Page:Tetrachordon - Milton (1645).djvu/63

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TETRACHORDON.

43

on, and our Saviour had a peculiar aim in the rigor of his answer, both to let them know the freedome of his spirit, and the sharpnesse of his discerning. This I must now shew, saith Tertullian, Whence our Lord deduc'd this sentence, and which way he directed it, whereby it will more fully appear that he intended not to dissolve Moses. And thereupon tells us that the vehemence of this our Saviours speech was cheifly darted against Herod and Herodias. The story is out of Josephus: Herod had beene a long time married to the daughter of Aretas King of Petra, til hapning on his jorney towards Rome to be entertain'd at his brother Philips house, he cast his eye unlawfully and unguestlike upon Herodias there, the wife of Philip, but daughter to Aristobulus their common brother, and durst make words of marrying her his Neece from his brothers bed. She assented upon agreement he should expell his former wife. All was accomplisht, and by the Baptist rebuk't with the loss of his head. Though doubtlesse that staid not the various discourses of men upon the fact, which while the Herodian flatterers, and not a few perhaps among the Pharises endevour'd to defend by wresting the law, it might be a meanes to bring the question of divorce into a hot agitation among the people, how farre Moses gave allowance. The Pharises therefore knowing our Saviour to be a friend of John the Baptist, and no doubt but having heard much of his Sermon in the Mount, wherein he spake rigidly against the licence of divorce, they put him this question both in hope to find him a contradicter of Moses, and a condemner of Herod; so to insnare him within compasse of the same accusation which had ended his friend; and our Saviour so orders his answer, as that they might perceive Herod and his Adultresse only not nam'd; so lively it concern'd them both what he spake. No wonder then if the sentence of our Saviour sounded stricter then his custome was; which his conscious attempters doubtlesse apprehended sooner then his other auditors. Thus much we gaine from hence to informe us, that what Christ intends to speake here of divorce, will be rather the forbidding of what we may not doe herein passionately and abusively, as Herod and Herodias did, then the discussing of what herein we may doe reasonably and necessarily.

[Is it lawfull for a man to put away his wife ] It might be render'd more exactly from the Greeke, to loosen or to set free; which though it seeme to have milder signification then the two Hebrew words commonly us'd for divorce, yet Interpreters have noted, that the Greeke also is read in the Septuagint, for an act which is not without constraint. As when A-

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