Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

whom neither one vice nor other by natural addiction, but only marriage ruins, which doubtless is not the fault of that ordinance, for God gave it as a blessing ; nor always of man's mischoosing, it being an error above wisdom to prevent, as examples of wisest men so mistaken manifest. It is the fault therefore of a perverse opinion that will have it continued in despite of nature and reason, when indeed it was never so truly joined

[ocr errors]

*

CHAPTER XIV.

That Beza's Opinion of regulating Sin by apostolic Law cannot be

sound.

*

[ocr errors]

The political law, since it cannot regulate vice, is to restrain it by using all means to root it out. But if it suffer the weed to grow up to any pleasurable or contented height upon what pretext soever, it fastens the root, it prunes and dresses vice, as if it were a good plant. Let no man doubt therefore to affirm, that it is not so hurtful or dishonorable to a commonwealth, nor so much to the hardening of hearts, when those worse faults pretended to be feared are committed, by whoso dares under strict and executed penalty, as when those less faults, tolerated for fear of greater, harden their faces, not their hearts only, under the protection of public authority. For what less indignity were this, than as if Justice herself, the queen of virtues, descending from her sceptred royalty, instead of conquering, should compound and treat with Sin, her eternal adversary and rebel, upon igno

[ocr errors]

ble terms ? or as if the judicial law were like that untrusit steward in the gospel, and instead of calling in the debts of his moral master, should give out subtile and sly acquittances to keep himself from begging ? Or let us person him like some wretched itinerary judge, who, to gratify his delinquents before him, would let them basely break his head, lest they should pull him from the bench, and throw him over the bar; unless we had rather think both moral and judicial

, full of malice and deadly purpose, conspired to let the debtor Israelite, the seed of Abraham, run on upon a bankrupt score, flattered with insufficient and ensnaring discharges, that so he might be haled to a more cruel forfeit for all the indulgent arrears which those judicial acquittances had engaged him in. No, no; this cannot be, that the law, whose integrity and faithfulness is next to God, should be either the shameless broker of our impunities, or the intended instrument of our destruction. The method of holy correction, such as became the commonwealth of Israel, is not to bribe sin with sin, to capitulate and hire out one crime with another ; but with more noble and graceful severity than Popilius, the Roman legate, used with Antiochus, to limit and level out the direct way from vice to virtue, with straightest and exactest lines on either side, not winding or indenting so much as to the right hand of fair pretences. Violence indeed and insurrection may force the law to suffer what it cannot mend; but to write a decree in allowance of sin, as soon can the hand of Justice rot off. Let this be ever concluded as a truth that will outlive the faith of those that seek to bear it down.

CHAPTER XV.

That Divorce was not given for Wives only, as Beza and Pareus

write. **

а

Lastly, if divorce were granted, as Beza and others say, not for men, but to release afflicted wives, certainly it is not only a dispensation, but a most merciful law; and why it should not yet be in force, being wholly as needful, I know not what can be in cause but senseless cruelty. But yet to say, divorce was granted for relief of wives rather than of husbands, is but weakly conjectured, and is manifestly the extreme shift of a huddled exposition. Whenas it could not be found how hardness of heart should be lessened by liberty of divorce, a fancy was devised to hide the flaw, by commenting that divorce was permitted only for the help of wives. Palpably uxorious ! Who can be ignorant that woman was created for man, and not man for woman, and that a husband may be injured as insufferably in marriage as a wife? What an injury is it after wedlock not to be beloved ? what to be slighted ? what to be contended with in point of house rule who shall be the head, not for any parity of wisdom, for that were something reasonable, but out of a female pride ? •I suffer not,' saith St Paul, “the woman to usurp authority over the man.' If the apostle could not suffer it, into what mould is he mortified that can ? Solomon saith, “That a bad wife is to her husband as rottenness to his bones, a continual dropping. Better dwell in the corner of a house top, or in the wilderness,' than with such an

• Whoso hideth her, hideth the wind, and one of the four mischiefs which the earth cannot bear.' If the spirit of God wrote such aggravations as these,

12

6

[ocr errors]

one.

VOL. II.

and, as may be guessed by these similtudes, counsels the man rather to divorce than to live with such a colleague, and yet on the other side expresses nothing of the wife's suffering with a bad husband, is it not most likely that God in his law had more pity towards man thus wedlocked, than towards the woman that was created for another ? The same Spirit relates to us the course which the Medes and Persians took by occasion of Vashti, whose mere denial to come at her husband's sending, lost her the being queen any longer, and set up a wholesome law, that bear rule in his own house.'

every man should

*

CHAPTER XVI.

How to be understood that they must be One Flesh; and how that

those whom God hath joined, Man should not sunder.

Next, he saith, they must be one flesh;' which, when all conjecturing is done, will be found to import no more but to make legitimate and good the carnal act, which else might seem to have something of pollution in it, and infers thus much over, that the fit union of their souls be such as may even incorporate them to love and amity. But that can never be where no correspondence is of the mind; nay, instead of being one flesh, they will be rather two carcasses chained unnaturally together, or, as it may happen, a living soul bound to a dead corpse ; a punishment too like that inflicted by the tyrant Mezentius, so little worthy to be received as that remedy of loneliness which God meant us; since we know it is not the joining of another body will remove loneliness, but the uniting of another compliable mind; and that it is no blessing, but a torment, nay, a base and brutish condition to be one Aesh, unless where nature can in some measure fix a unity of disposition.

The meaning therefore of these words, For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife,' was first to show us the dear affection which naturally grows in every not unnatural marriage, even to the leaving of parents, or other familiarity whatsoever. Next, it justifies a man in so doing, that nothing is done undutifully to father or mother. But he that should be here sternly commanded to cleaye to bis error, a disposition which to his he finds will never cement, a quotidian of sorrow and discontent in his house, let us be excused to pause a little, and bethink us every way round ere we lay such a flat solecism upon the gracious, and certainly not inexorable, not ruthless and flinty ordinance of marriage. For if the meaning of these words must be thus blocked up within their own letters from all equity and fair deduction, they will serve then well indeed their turn, who affirm divorce to have been granted only for wives; whenas we see no word of this text binds women, but men only, what it binds. No marvel then if Salomith, sister to Herod, sent a writ of ease to Costobarus her husband, which, as Josephus there attests, was lawful only to men. No marvel though Placidia, the sister of Honorius, threatened the like to earl Constantius for a trivial cause, as Photius relates from Olympiodorus. No marvel any thing, if letters must be turned into palisadoes, to stake out all requisite sense from entering to their due enlargement.

Lastly, Christ himself tells who should not be put asunder, namely, those whom God hath joined; a a plain solution of this great controversy, if men would

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »