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felves to the painful economy of a familylife, or confine themselves to the attention and concern which a family must require.
In every point of view, the contempt of God's law is very shocking; but be it remembered, that, though we have no municipal law to enforce its obligation, it ought to be binding and obligatory on every man's çonscience in the hight of the divine law-giver.
There is no statute which punishes the defilement of our neighbour's wife, though it is a capital offence by God's law, and
punished with the death of both the parties ; yet surely none will say, that it is the less criminal before God: or, because the seventh commandment has no human municipal law to enforce its rigour, that therefore the consciences of individuals are under less obligation to observe it, or have more liberty to transgress it, than if it had.
But it fometimes happens, that a man having enticed a maid, &c. lives with her for a season, and then turns her off for another, not perhaps without making some provision for the first, and the conscience of the man is salved by this piece of generohty, as it is called. But the law of God is directly against such a proceeding—He shall SURELY endow her to be his wife, faith the most. High: and the reason given for this, can never alter nor cease, because the act from which it arises can never be recalled. The law of GOD therefore as much remains in force against
such a putting away, as against theft or murder.
It is not unusual for women so put away, to marry other men, nay, sometimes they are portioned by the seducer for this very purpose. This fashionable way of getting rid of women, includes in it many crimes. First, It is a breach of that positive law-He fall surely endow her to be his wife and again—She shall be bis wife; because he bath humbled her, he may not put ber
all his days. Secondly, It is therefore a species of unlawful, forbidden divorce. It is, thirdly, adultery in the woman so put away to marry another. And, fourthly, He that marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery.
We never allow any thing to be adultery except the outward ceremony has passed; but God's positive commands are not subject to the controul of human invention. It would be a folecism in philosophy, to talk of setting the fun to the dial, and not the dial to the sun; it is as great a one in divinity, to argue, that the law of God is to be accommodated to the law of man, and not the law of man to the law of God.
Let us suppose for a moment, that, as it is said to have been the case amongst the Spartans, theft was not to be looked upon in a scandalous point of view, but * rather allow
• Aulus Gellius, lib. xi. c. 18. tells us, out of an antient lawyer, that the old Ægyptians held all manner of thefts to be lawful, and did not punish them. Diodorus Siculus mentions this law among them, that they who live by robbery were to enter their names, and bring what they stole to the priest, who muleted the man that was robbed, a fourth part, and gave it to the thief. See Patrick on Gen. xlvi. 34.
able and commendable, if done fo dextrously, as that the persons were not detected in the fact; Would this shake the authority of the eighth commandment, or be pleadable before God as a justification of the thief ? Confider the work of God, that which is crooked cannot be made strait, and who can make that strait which he hath made crooked ? Eccl. i. 15.
From what has been said, I think it may be fairly concluded:
That marriage is a divine institution, and, as such, to be abided by as revealed to us by its holy and blessed author.
That those who look upon it merely as a civil contract, and therefore subject to the alteration and controul of men, have different views of it from those given us in the scriptures.
3. That a woman's person cannot be separated from her self; wherever the bestows the one, the other is bestowed also.
4. That when the delivers her perfon, and consequently her self, into the poffeffion of a man, she is (if not betrothed to another) by that act, infeparably united to him, sa indissolubly joined, that she cannot leave him, nor may be put ber away all his days.
5. That if these truths were received, as they are indeed the truths of God, millions
of women (especially of the lower sort) would be saved from ruin; for, being protected, received, and provided for as God's law enjoins, as the wives of those men who first enticed them, they could not be turned out upon the wide world, with the loss of reputation, friends, and consequently all
power of helping themselves, but by ways too dreadful to think of !
Before I conclude this point, I must desire not to be misunderstood, as if I meant to undervalue or despise buman ordinances ; they have excellent use, and, in this mixed state of things, are necessary to maintain that order and decency, which are so necessary for the regulation of the outward actions of men. I would rather infer their use and necefsity, than doubt of either. When I say that the marriage-service of the church, doth not constitute a marriage in the fight of God, I say true ; because by finding no such service in the Bible, and that marriages were had and solemnized without it, I therefore conclude that cannot be it which constitutes a marriage in the fight of God; for, if so, we must suppose that people before the invention of such service, were not married at all, but lived in fin; which is absurd and impoffible. That some service, or ceremony, is expedient, for many good and laudable purposes, must be allowed_as, for the public recognition of the mutual engagement of the parties to each other to ratify their union as to in
heritances, and many other laudable ends of civil society; and as none can live together as man and wife, without offence, unless they * fubmit to the ordinance of man, it ought, where it possibly can, to be submitted to for the Lord's fake. 1 Pet. ii. 13.
But it is a great abuse of such things, to put them in the place of the institution of God; so that this is of no force or validity in God's fight without the other. Hence it is, that, men thinking they are not married, unless by a priest in a church, take advantage of their own villainy, and thus feduce women, and
put them away at their pleasure; whereas God's law binds them, in the first instance, and declares the bond indisoluble. So that, as to the purposes of the divine institution, if
thousand priests were to read a thousand
* This golden rule of 1 Pet. ii. 13. appears by the context, to relate to that obedience which we owe to the civil powers. But then the laws of civil government must not be inconsistent with, or repugnant to, the law of God, for if they be, we must not submit to them, but rather suffer than obey. When Nebuchadnezzer set up his golden image, the three children of Israel would not obey the king's decree to worship it; they chose rather to endure the fiery furnace. Dan. iii. 17, 18. So Daniel vi. Jo, And as it is with civil, fo is it with ecclefiaftical ordinan, ces of men ; these must be consonant with God's word, otherwise we must act as the apostles did, Aits iv. 19. Men may make laws for the public recognition of a marriage in the fight of the world; but to ordain in what marriage shall confift in the sight of God, is out of their jurisdi&tion, and depends solely on the appointment of God's own law.