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and to do this with no smarting corrosive, but with a smooth and pleasing lesson, which received hath the virtue to soften and dispel rooted and knotty sorrows, and without enchantment, if that be feared, or spell used, hath regard at once both to serious pity and upright honesty; that tends to the redeeming and restoring of none but such as are the object of compassion, having in an ill hour hampered themselves, to the utter despatch of all their most beloved comforts and repose for this life's term. But if we shall obstinately dislike this new overture of unexpected ease and recovery, what remains but to deplore the frowardness of our hopeless condition, which neither can endure the estate we are in, nor admit of remedy either sharp or sweet. Sharp we ourselves distaste and sweet, under whose hands we are, is scrupled and suspected as too luscious. In such a posture Christ found the Jews, who were neither won with the austerity of John the Baptist, and thought it too much license to follow freely the charming pipe of him who sounded and proclaimed liberty and relief to all distresses. Yet truth in some age or other will find her witness, and shall be justified at last by her own children.
The Position proved by the Law of Moses.
To remove therefore, if it be possible, this great and sad oppression which through the strictness of a literal interpreting hath invaded and disturbed the dearest and most peaceable estate of household society, to the overburdening, if not the overwhelming of
many Christians better worth than to be so deserted of the church's considerate care, this position shall be laid down, first proving, then answering what may be objected either from scripture or light of reason.
That indisposition, unfitness, or contrariety of mind, arising from a cause in nature unchangeable, hindering, and ever likely to hinder the main benefits of conjugal society, which are solace and peace, is a greater reason of divorce than natural frigidity, especially if there be no children, and that there be mutual consent.'
This I gather from the law in Deuteronomy, xxiv. I.
The cause of divorce mentioned in the law, is translated some uncleanness,' but in the Hebrew it sounds nakedness of aught, or any real nakedness,' which by all the learned interpreters is referred to the mind as well as to the body. And what greater nakedness or unfitness of mind than that which hinders ever the solace and peaceful society of the married couple? and what hinders that more than the unfitness and defectiveness of an unconjugal mind? The cause therefore of divorce expressed in the posi tion, cannot but agree with that described in the best and equallest sense of Moses's law; which, being a matter of pure charity, is plainly moral, and more now in force than ever; therefore surely lawful. For if under the law such was God's gracious indulgence, as not to suffer the ordinance of his goodness and favor through any error to be seared and stigmatized upon his servants to their misery and thraldom, much less will he suffer it now under the covenant of grace, by abrogating his former grant of remedy and relief.
But the first institution will be objected to have ordained marriage inseparable. To that a little patience until this first part have amply discoursed the grave
and pious reasons of this divorcive law, and then I doubt not but with one gentle stroking to wipe away ten thousand tears out of the life of man. Yet thus much I shall now insist on, that whatever the institution were, it could not be so enormous, nor so rebellious against both nature and reason, as to exalt itself above the end and person for whom it was instituted.
The first Reason of this Law grounded on the prime Reason of Matrimony. That no Covenant whatsoever obliges against the main End both of itself, and of the Parties covenanting.
For all sense and equity reclaims, that any law or covenant, how solemn or straight soever, either between God and man, or man and man, though of God's joining, should bind against a prime and principal scope of its own institution, and of both or either party covenanting; neither can it be of force to engage a blameless creature to his own perpetual sorrow, mistaken for his expected solace, without suffering charity to step in and do a confessed good work of parting those, whom nothing holds together but this of God's joining, falsely supposed, against the express end of his own ordinance. And what his chief end was of creating woman to be joined with man, his own instituting words declare, and are infallible to inform us what is marriage, and what is no marriage, unless we can think them set there to no purpose. 'It is not good,' saith he, 'that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.' From which words so plain, less cannot be concluded, nor is by any learned interpreter, than that in God's intention a meet and happy conversation is the chiefest and the
noblest end of marriage; for we find here no expression so necessarily implying carnal knowledge, as this prevention of loneliness to the mind and spirit of man.
To this, Fagius, Calvin, Pareus, Rivetus, as willingly and largely assent as can be wished. And indeed it is a greater blessing from God, more worthy so excellent a creature as man is, and a higher end to honor and sanctify the league of marriage, whenas the solace and satisfaction of the mind is regarded and provided for before the sensitive pleasing of the body. And with all generous persons married, thus it is, that where the mind and person pleases aptly, there some unaccomplishment of the body's delight may be better borne with, than when the mind hangs off in an unclosing disproportion, though the body be as it ought; for there all corporal delight will soon become unsavoury and contemptible. And the solitariness of man, which God had namely and principally ordered to prevent by marriage, hath no remedy, but lies under a worse condition than the loneliest single life; for in single life, the absence and remoteness of a helper might inure him to expect his own comforts out of himself, or to seek with hope; but here the continual sight of his deluded thoughts without cure, must needs be to him, if especially his complexion incline him to melancholy, a daily trouble and pain of loss, in some degree like that which repro
Lest, therefore, so noble a creature as man should be shut up incurably under a worse evil by an easy mistake in that ordnance which God gave him to remedy a less evil, reaping to himself sorrow while he went to rid away solitariness, it cannot avoid to be concluded, that if the woman be naturally so of disposition as will not help to remove, but help to increase that same Godforbidden loneliness, which will
in time draw on with it a general discomfort and dejection of mind not beseeming either christian profession or moral conversation, unprofitable and dangerous to the commonwealth, when the household estate, out of which must flourish forth the vigor and spirit of all public enterprises, is so ill contented and procured at home and cannot be supported; such a marriage can be no marriage, whereto the most honest end is wanting; and the aggrieved person shall do more manly, to be extraordinary and singular in claiming the due right whereof he is frustrated, than to piece up his lost contentment by visiting the stews, or stepping to his neighbour's bed, which is the common shift in this misfortune, or else by suffering his useful life to waste away, and be lost under a secret affliction at an unconscionable size to human strength. Against all which evils, the mercy of this Mosaic law was graciously exhibited.
The Ignorance and Iniquity of Canon Law, providing for the Right of the Body in Marriage, but nothing for the Wrongs and Grievances of the Mind. An Objection, that the Mind should be better looked to before Contract, answered.
How vain therefore is it, and how preposterous in the canon law, to have made such careful provision against the impediment of carnal performance, and to have had no care about the unconversing inability of mind, so defective to the purest and most sacred end of matrimony; and that the vessel of voluptuous enjoyment must be made good to him that has taken it upon trust, without any caution, whenas the mind.