« PreviousContinue »
own book, which he so lavishly imputes to the writings of other men: and whether this of his, that thus peremptorily defames and attaints of wickedness unspotted churches, unblemished parliaments, and the most eminent restorers of Christian doctrine, deserve not to be burnt first. And if his heat had burst out only against the opinio, his wonted passion had no doubt been silently borne with wonted patience. But since, against the charity of that solemn place and meeting, it served him further to inveigh opprobriously against the person, branding him with no less than impudence, only for setting his name to what he had written; I must be excused not to be so wanting to the defence of an honest name, or to the reputation of those good men who afford me their society, but to be sensible of such a foul endea voured disgrace: not knowing aught either in mine own deserts, or the laws of this land, why I should be subject, in such a notorious and illegal manner, to the intemperances of this man's preaching choler. And indeed to be so prompt and ready in the midst of his humbleness, to toss reproaches of this bulk and size, argues as if they were the weapons of his exercise, I am sure not of his ministry, or of that day's work. Certainly to subscribe my name at what I was to own, was what the state had ordered and requires. And he who lists not to be malicious, would call it ingenuity, clear conscience, willingness to avouch what might be questioned, or to be better instructed. And if God were so displeased with those, Isa. lviii. who "on the solemn fast were wont to smite with the fist of wickedness," it could be no sign of his own humiliation accepted, which disposed him to smite so keenly with a reviling tongue. But if only to have writ my name must be counted "impudence," how doth this but justify another, who might affirm with as good warrant, that the late discourse of "Scripture and Reason," which is certain to be chiefly his own draught, was published without a name, out of base fear, and the sly avoidance of what might follow to his detriment, if the party at court should hap to reach him? And I, to have set my name, where he accuses me to have set it, am so far from recanting, that I offer my hand also if need be, to make good the same opinion which I there maintain, by inevitable consequences drawn parallel from his own principal arguments in that of "Scripture and Reason:" which I shall pardon him if he can deny, without shaking his own composition to pieces. The "impudence" therefore, since he weighed so little what a gross revile that was to give his equal, I send him back again for a phylactery to stitch upon his arrogance, that censures not only before conviction, so bitterly without so much as one reason given, but censures the congregation of his governors to their faces, for not being so hasty as himself to censure.
And whereas my other crime is, that I addressed the dedication of what I had studied to the parliament; how could I better declare the loyalty which I owe to that supreme and majestic tribunal, and the opinion which I have of the high entrusted judgment, and personal worth assembled in that place? With the same affections therefore, and the same addicted fidelity, parliament of England! I here again have brought to your perusal on the same argument these following expositions of Scripture. The former book, as pleased some to think, who were thought judicious, had of reason in it to a sufficiency; what they required was, that the Scriptures there alleged might be discussed more fully. To their desires thus much further hath been laboured in the Scriptures. Another sort also, who wanted more authorities and citations, have not been here unthought of. If all this attain not to satisfy them, as I am confident that none of those our great controversies at this day hath had a more demonstrative explaining, I must confess to admire what it is: for doubtless it is not reason now-a-days that satisfies or suborns
the common credence of men, to yield so easily, and grow so vehement in matters much more disputable, and far less conducing to the daily good and peace of life.
Some whose necessary shifts have long enured them to cloak the defects of their unstudied years, and hatred now to learn, under the appearance of a grave solidity, (which estimation they have gained among weak perceivers,) find the ease of slighting what they cannot refute, and are determined, as Í hear, to hold it not worth the answering. In which number I must be forced to reckon that doctor, who in a late equivocating treatise plausibly set afloat against the Dippers, diving the while himself with a more deep prelatical malignance against the present state and church-government, mentions with ignominy "the Tractate of Divorce;" yet answers nothing, but instead thereof (for which I do not commend his marshalling) sets Moses also among the crew of his Anabaptists; as one who to a holy nation, the commonwealth of Israel, gave laws "breaking the bonds of marriage to inordinate lust." These are no mean surges of blasphemy, not only dipping Moses the divine lawgiver, but dashing with a high hand against the justice and purity of God himself: as these ensuing scriptures plainly and freely handled shall verify, to the lanching of that old apostemated error. Him therefore I leave now to his repentance.
Others, which is their courtesy, confess that wit and parts may do much to make that seem true which is not; as was objected to Socrates by them who could not resist his efficacy, that he ever made the worst cause seem the better; and thus thinking themselves discharged of the difficulty, love not to wade further into the fear of a convincement. These will be their excuses to decline the full examining of this serious point. So much the more I press it and repeat it, lords and commons! that ye beware while time is, ere this grand secret, and only art of ignorance affecting tyranny, grow powerful, and rule among us. For if sound argument and reason shall be thus put off, either by an undervaluing silence, or the masterly censure of a railing word or two in the pulpit, or by rejecting the force of truth, as the mere cunning of eloquence and sophistry; what can be the end of this, but that all good learning and knowledge will suddenly decay? Ignorance, and illiterate presumption, which is yet but our disease, will turn at length into our very constitution, and prove the hectic evil of this age: worse to be feared, if it get once to reign over us, than any fifth monarchy. If this shall be the course, that what was wont to be a chief commendation, and the ground of other men's confidence in an author, his diligence, his learning, his elocution, whether by right or by ill meaning granted him, shall be turned now to a disadvantage and suspicion against him, that what he writes, though unconfuted, must therefore be mistrusted, therefore not received for the industry, the exactness, the labour in it, confessed to be more than ordinary; as if wisdom had now forsaken the thirsty and laborious inquirer, to dwell against her nature with the arrogant and shallow babbler; to what purpose all those pains and that continual searching required of us by Solomon to the attainment of understanding? Why are men bred up with such care and expense to a life of perpetual studies? Why do yourselves with such endeavour seek to wipe off the imputation to discourage the progress and advance of learning? He therefore, whose heart can bear him to the high pitch of your noble enterprises, may easily assure himself, that the prudence and far-judging circumspectness of so grave a magistracy sitting in parliament, who have before them the prepared and purposed act of their most religious predecessors to imitate in this question, cannot reject the clearness of these reasons, and these allegations both here
and formerly offered them; nor can overlook the necessity of ordaining more wholesomely and more humanely in the casualties of divorce, than our laws have yet established, if the most urgent and excessive grievances happening in domestic life be worth the laying to heart: which, unless charity be far from us, cannot be neglected. And that these things, both in the right constitution, and in the right reformation of a commonwealth, call for speediest redress, and ought to be the first considered, enough was urged in what was prefaced to that monument of Bucer, which I brought to your remembrance, and the other time before. Henceforth, except new cause be given, I shall say less and less. For if the law make not timely provision, let the law, as reason is, bear the censure of those consequences, which her own default now more evidently produces. And if men want manliness to expostulate the right of their due ransom, and to second their own occasions, they may sit hereafter and bemoan themselves to have neglected through faintness the only remedy of their sufferings, which a seasonable and wellgrounded speaking might have purchased them. And perhaps in time to come, others will know how to esteem what is not every day put into their hands, when they have marked events, and better weighed how hurtful and unwise it is, to hide a secret and pernicious rupture under the ill counsel of a bashful silence. But who would distrust aught, or not be ample in his hopes of your wise and Christian determinations? who have the prudence to consider, and should have the goodness, like gods, as ye are called, to find out readily, and by just law to administer those redresses, which have of old, not without God ordaining, been granted to the adversities of mankind, ere they who needed were put to ask. Certainly, if any other have enlarged his thoughts to expect from this government, so justly undertaken, and by frequent assistances from Heaven so apparently upheld, glorious changes and renovations both in church and state, he among the foremost might be named, who prays that the fate of England may tarry for no other deliverers. JOHN MILTON.
UPON THE FOUR CHIEF PLACES IN SCRIPTURE WHICH TREAT OF MARRIAGE, OR NULLITIES IN MARRIAGE.
GENESIS i. 27.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him. male and female created he them,
28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, &c.
GENESIS ii. 18.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a help meet for him.
23. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of a man. 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
GENESIS i. 27.
"So God created man in his own image."] To be informed aright in the whole history of marriage, that we may know for certain, not by a forced yoke, but by an impartial definition, what marriage is, and what is not marriage: it will undoubtedly be safest, fairest, and most with our obedience, to inquire, as our Saviour's direction is, how it was in the beginning. And that we begin so high as man created after God's own image, there want not earnest causes. For nothing now-a-days is more degenerately forgotten, than the true dignity of man, almost in every respect, but especially in this prime institution of matrimony, wherein his native pre-eminence ought most to shine. Although if we consider that just and natural privileges men neither can rightly seek, nor dare fully claim, unless they be allied to inward goodness and stedfast knowledge, and that the want of this quells them to a servile sense of their own conscious unworthiness, it may save the wondering why in this age many are so opposite both to human and to Christian liberty, either while they understand not, or envy others that do; contenting, or rather priding themselves in a specious humility and strictness bred out of low ignorance, that never yet conceived the freedom of the gospel; and is therefore by the apostle to the Colossians ranked with no better company than will worship and the mere show of wisdom. And how injurious herein they are, if not to themselves, yet to their neighbours, and not to them only, but to the all-wise and bounteous grace offered us in our redemption, will orderly appear.
"In the image of God created he him."] It is enough determined, that this image of God, wherein man was created, is meant wisdom, purity, justice, and rule over all creatures. All which, being lost in Adam, was recovered with gain by the merits of Christ. For albeit our first parent had lordship over sea, and land, and air, yet there was a law without him, as a guard set over him. But Christ having cancelled the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, Col. ii. 14, and interpreted the fulfilling of all through charity, hath in that respect set us over law, in the free custody of his love, and left us victorious under the guidance of his living spirit, not under the dead letter; to follow that which most edifics, most aids and furthers a religious life, makes us holiest and likest to his immortal image; not that which makes us most conformable and captive to civil and subordinate precepts: whereof the strictest observance may ofttimes prove the destruction not only of many innocent persons and families, but of whole nations. Although indeed no ordinance human or from heaven can bind against the good of man; so that to keep them strictly against that end, is all one with to break them. Men of most renowned virtue have sometimes by transgressing most truly kept the law; and wisest magistrates have permitted and dispensed it; while they looked not peevishly at the letter, but with a greater spirit at the good of mankind, if always not written in the characters of law, yet engraven in the heart of man by a divine impression. This heathens could see, as the well-read in story can recount of Solon and Epaminondas, whom Cicero in his first book of "Invention" nobly defends. "All law," saith he, "we ought to refer to the common good, and interpret
y that, not by the scroll of letters. No man observes law for law's sake, but for the good of them for whom it was made." The rest might serve
well to lecture these times, deluded through belly doctrines into a devout slavery. The Scripture also affords David in the showbread, Hezekiah in the passover, sound and safe transgressors of the literal command, which also dispensed not seldom with itself; and taught us on what just occasions to do so: until our Saviour, for whom that great and godlike work was re,served, redeemed us to a state above prescriptions, by dissolving the whole law into charity. And have we not the soul to understand this, and must we, against this glory of God's transcendant love towards us, be still the servants of a literal indictment?
"Created he him."] It might be doubted why he saith, "In the image of God created he him," not them, as well as "male and female" them; especially since that image might be common to them both, but male and female could not, however the Jews fable and please themselves with the accidental concurrence of Plato's wit, as if man at first had been created hermaphrodite but then it must have been male and female created he him. So had the image of God been equally common to them both, it had no doubt been said, in the image of God created he them. But St. Paul ends the controversy, by explaining, that the woman is not primarily and immediately the image of God, but in reference to the man, "The head of the woman,' "saith he, 1 Cor. xi. " is the man ;"" he the image and glory of God, she the glory of the man ;" he not for her, but she for him. Therefore his precept is, " Wives, be subject to your husbands as is fit in the Lord," Col. iii. 18; "in every thing," Eph. v. 24. Nevertheless man is not to hold her as a servant, but receives her into a part of that empire, which God proclaims him to, though not equally, yet largely, as his own image and glory: for it is no small glory to him, that a creature so like him should be made subject to him. Not but that particular exceptions inay have place, if she exceed her husband in prudence and dexterity, and he contentedly yield for then a superior and more natural law comes in, that the wiser should govern the less wise, whether male or female. But that which far more easily and obediently follows from this verse is, that, seeing woman was purposely made for man, and he her head, it cannot stand before the breath of this divine utterance, that man the portraiture of God, joining to himself for his intended good and solace an inferior sex, should so become her thrall, whose wilfulness or inability to be a wife frustrates the occasional end of her creation; but that he may acquit himself to freedom by his natural birthright, and that indelible character of priority, which God crowned him with. If it be urged, that sin hath lost him this, the answer is not far to seek, that from her the sin first proceeded, which keeps her justly in the same proportion still beneath. She is not to gain by being first in the transgression, that man should further lose to her, because already he hath lost by her means. Oft it happens, that in this matter he is without fault; so that his punishment herein is causeless: and God hath the praise in our speeches of him, to sort his punishment in the same kind with the offence. Suppose he erred; it is not the intent of God or man, to hunt an error so to the death with a revenge beyond all measure and proportion. But if we argue thus, this affliction is befallen him for his sin, therefore he must bear it without seeking the only remedy; first, it will be false, that all affliction comes for sin, as in the case of Job, and of the man born blind, John ix. 3, was evident; next, by that reason, all miseries coming for sin, we must let them all lie upon us like the vermin of an Indian Catharist, which his fond religion forbids him to molest. Were it a particular punishment inflicted through the anger of God upon a person, or upon a land, no law hinders us in that regard, no law but bids us re. 37 Z