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that are now unlawful; and though this law be dark as to some degrees, it is not so as to others.
4. The law of God to the Jews', doth not prohibit those degrees there named, because of any reason proper to the Jews, but as an exposition of the law of nature, and so on reasons common to all.
5. Therefore, though the Jewish law cease (yea, never bound other nations) formally as that political national law; yet as it was God's exposition of his own law of nature, it is of use, and consequential obligation to all men, even to this day; for if God once had told but one man, This is the sense of the law of nature,' it remaineth true, and all must believe it; and then the law of nature itself, so expounded, will still oblige.
6. The world is so wide for choice, and a necessity of doubtful marriage is so rare, and the trouble so great, that prudence telleth every one that it is their sin, without flat necessity, to marry in a doubtful degree; and therefore it is thus safest, to avoid all degrees that seem to be equal to those named Lev. xviii. and to have the same reason, though they be not named.
7. But because it is not certain that indeed the unnamed cases have the same reason, (while God doth not acquaint us with all the reasons of his law) therefore when the thing is done, we must not censure others too deeply, nor trouble ourselves too much about those unnamed, doubtful cases. We must avoid them beforehand, because else we shall cast ourselves into doubts and troubles unnecessarily; but when it is past, the case must be considered of as I shall after open.
Quest. 11. What if the law of the land forbid more or fewer degrees than Lev. xviii. doth?'
Answ. If it forbid fewer, the rest are nevertheless to be avoided as forbidden by God. If it forbid more, the forbidden ones must be avoided in obedience to our ruler.
Quest. 111. Is the marriage of cousin-germans, that is, of brothers' children, or sisters' children, or brothers' and sisters' children, unlawful?'
Answ. I think not; 1. Because not forbidden by God. 2. Because none of that same rank are forbidden; that is,
f Lev. xviii.
none that on both sides are two degrees from the root. I refer the reader for my reasons to a Latin Treatise of Charles Butler on this subject, for in those I rest. As all the children of Noah's sons did marry their cousin-germans, (for they could not marry in any remoter degree) so have others since without reproof, and none are forbidden. 3. But it is safest to do otherwise, because there is choice enough beside, and because many divines being of the contrary opinion, may make it matter of scruple and trouble afterwards, to those that venture upon it without need.
Quest. IV. 'What would you have those do that have married cousin-germans, and now doubt whether it be lawful so to do?'
Answ. I would have them cast away such doubts, or at least conclude that it is now their duty to live peaceably in the state in which they are: and a great sin for them to be separated on such scruples. The reason is, because, if it be not certain, that the degree is lawful, at least no man can be certain that it is unlawful. And for husband and wife to break their covenants and part, without a necessary cause, is a great sin and that which no man can prove to be a sin, is no necessary or lawful cause of a divorce. Marriage duties are certainly commanded to the married, but the marriage of cousin-germans is not certainly forbidden. Therefore if it were a sin to marry so, to them that doubted; or if they are since fallen into doubt whether it was not a sin; yet may they be sure that the continuance of it is a duty, and that all they have to do is to repent of doing a doubtful thing, but not to part, nor to forbear their covenanted duties. No, nor to indulge or suffer those troublesome scruples, which would hinder the cheerful discharge of their duties, and the comfortable serving of God in their relations.
Quest. v. What should those do that are married in those degrees which are not forbidden by name in Lev. xviii. and yet are at the same distance from the root with those that are named, and seem to have the same reason of unlawfulness?'
Answ. If there be clearly a parity of degree and also of the reason of the prohibition, then no doubt but they must part as incestuous, and not continue in a forbidden state. But because divines are disagreed whether there be in all in
stances a parity of the reason of the prohibition, where there is an equal distance as to degrees; and so in those cases some think it a duty to be separated, and others think it enough to repent of their conjunction and not to be separated, because the case is doubtful (as the controversy sheweth), I shall not venture to cast in my judgment in a case, where so many and such men are disagreed; but shall only advise all to prevent such troublesome doubts beforehand, and not by rashness to run themselves into perplexities, when there is no necessity; unless they will call their carnal ends or sinful passions, a necessity.
Quest. VI. But if a man do marry in a degree expressly there forbidden, is it in all cases a sin to continue in that state? If necessity made such marriage a duty to Adam's children, why may not necessity make the continuance lawful to others? As suppose the king or parents command it? suppose the woman will die or be distracted with grief else? suppose one hath made a vow to marry no other, and yet cannot live single, &c.?' Here I shall suppose, that if a lustful person marry a kinswoman that he may have. change, as foreknowing that he must be divorced, punishment, and not continuance in the sin must be his sentence: and if one that hath married a kinswoman be glad to be divorced, because he hateth her or loveth change, punishment must rebuke him, but he must not continue in incest.
Answ. 1. Natural necessity justified Adam's children, and such would now justify you. Yea, the benediction "Increase and multiply," did not only allow, but oblige them then to marry, to replenish the earth (when else mankind had ceased); but so it doth not us now when the earth is replenished. Yet I deny not, but if a man and his sister were cast alone upon a foreign wilderness, where they justly despaired of any other company, if God should bid them there "increase and multiply," it would warrant them to marry. But else there is no necessity of it, and therefore no lawfulness. For 2. A vicious necessity justifieth not the sin. If the man or woman that should abstain will be mad or dead with passion, rather than obey God, and deny and mortify their lust, it is not one sin that will justify them in another. The thing that is necessary, is to conform their wills to the law of God, and if they will not, and then say,
They cannot,' they must bear what they get by it. 3. And it is no necessity that is imposed by that command of king or parents, which is against the law of God. 4. No, nor by a vow neither: for a vow to break God's law is not an obligation to be kept, but to be repented of; nor is the necessity remediless which such a one bringeth on himself, by vowing never to marry any other; seeing chastity may be kept.
Quest. VII. Is it lawful for one to marry, that hath vowed chastity during life, and not to marry, and afterward findeth a necessity of marrying, for the avoiding lust and fornication?'
Answ. I know that many great divines have easily absolved those, that under Popery vowed chastity. The principal part of the solution of the question, you must fetch from my solution of the Case of Vows, Part iii. Chap. v. Tit. 2. At the present this shall suffice to be added to it. 1. Such vows of chastity that are absolute, without any exceptions of after alterations or difficulties that may arise, are sinfully made, or are unlawful quoad actum jurandi f.'
2. If parents or others impose such oaths and vows on their children or subjects, or induce them to it, it is sinfully done of them, and the actus imperantium' is also unlawful. 3. Yet as long as the materia jurata' the matter vowed' remaineth lawful, the vow doth bind, and it is perfidiousness to break it. For the sinfulness of the imposer's act proveth no more, but that such a command did not oblige you to vow. And a vow made arbitrarily without any command, doth nevertheless bind. And the sinfulness of the making of the vow, doth only call for repentance; (as if you made it causelessly, rashly, upon ill motives, and to ill ends, or in ill circumstances, &c.) But yet that vow which you repent that ever you made, must be nevertheless kept, if the thing vowed be a lawful thing, and the act of vowing be not made a nullity (though it was a sin). And when it is a nullity, I have shewed in the forecited place.
4. A vow of celebate or chastity during life, which hath this condition or exception expressed or implied in the true intent of the votary (unless any thing fall out which shall make it a sin to me not to marry), may in some cases be a
f By this you may see how to resolve the cases about vows and covenants which are the grand controversies of this time among us:
lawful vow: as to one that foreseeth great inconveniences in marriage, and would by firm resolution fortify himself against temptations and mutability.
5. If there were no such excepting thought in the person vowing, yet when the thing becometh unlawful, the vow is not to be kept; though it oblige us under guilt for sinful making it, yet God commandeth us not to keep it, because we vowed that which he forbad us not only to vow but to do.
6. Either the Papists suppose such exceptions to be always implied by their votaries, or at least that they are contained in the law of God, or else sure they durst never pretend that the pope hath power to dispense with such vows; (as they have oft done for princes, men and women, that they might be taken from a monastery to a crown.) For if they suppose, that the persons before the dispensation are under the obligation of their vow, and bound by God to keep it, then it would be too gross and odious blasphemy for the pope to claim a power of disobliging them, and dissolving God's commands; and not only antichristianity, but antitheistical, or a setting himself above God Almighty, under pretence of his own commission. But if they only pretend to dissolve such vows judicially or decisively, by judging when the person is no longer obliged to keep them by God's law, then they suppose, that the obligation of God's law is ceased, before they judicially declare it to be ceased. And if that were all that the pope undertook, he had no power to do it out of his own parish, nor more than any lawful bishop hath in his proper charge.
7. The matter of a vow of celibate or chastity is then unlawful, when it cannot be kept without greater sin than that life of chastity escapeth, and which would be escaped if it were forsaken; or without the omission of greater duty, and amission of greater good, than that life of chastity containeth or attaineth. For the further opening of this, let it be noted, that,
8. It is not every degree of sin which marriage would cure, that will warrant the breach of a vow of chastity. As if I had some more lustful thoughts or instigations and irritations in a single life than I should have if I married. The reason is, because, 1. No man liveth without some sin, and it is supposed that there are greater sins of another kind,