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The Doctrine and Difcipline of Divorce.
him at last, through murmuring and despair, to thoughts of atheism? Neither doth it leffen the cause of separating, in that the one willingly allures him from the faith, the other perhaps unwillingly drives him; for in the account of God it comes all to one, that the wife looses him a fervant: and therefore by all the united force of the Decalogue fhe ought to be difbanded, unless we muft fet marriage above God and Charity, which is the doctrine of devils, no lefs than forbidding to marry.
That an idolatrous heretic ought to be divorced, after a convenient space given to hope of converfion. That place of 1 Cor. vii restored from a twofold erroneous expofition; and that the common expofitors flatly contradict the moral law.
AND here by the way, to illuftrate the whole question of divorce, ere this treatise end, I fhall not be loth to fpend a few lines in hope to give a full refolve of that which is yet fo much controverted; whether an idolatrous heretic ought to be divorced. To the refolving whereof we must first know, that the Jews were commanded to divorce an unbelieving Gentile for two causes: First, because all other nations, especially the Canaanites, were to them unclean. Secondly, to avoid feducement. That other nations were to the Jews impure, even to the feparating of marriage, will appear out of Exod. xxxiv, 16, Deut. vii, 3, 6, compared with Ezra ix, 2, also chap. x, 10, 11, Nehem. xiii, 30. This was the ground of that doubt raised among the Corinthians by fome of the circumcifion; whether an unbeliever were not ftill to be counted an unclean thing, fo as that they ought to divorce from fuch a perfon. This doubt of theirs St. Paul removes by an evangelical reafon, having refpect to that vifion of St. Peter, wherein the diftinction of clean and unclean being abolished, all living creatures were fanctified to a pure and Christian ufe, and mankind efpecially, now invited by a general call to the covenant of grace. Therefore faith St. Paul, "The unbelieving wife is fanctified by the, husband;". that is, made pure and lawful to his ufe, fo that he need not put her away for fear left her unbelief fhould defile
him; but that if he found her love ftill towards him, he might rather hope to win her. The fecond reason of that divorce was to avoid feducement, as is proved by comparing those two places of the law to that which Ezra and Nehemiah did by divine warrant in compelling the Jews to forego their wives. And this reason is moral and perpetual in the rule of Chriftian faith without evasion; therefore faith the apoftle, 2 Cor. vi, "Mifyoke not together with infidels," which is interpreted of marriage in the first place. And although the former legal pollution be now done off, yet there is a fpiritual contagion in idolatry as much to be fhunned; and though feducement were not to be feared, yet where there is no hope of converting, there always ought to be a certain religious averfation and abhorring, which can no way fort with marriage: Therefore faith St. Paul," What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteoufnefs? What communion hath light with darknefs? What concord hath Chrift with Belial? What part hath he that believeth with an infidel ?" And in the next verfe but one he moralizes, and makes us liable to that command of Ifaiah; "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye feparate, faith the Lord; touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive ye." And this command thus gofpellized to us, hath the fame force with that whereon Ezra grounded the pious neceffity of divorcing. Neither had he other commiffion for what he did, than fuch a general command in Deut. as this, nay not fo direct; for he is bid there not to marry, but not bid to divorce, and yet we fee with what a zeal and confidence he was the author of a general divorce between the faithful and the unfaithful feed. The gospel is more plainly on his fide, according to three of the Evangelifts, than the words of the law; for where the case of divorce is handled with fuch severity, as was fitteft to aggravate the fault of unbounded licence; yet ftill in the fame chapter, when it comes. into question afterwards, whether any civil refpect, or natural relation which is deareft, may be our plea to divide, or hinder or but delay our duty to religion, we hear it determined that father, and mother, and wife alfo,
is not onlyto be hated, but forfaken, if we mean to inherit the great reward there promised. Nor will it fuffice to be put off by saying we must forfake them only by not confenting or not complying with them, for that were to be done, and roundly too, though being of the fame faith, they should but feek out of a fleshly tenderness to weaken our Chriftian fortitude with worldly perfuafions, or but to unfettle our conftancy with timorous and foftening fuggeftions; as we may read with what a vehemence Job, the patienteft of men, rejected the desperate counfels of his wife; and Mofes, the meekeft, being thoroughly offended with the prophane fpeeches of Zippora, fent her back to her father. But if they fhall perpetually, at our elbow, feduce us from the true worthip of God, or defile and daily fcandalize our confcience by their hopeless continuance in misbelief; then even in the due progrefs of reason, and that ever equal proportion which juftice proceeds by, it cannot be imagined that this cited place commands lefs than a total and final feparation from fuch an adherent; at least that no force fhould be used to keep them together: while we remember that God commanded Abraham to fend away his irreligious wife and her fon for the offences which they gave in a pious family. And it may be gueffed that David for the like caufe difposed of Michal in fuch a fort, as little differed from a difmiffion. Therefore againft reiterated fcandals and feducements, which never cease, much more can no other remedy or retirement be found but abfolute departure. For what kind of matrimony can that remain to be, what one duty between fuch can be performed as it fhould be from the heart, when their thoughts and fpirits fly afunder as far as Heaven from Hell; efpecially if the time that Hope fhould fend forth her expected bloffoms, be past in vain? It will eafily be true, that a father or a brother may be hated zcaloufly, and loved civilly or naturally; for those duties may be performed at diftance, and do admit of any long abfence: but how the peace and perpetual cohabitation of marriage can be kept, how that benevolent and intimate communion of body can be held with one that must be hated with a moft operative
hatred, must be forfaken and yet continually dwelt with and accompanied; he who can diftinguish, hath the gift of an affection very oddly divided and contrived: while others both juft and wife, and Solomon among the reft, if they may not hate and forfake as Mofes enjoins, and the gofpel imports, will find it impoffible not to love otherwise than will fort with the love of God, whofe jealoufy brooks no corrival. And whether is more likely, that Chrift bidding to forfake wife for religion, meant it by divorce as Mofes meant it, whofe law, grounded on moral reason, was both his office and his effence to maintain; or that he should bring a new morality into religion, not only new, but contrary to an unchangeable command, and dangerously derogating from our love and worship of God? As if when Mofes had bid divorce abfolutely, and Chrift had faid, hate and forfake, and his Apostle had faid, no communication with Chrift and Belial; yet that Chrift after all this could be underftood to fay, divorce not, no not for religion, feduce, or feduce not. What mighty and invisible remora is this in matrimony, able to demur and to contemn all the divorcive engines in Heaven or earth! both which may now pafs away, if this be true, for more than many jots or tittles, a whole moral law is abolished. But if we dare believe it is not, then in the method of religion, and to fave the honour and dignity of our faith, we are to retreat and gather up ourselves from the obfervance of an inferior and civil ordinance, to the ftrict maintaining of a general and religious command, which is written, "Thou shalt make no covenant with them," Deut. vii, 2, 3 : and that covenant which cannot be lawfully made, we have directions and examples lawfully to diffolve. Alfo 2 Chron. ii, 19, "Shouldeft thou love them that hate the Lord ?" No, doubtlefs: for there is a certain scale of duties, there is a certain hierarchy of upper and lower commands, which for want of ftudying in right order, all the world is in confufion.
Upon these principles I answer, that a right believer ought to divorce an idolatrous heretic, unless upon better hopes: however, that it is in the believer's choice to divorce or not.
The former part will be manifeft thus firft, that an
apoftate idolater, whether husband or wife feducing,' was to die by the decree of God, Deut. xiii, 6, 9; that marriage: therefore God himself disjoins : for others born idolaters, the moral reason of their dangerous keeping, and the incommunicable antagony that is between Chrift and Belial, will be fufficient to enforce the commandment of those two inspired reformers Ezra and Nehemiah, to put an idolater away as well under the gospel.
The latter part, that although there be no feducement feared, yet if there be no hope given, the divorce is lawful, will appear by this; that idolatrous marriage is still hateful to God, therefore ftill it may be divorced by the pattern of that warrant that Ezra had, and by the fame everlasting reafon Neither can any man give an account wherefore, if those whom God joins no man can separate, it should not follow, that whom he joins not, but hates to join, those men ought to feparate. But faith the lawyer, "That which ought not to have been done, once done, avails.” I answer, "this is but a crotchet of the law, but that brought against it is plain Scripture." As for what Chrift spake concerning divorce, it is confeffed by all knowing men, he meant only between them of the fame faith. But what fhall we fay then to St. Paul, who seems to bid us not divorce an infidel willing to ftay? We may safely fay thus, that wrong collections have been hitherto made out of those words by modern divines. His drift, as was heard before, is plain; not to command our stay in marriage with an infidel, that had been a flat renouncing of the religious and moral law; but to inform the Corinthians, that the body of an unbeliever was not defiling, if his defire to live in Chriftian wedlock fhowed any likelihood that his heart was opening to the faith; and therefore advises to forbear departure fo long till nothing have been neglected to fet forward a converfion: this I say he advises, and that with certain cautions, not commands, if we can take up fo much credit for him, as to get him believed upon his own word: for what is this elfe but his counfel in a thing indifferent, "to the reft fpeak I, not the Lord?" for though it be true, that the Lord never spake it, yet from St. Paul's mouth we should have took it as a command, had not himself forewarned us, and difclaimed;