Page images

punge from the Mosaic law any enactment which could afford scope for the exercise of mercy towards the wretched and afflicted, or that his declaration on the present occasion was intended to have the force of a judicial decree, ordaining new and severer regulations on the subject; but that having exposed the abuses of the law, he proceeded after his usual manner to lay down a more perfect rule of conduct, disclaiming on this, as on all other occasions, the office of a judge, and inculcating truth by simple admonition, not by compulsory decrees. It is therefore a most flagrant error to convert a gospel precept into a civil statute, and enforce it by legal penalties.

It may perhaps be asked, if the disciples understood Christ as promulgating nothing new or more severe than the existing law on the subject of divorce, how it happened that they were so little satisfied with his explanation, as to say, v. 10. "if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry?" I answer, that it is no wonder if the disciples, who had imbibed the doctrines of their time, thought and felt like the Pharisees with regard to divorce; so that the declaration of our Lord, that it was not lawful to put away a wife for every cause, only having given her a writing of divorcement, must have appeared to them a new and hard saying.3

The whole argument may be summed up in brief as follows. It is universally admitted that marriage may lawfully be dissolved, if the prime end and form of the institu

3 But if it be thought that the disciples, offended at the rigour of Christ's answer, could yet obtain no mitigation of the former sentence pronounced to the Pharisees, it may be fully answered, that our Saviour continues the same reply to his disciples, as men leavened with the same customary license which the Pharisees maintained, and displeased at the removing of a traditional abuse, whereto they had so long not unwillingly been used.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 236. Some may think, if this our Saviour's sentence be so fair, as not commanding aught that patience or nature cannot brook, why then did the disciples murmur and say, it is not good to marry? I answer, that the disciples had been longer bred up under the Pharisæan doctrine, than under that of Christ, and so no marvel though they yet retained the infection of loving old licentious customs; no marvel though they thought it hard they might not for any offence, that thoroughly angered them, divorce a wife, as well as put away a servant, since it was but giving her a bill, as they were taught.' Tetrachordon, III. 401.

tion be violated; which is generally alleged as the reason why Christ allowed divorce in cases of adultery only. (But the prime end and form of marriage, as almost all acknowledge, is not the nuptial bed, but conjugal love, and mutual assistance through life; for that must be regarded as the prime end and form of a rite, which is alone specified in the original institution.* Mention is there made of the pleasures of society, which are incompatible with the isolation consequent upon aversion, and of conjugal assistance, which is afforded by love alone; not of the nuptial bed, or of the production of offspring, which may take place even without love: from whence it is evident that conjugal affection is of more importance and higher excellence than the nuptial bed itself, and more worthy to be considered as the prime end and form of the institution. No one can surely be so base and sensual as to deny this. The very cause which renders the pollution of the marriage bed so heavy a calamity, is, that in its consequences it interrupts peace and affection; much more therefore must the perpetual interruption of peace and affection by mutual differences and unkindness be a sufficient reason for granting the liberty of divorce. And that it is such, Christ himself declares in the above passage; for it is certain, and has been proved already, that fornication signifies, not so much adultery, as the constant enmity, faithlessness, and disobedience of the wife, arising from the manifest and palpable alienation of the mind, rather than of the body. Not to mention, that the common, though false interpretation, by which adultery is made the sole ground of divorce, so far from vindicating the law, does in effect abrogate it; for it was ordained by the law of Moses, not that an adulteress should be put away, but that she should be brought to judgment, and punished with death."


4 For although God in the first ordaining of marriage taught us to what end he did it, in words expressly implying the apt and cheerful conversation of man with woman, to comfort and refresh him against the evil of solitary life, not mentioning the purpose of generation till afterwards, as being but a secondary end in dignity, though not in necessity,' &c. Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. Prose Works, III. 181.


5 Thus much that the word fornication is to be understood as the language of Christ understands it, for a constant alienation and disaffection of mind, or for the continual practice of disobedience and crossness from the duties of love and peace.' Tetrachordon, III. 397.


And also that there was no need our Saviour should grant divorce for adultery, it being death by law, and law then in force.' Ibid. 396.



THE Providence of God as regards the fall of man, is observable in the sin of man, and the misery consequent upon it, as well as in his restoration.

SIN, as defined by the apostle, is dvouía, or the transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4.

By the law is here meant, in the first place, that rule of conscience which is innate, and engraven upon the mind of man; secondly, the special command which proceeded out of the mouth of God, (for the law written by Moses was long subsequent) Gen. ii. 17. "thou shalt not eat of it." Hence it is said, Rom. ii. 12. "as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law."





OUR FIRST PARENTS. Gen. iii. 6. "the woman took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Hence 1 Tim. ii. 14. 66 Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression." This sin originated, first, in the instigation of the devil, as is clear from the narrative in Gen. iii. and from 1 John iii. 8. "he that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning." Secondly, in the liability to fall with which man was created,' whereby he, as the

7 That which is thus moral, besides what we fetch from those unwritten laws and ideas which nature hath engraven in us-.' Reason of Church Government urged against Prelaty. Prose Works, II. 450. Paradise Lost, III. 290.

8 His crime makes guilty all his sons.
in me all

[blocks in formation]


devil had done before him, "abode not in the truth,” John viii. 44. "nor kept his first estate, but left his own habitation,' Jude 6. If the circumstances of this crime are duly considered, it will be acknowledged to have been a most heinous offence, and a transgression of the whole law. For what sin can be named, which was not included in this one act? It comprehended at once distrust in the divine veracity, and a proportionate credulity in the assurances of Satan; unbelief; ingratitude; disobedience; gluttony; in the man excessive uxoriousness, in the woman a want of proper regard for her husband, in both an insensibility to the welfare of their offspring, and that offspring the whole human race; parricide, theft, invasion of the rights of others, sacrilege, deceit, presumption in aspiring to divine attributes, fraud in the means employed to attain the object, pride, and arrogance.2 Whence it is said, Eccles. vii. 29. "God hath made man


Left to his own free will, his will though free,

Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware
He swerve not, too secure.
God made thee perfect, not immutable.

Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve.'
ungovern'd appetite....
.....a brutish vice,

Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.

XI. 517.

'If our first parents, Adam and Eve, (Gen. iii. 6.) had not obeyed their greedy appetite in eating the forbidden fruit, neither had they lost the fruition of God's benefits which they then enjoyed in Paradise, neither had they brought so many mischiefs on themselves, and on all their posterity. But when they passed the bounds that God had appointed them, as unworthy of God's benefits, they are expelled and driven out of Paradise; they may no longer eat the fruits of that garden, which by excess they had so much abused.' Homily Against Gluttony.


.. ......

Paradise Lost, V. 236.

Ibid. 324.
IX. 359.

they not obeying

Incurr'd (what could they less?) the penalty, And, manifold in sin, deserv'd to fall. Paradise Lost, X. 14. Newton has the following note on these lines. The divines, especially those of Milton's communion, reckon up several sins as included in this one act of eating the forbidden fruit; namely, pride, uxoriousness, wicked curiosity, infidelity, disobedience, &c. so that for such complicated guilt, he deserved to fall from his happy state in Paradise.' He says again, on the first appearance of Adam and Eve before God after their fall

Love was not in their looks, either to God,
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger and obstinacy and hate, and guile.

Ibid. III. See also ix. 6---8.

upright, but they have sought out many inventions." James ii. 10. "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

AND IN THEM ALL THEIR POSTERITY; for even such as were not then born are judged and condemned in them, Gen. iii. 16, &c. so that without doubt they also sinned in them, and at the same time with them. Rom. v. 12. " by one man sin entered into the world." v. 15. "through the offence of one many be dead ;" and v. 16. "the judgment was by one to condemnation;" v. 17. "by one man's offence death reigned by one;" and v. 18. "by the offence of one man judgment came upon all men to condemnation ;" and v. 19. "by one man's disobedience many were made sinners." 1 Cor. xv. 22. "in Adam all die;" undoubtedly therefore all sinned in Adam. For Adam being the common parent and head of all, it follows that, as in the covenant, that is, in receiving the commandment of God, so also in the defection from God, he either stood or fell for the whole human race; in the same manner as "Levi also payed tithes in Abraham, whilst he was yet in the loins of his father," Heb. vii. 9, 10. "he hath made of one blood all nations of men," Acts xvii. 26. For if all did not sin in Adam, why has the condition of all become worse since his fall? Some of the modern commentators reply, that the deterioration was not moral, but physical. To which I answer, that it

Milton may perhaps have remembered the following lines of Du Bartas.

Now Adam's fault was not indeed so light
As seems to reason's sin-blear'd owlie sight;
But 'twas a chain where all the greatest sins
Were one in other linked fast, as twins:
Ingratitude, pride, treason, gluttony,
Too curious skill-thirst, envie, felony,
Too-light, too-late belief, were the sweet baits

That made him wander from Heav'n's holy straights.—p. 93.

3 These do also think that the threatening made to Adam, that upon his eating the forbidden fruit he should surely die, is to be taken literally, and is to be carried no further than to a natural death.. All this these divines apprehend is conceivable, and no more; therefore they put original sin in this only, for which they pretend they have all the Fathers with them before St. Austin, and particularly St. Chrysostom and Theodoret, from whom all the later Greeks have done little more than copied out their words.' Burnet On the Ninth Article. The view taken

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »