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it is good for every fuch one to be married, that he may fhun fornication.
With regard to these principles, let us fee what our Lord anfwered to the tempting Pharifees about divorce, and fecond marriage, and how far his anfwer doth extend.
First, no man who is not very contentious will deny, that the Pharifees afked our Lord whether it were lawful to put away fuch a wife, as was truly, and according to God's law, to be counted a wife; that is, fuch a one as would dwell with her husband, and both would and could perform the neceffary duties of wedlock tolerably, But the who will not dwell with her husband is not put away by him, but goes of herfelf: and the who denies to be a meet help, or to be fo hath made herself unfit by open misdemeanours, or through incurable impotencies cannot be able, is not by the law of God to be esteemed a wife; as hath been fhewn both from the first inftitution, and other places of fcripture. Neither certainly would the Pharifees propound a question concerning fuch an unconjugal wife; for their depravation of the law had brought them to that pafs, as to think a man had right to put away his wife for any caufe, though never fo flight. Since therefore it is manifeft, that Chrift answered the Pharifees concerning a fit and meet wife according to the law of God, whom be forbid to divorce for any cause but fornication; who fees not that it is a wickedness fo to wreft and extend that anfwer of his, as if it forbad to divorce her who hath already forfaken, or hath loft the place and dignity of a wife, by deferved infamy, or hath undertaken to be that which the hath not natural ability to be?
This truth is fo powerful, that it hath moved the papifts to grant their kind of divorce for other caufes befides adultery, as for ill ufage, and the not performing of conjugal duty; and to feparate from bed and board for thefe caufes, which is as much divorce as they grant for adultery.
But fome perhaps will object, that though it be yielded that our Lord granted divorce not only for adultery, yet it is not certain, that he permitted mar
riage after divorce, unless for that only caufe. I answer, firft, that the fentence of divorce and fecond marriage is one and the fame. So that when the right of divorce is evinced to belong not only to the cause of fornication, the power of fecond marriage is alfo proved to be not limited to that caufe only; and that most evidently whenas the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor. vii, fo frees the deferted party from bondage, as that he may not only fend a just divorce in cafe of defertion, but may feek another marriage.
Laftly, feeing God will not that any fhould live in danger of fornication and utter ruin for the default of another, and hath commanded the husband to send away with a bill of divorce her whom he could not love; it is impoffible that the charge of adultery fhould belong to him who for lawful caufes divorces and marries, or to her who marries after the hath been unjustly rejected, or to him who receives her without all fraud to the former wedlock. For this were a horrid blafphemy against God, fo to interpret his words, as to make him diffent from himfelf; for who fees not a flat contradiction in this, to enthral blameless men and women to miferies and injuries, under a falfe and foothing title of marriage, and yet to declare by his apoftle, that a brother or fifter is not under bondage in fuch cafes? No lefs do these two things conflict with themselves, to enforce the innocent and faultlefs to endure the pain and mifery of another's perverfeness, or elfe to live in unavoidable temptation; and to affirm elsewhere that he lays on no man the burden of another man's fin, nor doth constrain any man to the endangering of his foul.
That to thofe alfo who are justly divorced, fecond marriage ought to be permitted.
This although it be well proved, yet because it concerns only the offender, I leave him to fearch out his own charter himfelf in the author.
That fome perfons are fo ordained to marriage, as that they cannot obtain the gift of continence, no not by earnest prayer; and that therein every one is to be left to his own judgment and confcience, and not to have a burden laid upon him by any other.
The words of the Apoftle concerning the praife of fingle life unfolded.
Thefe two chapters not fo immediately debating the right of divorce, Ì choose rather not to infert,
The conclufion of this treatife.
THESE things, most renowned king, I have brought together, both to explain for what caufes the unhappy but fometimes most neceffary help of divorce ought to be granted according to God's word, by princes and rulers; as alfo to explain how the words of Chrift do confent with fuch a grant. I have been large indeed both in handling those oracles of God, and in laying down thofe certain principles, which he who will know what the mind of God is in this matter, muft ever think on and remember. But if we confider what mift and obfecurity hath been poured out by Antichrift upon this queftion, and how deep this pernicious contempt of wedlock, and admiration of fingle life, even in those who are not called thereto, hath funk into many men's perfuafions; I fear left all that hath been faid be hardly enough to perfuade fuch, that they would ceafe at length to make themselves wifer and holier than God himself,
in being fo fevere to grant lawful marriage, and so easy to connive at all, not only whoredoms but deflowerings and adulteries: whenas, among the people of God, no whoredom was to be tolerated.
Our Lord Jefus Chrift, who came to deftroy the works of Satan, fent down his fpirit upon all Chriftians, and principally upon chriftian governors both in church and commonwealth (for of the clear judgment of your royal majefty I nothing doubt, revolving the fcripture fo often as ye do) that they may acknowledge how much they provoke the anger of God against us, whenas all kind of unchastity is tolerated, fornications and adulteries winked at; but holy and honourable wedlock is oft withheld by the mere perfuafion of Antichrift, from fuch as without this remedy cannot preferve themselves from damnation! For none who hath but a spark of honefty will deny, that princes and states ought to use diligence toward the maintaining of pure and honeft life among all men, without which all justice, all fear of God, and true religion decays,
And who knows not, that chastity and pureness of life can never be reftored, or continued in the commonwealth, unless it be firft established in private houses, from whence the whole breed of men is to come forth? To effect this, no wife man can doubt, that it is neceffary for princes and magiftrates first with severity to punish whoredom and adultery; next to fee that marriages be lawfully contracted, and in the Lord; then that they be faithfully kept; and laftly, when that unhappiness urges, that they be lawfully diffolved, and other marriage granted, according as the law of God, and of nature, and the conftitutions of pious princes have decreed; as I have fhewn both by evident authorities of fcripture, together with the writings of the ancient fathers, and other teftimonies. Only the Lord grant that we may learn to prefer his ever just and faving word, before the comments of Antichrift, too deeply rooted in many, and the falfe and blafphemous expofition of our Saviour's words. Amen.
THUS far Martin Bucer: whom, where I might without injury to either part of the caufe, I deny not to have epitomized; in the reft obferving a well-warranted rule, not to give an inventory of fo many words, but to weigh their force. I could have added that eloquent and right chriftian difcourfe, written by Erafmus on this argument, not difagreeing in effect from Bucer. But this, I hope, will be enough to excufe me with the mere Englishman, to be no forger of new and loofe opinions. Others may read him in his own phrafe on the first to the Corinthians, and eafe me who never could delight in long citations, much lefs in whole traductions; whether it be natural difpofition or education in me, or that my mother bore me a fpeaker of what God made mine own, and not a tranflator. There be others alfo whom I could reckon up, of no mean account in the church (and Peter Martyr among the firft) who are more than half our own in this controverfy. But this is a providence not to be flighted, that as Bucer wrote this tractate of divorce in England and for England, fo Erafmus profeffes he begun here among us the fame fubject, especially out of compaffion, for the need he faw this nation had of fome charitable redrefs herein; and feriously exhorts others to use their beft industry in the clearing of this point, wherein cuftom hath a greater fway than verity. That therefore which came into the mind of these two admired strangers to do for England, and in a touch of highest prudence, which they took to be not yet recovered from monaftic fuperftition, if I a native am found to have done for mine own country, altogether fuitably and conformably to their fo large and clear understanding, yet without the least help of theirs; I fuppofe that henceforward among confcionable and judicious perfons it will no more be thought to my difcredit, or at all to this nation's difhonour. And if these their books the one fhall be printed often with beft allowance in moft religious cities, the other with exprefs authority of Leo the Tenth, a pope, fhall, for the propagating of