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tence if you please, that the frivolous canon may reverse the infallible judgment of Mofes and his great director. Or if it be the reformed writers, whofe doctrine perfuades this rather, their reafons I dare affirm are all filenced, 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 amerfed with fine and imprifonment. I am not willing to difcover the forgettings of reverend men, yet here I muft: what article or claufe of the whole new covenant can Paræus bring, to exafperate the judicial law upon any infirmity under the gospel? 1 fay infirmity, for if it were the high hand of fin, the law as little would have endured it as the gospel; it would not ftretch to the dividing of an inheritance it refused to condemn adultery, not that these things fhould not be done at law, but to fhew that the gospel hath not the leaft influence upon judicial courts, much lefs to make them sharper and more heavy, leaft of all to arraign before a temporal judge that which the law without fummons acquitted. But,' faith he; the law was the time of youth, under violent affections; the gospel in us is mature age, and ought to fubdue affections.' True, and so ought the law too, if they be found inordinate, and not merely natural and blameless. Next I diftinguish, that the time of the law is compared to youth and pupilage in refpect of the ceremonial part, which led the Jews as children through corporal and garish rudiments, until the fulness of time fhould reveal to them the higher leffons of faith and redemption. This is not meant of the moral part, therein it foberly concerned them not to be babies, but to be men in good earnest: the fad and awful majefty of that law was not to be jested with: to bring a bearded nonage with lafcivious difpenfations before that throne, had been a lewd affront, as it is now a grofs mistake. But what difcipline is this, Paræus, to nourish violent affections in youth, by cockering and wanton indulgencies, and to chaftife them in mature age with a boyish rod of correction? How much more coherent is it to Scripture, that the law as a ftrict fchoolmafter fhould have punished every trefpafs without indulgence fo baneful to youth, and that the gofpel fhould now cor
ret that by admonition and reproof only, in free and mature age, which was punished with ftripes in the childhood and bondage of the law? What therefore it allowed then fo fairly, much lefs is to be whipped now, efpecially in penal courts: and if it ought now to trouble the confcience, why did that angry accufer and condemner law reprieve it? So then, neither from Mofes nor from Chrift hath the magiftrate any authority to proceed against it. But what, fhall then the difpofal of that power return again to the mafter of a family? Wherefore not, fince God there put it, and the prefumptuous canon thence bereft it? This only must be provided, that the ancient manner be obferved in the prefence of the minifter and other grave felected elders, who after they fhall have admonished and preffed upon him the words of our Saviour, and he fhall have protested in the faith of the eternal gofpel, and the hope he has of happy refurrection, that otherwife than thus he cannot do, and thinks himself and this his cafe not contained in that prohibition of divorce which Chrift pronounced, the matter not being of malice, but of nature, and fo not capable of reconciling; to conftrain him further were to unchriften 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 effence of the gofpel; and yet nothing available either to the fanctity of marriage, the good of husband, wife, or children, nothing profitable either to church or commonwealth, but hurtful and pernicious in all thefe refpects. But this will bring in confufion: yet these cautious miftrufters might confider, that what they thus object lights not upon this book, but upon that which I engage against them, the book of God and Mofes, with all the wisdom and providence which had forecaft the worst of confufion that could fucceed, and yet thought fit of fuch a permiffion. But let them be of good cheer, it wrought fo little diforder among the Jews, that from Mofes 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 againft keeping ftrange concubines, to the vexation of their Hebrew wives. If therefore we Chriftians may be thought
as good and tractable as the Jews were, (and certainly the prohibitors of divorce prefume us to be better,) then lefs confufion is to be feared for this among us than was among them. If we be worfe, 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 fay) under a harsher covenant. Let not therefore the frailty of man go on thus inventing needless troubles to itself, to groan under the falfe imagination of a strictness never impofed from above; enjoining that for duty, which is an impoffible and vain fupererogating. 'Be not righteous overmuch,' is the counsel of Ecclefiaftes; why shouldst thou destroy thyfelf?' Let us not be thus overcurious to ftrain at atoms, and yet to ftop every vent and cranny of permiffive liberty, left nature wanting those needful pores and breathing-places, which God hath not debarred our weakness, either fuddenly break out into fome wide rupture of open vice and frantic heresy, or else inwardly fefter with repining and blafphemous thoughts, under an unreasonable and fruitlefs rigour of unwarranted law. Against which evils nothing can more beseem the religion of the church, or the wifdom of the state, than to confider timely and provide. And in fo doing let them not doubt but they fhall vindicate the mifreputed honour of God and his great lawgiver, by fuffering him to give his own laws according to the condition of man's nature best known to him, without the unfufferable imputation of difpenfing legally with many ages of ratified adultery. They thall recover the mifattended words of Chrift to the fincerity of their true sense from manifold contradictions, and fhall open them with the key of charity. Many helpless Chriftians they fhall raife from the depth of fadness and diftrefs, utterly unfitted as they are to ferve God or man: many they fhall reclaim from obfcure and giddy fects, many regain from diffolute and brutish licence, many from defperate hardness, if ever that were justly pleaded. They fhall fet free many daughters of Israel, not wanting much of her fad plight whom Satan had bound eighteen years.' Man they fhall reftore to his just dignity and prerogative in nature, preferring the foul's
free peace before the promifcuous draining of a carnal rage. Marriage, from a perilous hazard and fnare, they fhall reduce to be a more certain haven and retirement of happy fociety; when they fhall judge according to God and Mofes (and how not then according to Chrift) when they fhall judge it more wifdom and goodness to break that covenant seemingly, and keep it really, than by compulfion of law to keep it seemingly, and by compulfion of blameless nature to break it really, at least if it were ever truly joined. The vigour of difcipline they may then turn with better fuccefs upon the proftitute loosenefs of the times, when men, finding in themselves the infirmities of former ages, fhall not be constrained above the gift of God in them to unprofitable and impoffible obfervances, never required from the civileft, the wifeft, the holiest nations, whofe other excellencies in moral virtue they never yet could equal. Laft of all, to those whose mind is ftill to maintain textual reftrictions, whereof the bare found cannot confift fometimes with humanity, much lefs with charity; I would ever answer, by putting them in remembrance of a command above all commands, which they feem to have forgot, and who fpake it: in comparison whereof, this which they fo exalt is but a petty and fubordinate precept. 'Let them go' therefore with whom I am loth to couple them, yet they will needs run into the fame blindness with the Pharifees; 'let them go therefore,' and confider well what this leffon means, 'I will have mercy and not facrifice;' for on that 'faying all the law and prophets depend,' much more the gofpel, whofe 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 conclufion, That God the Son hath put all other things under his own feet, but his commandments he hath left all under the feet of charity.
THE JUDGMENT OF MARTIN BUCER,
Written to Edward the Sixth, in his Second Book of the Kingdom of Christ: and now englished.
WHEREIN A LATE BOOK,
Reftoring the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,' is here confirmed and juftified by the authority of MARTIN BUCER.
TO THE PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND,
John iii, 10: Art thou a Teacher of Ifrael, and knoweft not these things ?* PUBLISHED BY AUTHORITY.
Teftimonies of the high approbation which learned men have given of MARTIN BUCER.
Simon Grinæus, 1533.
AMONG all the Germans, I give the palm to Bucer, for excellence in the fcriptures. Melancthon in human learning is wonderous fluent; but greater knowledge in the fcripture I attribute to Bucer, and speak it unfeignedly.
John Calvin, 1539.
Martin Bucer, a most faithful doctor of the church of Chrift, befides his rare learning, and copious knowledge of many things, befides his clearness of wit, much reading, and other many and various virtues, wherein he is almoft by none now living excelled, hath few equals, and excells moft; hath this praise peculiar to himself, that none in this age hath used exacter diligence in the expofition of fcripture.
And a little beneath.
Bucer is more large than to be read by overbufied men, and too high to be eafily understood by unattentive men, and of a low capacity.