« PreviousContinue »
who had fuch influence upon the lawes of Theodofius, nor any of thofe holy fathers found fault, nor any of the Churches, why the Magiftrats of this day fhould be fo loth to conftitute the fame. Perhaps they feare an inundation of divorces, which is not likely, whenas we reade not either among the Ebrews, Greeks, or Romans that they were much frequent where they were moft permitted. If they judge chriftian men worse then Fewes or Pagans, they both injure that name, and by this reafon will bee conftrain'd to grant divorces the rather; because it was permitted as a remedy of evil, for who would remove the medcin, while the difeafe is yet fo rife? This being read both in his common places, and on the first to the Corinthians, with what we shall relate more of him yet ere the end, fets him abfolutely on this fide. Not to infift that in both these, and other places of his commentaries hee grants divorce not onely for defertion, but for the feducement and fcandalous demeanour of a heretical confort.
Mufculus a divine of no obfcure fame distinguishes betweene the religious and the civil determination of divorce; and leaving the civil wholly to the lawyers, pronounces a confcionable divorce for impotence not only natural, but accidental, if it be durable. His equity it seems, can enlarge the words of Chrift to one cause more then adultery; why may not the reafon of another man as wife, enlarge them to another caufe.
Gualter of Zuric a well known judicious commentator in his Homilies on Matthew, allows divorce for Leprofie, or any other caufe which renders unfit for wedloc, and calls this rather a nullity of mariage then a divorce, and who, that is not himselfe a meer body, can restrain all the unfitnes of mariage only to a corporal defect.
Hemingius an Author highly esteem'd, and his
works printed at Geneva, writing of divorce, confeffes that lerned men vary in this question, fome granting three causes thereof, fome five, others many more ; he himselfe gives us fixe, adultery, defertion, inability, error, evill ufage, and impiety, ufing argument that Chrift under one Special containes the whole kind, and under the name and example of fornication he includes other caufes equipollent. This difcours he wrote at the request of many who had the judging of these causes in Denmark and Norway, who by all likelyhood follow'd his advice.
Hunnius a Doctor of Wittenberg, well known both in Divinity and other arts, on the 19. of Matt. affirmes that the exception of fornication expreft by our Saviour excludes not other caufes equalling adultery, or deftructive to the substantials of matrimony; but was oppos'd to the custom of the fewes who made divorce for every light caufe.
Felix Bidenbachius an eminent Divine in the Dutchy of Wirtemberg affirmes that the obftinat refusal of conjugal due is a lawful caufe of divorce, and gives an inftance that the confiftory of that ftate fo judg'd.
Gerard cites Harbardus an author not unknown, and Arnifæus cites Wigandus, both yeelding divorce in cafe of cruel ufage; and another author who teftifies to have feen in a dukedom of Germany mariages difjoynd for fome implacable enmities arifing.
Beza one of the strictest against divorce, denies it not for danger of life from a Heretic, or importunat folicitation to doe ought against religion and counts it all one whether the heretic defert, or would stay upon intolerable conditions. But this decifion well examin'd will be found of no folidity. For Beza would be afkt why, if God fo ftrictly exact our stay in any kind of wedloc, wee had not better stay and hazard a murdering for Religion at the hand of a wife, or husband, as he and others enjoyn us to stay and ven
ture it for all other causes but that? and why a mans life is not as well and warrantably fav'd by divorcing from an orthodox murderer, as a heretical? Againe, if desertion be confest by him to confift not only in the forfaking, but in the unfufferable conditions of staying, a man may as well deduce the lawfulneffe of divorcing from any intolerable conditions (if his grant bee good that wee may divorce thereupon from a heretic) as he can deduce it lawful to divorce from any deferter, by finding it lawful to divorce from a deserting infidel. For this is plaine, if Saint Pauls permiffion to divorce an infidel deserter, inferre it lawful for any malicious desertion, then doth Beza's definition of a deferter transferr it felfe with like facility from the cause of religion to the cause of malice, and proves it as good to divorce from him who intolerably stayes as from him who purposely departs; and leaves it as lawfull to depart from him who urgently requires a wicked thing, though profeffing the fame religion, as from him who urges a heathenifh or fuperftitious compliance in a different faith. For if there be fuch neceffity of our abiding, wee ought rather to abide the utmost for religion then for any other cause; seeing both the cause of our ftay is pretended our religion to mariage, and the cause of our suffering is fuppos'd our conftant mariage to religion. Beza therfore by his owne definition of a deferter juftifies a divorce from any wicked or intolerable conditions rather in the fame religion then in a different.
Aretius a famous Divine of Bern approves many causes of divorce in his Problemes, and adds that the lawes and confiftories of Swizzerland approve them also. As firft, adultery, and that not actual only, but intentional, alleging Matthew the fifth, Whosoever looketh to luft, hath committed adultery already in his heart. Wherby faith he, our Saviour fhewes that the breach
of place, I am not to omitt; which if any can think a small one, I must bee patient, it is no smaller then the whole assembl'd autority of England both Church and State; and in those times which are on record for the pureft and fincereft that ever fhon yet on the reformation of this Iland, the time of Edward the 6th. That worthy Prince having utterly abolisht the Canon Law out of his Dominions, as his Father did before him, appointed by full vote of Parlament, a Committy of two and thirty chosen men, Divines and Lawyers, of whom Cranmer the Archbishop, Peter Martyr, and Walter Haddon, (not without the affiftance of Sir John Cheeke the Kings Tutor, a man at that time counted the learnedeft of Englishmen, and for piety not inferior) were the cheif, to frame anew fom Ecclefiaftical Laws, that might be in stead of what was abrogated. The work with great diligence was finisht, and with as great approbation of that reforming age was receav'd; and had bin doubtleffe, as the learned Preface thereof testifies, establisht by Act of Parlament, had not the good Kings death so foon ensuing, arrested the furder growth of Religion alfo, from that season to this. Those laws, thus founded on the memorable wifedome and piety of that religious Parlament and Synod, allow divorce and second mariage not only for adultery or defertion, but for any capital enmity or plot laid against the others life, and likewife for evil and fierce ufage: nay the 12. Chap. of that title by plaine confequence declares, that leffer contentions, if they be perpetual, may obtaine divorce: which is all one really with the position by me held in the former treatise publisht on this argument, herein only differing that there the cause of perpetual ftrife was put for example in the unchangeable difcord of fom natures; but in these lawes intended us by the best of our ancestors, the effect of continual ftrife is determin'd no unjust plea of di
vorce, whether the cause be naturall or wilfull. Wherby the warineffe and deliberation from which that discourse proceeded, will appeare, and that God hath aided us to make no bad conclufion of this point; feeing the opinion which of late hath undergon ill cenfures among the vulgar, hath now prov'd to have don no violence to Scripture, unleffe all these famous Authors alleg'd have done the like; nor hath affirm'd ought more then what indeed the most nominated Fathers of the Church both ancient and modern are unexpectedly found affirming, the lawes of Gods peculiar people, and of primitive Chriftendom found to have practis'd, reformed Churches and ftates to have imitated, and efpecially the most pious Churchtimes of this Kingdom to have fram'd and publifht, and, but for fad hindrances in the fudden change of religion, had enacted by Parlament. Hence forth let them who condemn the affertion of this book for new and licentious, be forry; left, while they think to be of the graver fort, and take on them to be teachers, they expofe themselves rather to be pledg'd up and down by men who intimatly know them, to the discovery and contempt of their ignorance and prefumption.