Posted in Christianity

Head Covering: Quotations From The English Puritan Period

William Greenhill (1581-1671): “They (the angels) reverence the greatness and majesty of Christ. Though they be high and glorious, yet they see so vast a distance between Christ and themselves, that they cover their faces, Isa. vi. And their bodies, here; they come not into his presence rudely, but with great respect and reverence. As God is to be had in reverence of all that are about him, Psalm 89:7, so Christ is reverenced of all the angels that are about him. Women are to be veiled in the assemblies, because of the angels, 1 Cor. 11:10, to show their reverence and subjection to them being present; and angels are covered, to show their reverence and subjection to Christ. It is an honour to the angels, that in reverence to them the women are to be veiled; and it is a great honour to Christ, that angels reverence and adore him.” Commentary on Ezekiel (Ch. 1:23), by William Greenhill, member of the Westminster Assembly.

William Gouge (1575-1653): “Heading 3. – Of an husbands superioritie over a wife, to be acknowledged by a wife. ….6. The very attire which nature and custome of all times and places have taught women to put on, confirmeth the same: as long haire, vailes, and other coverings over the head: and the former argument doth the Apostle himself use to this very purpose, 1 Cor. 11:7 & c. …’And if it (i.e. the hair – DS) be given her for a covering (vail), say you, wherefore need she add another covering (vail)? That not nature only, but also her own will may have part in her acknowledgement of her subjection’ (Chrysostom). ‘Of Domestical Duties’ by William Gouge, member of the Westminster Assembly.

John Lightfoot (1602-1675): “Therefore the Apostle requires the vailing of women in Religious worship, by the same notion and reason, as men veiled themselves, namely for reverence towards God. But certainly it may be required, whether he so much urgeth the vailing of women, as reproves the vailing of men. However, by this most fit argument, he well chastiseth the contrary custom, and foolishness of the men: as though he had said, do ye not consider, that the man is doxa theou the glory of God, but the woman is only doxa andros, the glory of the man; that the woman was made for man; that man is the head of the woman: and how ridiculous is it, that men should use a vail, when they pray, out of reverence and shame before God, and women not use it, whose glory is less?” Commentary on First Corinthians (ch. 11:5), by John Lightfoot, member of the Westminster Assembly.

Thomas Manton (1620-1677): “In the assembly you meet with angels and devils; angels observe your garb and carriage and devils tempt you. Therefore, be covered because of the angels. The practice of women (who come hither with a shameless impudence into the presence of God, men and angels) neither suits with modesty nor conveniency…(Such boldness) feeds your own pride, and provokes …others of your rank to imitate your vanity. Now we should rather please God than men; better never please men than offend God” Sermons on Titus 2:11-14, Complete Works, vol. 16, p. 138 of Thomas Manton.

Christopher Love (1618-1651): “Eighth, the angels are present with us, beholding us in our church assemblies when we come to worship before God. When you are in the worship and service of God, the angels are with you, beholding you, though you see them not. This is hinted at in 1 Cor. 11:10 ‘For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head, because of the angels.” Some refer these words to ministers, who are elsewhere called angels, but we may understand it of the angels themselves because they delight in the things of the gospel. Here the apostle speaks of women not coming into church without covering. Why? Because of the angels, not the ministers. It is meant of the angels of heaven, and therein the women are to take heed how they come into the church, because the angels are spectators and behold how you behave yourselves, they being fellow-worshippers of God with you in church assemblies. And this should make you take heed of your carriage; for although they do not know your hearts, yet they behold your carriage as you come into the presence of God.” A Treatise of the Angels by Christopher Love.

John Bunyan (1628-1688): “For this cause ought the woman to have power”, that is a covering, “on her head, because of the angels” 1 Corinthians 11:10…Methinks, holy and beloved sisters, you should be content to wear this power or badge…”

John Cotton (1585-1652): “How is the public worship of God to be ordered and administered in the church? All the members of the church being met together as one man (i) in the sight of God (ii) are to join together in holy duties with one accord (iii) the men with their heads uncovered, the women covered.”

“For a woman to cover her head in time of public prayer, or prophesying, and for a man to uncover his head, the Apostle warranteth from both the light of nature, and the custome of the churches, 1 Cor. 11:4 to 16.”

Ezekiel Hopkins (1633-1690): “The apostle tells us (1 Corinthians 11:10) that the woman was ‘to have power on her head, because of the angels’. Which place, especially the latter clause of it, is diversely interpreted. But I think all agree in this, that this power which they were to have on their heads was a vail or covering, which at other times, but most especially in the congregation, women ought to wear on their heads…But the men were uncovered in their assemblies, as the apostle tells us (v. 4) to signify that they had nothing over them, but were superior to all visible creatures, and subject only to God.”

Benjamen Keach (1640-1704): “The thing signified is sometimes put for the sign materially…1 Corinthians 11:10, ‘A woman ought to have power on her head,’ that is a garment signifying that she was under the power of her husband.”

 

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Slave of Christ. Reformed Baptist. Mama of many blessings. Homemaker. Homeschooler. Author. Blogger. I write about practical Christian living, womanhood, and domestic violence awareness (with a few other topics thrown in). Passionate about Christ's glory, my children, homemaking, writing, the church, helping those in abusive situations, reading, and animals. Lover of good coffee.

8 thoughts on “Head Covering: Quotations From The English Puritan Period

  1. Thank you for posting these quotes, Anna! It really helps bring into perspective what men believed on the matter from a different time, without the presuppositions we have today in America’s “church”.

    These are some thoughts to ponder, for sure, and make for some prayer in my own life on the matter, to say the least. I want to be in obedience to Christ, so I will definitely be looking into this more. Thanks again, Anna! 🙂

    1. You are welcome! Realizing that Christian men of the past took the Scriptural teaching of head covering as something “for now” rather than as “cultural” or “for then” really helped me. May God bless and keep and guide you.

  2. Some seem to say that they should have a symbolic head covering, others that they should actually veil themselves. What do you think?

  3. I appreciated this page! I am very fond of the puritan era. I’ve posted a link to this at my blog creationorder.wordpress.com

    PS Have you come across the quote by Calvin which reads:
    “So if women are thus permitted to have their heads uncovered and to show their hair, they will eventually be allowed to expose their entire breasts, and they will come to make their exhibitions as if it were a tavern show; they will become so brazen that modesty and shame will be no more; in short they will forget the duty of nature…Further, we know that the world takes everything to its own advantage. So, if one has liberty in lesser things, why not do the same with this the same way as with that? And in making such comparisons they will make such a mess that there will be utter chaos. So, when it is permissible for the women to uncover their heads, one will say, ‘Well, what harm in uncovering the stomach also?’ And then after that one will plead for something else; ‘Now if the women go bareheaded, why not also bare this and bare that?’ Then the men, for their part, will break loose too. In short, there will be no decency left, unless people contain themselves and respect what is proper and fitting, so as not to go headlong overboard.”

    I’ve been told Calvin did not advocate for head covering, so this quote may have been taken out of context it. Do you happen to have an opinion about that? Either way, I love his colorful language, and happen to agree with what he said! 🙂

    Blessings,
    Deborah

    1. Thank you for commenting. I’m looking over your blog. 🙂

      From Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 11

      The error of the Corinthians was the occasion of his showing, what part it was becoming to act in this matter. With the view of proving, that it is an unseemly thing for women to appear in a public assembly with their heads uncovered, and, on the other hand, for men to pray or prophesy with their heads covered, he sets out with noticing the arrangements that are divinely established.

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