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tractable as the Jews were, and certainly the prohibitors of divorce presume us to be better, then less confusion is to be feared for this among us than was among them. If we be worse, or but as bad, which lamentable examples confirm 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 say, under a harsher covenant.
Let not therefore the frailty of man go on thus inventing needless troubles to itself, to groan under the false imagination of a strictness never imposed from above, enjoining that for duty which is an impossible and vain supererogating. Be not righteous over
• much,' is the counsel of Ecclesiastes; why shouldst thou destroy thyself?' Let us not be thus overcurious to strain at atoms, and yet to stop every vent and cranny of permissive liberty, lest nature, wanting those needful pores and breathing places which God hath not debarred our weakness, either suddenly break out into some wide rupture of open vice and frantic heresy, or else inwardly fester with repining and blasphemous thoughts, under an unreasonable and fruitless rigor of unwarranted law; against which evils nothing can more beseem the religion of the church, or the wisdom of the state, than to consider timely and provide. And in so doing, let them not doubt but they shall vindicate the misreputed honor of God and his great lawgiver, by suffering him to give his own laws according to the condition of man's nature best known to him, without the unsufferable imputation of dispensing legally with many ages of ratified adultery. They shall recover the misattended words of Christ to the sincerity of their true senise from manifold contradictions, and shall open them with the key of charity. Many helpless Christians they shall raise from the depth of sadness and distress, utterly unfitted as they
are to serve God or man; many they shall reclaim from obscure and giddy sects, many regain from dissolute and brutish license, many from desperate hardness, if ever that were justly pleaded. They shall set free many daughters of Israel, not wanting much of her sad 'plight whom Satan had bound eighteen years.' Man they shall restore to his just dignity and prerogative in nature, preferring the soul's free peace before the promiscuous draining of a carnal rage. Marriage, from a perilous hazard and snare, they shall reduce to be a more certain haven and retirement of happy society; when they shall judge, according to God and Moses, and how not then according to Christ? when they shall judge it more wisdom and goodness to break that covenant seemingly, and keep it really, than by compulsion of law to keep it seemingly, and by compulsion of blameless nature to break it really, at least if it were ever truly joined. The vigor of discipline they may then turn with better success upon the prostitute looseness of the times, when men finding in themselves the infirmities of former ages, shall not be constrained above the gift of God in them, to unprofitable and impossible observances, never required from the civilest, the wisest, the holiest nations, whose other excellencies in moral virtue they never yet could equal.
Last of all, to those whose mind is still to maintain textual restrictions, whereof the bare sound cannot consist sometimes with humanity, much less with charity, I would ever answer, by putting them in remembrance of a command above all commands, which they seem to have forgot, and who spake it, in comparison whereof, this which they so exalt is but a petty and subordinate precept. Let them go, therefore, with whom I am loth to couple them, yet they will needs run into the same blindness with the
Pharisees, let them go therefore and consider well what this lesson means, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice;' for on that saying, all the law and the prophets depend, much more the gospel, whose end and excellence is mercy and peace. Or if they cannot learn that, how will they hear this ? which yet I shall not doubt to leave with them as a conclusion ; That God the Son hath put all other things under his own feet, but his commandments he hath left all under the feet of charity.
THAT IT IS LAWFUL, AND HATH BEEN HELD SO ROUGH
ALL AGES, FOR ANY, WHO HAVE THE POWER, TO CALL TO ACCOUNT A TYRANT, OR WICKED KING, AND AFTER DUE CONVICTION, TO DEPOSE, AND PUT HIM TO DEATH ; IF THE ORDINARY MAGISTRATE HAVE NEGLECTED, OR DENIED TO DO IT.
AND THAT THEY, WHO OF LATE SO MUCH BLAME DE
POSING, ARE THE MEN THAT DID IT THEMSELVES.
If men within themselves would be governed by reason, and not generally give up their understanding to a double tyranny, of custom from without, and blind affections within, they would discern better what it is to favor and uphold the tyrant of a nation. But being slaves within doors, no wonder that they strive so much to have the public state conformably governed to the inward vicious rule, by which they govern themselves. For indeed none
can love freedom heartily but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license, which never hath more scope, or more indulgence than under tyrants. Hence is it that tyrants are not oft offended, nor stand much in doubt!
of bad men, as being all naturally servile; but in x whom virtue and true worth most is eminent, them they fear in earnest, as by right their masters; against them lies all their hatred and suspicion. Consequently neither do bad men hate tyrants, but have been always readiest, with the falsified names of loyalty and obedience, to color over their base
compliances. And although sometimes for shame, and when it comes to their own grievances, of purse especially, they would seem good patriots, and side with the better cause, yet when others, for the deliverance of their country, endued with fortitude and heroic virtue to fear nothing but the curse written against those that do the work of the Lord negligently,' would go on to remove, not only the calamities and thraldoms of a people, but the roots and causes whence they spring ; straight these men, and sure helpers at need, as if they hated
, only the miseries, but not the mischiefs, after they have juggled and paltered with the world, bandied and borne arms against their king, divested him, disanointed him, nay, cursed him all over in their pulpits and their pamphlets, to the engaging of sincere and real men, beyond what is possible or honest to retreat from, not only turn revolters from those principles, which only could at first move them, but lay the stain of disloyalty and worse on those proceedings, which are the necessary consequences of their own former actions, nor disliked by themselves, were they managed to the entire advantages of their own faction ; not considering the while that he toward whom they boasted their new fidelity, counted them accessory ; and by those statutes and laws which they so impotently brandish against others, would have doomed them to a traitor's death for what they have done already.
It is true, that most men are apt enough to civil