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greatest, much more became it the law of God, to enact the restorement of a free-born man from an unpurposed and unworthy bondage to a rightful liberty, for the most unnatural fraud and ingratitude that can be committed against him. ***
Sixthly, Although there be nothing in the plain words of this law, that seems to regard the afflictions of a wife, how great soever; yet expositors determine, and doubts less determine rightly, that God was not uncompassionate of them also in the framing of this law. For should the rescript of Antonius in the civil law give release to servants flying for refuge to the emperor's statue, by giving leave to change their cruel masters; and should God, who in his law also is good to injured servants, by granting them their freedom in divers cases, not consider the wrongs and miseries of a wife, which is no ser
Seventhly, The law of marriage gives place to the power of parents : for we hold, that consent of parents not had may break the wedlock, though else accomplished. It gives place to masterly power, for the master might take away from a Hebrew servant the wife which he gave him, Exod. xxi. If it be answered, that the marriage of servants is no matrimony; it is replied, that this in the ancient Roman law is true, not in the Mosaic. If it be added, she was a stranger, not a Hebrew, therefore easily divorced; it will be answered, that strangers not being Canaanites, and they also being converts, might be lawfully married, as Rahab was. And her conversion is here supposed; for a Hebrew master could not lawfully give a Heathen wife to a Hebrew servant. However, the divorcing of an Israelitish woman was as easy by the law, as the divorcing of a stranger, and alnost in the same words permitted, Deut. xxiv, and
Deut. xxi. Lastly, it gives place to the right of war, for a captive woman lawfully married, and afterwards not beloved, might be dismissed, only without ransom, Deut. xxi. If marriage be dissolved by so many exterior powers, not superior, as we think, why may not the power of marriage itself, for its own peace and honour, dissolve itself, where the persons wedded be free persons ? For the ends, why matrimony was ordained, are certainly and by all logic above the ordinance itself; why may not that dissolve marriage, without which that institution hath no force at all ?** * thie
Eighthly, If a man had deflowered a virgin, or brought an ill name on his wife that she came not a virgin to him, he was amerced in certain shekels of silver, and bound never to divorce her all his days, Deut. xxii, which shows that the law gave no liberty to divorce, where the injury was palpable ; and that the absolute forbidding to divorce was in part the punishment of a deflowerer, and a defamer. Yet not so but that the wife questionless might depart when she pleased. Otherwise this course had not so much righted her, as delivered her up to more spight and cruel usage. This law therefore doth justly distinguish the privilege of an honest and blameless man in the matter of divorce, from the punishment of a notorious offender.
Ninthly, Suppose it should be imputed to a man, that he was too rash in his choice, and why he took not better heed, let him now smart, and bear his folly as he may; although the law of God, that terrible law, do not thus upbraid the infirmities and unwilling mistakes of man in his integrity: but suppose these and the like proud aggravations of some stern hypocrite, more merciless in his mereies, than any literal law in the rigor of severity, must be patiently heard; yet all
law, and God's lawespecially, grants every where to error easy remitments, even where the utmost penalty exacted were no undoing. With great reason therefore and mercy doth it here not torment an error, if it be so, with the indurance of a whole life lost to all household comfort and society, a punishment of too vast and huge dimension for an error, and the more unreasonable for that the like objection may be opposed against the plea of divorcing for adultery: he might have looked better before to her breeding under religious parents: why did he not more diligently enquire into her manners, into what company she kepi? every glance of her eye, every step of her gait would have prophesied adultery, if the quick scent of these discerners had been took along; they had the divination to have foretold you all this, as they have now the divinity to punish an error inhumanly. As good reason to be content, and forced to be content with your adulteress; if these objectors might. be the judges of human frailty. But God, more mild and good to man, than man to his brother, in all this liberty given to divorcement, inentions not a word of our past errors and mistakes, if any were; which these men objecting from their own inventions, prosecute with all violence and iniquity.
Tenthly, Marriage is a solemn thing ;** but marriage to be a true and pious niarriage is not in the single power
any person; the essence whereof, as of all other covenants, is in relation to another, the making and maintaining causes thereof are all mutual, and must be a communion of spiritual and temporal comforts. If then either of them cannot, or obstinately will not be answerable in these duties, so as that the other can have no peaceful living, or endure the want of what he justly seeks, and sees no hope, then straight from that dwel:
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ling, love, which is the soul of wedlock, takes his flight, leaving only some cold performances of civil and common respects ; but the true bond of marriage, if there were ever any there, is already burst like a rotten thread. Then follows dissimulation, suspicion, false colours, false pretences, and worse than these, disturbance, annoyance, vexation, sorrow, temptation, even in the faultless person, weary of himself, and of all actions public or domestic ; then comes disorder, neglect, hatred, and perpetual strife, all these the enemies of holiness and christianity, and every one persisted in, a remediless violation of matrimony.
Eleventhly, One of the chief matrimonial ends is said to seek a holy seed; but where an unfit marriage admi. nisters continual cause of hatred and distemper, there, as was heard before, cannot choose but much unholiness abide. Nothing more unhallows a man, more unprepares him to the service of God in any duty, than a habit of wrath and perburbation, arising from the importunity of troublous causes never absent. ****
Twelfthly, All law is available to some good end, but the final prohibition of divorce avails to no good end, causing only the endless aggravation of evil. ** Law cannot enable natural inability either of body, or mind, which gives the grievance; it cannot make equal those inequalities, it cannot make fit those unfitnesses ; and
; where there is malice more than defect of nature, it cannot hinder ten thousand injuries, and bitter actions of despight, too subtle and too unapparent for law to deal with. And while it seeks to reinedy more outward wrongs, it exposes the injured person to other more in
, ward and more cutting. All these evils unavoidably will redound upon the children, if any be, and upon the whole family. It degenerates and disorders the best spi
rits, leaves them to unsettled imaginations, and degraded hopes, careless of themselves, their households and their friends, unactive to all public service, dead to the commonwealth ; wherein they are by one mishap, and no willing trespass of theirs, outlawed from all the benefits and comforts of married life and posterity.
Why is divorce unlawful but only for adultery? because, say they, that crime only breaks the matrimony. But this, I reply, the institution itself gainsays: for that which is most contrary to the words and meaning of the institution, that most breaks the matrimony; but a perpetual unmeetness and unwillingness to all the duties of help, of love, and tranquillity, is most contrary to the words and meaning of the institution ; that therefore much more breaks matrimony than the act of adultery, though repeated. For this, as it is not felt, nor troubles him who perceives it not, so being perceived, may be soon repented, soon amended : soon, if it can be pardoned, may be redeemed with the more ardent love and duty in her who hath the pardon. But this natural unmeetness both cannot be unknown long, and ever after cannot be amended, if it be natural, and will not, if it be far gone obstinate. So that wanting aught in the instant to be as great a breach as adul. tery, it gains it in the perpetuity to be greater. Next, adultery does not exclude her other fitness, her other pleasingness; she may be otherwise both loving and prevalent, as many adulteresses be ; but in this general unfitness or alienation she can be nothing to him that can please. In adultery nothing is given from the husband, which he misses, or enjoys the less, as it niay be subtly giren : but this unfitness defrauds him of the whole contentment which is sought in wedlock. ****
[Nur was this half so wisely spoken as some deem,