Page images

were not fuch a league as binds the married couple to all fociety of life, and communion in divine and human things; and fo affociated keeps them. Something indeed out of the later fathers they may pretend for this their tyranny, efpecially out of Auftria and fome others, who were much taken with a prepofterous admiration of fingle life; yet though thefe fathers, from the words of Chrift not rightly understood, taught that it was unlawful to marry again, while the former wife lived, whatever cause there had been either of desertion or divorce; yet if we mark the custom of the church, and the common judgment which both in their times and afterward prevailed, we fhall perceive, that neither thefe fathers did ever caft out of the church any one for marrying after a divorce, approved by the imperial laws.

Nor only the first chriftian emperors, but the latter also, even to Juftinian and after him, did grant for certain causes approved by judges, to make a true divorce; which made and confirmed by law, it might be lawful to marry again; which if it could not have been done without difpleafing Chrift and his church, furely it would not have been granted by chriftian emperors, nor had the fathers then winked at thofe doings in the emperors. Hence ye may fee that Jerome alfo, though zealous of fingle life more than enough, and fuch a condemner of fecond marriage, though after the death of either party, yet, forced by plain equity, defended Fabiola, a noble matron of Rome, who, having refufed her husband for juft caufes, was married to another. For that the fending of a divorce to her husband was not blameworthy, he affirms because the man was heinoufly vicious; and that if an adulterer's wife may be difcarded, an adulterous husband is not to be kept. But that the married again, while yet her husband was alive; he defends in that the apofile hath faid, "It is better to marry than to burn;" and that young widows fhould marry, for fuch was Fabiola, and could not remain in widowhood.

But fome one will object, that Jerome there adds, "Neither did the know the vigour of the gofpel, wherein all caufe of marrying is debarred from women, while their husbands live; and again, while the avoided many

G 3


wounds of Satan, fhe received one ere fhe was aware.' But let the equal reader mind alfo what went before; "Because," faith he, foon after the beginning, "there is a rock and form of flanderers oppofed before her, I will not praise her converted, unless I first abfolve her guilty." For why does he call them flanderers, who accufed Fabiola of marrying again, if he did not judge it a matter of christian equity and charity, to pass by and pardon that fact, though in his own opinion he held it a fault? And what can this mean, "I will not praise her, unless I firft abfolve her ?" For how could he abfolve her, but by proving that Fabiola, neither in rejecting her vicious husband, nor in marrying another, had committed such a fin, as could be juftly condemned? Nay, he proves both by evident reafon, and clear teftimonies of fcripture, that the avoided fin.

This is alfo hence understood, that Jerome by the vigour of the gospel, meant that height and perfection of our Saviour's precept, which might be remitted to thofe that burn; for he adds, " But if the be accused in that the remained not unmarried, I fhall confefs the fault, fo I may relate the neceffity." If then he acknowledged a neceflity, as he did, becaufe fhe was young, and could not live in widowhood, certainly he could not impute her fecond marriage to her much blame: but when he excufes her out of the word of God, does he not openly declare his thoughts, that the fecond marriage of Fabiola was permitted her by the Holy Ghoft himself, for the neceflity which he fuffered, and to fhun the danger of fornication, though fhe went fomewhat aside from the vigour of the gospel? But if any urge, that Fabiola did public penance for her fecond marriage, which was not impofed but for great faults; it is anfwered, the was not enjoined to this penance, but did it of her own accord, "and not till after her fecond husband's death." As in the time of Cyprian, we read that many were wont to do voluntary penance for small faults, which were not liable to excommunication.


That marriage was granted by the ancient fathers, even after the vow of fingle life.

I omit his teftimonies out of Cyprian, Gellafius, Epiphanius, contented only to reiate what he thence collects to the prefent purpose.

SOME will fay perhaps, wherefore all this concerning marriage after vow of fingle life, whenas the queftion was of marriage after divorce? For this reafon, that they whom it fo much moves, because fome of the fathers thought marriage after any kind of divorce to be condemned of our Saviour, may fee that this conclufion fol-' lows not. The fathers thought all marriage after divorce to be for bidden of our Saviour, therefore they thought fuch marriage was not to be tolerated in a Chriftian. For the fame fathers judged it forbidden to marry after vow; yet fuch marriages they neither diffolved nor excommunicated: for thefe words of our Saviour, and of the Holy Ghoft, flood in their way; " All cannot receive this faying, but they to whom it is given. Every one hath his proper gift from God, one after this manner another after that. It is better to marry than to burn. I will that younger widows marry ;" and the like.

So there are many canons and laws extant, whereby priests, if they married, were removed from their office, yet is it not read that their marriage was diffolved, as the papifts nowadays do, or that they were excommunicated, nay exprefsly they might communicate as laymen. If the confideration of human infirmity, and those teftimonies of divine fcripture which grant marriage to every one that wants it, perfuaded thofe fathers to bear themselves fo humanely toward them who had married with breach of vow to God, as they believed, and with divorce of that marriage wherein they were in a manner joined to God; who doubts, but that the fame fathers held the like humanity was to be afforded to thofe, who after divorce and faith broken with men, G 4


as they thought, entered into a fecond marriage? For among fuch are alfo found no lefs weak, and no less burning.


Who of the ancient fathers have granted marriage after divorce.

THIS is clear both by what hath been faid, and by that which Origen relates of certain bishops in his time, Homil. 7, in Matth., "I know fome," faith he, " which are over churches, who without fcripture have permitted the wife to marry while her former husband lived. And did this againft fcripture, which faith, the wife is bound to her husband fo long as he lives; and the shall be called an adulterefs, if, her husband living, she take another man; yet did they not permit this without caufe, perhaps for the infirmity of fuch as had not continence, they permitted evil to avoid worfe." Ye fee Origen and the doctors of his age, not without all caufe, permitted women after divorce to marry, though their former husbands were living; yet writes that they per mitted againft fcripture. But what caufe could they have to do fo, unless they thought our Saviour in his precepts of divorce had fo forbidden, as willing to remit fuch perfection to his weaker ones, caft into danger of worfe faults?

The fame thought Leo, bishop of Rome, Ep. 85, to the African bifhops of Mauritania Cæfarienfis, wherein complaining of a certain prieft, who divorcing his wife, or being divorced by her, as other copies have it, had married another, neither diffolves the matrimony, nor excommunicates him, only unpriefts him. The fathers therefore, as we fee, did not fimply and wholly condemn marriage after divorce.

But as for me, this remitting of our Saviour's precepts, which thefe ancients allow to the infirm in marrying after vow and divorce, I can in no ways admit; for what foever plainly confents not with the commandment,


cannot, I am certain, be permitted, or fuffered in any Christian for heaven and earth fhall pafs away, but not a tittle from the commands of God among them who expect life eternal. Let us therefore confider, and weigh the words of our Lord concerning marriage and divorce, which he pronounced both by himself, and by his apostle, and let us compare them with other oracles of God; for whatfoever is contrary to thefe, I fhall not perfuade the leaft tolerating thereof. But if it can be taught to agree with the word of God, yea to be commanded, that most men may have permiffion given them to divorce and marry again, I must prefer the authority of God's word before the opinion of fathers and doctors, as they them--felves teach.


The words of our Lord, and of the Holy Ghoft, by the Apoftle Paul concerning divorce, are explained. The ift Axiom, that Chrift could not condemn of adultery, that which he once commanded.

BUT the words of our Lord, and of the Holy Ghoft, out of which Auftin and fome others of the fathers think it concluded, that our Saviour forbids marriage after any divorce, are thefe; Mat. v, 31, 32, "It hath been faid," &c. and Matt. xix, 7, "They fay unto him, why did Mofes then command," &c.: and Mark x, and Luke xvi, Rom. vii, 1, 2, 3, 1 Cor. vii, 10, 11. Hence therefore they conclude, that all marriage after divorce is called adultery; which to commit, being no ways to be tolerated in any Chriftian, they think it follows, that fecond marriage is in no cafe to be permitted either to the divorcer, or to the divorced.

But that it may be more fully and plainly perceived what force is in this kind of reasoning, it will be the best course, to lay down certain grounds whereof no Christian can doubt the truth. First, it is a wickednefs to fufpect, that our Saviour branded that for adultery, which himfelf, in his own law which he came to fulfil, and not to diffolve, did not only permit, but alfo command; for by


[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »