« AnteriorContinuar »
guarded and protested against in those words of the contract [for better for worse] which signify fomething to be fure, and what else can they signify? The hazard of other circumstances being provided for in the words next following, [for richer for poorer, in fickness and in health]. If danger of life be pleaded, or the sufferance of violent injuries and abuses, yet is there no such virtue as patience, no such duty as submision to the providence, and trust in the protection of God, required of us? And if they are, when must they be expected, when can they be exercised, but in a state of suffering? But if a remedy is to be fought for, all that can regularly be done, is first to see what the good offices of private friends can do, and if they fail, then to apply to the proper court, and submit the case to the determination of those whom the law has appointed judges therein. And still separation, whether legal or illegal, is so bad a remedy, that like desperate medicines, it should not be so much as thought of, till all other means have proved utterly incapable of effect, and that they cannot possibly live any longer together: For to any good and discreet person, such feparation must be lo comfortless a state, attended with such danger of ruin, both temporal and eternal, that all the hardships which it is applied to cure, could scarcely make the sufferer more uneasy or unhappy. But the unconcernedness of many loose, unthinking people under it, as full of mirth, and air, and jollity, as if no such misfortune had happen'd to them, makes it too evident, that it is sometimes a state of choice, more than of necesity. And if this practice goes on, perhaps in half an age more, it will be thought needless so much as to pretend, or talk of such a formal thing as a reason for parting; and marriage will become of course, no more than a temporary concubinage, that may be broke off at pleasure,
with as much freedom, as we change our servants. The laws indeed havc hitherto secured the continuance of the marriage, by maintaining (in spight
such separation) the validity of jointures, settlements, and other civil rights of it; but the affection, cohabitation, &c. which I beg leave to call the sacred rights of marriage (as being the performance of what was solemnly vowed before God and the congregation, when it was contracted) are even now by some people, broke through with as little scruple, as if the contract had been really made but for a time. And tho' I will not charge our laws with favouring this, any otherwise than by too general and dangerous a connivance; yet I must say there is a custom which directly encourages separation, and therefore wants a full and positive law to restrain it: I mean the scandalous provision usually made before-hand, by settlements or marriage-articles for the wives separate maintenance, in case her husband and she should not think fit to live together. All such provisions, call them by what name you will, whether pin-money, or any thing else, which serve, and are designed to serve this purpose, with whatever plausible pretence they may be varnished over, I take to be of most pernicious consequence; as providing for a case, that ought not to be supposed amongit Christians, and putting a couple in mind of parting from each other, even then, when they are going solemnly to contract, for a strict union, affection, and cohabitation during life; and laying professedly a scheme for their doing that with convenience, which ought not to be done at all, and which with almost the same breath they vow before God and the congregation, that they will never do. Now what is all this, but a monstrous absurdity in the very nature of thc thing, a most notorious shuffling in the accounts of common honesty, and a most impu
dent prevarication with God himself? What is it but to empower and teach the wife to disregard her husband, and to loosen that dependance, which by the divine * law she should always have upon him; for such a maintenance is secured to her, that she may carry well or ill to him, without danger to her interest, and leave him when the pleases. And as to the real influence of mischief such provisions may have had, I am fatisfied, that many separations would never have been thought of, if this security given before-hand, had not encouraged and prepared the way for them. But perhaps pin-money, and the like provisions before-hand for differtion with convenience, being not morally evil; nor falling directly within the letter of this prohibition of divorce, may be thought not to delerve fo much notice, in a short summary of christian practice, as I have taken of them; but because our Saviour certainly designed here, to.condemn every thing that any ways promoted a disunion after marriage: I should not have been faithful to my subject, if I had been less severe upon a custom, which so much encourages a wife upon the least dislike to leave her husband ; and the rather, because the practice grows every day more and more fafhionable. 57
* Gen, iii. 16.
С НА Р.
Of taking God's Name in vain.
MATTH. V. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37. Again, ye have heard, That it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not for
fwear thy self, but falt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, Swear (not at all; nei
ther by heaven, for it is God's throne : Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool : nei
ther by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because
thou canst not make one bair white or
black. But let your communication be yea, yea; nay,
nay; for whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.
HE third commandment, Thou shalt
not take the name of the Lord thy God T
in vain, was understood by the Jewish doctors, as no more than a prohibition
of perjury. And therefore as they taught the people took it, and looked no farther for the
sense of the precept, than this short paraphrase: Thou shalt not forswear
. thy felf, but falt perform unto the Lord thine oaths; which
probably was their allowed and common glofs, establithed by authority in their schools, and cited as such by our blessed Saviour; who 'tis observable) does not here repeat the very words of the commandment, as he had done those of the sixth and seventh before, but their interpretation only: 'Because the words of the coinmandment, as God had delivered them, are so generals that perjury is no more expressed in them than prophane (wearing; and as both are alike included and intended, the one is as easily reducible as the other, to the very terms of the law.
But it was their glofs, that had injuriously restrain'd those general words; and therefore our Saviour cites that, in order to correct and supply the defects of it. Nor shall I need, in discoursing hereupon, to insist upon the crime of swearing fally; which was then, and always has been (not only by the force of this divine precept, but by the light of nature) acknowledged to be a grievous fin; as murder and adultery also were, and for that reason I forbore to enlarge upon them in the foregoing paragraphs. For our Saviour left every precept of the decalogue, in the fame full force and latitude, wherein it had ever been received or interpreted by the Jews : But where their interpretation had too much narrowed a command, and straitned the meaning of it, he enlarged it to its due perfection and extent. His new explications therefore and improvements, are what I am properly to consider : And what those are with regard to this third commandment, will be the clearer, if we suppose him only thus to have expressed himself.
& Ye all acknowledge your felves obliged in con“ science, by authority of the third commandment, to swear nothing falfly, but to be very