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us in a fair allowance of way, with honest liberty and prudence to our guard, we never leave subtilizing and casuisting till we have straitened and pared that liberal path into a razor's edge to walk on; between a precipice of unnecessary mischief on either side, and starting at every false alarm, we do not know which way to set a foot forward with manly confidence and christian resolution, through the confused ringing in our ears of panic scruples and amazements.


That the matter of divorce is not to be tried by law, but by conscience, as many other sins are. The magistrate can only see that the condition of the divorce be just and equal. The opinion of Fagius, and the reasons of this assertion.

What can hinder the magistrate from so doing, to whose government all outward things are subject, to separate and remove from perpetual vexation, and no small danger, those bodies whose minds are already separate; it being his office to procure peaceable and convenient living in the commonwealth; and being as certain also, that they so necessarily separated cannot all receive a single life?” And this I observe, that our divines do generally condemn separation of bed and board, without the liberty of second choice : if that therefore in some cases be most purely necessary, (as who so blockish to deny ?) then is this also as needful. Thus far by others is already well stepped, to inform us that divorce is not a matter of law, but of charity: if there remain a furlong yet to end the question, these following reasons may serve to gain it with any apprehension not too unlearned or too wayward. First, because ofttimes the causes of seeking divorce reside so deeply in the radical and innocent affections of nature, as is not within the diocese of law to tamper with. Other relations may aptly enough be held together by a civil and virtuous love: but the duties of man and wife are such as are chiefly conversant in that love which is most ancient and merely natural, whose two prime statutes are to join itself to that which is good, and acceptable, and friendly; and to turn aside and depart from what is disagreeable, displeasing, and unlike: of the two this latter is the strongest, and most equal to be regarded; for although a man may often be unjust in seeking that which he loves, yet he can never be unjust or blamable in retiring from his endless trouble and distaste, when as his tarrying can redound to no true content on either side. Hate is of all things the mightiest divider, nay is divi sion itself. To couple hatred therefore, though wedlock try all her golden links, and borrow to her aid all the iron manacles and fetters of law, it does but seek to twist a rope of sand, which was a task they say that posed the devil: and that sluggish fiend in hell, Ocnus, whom the poems tell of, brought his idle cordage to as good effect, which never served to bind with, but to feed the ass that stood at his elbow. And that the restrictive law against divorce attains as little to bind any thing truly in a disjointed marriage, or to keep it bound, but serves only to feed the ignorance and definitive impertinence of a doltish canon, were no absurd allusion. To hinder therefore those deep and serious regresses of nature in a reasonable soul, parting from that mistaken help, which he justly seeks in a person created for him, recollecting himself from an unmeet help which was never meant, and to detain him by compulsion in such an unpredestined misery as this, is in diameter against both nature and institution: but to interpose a jurisdictive power over the inward and irremediable disposition of man, to command love and sympathy, to forbid dislike against the guiltless instinct of nature, is not within the province of any law to reach; and were indeed an uncommodious rudeness, not a just power: for that law may bandy with nature, and traverse her sage motions, was an errour in Callicles the rhetorician, whom Socrates from high principles

ANOTHER act of papal encroachment it was, to pluck the power and arbitrement of divorce from the master of the family, into whose hands God and the law of all nations had put it, and Christ so left it, preaching only to the conscience, and not authorizing a judicial court to toss about and divulge the unaccountable and secret reason of disaffection between man and wife, as a thing most improperly answerable to any such kind of trial. But the popes of Rome, perceiving the great revenue and high authority it would give them even ever princes, to have the judging and deciding of such a main consequence in the life of man as was divorce; wrought so upon the superstition of those ages, as to divest them of that right, which God from the beginning had entrusted to the husband: by which means they subjected that ancient and naturally domestic prerogative to an external and unbefitting judicature. For although differences in divorce about dowries, jointures, and the like, besides the punishing of adultery, ought not to pass without referring, if need be, to the magistrate; yet that the absolute and final hindering of divorce cannot belong to any civil or earthly power, against the will and consent of both parties, or of the husband alone, some reasons will be here urged as shall not need to decline the touch. But first I shall recite what hath been already yielded by others in fayour of this opinion. Grotius and many more agree, that notwithstanding what Christ spake therein to the Conscience, the magistrate is not thereby enjoined aught against the preservation of civil peace, of equity, and of convenience. And among these Fagius is most remarkable, and gives the same liberty of pronouncing divorce to the christian magistrate as the Mosaic had. For whatever," saith he, "Christ spake to the regethe judge hath to deal with the vulgar: if therefore any through hardness of heart will not be a tolerable wife to her husband, it will be lawful as well now as of old to pass the bill of divorce, not by private but by public authority Nor doth man separate them then, but God by his law of divorce given by Moses.


confutes in Plato's Gorgias. If therefore divorce may be so natural, and that law and nature are not to go contrary; then to forbid divorce compulsively, is not only against nature, but against law.

"This shoe," said he, and held it out on his a neat shoe, a new shoe, and yet none of y where it wrings me;" much less by the cognizance of a feed gamester can such a p ference be examined, neither ought it.

Again, if law aim at the firm establishmen servation of matrimonial faith, we know th thrive under violent means, but is the mor It is not when two unfortunately met are by forced to draw in that yoke an unmerciful of sorrow till death unharness them, that th keeps marriage most unviolated and unb when the law takes order, that marriage be and responsible to perform that society, wh religious, civil, or corporal, which may be co required and claimed therein, or else to be it cannot be undergone. This is to mal most indissoluble, by making it a just and er, a performer of those due helps, which in covenant; being otherwise a most unjust c no more to be maintained under tuition the vilest fraud, or cheat, or theft, that m mitted. But because this is such a secret or theft, as caunot be discerned by law bu plaintiff himself; therefore to divorce was ed a political or civil offence, neither to J tile, nor by any judicial intendment of C than could be discerned to transgress the Moses, which was of necessity so large, all one as if it sent back the matter undet law, and intractable by rough dealing, structions and admonitions bestowed abo whose spiritual office is to adjure and to d so left to the conscience. The law can the just and equal conditions of divorce, how it is an injury to the divorced, wh can be none, as a mere separation; for it wherein has the law to right her? or con is it either just, and so deserved; or if all likelihood was the divorcer: and to unjust man is a happiness, and no injury ed. But suppose it to be an injury, the to amend it, unless she think it other tha redress, to return back from whence she or but entreated to be gone, or else to 1 married without marriage, a married wi it be to chasten the divorcer, what law which is not moral but natural, a deed certainly be found to be an injury; o punished by prohibiting the divorce, bu cent must equally partake both in the the smart? So that which way soever w can to no rational purpose forbid divo take care that the conditions of divor rious. Thus then we see the trial of l tinent it is to this question of divor next, and then how hurtful.

Next, it must be remembered, that all law is for some good, that may be frequently attained without the admixture of a worse inconvenience; and therefore many gross faults, as ingratitude and the like, which are too far within the soul to be cured by constraint of law, are left only to be wrought on by conscience and persuasion. Which made Aristotle, in the 10th of his Ethics to Nicomachus, aim at a kind of division of law into private or persuasive, and public or compulsive. Hence it is, that the law forbidding divorce never attains to any good end of such prohibition, but rather multiplies evil. For if nature's resistless sway in love or hate be once compelled, it grows careless of itself, vicious, useless to friends, unserviceable and spiritless to the commonwealth. Which Moses rightly foresaw, and all wise lawgivers that ever knew man, what kind of creature he was. The parliament also and clergy of England were not ignorant of this, when they consented that Harry the VIII might put away his queen Anne of Cleve, whom he could not like after he had been wedded half a year; unless it were that, contrary to the proverb, they made a necessity of that which might have been a virtue in them to do: for even the freedom and eminence of man's creation gives him to be a law in this matter to himself, being the head of the other sex which was made for him: whom therefore though he ought not to injure, yet neither should he be forced to retain in society to his own overthrow, nor to hear any judge therein above himself. It being also an unseemly affront to the sequestered and veiled modesty of that sex, to have her unpleasingness and other concealments bandied up and down, and aggravated in open court by those hired masters of tonguefence. Such uncomely exigencies it befel no less a majesty than Henry the VIII to be reduced to, who, finding just reason in his conscience to forego his brother's wife, after many indignities of being deluded, and made a boy of by those his two cardinal judges, was constrained at last, for want of other proof, that she had been carnally known by prince Arthur, even to uncover the nakedness of that virtuous lady, and to recite openly the obscene evidence of his brother's chamberlain. Yet it pleased God to make him see all the tyranny of Rome, by discovering this which they exercised over divorce, and to make him the beginner of a reformation to this whole kingdom, by first asserting into his familiary power the right of just divorce. It is true, an adulteress cannot be shamed enough by any public proceeding; but the woman whose honour is not appeached is less injured by a silent dismission, being otherwise not illiberally dealt with, than to endure a clamouring debate of utterless things, in a business of that civil secrecy and difficult discerning, as not to be overmuch questioned by nearest friends. Which drew that answer from the greatest and worthiest Roman of his time, Paulus Emilius, being demanded why he would put away his wife for no visible reason?


The last reason why divorce is not to be restrained by law, it being against the law of nature and of nations. The larger proof whereof referred to Mr. Selden's book, "De Jure Naturali et Gentium." An objection of Paraus answered. How it ought to be ordered by the church. That this will not breed any worse inconvenience, nor so bad as is now suffered.

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. Paraus 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 THEREFORE the last reason, why it should not be, is gospel? I say infirmity, for if it were the high hand of the example we have, not only from the noblest and sin, the law as little would have endured it as the wisest commonwealths, guided by the clearest light of gospel; it would not stretch to the dividing of an inbuman knowledge, but also from the divine testimo-heritance; it refused to condemn adultery, not that nies of God himself, lawgiving in person to a sanctified people. That all this is true, whoso desires to know at large with least pains, and expects not here overlong rehearsals of that which is by others already so 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 whosoever 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 bastarly upon the fruitfullest part of human learning, tot only dissipated and dejected the clear light of nature in us, and of nations, but hath tainted also the fuatains of divine doctrine, and rendered the pure and sold 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 is now grown among Christians, O astonishment! a labour of no mean difficulty and envy to defend. That bould not be counted a faultering dispense, a flattering permission of sin, the bill of adultery, a snare, is the expense of all this apology. And all that we Macit 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 angerous and discarded for a scroll of licence. It must be your suffrages and votes, O Englishmen, that Lis 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,

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.
saith he, "the law was the time of youth, under vio-
lent 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 dis-
pensations 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
punished with stripes in the childhood and bondage of
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 ma-
gistrate 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 ad-
monished and pressed upon him the words of our Sa-
viour, and he shall have protested in the faith of the
eternal gospel, and the hope he has of happy resurrec-
tion, that otherwise than thus he cannot do, and thinks

himself and this his case not contained in that prohi- | of man's nature best known to him, without the un

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 un-
christian 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 mar-
riage, the good of husband, wife, or children, nothing
profitable either to church or commonwealth, but hurt-
ful 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 confu-
sion 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 there
fore 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-
erogating. "Be not righteous overmuch," is the coun-
sel of Ecclesiastes; "why shouldst thou destroy thy-
self?" Let us not be thus overcurious to strain at
atoms, and yet to stop every vent and cranny of per-
missive liberty, lest nature wanting those needful pores
and breathing-places, which God hath not debarred
our weakness, either suddenly break out into some wide
rupture of open vice and frantic heresy, or else inwardly
fester with repining and blasphemous thoughts, under
an unreasonable and fruitless rigour of unwarranted
Jaw. Against which evils nothing can more beseem
the religion of the church, or the wisdom of the state,
than to consider timely and provide. And in so doing
let them not doubt but they shall vindicate the misre-
puted honour of God and his great lawgiver, by suffer-
ing him to give his own laws according to the condition

sufferable imputation of dispensing legally with many ages of ratified adultery. They shall recover the misattended words of Christ to the sincerity of their true sense from manifold contradictions, and shall open them with the key of charity. Many helpless Christians they shall arise from the depth of sadness and distress, utterly unfitted as they are to serve God or man: many they shall reclaim from obscure and giddy sects, many regain from dissolute and brutish licence, many from desperate hardness, if ever that were justly pleaded. They shall set free many daughters of Israel not wanting much of her sad plight whom " Satan had bound eighteen years." Man they shall restore to his just dignity and prerogative in nature, preferring the soul's free peace before the promiscuous draining of a carnal rage. Marriage, from a perilous hazard and snare, they shall reduce to be a more certain haven and retirement of happy society; when they shall judge arcording to God and Moses, (and how not then according to Christ,) when they shall judge it more wisdom and goodness to break that covenant seemingly, and keep it really, than by compulsion of law to keep it seemingly, and by compulsion of blameless nature to break it really, at least if it were ever truly joined. The vigour of discipline they may then turn with better success upon the prostitute looseness of the times, when men, finding in themselves the infirmities of former ages, shall not be constrained above the gift of God in them to unprofitable and impossible observ ances, never required from the civilest, the wisest, the holiest nations, whose other excellencies in moral virtue they never yet could equal. Last of all, to those whose mind is still to maintain textual restrictions, whereof the bare sound cannot consist sometimes with humanity, much less with charity; I would ever answer, by putting them in remembrance of a command above all commands, which they seem to have forgot, and who spake it: in comparison whereof, this which they so exalt is but a petty and subordinate precept. "Let them go" therefore with whom I am loth to couple them, yet they will needs run into the same blindness with the Pharisees; "let them go therefore," and consider well what this lesson means," I will have mercy and not sacrifice;" for on that "saying all the law and prophets depend," much more the gospel, whose end and excellence is mercy and peace. Or if they cannot learn that, how will they hear this? which yet I shall not doubt to leave with them as a conclusion, That God the Son hath put all other things under his own feet, but his commandments he bath left all under the feet of charity.




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TESTIMONIES OF THE HIGH APPROBATION WHICH LEARNED, France, and England. Whence the saying of Quin


Simon Grinaus, 1533.

AMONG all the Germans, I give the palm to Bucer, for excellence in the Scriptures. Melancthon in human learning is wonderous fluent; but greater knowledge in the Scripture I attribute to Bucer, and speak it unfeignedly.

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, much reading, and other many and various virtues, wherein he is almost by none now living excelled, hath few equals, and excels most; hath this praise peculiar to himself, that none in this age hath used exacter diligence in the exposition of Scripture.

And a little beneath.

Bucer is more large than to be read by overbusied men, and too high to be easily understood by unattentive men, and of a low capacity.

Sir John Cheek, Tutor to King Edward VI. 1551. We have lost our master, than whom the world saree held a greater, whether we consider his knowledge of true religion, or his integrity and innocence of life, or his incessant study of holy things, or his matchless labour of promoting piety, or his authority and amplitude of teaching, or whatever else was praise-worthy and glorious in him. Script. Anglican. pag. 864.

John Sturmius of Strasburgh. No man can be ignorant what a great and constant opinion and estimation of Bucer there is in Italy,

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, of 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 be separates probable reasons from necessary, how forcibly he confirms what he has to prove, how subtilely he refutes, not with sharpness but with truth.

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. Beza Icones.

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

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