Page images
PDF
EPUB

logy—The Packets from Rome, collected and published in two volumes quarto, by a set of gentlemen, 1735, under the title of The History of Popery, vol. ii. p. 431.

A work this, which is too valuable to be lost to the public; and therefore, as I fear it is near out of print, it were to be wished it should be reprinted in as handsome an edition as that above referred to. See also Burnet Hif. Ref. vol. i. p. 191:

As for those men who have the gift of continency, they, as it appears from the scriptures, and all experience, are probably very few, at least comparatively; and those who received it in the days of our Lord and His apostles, seem to have received this for the particular purpose of keeping themselves difentangled from the affairs of this life, during the infancy and persecution of the church, i Cor. vii. 7, 17. Such do not want cloysters and cells for their security. As for those who have * it not, locking them up together

in

These certainly constitute the bulk of mankind, as all experience throughout all ages sufficiently shews. The natural structure of the human body, its natural secretions, &c. which are carried on daily, not by any confrivance or management of the creature, but by the power of infinite wisdom, impressed, we know not how, on the wondrous mechanism of every part, afford us such physical reasons for this, as to amount to demonstration of the necessity of marriage in the generality of men. This observation is abundantly verified by the manner of our SAVIOUR's expression, Matt. xix. 11, 12, where He speaks of a power of total abstinence as the immediate and special gift of heaven, and this for a special purpose, unless

in

[ocr errors]

or

in such places, and depriving them of the remedy which God commands in marriage, has been attended with a two fold wickedness; 1. in living contrary to the ordinance of Heaven; 2. in gratifying their desires contrary to the course of nature, or at least in some way which the divine law hath prohibited. Therefore the Apostle doth not say—if they cannot contain, let them shut themselves

up, pray

that the order of nature may be inverted; but let them marry; it is better to marry

than burn : as if he had said" One or other of these must be the consequence.” So, when married persons have separated for a while or season, on some religious occasions come together again, faith he, lest Satan tempt you for your incontinency.

From all which it may be gathered, that celibacy is not an ordinance of God, but a snare of Satan--that marriage is the ordinance of God; therefore, that a man who may marry, and doth not, has no more * warrant from God's word to expect that he shall be kept from vice, than that he would be

in the cases He puts of accidental imbecillity, arifing, in some, from a defect in their constitution, being born exnuchs; in others, from external violence by the hands of

men.

* For, continence being none of those graces that are promised by God to all that ask it, as it was not in a man's power, without extreme severities on himself, to govern his own constitution of body, fu he had no reason to expect God should interpose, when he had provided another remedy for such cases, Burnet Hist. Ref. vol. ij.

p. 91, 3d edit.

kept

kept from farving, if, instead of eating and drinking, he was to pray that the appetites of hunger and thirft might be totally annihilated.

The indiscriminate f and total prohibition of polygamy, as it has no warrant from the word of God, may also be the means of plunging many into the mischiefs of uncommanded celibacy; for many men there are, who very early in life marry, perhaps without all the confideration which ought to be exercised in so momentous an undertakingmany things may happen which may be very reasonable, and indeed unavoidable, causes of separation from their wives; as for instanco - incurable disease of mind or body, unconquerable violence of temper, perpetual refractoriness * of difpofition, levity of beha

viour

[ocr errors]

+ If the enacting part of 1 Jac. C. II. had gone no farther than the preamble, and its severity been confined to-" divers evil-disposed persons, who being married,

run out of one county into another, or into places where they are not known, and there become to be " married, having another husband or wife living, to " the great dishonour of God, and utter undoing of di

vers honest men's children, and others”-it would have been a wholesome law, and highly justifiable in its penalty on such miscreants; who are undoubtedly guilty of one of the vileft and most injurious frauds that can possibly be committed. It seems to fall within the equity of Exod. xxi. 16. for such persons are a sort of dvd pawodisai, or man-stealers.

* It is to be feared, that there are not a few females, who (like other monopolists) take the advantage of the poor husband's situation, to use him as they please ; and this for pretty much the same reason why the ass, in the fable, insulted and kicked the poor old lion-because it is not in their power to refent it as they ought.

The

viour-which, though not amounting to such proof as to be the ground of utter legal divorce, yet such as may destroy the whole

comfort

The advice which king Ahasuerus received from his wise men, the seven princes of Media and Persia, upon queen Vashti's disobedience, would have an excellent effect, could it be followed. Many an high-spirited female would have too cogent a reason against the indulgence of a refractory difpofition, not to suppress it ---- her pride, which is now the husband's torment, would then become his security, at least in a great measure ; for pride is a vice, which, as it tends to self-exaltation, maintains uniformly its own principle-not to bear the thoughts of a rival. "See Esther i. 10, &c. As things are with us, the poor man must grind in mola afinaria during life.

It is certain, that nothing can be a release from the bond of marriage itself but death, or an act of adultery in the wife. But that a man is at all events bound to maintain the external bond, by cohabiting with a woman, who, instead of being an help meet for him (as we say) becomes, by the violence and perverseness of her temper and disposition, a constant and increasing torment, and this after the most friendly, tender, and kind admonitions is not consonant either to scripture or reafon.

Some will tell us, that such a thing must be looked upon as happening by the will of PROVIDENCE, as a chastisement or visitation from Heaven, and therefore must be submitted to and endured.

So is sickness from the hand of God; so are afflictions of all kinds, and certainly to be submitted to with patience and resignation ; yet to use means of recovery from fickness, and of deliverance from trouble and affliction, are apparent duties ; and why not in the other case? The great Milton has some excellent and scriptural observations on these points in his Tetrachordon; to which I refer the reader.

It was proposed in the book for reformation of the ecclefsastical law, 1552, that “ Desertion, long absence, capital “ enmities, where either party was in hazard of their life, “ or constant perverseness, or fierceness of an husband “ against his wife, might induce a divorce”-this fell to

the

comfort of a man's life. By these and many other means, an husband may be reduced to the fituation of an unmarried man, harrassed by the same desires, subject to the same temptations; yet his condition is ten-fold worse ; the one may marry, the other canthe ground by the death of Ed. VI. Burnet Hist. Ref. vol. ii. p. 198.

The whole analogy of scripture agrees with that saying of the ApostleLet not the wife depart from her husband; and again--Let not the husband put away his wife-i Cor. vii. 10, II. But then these things must be construed agreeably to the analogy of that wisdom which is profitable to dirett-Eccl. X. 10. They cannot mean, that a wife is not to depart from her husband, who threatens or endangers her life-nor that an husband may not separate from a wife who obstinately sets herself to be the plague and torment of his. Surely all this is within the equity of 1 Cor. vii. 15. and that persons are not under bondage in such cases.

This kind of things falls under a sort of necefsity, which must always interpret the law in favour of Telfpreservation. Thou fhalt do no murder-constitutes a capital offence in the man who wantonly or maliciously kills another—but if a man slays another in his own defence, it is an excusable homicide : this from the neceffary care which every man has a right to take of his own life. The ship-master to whom I intrust my goods, is wicked and base, if he wantonly cast them into the sea; but if a storm arife, and he cast them out to save the thip from sinking, he is highly justifiable. I would therefore argue from necessity on the point of separation,; for I cannot find any privilege conferred on one creature to make another wretched, and that without remedy. Of this necessity every person must judge at his peril; formas the old proverb says-None can tell where the poe pinches, so well as he that wears it: but then be it remembered -that every man mall give an account of himself to GOD. Rom. xiv. 12. If this were considered as it ought to be, it would certainly be the best means of binding both parties over to their good behaviour, in all conjugal disputes: VOL. I.

N

not:

« PreviousContinue »