Expositions upon the foure chiefe places in Scripture which treat of Mariage, or nullities in Mariage.
Gen. 1. 27.
So God created Man in his owne image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them be fruitfull, &c.
Gen. 2. 18.
And the Lord God said, It is not good that Man should be alone, I will make him a helpe meet for him.
23. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his Wife, and they shall be one flesh.
Gen. 1. 27.
So God created Man in his owne image.] To be inform'd aright in the whole History of Mariage, that we may know for certain, not by a forc't yoke, but by an impartial definition, what Mariage is, and what is not Mariage; it will undoubtedly be safest, fairest, and most with our obedience, to enquire, as our Saviours direction is, how it was in the beginning. And that we begin so high as Man created after Gods owne Image, there want not earnest causes. For nothing now adayes is more degenerately forgott'n, then the true dignity of man, almost in every respect, but especially in this prime institution of Matrimony, wherein his native pre-eminence ought most to shine. Although if we consider that just and naturall privileges men neither can rightly seek, nor dare fully claime, unless they be ally'd to inward goodnesse, and stedfast knowledge, and that the want of this quells them to a servile sense of their own conscious unworthinesse, it may save the wondring why in this age many are so opposite both to human and to Christian liberty, either while they understand not, or envy others that do; contenting, or rather priding themselves in a specious humility and strictnesse bred out of low ignorance, that never yet conceiv'd the freedome of the Gospel; and is therefore by the Apostle to the Colossians rankt with no better company, then Will-worship and the meer shew of wisdome. And how injurious herein they are, if not to themselves, yet to their neighbours, and not to them only, but to the all-wise and bounteous grace offer'd us in our redemption, will orderly appear.
[In the Image of God created he him. ] It is anough determin'd, that this Image of God wherin Man was created, is meant Wisdom, Purity, Justice, and rule over all creatures. All which being lost in Adam, was recover'd with gain by the merits of Christ. For albeit our first parent had lordship over sea, and land, and aire, yet there was a law without him, as a guard set over him. But Christ having cancell'd the hand writing of ordinances which was against us, Coloss. 2.14. and interpreted the fulfilling of all through charity, hath in that respect set us over law, in the free custody of his love, and left us victorious under the guidance of his living Spirit, not under the dead letter; to follow that which most edifies, most aides and furders a religious life, makes us holiest and likest to his immortall Image, not that which makes us most conformable and captive to civill and subordinat precepts; whereof the strictest observance may oftimes prove the destruction not only of many innocent persons and families, but of whole Nations. Although indeed no ordinance human or from heav'n can binde against the good of man; so that to keep them strictly against that end, is all one with to breake them. Men of most renowned vertu have sometimes by transgressing, most truly kept the law; and wisest Magistrates have permitted and dispenc't it; while they lookt not peevishly at the letter, but with a greater spirit at the good of mankinde, if alwayes not writt'n in the characters of law, yet engrav'n in the heart of man by a divine impression. This Heathens could see, as the well-read in story can recount of Solon and Epaminondas, whom Cicero in his first booke of invention nobly defends. All law, saith he, we ought to referr to the common good, and interpret by that, not by the scrowl of letters. No man observes law for laws sake, but for the good of them for whom it was made. The rest might serv well to lecture these times, deluded through belly-doctrines into a devout slavery. The Scripture also affords us David in the shew-bread, Hezechiah in the passeover sound and safe transgressors of the literall command, which also dispenc'd not seldom with it self; and taught us on what just occasions to doe so: untill our Saviour for whom that great and God-like work was reserv'd, redeem'd us to a state above prescriptions, by dissolving the whole law into charity. And have we not the soul to understand this, and must we against this glory of Gods transcendent love towards us be still the servants of a literall indightment?
[Created he him. ] It might be doubted why he saith, In the Image of God created he him, not them, as well as male and female them; especially since that Image might be common to them both, but male and female could not, however the Jewes fable, and please themselvs with the accidentall concurrence of Plato's wit, as if Man at first had bin created Hermaphrodite: but then it must have bin male and female created he him. So had the Image of God bin equally common to them both, it had no doubt bin said, In the Image of God created he them. But St. Paul ends the controversie, by explaining that the woman is not primarily and immediatly the image of God, but in reference to the man. The head of the woman, saith he, 1 Cor. 11. is the man: he the image and glory of God, she the glory of the man: he not for her, but she for him. Therefore his precept is, Wives be subject to your husbands as is fit in the Lord, Coloss. 3. 18. In every thing, Eph. 5.24. Neverthelesse man is not to hold her as a servant, but receives her into a part of that empire which God proclaims him to, though not equally, yet largely, as his own image and glory: for it is no small glory to him, that a creature so like him, should be made subject to him. Not but that particular exceptions may have place, if she exceed her husband in prudence and dexterity, and he contentedly yeeld; for then a superior and more naturall law comes in, that the wiser should govern the lesse wise, whether male or female. But that which far more easily and obediently follows from this verse, is that, seeing woman was purposely made for man, and he her head, it cannot stand before the breath of this divine utterance, that man the portraiture of God, joyning to himself for his intended good and solace an inferiour sexe, should so becom her thrall, whose wilfulnes or inability to be a wife frustrates the occasionall end of her creation, but that he may acquitt himself to freedom by his naturall birth-right, and that indeleble character of priority which God crown'd him with. If it be urg'd that sin hath lost him this, the answer is not far to seek, that from her the sin first proceeded, which keeps her justly in the same proportion still beneath. She is not to gain by being first in the transgression, that man should furder loose to her, because already he hath lost by her means. Oft it happens that in this matter he is without fault; so that his punishment herein is causeles: and God hath the praise in our speeches of him, to sort his punishment in the same kind with the offence. Suppose he err'd; it is not the intent of God or man, to hunt an error so to the death with a revenge beyond all measure and proportion. But if we argue thus, this affliction is befaln him for his sin, therefore he must bear it, without seeking the only remedy; first it will be false that all affliction comes for sin, as in the case of Job, and of the man born blind, Joh. 9.3. was evident: next by that reason, all miseries comming for sin, we must let them all lye upon us like the vermin of an Indian Catharist, which his fond religion forbids him to molest. Were it a particular punishment inflicted through the anger of God upon a person, or upon a land, no law hinders us in that regard, no law but bidds us remove it if we can: much more if it be a dangerous temptation withall; much more yet, if it be certainly a temptation, and not certainly a punishment, though a pain. As for what they say we must bear with patience, to bear with patience, and to seek effectuall remedies, implies no contradiction. It may no lesse be for our disobedience, our unfaithfulnes, and other sins against God, that wives becom adulterous to the bed; and questionles we ought to take the affliction as patiently as christian prudence would wish; yet hereby is not lost the right of divorcing for adultery. No you say, because our Saviour excepted that only. But why, if he were so bent to punish our sins, and try our patience in binding on us a disastrous Mariage, why did he except adultery? Certainly to have bin bound from divorce in that case also had bin as plentifull a punishment to our sins, and not too little work for the patientest. Nay, perhaps they will say it was too great a sufferance: And with as slight a reason, for no wise man but would sooner pardon the act of adultery once and again committed by a person worth pitty and forgivenes, then to lead a wearisom life of unloving & unquiet conversation with one who neither affects nor is affected, much lesse with one who exercises all bitternes, and would commit adultery too, but for envy lest the persecuted condition should thereby get the benefit of his freedom. 'Tis plain therefore, that God enjoyns not this supposed strictnes of not divorcing either to punish us, or to try our patience.
Moreover, if man be the image of God, which consists in holines, and woman ought in the same respect to be the image and companion of man, in such wise to be lov'd as the Church is belov'd of Christ, and if, as God is the head of Christ, and Christ the head of man, so man is the head of woman; I cannot see by this golden dependance of headship and subjection, but that Piety and Religion is the main tye of Christian Matrimony: so as if there be found between the pair a notorious disparity either of wickednes or heresie, the Husband by all manner of right is disingag'd from a creature, not made and inflicted on him to the vexation of his righteousnes; the wife also, as her subjection is terminated in the Lord, being her self the redeem'd of Christ, is not still bound to be the vassall of him, who is the bondslave of Satan: she being now neither the image nor the glory of such a person, nor made for him, nor left in bondage to him; but hath recours to the wing of charity, and protection of the Church; unless there be a hope on either side; yet such a hope must be meant, as may be a rationall hope, and not an endles servitude. Of which hereafter.
But usually it is objected, that if it be thus, then there can be no true mariage between misbeleevers and irreligious persons? I might answer, let them see to that who are such; the Church hath no commission to judge those without, 1 Cor. 5. But this they will say perhaps, is but penuriously to resolv a doubt. I answer therefore, that where they are both irreligious, the mariage may be yet true anough to them in a civill relation. For there are left som remains of Gods image in man, as he is meerly man; which reason God gives against the shedding of mans bloud, Gen. 9. as being made in Gods image, without expression whether he were a good man or a bad, to exempt the slayer from punishment. So that in those mariages where the parties are alike void of Religion, the wife owes a civill homage and subjection, the husband owes a civill loyalty. But where the yoke is mis-yok't, heretick with faithfull, godly with ungodly, to the grievance and manifest endangering of a brother or sister, reasons of a higher strain than matrimoniall bear sway; unlesse the Gospel instead of freeing us, debase it self to make us bondmen, and suffer evill to controule good.
[Male and female created he them.] This contains another end of matching man and woman, being the right and lawfulnes of the mariage-bed; though much inferior to the former end of her being his image and helpe in religious society. And who of weakest insight may not see that this creating of them male and female, cannot in any order of reason, or Christianity, be of such moment against the better and higher purposes of their creation, as to enthrall husband or wife to duties or to sufferings, unworthy and unbeseeming the image of God in them? Now when as not only men, but good men, doe stand upon their right, their estimation, their dignity, in all other actions and deportments with warrant anough and good conscience, as having the image of God in them, it will not be difficult to determin what is unworthy and unseemly for a man to do or suffer in wedlock; and the like proportionally may be found for woman: if we love not to stand disputing below the principles of humanity. He that said, Male and female created he them, immediatly before that said also in the same verse, In the image of God created he him, and redoubl'd it, that our thoughts might not be so full of dregs as to urge this poor consideration of male and female, without remembring the noblenes of that former repetition; lest when God sends a wise eye to examin our triviall glosses, they be found extremly to creep upon the ground: especially since they confesse that what here concerns mariage is but a brief touch, only preparative to the institution which follows more expressely in the next Chapter: and that Christ so took it, as desiring to be briefest with them who came to tempt him, account shall be given in due place.
V. 28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitfull and multiply, and replenish the earth, &c.
This declares another end of Matrimony, the propagation of mankind: and is again repeated to Noah and his sons. Many things might be noted on this place not ordinary, nor unworth the noting; but I undertook not a generall Comment. Hence therefore we see the desire of children is honest and pious; if we be not lesse zealous in our Christianity, then Plato was in his heathenism; who in the sixt of his Laws, counts off-spring therefore desirable, that we may leav in our stead sons of our sons, continuall servants of God: a religious and prudent desire, if people knew as well what were requir'd to breeding as to begetting; which desire perhaps was a cause why the Jews hardly could endure a barren wedlock: and Philo in his book of speciall Laws, esteems him only worth pardon that sends not barrennes away. Carvilius the first recorded in Rome to have sought divorce, had it granted him for the barrennes of his wife, upon his oath that he maried to the end he might have children; as Dionysius and Gellius are authors. But to dismisse a wife only for barrennes, is hard: and yet in som the desire of children is so great, and so just, yea somtime so necessary, that to condemn such a one to a childles age, the fault apparently not being in him, might seem perhaps more strict then needed. Somtimes inheritances, crowns, and dignities are so interested and annext in their common peace and good to such or such lineall descent, that it may prove a great moment both in the affairs of men and of religion, to consider throughly what might be don heerin, notwithstanding the waywardness of our School Doctors.
Gen. 2. 18.
And the Lord said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.
V. 23. And Adam said, &c. 24. Therefore shall a man leave, &c.
THis second Chapter is granted to be a Commentary on the first, and these verses granted to be an exposition of that former verse, Male and female created he them, and yet when this male and female is by the explicite words of God himselfe heer declar'd to be not meant other then a fit help, and meet society; som who would ingrosse to themselves the whole trade of interpreting, will not suffer the cleer text of God to doe the office of explaining it self.
[And the Lord God said, It is not good. ] A man would think that the consideration of who spake, should raise up the attention of our minds to enquire better, and obey the purpos of so great a Speaker: for as we order the busines of Mariage, that which he heer speaks is all made vain; and in the decision of matrimony, or not matrimony, nothing at all regarded. Our presumption hath utterly chang'd the state and condition of this ordinance: God ordain'd it in love and helpfulnes to be indissoluble, and we in outward act and formality to be a forc'd bondage; so that being subject to a thousand errors in the best men, if it prove a blessing to any, it is of meer accident, as mans law hath handl'd it, and not of institution.
[It is not good for man to be alone.] Hitherto all things that have bin nam'd, were approv'd of God to be very good: lonelines is the first thing which Gods eye nam'd not good: whether it be a thing, or the want of somthing, I labour not; let it be their tendance, who have the art to be industriously idle. And here alone is meant alone without woman; otherwise Adam had the company of God himself, and Angels to convers with; all creatures to delight him seriously, or to make him sport. God could have created him out of the same mould a thousand friends and brother Adams to have bin his consorts; yet for all this till Eve was giv'n him, God reckon'd him to be alone.
[It is not good. ] God heer presents himself like to a man deliberating; both to shew us that the matter is of high consequence, and that he intended to found it according to naturall reason, not impulsive command; but that the duty should arise from the reason of it, not the reason be swallow'd up in a reasonlesse duty. Not good, was as much to Adam before his fall, as not pleasing, not expedient; but since the comming of sin into the world, to him who hath not receiv'd the continence, it is not only not expedient to be alone, but plainly sinfull. And therefore he who wilfully abstains from mariage, not being supernaturally gifted, and he who by making the yoke of mariage unjust and intolerable, causes men to abhorr it, are both in a diabolicall sin, equall to that of Antichrist who forbids to marry. For what difference at all whether he abstain men from marying, or restrain them in a mariage hapning totally discommodious, distastfull, dishonest and pernicious to him without the appearance of his fault? For God does not heer precisely say, I make a female to this male, as he did briefly before; but expounding himselfe heer on purpos, he saith, because it is not good for man to be alone, I make him therefore a meet help. God supplies the privation of not good, with the perfect gift of a reall and positive good; it is mans pervers cooking who hath turn'd this bounty of God into a Scorpion, either by weak and shallow constructions, or by proud arrogance and cruelty to them who neither in their purposes nor in their actions have offended against the due honour of wedlock.
Now wheras the Apostle speaking in the Spirit, I Cor. 7. pronounces quite contrary to this word of God, It is good for a man not to touch a woman, and God cannot contradict himself, it instructs us that his commands and words, especially such as bear the manifest title of som good to man, are not to be so strictly wrung, as to command without regard to the most naturall and miserable necessities of mankind. Therefore the Apostle adds a limitation in the 26 v. of that chap. for the present necessity it is good; which he gives us doubtlesse as a pattern how to reconcile other places by the generall rule of charity.
[For man to be alone. ] Som would have the sense heerof to be in respect of procreation only: and Austin contests that manly friendship in all other regards had been a more becomming solace for Adam, then to spend so many secret years in an empty world with one woman. But our Writers deservedly reject this crabbed opinion; and defend that there is a peculiar comfort in the maried state besides the genial bed, which no other society affords. No mortall nature can endure either in the actions of Religion, or study of wisdome, without somtime slackning the cords of intense thought and labour: which lest we should think faulty, God himself conceals us not his own recreations before the world was built; I was, saith the eternall wisdome, dayly his delight, playing alwayes before him. And to him indeed wisdom is as a high towr of pleasure, but to us a steep hill, and we toyling ever about the bottom: he executes with ease the exploits of his omnipotence, as easie as with us it is to will: but no worthy enterprise can be don by us without continuall plodding and wearisomnes to our faint and sensitive abilities. We cannot therefore alwayes be contemplative, or pragmaticall abroad, but have need of som delightfull intermissions, wherin the enlarg'd soul may leav off a while her severe schooling; and like a glad youth in wandring vacancy, may keep her hollidaies to joy and harmles pastime: which as she cannot well doe without company, so in no company so well as where the different sexe in most resembling unlikenes, and most unlike resemblance, cannot but please best, and be pleas'd in the aptitude of that variety. Wherof lest we should be too timorous, in the aw that our flat sages would form us and dresse us, wisest Salomon among his gravest Proverbs countenances a kinde of ravishment and erring fondnes in the entertainment of wedded leisures; and in the Song of Songs, which is generally beleev'd, even in the jolliest expressions to figure the spousals of the Church with Christ, sings of a thousand raptures between those two lovely ones farre on the hither side of carnall enjoyment. By these instances, and more which might be brought, we may imagine how indulgently God provided against mans lonelines; that he approv'd it not, as by himself declar'd not good; that he approv'd the remedy therof, as of his own ordaining, consequently good; and as he ordain'd it, so doubtles proportionably to our faln estate he gives it; els were his ordinance at least in vain, and we for all his gift still empty handed. Nay, such an unbounteous giver we should make him, as in the fables Jupiter was to Ixion, giving him a cloud instead of Juno, giving him a monstrous issue by her, the breed of Centaures, a neglected and unlov'd race, the fruits of a delusive mariage; and lastly, giving him her with a damnation to that wheele in hell, from a life thrown into the midst of temptations and disorders. But God is no deceitfull giver, to bestow that on us for a remedy of lonelines, which if it bring not a sociable minde as well as a conjunctive body, leavs us no lesse alone then before; and if it bring a minde perpetually avers and disagreeable, betraies us to a wors condition then the most deserted lonelines. God cannot in the justice of his own promise and institution so unexpectedly mock us, by forcing that upon us as the remedy of solitude, which wraps us in a misery worse then any wildernes, as the Spirit of God himself judges, Prov. 19. especially knowing that the best and wisest men amidst the sincere and most cordiall designes of their heart, doe dayly erre in choosing. We may conclude therfore seeing orthodoxall Expositors confesse to our hands, that by lonelines is not only meant the want of copulation, and that man is not lesse alone by turning in a body to him, unlesse there be within it a minde answerable, that it is a work more worthy the care and consultation of God to provide for the worthiest part of man which is his minde, and not unnaturally to set it beneath the formalities and respects of the body, to make it a servant of its owne vassall, I say we may conclude that such a mariage, wherin the minde is so disgrac't and vilify'd below the bodies interest, and can have no just or tolerable contentment, is not of Gods institution, and therfore no mariage. Nay in concluding this, I say we conclude no more then what the common Expositors themselves give us, both in that which I have recited, and much more hereafter. But the truth is, they give us in such a manner as they who leav their own mature positions like the eggs of an Ostrich in the dust; I do but lay them in the sun; their own pregnancies hatch the truth; and I am taxt of novelties and strange producements, while they, like that inconsiderat bird, know not that these are their own naturall breed.
[I will make him a help meet for him. ] Heer the heavnly instituter, as if he labour'd, not to be mistak'n by the supercilious hypocrisie of those that love to maister their brethren, and to make us sure that he gave us not now a servil yoke, but an amiable knot, contents not himself to say, I will make him a wife, but resolving to give us first the meaning before the name of a wife, saith graciously, I will make him a help meet for him. And heer again, as before, I doe not require more full and fair deductions then the whole consent of our Divines usually raise from this text, that in matrimony there must be first a mutuall help to piety, next to civill fellowship of love and amity, then to generation, so to houshold affairs, lastly the remedy of incontinence. And commonly they reck'n them in such order, as leavs generation and incontinence to be last consider'd. This I amaze me at, that though all the superior and nobler ends both of mariage and of the maried persons be absolutely frustrat, the matrimony stirs not, looses no hold, remains as rooted as the center: but if the body bring but in a complaint of frigidity, by that cold application only, this adamantine Alpe of wedlock has leav to dissolve; which els all the machinations of religious or civill reason at the suit of a distressed mind, either for divine worship or humane conversation violated, cannot unfasten. What courts of concupiscence are these, wherin fleshly appetite is heard before right reason, lust before love or devotion? They may be pious Christians together, they may be loving and friendly, they may be helpfull to each other in the family, but they cannot couple; that shall divorce them though either party would not. They can neither serv God together, nor one be at peace with the other, nor be good in the family one to other, but live as they were dead, or live as they were deadly enemies in a cage together; tis all one, they can couple, they shall not divorce till death, no though this sentence be their death. What is this, besides tyranny, but to turn nature upside down, to make both religion, and the minde of man wait upon the slavish errands of the body, and not the body to follow either the sanctity, or the soveranty of the mind unspeakably wrong'd, and with all equity complaining? what is this but to abuse the sacred and misterious bed of mariage to be the compulsive stie of an ingratefull and malignant lust, stirr'd up only from a carnall acrimony, without either love or peace, or regard to any other thing holy or human. This I admire how possibly it should inhabit thus long in the sense of so many disputing Theologians, unlesse it be the lowest lees of a canonicall infection liver-grown to their sides; which perhaps will never uncling, without the strong abstersive of som heroick magistrat, whose mind equall to his high office dares lead him both to know and do without their frivolous case-putting. For certain he shall have God and this institution plainly on his side. And if it be true both in divinity and law, that consent alone, though copulation never follow, makes a mariage, how can they dissolv it for the want of that which made it not, and not dissolv it for that not continuing which made it, and should preserve it in love and reason, and difference it from a brute conjugality?
[Meet for him.] The originall heer is more expressive then other languages word for word can render it; but all agree effectuall conformity of disposition and affection to be heerby signify'd; which God as it were, not satisfy'd with the naming of a help, goes on describing another self, a second self, a very self it self. Yet now there is nothing in the life of man, through our misconstruction, made more uncertain, more hazardous and full of chance then this divine blessing with such favorable significance heer conferr'd upon us, which if we do but erre in our choice, the most unblamable error that can be, erre but one minute, one moment after those mighty syllables pronounc't which take upon them to joyn heavn and hell together unpardnably till death pardon, this divine blessing that lookt but now with such a human smile upon us, and spoke such gentle reason, strait vanishes like a fair skie, and brings on such a scene of cloud and tempest, as turns all to shipwrack without havn or shoar, but to a ransomles captivity. And then they tell us it is our sin; but let them be told again, that sin through the mercy of God hath not made such wast upon us, as to make utterly void to our use any temporall benefit, much lesse any so much availing to a peacefull and sanctify'd life, meerly for a most incident error which no warines can certainly shun. And wherfore servs our happy redemption, and the liberty we have in Christ, but to deliver us from calamitous yokes, not to be liv'd under without the endangerment of our souls, and to restore us in som competent measure to a right in every good thing both of this life, and the other. Thus we see how treatably and distinctly God hath heer taught us what the prime ends of mariage are, mutuall solace and help. That we are now, upon the most irreprehensible mistake in choosing, defeated and defrauded of all this originall benignity, was begun first through the snare of Antichristian canons long since obtruded upon the Church of Rome, and not yet scour'd off by reformation, out of a lingring vain-glory that abides among us to make fair shews in formall ordinances, and to enjoyn continence & bearing of crosses in such a garb as no Scripture binds us, under the thickest arrows of temptation, where we need not stand. Now we shall see with what acknowledgement and assent Adam receiv'd this new associat, which God brought him.
V. 23. And Adam said this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Woman, because she was tak'n out of Man.
That there was a neerer alliance between Adam and Eve, then could be ever after between man and wife, is visible to any. For no other woman was ever moulded out of her husbands rib, but of meer strangers for the most part they com to have that consanguinity which they have by wedlock. And if we look neerly upon the matter, though mariage be most agreeable to holines, to purity and justice, yet is it not a naturall, but a civill and ordain'd relation. For if it were in nature, no law or crime could disannull it, to make a wife, or husband, otherwise then still a wife or husband, but only death; as nothing but that can make a father no father, or a son no son. But divorce for adultery or desertion, as all our Churches agree but England, not only separats, but nullifies, and extinguishes the relation it self of matrimony, so that they are no more man and wife; otherwise the innocent party could not marry else-where, without the guilt of adultery; next, were it meerly naturall why was it heer ordain'd more then the rest of morall law to man in his originall rectitude, in whose brest all that was naturall or morall was engrav'n without externall constitutions and edicts. Adam therfore in these words does not establish an indissoluble bond of mariage in the carnall ligaments of flesh and bones, for if he did, it would belong only to himself in the literall sense; every one of us being neerer in flesh of flesh, and bone of bones to our parents then to a wife; they therfore were not to be left for her in that respect. But Adam, who had the wisdom giv'n him to know all creatures, and to name them according to their properties, no doubt but had the gift to discern perfectly, that which concern'd him much more; and to apprehend at first sight the true fitnes of that consort which God provided him. And therfore spake in reference to those words which God pronounc't before; as if he had said, this is she by whose meet help and society I shall no more be alone; this is she who was made my image, ev'n as I the Image of God; not so much in body, as in unity of mind and heart. And he might as easily know what were the words of God, as he knew so readily what had bin don with his rib, while he slept so soundly. He might well know, if God took a rib out of his inside, to form of it a double good to him, he would far sooner dis-joyn it from his outside, to prevent a treble mischief to him: and far sooner cut it quite off from all relation for his undoubted ease, then nail it into his body again, to stick for ever there a thorn in his heart. When as nature teaches us to divide any limb from the body to the saving of his fellows, though it be the maiming and deformity of the whole; how much more is it her doctrin to sever by incision, not a true limb so much, though that be lawfull, but an adherent, a sore, the gangrene of a limb, to the recovery of a whole man. But if in these words we shall make Adam to erect a new establishment of mariage in the meer flesh, which God so lately had instituted, and founded in the sweet and mild familiarity of love and solace, and mutuall fitnes, what do we but use the mouth of our generall parent, the first time it opens, to an arrogant opposition, and correcting of Gods wiser ordinance. These words therfore cannot import any thing new in mariage, but either that which belongs to Adam only, or to us in reference only to the instituting words of God which made a meet help against lonelines. Adam spake like Adam the words of flesh and bones, the shell and rinde of matrimony; but God spake like God, of love and solace and meet help, the soul both of Adams words and of matrimony.
V. 24. Therefore shall a man leav his father and his mother, and shall cleav unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.
This vers, as our common heed expounds it, is the great knot tier, which hath undon by tying, and by tangling, millions of guiltles consciences: this is that greisly Porter, who having drawn men and wisest men by suttle allurement within the train of an unhappy matrimony, claps the dungeon gate upon them, as irrecoverable as the grave. But if we view him well, and hear him with not too hasty and prejudicant ears, we shall finde no such terror in him. For first, it is not heer said absolutely without all reason he shall cleave to his wife, be it to his weal or to his destruction as it happens, but he shall doe this upon the premises and considerations of that meet help and society before mention'd, Therefore he shall cleave to his wife, no otherwise a wife then a fit help. He is not bid to leave the dear cohabitation of his father, mother, brothers and sisters, to link himself inseparably with the meer carcas of a Mariage, perhaps an enemy. This joyning particle Therefore is in all equity, nay in all necessity of construction to comprehend first and most principally what God spake concerning the inward essence of Mariage in his institution, that we may learn how far to attend what Adam spake of the outward materials therof in his approbation. For if we shall bind these words of Adam only to a corporall meaning, and that the force of this injunction upon all us his sons to live individually with any woman which hath befaln us in the most mistak'n wedlock, shall consist not in those morall and relative causes of Eves creation, but in the meer anatomy of a rib, and that Adams insight concerning wedlock reacht no furder, we shall make him as very an idiot as the Socinians make him; which would not be reverently don of us. Let us be content to allow our great forefather so much wisdom, as to take the instituting words of God along with him into this sentence, which if they be well minded, wil assure us that flesh and ribs are but of a weak and dead efficacy to keep Mariage united where there is no other fitnes. The rib of Mariage, to all since Adam, is a relation much rather then a bone; the nerves and sinews therof are love and meet help, they knit not every couple that maries, and where they knit they seldom break, but where they break, which for the most part is where they never truly joyn'd, to such at the same instant both flesh and rib cease to be in common; so that heer they argue nothing to the continuance of a false or violated Mariage, but must be led back to receive their meaning from those institutive words of God which give them all the life and vigour they have.
[Therefore shall a man leave his father, &c. ] What to a mans thinking more plain by this appointment, that the fatherly power should give place to conjugall prorogative? yet it is generally held by reformed writers against the Papist, that though in persons at discretion the Mariage in it selfe be never so fit, though it be fully accomplisht with benediction, board and bed, yet the father not consenting, his main will without dispute shall dissolv all. And this they affirm only from collective reason, not any direct law; for that in Exod. 22.17. which is most particular, speaks that a father may refuse to marry his daughter to one who hath deflour'd her, not that he may take her away from one who hath soberly married her. Yet because the generall honor due to parents is great, they hold he may, and perhaps hold not amisse. But again, when the question is of harsh and rugged parents, who deferr to bestow their children seasonably, they agree joyntly that the Church or Magistrat may bestow them, though without the Fathers consent: and for this they have no express autority in Scripture. So that they may see by their own handling of this very place, that it is not the stubborn letter must govern us, but the divine and softning breath of charity which turns and windes the dictat of every positive command, and shapes it to the good of mankind. Shall the outward accessory of a Fathers will wanting, rend the fittest and most affectionat Mariage in twain, after all nuptial consummations; and shall not the want of love and the privation of all civil and religious concord, which is the inward essence of wedlock, doe as much to part those who were never truly wedded? shall a Father have this power to vindicate his own wilful honour and autority to the utter breach of a most dearly-united mariage, and shall not a man in his own power have the permission to free his Soul, his life, and all his comfort of life from the disastre of a no-mariage? Shall fatherhood, which is but man, for his own pleasure dissolve matrimony, and shall not matrimony, which is Gods Ordinance, for its own honour and better conservation, dissolv it self, when it is wrong, and not fitted to any of the cheif ends which it owes us?
[And they shall be one flesh. ] These words also inferre that there ought to be an individualty in Mariage; but without all question presuppose the joyning causes. Not a rule yet that we have met with, so universall in this whole institution, but hath admitted limitations and conditions according to human necessity. The very foundation of Matrimony, though God laid it deliberately, that it is not good for man to bee alone holds not always, if the Apostle can secure us. Soon after wee are bid leav Father and Mother, and cleav to a Wife, but must understand the Fathers consent withall, els not. Cleav to a Wife, but let her bee a wife, let her be a meet help, a solace, not a nothing, not an adversary, not a desertrice; can any law or command be so unreasonable as to make men cleav to calamity, to ruin, to perdition? In like manner heer, They shall be one flesh; but let the causes hold, and be made really good, which only have the possibility to make them one flesh. Wee know that flesh can neither joyn, nor keep together two bodies of it self; what is it then must make them one flesh, but likenes, but fitnes of mind and disposition, which may breed the Spirit of concord, and union between them? If that be not in the nature of either, and that there has bin a remediles mistake, as vain wee goe about to compell them into one flesh, as if wee undertook to weav a garment of drie sand. It were more easy to compell the vegetable and nutritive power of nature to assimilations and mixtures which are not alterable each by other; or force the concoctive stomach to turn that into flesh which is so totally unlike that substance as not to be wrought on. For as the unity of mind is neerer and greater then the union of bodies, so doubtles is the dissimilitude greater and more dividuall, as that which makes between bodies all difference and distinction. Especially whenas besides the singular and substantial differences of every Soul, there is an intimat quality of good or evil, through the whol progeny of Adam, which like a radical heat, or mortal chilnes, joyns them, or disjoyns them irresistibly. In whom therefore either the will, or the faculty is found to have never joyn'd, or now not to continue so, 'tis not to say, they shall be one flesh, for they cannot be one flesh. God commands not impossibilities; and all the Ecclesiastical glue, that Liturgy, or Laymen can compound, is not able to soder up two such incongruous natures into the one flesh of a true beseeming Mariage. Why did Moses then set down thir uniting into one flesh? And I again ask, why the Gospel so oft repeats the eating of our Saviours flesh, the drinking of his blood? That we are one body with him, the members of his body, flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone. Ephes. 5. Yet lest we should be Capernaitans, as wee are told there, that the flesh profiteth nothing; so wee are told heer, if we be not as deaf as Adders, that this union of the flesh proceeds from the union of a fit help and solace. Wee know that there was never a more spiritual mystery then this Gospel taught us under the terms of body and flesh; yet nothing less intended then that wee should stick there. What a stupidnes then is it, that in Mariage, which is the nearest resemblance of our union with Christ, we should deject our selvs to such a sluggish and underfoot Philosophy, as to esteem the validity of Mariage meerly by the flesh, though never so brokn and disjoynted from love and peace, which only can give a human qualification to that act of the flesh, and distinguish it from bestial. The Text therefore uses this phrase, that they shall bee one flesh, to justify and make legitimat the rites of Mariage-bed; which was not unneedfull, if for all this warrant they were suspected of pollution by some sects of Philosophy, and Religions of old, and latelier among the Papists, and other Heretics elder then they. Some think there is a high mystery in those words, from that which Paul saith of them, Ephes. 5. This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and the Church: and thence they would conclude mariage to be inseparable. For me I dispute not now whether matrimony bee a mystery or no; if it bee of Christ and his Church, certainly it is not meant of every ungodly and miswedded mariage, but then only mysterious, when it is a holy, happy, and peacefull match. But when a Saint is joyn'd with a Reprobate, or both alike wicked with wicked, fool with fool, a hee-drunkard with a she; when the bed hath bin nothing els for twenty yeares or more, but an old haunt of lust and malice mixt together, no love, no goodnes, no loyalty, but counterplotting, and secret wishing one anothers dissolution; this is to me the greatest mystery in the world, if such a mariage as this can be the mystery of ought, unless it bee the mystery of iniquity: According to that which Paræus cites out of Chrysostom, that a bad Wife is a help for the devill, and that like may be said of a bad husband. Since therfore none but a fit and pious matrimony can signify the union of Christ and his Church, ther cannot hence be any hindrance of divorce to that wedlock wherin there can be no good mystery. Rather it might to a Christian Conscience bee matter of finding it self so much less satisfy'd then before, in the continuance of an unhappy yoke, wherein there can be no representation either of Christ, or of his Church.
Thus having enquir'd the institution how it was in the beginning, both from the I Chap. of Gen. where it was only mention'd in part, and from the second, where it was plainly and evidently instituted; and having attended each clause and word necessary with a diligence not drousy, wee shall now fix with som advantage; and by a short view backward gather up the ground wee have gon, and summ up the strength wee have, into one argumentative head, with that organic force that logic proffers us. All arts acknowledge that then only we know certainly, when we can define; for definition is that which refines the pure essence of things from the circumstance. If therfore we can attain in this our Controversy to define exactly what mariage is, wee shall soon lern when there is a nullity thereof, and when a divorce.
The part therfore of this Chapter which hath bin heer treated, doth orderly and readily resolv it self into a definition of mariage, and a consectary from thence. To the definition these words cheifly contribute; It is not good, &c. I will make, &c. Where the consectary begins this connexion, Therfore informs us, Therfore shall a Man, &c. Definition is decreed by Logicians to consist only of causes constituting the essence of a thing, What is not therfore among the causes constituting mariage, must not stay in the definition. Those causes are concluded to be matter, and, as the Artist calls it, Form. But inasmuch as the same thing may be a cause more waies then one, and that in relations and institutions which have no corporal subsistence, but only a respective beeing, the Form by which the thing is what it is, is oft so slender and undistinguishable, that it would soon confuse, were it not sustain'd by the efficient and final causes, which concurre to make up the form invalid otherwise of it self, it will bee needfull to take in all the fowr causes into the definition. First therfore the material cause of matrimony is man and woman; the Author and efficient, God and their consent; the internal Form and soul of this relation, is conjugal love arising from a mutual fitnes to the final causes of wedlock, help and society in Religious, Civil and Domestic conversation, which includes as an inferior end the fulfilling of natural desire, and specifical increase; these are the final causes both moving the efficient, and perfeting the form. And although copulation be consider'd among the ends of mariage, yet the act therof in a right esteem can no longer be matrimonial, then it is an effect of conjugal love. When love findes it self utterly unmatcht, and justly vanishes, nay rather cannot but vanish, the fleshly act indeed may continue, but not holy, not pure, not beseeming the sacred bond of mariage; beeing at best but an animal excretion, but more truly wors and more ignoble then that mute kindlyness among the heards and flocks: in that proceeding as it ought from intellective principles, it participates of nothing rational, but that which the feild and the fould equalls. For in human actions the soule is the agent, the body in a manner passive. If then the body doe out of sensitive force, what the soul complies not with, how can man, and not rather somthing beneath man, be thought the doer?
But to proceed in the pursute of an accurat definition, it will avail us somthing, and whet our thoughts, to examin what fabric heerof others have already reard. Paræus on Gen. defines Mariage to be an indissoluble conjunction of one man and one woman to an individual and intimat conversation, and mutual benevolence, &c. Wherin is to be markt his placing of intimat conversation before bodily benevolence; for bodily is meant, though indeed benevolence rather sounds will then body. Why then shall divorce be granted for want of bodily performance, and not for want of fitnes to intimat conversation, when as corporal benevolence cannot in any human fashion bee without this? Thus his definition places the ends of Mariage in one order, and esteems them in another. His Tautology also of indissoluble and individual is not to be imitated; especially since neither indissoluble nor individual hath ought to doe in the exact definition, beeing but a consectary flowing from thence, as appears by plain Scripture, Therfore shall a man leav, &c. For Mariage is not true mariage by beeing individual, but therfore individual, if it be true Mariage. No argument but causes enter the definition; a Consectary is but the effect of those causes. Besides, that Mariage is indissoluble, is not Catholickly true; wee know it dissoluble for Adultery, and for desertion by the verdit of all Reformed Churches. Dr. Ames defines it an individual conjunction of one man and one woman, to communion of body and mutual society of life; But this perverts the order of God, who in the institution places meet help and society of life before communion of body. And vulgar estimation undervalues beyond comparison all society of life and communion of minde beneath the communion of body; granting no divorce, but to the want, or miscommunicating of that. Hemingius, an approved Author, Melanchtons Scholler, and who, next to Bucer and Erasmus writes of divorce most like a Divine, thus comprises, Mariage is a conjunction of one man and one woman lawfully consenting, into one flesh, for mutual helps sake, ordain'd of God. And in his explantion stands punctually upon the conditions of consent, that it be not in any main matter deluded, as beeing the life of wedloc, and no true marriage without a true consent. Into one flesh he expounds into one minde, as well as one body, and makes it the formal cause: Heerin only missing, while he puts the effect into his definition instead of the cause which the Text affords him. For one flesh is not the formal essence of wedloc, but one end, or one effect of a meet help: The end oft times beeing the effect and fruit of the form, as Logic teaches: Els many aged and holy matrimonies, and more eminently that of Joseph and Mary, would bee no true mariage. And that maxim generally receiv'd, would be fals, that consent alone, though copulation never follow, makes the mariage. Therefore to consent lawfully into one flesh, is not the formal cause of Matrimony, but only one of the effects. The Civil Lawyers, and first Justinian or Tribonian defines Matrimony a conjunction of man and woman containing individual accustom of life. Wherin first, individual is not so bad as indissoluble put in by others: And although much cavil might be made in the distinguishing between indivisible and individual, yet the one tak'n for possible, the other for actuall, neither the one nor the other can belong to the essence of mariage; especially when a Civilian defines, by which Law mariage is actually divorc't for many causes, and with good leav, by mutual consent. Therfore where conjunction is said, they who comment the Institutes, agree that conjunction of minde is by the Law meant, not necessarily conjunction of body. That Law then had good reason attending to its own definition, that divorce should be granted for the breaking of that conjunction which it holds necessary, sooner then for the want of that conjunction which it holds not necessary. And wheras Tuningus a famous Lawyer excuses individual as the purpos of Mariage, not always the success, it suffices not. Purpos is not able to constitute the essence of a thing. Nature her self, the universal Mother, intends nothing but her own perfection and preservation; yet is not the more indissoluble for that. The Pandects out of Modestinus, though not define, yet well describe Mariage, the conjunction of male and female, the society of all life, the communion of divine and human right: which Bucer also imitates on the fifth to the Ephesians. But it seems rather to comprehend the several ends of Mariage, then to contain the more constituting cause that makes it what it is.
That I therefore among others (for who sings not Hylas) may give as well as take matter to be judg'd on, it will be lookt I should produce another definition then these which have not stood the tryal. Thus then I suppose that Mariage by the natural and plain order of Gods institution in the Text may be more demonstratively and essentially defin'd. Mariage is a divine institution, joyning man and woman in a love fitly dispos'd to the helps and comforts of domestic life. A divine institution. This contains the prime efficient cause of Mariage; as for consent of Parents and Guardians, if seems rather a concurrence than a cause; for as many, that marry are in thir own power as not; and where they are not thir own, yet are they not subjected beyond reason. Now though efficient causes are not requisite in a definition, yet divine institution hath such influence upon the Form, and is so a conserving cause of it, that without it the Form is not sufficient to distinguish matrimony from other conjunctions of male and female, which are not to be counted mariage. Joyning man and woman in a love, &c. This brings in the parties consent; until which be, the mariage hath no true beeing. When I say consent, I mean not error, for error is not properly consent: And why should not consent be heer understood with equity and good to either part, as in all other freindly covnants, and not be strain'd and cruelly urg'd to the mischeif and destruction of both? Neither doe I mean that singular act of consent which made the contract, for that may remain, and yet the mariage not true nor lawful; and that may cease, and yet the mariage both true and lawful, to their sin that break it. So that either as no efficient at all, or but a transitory, it comes not into the definition. That consent I mean which is a love fitly dispos'd to mutual help and comfort of life: this is that happy Form of mariage naturally arising from the very heart of divine institution in the Text, in all the former definitions either obscurely, and under mistak'n terms exprest, or not at all. This gives mariage all her due, all her benefits, all her beeing, all her distinct and proper beeing. This makes a mariage not a bondage, a blessing not a curse, a gift of God not a snare. Unless ther be a love, and that love born of fitnes, how can it last? unless it last, how can the best and sweetest purposes of mariage be attain'd, and they not attain'd, which are the cheif ends, and with a lawful love constitute the formal cause it self of mariage, how can the essence thereof subsist? How can it bee indeed what it goes for? Conclude therfore by all the power of Reason, that where this essence of mariage is not, there can bee no true mariage; and the parties, either one of them, or both are free, and without fault, rather by a nullity then by a divorce may betake them to a second choys, if thir present condition be not tolerable to them. If any shall ask, why domestic in the definition? I answer, that because both in the Scriptures, and in the gravest Poets and Philosophers, I finde the properties and excellencies of a wife set out only from domestic vertues; if they extend furder, it diffuses them into the notion of som more common duty then matrimonial.
Thus farre of the definition; the Consectary which flows from thence, and altogether depends theron, is manifestly brought in by this connexive particle Therfore; and branches it self into a double consequence; First individual Society, therfore shall a man leav father and mother: Secondly, conjugal benevolence, and they shall bee one flesh. Which, as was shewn, is not without cause heer mention'd, to prevent and to abolish the suspect of pollution in that natural and undefiled act. These consequences therfore cannot either in Religion, Law, or Reason bee bound, and posted upon Mankind to his sorrow and misery, but receiv what force they have from the meetnes of help and solace, which is the formal cause and end of that definition that sustains them. And although it be not for the Majesty of Scripture to humble her self in artificial theorems, and definitions, and Corollaries, like a professor in the Schools, but looks to be analys'd, and interpreted by the logical industry of her Disciples and followers, and to bee reduc't by them as oft as need is, into those Sciential rules, which are the implements of instruction; yet Moses, as if foreseeing the miserable work that mans ignorance and pusillanimity would make in this matrimonious busines, and endevouring his utmost to prevent it, condescends in this place to such a methodical and School-like way of defining, and consequencing, as in no place of the whole Law more.
Thus wee have seen, and if wee be not contentious, may know what was Mariage in the beginning, to which in the Gospel wee are referr'd; and what from hence to judge of nullity, or divorce, Heer I esteem the work don; in this field the controversie decided; but because other places of Scripture seem to look aversly upon this our decision, although indeed they keep all harmony with it, and because it is a better work to reconcile the seeming diversities of Scripture, then the reall dissentions of neerest friends, I shall assay in three following Discourses to perform that Office.