תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

adherence as it is termed,) founded on the passage, 1 Corinthians vii. 15; we have now no concern.

These Divorces compel the restoration of the Tocher, the donationes propter nuptias, as a just attendant on the punishment of that crime, by which the nuptiæ are destroyed.

We have now only to mention Ireland. By the 19th Canon of the Synod, held in Ireland by St. Patrick, and other Bishops, in 456, adulterers were to be excommunicated; and by the 26th Canon of the second Synod, a man that hath put away his wife on account of Adultery, is permitted to marry another, as if the first were dead.*

The great liberty which the ancient Irish indulged in these matters is evident, from the Letters of Pope Gregory VII. to Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, and from him to Gotric and Terdevralt, Kings of Ireland, and Anselm, another Archbishop of Canterbury, to Muriardac, another Irish King. They upbraid them with their frequent Divorces, and tell them it is as easy a matter with them to dissolve a marriage, as to contract it.

* Spelm. de Synod. Sancti Patricii. Sect. 19.

From the observations of Camden, it appears, that the laws and customs of the Irish remained the same in his time.*

This brings us to the limits of the fourth division of the Essay.

We have now passed over the first four heads of this Essay. It has been endeavoured to trace the principles, severally maintained, by the Jewish, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman laws, in relation to the crime of Adultery, and the liberty of Divorce; and the influence which the customs of those several nations appear to have had, in reference to those laws; at times demanding their enactment, at others, modifying their effects, and then occasioning their repeal.

We have examined, also, the simple principle which the Divine Founder of the Christian Religion has established, as the guiding and governing principle by which we should estimate the nature of the matrimonial union and the matrimonial crime, and form our judgment of the liberty admitted in the dissolution of the one, by the commission of the other. And we have fol

* Camden. Brit. p. 1420.

lowed out the observance of this principle, or the departure from it manifested by the teachers of the church, and the legislators of the world in various nations, from that period, to the bounds which appear prescribed to the inquiry, by the terms of the Thesis.

Perhaps those bounds have, in the fourth head of the Essay, been somewhat overstepped ; but it has been with a view to render the investigation more connected and complete.

SECTION V.

We enter now on the concluding head of the Essay; viz. Our remarks on the results to which all that has preceded naturally conducts. The reflections suggested by the previous facts and observations, must necessarily be brief, by reason, that most of the inferences which arise out of the laws and customs before noticed, have been stated in the progress of the Essay. A few additional remarks are however necessary, as a compendium of the whole.

The first impression that must arise from all that has been stated, is surely so obvious, that it need only be alluded to ; viz. the hateful nature of the crime, and the painful nature of the remedy. It has been made sufficiently to appear, that Adultery is a crime as extensively injurious to man, as it is peculiarly offensive to God. So offensive to God, that it is not only made the subject of an express prohibition, but it is employed by him, throughout the sacred writings, as a figure to describe that sin against himself, which has excited more indignation and jealousy than any other,—that of idolatry. “I was married to you, saith the Lord, yet ye have committed Adultery against me.” That it is injurious to men is equally clear ; it interferes with the great end of marriage, the production of genuine offspring, that decus gentium, which is alike the advantage of private families and the public state; and gives birth to deadly animosities, which find their only rest in the grave.

The injuries it inflicts on the husband and the children, are beautifully but painfully stated by an excellent American writer, to be “ such as numbers cannot calculate, and tongue cannot describe. The husband is forced to behold his wife, once beloved beyond expression, not less affectionate than beloved, and hitherto untarnished even with suspicion, now corrupted by fraud, circumvention, and villany; seduced from truth, virtue, and hope, and voluntarily consigned to irretrievable ruin. His prospects of enjoyment, and even of com

« הקודםהמשך »