Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

that may be in marriage toward sanctity of life, is the purest, and so the noblest end of that contract. But if the particular of each person be considered, then of those three ends which God appointed, that to him is greatest which is most necessary, and marriage is then most broken to him, when he utterly wants the fruition of that which he most sought therein, whether it were religious, civil, or corporal society ; of which wants to do him right by divorce only for the last and meanest, is a perverse injury, and the pretended reason of it as frigid as frigidity itself, which the code and canon are only sensible of. Thus much of this controversy.

I now return to the former argument. And having shown that disproportion, contrariety, or numbness of mind may justly be divorced, by proving already the prohibition thereof opposes the express end of God's institution, suffers not marriage to satisfy that intellectual and innocent desire which God himself kindled in man to be the bond of wedlock, but only to remedy a sublunary and bestial burning, which frugal diet, without marriage, would easily chasten. Next, that it drives many to trangress the conjugal bed, while the soul wanders after that satisfaction which it had hope to find at home, but hath missed; or else it sits repining, even to atheism, finding itself hardly dealt with, but misdeeming the cause to be in God's law, which is in man's unrighteous ignorance. I have shown also how it unties the inward knot of marriage, which is peace and love, if that can be untied which was never knit, while it aims to keep fast the outward formality; how it lets perish the Christian man, to compel impossibly the married man.

CHAPTER X.

The sixth Reason of this Law; that to prohibit Divorce sought for

natural Cases, is against Nature.

The sixth place declares this prohibition to be as respectless of human nature as it is of religion, and therefore is not of God. He teaches, that an unlawful marriage may be lawfully divorced, and that those who having thoroughly discerned each others disposition, which ofttimes cannot be till after matrimony, shall then find a powerful reluctance and recoil of nature on either side, blasting all the content of their mutual society, that such persons are not lawfully married.

*

a

6

That there is a hidden efficacy of love and hatred in man as well as in other kinds, not moral, but natural, which though not always in the choice, yet in the success of marriage will ever be most predominant, besides daily experience, the author of Ecclesiasticus, whose wisdom hath set him next the Bible, acknowledges, xiii. 16. 'A man,' saith he, 'will cleave to his like.' But what might be the cause, whether each one's allotted genius or proper star, or whether the supernal influence of schemes and angular aspects, or this elemental crasis here below; whether all these jointly or singly meeting friendly, or unfriendly in either party, I dare not, with the men I am like to clash, appear so much a philosopher as to conjecture. The ancient proverb in Homer, less abstruse, entitles this work of leading each like person to his like, peculiarly to God himself, which is plain enough also by his naming of a meet or like help in the first espousal instituted ; and that every woman is meet for every man, none so absurd as to affirm,

Seeing then there is a twofold seminary, or stock in nature, from whence are derived the issues of love and hatred, distinctly flowing through the whole mass of created things, and that God's doing ever is to bring the due likenesses and harmonies of his works together, except when out of two contraries met to their own destruction, he moulds a third existence; and that it is error, or some evil angel which either blindly or maliciously hath drawn together, in two persons ill embarked in wedlock, the sleeping discords and enmities of nature, lulled on purpose with some false bait that they may wake to agony and strife later than prevention could have wished, if from the bent of just and honest intentions beginning what was begun and so continuing, all that is equal, all that is fair and possible hath been tried, and no accommodation likely to succeed, what folly is it still to stand combating and battering against invincible causes and effects, with evil upon evil, till either the best of our days be lingered out, or ended with some speeding sorrow? I'he wise Ecclesiasticus advises rather, xxxvii. 27, My son, prove thy soul in thy life, see what is evil for it, and give not that unto it.' Reason he had to say so; for if the noisomeness or disfigurement of body can soon destroy the sympathy of mind to wedlock duties, much more will the annoyance and trouble of mind infuse itself into all the faculties and acts of the body, to render them invalid, unkindly, and even unholy against the fundamental law book of nature, which Moses never thwarts, but reverences ; therefore he commands us to force nothing against sympathy or natural order, no, not upon the most abject creatures, to show that such an indignity cannot be offered to man without an impious crime. And certainly those divine meditating words of finding out a meet and like help to man, have in them a consid

6

eration of more than the indefinite likeness of womanhood; nor are they to be made waste paper on, for the dullness of canon divinity ; no, nor those other allegoric precepts of beneficence fetched out of the closet of nature, to teach us goodness and compassion in not compelling together unmatchable societies, or if they meet through mischance, by all consequence to disjoin them, as God and nature signifies and lectures to us, not only by those recited decrees, but even by the first and last of all his visible works, when by his divorcing command the world first rose out of chaos, nor can be renewed again out of confusion, but by the separating of unmeet consorts.

[ocr errors][merged small]

The seventh Reason, that sometimes Continuance in Marriage may

be evidently the Shortening or Endangering of Life to either Party; both Law and Divinity concluding, that Life is to be preferred before Marriage, the intended Solace of Life.

SEVENTHLY;

The canon law and divines consent, that if either party be found contriving against another's life, they may be severed by divorce ; for a sin against the life of marriage, is greater than a sin against the bed ; the one destroys, the other but deGles. The same may be said touching those persons who being of a pensive nature and course of life, have summed

up

all their solace in that free and lightsome conversation which God and man intends in marriage; whereof when they see themselves deprived by meeting an unsociable consort, they ofttimes resent one another's mistake so deeply, that long it is not ere grief end one of them. When therefore this danger is foreseen, that the life is in peril by living together, . what matter is it whether helpless grief or wilful prac

tice be the cause ? This is certain, that the preservation of life is more worth than the compulsory keeping of marriage, and it is no less than cruelty to force a man to remain in that state as the solace of his life, which he and his friends know will be either the undoing or the disheartening of his life. And what is life without the vigor and spiritual exercise of life? How can it be useful either to private or public employment? Shall it therefore be quite dejected, though never so valuable, and left to moulder away in heaviness, for the superstitious and impossible performance of an ill driven bargain ? Nothing more inviolable than vows made to God; yet we read in Numbers, that if a wife had made such a vow, the mere will and authority of her husband might break it. How much more then may he break the error of his own bonds with an unfit and mistaken wife, to the saving of his welfare, his life, yea, his faith and virtue, from the hazard of overstrong temptations? For if man be lord of the sabbath to the curing of a fever, can he be less than lord of marriage in such important causes as these?

[ocr errors]

a

CHAPTER XII.

The eighth Reason, it is probable or rather certain, that every one

who happens to marry, hath not the Calling; and therefore upon Unfitness found and considered, Force ought not to be used.

ܪ

EIGHTHLY; It is most sure that some even of those who are not plainly defective in body, yet are destitute of all other marriageable gifts, and consequently have not the calling to marry, unless nothing be requisite thereto but a mere instrumental body; which to

« AnteriorContinuar »