Page images

as the church honours and obeys Christ, her head. The husband must love and cherish his wife, as Christ his church. Thus they must be to each other, if they will be true man and wife in the sight of God, whom certainly the churches vught to follow in their judgment. Now the proper and ultimate end of marriage is not copulation, or children, for then there was not true matrimony between Joseph and Mary the mother of Christ, nor between many holy persons more; but the full and proper and main end of marriage is the communicating of all duties both divine and human, each to other with utmost benevolence and affection.

CHAPTER XXXIX. The Properties of a true and Christian Marriage more dise

tinctly repeated. By which definition we may know that God esteems and reckons upin these four necessary properties to be in every true marriage. 1. That they should live together, unless the calling of God require otherwise for a time. 2. That they should love one another to the height of dearness, and that in the Lord, and in the communion of true religion. 3. That the husband bear himself as the head and preserver of his wife, instructing her to all godliness and integrity of life; that the wife also be to her husband a help, according to her place, especially furthering him in the true worship of God, and next in all the occasions of civil life. And 4. That they defraud not each other of conjugal benevolence, as the apostle commands, 1 Cor. vii. Hence it follows, according to the sentence of God, which all Christians ought to be raled by, that between those who either through obstinacy, Jr helpless inability, cannot or will not perform these repeated duties, between those there can be no true matrimony, nor ought they to be counted man and wife.

CHAPTER XL. Whether those crimes recited chap. xxxvii. out of the civil Law,

dissolve Matrimony in God's account. Now if a husband or wife be found guilty of any of those crines which by the law “consensu” are made causes of divorce, it is manifest, that such a man cannot be the head and preserver of his wife, nor such a woman be a meet hep


[ocr errors]

to her husband, as the divine law in true wedlock requires ; for these faults are punished either by death, or deportation, or extreme infamy, which are directly opposite to the covenant of marriage. If they deserve death, as adultery and the like, doubtless God would not that any should live in wedlock with them whom he would not have to live at all. Or if it be not death, but the incurring of notorious infamy, certain it is neither just, nor expedient, nor meet, that an honest man should be coupled with an infamous woman, nor an honest matron with an infamous man. The wise Roman princes had so great a regard to the equal honour of either wedded person, that they counted those marriages of no force which were made between the one of good repute, and the other of evil note. How much more will all honest regard of Christian expedience and comeliness beseem and concern those who are set free and dignified in Christ, than it could the Roman senate, or their sons, for whom that law was provided ?

And this all godly men will soon apprehend, that he who ! ought to be the head and preserver not only of his wife, but : also of his children and family, as Christ is of his church, a had need be one of honest name : so likewise the wife, which is to be the meet help of an honest and good man, the $ mother of an honest offspring and family, the glory of the man, even as the man is the glory of Christ, should not be tainted with ignominy; as neither of them can avoid to be, having been justly appeached of those forenamed crimes; and therefore cannot be worthy to hold their place in a Christian family: yea, they themselves turn out themselves and dissolve that holy covenant. And they who are true brethren and sisters in the Lord are no more in bondage to such violators of marriage.

But here the patrons of wickedness and dissolvers of Christian discipline will object, that it is the part of man and wife to bear one another's cross, whether in calamity or infamy, that they might gain each other, if not to a good name, yet to repentance and amendment. But they who thus object, seek the impunity of wickedness, and the favour of wicked men, not the duties of true charity; which prefers public honesty before private interest, and had rather the remedies of wholesomne punishment appointed by God should

je in use, than that by remissness the licence of evil doing hould increase For if they who, by committing such offences, have made void the holy knot of marriage, be capable of repentance, they will be sooner moved when due punishment is executed on them, than when it is remitted.

We must ever beware, lest, in contriving what will be best or the soul's health of delinquents, we make ourselves wiser ind discreeter than God. He that religiously weighs his oracles concerning marriage, cannot doubt that they, who have committed the foresaid transgressions, have lost the right of matrimony, and are unworthy to hold their dignity n an honest and Christian family.

But if any husband or wife see such signs of repentance in heir transgressor, as that they doubt not to regain them by continuing with them, and partaking of their miseries and attaintures, they may be left to their own hopes, and their own mind; saving ever the right of church and commonwealth, that it receive no scandal by the neglect of due seves rity, and their children no harm by this invitation to licence, and want of good education.

From all these considerations, if they be thought on, as in the presence of God, and out of his word, any one may perceive, who desires to determine of these things by the scripure, that those causes of lawful divorce, which the most reLigious emperors Theodosius and Valentinian set forth in the orecited place, are according to the law of God, and the prime institution of marriage; and were still more and more traitened, as the church and state of the empire still more and more corrupted and degenerated. Therefore pious princes and commonwealths both may and ought establish hem again, if they have a mind to restore the honour, anctity, and religion of holy wedlock to their people, and lisentangle many consciences from a miserable and perilous ondition, to a chaste and honest life. To those recited causes wherefore a wife might send a livorce to her husband, Justinian added four more, Constit. 17; and more for which a man might put away his wife. "hree other causes were added in the Code, de Repudiis, l. ubemus.” All which causes are so clearly contrary to the irst intent of marriage, that they plainly dissolve it. I set them Lot down, being easy to be found in the body of the civil law.

It was permitted also hy Christian emperors, that they who would divorce by mutual consent, might without impediment. Or if there were any difficulty at all in it, the law expresses

the reason, that it was only in favour of the children; so that if there were none, the law of those godly emperors made no other difficulty of a divorce by consent. Or if any were minded without consent of the other to divorce, and without those causes which have been named, the Christian emperors laid no other punishment upon them, than that the husband wrongfully divorcing his wife should give back her dowry, and the use of that which was called “ Donatio propter nuptias ;” or if there were no dowry nor no donation, that he should then give her the fourth part of his goods. The like penalty was inflicted on the wife departing without just cause. But that they who were once married should be compelled to remain so ever against their wills, was not exacted. Wherein those pious princes followed the law of God in Deut. xxiv. 1, and his express charge by the prophet Malachi, to dismiss from him the wife whom he hates. For God never meant in marriage to give to man a perpetual torment instead of a meet help. Neither can God approve, that to the violation of this holy league (which is violated as soon as true affection ceases and is lost) should he added murder, which is already committed by either of them who resolvedly hates the other, as I shewed of 1 John 6 Whoso hateth his brother, is murderer.”

Whether the Husband or Wife deserted may marry to

another. THE wife's desertion of her husband the Christian emperors plainly decreed to be a just cause of divorce, whenas they granted him the right thereof, if she had but lain out one night against his will without probable cause. But of he man deserting his wife they did not so determine: yet if we look into the word of God, we shall find, that he who though but for a year without just cause forsakes his wife, and neither provides for her maintenance, nor signifies his purpose of returning, and good will towards her, whenas he inay, hath forfeited his right in her so forsaken. For the Spirit of God speaks plainly, that both man and wife have

iii. 15,

such power over one another's person, as that they cannot deprive each other of living together, but by consent, and for a time.

Hither may be added, that the Holy Spirit grants desertion to be a cause of divorce, in those answers given to the Corinthians concerning a brother or sister deserted by a misbeliever. “If he depart, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. In which words, who sees not that the Holy Ghost openly pronounced, that the party without cause deserted is not bound for another's wilful desertion, to abstain from marriage, if he have need thereof? But some will

say, that this is spoken of a misbeliever departing. But I beseech ye, doth not he reject the faitn of Christ in his deeds, who rashly breaks the holy covenant of wedlock instituted by God? And besides this, the Holy Spirit does not make the misbelieving of him who departs, but the departing of him who disbelieves, to be the just cause of freedom to the brother or sister.

Since therefore it will be agreed among Christians, that they who depart from wedlock without just cause, do not only deny the faith of matrimony, but of Christ also, whatever they profess with their mouths; it is but reason to conclude, that the party deserted is not bound in case or causeless desertion, but that lie may lawfully seek another consort, if it be needful to him, toward a pure and blame.ess conversation.

CHAPTER XLII. The Impotence of Body, Leprosy, Madness, &c., are just

Causes of Divorce. Op this, because it was not disputed in “ the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce,” him that would know further, I commend to the Latin original.

CHAPTER XLIII. That to grant Divorce for all the Causes which have been

hitherto brought, disagrees not from the Words of Christ, naming only the Cause of Adultery.

Now we must see how these things can stand with the words of our Saviour, who seems directly to forbid all di

« PreviousContinue »