Bullinger advocates the holiness of the marital institution,
William Perkins, one of the most significant preachers
of the sixteenth century, evokes Chrysostom in his admonitions
of lust in Christian Oeconomy. Perkins approves
of consummation also if the sexual act is understood
in its holy purpose: as a means of procreation and as
an act of reverence for the divine spirit.
The Work of William Perkins, ed. and intro. Ian
Breward, Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics (Appleford,
Abingdon, Berkshire, England: Sutton Courtenay Press,
Of the communion of married folks and of due benevolence
THE COMMUNION OF MAN AND WIFE is that duty whereby they
do mutually and willingly communicate both their persons
and goods to each other, for their mutual help, necessity
and comfort (Eph. 5. 28). This duty consisteth principally
in the performance of special benevolence one to another,
and that not of courtesy but of due debt (1 Cor. 7.
3.). Due benevolence must be showed with a singular
and entire affection one towards another, and that three
First, by the right and lawful use of their bodies or
of the marriage bed, which indeed is an essential duty
of marriage. The marriage bed signifieth that solitary
and secret society which is between man and wife alone.
And it is a thing in its own nature indifferentneither
good nor bad (1 Cor. 7. 27). . . . This coming together
of man and wife, although it be indifferent, yet by
the holy usage thereof it is made a holy and undefiled
action (Heb. 13. 4). And it is (as all other creatures
and ordinances of God are) sanctified by the word and
the prayer (1 Tim. 4. 3-4). In which place it is to
be observed how the apostle applieth the point of sanctification
directly to marriage.
The word of God giveth direction to married folks two
ways. First, by giving them warrant that they may lawfully
do this action, because whatsoever is not done of faith
(which faith must be grounded on Gods word) is
a sin. Secondly, by prescribing the right and holy manner
of doing the same.
The holy manner stands in these particulars. First,
that it be done in moderation. For even in wedlock,
excess in lusts is no better than plain adultery before
God. This is the judgement of the ancient church, that
intemperance, that is, immoderate desires even between
man and wife are fornication. Secondly, that it be used
in an holy abstinence. Abstinence from this secret society
must be used in two cases. First, while the woman is
in her flowers (Lev. 18. 19; Ezek. 18. 6). Secondly,
in the time of solemn fast when some grievous calamity
is imminent. Then they are to give themselves by mutual
consent to fasting and prayer (1 Cor. 7. 5; 2 Sam. 11.
11; Zech. 12. 12).
Next unto the word, this action may be sanctified by
prayer, for a blessing upon it. Children are the gift
of God and therefore married folks are not only to use
the means, but also to pray for the obtaining of them
(Psa. 113. 9; 127. 3; Gen. 25. 21; 1 Sam. 1. 26-27).
Now the fruits which are reaped and enjoyed by this
holy usage of the marriage bed of three: the having
of a blessed seed (Duet. 28. 1; Mal. 2. 15);  the
preservation of the body in cleanness that it may be
a fit temple for the Holy Ghost to dwell in (1 Thess.
4. 3-4); the holy estate of marriage is a lively type
of Christ and his church; and this communion of married
persons is also a figure of the conjunction that is
between him and the faithful (Hos. 2. 19; Eph. 5. 23).
Contributing author: Michelle Ephraim,
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
1). Chrysostom, Bullinger, and Perkins refer to Paul's description of the church as the bride of Christ. How does each speaker manipulate the literal and metaphoric aspects of this allusion to suit different purposes?