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suits his purpose.
said to dissolve a marriage lawfully contracted, when, adding to the divine ordinance what the ordinance itself does not contain, he separates, under pretence of religion, whonisoever it
For it ought to be remembered that God in his just, and pure, and holy law, has not only permitted divorce on a variety of grounds, but has even ratified it in some cases, and enjoined it in others, under the severest penalties, Exod. xxi. 4. 10, 11. Deut. xxi. 14. xxiv. 1. Ezra x. 3. Nehem. xiii. 23, 30.
But this, it is objected, was“ because of the hardness of their hearts,” Matt. xix. 8.8 I reply, that these words of Christ, though a very appropriate answer to the Pharisees who tempted him, were never meant as a general explanation of the question of divorce. His intention was, as usual, to repress the arrogance of the Pharisees, and elude their Bnares ; for his answer was only addressed to those who taught from Deut. xxiv. 1. that it was lawful to put away & wife for any cause whatever, provided a bill of divorcement were given. This is evident from the former part of the same chapter, v. 3. “is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause ?” not for the sole reason allowed by Moses, namely, if “some uncleanness were found in her,” which might convert love into hatred ; but because it had become a common practice to give bills of divorce, under the pretence of uncleanness, without just cause ; an abuse which, since the law was unable to restrain it, he thought it advisable to tolerate, notwithstanding the hardness of heart which it implied,' rather than to prevent the dissolution of unfortunate marriages, considering that the balance of earthly happiness or misery rested principally on this institution.”
8 See Selden's Uxor Hebræa, Michaelis On the Laws of Moses, Book üïi. Chap. VII. and Paley's Moral Philosophy, Book iii. Part 3. Chap. VII. where Milton's opinions on the subject are specially alluded to ; Light. foot's Works, II. 115–121.
9. The occasion which induced our Saviour to speak of divorce, was either to convince the extravagance of the Pharisees in that point, or to give a sharp and vehement answer to a tempting question.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 215.
1 . Now that many licentious and hard-hearted men took hold of this law to cloke their bad purposes, is nothing strange to believe, and these were they, not for whom Moses made the law, (God forbid) but whose hardness of heart taking ill advantage of this law, he held it better to suffer as by accident, where it could not be detected, rather than gooit men should lose their just and lawful privilege of remedy Christ ther,
For, if we examine the several causes of divorce enumerated in the law, we shall find that wherever divorce was permitted, it was not in compliance with the hardness of the human heart, but on grounds of the highest equity and justice. The first passage is Exod. xxi. 1-4. “these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them : if thou buy an Hebrew servant. ... in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing. ... if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him : if his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.” Nothing could be more just than this law, which, so far from conceding anything to the nardness of their hearts, rather restrained it; inasmuch as, while it provided against the possibility of any Hebrew, at whatever price he might have been purchased, remaining more than seven years in bondage, it at the same time established the claim of the master as prior to that of the husband. Again, v. 10, 11. “if he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall he not diminish : and if he do not these three unto her, then shall
fore having to answer these tempting Pharisees, according as his custom was, not meaning to inform their proud ignorance what Moses did in the true intent of the law, which they had ill-cited, suppressing the true cause for which Moses gave it, and extending it to every slight matter, tells them their own, what Moses was forced to suffer by their abuse of his law.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 233. See also p. 253. • Moses had granted—contentious cause whatsoever.' Again : This was that hardness of heart, and abuse of a good law, wnich Moses was content to suffer, rather than good men should not have it at all to use needfully.' Ibid. p. 260. Why did God permit this to his people the Jews, but that the right and good which came directly thereby, was more in his esteem than the wrong and evil which came by accident?' Colasterion. Prose Works, III. 444.
? Quandoquidem in iis tantum vitæ momentum vel beatæ vel miseræ positum esse judicavit ; an expression which will be best illustrated by the author himself :
..each on himself relied,'
Paradise Lost, VI. 237.
she go out free without money. This law is remarkable for its consummate humanity and equity; for while it does not permit the husband to put away his wife through the iner: hardness of his heart, it allows the wife to leave her husbare on the most reasonable of all grounds, that of inhumanity and unkindness. Again, Deut. xxi. 13, 14. it was permitud lv the right of war, both to take a female captive to wife, and to divorce her afterwards ; but it as not conceded to the hardness of their hearts that she should be subsequently sold, or that the naster should derive any profit from the possession of her per: un as a slave.
The third passage is Deut. xxiv. . "when a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because ny hath fourd some uncleanness in her, then let him write i bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send he urt of his deuse.” There is no room here for the charge of hardness of heart, supposing the cause alleged to be true, and not a fictitious one. For since, as is evident from the institution itself, God gave a wife to man at the beginning to the intent that she should be his help and solace and delight, if, as often happens, she should eventually prove to be rather a source of sorrow, of disgrace, of ruin, of torment, of calamity, why should we think that we are displeasing God by divorcing such a one?" I should attribute hardness of heart rather to him who retained her, than to him who sent her away under such circumstances ; and not I alone, but Solomon himself, or rather the Spirit of God himself speaking by the mouth of Solomon;Prov. xxx. 21, 23. “for three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear; for an odious woman when she is married," On the contrary, Eccles. ix. 9.“ live joyfully with the wife whom
• Lastly, it gives place to the right of war, for a captive woman, law. fully married, and afterwards not beloved, might be dismissed, only with. out ransom; Deut. xxi.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 357.
4 Cleave to a wife, but let her be a wife, let her be a meet help, a solace, not a nothing, not an adversary, not a desertrice ; can any law or command be so unreasonable, as to make men cleave to calamity, to ruin, to perdition?' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 339.
Ő • This law the Spirit of God by the mouth of Solomon, Prov. xxx. 21, 23. testifies to be a good and necessary law, by granting that a hated woman (for so the Hebrew word signifies rather than odious, though it come all to one) that a hated woman, when she is married, is a thiny that the earth cannot bear.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 233.
thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee;" the wife therefore “which he hath given thee" is she “whom thou lovest,” not she whom thou hatest: and thus Mal. ü. 16.“whoever hateth,” or, “because he hateth, let him dismiss her,”6 as all before Junius explain the passage. God therefore appears to have enacted this law by the mouth of Moses, and reiterated it by that of the prophet, with the view, not of giving scope to the hard-heartedness of the husband, but of rescuing the unhappy wife from its influence wherever the case required it. For there is no hard-hearted ness in dismissing honourably and freely her whose own fault it is that she is not loved. That one who is not beloved, who is, on the contrary, deservedly neglected, and an object of dislike and hatred ; that a wife thus situated should be retained, in pursuance of a most vexatious law, under a yoke of the heaviest slavery (for such is marriage without love) to one who entertains for he neither attachment nor friendship, would indeed be a hardship more cruel than any divorce whatever.?
6. 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. Yea, God himself commands us 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.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 195. • Although this place also hath been tampered with, as if it were to be thus rendered— The Lord God saith, that he hateth putting away. But this new interpretation rests only on the authority of Junius ; for neither Calvin, nor Vatablus himself, nor any other known divine so interpreted before,' &c. Tetrachordon, III. 348. Sibi odio esse dimissionem ait Jehova Deus Israelis. Junius. Si odio habueris, dimitte, ait Dominus Deus Israelis. Lat. Vulg. It appears from Poole's Synopsis that the version of Piscator is the only one which agrees with Junius.
7. • To retain still, and not be able to love, is to heap up more injury.' Doctrine, &c. of Divorce. Prose Works, III. 193. And again— not to be beloved, and yet retained, is the greatest injury to a gentle spirit.'— lbid. * Not he who after sober and cool experience, and long debate with himself, puts away whom, though he cannot love or suffer as a wife with that sincere affection that marriage requires, yet loves at least with that civility and goodness, as not to keep her under a neglected and unwelcome resi. dence, when nothing can be hearty, and not being, it inust be both unjoyous and injurious to any perceiving person so detained, and more injurious than to be freely and upon good terms dismissed.' Tetrachordon, Ill. 393. • Upon utter dislike the husband divorces : which liberty no doubt they received first into their religion from the Greek church, and the imperial laws.' Description of Moscovia, Chap. I. For the imperial laws on this subject, see Tetrachordon, III. 420.
God therefore gave laws of divorce, in their proper use most. equitable and humane; he even extended the benefit of them to those whom he knew would abuse them through the hardness of their hearts, thinking it better to bear with the obduracy of the wicked, than to refrain from alleviating the misery of the righteons, or suffer the institution itself to be subverted, which, from a divine blessing, was in danger of becoming the bitterest of all calamities.
The two next passages, Ezra x. 3. and Nehem. xii. 23, 30. do not merely tolerate divorce on account of the people's hardness of heart, but positively command it for the most sacred religious
On what authority did these prophets found their precept? They were not the promulgators of a new law; the law of Moses alone could be their warrant.8 But the law of Moses nowhere commands the dissolution of marriages of this kind ; it only forbids the contracting of such : Exod. xxxiv. 15, 16. Deut. vii. 3, 4. whence they argued, that the marriage which ought never to have been contracted, ought, if contracted, to be dissolved. So groundless is the vulgar maxim, that what ought not to have been done, is valid when done.'
Marriage therefore gives place to religion; it gives place, as has been seen, to the right of the master;' and the right of a husband, as appears from the passages of Scripture above quoted, as well as from the whole tenor of the civil law, and the custom of nations in general, is nearly the same as that of the master. It gives way, finally, to irresistible antipathies, and to that natural aversion with which we turn from whatever is unclean ; but it is nowhere represented as giving way to hardness of heart, if this latter motive be really alleged as the sole or
s . This command thus gospellized to us, hath the same force with that whereon Ezra grounded the pious necessity of divorcing. Neither had he other commission for what he did, than such a general command in Deu. teronomy as this, nay not so direct, for he is bid there not to marry, but not bid to divorce,' &c. Doctrine, &c. Prose Works. III. 200.
9. But,' saith the lawyer, that which ought not to have been done, once dore, avails.' I answer, this is but a crotchet of the law, but that brought against it is plain Scripture.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, I. 202.
1. The law of marriage gives place to the power of parents ; for we hold that the 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.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 357.