A station so honorable, so important, so responsible,
must necessarily be attended with duties—numerous, difficult, and of great
consequence. As a wife, she should be a bright pattern of all that
tender affection, that unsuspicious confidence, that cheerful obedience,
that undivided devotedness to her husband's comfort, which such a
relationship implies—a lovely, spotless exhibition of marital virtue. No man
is in greater need of all the force of marital sympathy and love, than a
As the female head of the family, she should
direct her household affairs with judgment, and be a model of order,
neatness, and domestic discipline. A minister derives some degree of
respectability from the state of his family. Home scenes, according as they
are lovely or repulsive, form a beauteous halo around—or dark specks upon,
the orb of his public character. It is required of him that he should rule
well his own household—but in this he is dependent upon his wife.
What a disgrace is it that his house should be such a scene of disorder, as
to disgust, by its confusion, the more respectable part of his friends! Some
people, if we were to judge from their habits, and their homes, seem to have
been born out of due time; they look as if the era of their existence
were the reign of chaos. ORDER is heaven's first law, and the laws of heaven
certainly should govern the habitations of its ministers.
If a mother, a minister's wife should
strive to excel in every maternal excellence. How often is it the case,
that a minister's children are talked of almost to a proverb, for their
rudeness, ill behavior, and wickedness! In such instances, much blame must
be attached to the mother!
In her own personal character, there are
two traits which should appear with peculiar prominence, and shine with
attractive luster in a minister's wife; these are PIETY and PRUDENCE.
Her piety should not only be sincere—but
ardent; not only unsuspected—but eminently conspicuous. Her habits, her
conversation, her whole deportment, should bear the deep, bright impress of
heaven. She should be the holiest, most spiritual woman in the church! Her
prudence should equal her piety. Without the former, even the latter,
however distinguished, would only half qualify her for her important
Her prudence should display itself in all her
conduct towards her husband. She should be very careful not to make
him dissatisfied with the situation he occupies. Many a minister has
been rendered uncomfortable in a situation of considerable usefulness, or
has been led to leave it against the convictions of his judgment, by the
capricious prejudices of his wife; whose ambition has aspired to something
higher, or whose love of change has coveted something new.
A minister's wife should consult her husband's
usefulness, and be willing to live in any situation, however self-denying
its circumstances may prove, where this is promoted. And considering the
influence she has over his decisions, she should be very careful how she
employs it in those seasons when a change is contemplated. Her
prudence should render her extremely careful, not to prejudice her
husband's mind against any individual who may have, designedly or
unintentionally, injured her. In not a few cases, have pastors been
drawn into contention with some of their friends, by the imprudent conduct
of their wives, who, possessing a morbid sensibility to be easily
offended—have reported, amid much exaggeration, affronts which they ought
not to have felt—or, feeling, ought to have concealed. Instead of acting as
a screen, to prevent these petty vexations from reaching his ear,
they have rendered their tongues a conductor, to convey them to his
bosom! They should hide many things of this kind, which it is not important
he should know; and soften others things, of which he cannot be ignorant.
In all cases where her husband is the direct object of
a supposed or real injury, a minister's wife should be very cautious how
she acts. Intended by nature, and inclined by affection, to be a partisan
and an advocate in her husband's cause, so far as truth and holiness will
allow—she should, at the same time, endeavor rather to mitigate than
exasperate the displeasure of his mind. Her breath, in such cases, if
imprudently employed, may fan a flame which, in its progress, may consume
all the prosperity of the church, and half the reputation of her husband.
Let her therefore govern her own spirit, as the best means of aiding
to govern his. Let her calm, conciliate, and direct his mind—which may be
too much enveloped in the mist of passion, to guide itself. Let her not go
from house to house, dropping sparks and scintillations from a tongue set on
fire by hell. If her husband be the head of a faction, let her not envenom
their minds with bitter words, which are sure to be rendered still more
bitter, by the lying gossipers who carry them to the opposite party.
Prudence in a pastor's wife would have often saved a church from division!
A minister's wife should never betray the confidence
reposed in her by her husband, and report the opinions, views, and feelings,
which he has communicated in the seasons of their private conversation.
The secrets lie as deposits in her bosom, are to be as sacredly preserved
and guarded, as the ring, which, on the morning of their union, he placed
upon her finger.
Prudence is to be displayed in all her conduct towards
the church. Probably, the chief part of this virtue lies in a proper
government of the tongue! A very large proportion of the
disturbances which agitate the surface, and extend their influence to the
very depths of society, arise from imprudent language. There appears to be,
in one half of society, an incurable propensity to tattle what is to
the disadvantage of their neighbors; and in the other half, an
indestructible appetite to relish the slander, when it is gossiped.
Now a minister's wife should most anxiously guard against this propensity in
herself, and most assiduously labor to abate this appetite in others. Let
her, wherever she goes, remember, that there are many waiting and watching
for her words, which they will be sure to reverberate with the mimicry,
though not with the fidelity—of an 'echo'.
Let her tongue never deal in sarcasm, satire,
invective, censure, or slander. Let it be an invariable rule with her, to
speak badly of no one! She should never appear fond of receiving ill
reports from others. If she has a taste of this kind, gratification
enough will be found for her. Like a queen bee, she has no need to roam
abroad in quest of honey—she may sit at home in indolent repose, while the
whole hive of gossips and tattlers will collect for her an exuberant supply!
Let her rather discourage these humming, 'busy bees'—and convince them that
she has neither ear for their buzz, nor taste for their honey!
Let her never betray a secret, which she has been
compelled to receive; nor become umpire between two contending parties,
since, in whatever way her decision is pronounced, she is almost sure to
offend one of them. She should avoid, as much as possible, the appearance
of favoritism. Some there must be, with whom she will be more intimate
than others—but this fact, if it be known, would be but little understood.
Her friends should be always such, as by the
common consent of the church, would be allotted to her. Of course, they
should not be 'mere minions' selected to sustain the character of fawning
flatterers, purveyors of tattle, or tools of selfishness. In all her
deportment towards the church, she should maintain a dignified
consciousness of her station, blended with the greatest affability
and affection. The law of kindness should be on her lips, and
all her conduct should be so many displays of the meekness of wisdom. Her
dignity should prevent the wealthiest people from being intrusive with
her. Her kindness should make the poorest people feel that she is
Without being a busy-body, and meddling with the concerns
of others, she should make the interests of her friends her own. Her
advice and assistance should always be granted when asked—but
never distributed in a way that would render it unwelcome and little valued.
Her influence should be discreetly exerted in forming the general piety,
and godly habits of the younger women. She should be the friend of the
poor, and be often seen in the chambers of those who are visited with
sickness. With so much to engage her attention, she will have little leisure
for visits of useless show—or expensive get togethers. Such she ought
not to be expected to keep up, for her time can be more usefully and
piously employed. For visits of mere gossip, or etiquette, she ought not
to be put in requisition—and if she is, she should resist the attempt which
is thus made to enslave her, by the "chains of fashion or of folly." She is
the wife of a man—whose master is God; whose business is the salvation of
souls; whose scene of labor is the church of Christ—and the consequences of
whose exertions, whether they succeed or fail, are infinite and eternal! Let
her act accordingly!