JOHN CALVIN: 'THE TRUE CALLING OF WOMEN' (4)
Posted at Purely Presbyterian:
The 19th Sermon
upon the second chapter of 1 Timothy
“Faith, charity, holiness, & modesty“—her general calling.
Yet notwithstanding, because there are good mothers to be found even amongst the Heathen women and Infidels, and will willingly take pains for their families, Paul thought it not enough to set down that which may be common to women that have no fear of God and religion. But saith that “they must have faith and charity, they must live godly, and have that modesty,” which was spoken of before. So then we may gather good doctrine out of this text, and profitable for all, as well men as women, to wit: that God meaneth not to confound us, when he layeth our sins before our faces, but only to humble us, seeing the presumption, which otherwise would be in us. Therefore God must needs pair the nails, as well of us men as women, and use violence against us, seeing it is otherwise hard to correct the pride and loftiness that is in us.
But yet notwithstanding, God doth always appease his rigour and mixeth it with some sweetness, so that he will not have us out of heart. And how doth he this? In giving us hope, in promising us, that what faults soever we have, yet will he not cast us away, as we see here a notable example. And therefore although women be of a fearful nature, so that a man might make them die for sorrow, if he would beat them down with this, and set his feet in their necks, yet Paul giveth them no occasion to disquiet themselves and be cast down utterly. Although it might be cast in their teeth, that they were the occasion of the utter undoing of all mankind, yet he layeth before them here the goodness of God, to shew them that this shall hinder their salvation no whit at all, so that they become not obstinate and rebellious.
Apprehend the grace of God in this punishment.
Therefore let us mark well that Paul useth here a very proper comfort, in that he sheweth women, that salvation is laid forth before them, even in the condemnation which they suffer for their sins: and this is a great matter. For if God should punish women, and then shew them hope of salvation afar off, it were enough for them: but this is more a great deal, when they may behold the goodness of God and his grace in the punishment which they suffer and feel for their sin. For (as we have said already), why do women bear their children with so much trouble? Why suffer they so great griefs in travail and being brought to bed? Why is it so painful a matter unto them to nurse their children? All this cometh from God’s curse. Now Paul giveth them here a looking glass on the contrary side, to wit, that in this punishment they may apprehend the grace of God. And wherefore? For if they be patient, peaceable, and strive not against this punishment which God hath sent them for their salvation, when they suffer pain and travail, when they take pains to nurse their children, this is a sacrifice that God well accepteth, and is well pleased withal. And women must think themselves happy in this behalf, that God would not so shew forth his wrath for the offence which was committed in Eve’s person, but he would remain their Father notwithstanding, and shew them a token of fatherly love. Therefore let us mark well: that it is not without cause that Paul maketh here express mention of the travail which women have in bringing forth children, and the rest of doing their duty, to wit, of governing their household [cf. Titus 2:5].