Page images

to the fanctity of marriage, the good of husband, wife, or children, nothing profitable either to Church or Common-wealth; but hurtfull and pernicious to all these respects. But this will bring in confusion. Yet thefe cautious miftrufters might confider, that what they thus object, lights not upon this book, but upon that which I engage against them, the book of God, and of Mofes, with all the wisdome and providence which had fore-caft the worst of confufion that could fucceed, and yet thought fit of such a permiffion. But let them be of good cheer, it wrought fo little disorder among the Jews, that from Mofes till after the captivity, not one of the Prophets thought it worth rebuking; for that of Malachy well lookt into, will appeare to be, not against divorcing, but rather against keeping strange Concubines, to the vexation of their Hebrew wives. If therefore wee Chriftians may be thought as good and tractable as the Jewes were, and certainly the prohibiters of divorce prefume us to be better, then leffe confusion is to be fear'd for this among us, then was among them. If wee be worse, or but as bad, which lamentable examples confirme we are, then have we more, or at least as much need of this permitted law, as they to whom God therefore gave it (as they fay) under a harsher cov'nant. Let not therfore the frailty of man goe on thus inventing needleffe troubles to it self, to groan under the false imagination of a strictnes never impofd from above; enjoyning that for duty which is an impoffible and vain fupererogating. Be not righteous overmuch, is the counfell of Ecclehaftes, why shouldst thou destroy thy felfe? Let us not be thus over-curious to ftrain at atoms, and yet to stop every vent and cranny of permiffive liberty, left nature wanting those needfull pores, and breathing places which God hath not debarr'd our weaknesse, either fuddenly break out into fome wide rupture of

open vice, and frantick herefie, or else inwardly fefter with repining and blafphemous thoughts, under an unreasonable and fruitleffe rigor of unwarranted law. Against which evills nothing can more befeeme the religion of the Church, or the wifedome of the State, then to confider timely and provide. And in fo doing, let them not doubt but they shall vindicate the misreputed honour of God and his great Lawgiver, by suffering him to give his own laws according to the condition of mans nature best known to him, without the unfufferable imputation of difpencing legally with many ages of ratify'd adultery. They fhall recover the mifattended words of Chrift to the fincerity of their true sense from manifold contradictions, and shall open them with the key of charity. Many helpless Chriftians they fhall raise from the depth of fadnes and diftreffe, utterly unfitted, as they are, to serve God or man: many they shall reclaime from obfcure and giddy fects, many regain from diffolute and brutish licence, many from defperate hardnes, if ever that were justly pleaded. They shall set free many daughters of Ifrael, not wanting much of her fad plight whom Satan had bound eighteen yeares. Man they fhall restore to his just dignity, and prerogative in nature, preferring the fouls free peace before the promifcuous draining of a carnall rage. Mariage from a perilous hazard and fnare, they fhall reduce to bee a more certain hav'n and retirement of happy fociety; when they shall judge according to God and Mofes, and how not then according to Chrift? when they fhall judge it more wifdome and goodnes to break that cov'nant feemingly and keep it really, then compulfion of law to keep it seemingly, and by compulfion of blameles nature to break it really, at least if it were ever truly joyn'd. The vigor of difcipline they may then turne with better fucceffe upon the prostitute loofenes of the

times, when men finding in themselves the infirmities of former ages, fhall not be constrain'd above the gift of God in them, to unprofitable and impoffible obfervances never requir'd from the civileft, the wifeft, the holieft Nations, whofe other excellencies in morall vertue they never yet could equall. Last of all, to those whose mind still is to maintain textuall restriction, whereof the bare found cannot confift sometimes with humanity, much leffe with charity, I would ever answer by putting them in remembrance of a command above all commands, which they feeme to have forgot, and who spake it; in comparifon whereof this which they fo exalt, is but a petty and fubordinate precept. Let them goe therefore with whom I am loath to couple them, yet they will needs run into the fame blindnes with the Pharifes, let them goe therefore and confider well what this leffon means, I will have mercy and not facrafice; for on that faying all the Law and Prophets depend, much more the Gospel whofe end and excellence is mercy and peace: Or if they cannot learn that, how will they heare this, which yet I fhall not doubt to leave with them as a conclufion: That God the Sonne hath put all other things under his own feet; but his Commandements hee hath left all under the feet of Charity.


EXPOSITIONS upon the foure chief places in Scripture, which treat of Mariage, or nullities in Mariage.

Gen. 1. 27. 28. compar'd and explain'd by Gen. 2.
18. 23.24.

Deut. 24. 1. 2.

On Matth. 5. 31. 32. with Matth. 19. from the 3d. v.

to the 11th.


I Cor.

from the 10th to the 16th.

Wherin the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, as was lately publifh'd, is confirm'd by explanation of Scripture, by teftimony of ancient Fathers,

of civil lawes in the Primitive
Church, of famousest

Reformed Di-

And lastly, by an intended Act of the Parlament and Church of England in the last of EDWARD the fixth.


Σκαιοῖσι καινὰ προσφέρων σοφὰ Δόξεις ἀχρεῖος, κ ̓ ου σοφὸς πεφυκέναι· Τῶν δ' αυ δοκούντων εἰδέναι τι ποικίλον, Κρείσσων νομισθεὶς ἐν πόλει, λυπρὸς φανῇ. Euripid. Medea.

« PreviousContinue »