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which in a thousand outward and intermitting crosses may yet be done well as in this vale of tears; but in such a bosom affliction as this, crushing the very foundation of his inmost nature, when he shall be forced to love against a possibility, and to use a dissimulation against his soul in the perpetual and ceaseless duties of a husband, doubtless his whole duty of serving God must needs be blurred and tainted with a sad unpreparedness and dejection of spirit wherein God has no delight. Who sees not therefore how much more christianity it would be to break by divorce, that which is more broken by undue and forcible keeping, rather than 'to cover the altar of the Lord with continual tears, so that he regardeth not the offering any more,' rather than that the whole worship of a christian man's life should languish and fade away beneath the weight of an immeasurable grief and discouragement?
And because some think the children of a second matrimony succeeding a divorce, would not be a holy seed, it hindered not the Jews from being so; and why should we not think them more holy than the offspring of a former ill twisted wedlock, begotten only out of a bestial necessity, without any true love, or contentment, or joy to their parents? So that in some sense we may call them the children of wrath' and anguish, which will as little conduce to their sanctifying as if they had been bastards; for nothing more than disturbance of mind suspends us from approaching to God; such a disturbance especially as both assaults our faith and trust in God's providence, and ends, if there be not a miracle of virtue on either side, not only in bitterness and wrath, the canker of devotion, but in a desperate and vicious carelessness, when he sees himself without fault of his, trained by a deceitful bait into a snare of misery, betrayed by an
alluring ordinance, and then made the thrall of heaviness and discomfort by an undivorcing law of God, as he erroneously thinks, but of man's iniquity, as the truth is. For that God prefers the free and cheerful worship of a Christian, before the grievance and exacted observance of an unhappy marriage, besides that the general maxims of religion assure us, will be more manifest by drawing a parallel argument from the ground of divorcing an idolatress, which was, lest he should alienate his heart from the true worship of God; and what difference is there whether she pervert him to superstition by her enticing sorcery, or disenable him in the whole service of God through the disturbance of her unhelpful and unfit society, and so drive him at last, through murmurings and despair, to thoughts of atheism? Neither doth it lessen the cause of separating, in that the one willingly allures him from the faith, the other perhaps unwillingly drives him; for in the account of God it comes all to one, that the wife looses him a servant; and therefore by all the united force of the Decalogue she ought to be disbanded, unless we must set marriage above God and charity, which is the doctrine of devils, no less than forbidding to marry.
That an Idolatrous Heretic ought to be divorced, after a convenient Space given to Hope of Conversion. **
THEREFORE saith the apostle, 2 Corinthians vi. 'Misyoke not together with infidels,' which is interpreted of marriage in the first place. And although
the former legal pollution be now done off, yet there is a spiritual contagion in idolatry as much to be shunned; and though seducement were not to be feared, yet where there is no hope of converting, there always ought to be a certain religious aversation and abhorring, which can no way sort with marriage; therefore saith St Paul, What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness? What concord hath Christ with Belial ? What part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And in the next verse but one he moralizes, and makes us liable to that command of Isaiah; • Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord; touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive ye.?
And this command, thus gospelized to us, hath the same force with that whereon Ezra grounded the pious necessity of divorcing. Neither hath he other commission for what he did, than such a general command in Deuteronomy as this; nay, not so direct; for he is bid there not to marry, but not bid to divorce, and yet we see with what a zeal and confidence he was the author of a general divorce between the faithful and the unfaithful seed. The gospel is more plainly on his side, according to three of the evangelists, than the words of the law; for where the case of divorce is handled with such severity as was fittest to aggravate the fault of unbounded license, yet still in the same chapter, when it comes into question afterwards, whether any civil respect, or natural relation which is dearest, may be our plea to divide, or hinder, or but delay our duty to religion, we hear it determined that father, and mother, and wife also, is not only to be hated, but forsaken, if we mean to inherit the great reward there promised.
Nor will it suffice to be put off by saying, we must
forsake them only by not consenting or not complying with them; for that were to be done, and roundly too, though being of the same faith, they should but seek out of a fleshly tenderness to weaken our christian fortitude with worldly persuasions, or but to unsettle our constancy with timorous and softening suggestions; as we may read with what a vehemence Job, the patientest of men, rejected the desperate counsels of his wife, and Moses, the meekest, being thoroughly offended with the profane speeches of Zippora, sent her back to her father. But if they shall perpetually at our elbow seduce us from the true worship of God, or defile and daily scandalize our conscience by their hopeless continuance in misbelief, then, even in the due progress of reason, and that ever equal proportion which justice proceeds by, it cannot be imagined that this cited place commands less than a total and final separation from such an adherent, at least that no force should be used to keep them together, while we remember that God commanded Abraham to send away his irreligious wife and her son for the offences which they gave in a pious family. And it may be guessed that David for the like cause disposed of Michal in such a sort, as little differed from a dismis sion. Therefore against reiterated scandals and seducements, which never cease, much more can no other remedy or retirement be found but absolute departure. For what kind of matrimony can that remain to be, what one duty between such can be performed as it should be from the heart, when their thoughts and spirits fly asunder as far as heaven from hell? especially if the time that Hope should send forth her expected blossoms, be passed in vain? It will easily be true, that a father or a brother may be hated zealously, and loved civilly or naturally; for those duties may be performed at distance, and do admit of any long ab
sence; but how the peace and perpetual cohabitation of marriage can be kept, how that benevolent and intimate communion of body can be held with one that must be hated with a most operative hatred, must be forsaken and yet continually dwelt with and accompanied, he who can distinguish, hath the gift of an affection very oddly divided and contrived, while others both just and wise, and Solomon among the rest, if they may not hate and forsake as Moses enjoins, and the gospel imports, will find it impossible not to love otherwise than will sort with the love of God, whose jealousy brooks no corrival.
That Adultery is not the greatest Breach of Matrimony. That there may be other Violations as great.
Now whether idolatry or adultery be the greatest violation of marriage, if any demand, let him thus consider; that among christian writers touching matrimony, there be three chief ends thereof agreed on; godly society, next civil, and thirdly, that of the marriage bed. Of these the first in name to be the highest and most excellent, no baptized man can deny ; nor that idolatry smites directly against this prime end; nor that such as the violated end is, such is the violation; but he who affirms adultery to be the highest breach, affirms the bed to be the highest of marriage, which is in truth a gross and boorish opinion, how common soever, as far from the countenance of scripture as from the light of all clean philosophy, or civil nature. And out of question the cheerful help