Page:Tetrachordon - Milton (1645).djvu/82

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no scruple, where they please, to soften the high and vehement speeches of our Saviour, which they call hyperbolies, why in this one text should they be such crabbed masorites of the Letter, as not to mollifie a transcendence of literal rigidity, which they confesse to find often elsewhere in his manner of delivery, but must make their exposition heer such an obdurat Cyclops, to have but one eye for this text, and that onely open to cruelty and enthralment, such as no divine, or human law before ever heard of. No, let the foppish canonist with his fardel of matrimonial cases goe and be vendible where men bee so unhappy as to cheap'n him; the words of Christ shall be asserted from such elementall notaries, and resolv'd by the now-only lawgiving mouth of charity; which may be done undoubtedly by understanding them as followes.

[Whosoever shall put away his wife.] That is to say, shall so put away as the propounders of this question, the Pharisees were wont to doe and covertly defended Herod for so doing; whom to rebuke, our Saviour heer mainely intends, and not to determine all the cases of divorce, as appeares by Saint Paul. Whosoever shall put away, either violently without mutuall consent for urgent reasons, or conspiringly by plot of lust, or cunning malice, shall put away for any sudden mood, or contingency of disagreement, which is not daily practice, but may blow soone over, and be reconcil'd, except it bee fornication; whosoever shall put away rashly, as his choler prompts him, without due time of deliberating, and thinke his conscience discharg'd ony by the bill of divorce giv'n, and the outward law satisfi'd; whosoever lastly shall put away his wife, that is a wife indeede, & not in name only, such a one who both can and is willing to bee a meet helpe toward the cheif ends of mariage both civil, and sanctify'd, except fornication be the cause, that man, or that pair, committ adultery. Not he who puts away by mutuall consent, with all the considerations and respects of humanity and gentlenesse, without malicious or lustfull drift. Not he who after sober and coole experience, and long debate within himself puts away whom though he cannot love or suffer as a wife, with that sincere affection that marriage requires, yet loves at lest with that civility and goodnesse, as not to keepe her under a neglected and unwelcom residence, where nothing can be hearty, and not beeing, it must needs bee both unjoyous and injurious to any perceaving person so detain'd, and more injurious, then to be freely, and upon good termes dismist. Nor doth hee put away adulterously who complaines of causes rooted in immutable nature, utter unfitnesse, utter disconformity, not concileable, be-