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lar act of consent which made the contract, for that may remain, and yet the marriage not true 'nor lawful; and that may cease, and yet the marriage both true and lawful, to their sin that break it. So that either as no efficient at all, or but a transitory, it comes not into the definition. That consent I mean, which is a love fitly disposed to mutual help and comfort of life : this is that happy Form of Marriage naturally arising from the very heart of divine institution in the text, in all the former definitions either obscurely, and under mistaken terms expressed, or not at all. This gives marriage all her due, all her benefits, all her being, all her distinct and proper being. This makes a marriage not a bondage, a blessing not a curse, a gift of God not a snare. Unless there be a love, and that love born of fitness, how can it last? unless it last, how can the best and sweetest purposes of marriage be attained? And they not attained, which are the chief ends, and with a lawful love constitute the formal cause itself of marriage, how can the essence thereof subsist ? How can it be indeed what it goes for ? Conclude therefore by all the power of reason, that where this essence of marriage is not, there can be no true marriage; and the parties, either one of them or both, are free, and without fault, rather by a nullity than by a divorce, may betake them to a second choice, if their present condition be not tolerable to them. If any shall ask, why 66 domestic” in the definition? I answer, that because both in the scriptures, and in the gravest poets and philosophers, I find the properties and excellencies of a wife set out only from domestic virtues; if they extend further, it diffuses them into the notion of some more common duty than matrimonial.
Thus far of the definition, the consectary which flows from thence, altogether depends thereon, is mani
festly brought in by this connexive particle" therefore;" and branches itself into a double consequence; First individual society, " therefore shall a man leave father and mother:" Secondly, conjugal benevolence," and they shall be one flesh.” Which, as was shown, is not without cause here mentioned, to prevent and to abolish the suspect of pollution in that natural and undefiled act. These consequences therefore cannot either in religion, law, or reason, be bound, and posted upon mankind to his sorrow and misery, but receive what force they have from the meetness of help and solace, which is the formal cause and end of that definition that sustains them.
[But] it will be requisite to heap reason upon reason, and all little enough to vindicate the whiteness and the innocence of this divine law, from the calumny it finds at this day, of being a door to licence and confusion. ***
If marriage be but an ordained relation, as it seems not more, it cannot take place above the prime dictates of nature : and if it be of natural right, yet it must yield to that which is more natural, and before it by eldership and precedence in nature. Now it is not natural, that Hugh marries Beatrice, or Thomas Rebecca, being only a civil contract, and full of many chances ; but that these men seek them meet helps, that only is natural; and that they espouse them such, that only is marriage. But if they find them neither fit helps nor tolerable society, what thing more natural, more original, and first in nature, than to depart from that which is irksome, grievous, actively hateful, and injurious even to hostility, especially in a conjugal respect, wherein antipathies are invincible, and where the forced abiding of the one can be no true good, no real comfort to the other ? ****
Can any thing be more absurd and barbarous, than that they whom only error, casualty, art, or plot, hath joined, should be compelled, not against a sudden passion, but against the permanent and radical discords of nature, to the most intimate and incorporating duties of love and embracement, therein only rational and human, as they are free and voluntary ? ****
Secondly, It is unjust that any ordinance, ordained to the good and comfort of man, where that end is missing, without his fault, should be forced upon him to an unsufferable inisery and discomfort, if not commonly ruin. All ordinances are established in their end; the end of law is the virtue, is the righteousness of law : and therefore him we count an ill expounder, who urges law against the intention thereof. The general end of every ordinance, of every severest, every divinest, even of Sabbath, is the good of man; yea his temporal good not excluded. But marriage is one of the benignest ordinances of God to man, whereof both the general and particular end is the peace and contentment of man's mind, as the institution declares. Contentment of body they grant, which if it be defrauded, the plea of frigidity shall divorce: but here lies the fathomless absurdity, that granting this for bodily defect, they will not grant it for any defect of the mind, any violation of religious or civil society. ***
Thirdly, As no ordinance, so no covenant, no not between God and man, much less between man and man, being, as all are, intended to the good of both parties, can hold to the deluding or making miserable of them both. For equity is understood in every covenant, even between enemies, though the terms be not expressed, If equity therefore made it, extremity may dissolve it. *** Marriage also is called “the covenant of God,' Prov. ii. 17.** [But] this denomination adds nothing
to the covenant of marriage, above any other civil and solemn contract: nor is it more indissoluble for this reason than any other against the end of its own ordination; nor is any vow or oath to God exacted with such a rigour, where superstition reigns not.
For look how much divine the covenant is, so much the more equal, so much the more to be expected that every article thereof should be fairly made good ; no false dealing or unperforming should be thrust upon men without redress, if the covenant be so divine. But faith, they say, must be kept in covenant, though to our damage. I answer, that only holds true, where the other side performs; which failing, he is no longer bound. Again, this is true, when the keeping of faith can be of any use or benefit to the other. But in marriage, a league of love and willingness, if faith be not willingly kept, it scarce is worth the keeping; nor can be any delight to a generous mind, with whom it is forcibly kept. ** To keep it formally, not only with a thousand shifts and dissimulations, but with open anguish, perpetual sadness and disturbance, no willingness, no cheerfulness, no contentment; cannot be any good to a mind not basely poor and shallow. A covenant therefore brought to that pass, is on the unfaulty side without injury dissolved.
Fourthly, The law is not to neglect men under greatest sufferances, but to see covenants of greatest moment faithfullest performed. And what injury comparable to that sustained in a frustrate and false dealing marriage, to lose, for another's fault against him, the best portion of his tempural comforts, and of his spiritual too, as it may fall out? It was the law, that for man's good and quiet reduced things to propriety, which were at first in common; how much more lawlike were it to assist na,
ture in disappropriating that evil, which by continuing proper becomes destructive? But he might have bewared. So he might in any other covenant, wherein the law does not constrain error to so dear a forfeit. And yet in these matters wherein the wisest are apt to err, all the wariness that can be ofttimes nothing avails. But the law can compel the offending party to be more dute
Yes, if all these kind of offences were fit in public to be complained of, or being compelled were any satisfaction to a mate not sottish, or malicious. And these injuries work so vehemently, that if the law remedy them not, by separating the cause when no way else will pacify, the person not relieved betakes him either to such disorderly courses, or to such a dull dejection, as renders him either infamous, or useless to the service of God and his country. Which the law ought. to prevent as a thing pernicious to the commonwealth ; and what better prevention than this which Moses used?
Fifthly, The law is to tender the liberty and the hue man diguity of them that live under the law, whether it. be the man's right above the woman, or the woman's just appeal against wrong and servitude. But the duties of marriage contain in them a duty of benevolence, which to do by compulsion against the soul, where there can be neither peace, nor joy, nor love, but an enthralment to one who either cannot, or will not be mutual in the godliest and the civilest ends of that society, is the ignoblest, and the lowest slavery that a human shape can be put to. This law therefore justly and piously provides against such an unmanly task of bondage as this. The civil law, though it favoured the setting free of a slave, yet, if he proved ungrateful to his patron, reduced him to a servile condition. If that law did well to reduce from liberty to bondage for an ingratitude not the