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THEREFORE the last reason, why it should not be, is the example we have, not only from the noblest and wisest commonwealths, guided by the clearest light of human knowledge, but also from the divine testimonies of God himself, lawgiving in person to a sanctifed people. That all this is true, whoso desires to know at large with least pains, and expects not here his overlong rehearsals of that which is by others already se judiciously gathered; let him hasten to be acquainted with that noble volume written by our learned Selden, "Of the Law of Nature and of Nations," a work more useful and more worthy to be perused by whoso ever studies to be a great man in wisdom, equity, and justice, than all those" decretals and sumless sums," which the pontifical clerks have doted on, ever since that unfortunate mother famously sinned thrice, and died impenitent of her bringing into the world those two misbegotten infants, and for ever infants, Lombard and Gratian, him the compiler of canon iniquity, the other the Tubalcain of scholastic sophistry, whose overspreading barbarism hath not only infused their own bastardy upon the fruitfullest part of human learning, not only dissipated and dejected the clear light of nature in us, and of nations, but hath tainted also the fountains of divine doctrine, and rendered the pure and solid law of God unbeneficial to us by their calumnious danceries. Yet this law, which their unskilfulness hath made liable to all ignominy, the purity and wisdom of this law shall be the buckler of our dispute. Liberty of divorce we claim not, we think not but from this law; the dignity, the faith, the authority thereof new grown among Christians, O astonishment! a labour of no mean difficulty and envy to defend. That
that the frivolous canon may reverse the infallible judgment of Moses and his great director. Or if it be the reformed writers, whose doctrine persuades this rather, their reasons I dare affirm are all silenced, unless it be only this. Paræus on the Corinthians would prove, that hardness of heart in divorce is no more now to be permitted, but to be amerced with fine and imprisonment. I am not willing to discover the forgettings of reverend men, yet here I must: what article or clause of the whole new covenant can Paræus bring, to exasperate the judicial law upon any infirmity under the gospel? I say infirmity, for if it were the high hand of sin, the law as little would have endured it as the gospel; it would not stretch to the dividing of an inheritance; it refused to condemn adultery, not that these things should not be done at law, but to shew that the gospel hath not the least influence upon judicial courts, much less to make them sharper and more heavy, least of all to arraign before a temporal judge that which the law without summons acquitted. "But," saith he, "the law was the time of youth, under violent affections; the gospel in us is mature age, and ought to subdue affections." True, and so ought the law too, if they be found inordinate, and not merely natural and blameless. Next I distinguish, that the time of the law is compared to youth and pupilage in respect of the ceremonial part, which led the Jews as children through corporal and garish rudiments, until the fulness of time should reveal to them the higher lessons of faith and redemption. This is not meant of the moral part, therein it soberly concerned them not to be babies, but to be men in good earnest: the sad and awful majesty of that law was not to be jested with to bring a bearded nonage with lascivious dispensations before that throne, had been a lewd affront, as it is now a gross mistake. But what discipline is this, Paræus, to nourish violent affections in youth, by cockering and wanton indulgencies, and to chastise them in mature age with a boyish rod of correction? How much more coherent is it to Scripture, that the law as a strict schoolmaster should have punished every trespass without indulgence so baneful to youth, and that the gospel should now correct that by admonition and reproof only, in free and mature age, which was
it should not be counted a faultering dispense, a flat-punished with stripes in the childhood and bondage of
The last reason why divorce is not to be restrained by
tering permission of sin, the bill of adultery, a snare, is the expense of all this apology. And all that we slicit is, that it may be suffered to stand in the place where God set it, amidst the firmament of his holy laws, to shine, as it was wont, upon the weaknesses and errors of men, perishing else in the sincerity, of their honest purposes: for certain there is no memory of whoredoms and adulteries left among us now, when this warranted freedom of God's own giving is made dangerous and discarded for a scroll of licence. It must be your suffrages and votes, O Englishmen, that this exploded decree of God and Moses may scape and come off fair, without the censure of a shameful abrogating: which, if yonder sun ride sure, and means not to break word with us to-morrow, was never yet abrogated by our Saviour. Give sentence if you please,
the law? What therefore it allowed then so fairly, much less is to be whipped now, especially in penal courts: and if it ought now to trouble the conscience, why did that angry accuser and condemner law reprieve it? So then, neither from Moses nor from Christ hath the magistrate any authority to proceed against it. But what, shall then the disposal of that power return again to the master of a family? Wherefore not, since God there put it, and the presumptuous canon thence bereft it? This only must be provided, that the ancient manner be observed in the presence of the minister and other grave selected elders, who after they shall have admonished and pressed upon him the words of our Saviour, and he shall have protested in the faith of the eternal gospel, and the hope he has of happy resurrection, that otherwise than thus he cannot do, and thinks
sufferable imputation of dispens ages of ratified adultery. They attended words of Christ to the sense from manifold contradictic with the key of charity. Ma they rise from the depth
bimself and this his case not contained in that prohi- | of man's nature best known to bition of divorce which Christ pronounced, the matter not being of malice, but of nature, and so not capable of reconciling; to constrain him further were to unchristian him, to unman him, to throw the mountain of Sinai upon him, with the weight of the whole law to boot, flat against the liberty and essence of the gospel; and yet nothing available either to the sanctity of marriage, the good of husband, wife, or children, nothing profitable either to church or commonwealth, but hurtful and pernicious in all these respects. But this will bring in confusion: yet these cautious mistrusters might consider, that what they thus object lights not upon this book, but upon that which I engage against them, the book of God and Moses, with all the wisdom and providence which had forecast the worst of confusion that could succeed, and yet thought fit of such a permission. But let them be of good cheer, it wrought so little disorder among the Jews, that from Moses till after the captivity, not one of the prophets thought it worth the rebuking; for that of Malachi well looked into will appear to be not against divorcing, but rather against keeping strange concubines, to the vexation of their Hebrew wives. If therefore we Christians may be thought as good and tractable as the Jews were, (and certainly the probibitors of divorce presume us to be better,) then less confusion is to be feared for this among us than was among them. If we be worse, or but as bad, which lamentable examples confirm we are, then have we more, or at least as much, need of this permitted law, as they to whom God therefore gave it (as they say) under a harsher covenant. Let not therefore the frailty of man go on thus inventing needless troubles to itself, to groan under the false imagination of a strictness never imposed from above; enjoining that for duty, which is an impossible and vain super-humanity, much less with ch erogating. "Be not righteous overmuch," is the coun- by putting them in rememb sel of Ecclesiastes ; why shouldst thou destroy thy- all commands, which they self?" Let us not be thus overcurious to strain at who spake it in compariso atoms, and yet to stop every vent and cranny of perso exalt is but a petty and s missive liberty, lest nature wanting those needful pores them go" therefore with w and breathing-places, which God hath not debarred them, yet they will needs r our weakness, either suddenly break out into some wide with the Pharisees; "let th rupture of open vice and frantic heresy, or else inwardly sider well what this lesson fester with repining and blasphemous thoughts, under and not sacrifice;" for on the an unreasonable and fruitless rigour of unwarranted prophets depend," much m Jaw. Against which evils nothing can more beseem and excellence is mercy and the religion of the church, or the wisdom of the state, learn that, how will they h than to consider timely and provide. And in so doing not doubt to leave with t let them not doubt but they shall vindicate the misre- God the Son hath put all puted honour of God and his great lawgiver, by suffer- feet, but his commandment ing him to give his own laws according to the condition feet of charity.
utterly unfitted as they are to so they shall reclaim from obscure regain from dissolute and bru desperate hardness, if ever th They shall set free many daug ing much of her sad plight w eighteen years." Man they sha nity and prerogative in natur free peace before the promiscu rage. Marriage, from a per they shall reduce to be a mor tirement of happy society; w cording to God and Moses, (a ing to Christ,) when they sha and goodness to break that keep it really, than by comp seemingly, and by compulsion break it really, at least if it The vigour of discipline they ter success upon the prostitur when men, finding in themse mer ages, shall not be const God in them to unprofitabl ances, never required from t holiest nations, whose other tue they never yet could eq whose mind is still to mai whereof the bare sound can
JUDGMENT OF MARTIN BUCER, CONCERNING DIVORCE:
WRITTEN TO EDWARD THE SIXTH, IN HIS SECOND BOOK OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST; AND now englisHED. WHEREIN A LATE BOOK RESTORING THE "DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLine of divORCE," IS HERE CONFIRMED AND JUSTIFIED BY THE AUTHORITY OF
TESTIMONIES OF THE HIGH APPROBATION WHICH LEARNED, France, and England. Whence the saying of Quin
MEN HAVE GIVEN OF MARTIN BUCER.
tilian hath oft come to my mind, that he hath well profited in eloquence whom Cicero pleases. The same say I of Bucer, that he hath made no small progress in divinity, whom Bucer pleases; for in his volumes, which he wrote very many, there is the plain impression to be discerned of many great virtues, of diligence,
charity, of truth, of acuteness, of judgment, of learning. Wherein he hath a certain proper kind of writing, whereby he doth not only teach the reader, but affects him with the sweetness of his sentences, and with the manner of his arguing, which is so teaching, and so logical, that it may be perceived how learnedly he separates probable reasons from necessary, how forcibly he confirms what he has to prove, how subtilely he refutes, not with sharpness but with truth.
Simon Grinaus, 1533.
AMONG all the Germans, I give the palm to Bucer, for
John Calvin, 1539.
Martin Bucer, a most faithful doctor of the church of Christ, besides his rare learning, and copious knowledge of many things, besides his clearness of wit, ach reading, and other many and various virtues, wherein he is almost by none now living excelled, bath few equals, and excels most; hath this praise peculiar to himself, that none in this age hath used exater diligence in the exposition of Scripture.
And a little beneath.
Bacer is more large than to be read by overbusied ae, and too high to be easily understood by unattentive men, and of a low capacity.
Sir John Cheek, Tutor to King Edward VI. 1551.
John Sturmius of Strasburgh. No man can be ignorant what a great and constant pinion and estimation of Bucer there is in Italy,
Theodore Beza, on the Portraiture of M. Bucer. This is that countenance of Bucer, the mirror of mildness tempered with gravity; to whom the city of Strasburgh owes the reformation of her church. Whose singular learning, and eminent zeal, joined with excellent wisdom, both his learned books, and public disputations in the general diets of the empire, shall witness to all ages. Him the German persecution drove into England; where honourably entertained by Edward the VIth, he was for two years chief professor of divinity in Cambridge, with greatest frequency and applause of all learned and pious men until his death, 1551.
Mr. Fox's Book of Martyrs, Vol. iii. p. 763. Bucer, what by writing, but chiefly by reading and preaching openly, wherein, being painful in the word of God, he never spared himself, nor regarded health, brought all men into such an admiration of him, that neither his friends could sufficiently praise him, nor his enemies in any point find fault with
his singular life and sincere doctrine. A most certain token whereof may be his sumptuous burial at Cambridge, solemnized with so great an assistance of all the university, that it was not possible to devise more to the setting out and amplifying of the same. Dr. Pern, the Popish Vice-chancellor of Cambridge, his adversary.
cribes to Bucer; for thus he writes in tus: "What a manifold loss befel th in the death of Bucer, as oft as I cal my heart almost rent asunder."
Cardinal Pool, about the fourth year of Queen Mary, intending to reduce the university of Cambridge to popery again, thought no way so effectual, as to cause the bones of Martin Bucer and Paulus Fagius, which had been four years in the grave, to be taken up and burnt openly with their books, as knowing that those two worthy men had been of greatest moment to the reformation of that place from popery, and had left such powerful seeds of their doctrine behind them, as would never die, unless the men themselves were digged up, and openly condemned for heretics by the university itself. This was put in execution, and Doctor Pern, vice-chancellor, appointed to preach against Bucer: who, among other things, laid to his charge the opinions which he held of the marriage of priests, of divorcement, and of usury. But immediately after his sermon, or somewhat before, as the Book of Martyrs for a truth relates, vol. iii. p. 770, the said Doctor Pern smiting himself on the breast, and in manner weeping, wished with all his heart, that God would grant his soul might then presently depart, and remain with Bucer's; for he knew his life was such, that if any man's soul were worthy of heaven, he thought Bucer's in special to be most worthy. Histor. de Combust. Buceri et Fagii.
Peter Martyr Epist. to Conradu. He is dead, who hath overcome in the Lord. God lent us for a time thi our teacher, never enough praised. vided me from a most unanimous frie cording to mine own heart. My mi with grief, insomuch that I have no more. I bid thee in Christ farewel mayst be able to bear the loss of Bu can bear it.
Testimonies given by learned men t= who held the same opinion with N cerning divorce.
Paulus Fagius, born in the Palatin skilful in the Hebrew tongue. B ministry at Isna, he published many fitable Hebrew books, being aided a senator of that city, as Origen certain rich man called Ambrosius. to Strasburgh, he there famously di of a teacher; until the same perse and Bucer into England, where he professor's place in Cambridge, an Bezæ Icones.
Melchior Adamus writes his life German divines.
Sleidan and Huanus mention h their history and Verheiden in his
Acworth, the University-orator.
Soon after that Queen Elizabeth came to the crown, this condemnation of Bucer and Fagius by the cardinal and his doctors was solemnly repealed by the university; and the memory of those two famous men celebrated in an oration by Acworth, the University-orator, which is yet extant in the Book of Martyrs, vol. iii. p. 773, and in Latin, Scripta Anglican. p. 936.
Nicholas Carre, a learned man; Walter Haddon, master of the requests to Queen Elizabeth; Matthew Parker, afterwards primate of England; with other eminent men, in their funeral orations and sermons, express abundantly how great a man Martin Bucer was; what an incredible loss England sustained in his death; and that with him died the hope of a perfect reformation for that age. Ibid.
TO THE PARLIA
THE Book which, among othpoints of reformation, contains thereof, this treatise here presente parliament ! was, by the famous a dedicated to Edward the VI: youth doubtless had brought for England such a glorious mar reached it, as would have left in nothing without an excellent patt low. But since the secret purpo ment hath reserved no less perh of such a sacred work to be acco Jacobus Verheiden of Grave, in his elogies of famous dom and authority, religious 1 and principally, as we trust, by
what wonder if I seek no othe judgment and review I may com worthiest labours of this renow living all the pious nobility of t your truest and best-imitated and admired. Nor was he wanting to as was himself; when both at n especially among his last sighs his dear and fatherly affection to
Though the name of Martin Luther be famous, yet thou, Martin Bucer, for piety, learning, labour, care, vigilance, and writing, art not to be held inferiour to Luther. Bucer was a singular instrument of God, so was Luther. By the death of this most learned and most faithful man, the church of Christ sustained a heavy loss, as Calvin witnesseth; and they who are studious of Calvin are not ignorant how much he as
Dis our f
of England, he sincerely wished in the hearing of many devout men, "that what he had in his last book written to King Edward concerning discipline might have place in this kingdom. His hope was then, that no calamity, no confusion, or deformity would happen to the commonwealth; but otherwise he feared, lest in the midst of all this ardency to know God, yet by the neglect of discipline, our good endeavours would not succeed."* These remarkable words of so godly and so eminent a man at his death, as they are related by a sufficient and wellknown witness, who heard them, and inserted by Thuanus into his grave and serious history; so ought they to be chiefly considered by that nation, for whose sake they were uttered, and more especially by that general council, which represents the body of that nation. If therefore the book, or this part thereof, for necessary causes, be now revived and recommended to the use of this undisciplined age; it hence appears, that these reasons have not erred in the choice of a fit patronage for a discourse of such importance. But why the whole tractate is not here brought entire, but this matter of divorcement selected in particular, to prevent the fall speed of some misinterpreter, I hasten to disclose. First, it will be soon manifest to them who know what vise men should know, that the constitution and reformation of a commonwealth, if Ezra and Nehemiah did not misreform, is, like a building, to begin orderly froth the foundation thereof, which is marriage and the family, to set right first whatever is amiss therein. How ean there else grow up a race of warrantable men, while the house and home that breeds them is troubled and disquieted under a bondage not of God's constraining, with a natureless constraint, (if his most righteous judgents may be our rule,) but laid upon us imperiously in the worst and weakest ages of knowledge, by a catical tyranny of stupid and malicious monks? who having rashly vowed themselves to a single life, which they could not undergo, invented new fetters to throw on matrimony, that the world thereby waxing more dissolate, they also in a general looseness might sin with more favour. Next, there being yet among many
a strange iniquity and perverseness against all necessary divorce, while they will needs expound the words of our Saviour, not duly by comparing other places, as they must do in the resolving of a hundred other scriptures, but by persisting deafly in the abrupt papistical way of a literal apprehension against the direct analogy of sense, reason, law, and gospel; therefore may well seem more than time, to apply the sound and holy persuasions of this apostolic man to part in us, which is not yet fully dispossessed of an errour as absurd, as most that we deplore in our
fore having reduced his model of reformation to fourteen heads, he bestows almost as much time about this one point of divorce, as about all the rest; which also was the judgment of his heirs and learned friends in Germany, best acquainted with his meaning; who first published this his book by Oporinus at Basil, (a city for learning and constancy in the true faith honourable among the first,) added a special note in the title, " that there the reader should find the doctrine of divorce handled so solidly, and so fully, as scarce the like in any writer of that age:" and with this particular commendation they doubted not to dedicate the book, as a most profitable and exquisite discourse, to Christian the IIId, a worthy and pious king of Denmark, as the author himself had done before to our Edward the VIth. Yet did not Bucer in that volume only declare what his constant opinion was herein, but also in his comment upon Matthew, written at Strasburgh divers years before, he treats distinctly and copiously the same argument in three several places; touches it also upon the 7th to the Romans, and promises the same solution more largely upon the first to the Corinthians, omitting no occasion to weed out this last and deepest mischief of the canon law, sown into the opinions of modern men, against the laws and practice both of God's chosen people, and the best primitive times. Wherein his faithfulness and powerful evidence prevailed so far with all the church of Strasburgh, that they published this doctrine of divorce as an article of their confession, after they had taught so eight and twenty years, through all those times, when that city flourished, and excelled most, both in religion, learning, and government, under those first restorers of the gospel there, Zelius, Hedio, Capito, Fagius, and those who incomparably then governed the commonwealth, Farrerus and Sturmius. If therefore God in the former age found out a servant, and by whom he had converted and reformed many a city, by him thought good to restore the most needful doctrine of divorce from rigorous and harmful mistakes on the right hand; it can be no strange thing, if in this age he stir up by whatsoever means whom it pleases him, to take in hand and maintain the same assertion. Certainly if it be in man's discerning to sever providence from chance, I could allege many instances, wherein there would appear cause to esteem of me no other than a passive instrument under some power and counsel higher and better than can be human, working to a general good in the whole course of this matter. For that I owe no light, or leading received from any man in the discovery of this truth, what time I first undertook it in "the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," and had only the infallible grounds of Scripture to be my guide; he who tries the inmost heart, and saw with what severe industry and examination of
blindest adversaries; and to let his authority and unanswerable reasons be vulgarly known, that either his same, or the force of his doctrine, may work a whole-myself I set down every period, will be my witness.
same effect. Lastly, I find it clear to be the author's intention, that this point of divorcement should be held and received as a most necessary and prime part of discipline in every Christian government. And there
When I had almost finished the first edition, I chanced to read in the notes of Hugo Grotius upon the 5th of Matthew, whom I straight understood inclining to reasonable terms in this controversy: and something
Nicol. Car, de obitu Buceri.