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was subsequently married. It is a corollary, that not only might the husband lawfully put her away, but in so doing he could not subject himself to the crime of adultery in marrying another, nos could he be the cause of adultery in the wife by any subsequent marriage she might enter into. The exception, therefore, is reconcileable to, and is consistent with, those passages wherein it is not expressly contained: the wives spoken of in the two latter being understood to be real and lawful wives, and the fornicating woman in the former, not being the real and lawful wife of the husband putting her away, he could not be chargeable, in so doing, with the crime of adultery. It is moreover to be observed, that by the law in 22nd Deuteronomy, a woman who had lost her virginity before marriage was to be put to death. The husband had therefore a double ground to warrant his putting her away. That it was a clear and justifiable ground of putting away is indisputable, from the secret determination which Joseph had taken to put Mary away, upon his discovery of her pregnancy. No guilt is imputed to that intention; but on the contrary, the message by the angel justifies it, by grounding his recommendation not to fear taking her to wife, on the disclosure to him of the fact that the pregnancy did not proceed from the cause he had supposed, but the operation of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord no where admits the dissolubility of marriage in any case whatsoever, all the four passages are direct denials of it. All that the exception bears under any construction is, that in the case it puts, the husband will not incur the guilt of adultery; which if the natural signification of the word is allowed, is free of doubt. This construction removes any apparent inconsistency of our Lord's doctrine with the law in 24th Deuteronomy. The word uncleanness, in that chapter, may be properly restricted to the signification of some bodily disease, or impurity, or defect, or other cause of insuperable disgust to the husband. If used in this sense, the liberation of the parties from the marriage by the putting away and bill of divorce, may be considered to be founded upon the deception practised on the husband, by the concealment of the cause of disgust till the discovery in the marriage bed; and allowing such deception as a just ground of rendering the marriage void ab initio. Whether in the use of the word fornication our Lord refers to this law or not, may be questionable; but the conclusion will be the same, because in either case the marriage was originally invalid.
It is possible, that in the term fornication he might include the uncleapness contemplated in the law, but it is not possible to suppose that Moses meant, in the term uncleanness, to describe fornication. Because it is absurd to imagine that he meant to give a woman, who had been guilty of a crime which subjected her to capital punishment, a qualification, by bill of divorce, to marry again. Our Lord throughout the sermon ou the Mount, illustrates the new principle, as well as the beauty and excellence of bis doctrines, by placing his precepts in contrast with the particular laws he quotes or refers to. The Law was, in its moral and political branch, given for the government of the Jews as a nation, and to regulate the outward conduct of its individuals towards its supreme governor, as well as towards each other; enforcing its injunctions by punishments of extreme severity. So long as his outward conduct did not infringe the letter of the Law, or no breach of it could be proved against him, the individual might harbour the most wicked thoughts and designs, and be guilty of the most vicious secret practices; nay, like the Pharisees, he might hypocritically, by an outward appearance of punctilious observance of the letter of the Law, claim credit for superior sanctity of character. The ruling principle of obedience to the Law, was fear of its vengeance and penalties. The new principle of thought and action our Lord promulgated, was that of love. He ascended to and purified the fountain head of the stream, and in lieu of a slavish and cautious compliance with the legal prohibitions and injunctions, he seeks to create an active impulse in a contrary direction; substituting, as the ruling motive, the noble desire of doing good for the base fear of doing evil, and extinguishing every thought and inclination to the latter in its birth. Thus, while the Law can reach no further than the regulation of the outward conduct, his precepts take their root in and regulate the seat of thought and origin of action, the heart, All his injunctions are calculated to excite voluntary movements, to inflame the mind with the love of virtue, and impel it to active benevolence, not from fear, but of its free choice and as its ruling passion. All his subjects he invites to be, and seeks to make free men; instead of being, as heretofore, the slaves of sin and the terrors of the Law, His soldiers are all to be volunteers, and their distinctive badge is zeal for good works. To them may be applied the poet's line: "Oderunt peccare boni virtutis amore," and not Our Lord's design was to restore, or rather recreate the divine image in the soul of man; and the soul, thus renewed, must be full fraught with love and admiration, and imbued with a taste for aud a desire of imitation of the divine perfections. Our Lord, in his discourse on the Mount, after describing in the beatitudes the dispositions of mind and heart, which are to qualify for the kingdom of Heaven, and declaring that he cane not to destroy but fülál the Law, (i. e, as well in its prophetic signification as in exact conformity to its precepts in principle and conduct,) and that the righteousness of his disciples must be of a different character from that of the Scribes and Pharisees, (the whole of which consisted in a scru
pænæ timore.” pulous observance of its ceremonial part, while they allowed themselves to neglect or violate the true meaning of its moral injunctions; conforming to its letter while they evaded its spirit,) proceeds to delineate che conduct he prescribes to his followers, by quoting (as for example,) some particular legal precepts, partly from the Mosaic code and partly from the traditional code, (held of equal authority by the Jewish doctors, and particularly the Scribes and Pharisees) and placing in contrast with the severity of their justice, the mild and benevolent system of conduct be sought to inculcate: a conduct not only fulfilling or conforming to the letter, but pursuing a course the opposite to that the Law was designed to restrain; and not merely avoiding the wrong or offence prohibited, but extinguishing the first movements of any thought pointing towards the commission of it. The Law prescribes the line drawn by justice, discriminating the boundary between right and wrong, and not to be overstepped with impunity. Our Lord's injunction to his disciples is, not to content themselves with not trespassing beyond or even approaching that line, but to seek and practise the contrary of whatsoever it prohibits. Thus he quotes the Law: “ Thou shalt not kill,” and whosoever shall kill sball deserve to be punished with the judgment. He preacbes in opposition, an abstinence from anger, even to the utterance of words which tend to generate the cause of it, and an unlimited forgiveness of injuries. . “ But I say
that whosoever shall be angry with his brother, shall deserve to be punished by the judgment;' that whosoever shall say Raca to his brother, shall deserve to be punished by the council, (meaning the council of 75 persons, or Sanhedrim); and whosoever shall
say, Thou fool, shall deserve bell fire:”” and he restrains the offering the gift upon God's altar till the party has made seconciliation with his brother. In quoting the commandinent, “ Thou shalt not commit adultery," he subjoins, “ But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh upon a woman with an eye of
concupiscence, hath already committed adultery in bis heart:" and then, by the figure of pulling out an eye and cutting off a right hand, he recommends the forcible and absolute extirpation of every evil inclination, or the strangling it in its very birth or conception. He then, in the same strain, quotes the saying, that “whosvever shall put away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce.”3 I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the
The judgment here referred to, is understood to be that of the council in each town, consisting of 28 persons.
The language of this quotation is from the Vulgate. 3 The introductory words used in quoling this sentence are," It hath been said," as to others: “ Ye have heard it hath been said to those of old;" the former probably refer to the traditions, the latter to the Law.
cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Meaning on the same principle, that a man was guilty of the crime of adultery, who looked on a woman with an adulterous eye. So he who availed himself of the permission in practice, and under color of the precept of Moses, to put away his wife; though he should give his discarded wife a bill of divorce; yet, in foro conscientia he caused her to commit adultery in marrying again, and the husband would be guilty of the same crime who should marry her: and this (as he explains in the 19th chap:) by reason of the indissolubility of marriage, by the law of God pronounced on the creation of man; although Moses, for the hardness of the hearts of the Jews, bad permitted a dispensation from its observance in the case put in the 24th Deuteronomy. Implying, that though he might plead that permission before an earthly tribunal in his defence, and screen bimself from the vengeance of the Law, it would not excuse him at the bar of his own conscience, or at that tribunal where the secrets of all hearts shall be opened. As to the exception of the case of fornication, if the reason of it before assigned is well-founded, its introduction harmonises with the spirit of his doctrine, and removes all appearance of inconsistency. If the marriage was void by reason of the anterior licentious intercourse, in his putting her away the husband would not incur or be the cause of the crime of adultery, in foro conscientiæ, more than he would by the Law.
Remarks on the Conversation with the Pharisees and Disciples,
as related in the 19th of St. Matthew and 10th of St. Mark.
Both passages appear to be intended to describe one and the same transaction, but the two relations differ in essential particuJars.
In both it is stated, that the Pharisees asked the question, tempting our Lord: i. e. with intent to draw from him an answer that would entrap him.
They probably had heard of his saying concerning the putting away of a wife, in his sermon on the Mount, and considered it to amount to a denial of the law or precept of Moses in the 24th chap. of Deuteronomy, of which there had been so many interpretations; and that whatsover answer he should give would draw on him an evil or unpleasant consequence. If his doctrine amounted to a denial or direct contradiction of the Law, it would expose him to capital punishment; if it put a strict construction on the Law, it would rob him of his popularity by depriving the people of the privilege, then and long in common practice, of putting away their wives ad libitum ; and if he adopted that construction, he would offend the sects, who held it to be allowed in certain specified cases, or for infamous conduct only: but his answer kept him clear of each of these snares, and the aim of the Pharisees appears to have been completely defeated.
The question of the Pharisees is differently put in the two passages.
In St. Matthew the question is, “ Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (in the Vulgate the words are," for any cause whatever”).
In St. Mark-"Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife ?"
The two questions are of very different import. The one enquires, whether a man has an unlimited liberty to put away bis wife, i. e. for every cause, or for any cause whatever. The other, whether he has liberty to put her away at all? or in any case, or for any cause whatever ?
In St. Matthew, Christ begins his answer by introducing the passage from Genesis, by way of quotation; whether they had not read it: adding, as his own commentary, the conclusive inference from it, viz. “ Those whom God hath joined together, Jet not man put asunder;" which being a self-evident and undeniable conclusion, could not be laid hold of or excepted to, otherwise than by placing in opposition to it the precept of Moses. Why then hath Moses commanded to put away a wife, giving her a bill of divorce? This Christ parries by observing, that it was "because of the hardness of their hearts that Moses permitted (not commanded) them to put away their wives; but it was not so in the beginning."
In St. Mark, in answer to their question, “ Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?" Christ asks them what Moses commanded them? They reply, “Moses hath suffered man to put away bis wife by giving a bill of divorcement." Jesus replies (not denying the generality of the permission) " " for the hardness of your hearts he hath given you
'The Jews, as well as the rest of mankind, were so brutalised by giving loose to their passions, that it was by a prudent course of discipline only, that they could be brought under the government of reason, and a preparatory course of severity was necessary before they could be induced to listen to its dictates. The nation God selected for the eventual instruction of the rest of the world, was accordingly treated like children under a schoolmaster and the government of the rod. Moses was accordingly appointed by God to that office, and with the necessary authority to lay down precepts for their government and to punish for disobedience. Among the multitude of vicious habits he had to correct, was the cruel and unfeeling one of shaking off their wives whenever they grew tired of them, treating them only as instruments of pleasure or servitude; and this habit was so rooted, their minds were so obstinate, and their hearts so hardened to the feelings of humanity, that Moses foresaw that it could not be at once put a stop to,