« PreviousContinue »
he hath received his handsel. He presumes also to cite the civil law, which I perceive by his citing, never came within his dormitory: yet what he cites, makes but against himself.
His second thing, therefore, is to refute the adverse position, and very methodically, three pages before he sets it down; and sets his own in the place, that disagreement of mind or disposition, though showing itself in much sharpness, is not by the law of God or man a just cause of divorce." To this position I answer; That it lays no battery against mine, no nor so much as faces it, but tacks about, long ere it come near, like a harmless and respectful confutement. For I confess that disagreement of mind or disposition, though in much sharpness, is not always a just cause of divorce; for much may be endured. But what if the sharpness be much more than his much? To that point it is our mishap we have not here his grave decision. He that will contradict the position which I alleged, must hold that no disagreement of mind or disposition can divorce, though shown in most sharpness; otherwise he leaves a place for equity to appoint limits, and so his following arguiments will either not prove his own position, or not disprove mine.
His first argument, all but what hobbles to no purpose, is this: "Where the Scripture commands a thing to be done, it appoints when, how, and for what, as in the case of death, or excommunication. But the Scripture directs not what measure of disagreement or contrariety may divorce: therefore the Scripture allows not any divorce for disagreement."-Answer. First, I deny your major; the Scripture appoints many things, and yet leaves the circumstance to man's discretion, particularly in your own examples: excommunication is not taught when and for what to be, but left to the church. How could the licenser let pass this childish ignorance, and call it "good?" Next, in matters of death, the laws of England, whereof you have intruded to be an opiniastrous subadvocate, and are bound to defend them, conceive it not enjoined in Scripture, when or for what cause they shall put to death, as in adultery, theft, and the like. Your minor also is false; for the Scripture plainly sets down for what measure of disagreement a man may divorce, Deut. xxiv. 1. Learn better what that phrase means, "if she find no favour in his eyes.'
Your second argument, without more tedious fumbling, is briefly thus; "If diversity in religion, which breeds a greater dislike than any natural disagreement, may not cause a divorce, then may not the lesser disagreement: But diversity of religion may not; Ergo."
Answ. First, I deny in the major, that diversity of religion breeds a greater dislike to marriage-duties than natural disagreement. For between Israelite, or Christian, and infidel, more often hath been seen too much love: but between them who perpetually clash in natural contrarieties, it is repugnant that there should be ever any married love or concord. Next, I deny your minor, that it is commanded not to divorce in diversity of religion, if the infidel will stay: for that place in St. Paul commands nothing, as that book at large affirmed, though you overskipped it.
Secondly, If it do command, it is but with condition that the infidel be content, and well-pleased to stay, which cuts off the supposal of any great hatred or disquiet between them, seeing the infidel had liberty to depart at pleasure; and so this comparison avails nothing.
Your third argument is from Deut. xxii. "If a man hate his wife, and raise an ill report, that he found her no virgin;" if this were false, "he might not put her away," though hated never so much.
Ans This was a malicious hatred, bent against her life, or to send her
out of doors without her portion. Such a hater loses by due punishment that privilege, Deut. xxiv. 1, to divorce for a natural dislike; which, though it could not love conjugally, yet sent away civilly, and with just conditions. But doubtless the wife in that former case had liberty to depart from her false accuser, lest his hatred should prove mortal; else that law peculiarly made to right the woman, had turned to her greatest mischief.
Your fourth argument is; "One Christian ought to bear the infirmities of another, but chiefly of his wife."
Ans. I grant infirmities, but not outrages, not perpetual defraudments of truest conjugal society, not injuries and vexations as importunate as fire. Yet to endure very much, might do well an exhortation, but not a compulsive law. For the Spirit of God himself, by Solomon, declares that such a consort "the earth cannot bear, and better dwell in a corner of the housetop, or in the wilderness." Burdens may be borne, but still with consideration to the strength of an honest man complaining. Charity, indeed, bids us forgive our enemies, yet doth not force us to continue friendship and familiarity with those friends who have been false or unworthy towards us; but is contented in our peace with them, at a fair distance. Charity commands not the husband to receive again into his bosom the adulterous wife, but thinks it enough, if he dismiss her with a beneficent and peaceful dismission. No more doth charity command, nor can her rule compel, to retain in nearest union of wedlock one whose other grossest faults, or disabilities to perform what was covenanted, are the just causes of as much grievance and dissension in a family, as the private act of adultery. Let not therefore, under the name of fulfilling charity, such an unmerciful and more than legal yoke be padlocked upon the neck of any Christian.
Your fifth argument: "If the husband ought to love his wife, as Christ his church, then ought she not to be put away for contrariety of mind." Answ. This similitude turns against him: for if the husband must be as Christ to the wife, then must the wife be as the church to her husband. If there be a perpetual contrariety of mind in the church toward Christ, Christ himself threatens to divorce such a spouse, and hath often done it. If they urge, this was no true church, I urge again that was no true wife.
His sixth argument is from Matth. v. 32, which he expounds after the old fashion, and never takes notice of what I brought against that exposition; let him therefore seek his answer there. Yet can he not leave this argument, but he must needs first show us a curvet of his madness, holding out an objection, and running himself upon the point. "For," saith he, "if Christ except no cause but adultery, then all other causes, as frigidity, incestuous marriage, &c. are no cause of divorce;" and answers, "that the speech of Christ holds universally, as he intended it; namely, to condemn such divorce as was groundlessly practised among the Jews, for every cause which they thought sufficient; not checking the law of consanguinities or affinities, or forbidding other cause which makes marriage void, ipso facto."
Answ. Look to it now, you be not found taking fees on both sides; for if you once bring limitations to the universal words of Christ, another will do as much with as good authority; and affirm, that neither did he check the law, Deut. xxiv. 1, nor forbid the causes that make marriage void actually; which if any thing in the world doth, unfitness doth, and contrariety of mind; yea, more than adultery, for that makes not the marriage void, nor much more unfit, but for the time, if the offended party forgive: but unfitness and contrariety frustrates and nullifies for ever, unless it be a rare chance, all the good and peace of wedded conversation; and leaves nothing between them enjoyable, but a prone and savage necessity, not worth the VOL. I. 2 F
name of marriage, unaccompanied with love. Thus much his own objection hath done against himself.
Argument 7th. He insists, "that man and wife are one flesh, therefore must not separate." But must be sent to look again upon the 35th page of that book, where he might read an answer, which he stirs not. Yet can he not abstain, but he must do us another pleasure ere he goes; although I call the common pleas to witness, I have not hired his tongue, whatever men may think by his arguing. For besides adultery, he excepts other causes which dissolve the union of being one flesh, either directly, or by consequence. If only adultery be excepted by our Saviour, and he voluntarily can add other exceptions that dissolve that union, both directly and by consequence; these words of Christ, the main obstacle of divorce, are open to us by his own invitation, to include whatever causes dissolve that union of flesh, either directly or by consequence. Which, till he name other causes more likely, I affirm to be done soonest by unfitness and contrariety of mind; for that induces hatred, which is the greatest dissolver both of spiritual and corporal union, turning the mind, and consequently the body, to other objects. Thus our doughty adversary, either directly or by consequence, yields us the question with his own mouth: and the next thing he does, recants it again.
His 8th argument shivers in the uttering, and he confesseth to be "not over-confident of it:" but of the rest it may be sworn he is., St. Paul, 1 Cor. vii. saith, that the "married have trouble in the flesh," therefore we must bear it, though never so intolerable.
I answer, if this be a true consequence, why are not all troubles to be borne alike? Why are we suffered to divorce adulteries, desertions, or frigidities? Who knows not that trouble and affliction is the decree of God upon every state of life? Follows it therefore, that, though they grow excessive and insupportable, we must not avoid them? If we may in all other conditions, and not in marriage, the doom of our suffering ties us not by the trouble, but by the bond of marriage: and that must be proved inseparable from other reasons, not from this place. And his own confession declares the weakness of this argument, yet his ungoverned arrogance could not be dissuaded from venting it.
His 9th argument is, "that a husband must love his wife as himself; therefore he may not divorce for any disagreement, no more than he may separate his soul from his body." I answer: if he love his wife as himself, he must love her so far as he may preserve him to her in a cheerful and comfortable manner, and not so as to ruin himself by anguish and sorrow, without any benefit to her. Next, if the husband must love his wife as himself, she must be understood a wife in some reasonable measure, willing and sufficient to perform the chief duties of her covenant, else by the hold of this argument it would be his great sin to divorce either for adultery or desertion. The rest of this will run circuit with the union of one flesh, which was answered before. And that to divorce a relative and metaphorical union of two bodies into one flesh cannot be likened in all things to the dividing of that natural union of soul and body into one person, is apparent of itself.
His last argument he fetches" from the inconvenience that would follow upon his freedom of divorce, to the corrupting of men's minds, and the overturning of all human society."
But for me let God and Moses answer this blasphemer, who dares bring
in such a foul indictment against the divine law. Why did God permit this to his people the Jews, but that the right and good, which came directly thereby, was more in his esteem than the wrong and evil, which came by accident? And for those weak supposes of infants that would be left in their mothers' belly, (which must needs be good news for chamber-maids, to hear a serving-man grown so provident for great bellies,) and portions and jointures likely to incur embezzlement hereby, the ancient civil law instructs us plentifully how to award, which our profound opposite knew not, for it was not in his tenures.
His arguments are spun; now follows the chaplain with his antiquities, wiser if he had refrained, for his very touching aught that is learned soils it, and lays him still more and more open, a conspicuous gull. There being both fathers and councils more ancient, wherewith to have served his purpose better than with what he cites, how may we do to know the subtle drift, that moved him to begin first with the "twelfth council of Toledo?" I would not undervalue the depth of his notion; but perhaps he had heard that the men of Toledo had store of good blade-mettle, and were excellent at cutting; who can tell but it might be the reach of his policy, that these able men of decision would do best to have the prime stroke among his testimonies in deciding this cause? But all this craft avails himself not; for seeing they allow no cause of divorce by fornication, what do these keen doctors here, but cut him over the sinews with their Toledoes, for holding in the precedent page other causes of divorce besides, both directly and by consequence? As evil doth that Saxon council, next quoted, bestead him. For if it allow divorce precisely for no cause but fornication, it thwarts his own exposition: and if it understand fornication largely, it sides with whom he would confute. However, the authority of that synod can be but small, being under Theodorus, the Canterbury bishop, a Grecian monk of Tarsus, revolted from his own church to the pope. What have we next? the civil law stuffed in between two councils, as if the Code had been some synod; for that he understood himself in this quotation, is incredible; where the law, Cod. 1. 3, tit. 38, leg. 11, speaks not of divorce, but against the dividing of possessions to divers heirs, whereby the married servants of a great family were divided, perhaps into distant countries and colonies; father from son, wife from husband, sore against their will. Somewhat lower he confesseth, that the civil law allows many reasons of divorce, but the canon law decrees otherwise; a fair credit to his cause! And I amaze me, though the fancy of this dolt be as obtuse and sad as any mallet, how the licenser could sleep out all this, and suffer him to uphold his opinion by canons and Gregorial decretals; a law which not only his adversary, but the whole reformation of this church and state, hath branded and rejected. As ignorantly, and too ignorantly to deceive any reader but an unlearned, he talks of Justin Martyr's Apology, not telling us which of the twain; for that passage in the beginning of his first, which I have cited elsewhere, plainly makes against him: so doth Tertullian, cited next, and next Erasmus, the one against Marcion, the other in his annotations on Matthew, and to the Corinthians. And thus ye have the list of his choice antiquities, as pleasantly chosen as ye would wish from a man of his handy vocation, puffed up with no luck at all above the stint of his capacity.
Now he comes to the position, which I set down whole; and, like an able textman, slits it into four, that he may the better come at it with his barber-surgery, and his sleeves turned up. Wherein first, he denies "that any disposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, is unchangeable in nature, but that by the help of diet and physic it may be altered.”
I mean not to dispute philosophy with this pork, who never read any. But I appeal to all experience, though there be many drugs to purge these redundant humours and circulations, that commonly impair health, and are not natural, whether any man can with the safety of his life bring a healthy constitution into physic with this design, to alter his natural temperament and disposition of mind. How much more vain and ridiculous would it be, by altering and rooting up the grounds of nature, which is most likely to produce death or madness, to hope the reducing of a mind to this or that fitness, or two disagreeing minds to a mutual sympathy! Suppose they might, and that with great danger of their lives and right senses, alter one temperature, how can they know that the succeeding disposition will not be as far from fitness and agreement? They would perhaps change melancholy into sanguine; but what if phlegm and choler in as great a measure come instead, the unfitness will be still as difficult and troublesome? But lastly, whether these things be changeable or not, experience teaches us, and our position supposes that they seldom do change in any time commensurable to the necessities of man, or convenient to the ends of marriage: and if the fault be in the one, shall the other live all his days in bondage and misery for another's perverseness, or immedicable disaffection? To my friends, of which may fewest be so unhappy, I have a remedy, as they know, more wise and manly to prescribe: but for his friends and followers, (of which many may deserve justly to feel themselves the unhappiness which they consider not in others,) I send them by his advice to sit upon the stool and strain, till their cross dispositions and contrarieties of mind shall change to a better correspondence, and to a quicker apprehension of common sense, and their own good.
His second reason is as heedless; "because that grace may change the disposition, therefore no indisposition may cause divorce."
Answ. First, it will not be deniable that many persons, gracious both, may yet happen to be very unfitly married, to the great disturbance of either. Secondly, What if one have grace, the other not, and will not alter, as the Scriptures testify there be of those, in whom we may expect a change, when "the blackamoor changes his colour, or the leopard his spots," Jer. xiii. 23. Shall the gracious therefore dwell in torment all his life, for the ungracious? We see that holiest precepts, than which there can no better physic be administered to the mind of man, and set on with powerful preaching, cannot work this cure, no not in the family, not in the wife of him that preaches day and night to her. What an unreasonable thing is it, that men, and clergymen especially, should exact such wondrous changes in another man's house, and are seen to work so little in their own!
To the second point of the position, that this unfitness hinders the main ends and benefits of marriage; he answers, "if I mean the unfitness of choler, or sullen disposition, that soft words, according to Solomon, pacify wrath."
But I reply, that the saying of Solomon is a proverb, frequently true, not universally, as both the event shows, and many other sentences written by the same author, particularly of an evil woman, Prov. xxi. 9, 19, and in other chapters, that she is better shunned than dwelt with, and a desert is preferred before her society. What need the Spirit of God put this choice into our heads, if soft words could always take effect with her? How frivolous is not only this disputer, but he that taught him thus, and let him come abroad!
To his second answer I return this, that although there be not easily found such an antipathy, as to hate one another like a toad or poison; yet