Page:Tetrachordon - Milton (1645).djvu/57

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Matt. 5. 31, 32.

31 It hath beene said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.

32. But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, &c.

Matt. 19. 3, 4, &c.

3. And the Pharises also came unto him tempting him, &c.

IT hath beene said.] What hitherto hath beene spoke upon the law of God touching Matrimony or divorce, he who will deny to have bin argu'd according to reason, and all equity of Scripture, I cannot edifie how, or by what rule of proportion that mans vertue calculates, what his elements are, nor what his analytics. Confidently to those who have read good bookes, and to those whose reason is not an illiterate booke to themselves I appeale, whether they would not confesse all this to bee the commentary of truth and justice, were it not for these recited words of our Saviour. And if they take not backe that which they thus grant, nothing sooner might perswade them that Christ heer teaches no new precept, and nothing sooner might direct them to finde his meaning, then to compare and measure it by the rules of nature and eternall righteousnes, which no writt'n law extinguishes, and the Gospel least of all. For what can be more opposite and disparaging to the cov'nant of love, of freedom, & of our manhood in grace, then to bee made the yoaking pedagogue of new severities, the scribe of syllables and rigid letters, not only greevous to the best of men, but different and strange from the light of reason in them, save only as they are fain to stretch & distort their apprehensions for feare of displeasing the verbal straightnesse of a text, which our owne servil feare gives us not the leisure to understand aright. If the law of Christ shall be writt'n in our hearts, as was promis'd to the Gospel, Jer.