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On the question concerning divorce, Matt. xix. 3-12. Mark x. 2-12.

THE reason why St. Luke has omitted all mention of this question, and of the answer to it, appears to be, because a similar, and very probably a recent declaration on the same subject is recorded by him, not long before the point of time where his narrative again joins St. Matthew and St. Mark. In the account of the two latter Evangelists themselves, compared together, there is the same evidence of omissions on the one hand, and of supplements on the other, as repeatedly occurs elsewhere; and this fact being once established, it will naturally go some way to reconcile the differences between them.

For example, when Jesus had replied to the question of the Pharisees-which was put in public, and answered in public, he retired into some private house. There is no notice, either express or by implication, of this fact in St. Matthew. While he was in this house, the disciples, according to the same authority, renewed the inquiry concerning the question: neither is this fact noticed by St. Matthew. Yet what he attributes to the disciples must have made a part of this conversation in private: it has all the appearance of a remark, produced by the repetition to them in particular of what had lately been pronounced in the hearing of all in common. If so, it becomes a proof that our Lord, at this period in St. Matthew's account, was actually in private; and this conclusion is confirmed by the incident

a Ch. xvi. 18. b Ch. xviii. 15.

c Mark x. 10.

d Ch. xix. 10.

next subjoined, the bringing of little children to Christ; for that transaction took place after he came into the house, and before he left it again; that is, while he was still within f.

We may conclude therefore that the final end, which St. Mark had here in view, was to supply certain particulars in a common account, omitted by St. Matthew. Hence he is in some respects fuller, and in others more concise, than he: fuller, where St. Matthew had been most defective, and more concise, where he had been most minute. On this principle they may easily be accommodated to each other.

For first, the question, according to St. Matthew, stood thus—Εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀνθρώπῳ ἀπολῦσαι τὴν γυναῖκα AÚTοÛ Kaтà Tâσav airíav; according to St. Mark-Ei ἔξεστιν ἀνδρὶ γυναῖκα ἀπολῦσαι; in which, consequently, there is an omission of κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν : and this is an omission which must have been intentional. For the decision of our Lord himselfs shews that, on one account, the account of fornication, which in a married woman amounts to adultery, it is lawful to put away a wife. The question, then, Is it lawful for an husband to put away his wife? so expressed, might be answered in the affirmative; the question, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife, on any account? must be answered in the negative. The true drift of the question therefore, as stated by St. Mark, supposes the statement of it by St. Matthew to be carried along with his.

Secondly, in reply to the question, our Lord, according to St. Mark, began with referring to the decision of Moses; according to St. Matthew, he proceeded to answer it himself h. If he did both these g Matt. xix. 9.

e Ch. xix. 13-15. h Mark x. 3.

Matt. xix. 4.

Mark x. 10. 17.

things, there is no inconsistency between these statements; and in favour of that supposition we may argue as follows.

When, in other instances, a question was put to our Saviour, which either had been actually decided by the Law, or was easily to be collected from it, we observe him refer in the first place to the Lawi; and as this was a case in point, it might naturally be expected that he would do the same now. But had he never done so on any other occasion, there were yet special reasons why he should do so on this.

It is notorious that liberty of divorce had been conceded by the Law of Moses k: it is certain also that, at the first institution of marriage, it had been pronounced inseparable. It follows, therefore, that the concession of the Law had been contrary to the original institution; and consequently was a special indulgence, vouchsafed to the Jews. Hence, as there was once a time when no such indulgence existed, so there might be again a time when it should be repealed.

If then the original law was to be revived by the Gospel, and made binding on Christians, the temporary indulgence, granted subsequently to the Jews, was necessarily to cease. The design therefore of referring in the first place to the decision of the Law might be to give greater solemnity to the decision of Christ. It would intimate so much the more clearly both the fact of the abrogation of the existing commandment, and the grounds on which it was to take place. What did Moses command you? was consequently a natural, and even a necessary question, before any declaration of our Lord himself. The judgment, which he meant to

i Matt. xix. 16, 17, 18. Luke x. 25, 26.

k Deut. xxiv. 1, 2.

pronounce, would apparently commit his authority with the authority of Moses; and he proposed to shew beforehand that this committal was only apparent, not real. The Mosaic injunction itself was an extraordinary and a temporary concession; not more opposed to his own decision, than to an original and prior law, recorded by Moses himself; which, as it had once prevailed before the dispensation, so notwithstanding that, might recover its ascendency again.

The interrogation recorded even by St. Matthew', τί οὖν Μωσῆς ἐνετείλατο, κ. τ. λ. contains an implicit allusion to some such reference concerning the dictum of the Law. The parties, who put that question, were the same as before; and it is manifest that they put it by way of objection to the decision just pronounced. Our Saviour, it is true, had anticipated the objection in the decision itself; but that the Pharisees should not have been satisfied with his reasons would be nothing extraordinary and if they thought proper to start the same difficulty afresh, it would be just as natural that he should reply to it as he had done before. They had not originally put their question out of a genuine deference to his authority, or with a candid disposition to receive instruction from him on an important article of duty; but from some insidious motive; either to elicit a declaration, which they knew would be repugnant to the mandate of the Law, or to render Jesus obnoxious to the people. They could not be ignorant that, twice at least in the course of his ministry, once in the sermon on the mount, and again still more recently in their own hearing m, he had peremptorily laid down a new principle of conduct upon this very point.

Nor was there any thing more palatable to the people at large, nor yet more grossly abused, than m Matt. v. 31, 32. Luke xvi. 14. 18.

1 Ch. xix. 7.

this liberty of divorce. The license of polygamy al-
lowed by the doctors of the Law, and practised by
the Jews every where, was almost unlimited. Jus-
tin Martyr tells us that the former openly permitted
any man to have four or five wives; and that the
latter freely availed themselves of this permission,
marrying as many as they pleased n. Besides this,
however, the right of divorce was carried to an excess
which rendered the marriage union, whatever it might
be in profession, little better in practice than the liberty
of promiscuous concubinage. There was no conceivable
reason, however slight, for which a man might not put
away one woman, and marry another. TuvaιKÒS TÊS
συνοικούσης βουλόμενος διαζευχθῆναι, καθ ̓ ἃς δηποτοῦν αἰτ
τίας· πολλαὶ δ ̓ ἂν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τοιαῦται γίνοιντο . Jose-
phus himself is an example to prove the universality of
the practice of divorce, as well as the slightness of the
reasons for which it might be resorted to. With respect
however to the grounds of separation, considered justifia-
ble by the rabbis, pudet, pigetque! If a wife had spoiled
her husband's dinner-nay more, if she was no longer
to his liking, if he had found one that would suit him
better he was at liberty to put her away 9. Schola
Schamai dicit, nemo repudiabit uxorem, nisi in ea re-
pertum fuerit quid inhonesti... Schola Hillelis dicit,
etiamsi combusserit decoctum ejus... R. Akiba dicit,
etiamsi illa pulchriorem inveniat aliam.
And yet
while the husbands were allowed thus freely to di-
vorce their wives, the wives were not permitted to di-
vorce their husbands.

On a subject like this, where the temporary indulgence, permitted by the Law, had come to be so flagrantly abused, it is not credible that our Saviour,

n Dialogus, 423. l. 8—11. 436. 1. 23—31. p Vita, 76. q Mishna, iii. 358. 10.

o Ant. Jud. iv. viii. 23.

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