but there is the individual attraction between one man and one woman, the desire to be closely related to each other, which is the true and natural foundation of marriage. It would be a very low view of the marriage relation that would make it flow from instinct alone. Man is surely much more than an animal. Has he not a spiritual nature that allies him to the higher orders of being, as really as his animal nature allies him to the lower? And when one human being is drawn to another with a view to the closest relation it is possible to form, surely this is not merely an attraction of the animal; the higher nature has a share in it too. We speak, at present, of what seems to be the purpose of the institution. We say that the law of affinity that governs all nature's combinations leads us to expect that the foundation of marriage should lie in an affinity or attraction, not of one part of man's nature merely, and not of the lower part of it merely, but of the whole. And when we turn to the Bible we find this view amply confirmed, for it is said, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh." There must be some attraction of the higher nature to draw a man from his father and mother, to whom his best affections would naturally induce him to cling. In other words, true marriage has its foundation in the attractive power of love. And as love is its foundation, so also it is the cement designed to bind the two beings into unity, and give rise to that harmony which we have seen to characterize all nature's combinations. Differences of temperament, varieties of taste, diversities of will, diverse forms of natural weakness and natural temptation tend naturally to friction and discord. What provision is there in nature to counteract this tendency and secure harmony? Love is the moral cement of nature. By its magi¢ power, different temperaments become the complements of each other, opposing tastes find a method of reconciliation, and even contradictory wills, by learning to take and give, to bear and forbear, become like one. Perhaps it will be asked, Are you serious in affirming that marriage should always be founded on mutual love? Is not such an idea utterly Utopian? It may be: but Utopianism is not always the opposite of truth or of duty. If we were to lay it down as a proper rule of life that men should always speak the truth, it would seem utterly impracticable and Utopian; and yet it is a right and proper rule. When we speak of love we do not mean necessarily the state of ecstatic fervour which is commonly delineated in novels and which is sometimes found in actual life. That real affinity of hearts to each other which is the true foundation of marriage, may be, and often is, much more calm and undemonstrative. There is another important element that enters into the idea of a complete family, and in connection with which, too, provision is made in nature for harmonious combination with the other elements — namely, children. It is not difficult to see, either in theory or in practice, that children may very readily become a most discordant element. To bring about the needful and desirable harmony, the parents are furnished with two things, strength and affection. They have strength of body if not also of mind to enforce what they deem right; but the employment of sheer strength would only stir up the spirit of rebellion, and while producing a temporary submission, make the discord deeper in the end. Hence love, parental love, is supplied, to make the application of strength more smooth and more effective. The two must work together, otherwise evil ensues. Thus we see how, in the case of families, the great law of nature is exemplified which aims at making all combinations harmonious and efficient. If in the case of any family the combination is discordant, it is because the working out of the plan is abused in the hands of frail human beings. For it is a painful fact in this world's history that nothing so often frustrates the plans of providence as the intervention of man. When Divine arrangements fall to be carried into effect by the blind forces of nature, they are carried out with precision and certainty; but when they are dependent on the intervention of man, bungling and defeat are too often the result.


1. As regards the fellowship of husband and wife. It is to be remarked that the reason which is given in the second chapter of Genesis why God made woman is, that He might furnish the man with a suitable companion; it is not till afterwards that she is named Eve, in token of her motherhood, "because she was the mother of all living." Scripture views the relation of the married man and woman, therefore, as having an important end to serve in the Divine purpose, even apart from the continuation of the race. Man and woman come into this remarkable relation of unity in order to promote each other's welfare. True, there is often discord instead of unity. But unity is certainly attained in quite a sufficient number of cases to vindicate the wisdom of the arrangement. One thing is very certain: if this unity be not realized, the relation of husband and wife, instead of being beneficial, must be irksome and even disastrous to both. To be forced to live, eat, sleep, and worship together, while their hearts are at open discord, is simply awful. On the other hand, where there is substantial unity, the necessary interlacing of all the events of their life makes the unity the greater, and invests the relation with a more tender interest and a profounder sanctity. To bear the same name: to spend their days and nights in the same house and chamber; to share the same worldly goods; to be parents of the same children; to be partners of one another's joys and sorrows, cares and anxieties, perplexities and deliverances; to look to one another for counsel and cheer; to mingle their prayers and thanksgivings as none else can; to look back along the line of their lives, and think of all they have shared; to look forward, and think of the inevitable parting that is coming, and then of the reunion which faith expects; who shall deny that such experiences are fitted not only to deepen the unity which lies at the foundation of the relation, but to elevate the tone of life, purify the character, and sweeten the current of existence, as no other earthly influences can? Where the two are one flesh, there must be no contact with other flesh. And here, too, nature provides an abundant reward for those who are faithful to her order. Nothing keeps the fountain of conjugal love so pure and fresh as absolute faithfulness to the marriage bond. Even in pagan nations, there have been beautiful instances of a happy unity and the highest esteem between man and wife. Joseph Cook, in his Boston lectures, finds much in this connection to vindicate marriage on natural grounds. He instances the case of the wife of Phocion, the great reformer, who, when her husband was refused burial in Attic soil, went by night to burn the body, brought back his bones to Athens, buried them beneath her hearth, and blessed the place that thus afforded protection to the remains of a good and great man, until the Athenians, returning to their right minds, should restore them to the sepulchre of his fathers. More striking is the story told by Cyrus of Panthea, the wife of Abradatus. She loved her husband with a supreme affection. When taken captive by Cyrus, he asked her where her home was. "On the bosom of my husband," was in substance her reply; and when offered a dazzling position at the Court of Cyrus, she besought them to send her swiftly home. "If ever there was a woman that regarded her husband more than her own soul, she was that woman." Encouraging him to fight for Cyrus to show his gratitude, she sent him with her blessing to the battle in which he fell. Again she had offers of this world's glory; again her purpose was declared to be with her husband. "I cannot justify Panthea in everything," says Mr. Cook. "She had been brought up to the stern opinions which justified suicide. She told her maid to cover her in the same mantle with her husband. Then she smote herself; put her head upon his breast, and fell asleep. Great nature is in that! You wish me to teach what science proclaims respecting family life. I must ask you to go back to the deepest springs of human experience. These women, Phocion's wife and the wife of Abradatus are sisters to us all, helpers to every age. They are crystalline water bursting up from the innermost rifts of human nature and society, and one in its purity with that rain which falls on all the hills, and is the real source, after all, of every one of these crystalline springs." Even under Paganism there were thus influences strong enough to realize in at least some instances the true unity of husband and wife, and show to the world what kind of relation it was designed to be. Christianity has brought new influences into the field. A new pattern has been furnished of conjugal unity, and a new force for developing conjugal love (Ephesians 5:25, 30).

2. The relation of parents and children. Now let us observe that the provision of nature for the bringing up of children is to place them under the charge of their two parents, both possessed of affection towards them, though in somewhat different proportions, and this provision for their upbringing is most essential. An essential desideratum for a child is moral training. Is this too hard and too heavy a task for parents? So it is affirmed by those who disparage the family institute, and who would gather children into barracks or other large establishments, where they would be brought up by the wisest and most experienced of the race, under the best conditions of efficient training. To commit such work to parents of average character, is objected to on two grounds; first, because where it is attempted, the work will be done ill, in consequence of the folly and ignorance of the parents; and second, because in a vast multitude of cases, it will not be attempted at all. That the qualifications needed for the right upbringing of children are within the reach of the ordinary run of parents, is sufficiently clear from the fact, that many a parent, in the humblest ranks of life, has discharged the duty with admirable success. When Dr. Livingstone composed a simple epitaph to be placed on the tombstone of his father and mother, the one thing which he desired to commemorate was the gratitude of their children to God for poor and pious parents. He refused to change the expression into "poor but pious," because he believed in the beneficial influences of poverty, in the nobility of character which it had fostered in them, and in the good he had got from it himself. Had he been brought up in luxury and splendour he would not have learned the habits that enabled him to open Africa at a cost of painful endurance and unflinching perseverance seldom equalled in the annals of mankind. It is not great intellect nor ample means that enables a parent to give a good upbringing to his children, but conscientious devotion to duty, the spirit of love, and a good example. These are qualities within the reach of every class. Much stress is to be laid on the last point — the good example. In estimating the moral value of the family as a whole, we must not lose sight of the influence which the children often have on the parents. "What I learned from my children" might often be the subject of as interesting a narrative as "What I learned from my parents." What father has not found occasion to search deeper into truth from the strange questions which children so often put respecting things which older minds are apt to take for granted? The present writer, in his early ministry, had once occasion to hear the spiritual history of an afflicted woman, who was lying in bed, awaiting the last messenger. "For many years," she said, "I did not see that I was a sinner, I did not think that I had seriously broken any of the commandments of God. But I had the misfortune to have an only son who ran away from me, and never wrote to me, or seemed to care to hear of me or from me. Then it flashed upon me that I had been just as unmindful of my heavenly Father, as my son had been of me. Though I had not been guilty of open sins, I had utterly neglected my duty to my heavenly Father. The words came into my mind, 'The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider.' I got a new light on the whole of my life; I saw myself to be a great sinner; and I got no rest until I came to the cross, and was there sprinkled with the blood that cleanseth from all sin." The presence of children in a house softens the heart, makes it more human and sympathetic. It brings men down from the stiff and serious attitude of business. It evokes the gentler and the more playful elements of our nature. It keeps the heart young and its affections fresh. But more powerful than anything yet noticed, is the effect on a right-minded man of the thought of his children in reference to his own temptations and dangers. There are evil pleasures whose attraction might prove too strong for some men, if the thought of their children did not come to check them. What would they think if these children were to do the same?

3. We note then, next, the relation of brothers and sisters. In a well-regulated family this is a very important factor. The ideal of the Christian home suggests the thought of Miltons Comus, where pure-minded brothers, admiring a dear sister's purity, are concerned lest, alone in the world, she should fall in the way of any of those bloated monsters that would drag even an angel into their filthy sty. But apart from this painful subject, what a blessed provision we have for the spread of mutual benefit in the contrasted qualities of brothers and sisters attached to each other, and deeply interested in each other's welfare! A great charm in the relation of brothers and sisters comes from the difference in their ages. The power to help on the part of the older is designed to develop the sense of responsibility, and when duly exercised, gives them some share in the parental government, and facilitates the work of the parents themselves. Moreover, there is a development of that tender spirit which intercourse with the weak stirs in the hearts of the strong.

4. In many families, besides brothers and sisters, there are also servants.

5. The friends and acquaintances of a family extend the horizon of interest, affection, and sympathy.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

I. THE MARRIAGE TIE. This is really what it comes to. It is needless to discuss the question whether marriage ought to be dissoluble not only on the ground of adultery, but on that of cruelty, or of habitual drunkenness, or of insanity. The opponents of marriage as it now is, would be satisfied with no such enactments. The contract of marriage must be brought down to the level of a contract between partners in business, and the one must be rendered voidable precisely in the same way as the other. Is this, let us ask, apart altogether from Scripture, a fair or reasonable method of treating the contract of marriage?

1. Does it not overlook the very delicate and solemn nature of the relation established in marriage between man and wife? That contract is indeed without a parallel. It places the parties in a relation of intimacy and delicacy unapproached in any other.

2. This view of marriage subverts the provision of nature for the welfare of the young. What is to become of the children when a marriage is broken up on the ground that the father and mother are tired of each other?

3. An arrangement which would terminate the union of husband and wife whenever they happened to tire of it, would greatly discourage the exercise of forbearance toward each other when differences unfortunately did arise.

4. Such a policy would, moreover, leave little opportunity for repentance and reconciliation. Once the tie was severed, severed it must remain. But it may be contended, that what is called the arrangement of nature is a faulty arrangement, and in practice gives rise to evils so great that in order to remedy them you must have recourse to easy divorces. Are we to exalt into "a plan of nature," an arrangement which is so painfully fruitful of contention and misery? Yes, it is still the plan of nature; but it is the plan of nature perverted, frustrated, made abortive by some evil habit or vile indulgence which hinders the intention of nature from being fulfilled, as really and as wholly as a nail driven into the works of a watch hinders it from indicating the proper time. First among these perverting influences we must place the habit of drunkenness. Hitherto we have been dealing with the objection on grounds common to the Secularist and the Christian. But we cannot leave the subject without examining it also on the ground of Scripture. Let us remember that, according to Scripture, marriage and the family constitution were instituted while the human race was yet unfallen, and while the relation between God and man existed in all its fulness of blessing. The Fall did not abrogate the institution, but it made a great change in the conditions under which it existed. Discord ensued between man and God, discord in man's own soul between passion and conscience, discord in his social relations, discord between man and wife. Admitting, then, that in a vast number of cases marriage is the parent of discord and misery, which of two policies is the more worthy of support with a view to remedy this grievous evil? Are we to change the marriage bond as it has hitherto been, make the relation of married persons slack and easy, tie the knot so loosely that a very slight pull will undo it, and place what has hitherto been the most sacred of human obligations at the mercy of the whim of either party? Or shall we try to get this relation penetrated by the love of Christ, to bring the spirit of forbearance and forgiveness to bear on actual divergences, to exalt men's sense of the dignity and sacredness of the conjugal relation, — symbol as it is of the union of Christ and His Church; shall we try to quicken the consciences of parents in regard to the welfare of their children, to induce them to extend their view beyond the horizon of the present life, and to think of the momentous consequences for evermore of faithfulness on the one hand and neglect on the other?

II. THE NURTURE OF CHILDREN. Another common objection to the family has reference to the best arrangement for bringing up children to be orderly, respectable, and useful citizens. We say it is family life. But in how many instances is the upbringing they get in their homes worse than useless — an education of blows and curses, of drunkenness and debauchery, of sin and misery. In such cases, no doubt, you must supersede the family. But this is an extreme remedy, applicable only to the very worst case. And before this course is resorted to, every effort should be made to stimulate the sense of parental responsibility. To many it appears not only a simpler but a more efficient remedy for the evils of parental neglect, to take neglected children wholesale from their parents and bring them up elsewhere. But to make a promiscuous practice of this would be to do infinite harm. When Dr. Guthrie instituted his Ragged Schools, he provided no sleeping accommodation for his children; at night they returned to their parents; because of all things he was most anxious to preserve the interest of the parents in their children, and the interest of the children in their parents. We are not warranted to separate the children wholly from their parents except under two conditions: first, When it is certain that the children would he ruined if they should continue to live with them; and, second, when the parents are willing to give them up, let us say for emigration.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Dictionary of Illustrations.
And now let us see whether the word "wife" has not a lesson. It literally means a weaver. The wife is the person who weaves. Before our great cotton and cloth factories arose, one of the principal employments in every house was the fabrication of clothing: every family made its own. The wool was spun into thread by the girls, who were therefore called spinsters; the thread was woven into cloth by their mother, who, accordingly was called the weaver, or the wife; and another remnant of this old truth we discover in the word "heirloom," applied to any old piece of furniture which has come down to us from our ancestors, and which, though it may be a chair or bed, shows that a loom was once an important article in every house. Thus the word "wife" means weaver: and, as Trench well remarks, "in the word itself is wrapped up a hint of earnest, indoor, stay-at-home occupations, as being fitted for her who bears this name."

(Dictionary of Illustrations.)

Joshua Reynolds met Flaxman the day after his marriage, and said: "You are a happy man, but you are ruined for an artist." He told his bride of it in great despondency. "I wanted to be a great artist." "And, John," said Annie, with the fire in her eye, "a great artist you shall be!" He always said that was what made an artist of him. There was a young man in Switzerland, engaged in observing and classifying the Hymenoptera of his native land, when he was suddenly smitten with blindness. The calamity was so hopeless that marriage was absolutely forbidden by the father of his beloved. She waited, like a dutiful child, until she was twenty-one years of age; then, without concealment, and, in great sorrow, but honouring her father in disobeying him, she married the scientist, and immediately persuaded him to resume his studies. She carried on his experiments under his direction. She soon became more skilful than he had ever been in watching the operation of the curious creatures. And he became more exact in his generalization, in consequence of being shut up to his own reflections. The result was a work which astonished the world, and remains a classic and the first authority on the subject — the immortal treasure of Huber on bees! What will not the faithful love of a wife accomplish! God in heaven looks down upon nothing on earth so like the paradise above as trustful and helpful married love.

"Family society," says Henry, "if that be agreeable, is a redress sufficient for the grievance of solitude. He that has a good God, a good heart, and a good wife to converse with, and yet complains that he wants conversation, would not have been easy and content in paradise, for Adam himself had no more."

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