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He therefore who lacketh of his due in the most native and humane end of marriage, thinks it better to part than to live sadly and injuriously to that cheerful covenant, for not to be beloved and yet retained, is the greatest injury to a gentle spirit, he, I say, who therefore seeks to part, is one who highly honors the married life, and would not stain it; and the reasons which now move him to divorce, are equal to the best of those that could first warrant him to marry ; for, was plainly shown, both the hate which now diverts him, and the loneliness which leads him still powerfully to seek a fit help, hath not the least grain of a sin in it, if he be worthy to understand himself.
The third Reason of this Law, because without it, he who has hap
pened where he finds Nothing but remediless Offences and Discontents, is in more and greater Temptations than ever before.
THIRDLY; Yet it is next to be feared, if he must be still bound without reason by a deaf rigor, that when he perceives the just expectance of his mind defeated, he will begin even against law to cast about where he may find his satisfaction more complete, unless he be a thing heroically virtuous; and that are not the common lump of men, for whom chiefly the laws ought to be made; though not to their sins, yet to their unsinning weaknesses, it being above their strength to endure the lonely estate, which while they shunned, they are fallen into. And yet there follows upon this a worse temptation ; for if he be such as hath spent his youth unblameably, and laid up his chiefest earthly comforts in the enjoyments of a con
tented marriage, nor did neglect that furtherance which was to be obtained therein by constant prayers, when he shall find himself bound fast to an uncomplying discord of nature, or, as it oft happens, to an image of earth and phlegm, with whom he looked to be the copartner of a sweet and gladsome society, and sees withal that his bondage is now inevitable, though he be almost the strongest Christian, he will be ready to despair in virtue, and mutiny against Divine Providence. And this doubtless is the reason of those lapses and that melancholy despair which we see in many wedded persons, though they understand it not, or pretend other causes, because they know no remedy, and is of extreme danger. Therefore when human frailty surcharged, is at such a loss, charity ought to venture much, and use bold physic, lest an overtossed faith endanger to shipwreck.
The fourth Reason of this Law, that God regards Love and Peace in
the Family, more than a compulsive Performance of Marriage, which is more broke by a grievous Continuance, than by a needful Divorce.
Fourthly ; Marriage is a covenant, the very being
; whereof consists not in a forced cohabitation and counterfeit performance of duties, but in unfeigned love and peace. And of matrimonial love, no doubt but that was chiefly meant, which by the ancient sages was thus parabled ; that Love, if he be not twinborn, yet hath a brother wondrous like him, called Anteros, whom while he seeks all about, his chance is to meet with many false and feigning Desires that wander singly up and down in his likeness. By them in their borrowed garb, Love, though not wholly blind as poets wrong him, yet having but one eye, as being born an archer aiming, and that eye not the quickest in this dark region here below, which is not Love's proper sphere, partly out of the simplicity and credulity which is native to him, often deceived, embraces and consorts him with these obvious and suborned striplings, as if they were his mother's own sons; for so he thinks them, while they subtilely keep themselves most on his blind side. But after a while, as his manner is, when soaring up into the high tower of his Apogæum, above the shadow of the earth, he darts out the direct rays of his then most piercing eyesight upon the impostures and trim disguises that were used with him, and discerns that this is not his genuine brother as he imagined; he has no longer the power to hold fellowship with such a personated mate ; straight his arrows lose their golden heads, and shed their purple feathers, his silken braids untwine and slip their knots, and that original and fiery virtue given him by fate all on a sudden goes out, and leaves him undeified and despoiled of all his force; till finding Anteros at last, he kindles and repairs the 'almost faded ammunition of his deity by the reflection of a coequal and homogeneal fire.
Thus mine author sung it to me, and by the leave of those who would be counted the only grave ones, this is no mere amatorious novel, though to be wise and skilful in these matters, men heretofore of greatest name in virtue, have esteemed it one of the highest arcs that human Contemplation circling upwards, can make from the globy sea whereon she stands; but this is a deep and serious verity, showing us that love in marriage cannot live nor subsist unless it be mutual ; and where love cannot be, there can be left of wed
lock nothing but the empty husk of an outside matrimony, as undelightful and unpleasing to God, as any other kind of hypocrisy. So far is his command from tying men to the observance of duties which there is no help for, but they must be dissembled. If Solomon's advice be not overfrolic, 'Live joyfully,' saith he, with the wife whom thou lovest all thy days, for that is thy portion ;' how then, where we find it impossible to rejoice or to love, can we obey this pre
How miserably do we defraud ourselves of that comfortable portion which God gives us, by striving vainly to glue an error together, which God and nature will not join, adding but more vexation and violence to that blissful society by our importunate superstition, that will not hearken to St Paul, 1 Corinthians, vii. who, speaking of marriage and divorce, determines plain enough in general, that God therein
hath called us to peace, and not to bondage.' Yea, God himself commands in his law more than once, and by his prophet Malachi, as Calvin and the best translations read, that' he who hates, let him divorce ;' that is, he who cannot love.
Hence it is that the Rabbins, and Maimonides famous among the rest, in a book of his set forth by Buxtorfius, tells us, that divorce was permitted by Moses, to preserve peace in marriage, and quiet in the family.' Surely the Jews had their saving peace about them as well as we; yet care was taken that this wholesome provision for household peace should also be allowed them; and must this be denied to Christians ? O perverseness ! that the law should be made more provident of peacemaking than the gospel! that the gospel should be put to beg a most necessary help of mercy from the law, but must not have it ! and that to grind in the mill of an undelighted and servile copulation, must be the only forced
work of a christian marriage, ofttimes with such a yokefellow, from whom both love and peace, both nature and religion, mourns to be separated !
I cannot therefore be so diffident, as not securely to conclude, that he who can receive nothing of the most important helps in marriage, being thereby disenabled to return that duty which is his, with a clear and hearty countenance, and thus continues to grieve whom he would not, and is no less grieved, that man ought, even for love's sake and peace, to move divorce upon good and liberal conditions to be divorced. And it is a less breach of wedlock to part with wise and quiet consent betimes, than still to foil and profane that mystery of joy and union with a polluting sadness and perpetual distemper; for it is not the outward continuing of marriage that keeps whole that covenant, but whatsoever does most according to peace and love, whether in marriage or in divorce, he it is that breaks marriage least; it being so often written, that * love only is the fulfilling of every commandment.'
The fifth Reason, that Nothing more hinders and disturbs the whole
Life of a Christian, than a Matrimony found to be incurably unfit, and doth the same in Effect that an Idolatrous Match.
FIFTAT ; As those priests of old were not to be long in sorrow, or if they were, they could not rightly execute their function, so every true Christian, in a higher order of priesthood, is a person dedicate to joy and peace, offering himself a lively sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and there is no christian duty that is not to be seasoned and set off with cheerishness;