Page images
PDF
EPUB

that there is oft such a dislike in both, or either, to conjugal love, as hinders all the comfort of matrimony, scarce any can be so simple as not to apprehend. And what can be that favour, found or not found, in the eyes of the husband, but a natural liking or disliking; whereof the law of God, Deut. xxiv. bears witness, as of an ordinary accident, and determines wisely and divinely thereafter. And this disaffection happening to be in the one, not without the unspeakable discomfort of the other, must he be left line a thing consecrated to calamity and despair, without redemption?

Against the third branch of the position, he denies that "solace and peace, which is contrary to discord and variance, is the main end of marriage. What then? He will have it "the solace of male and female." Came this doctrine out of some school, or some sty? Who but one forsaken of all sense and civil nature, and chiefly of Christianity, will deny that peace, contrary to discord, is the calling and the general end of every Christian, and of all his actions, and more especially of marriage, which is the dearest league of love, and the dearest resemblance of that love which in Christ is dearest to his church? How then can peace and comfort, as it is contrary to discord, which God hates to dwell with, not be the main. end of marriage? Discord then we ought to fly, and to pursue peace, far above the observance of a civil covenant already broken, and the breaking daily iterated on the other side. And what better testimony than the words of the institution itself, to prove that a conversing solace, and peaceful society, is the prime end of marriage, without which no other help or office can be mutual, beseeming the dignity of reasonable creatures, that such as they should be coupled in the rites of nature by the mere compulsion of lust, without love or peace, worse than wild beasts? Nor was it half so wisely spoken as some deem, though Austin spake it, that if God had intended other than copulation in marriage, he would for Adam have created a friend, rather than a wife, to converse with; and our own writers blame him for this opinion; for which and the like passages, concerning marriage, he might be justly taxed with rusticity in these affairs. For this cannot but be with ease conceived, that there is one society of grave friendship, and another amiable and attractive society of conjugal love, besides the deed of procreation, which of itself soon cloys, and is despised, unless it be cherished and reincited with a pleasing conversation. Which if ignoble and swinish minds cannot apprehend, shall such merit therefore be the censures of more generous and virtuous spirits?

Against the last point of the position, to prove that contrariety of mind is not a greater cause of divorce than corporal frigidity, he enters into such. a tedious and drawling tale "of burning, and burning, and lust and burning," that the dull argument itself burns too for want of stirring; and yet all this burning is not able to expel the frigidity of his brain. So long therefore as that cause in the position shall be proved a sufficient cause of divorce, rather than spend words with this phlegmy clod of an antagonist, more than of necessity and a little merriment, I will not now contend. whether it be a greater cause than frigidity or no.

His next attempt is upon the arguments which I brought to prove the position. And for the first, not finding it of that structure as to be scaled with his short ladder, he retreats with a bravado, that it deserves no answer. And I as much wonder what the whole book deserved, to be thus troubled and solicited by such a paltry solicitor. I would he had not cast the gracious eye of his duncery upon the small deserts of a pamphlet, whose every line meddled with uncases him to scorn and laughter.

[ocr errors]

That which he takes for the second argument, if he look better is no

argument, but an induction to those that follow. Then he stumbles that I should say, "the gentlest ends of marriage," confessing that he understands it not. And I believe him heartily: for how should he, a serving-man both by nature and by function, an idiot by breeding, and a solicitor by presumption, ever come to know or feel within himself what the meaning is of "gentle?" He blames it for "a neat phrase," for nothing angers him more than his own proper contrary. Yet altogether without art sure he is not; for who could have devised to give us more briefly a better description of his own servility?

But what will become now of the business I know not; for the man is suddenly taken with a lunacy of law, and speaks revelations out of the attorney's academy only from a lying spirit: for he says, "that where a thing is void ipso facto, there needs no legal proceeding to make it void :" which is false; for marriage is void by adultery or frigidity, yet not made void without legal proceeding. Then asks my opinion of John-a-Noaks and John-a-Stiles: and I answer him, that I, for my part, think John Dory was a better man than both of them; for certainly they were the greatest wranglers that ever lived, and have filled all our law-books with the obtunding story of their suits and trials.

After this he tells a miraculous piece of antiquity, how "two Romans, Titus and Sempronius, made feoffments," at Rome sure, and levied fines by the common law. But now his fit of law past, yet hardly come to himself, he maintains, that if marriage be void, as being neither of God nor nature, "there needs no legal proceeding to part it," and I tell him that offends not me: then, quoth he, "this is nothing to your book, being the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce." But that I deny him; for all discipline is not legal, that is to say, juridical, but some is personal, some economical, and some ecclesiastical.

Lastly, If I prove that contrary dispositions are joined neither of God nor nature, and so the marriage void, "he will give me the controversy." I have proved in that book to any wise man, and without more ado the institution proves it.

Where I answer an objection usually made, that "the disposition ought to be known before marriage," and show how difficult it is to choose a fit consort, and how easy to mistake: the servitor would know "what I mean by conversation," declaring his capacity nothing refined since his law-puddering, but still the same it was in the pantry, and at the dresser. Shall I argue of conversation with this hoyden, to go and practise at his opportunities in the larder? To men of quality I have said enough; and experience confirms by daily example, that wisest, soberest, justest men are sometimes miserably mistaken in their choice. Whom to leave thus without remedy, tossed and tempested in a most unquiet sea of afflictions and temptations, I say is most unchristianly.

But he goes on to untruss my arguments, imagining them his master's points. Only in the passage following I cannot but admire the ripeness and the pregnance of his native treachery, endeavouring to be more a fox than his wit will suffer him. Whereas I briefly mentioned certain heads of discourse, which I referred to a place more proper according to my method, to be treated there at full with all their reasons about them, this brain-worm against all the laws of dispute, will needs deal with them here. And as a country hind, sometimes ambitious to show his betters that he is not so simple as you take him, and that he knows his advantages, will teach us a new trick to confute by. And would you think to what a pride he swells in the contemplation of his rare stratagem, offering to carp at the

language of a book, which yet he confesses to be generally commended; while himself will be acknowledged, by all that read him, the basest and the hungriest enditer, that could take the boldness to look abroad. Observe now the arrogance of a groom, how it will mount. I had written, that common adultery is a thing which the rankest politician would think it shame and disworship, that his law should countenance. First, it offends him, that "rankest" should signify aught but his own smell: who that knows English should not understand me, when I say a rank serving-man, a rank pettifogger, to mean a mere serving-man, a mere and arrant pettifogger, who lately was so hardy, as to lay aside his buckram-wallet, and make himself a fool in print, with confuting books which are above him? Next, the word "politician" is not used to his maw, and thereupon he plays the most notorious hobby-horse, jesting and frisking in the luxury of his nonsense with such poor fetches to cog a laughter from us, that no antic hobnail at a morris but is more handsomely facetious.

Concerning that place, Deut. xxiv. 1, which he saith to be "the main pillar of my opinion," though ely more on the institution that on that: these two pillars I do indeed confess are to me as those two in the porch of the temple, Jachin and Boaz, which names import establishment and strength; nor do I fear who can shake them. The exposition, of Deut. which I brought, is the received exposition, both ancient and modern, by all learned men, unless it be a monkish papist here and there: and the gloss, which he and his obscure assistant would persuade us to, is merely new and absurd, presuming out of his utter ignorance in the Hebrew to interpret those words of the text; first, in a mistaken sense of uncleanness, against all approved writers. Secondly, in a limited sense, whenas the original speaks without limitation, "some uncleanness, or any:" and it had been a wise law indeed to mean itself particular, and not to express the case which this acute rabbi hath all this while been hooking for, whereby they who are most partial to him may guess that something is in this doctrine which I allege, that forces the adversary to such a new and strained exposition; wherein he does nothing for above four pages, but founder himself to and fro in his own objections; one while denying that divorce was permitted, another while affirming that it was permitted for the wife's sake, and after all, distrusts himself. And for his surest retirement, betakes him to those old suppositions, "that Christ abolished the Mosaic law of divorce; that the Jews had not sufficient knowledge in this point, through the darkness of the dispensation of heavenly things; that under the plenteous grace of the gospel we are tied by cruellest compulsion to live in marriage, till death, with the wickedest, the worst, the most persecuting mate." These ignorant and doting surmises he might have read confuted at large, even in the first edition; but found it safer to pass that part over in silence. So that they who see not the sottishness of this his new and tedious exposition, are worthy to love it dearly.

His explanation done, he charges me with a wicked gloss, and almost blasphemy, for saying that Christ in teaching meant not always to be taken word for word; but like a wise physician, administering one excess against another, to reduce us to a perfect mean. Certainly to teach us were no dishonest method: Christ himself hath often used hyperboles in his teaching; and gravest authors, both Aristotle in the second of his "Ethics to Nichomachus," and Seneca in his seventh "de Beneficiis," advise us to stretch out the line of precept ofttimes beyond measure, that while we tend further, the mean might be the easier attained. And whoever comments that 5th of Matthew, when he comes to the turning of cheek after cheek to blows,

and the parting both with cloak and coat, if any please to be the rifler, will be forced to recommend himself to the same exposition, though this chattering lawmonger be bold to call it wicked. Now note another precious piece of him; Christ, saith he, "doth not say that an unchaste look is adultery, but the lusting after her;" as if the looking unchastely could be without lusting. This gear is licensed for good reason; "Imprimatur."

Next he would prove, that the speech of Christ is not uttered in excess against the Pharisees, first, "because he speaks it to his disciples," Matth. v., which is false, for he spake it to the multitude, as by the first verse is evident, among which in all likelihood were many Pharisees, but out of doubt all of them pharisean disciples, and bred up in their doctrine; from which extremes of error and falsity Christ throughout his whole sermon labours to reclaim the people. Secondly, saith he, "because Christ forbids not only putting away, but marrying her who is put away." Acutely, as if the Pharisees might not have offended as much in marrying the divorced, as in divorcing the married. The precept may bind all, rightly understood; and yet the vehement manner of giving it may be occasioned only by the Pharisees.

Finally, he winds up his text with much doubt and trepidation; for it may be his trenchers were not scraped, and that which never yet afforded corn of savour to his noddle, the saltcellar was not rubbed: and therefore in this haste easily granting, that his answers fall foul upon each other, and praying you would not think he writes as a prophet, but as a man, he runs to the black jack, fills his flagon, spreads the table, and serves up dinner.

After waiting and voiding, he thinks to void my second argument, and the contradictions that will follow both in the law and gospel, if the Mosaic law were abrogated by our Saviour, and a compulsive prohibition fixed instead and sings his old song, "that the gospel counts unlawful that which the law allowed," instancing in circumcision, sacrifices, washings. But what are these ceremonial things to the changing of a moral point in household duty, equally belonging to Jew and Gentile? Divorce was then right, now wrong; then permitted in the rigorous time of law, now forbidden by law, even to the most extremely afflicted, in the favourable time of grace and freedom. But this is not for an unbuttoned fellow to discuss in the garret at his trestle, and dimension of candle by the snuff; which brought forth his scullionly paraphrase on St. Paul, whom he brings in discoursing such idle stuff to the maids and widows, as his own servile inurbanity forbears not to put into the apostle's mouth, "of the soul's conversing" and this he presumes to do, being a bayard, who never had the soul to know what conversing means, but as his provender and the familiarity of the kitchen schooled his conceptions.

He passes to the third argument, like a boar in a vineyard, doing nought else, but still as he goes champing and chewing over, what I could mean by this chimæra of a "fit conversing soul," notions and words never made for those chops; but like a generous wine, only by overworking the settled mud of his fancy, to make him drunk, and disgorge his vileness the more openly. All persons of gentle breeding (I say "gentle," though this barrow grunt at the word) I know will apprehend, and be satisfied in what I spake, how unpleasing and discontenting the society of body must needs be between those whose minds cannot be sociable. But what should a man say more to a snout in this pickle? What language can be low and degenerate enough?

The fourth argument which I had was, that marriage being a covenant,

the very being whereof consists in the performance of unfeigned love and peace; if that were not tolerably performed, the covenant became broke and revocable. Which how can any, in whose mind the principles of right reason and justice are not cancelled, deny? For how can a thing subsist, when the true essence thereof is dissolved? Yet this he denies, and yet in such a manner as alters my assertion; for he puts in, "though the main end be not attained in full measure:" but my position is, if it be not tolerably attained, as throughout the whole discourse is apparent.

Now for his reasons: "Heman found not that peace and solace which is the main end of communion with God, should he therefore break off that communion ?"

I answer, that if Heman found it not, the fault was certainly his own; but in marriage it happens far otherwise: sometimes the fault is plainly not his who seeks divorce; sometimes it cannot be discerned whose fault it is; and therefore cannot in reason or equity be the matter of an absolute prohibition.

His other instance declares, what a right handicraftsman he is of petty cases, and how unfit to be aught else at highest, but a hackney of the law. "I change houses with a man; it is supposed I do it for my own ends; I attain them not in this house; I shall not therefore go from my bargain." How without fear might the young Charinus in Andria now cry out, "What likeness can be here to a marriage?" In this bargain was no capitulation, but the yielding of possession to one another, wherein each of them had his several end apart. In marriage there is a solemn vow of love and fidelity each to other: this bargain is fully accomplished in the change; in marriage the covenant still is in performing. If one of them perform nothing tolerably, but instead of love, abound in disaffection, disobedience, fraud, and hatred; what thing in the nature of a covenant shall bind the other to such a perdurable mischief? Keep to your problems of ten groats; these matters are not for pragmatics and folkmooters to babble in.

Concerning the place of Paul, "that God hath called us to peace," 1 Cor. vii., and therefore, certainly, if any where in this world, we have a right to claim it reasonably in marriage; it is plain enough in the sense which I gave, and confessed by Paræus, and other orthodox divines, to be a good sense, and this answerer doth not weaken it. The other place, that "he who hateth, may put away," which if I show him, he promises to yield the whole controversy, is, besides Deut. xxiv. 1, Deut. xxi. 14, and before this, Exod. xxi. 8. Of Malachi I have spoken more in another place; and say again, that the best interpreters, all the ancient, and most of the modern, translate it as I cite it, and very few otherwise, whereof perhaps Junius is the chief.

Another thing troubles him, that marriage is called "the mystery of joy." Let it still trouble him; for what hath he to do either with joy or with mystery? He thinks it frantic divinity to say, it is not the outward continuance of marriage that keeps the covenant of marriage whole; but whosoever doth most according to peace and love, whether in marriage or divorce, he breaks marriage least. If I shall spell it to him, he breaks marriage least, is to say, he dishonours not marriage; for least is taken in the Bible, and other good authors, for, not at all. And a particular marriage a man may break, if for a lawful cause, and yet not break, that is, not violate, or dishonour the ordinance of marriage. Hence those two questions that follow are left ridiculous; and the maids at Aldgate, whom he flouts, are likely to have more wit than the serving-man at Addle-gate.

Whereas he taxes me of adding to the Scripture in that I said love only VOL. I.

47

« PreviousContinue »