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PARAPHRASE AND NOTES
ON THE REMAINING PART OF
THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
The apostle proceeds to answer certain questions which the Corinthians had put to him; and first, what related to the marriage. state; and in these introductory verses, he determines that in some circumstances it should be entered into,'and continued in, but in others, forborne; and forbids wives to depart from their hus1 Cor. VII.-1—11.
1 COR. VII. 1.
NOW concerning the things whereof ye
wrote unto me: It is
good for a man not to me. touch a woman.
1 CORINTHIANS VII. 1.
NOW proceed to give you my opinion con-
And I begin with that concerning the law- 1 Cor. fulness or expedience of marriage. And here IVII. 1. must first observe, that as to its expedience, [it is] in present circumstances good for a man, where he is entirely master of himself, to have nothing to do with a woman; so many are the conveniences which recommend a single life to those who are proof against some of its most 2 Nevertheless, to obvious temptations. Nevertheless, as the 2. acoid fornication, let God of nature has for certain wise reasons imevery man have his planted in the sexes a mutual inclination to each own wife, and let every woman have her other, in order to prevent fornication, and every other species of uncleanness,. let every men have and retain his own proper wife and let every woman have and retain her own proper husband for neither divorce for poligamy are A by
Marriage is necessary to prevent fornication;
3 Let the husband render unto the wife
4 The wife hath not
SECT. by any means agreeable to the genius of the gospel. Let the husband, where this relation is comVII. 3. menced, render all due benevolence to the wife, due benevolence: and and in like manner also the wife to the husband: likewise also the wife let them on all occasions be ready mutually to unto the husband. oblige, and consult the happiness of each other's life. And let them not imagine that there is any perfection in living separate from each 4 other, as if they were in a state of celibacy. For the wife hath not in this respect power over her power of her own boown body, but hath by the marriage-covenant and likewise also the transferred it to the husband; and in like man. husband hath not power ner also, the husband hath not power over his of his own body,but the body, but it is, as it were, the property of the wife; their engagements being mutual,so that on every occasion conscience obliges them to remain appropriate to each other, and consult their mutual good.
dy, but the husband:
5 Defraud ye not
one the other, except
at be with consent for a time, that ye may
Withdraw not therefore from the company of each other, unless [it be] by consent for a time; that ye may be at leisure to devote yourselves more intensly to fasting and prayer, and that give yourselves to fastye may come together again as usual; lest Satan ing and prayer; and together 2tempt you on account of your incontinence, and come take occasion from the irregular sallies of you not for your ingain, that Satan tempt animal nature, to fill you with thoughts and continency. passions, which marriage was in its original institution intended to remedy.
6 But you will observe, that I say this by per
6 But I speak this
mission from Christ; but not by any express by permission, and not
7 For I would that
But as for the main question we are now upon, I could wish that all men were, in this all men were even as respect, even as myself; that all christians could I myself; but every as easily bear the severities of a single life in man hath his proper gift of God, one after present circumstances, and exercise as resolute a command over their natural desires". But
By permission.] Ecannot, with Mr. Cradock, turk, that the meening of this clause, is, "I permit marriace, but do not enjoin it," and have elsewire observed, that this verse, and others in this context, nearly parallel to it, will be so far from affording on any interpretation, an objection against the general hispiration of
Paul's epistles, that they will rather strengthen the proof of it. See Essay on Inspiration in Vol. VIII.
b That all men were even as myself.] Common sense requires us to limit this expression as in the paraphrase ; for it would be a most flagrant absurdity to suppose that St. Paul wished marriage might entirely
ther after that.
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
And it is better to marry, than to burn.
this manner, and ano- every man has his proper gift of God, one in this SECT. kind, or manner, and another in that. So that though I give the best advice and example I can 1 Cor. I would not exalt myself on account of this VII. 7. attainment, nor despise those that have it not. But as to unmarried men, who, like me, have 8 buried their wives, and to the widows, I say, it is good for them, (if they conveniently can,) to continue, as I do, in the widowed state. But 9 if they have not attained to such a degree of temperance, as to be easy in it, let them by all means marry. For though it be better to live calmly and soberly in a state of widowhood, than to marry, it is undoubtedly much better to marry a second time, or a third than to burn, and to be tormented with those restless passions which some in such circumstances feel.
9 But if they cannot
Contain, let them mar
ry; for it is better to marry than to burn.
10 Apd unto the
yet not I, but the Lord,
But as to those that are married, [it is] not 10 married 1 command, I [who] command but the Lord Jesus Christ Let not the wife de- himself, who enjoins, that the wife should not part from her husband: withdraw herself from [her] husband: But if ɩɩ 11 But and if she she be withdrawn by her own rash and foolish depart, let her remain nomarried, or be re- act, let her not by any means contract another conciled to her hus- marriage; but remain unmarried, or rather, if band: and let not the it may be accomplished by any submission on husband put away his wife. her side, let her be reconciled to [her] husband, that they may, if possible, live in such an union and harmony as the relation requires. And let not the husband dismiss [his] wife on any light account, or indeed, for any thing short of adultery. For whatever particular reasons Moses might have, for permitting divorces on some slighter occasions, Christ our great Legislator, who may reasonably expect higher degrees of purity and virtue in his followers, as their assistances are so much greater, hath seen fit expressly to prohibit such separation, and we, his apostles, in our decisions upon this matter, must guide ourselves by the authority of his determination.
entirely cease. It shews therefore how unfair and improper it is, in various cases, to strain the apostle's words to the utmost rigour, as if he perpetually used the most critical exactness; but indeed chap. ix. 22. is so full an instance to the contrary, that it is not necessary to multiply remarks of this kind.
c To those that are married.] The translation, published by the English Jesuits, at Bourdeaux, renders it, to those who are united in the sacrament of marriage; which I mention as one instance, selected from a vast number, of the great dishonesty of that translation.
Reflections on the Apostle's observations about marriage.
THE decisions of the holy apostle are here given with such gravity, seriousness and purity, that one would hope, delicate as the subject of them is, they will be received without any of that unbecoming levity which the wantonness of some minds may be ready to excite on such an occasion.
It becomes us humbly to adore the Divine wisdom and goodness manifested in the formation of the first human pair, and in keeping up the different sexes through all succeeding ages, in so just a 4 proportion, that every man might have his own wife, and every woman her own husband: that the instinct of nature might, so far as it is necessary, be gratified without guilt, and an holy seed be sought, which being trained up under proper discipline and instruction, might supply the wastes that death is continually making, and be accounted to the Lord for a generation that so virtue and religion, for the sake of which alone it is desirable that buman creatures should subsist, may be transmitted through every age, and earth become a nursery for heaven.
With these views, let marriages be contracted, when it is proper they should be contracted at all. Let none imagine the state itself to be impure; and let it always be preserved undefiled. Let all occasion of irregular desire be prudently guarded against by those who have entered into it. And let all christians, in every relation, remember that the obligations of devotion are common to all; and that Christ and his apostles seem to take it for granted, that we shall be careful to secure proper seasons for fasting, as well as for prayer, so far as may be needful, in order that the superior authority of the mind over the body may be exercised, and maintained, and that our petitions to the throne of grace may be offered with greater intenseness, copiousness and ardour.
The apostle exhorts Christians not to break marriage on account of difference in religion; and urges, in the general, contentment with the stations in which they were called, and a concern to serve God in their proper condition, whether married, or single, bound or free. 1 Cor. VII. 12-24.
I CORINTHIANS VII. 12.
HAVE reminded you of the decision of Christ with respect to the affair of divorce: now as to the rest of the persons and cases to which I VII. 12. shall address myself, it is to be observed, that I
Marriage not dissolved by difference in religion.
and she be pleased to
dwell with him, let
him not put her away.
13 And the woman
which hath an husband that believe not, and
if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her
not leave him.
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctifi
ed by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your
speak, according to what duty or prudence SECT. seems on the whole to require; and it is not to be considered as if it were immediately spoken by the Lord. If any Christian brother hath an VII. 12. unbelieving wife, and she consent to dwell with him, notwithstanding the diversity of their religious persuasions, let him not dismiss her. And 13 on the other hand, if any Christian wife have an unbelieving husband, and he consent to dwell with her, let her not dismiss hima, nor separate herself from him, though the legal constitution of the country in which she lives may allow her to do it. For in such a case as this, the un- 14 believing husband is so believing husband is so sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is so sanctified by the husband, that their matrimonial converse is as lawful as if they were both of the same faith: otherwise your children, in these mixed cases, were unclean, and must be looked upon as unfit to be admitted to those peculiar ordinances by which the seed of God's people are distinguished; but now they are confessedly holy, and are as readily admitted to baptism in all our churches, as if both the parents were Christians; so that the case you see, is in effect decided by this prevailing practice. However, if the unbe- 15 lieving party, in such circumstances as these, be absolutely determined, and will depart, let him, or her depart, and take the course they think God best; and the consequence is, that a brother, or a sister, who hath been united to such a wife, or husband, in matrimonial bonds, is by such a conduct of a former partner, discharged from future
children unclean; but now are they holy.
15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but
a Let her not dismiss him.] I have else. where observed, that in these countries, in the apostle's days the wives had a power of divorce as well as the husbands. b Is sanctified, &c.] Some think the meaning is, "the Christian may convert the infidel;" as appears, in that the children of such marriages are brought up Christians. But this cannot possibly be the sense; for that they were brought up so, was not to be sure always fact, and where it was, there was no need of proving from thence the conversion of the parent, which would in itself be much more apparent than the education of the child.
c Now are they holy.] On the ma turest and most impartial consideration of this text, I must judge it to refer to infantbaptism. Nothing can be more apparent than that the word holy, signifies persons,
who might be admitted to partake of the