Verse 15. "She shalt be saved in child-bearing" - swqhsetai de dia thv teknogoniav? She shall be saved through child- bearing-she shall be saved by means, or through the instrumentality, of child-bearing or of bringing forth a child. Amidst the different opinions given of the meaning of this very singular text, that of Dr. Macknight appears to me the most probable, which I shall give in his paraphrase and note.
"However, though Eve was first in the transgression, and brought death on herself, her husband, and all her posterity, the female sex shall be saved (equally with the male) through child-bearing - through bringing forth the saviour, if they live in faith, and love, and chastity, with that sobriety which I have been recommending.
"The word swqhsetai, saved, in this verse refers to h gunh, the woman, in the foregoing verse, which is certainly EVE. But the apostle did not mean to say that she alone was to be saved through child-bearing, but that all her posterity, whether male or female, are to be saved through the child- bearing of a woman; as is evident from his adding, If they live in faith and love and holiness, with sobriety. For safety in child-bearing does not depend on that condition at all; since many pious women die in child-bearing, while others of a contrary character are preserved. The salvation of the human race, through child-bearing, was intimated in the sentence passed on the serpent, Gen. iii. 15: I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head. Accordingly, the saviour being conceived in the womb of his mother by the power of the Holy Ghost, he is truly the seed of the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent; and a woman, by bringing him forth, has been the occasion of our salvation." This is the most consistent sense, for in the way in which it is commonly understood it does not apply.
There are innumerable instances of women dying in child-bed who have lived in faith and charity and holiness, with sobriety; and equally numerous instances of worthless women, slaves to different kinds of vices, who have not only been saved in child-bearing, but have passed through their travail with comparatively little pain; hence that is not the sense in which we should understand the apostle. Yet it must be a matter of great consolation and support, to all pious women labouring of child, to consider that, by the holy virgin's child-bearing, salvation is provided for them and the whole human race; and that, whether they die or live, though their own child-bearing can contribute nothing to their salvation, yet he who was born of a woman has purchased them and the whole human race by his blood.
"If they continue" - ean meinwsin is rightly translated, if they live; for so it signifies in other passages, particularly Philippians i. 25. The change in the number of the verb from the singular to the plural, which is introduced here, was designed by the apostle to show that he does not speak of Eve; nor of any particular woman, but of the whole sex. See Macknight.
Without faith it is impossible to please God, or to be saved; and without love it will be impossible to obey. FAITH and LOVE are essentially necessary to holiness and sobriety; and unless both men and women live in these, they cannot, scripturally, expect to dwell with God for ever. Some foolish women have supposed, from this verse, that the very act of bringing forth children shall entitle them to salvation; and that all who die in childbed infallibly go to glory! Nothing can be more unfounded than this; faith, love, holiness, and sobriety, are as absolutely requisite for the salvation of every daughter of Eve, as they are for the salvation of every son of Adam. Pain and suffering neither purify nor make atonement. On the mercy of God, in Christ, dispensing remission of sins and holiness, both men and women may confidently rely for salvation; but on nothing else. Let her that readeth understand.
On the subject of dress I will conclude in the words of a late writer: "What harm does it do to adorn ourselves with gold, or pearls, or costly array, suppose we can afford it? The first harm it does is, it engenders pride; and, where it is already, increases it. Nothing is more natural than to think ourselves better because we are dressed in better clothes. One of the old heathens was so well apprised of this, that when he had a spite to a poor man, and had a mind to turn his head; he made him a present of a suit of fine clothes.
Eutrapelus cuicunque nocere volebat, Vestimenta dabat pretiosa.
He could not then but imagine himself to be as much better, as he was finer, than his neighbour; inferring the superior value of his person from the value of his clothes." - Rev. J. Wesley's Sermons.