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felves to the painful economy of a family life, 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 fhocking; 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 confcience in the fight of the divine law-giver.
There is no ftatute 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 furely none will fay, 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 lefs obligation to observe it, or have more liberty to tranfgrefs 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 fome provifion for the firft, and the confcience of the man is falved by this piece of generofity, as it is called. But the law of GOD is directly against fuch a proceeding-He fhall SURELY endow her to be his wife, faith the most High: and the reafon given for this, can never alter nor cease, because the act from which it arifes 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 fo put away, to marry other men, nay, fometimes they are portioned by the feducer for this very purpofe. This fashionable way of getting rid of women, includes in it many crimes. First, It is a breach of that pofitive law-He fhall furely endow her to be his wife-and again-She fhall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put ber away all his days. Secondly, It is therefore a fpecies of unlawful, forbidden divorce. It is, thirdly, adultery in the woman fo put away to marry another. another. And, fourthly, He that marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery.
We never allow any thing to be adultery except the outward the outward ceremony has paffed; but GOD's positive commands are not subject to the controul of human invention. It would be a folecism in philofophy, to talk of fetting the fun to the dial, and not the dial to the fun; 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 fuppofe for a moment, that, as it is faid to have been the cafe amongst the Spartans, theft was not to be looked upon in a fcandalous point of view, but rather allow
Aulus Gellius, lib. xi. c. 18. tells us, out of an antient lawyer, that the old Egyptians 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 mulcted 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 perfons were not detected in the fact; Would this shake the authority of the eighth commandment, or be pleadable before GOD as a juftification of the thief? Confider the work of GOD, that which is crooked cannot be made ftrait, and who can make that ftrait which he hath made crooked? Eccl. i. 15. vii. 13.
From what has been faid, I think it may be fairly concluded:
That marriage is a divine institution, and, as fuch, 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 fubject to the alteration and controul of men, have different views of it from thofe given us in the fcriptures.
That a woman's perfon cannot be feparated from her felf; wherever the bestows the one, the other is bestowed also.
That when the delivers her perfon, and confequently her felf, into the poffeffion of a man, he is (if not betrothed to another) by that act, infeparably united to him, fa indiffolubly joined, that the cannot leave him, nor may be put her away all his days.
That if these truths were received, as they are indeed the truths of GOD, millions
of women (especially of the lower fort) would be faved from ruin; for, being protected, received, and provided for as GOD's law enjoins, as the wives of those men who firft enticed them, they could not be turned out upon the wide world, with the lofs of reputation, friends, and confequently 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 human ordinances; they have excellent use, and, in this mixed state of things, are neceffary to maintain that order and decency, which are fo neceffary for the regulation of the outward actions of men. I would rather infer their use and neceffity, than doubt of either. When I say that the marriage-fervice of. the church, doth not constitute a marriage in the fight of GoD, I say true; because by finding no fuch Service in the Bible, and that marriages were had and folemnized without it, I therefore conclude that cannot be it which constitutes a marriage in the fight of GOD; for, if so, we muft fuppofe that people before the invention of fuch fervice, were not married at all, but lived in fin; which is abfurd and impoffible. That fome fervice, 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 inheritances,
heritances, and many other laudable ends of civil fociety; and as none can live together as man and wife, without offence, unless they * fubmit to the ordinance of man, it ought, where it poffibly can, to be fubmitted 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; fo 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 indiffoluble. So that, as to the purposes of the divine institution, if a 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 muft not be inconfiftent with, or repugnant to, the law of God, for if they be, we must not fubmit to them, but rather fuffer than obey. When Nebuchadnezzer fet up his golden image, the three children of Ifrael 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. 10, And as it is with civil, fo is it with ecclefiaftical ordinances of men; these must be confonant with God's word, otherwise we must act as the apostles did, Acts 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 fhall confift in the fight of GOD, is out of their jurifdiction, and depends folely on the appointment of GOD's own law,