mans, if before the provinciall Bishops were made acquainted, or judgement past, they presum'd this, excommunication was the penalty. Whence it followes, that if the cause of divorce were som great offence, or that they gave probable causes for what they did, and did not therefore divorce that they might presume with som unlawfull person, or what was another mans, the censure of Church in those daies did not touch them.
Thus having alledg'd anough to shew after what manner the primitive Church for above 500. yeares understood our Saviours words touching divorce, I shall now with a labour less disperst, and sooner dispatcht, bring under view what the civil law of those times constituted about this matter: I say the civil law, which is the honour of every true Civilian to stand for, rather then to count that for law, which the pontificiall Canon had enthrall'd them to, and in stead of interpreting a generous and elegant law, made them the drudges of a blockish Rubric.
Theodosius and Valentinian, pious Emperors both, ordain'd that as by consent lawfull mariages were made, so by consent, but not without the bill of divorce, they might be dissolv'd; and to dissolve was the more difficult, onely in favour of the children. We see the wisedome and piety of that age one of the purest and learnedest since Christ, conceav'd no hindrance in the words of our Saviour, but that a divorce mutually consented, might bee suffer'd by the law, especially if there were no children, or if there were, carefull provision was made. And further saith that law (supposing there wanted the consent of either) wee designe the causes of divorce by this most wholesom law; for as we forbid the dissolving of mariage without just cause, so we desire that a husband or a wife distrest by som advers necessity, should be freed, though by an unhappy, yet a necessary releefe. What dramm of wisedome or religion (for charity is truest religion) could there be in that knowing age, which is not virtually summ'd up in this most just law? As for those other Christian Emperours, from Constantine the first of them, finding the Roman law in this point so answerable to the Mosaic, it might bee the likeliest cause why they alter'd nothing to restraint, but if ought, rather to liberty, for the helpe and consideration of the weaker sexe, according as the Gospel seems to make the wife more equal to her husband in these conjugal respects then the law of Moses doth. Therefore if a man were absent from his wife foure yeares, and in that space not heard of, though gon to warre in the service of the Empire, she might divorce, and mary another by the edict of Constantine to Dalmatius, Co. l. 5. tit. 17. And this was an age of the Church both antient, and cry'd up still for the most flouri-