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UPON THE FOUR CHIEF PLACES IN SCRIPTURE WHICH
TREAT OF MARRIAGE, OR NULLITIES IN MARRIAGE.
Gen. i. 27, 28, COMPARED AND EXPLAINED BY GEN. ii. 18, 23, 24.
DEUT. xxiv. 1, 2. Matt. y. 31, 32, WITH Matt. xix. FROM VER. 3 to 11. 1 Cor. vii. FROM VER. 10 To 16.
WHEREIN THE DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF DIVORCE, AS WAS LATELY PUBLISHED, IS
CONFIRMED BY EXPLANATION OF SCRIPTURE; BY TESTIMONY OF ANCIENT FATHERS; OF CIVIL LAWS IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH ; OF FAMOUSEST REPORMED DIVINES ; AND LASTLY, BY AN INTENDED ACT OF THE PARLIAMENT AND CHURCH OF ENGLAND IN THE LAST YEAR OF EDWARD THE SIXTH.
Σκαιoίσι και να προσφέρων σοφά
TO THE PARLIAMENT. TAAT which I knew to be the part of a good magistrate, aiming at true liberty through the right information of religious and civil life, and that which I saw, and was partaker of, your vows and solemn covenants, parliament of England ! your actions also manifestly tending to exalt the truth, and to depress the tyranny of error and ill custom, with more constancy and prowess than ever yet any, since that parliament which put the first sceptre of this kingdom into his hand whom God and extraordinary virtue made their monarch; were the causes that moved me, one else not placing much in the eminence of a dedication, to present your high notice with a discourse, conscious to itself of nothing more than of diligence, and firm affection to the public good. And that ye took it so as wise and impartial men, obtaining so great power and dignity, are wont to accept, in matters both doubtful and important, what they think offered them well meant, and from à rational ability, I had no less than to persuade me. And on that persuasion am returned, as to a famous and free port, myself also bound by more than a maritime law, to expose as freely what fraughtage I conceive to bring of no trifles. For although it be generally known, how and by whom ye have
For which up
been instigated to a hard censure of that former book, entitled, “ The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce," an opinion held by some of the best among reformed writers without scandal or confutement, though now thought new and dangerous by some of our severe Gnostics, whose little reading, and less meditating, holds ever with hardest obstinacy that which it took up with easiest credulity ; I do not find yet that aught, for the furious incitements which have been used, hath issued by your appointment, that might give the least interruption or disrepute eitlier to the author, or to the book. Which he who will be better advised than to call your neglect or connivance at a thing imagined so perilous, can attribute it to nothing more justly, than to the deep and quiet stream of your direct and calm deliberations, that
either to the fervent rashness or the immaterial gravity of those who ceased not to exasperate without cause. rightness and incorrupt refusal of what ye were incensed to, lords and commons ! (though it were done to justice, not to jne, and was a peculiar demonstration how far your ways are different from the rash vulgar,) besides those allegiances of oath and duty, which are my public debt to your public labours, I have yet a store of gratitude laid up, which cannot be exhausted ; and such thanks perhaps they may live to be, as shall more than whisper to the next ages.
Yet that the author may be known to ground himself upon his own innocence, and the merit of his cause, not upon the favour of a diversion, or a delay to any just censure, but wishes rather he might see those his detractors at any fair meeting, as learned debatements are privileged with a due freedom under equal moderators; I shall here briefly single one of them, (because he hath obliged me to it,) who I persuade me having scarce read the book, nor knowing him who writ it, or at least feigning the latter, hath not forborne to scandalize him, unconferred with, unadmonished, undealt with by any pastorly or brotherly convincement, in the most open and invective manner, and at the most bitter opportunity that drift or set design could have invented. And this, whenas the canon law, though commonly most favouring the boldness of their priests, punishes the naming or traducing of any person in the pulpit, was by him made no scruple. If I shall, therefore, take licence by the right of
, nature, and that liberty wherein I was born, to defend myselt
publicly against a printed calumny, and do willingly appeal to those judges to whom I am accused, it can be no immoderate or unallowable course of seeking so just and needful reparations. Which I had done long since, had not those em. ployments, which are now visible, deferred me. preached before ye, lords and commons ! in August last upon a special day of humiliation, that “ there was a wicked book abroad," and ye were taxed of sin that it was yet sured, the book deserving to be burnt;” and “ impudence also was charged upon the author, who durst “ set his name to it, and dedicate it to yourselves !” First, lords and commons! I pray to that God, before whom ye then were prostrate, so to forgive ye those omissions and trespasses, whicl: ye desire most should find forgiveness, as I shall soon shew to the world how easily ye absolve yourselves of that which this man calls your sin, and is indeed your wisdom, and your nolleness, whereof to this day ye have done well not to repent. He terms it a wicked book," and why but " for allowing other causes of divorce, than Christ and his apostles mention?” and with the same censure condemns of wickedo ness not only Martin Bucer, that elect instrument of reformation, highly honoured, and had in reverence by Edward the Sixth, and his whole parliament, whom also I had published in English by a good providence, about a week before this calumnious digression was preached; so that if he knew not Bucer then, as he ought to have known, he might at least have known him some months after, ere the sermon came in print; wherein notwithstanding he persists in his former sentence, and condemns again of wickedness, either ignorantly or wilfully, not only Martin Bucer, and all the choicest and holiest of our reformers, but the whole parliament and church of England in those best and purest times of Edward the Sixth. All which I shall prove with good evidence, at the end of these explanations. And then let it be judged and seriously considered with what hope the affairs of our religion are committed to one among others, who hath now only left him which of the twain he will choose, whether this shall be his palpable ignorance, or the same wickedness of his own book, which he so lavishly imputes to the writings of other men: and whether this of his, that thus peremptorily defames and attaints of wickedness unspotted churches, unblemished
parliaments, and the most eminent restorers of Christian doctrine, deserve not to be burnt first. And if his heat had burst out only against the opinion, his wonted passion had no doubt been silently borne with wonted patience. But since, against the charity of that solemn place and meeting, it served him further to inveigh opprobriously against the person, branding him with no less than impudence, only for setting his name to what he had written; I must be excused not to be so wanting to the defence of an honest name, or to the reputation of those good men who afford me their society, but to be sensible of such a foul endeavoured disgrace: not knowing aught either in mine own deserts, or the laws of this land, why I should be subject, in such a notorious and illegal manner, to the intemperances of this man's preaching choler And indeed to be so prompt and ready in the midst of his humbleness, to toss reproaches of this bulk and size, argues as if they were the weapons of his exercise, I am sure not of his ininistry, or of that day's work. Certainly to subscribe my name at what I was to own, was what the state had ordered and requires. And he whó lists not to be malicious, would call it ingenuity, clear conscience, willingness to avouch what might be questioned, or to be better instructed. And if God were so displeased with those, Isa. lviii., who “ the solemn fast were wont to smite with the fist of wickedness,” it could be no sign of his own humiliation accepted, which disposed him to smite so keenly with a reviling tongue. But if only to have writ my name must be counted " impudence,” how doth this buc justify another, who might affirm with as good warrant, that the late discourse of " Scripture and Reason, which is certain to be chiefly his own draught, was published without a name, out of base fear, and the sly avoidance of what might follow to his detriment, if the party at court should hap to reach him? And I, to have set my name, where he accuses me to have set it, am so far from recanting, that I offer my hand also if need be, to make good the same opinion which I there maintain, by inevitable consequences drawn parallel from his own principal arguments in that of “ Scripture and Reason:” which I shall pardon him if he can deny, without shaking his own composition to pieces. The “impudence,” therefore, since he weighed so little what a gross revile that was to give his equal, I send him back
again or a phylactery to stitch upon his arrogance, that censures not only before conviction, so bitterly without so much as one reason given, but censures the congregation of his governors to their faces, for not being so hasty as himself to
And whereas my other crime is, that I addressed the dedication of what I had studied to the parliament; how could I better declare the loyalty which I owe to that supreme and majestic tribunal, and the opinion which I have of the high entrusted judgment, and personal worth assembled in that place? With the same affections therefore, and the same addicted fidelity, parliament of England! I here again have brought to your perusal on the same argument these following expositions of scripture. The former book, as pleased some to think, who were thought judicious, had of reason in it to a sufficiency; what they required was, that the scriptures there alleged might be discussed more fully. To their desires thus much further hath been laboured in the scriptures. Another sort also, who wanted more authorities and citations, have not been here unthought of. If all this attain not to satisfy them, as I am confident that none of those our great controversies, at this day hath had a more demonstrative explaining, I must confess to admire what it is; for doubtless it is not reason now-a-days that satisfies or suborns the common credence of men, to yield so easily, and grow so vehement in matters much more disputable, and far less conducing to the daily good and peace of life. Some whose necessary shifts have long inured them to cloak the defects of their unstudied years, and hatred now to learn, under the appearance of a grave solidity, (which estimation they have gained among weak perceivers,) find the case of slighting what they cannot refute, and are determined, as I hear, to hold it not worth the answering. In which number I must be forced to reckon that doctor, who in a late equivocating treatise plausibly set afloat against the Dippers, diving the while himself with a more deep prelatical malignance against the present state and church government, mentions with ignominy“ the Tractate of Divorce ;" yet answers nothing, but instead thereof (for which I do not commend his marshalling) sets Moses also among the crew of his Anabaptists, as one who to a holy nation, the commonwealth of Israel, gave laws “ breaking the bonds of marriage to in