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sage, and certainly must have prompted the sentiments it contains. Where else could he have obtained them? Not from the Founder of Christianity; not from St. Paul; nor yet from St. Peter, that the Romanists should place such reliance upon them. The latter has been silent on the subject under consideration, and both the former, as has been proved sanction a liberty which this writer ventures to narrow, when he asserts, in the most unqualified manner, the Adultery of re-marriage in both the innocent and guilty party.
We may admire the scrupulous piety of this writer, but we must question his accuracy on the marriage law. He is correct in placing the two sexes on the same footing ; so that, as Whiston, in his notes on Josephus, says, *** the innocent wife could divorce her guilty husband, as well as the innocent husband divorce his guilty wife;" but not so, in considering them as so bound to each other, as that not even the crime mentioned by the Saviour can loose them again. This, however, was the doctrine of Hermas.
We pass to examine the opinions of others ; and that of Origen presents itself as forming a remarkable contrast to the strict views of Hermas. He gave a wider interpretation to
the Saviour's rule, than the observations in the preceding part of the Essay contain, and appeared disposed to favour the interpretation of Hillel, considering uncleanness to signify any crime almost of which a woman might be guilty. He wished, also, (according to Grotius,) to affix to the term Topveld, a much more extensive interpretation than the foregoing; considering it to mean, as a generic term, one instance, selected out of many, to characterize the conduct for which a separation might be effected.* He states several other cases, poisoning, robbing her husband, &c. concluding by saying, “I am of opinion, that the Son of God did not mean to limit the power of Divorce to the cause of fornication, but only to show the kind of cause which would render such a measure justifiable.” He mentions several Bishops of his day, who allowed divorced women to marry again, but chiefly to avoid incontinency: Origen himself did not approve of it.
It is trusted, that the comments already made on the law of Christ have sufficiently answered, by anticipation, the observations of the subtle and philosophic Origen. One additional remark may be made, and that is, that
* Grotius in Origen,
this interpretation, in order to be deduced from the words of Christ, requires an alteration in the sacred text, (instead of “ Et un ens,” to “un eTi,” &c.) a circumstance very scrupulously to be deprecated. · The venerable Bede (and it may be proper to notice here, that the classification of opinions has rendered necessary an occasional departure from the strict line of history) owns that several, in his sphere, had put away their wives, not only for Adultery, but also on a religious account, lest they should make shipwreck of their faith. This was similar to the Divorces already noticed in Ezra's time.
St. Augustine, in his Retractations, shows, that in his time, people were divided on the meaning of Christ's words, and that very many interpreted them as Origen did.
But the most universal and probable opihion is, that which understood the observation of Christ in its literal sense. Most of the Fathers and Commentators have explained it in this manner; and though the laws of man have tolerated Divorce on other grounds, yet, say they, it was not on that account in the divine sight more lawful. The question then again returns here, Under such a Divorce, could the parties marry again ? Here two great divisions of sentiment meet us ; that of the Eastern and Greek Churches, sanctioned, as we contend, by the Mosaic law, by the Saviour, the Apostles, and even the early Fathers of the Latin Church; and that of the Church of Rome, traced up in the first instance to the scrupulous notions of Hermas, and afterwards kept alive by the rigid affectation of austerity, imposed by monastic and ecclesiastical discipline.
It would be endless to enumerate all the variations of sentiment expressed by the different Fathers and Representatives of the Churches. Calmet has stated some of them in his Antiquities with minute detail. He particularly notices Lactantius and Tertullian, who both maintain that marriage is rendered null and void by Divorce; the latter observing it, as his conviction, that the Son of God had limited the separation to Adultery, as its exclusive cause. Lactantius has also some admirable remarks on the equality of the condition and privilege of the wife with that of the husband. He considers the Apostle Paul to have imbibed thoroughly the spirit of equity displayed by his Divine Master, in annihilating all invidious distinctions in the relative privileges of the two sexes ; or, in the words of an elegant writer: “ Fidèle interprète de la pensée de son Divin Maître, il ne se contente pas de donner au mari un droit sur le corps de son femme; il donne le meme droit à la femme à son tour sur le corps de son mari ; etablissant ainsi une egalité de droits entre deux personnes qui font qu'un seul corps;" and then he adds ; “ un mari doit par son exemple apprendre à sa femme la chastité qu'il a droit déxiger d'elle.” But even Lactantius and Tertullian differ on parts of this subject. Tertullian thought it unlawful for divorced persons to marry again, * Lactantius did not.
Just as is the comment of this Father on the reciprocity of rights of the wife and the husband, yet it has not universally followed, that they have been placed on the same footing. St. Basil, in one of his canonical epistles, speaks of the laws as strict against the adulterous woman ; yet adds, that custom forbids the woman to leave an adulterous husband; and the Greek commentators on the apostolical canons, say the same thing. There are instances to the contrary, however, in the
* There appears a variation in the statement of Tertullian's opinion on this matter; but perhaps it may be reconciled, by supposing him to allude, in the first instance, to Divorce obtained for Adultery as its justifiable cause; in the latter for less serious reasons, and such Divorces he did not consider sanctioned by Christ.