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filently, and only negatively to permit, but in his law to divulge a written and general privilege to commit and perfift in unlawful divorces with a high hand, with fecurity and no ill fame? for this is more than permitting and contriving, this is maintaining: this is warranting, this is protecting, yea this is doing evil, and fuch an evil as that reprobate lawgiver did, whofe lafting infamy is engraven upon him like a furname, he who made Ifrael to fin. This is the loweft pitch contrary to God that public fraud and injuftice can defcend.
If it be affirmed, that God, as being Lord, may do what he will, yet we must know, that God hath not two wills, but one will, much lefs two contrary. If he once willed adultery should be finful, and to be punished with death, all his omnipotence will not allow him, to will the allowance that his holieft people might as it were by his own antinomy, or counterftatute, live unreproved in the fame fact as he himfelf efteemed it, according to our common explainers. The hidden ways of his providence we adore and fearch not, but the law is his revealed will, his complete, his evident and certain will: herein he appears to us as it were in human shape, enters into covenant with us, fwears to keep it, binds himself like a just lawgiver to his own prefcriptions, gives himself to be understood by men, judges and is judged, measures and is commenfurate to right reafon; cannot require lefs of us in one cantle of his law than in another, his legal juftice cannot be fo fickle and fo variable, fometimes like a devouring fire, and by and by connivent in the embers, or, if I may fo fay, ofcitant and fupine. The vigour of his law could no more remit, than the hallowed fire upon his altar could be let go out. The lamps that burned before him might need fnuffing, but the light of his law never. Of this alfo more beneath, in difcuffing a folution of Rivetus.
The Jefuits, and that fect among us which is named of Arminius, are wont to charge us of making God the author of fin, in two degrees especially, not to speak of his permiffion: 1. because we hold, that he hath decreed fome to damnation, and confequently to fin, fay they; next, because thofe means, which are of faving knowledge
to others, he makes to them an occafion of greater fin. Yet confidering the perfection wherein man was created, and might have stood, no degree neceffitating his freewill, but fubfequent, though not in time, yet in order to caufes, which were in his own power; they might methinks be perfuaded to abfolve both God and us. Whenas the doctrine of Plato and Chryfippus, with their followers, the Academics and the Stoics, who knew not what a confummate and moft adorned Pandora was beftowed upon Adam, to be the nurfe and guide of his arbitrary happiness and perfeverance, I mean his native innocence and perfection, which might have kept him from being our true Epimetheus; and though they taught of virtue and vice to be both the gift of divine destiny, they could yet give reafons not invalid, to juftify the councils of God and fate from the infulfity of mortal tongues: that man's own freewill felf-corrupted, is the adequate and fufficient caufe of his difobedience befides fate; as Homer also wanted not to exprefs, both in his Iliad and Odyffee. And Manilius the poet, although in his fourth book he tells of fome "created both to fin and punishment;" yet without murmuring, and with an induftrious. cheerfulness he acquits the deity. They were not ignorant in their heathen lore, that it is moft godlike to punish those who of his creatures became his enemies. with the greatest punishment; and they could attain also to think, that the greateft, when God himself throws a man fartheft from him; which then they held he did, when he blinded, hardened, and ftirred up his offenders, to finish and pile up their defperate work fince they had undertaken it. To banifh for ever into a local hell, whether in the air or in the centre, or in that uttermoft and bottomlefs gulf of Chaos, deeper from holy blifs than the world's diameter multiplied; they thought not a punishing fo proper and proportionate for God to inflict, as to punish fin with fin. Thus were the common fort of Gentiles wont to think, without any wry thoughts caft upon divine governance. And therefore Cicero, not in his Tufculan or Campanian retirements among the learned wits of that age, but even in the fenate to a mixed auditory, (though he were sparing otherwife to
broach his philofophy among ftatifts and lawyers) yet as to this point, both in his oration against Pifo, and in that which is about the answers of the foothfayers against Clodius, he declares it publicly as no paradox to common ears, that God cannot punish man more, nor make him more miferable, than ftill by making him more finful. Thus we fee how in this controverfy the juftice of God ftood upright even among heathen difputers. But if any one be truly, and not pretendedly zealous for God's honour, here I call him forth before men and angels, to ufe his best and most advised skill, left God more unavoidably than ever yet, and in the guiltiest manner, be made the author of fin: if he fhall not only deliver over and incite his enemies by rebuke to fin as a punishment, but fhall by patent under his own broad feal allow his friends whom he would fanctify and fave, whom he would unite to himself and not disjoin, whom he would correct by wholefome chaftening, and not punish as he doth the damned by lewd finning; if he shall allow these in his law, the perfect rule of his own pureft will, and our moft edified confcience, the perpetrating of an odious and manifold fin without the leaft contefting. It is wondered how there can be in God a fecret and revealed will; and yet what wonder, if there be in man two anfwerable caufes. But here there must be two revealed wills grappling in a fraternal war with one another without any reasonable cause apprehended. This cannot be lefs, than to ingraft fin into the substance of the law, which law is to provoke fin by croffing and forbidding, not by complying with it. Nay this is, which I tremble in uttering, to incarnate fin into the unpunishing and well-pleafed will of God. To avoid thefe dreadful confequences, that tread upon the heels of thofe allowances to fin, will be a talk of far more difficulty, than to appeafe thofe minds, which perhaps out of a vigilant and wary confcience except against predeftination. Thus finally we may conclude, that a law wholly giving licence cannot upon any good confideration be given to a holy people, for hardness of heart in the vulgar fenfe.
That if divorce be no command, no more is marriage. That divorce could be no difpenfation, if it were finful. The folution of Rivetus, that God difpenfed by fome unknown way, ought not to fatisfy a chriftian mind.
OTHERS think to evade the matter by not granting any law of divorce, but only a difpenfation, which is contrary to the words of Chrift, who himfelf calls it a 'Law,' Mark x, 5: or if we speak of a command in the ftricteft definition, then marriage itself is no more a command than divorce, but only a free permiffion to him. who cannot contain. But as to difpenfation I affirm the fame as before of the law, that it can never be given to the allowance of fin: God cannot give it, neither in refpect of himself, nor in respect of man; not in refpect of himself, being a most pure effence, the juft avenger of fin; neither can he make that ceafe to be a fin, which is in itself unjust and impure, as all divorces they fay were, which were not for adultery. Not in refpect of man, for then it must be either to his good, or to his evil. Not to his good; for how can that be imagined any good to a fiuner, whom nothing but rebuke and due correction can fave, to hear the determinate oracle of divine law louder than any reproof difpenfing and providing for the impunity, and convenience of fin; to make that doubtful, or rather lawful, which the end of the law was to make most evidently hateful? Nor to the evil of man can a dispense be given; for if the law were ordained unto life, Rom. vii, 10, how can the fame God publish difpenfes against that law, which muft needs be unto death? Abfurd and monftrous would that dispense be, if any judge or law fhould give it a man to cut his own throat, or to damn himself. Difpenfe therefore prefuppofes full pardon, or else it is not a difpenfe, but a moft baneful and bloody fnare. And why should God enter covenant with a people to be holy, as the command is holy and juft, and good,' Rom, vii, 12, and yet fuffer an
impure and treacherous difpenfe, to mislead and betray them under the vizard of law to a legitimate practice of uncleannefs? God is no covenant-breaker; he cannot do this.
Rivetus, a diligent and learned writer, having well weighed what hath been written by thofe founders of difpenfe, and finding the fmall agreement among them, would fain work himself aloof thefe rocks and quickfands, and thinks it beft to conclude, that God certainly did difpenfe, but by fome way to us unknown, and fo to leave it. But to this I oppose, that a christian by no means ought to rest himself in fuch an ignorance; whereby fo many abfurdities will straight reflect both against the purity, justice, and wifdom of God, the end alfo both of law and gofpel, and the comparison of them both together. God indeed in fome ways of his providence is high and fecret, paft finding out: but in the delivery and execution of his law, efpecially in the managing of a duty fo daily and fo familiar as this is whereof we reafon, hath plain enough revealed himself, and requires the observance thereof not otherwise, than to the law of nature and equity imprinted in us feems correfpondent. And he hath taught us to love and extol his laws, not only as they are his, but as they are just and good to every wife and fober understanding. Therefore Abraham, even to the face of God himself, feemed to doubt of divine juftice, if it fhould fwerve from the irradiation wherewith it had enlightened the mind of man, and bound itself to obferve its own rule; wilt thou deftroy the righteous with the wicked? that be far from thee; fhall not the judge of the earth do right?' Thereby declaring, that God hath created a righteoufnefs in right itself, against which he cannot do. So David, Pfalm cxix, the teftimonies which thou haft commanded are righteous and very faithful; thy word is very pure, therefore thy fervant loveth it.' Not only then for the author's fake, but for its own purity. He is faithful,' faith St. Paul, he cannot deny himfelf; that is, cannot deny his own promifes, cannot but be true to his own rules. He often pleads with men the uprightnefs of his ways by their own principles. How should we imitate him elfe, to be perfect as he is perfect?'