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is honourable ;* he has not made provision for unnatural and monstrous associations, pregnant only with dishonour, with misery, with hatred, and with calamity. It is not God who forms such unions, but violence, or rashness, or error, or the influence of some evil genius.5 Why then should it be unlawful to deliver ourselves from so pressing an intestine evil?" Further, our doctrine does not separate those whom God has joined together in the spirit of his sacred institution, but only those whom God has himself separated by the authority of his equally sacred law; an authority which ought to have the same force with us now, as with his people of old. As to Christian perfection, the promotion of which is urged by some as an argument for the indissolubility of marriage, that perfection is not to be forced upon us by compulsion and penal laws, but must be produced, if at all, by exhortation and Christian admonition. Then only can man be properly
4 Lastly, Christ himself tells who should not be put asunder, namely, those whom God hath joined. A plain solution of this great controversy, if men would but use their eyes; for when is it that God may be said to join?......only then when the minds are fitly disposed and enabled to maintain a cheerful conversation, to the solace and love of each other, according as God intended and promised in the very first foundation of matrimony: "I will make him a help meet for him;" for surely what God intended and promised, that only can be thought to be his joining, and not the contrary.' Doctrine, &c. III. 250. 'But here the Christian prudence lies, to consider what God hath joined; shall we say that God hath joined error, fraud, unfitness, wrath, contention, perpetual loneliness, perpetual discord; whatever lust, or wine, or witchery, threat or enticement, avarice or ambition hath joined together, faithful and unfaithful, christian and anti-christian, hate with hate, or hate with love, shall we say this is God's joining?' Tetrachordon, Prose Works, III. 376.
5It is error or some evil angel which either blindly or maliciously hath drawn together, in two persons ill embarked in wedlock, the sleeping discords and enmities of nature.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 207.
The rest whom either disproportion or deadness of spirit, or something distasteful or averse in the immutable bent of nature renders conjugal, error may have joined, but God never joined against the meaning of his own ordinance.' Ibid. 250. Charity and wisdom disjoins that which not God, but error and disaster joined.' Tetrachordon, Ibid. 400.
6 Once join'd, the contrary she proves, a thorn
Samson Agonistes, 1036.
7 'God delights not to make a drudge of virtue, whose actions must be all elective and unconstrained. Forced virtue is as a bolt overshot, it goes neither forward nor backward, and does no good as it stands.' Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Prose Works, III. 261.
said to dissolve a marriage lawfully contracted, when, adding to the divine ordinance what the ordinance itself does not contain, he separates, under pretence of religion, whomsoever it suits his purpose. For it ought to be remembered that God in his just, and pure, and holy law, has not only permitted divorce on a variety of grounds, but has even ratified it in some cases, and enjoined it in others, under the severest penalties, Exod. xxi. 4. 10, 11. Deut. xxi. 14. xxiv. 1. Ezra x. 3. Nehem. xiii. 23, 30.
But this, it is objected, was "because of the hardness of their hearts," Matt. xix. 8.8 I reply, that these words of Christ, though a very appropriate answer to the Pharisees who tempted him, were never meant as a general explanation of the question of divorce. His intention was, as usual, to repress the arrogance of the Pharisees, and elude their snares; for his answer was only addressed to those who taught from Deut. xxiv. 1. that it was lawful to put away a wife for any cause whatever, provided a bill of divorcement were given. This is evident from the former part of the same chapter, v. 3. "is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" not for the sole reason allowed by Moses, namely, if "some uncleanness were found in her," which might convert love into hatred; but because it had become a common practice to give bills of divorce, under the pretence of uncleanness, without just cause; an abuse which, since the law was unable to restrain it, he thought it advisable to tolerate, notwithstanding the hardness of heart which it implied,' rather than to prevent the dissolution of unfortu
8 See Selden's Uxor Hebræa, Michaelis On the Laws of Moses, Book iii. Chap. VII. and Paley's Moral Philosophy, Book iii. Part 3. Chap. VII. where Milton's opinions on the subject are specially alluded to; Lightfoot's Works, II. 115-121.
9The occasion which induced our Saviour to speak of divorce, was either to convince the extravagance of the Pharisees in that point, or to give a sharp and vehement answer to a tempting question.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 215.
1Now that many licentious and hard-hearted men took hold of this law to cloke their bad purposes, is nothing strange to believe, and these were they, not for whom Moses made the law, (God forbid) but whose hardness of heart taking ill advantage of this law, he held it better to suffer as by accident, where it could not be detected, rather than good men should lose their just and lawful privilege of remedy Christ there
nate marriages, considering that the balance of earthly happiness or misery rested principally on this institution.2
For, if we examine the several causes of divorce enumerated in the law, we shall find that wherever divorce was permitted, it was not in compliance with the hardness of the human heart, but on grounds of the highest equity and justice. The first passage is Exod. xxi. 1-4. "these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them: if thou buy an Hebrew servant. . . . in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing. . . . if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him if his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself." Nothing could be more just than this law, which, so far from conceding anything to the hardness of their hearts, rather restrained it; inasmuch as, while it provided against the possibility of any Hebrew, at whatever price he might have been purchased, remaining more than seven years in bondage, it at the same time -established the claim of the master as prior to that of the husband. Again, v. 10, 11. "if he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall he not diminish and if he do not these three unto her, then shall
fore having to answer these tempting Pharisees, according as his custom was, not meaning to inform their proud ignorance what Moses did in the true intent of the law, which they had ill-cited, suppressing the true cause for which Moses gave it, and extending it to every slight matter, tells them their own, what Moses was forced to suffer by their abuse of his law.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 233. See also p. 253. 'Moses had granted-contentious cause whatsoever.' Again: This was that hardness of heart, and abuse of a good law, which Moses was content to suffer, rather than good men should not have it at all to use needfully." Ibid. p. 260. '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?" Colasterion. Prose Works, III. 444.
2 Quandoquidem in iis tantum vitæ momentum vel beatæ vel miseræ positum esse judicavit ; an expression which will be best illustrated by the author himself;
.each on himself relied, As only in his arm the moment lay Of victory.
Paradise Lost, VI. 237.
she go out free without money. This law is remarkable for its consummate humanity and equity; for while it does not permit the husband to put away his wife through the mere hardness of his heart, it allows the wife to leave her husband on the most reasonable of all grounds, that of inhumanity and unkindness. Again, Deut. xxi. 13, 14. it was permitted by the right of war, both to take a female captive to wife, and to divorce her afterwards; but it was not conceded to the hardness of their hearts, that she should be subsequently sold, or that the master should derive any profit from the possession of her person as a slave.3
The third passage is Deut. xxiv. 1. "when a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her, then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house." There is no room here for the charge of hardness of heart, supposing the cause alleged to be true, and not a fictitious one. For since, as is evident from the institution itself, God gave a wife to man at the beginning to the intent that she should be his help and solace and delight, if, as often happens, she should eventually prove to be rather a source of sorrow, of disgrace, of ruin, of torment, of calamity, why should we think that we are displeasing God by divorcing such a one?" I should attribute hardness of heart rather to him who retained her, than to him who sent her away under such circumstances; and not I alone, but Solomon himself, or rather the Spirit of God himself speaking by the mouth of Solomon;5 Prov. xxx. 21, 23. "for three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear; for an odious woman when she is marriedOn the contrary, Eccles. ix. 9." live joyfully with the wife whom
3 Lastly, it gives place to the right of war, for a captive woman, lawfully married, and afterwards not beloved, might be dismissed, only without ransom; Deut. xxi.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 357.
4 Cleave to a wife, but let her be a wife, let her be a meet help, a solace, not a nothing, not an adversary, not a desertrice; can any law or command be so unreasonable, as to make men cleave to calamity, to ruin, to perdition?' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 339.
This law the Spirit of God by the mouth of Solomon, Prov. xxx. 21, 23. testifies to be a good and necessary law, by granting that a hated woman (for so the Hebrew word signifies rather than odious, though it come all to one) that a hated woman, when she is married, is a thing that the earth cannot bear.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 233.
thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee;" the wife therefore "which he hath given thee" is she "whom thou lovest," not she whom thou hatest: and thus Mal. ii. 16. " whoever hateth," or, "because he hateth, let him dismiss her," as all before Junius explain the passage. God therefore appears to have enacted this law by the mouth of Moses, and reiterated it by that of the prophet, with the view, not of giving scope to the hard-heartedness of the husband, but of rescuing the unhappy wife from its influence wherever the case required it. For there is no hard-heartedness in dismissing honourably and freely her whose own fault it is that she is not loved. That one who is not beloved, who is, on the contrary, deservedly neglected, and an object of dislike and hatred; that a wife thus situated should be retained, in pursuance of a most vexatious law, under a yoke of the heaviest slavery (for such is marriage without love) to one who entertains for her neither attachment nor friendship, would indeed be a hardship more cruel than any divorce whatever."
6 If Solomon's advice be not overfrolic, live joyfully, saith he, with the wife whom thou lovest, all thy days, for that is thy portion. Yea, God himself commands us in his law more than once, and by his prophet Malachi, as Calvin and the best translations read, that he who hates, let him divorce, that is, he who cannot love.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 195. 'Although this place also hath been tampered with, as if it were to be thus rendered-The Lord God saith, that he hateth putting away. But this new interpretation rests only on the authority of Junius; for neither Calvin, nor Vatablus himself, nor any other known divine so interpreted before,' &c. Tetrachordon, III. 348. Sibi odio esse dimissionem ait Jehova Deus Israelis. Junius. Si odio habueris, dimitte, ait Dominus Deus Israelis. Lat. Vulg. It appears from Poole's Synopsis that the version of Piscator is the only one which agrees with Junius.
7. To retain still, and not be able to love, is to heap up more injury.' Doctrine, &c. of Divorce. Prose Works, III. 193. And again-' not to be beloved, and yet retained, is the greatest injury to a gentle spirit.'-Ibid. 'Not he who after sober and cool experience, and long debate with himself, puts away whom, though he cannot love or suffer as a wife with that sincere affection that marriage requires, yet loves at least with that civility and goodness, as not to keep her under a neglected and unwelcome residence, when nothing can be hearty, and not being, it must be both unjoyous and injurious to any perceiving person so detained, and more injurious than to be freely and upon good terms dismissed.' Tetrachordon, III. 393. Upon utter dislike the husband divorces: which liberty no doubt they received first into their religion from the Greek church, and the imperial laws.' Description of Moscovia, Chap. I. For the imperial laws on this subject, see Tetrachordon, III. 420.