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quently brought in this would be no Confinement of Lust at all; but loose Men would change their Wives as frequently as they do their Mistresses, and Marriage would be only a Cloak for Whoredom, under a more specious Name. Certainly God Almighty's Design in the Institution of Marriage, among other things, was to confine that natural Inclination of Luft, that it should not be vagrant like that of the Beasts, but limited to the Ends of raising an Holy Seed, and likewise of living aca cording to the Principles of Purity. (3.) If we consider married Persons as they are mutual Helps to one another, in managing a common Estate for the benefit of themselves and their Children ; there is nothing can so well qualify them to answer that End, as the being linked together by an inseparable Bond, which joins their two Interests in one, and helps them to go on sweetly Hand in Hand together for their common Advantage, the Wife having no Prospect of thriving, but by the thriving of the Husband, nor the Husband, but that the Wife must be admitted to a share of his Prosperity; so that by this Christian wise Constitution, they are not so much as under the Temptation of drawing two contrary Ways, their Interests being perfectly one and the fame. But now, upon a Supposition of these frequent Dissolutions of Marriage, each Party would have a different Interest to carry on; The Woman upon the Prospect of parting, nay, upon the bare Supposition of the Probability, or even Poflibility of it, would think it but Prudence to provide for that time, and to feather her Nest, by pilfering and purloining from her Husband's Estate, as much as she could, while they are together. (4.) Marriage was instituted U 2
for the mutual Love and Comfort of the Parties, that such a sacred Friendship might ease and sweeten the several Troubles and Uneasinesses of Life. Now its being a perpetual lasting Bond of Amity, contributes very much to this
: They know now if they have any Differences, their best, nay their only way, is to make them up, for that they have no other Door to creep out at; and therefore, instead of driving on the Quarrel to a Rupture with a Person to whom they are tied for Life, their Reason teacheth them to be reconciled as soon as is possible, and to make each other happy in their Cohabitation, since it cannot be by their Parting: Whereas if it were otherwise, Quarrels will be made and fomented on purpose to make way for a final Breach.
2. As the Ends of Marriage could not be attained, (and then Marriage would be little better than a State of Concubinage) so this discrediting, and making light of Marriage, would be attended with divers other very great Inconveniencies. Particularly the weaker Sex, after having left Father and Mother, after having been deprived of their Portion and their Honour, must be turned off like a cast Miss, to strive with Solitude and Discontent all the rest of their Life. The most Sacred Friendships must be dissolved, and in old Age, to be sure, when the want of Charms, and abounding of Infirmities, do most call for Help and Comfort, then should Mankind and Womankind be left most destitute. And which of the two, may it be presumed, would prove the better Help meet; Whether the Companion for Life, the inseparable Friend for better, for worse, or the Temporary Companion? But I have said
enough for this first part of our Saviour's Doctrine in this Matter, to account for the forbidding of Divorces for every light Cause.
(2.) I suppose there is no Occasion to say much for the other part of it, the permitting them in case of the Breach of the Marriage Covenant: for as in all Covenants, when one of the Parties breaks the fundamental Articles, the other is absolved if he pleases ; so it is very fit that it should be in this great Marriage-Covenant ; especially considering what an intolerable Hardship it would put on the innocent Party, to be obliged to love and trust one that betrays him ; to maintain and provide for an adulterous Brood, 'and to have his Right made away to Strangers. It is certainly very necessary that something should be left in his Power to distinguish between a true and a false Wife; and there is no reason they should be both treated alike; and there is reason too, that a Distinction be made between such lesser Failings, which are consistent with Conjugal Honesty, and that Grand Trealon of being unfaithful to the Marriage Covenant.
3. From what has been said, it will be no hard Matter to solve any Objections that can be brought against this Doctrine of our Saviour's. For, first, If it should be objected, that there are many
other Causes of Divorce befides the Breach of the Marriage Covenant, such as natural Disabilities, Precontracts, the being within the Degrees of Affinity or Consanguinity, set by the Laws of God; Snares laid by the Wife to the Life of the Hufband; insuperable Ill-nature, and proud imperious Behaviour. All this, upon the Doctrine already explained, may easily be accounted for: first, as for Pre-contracts, natural Disabil.ties, and Kindred
within the prohibited Degrees, it may
fuffice to remember what has been laid, that our Saviour is not discoursing of the Impediments which hinder Marriage from being lawfully contracted, but of the Causes which are sufficient to diffolve a lawful Marriage. Secondly, As for Pride, Passion, Peevishness, and Ill-humour, while these common Infirmities do not extend to an Enmity to the Husband, or to a Breach of Fidelity to him, they are a proper Subject to be managed and cured by Patience, Good-humour, and a Mixture of Love and Authority, and the Advice of Friends ; but the last Remedy must be reserved for the Fundamental Breach of the Marriage-Covenant. As for Attempts upon Life, they are such Odious and extraordinary Cases, that they ought not to be put; for I believe they scarce ever happen, but where the Woman's Affection is totally alienated, and she is likewise guilty of the other sort of Trangressions, for which Divorces are permitted: or if they break out into Overt-Acts, human Laws have provided other more severe Punishments for them, which will set the innocent Person at Liberty; or if they have not broke out into any dangerous Facts, but consist within the Bounds of angry Words, though very provoking, there are other ways of a Man's securing himlelf, and work. ing a Reformation in her, provided she be true to him in the main, without going to the Extremity of a Divorce, or Total Separation,
I should now, in the last Place, draw fome Inferences or Corollaries from what has been said ; but that I may not too much exercise your
Patience, I shall but briefly name them, leaving the further Improvement of them to your own Meditations,
1. First then, from our Saviour's retrenching a Permission concerning a great Liberty of Divorce, which, because of the Hardness of their Hearts, Moses had made to the Jews; we may observe, that our Saviour doth not only act the Part of a good Interpreter of the Law, but sometimes makes use of the Authority of a Legislator too.
2. From the Prohibition to part, except on the Account of Adultery, which dissolves the Marriage-Bond, we may observe how facred and inviolable our Saviour would have the State of Marriage to be. He makes it a Covenant for Life; and this should teach us two Things. ft. With what Deliberation, Prudence, and Circumspection, we should enter into that lasting State. If we be but to make a Voyage of fix Weeks, or two Months, with a Master of a Ship, we inform ourselves carefully whether he is a Man of a good Temper or not ; and if he is of a furly morose Disposition, we do not care, even for so little a time, to put ourselves in his Power ; how much more Reason is there for this nice Enquiry in choosing a Companion for Life? 2. After we are engaged, this Doctrine teaches us with what Sweetness and Friendliness of Temper we ought to behave ourselves, so as to make the Journey of Life pleasant, both to ourselves, and to this our infeparable Companion. What a deal of Patience, and Good-humour, and Self-denial, is requisite to bear with the Uneasinesses, and to go pleasantly through the Difficulties of fuch a Relation, where, when we are once engaged, we must make the best of it; there is no Help but cultivating of it into a perfect Friendihip to make it easy and pleasant. If this were duly considered, instead of snarling