Page:Tetrachordon - Milton (1645).djvu/50

This page needs to be proofread.

34

TETRACHORDON.

many exterior powers, not superior, as wee think, why may not the power of mariage it self, for its own peace and honour, dissolv it self, wher the persons wedded bee free persons, why may not a greater and more natural power complaining dissolv mariage? for the ends why Matrimony was ordain'd, are certainly and by all Logic above all the Ordinance it self, why may not that dissolv mariage without which that institution hath no force at all? for the prime ends of mariage, are the whole strength and validity therof, without which matrimony is like an Idol, nothing in the world. But those former allowances were all for hardnes of heart. Be that granted, untill we come where to understand it better: if the Law suffer thus farr the obstinacy of a bad man, is it not more righteous heer, to doe willingly what is but equal, to remove in season the extremities of a good man?

Eightly, If a man had deflowr'd a Virgin, or brought an ill name on his wife that shee came not a Virgin to him, hee was amerc't in certain shekles of Silver, and bound never to divorce her all his daies, Deut. 22. which shews that the Law gave no liberty to divorce, wher the injury was palpable; and that the absolute forbidding to divorce, was in part the punishment of a deflowerer, and a defamer. Yet not so but that the wife questionles might depart when shee pleas'd. Otherwise this cours had not so much righted her, as deliverd her up to more spight and cruel usage. This Law therfore doth justly distinguish the privilege of an honest and blameles man in the matter of divorce from the punishment of a notorious offender.

Ninthly, Suppose it might bee imputed to a man, that hee was too rash in his choyse, and why took hee not better heed, let him now smart, and bear his folly as he may; although the Law of God, that terrible Law, doe not thus upbraid the infirmities and unwilling mistakes of man in his integrity: But suppose these and the like proud aggravations of som stern hypocrite, more merciles in his mercies, then any literall Law in the vigor of severity, must be patiently heard; yet all Law, and Gods Law especially grants every where to error easy remitments, even where the utmost penalty exacted were no undoing. With great reason therfore and mercy doth it heer not torment an error, if it be so, with the endurance of a whole life lost to all houshold comfort and society, a punishment of too vast and huge dimension for an error, and the more unreasonable for that the like objection may be oppos'd against the plea of divorcing for adultery; hee

might