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CHAP. XII. guarded and protested against in those words of the contract for better for worfe] which fignify fomething to be fure, and what else can they fignify? 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 fufferance of violent injuries and abufes, yet is there no fuch virtue as patience, no fuch duty as fubmiffion to the providence, and truft in the protection of God, required of us? And if they are, when muft they be expected, when can they be exercifed, but in a ftate of fuffering? But if a remedy is to be fought for, all that can regularly be done, is firft to fee what the good offices of private friends can do, and if they fail, then to apply to the proper court, and fubmit the cafe to the determination of thofe whom the law has appointed judges therein. And ftill feparation, whether legal or illegal, is fo bad a remedy, that like defperate medicines, it fhould not be fo much as thought of, till all other means have proved utterly incapable of effect, and that they cannot poffibly live any longer together: For to any good and difcreet perfon, fuch feparation must be fo comfortless a ftate, attended with fuch danger of ruin, both temporal and eternal, that all the hardships which it is applied to cure, could fcarcely make the fufferer more uneafy or unhappy. But the unconcernedness of many loofe, unthinking people under it, as full of mirth, and air, and jollity, as if no fuch misfortune had happen'd to them, makes it too evident, that it is fometimes a ftate of choice, more than of neceffity. And if this practice goes on, perhaps in half an age more, it will be thought needlefs fo much as to pretend, or talk of fuch a formal thing as a reafon for parting; and marriage will become of courfe, no more than a temporary concubinage, that may be broke off at pleasure,
with as much freedom, as we change our fervants. The laws indeed have hitherto fecured the continuance of the marriage, by maintaining (in fpight of any fuch feparation) the validity of jointures, fettlements, and other civil rights of it; but the affection, cohabitation, &c. which I beg leave to call the facred rights of marriage (as being the performance of what was folemnly vowed before God and the congregation, when it was contracted) are even now by fome people, broke through with as little fcruple, 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 muft say there is a cuftom which directly encou→ rages feparation, and therefore wants a full and fitive law to reftrain it: I mean the fcandalous provifion ufually made before-hand, by fettlements or marriage-articles for the wives feparate maintenance, in cafe her husband and fhe fhould not think fit to live together. All fuch provifions, call them by what name you will, whether pin-money, or any thing else, which ferve, and are defigned to ferve this purpose, with whatever plaufible pretence they may be varnished over, I take to be of most pernicious confequence; as providing for a cafe, that ought not to be fuppofed amongft Chriftians, and putting a couple in mind of parting from each other, even then, when they are going folemnly to contract, for a strict union, affection, and cohabitation during life; and laying profeffedly a scheme for their doing that with convenience, which ought not to be done at all, and which with almoft the fame breath they vow before God and the congregation, that they will never do. Now what is all this, but a monftrous abfurdity in the very nature of the thing, a most notorious fhuffling in the accounts of common honefty, and a moft impuR
dent prevarication with God himself? What is it but to empower and teach the wife to difregard her husband, and to loofen that dependance, which by the divine law fhe fhould always have upon him; for fuch a maintenance is secured to her, that fhe may carry well or ill to him, without danger to her intereft, and leave him when the pleases. And as to the real influence of mifchief fuch provifions may have had, I am fatisfied, that many feparations would never have been thought of, if this fecurity given before-hand, had not encouraged and prepar ed the way for them. But perhaps pin-money, and the like provifions 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 deferve fo much notice, in a fhort fummary of chriftian practice, as I have taken of them; but because our Saviour certainly defigned here, to condemn every thing that any ways promoted a difunion after marriage: I fhould not have been faithful to my fubject, if I had been lefs fevere upon a cuftom, which fo much encourages a wife upon the leaft diflike to leave her hufband; and the rather, because the practice grows every day more and more fafhionable.
* Gen. ii. 16.
Of taking God's Name in vain.
MATTH. V. 33, 34, 35, 36, 37.
Again, ye have heard, That it hath been faid by them of old time, Thou shalt not forSwear thy felf, but fhalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths.
But I Say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth, for it is his footstool: neither by Jerufalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Neither halt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
But let your communication be yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than thefe, cometh of evil.
HE third commandment, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God 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
fense of the precept, than this fhort paraphrafe: Thou shalt not forfwear thy felf, but fhalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths; which probably was their allowed and common glofs, eftablished by authority in their schools, and cited as fuch by our blessed Saviour; who ('tis obfervable) does not here repeat the very words of the commandment, as he had done those of the fixth and feventh before, but their interpretation only: Because the words of the commandment, as God had delivered them, are fo general, that perjury is no more expreffed in them than prophane fwearing; and as both are alike included and intended, the one is as eafily 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 fupply the defects of it. Nor fhall I need, in difcourfing hereupon, to infift upon the crime of fwearing falfly; 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 alfo 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 ftraitned 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 confider: "And what those are with regard to this third commandment, will be the clearer, if we fuppofe him only thus to have expreffed himself.
"YE all acknowledge your felves obliged in con"fcience, by authority of the third command66 ment, to fwear nothing falfly, but to be very