BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
THE DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN THE DEAN AND CHAPTER
OF WESTBURY AND THE VICAR OF HENBURY, WITH
TERMS OF SETTLEMENT, IN A.D. 14.6.1 . B.y the Right
Reverend JOHNC ARPENTERD, .D., Lord Bishop of Worcester and
Westbury. ALSO NOTES ON THE EARLIEST EFFORTS TO
FOUND A BISHOPRIC FOR BRI~TOL.
MENTS, TO SIR RALPH SADLEIR.
COPY OF THE DEED OF THE SALE OF THE NEXT PRE.
SENTATION BUT ONE TO HENBURY VICARAGE, IN
SOME CHAPTERS IN THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF
DESECRATIOONB BISHOPC ARPENTERT'SO MB.
2. DECAY OF TBE COLLEGE BUILDLNGS.
3. D~SPERSIOONX. CHURCHL ANDS.
4. ALIENATIONO F TITHES.
5. SALE OF LIVING.
TO WHlCH IS APPENDED
A LIST OF ABBOTS, DEANS. AND VICARS SINCE A.D. 725.
THE "POOR BOOK" FROM A.D. 1656-1698 OF THE TITHINGS
OF WESTBURY, STOKE BISHOP, AND SHIREHAMPTON,
WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES.
FAITH HEALING. A PLEA FOR GREATER RECOGNITION
IN THE CHURCH AND BY THE MEDICAL PROFESSION.
DIVORCE AND. .. R:. E-MARRIAGE .a.a.. . . . '.. :.
FOR ENGLIS~::E$~~&C~HMEN ::. .:::: ..:: :: . ' . . ..' .. ::-::: '
COMPILED FROM H0.L.Y: SC..F +.If .~ .~. B B. JC H.. .U p~fi.COUNCZLS . . . . . .
AND AU%~&ITAZYV~. w&IY& :.'
H. J. WILKINS, D.D.
YICAN UP WESl'BURY-ON-TIIYM, AND RBADER Or BIDLAND CBAPLL, n11sTOL
LONGMANS, G R E E N AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK, BOMBAY AND CALCUTTA
THESE pages are the outcome of a study,
reluctantly undertaken, but forced upon me by
the conditions of wok in which I am engaged.
They are printed in the hope that they may
be of some help to Churchmen and others, when
much that is contrary to the teaching of Christ
atld His Church is being circulated.
The question for members of the Church
of England (and for other Christians) is not
"What do well-known novelists,lawyers, highly-placed
Churchmen, and others consider ought
to be the terms of marriage and divorce?"
but "What is the teaching of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ, Who, we believe, well
knew what was best for the highest and
eternal welfare of mankind amidst all "the
changing scenes of life ?"I and so, "What is
'In some quarters it sought to push the kenosis (emptying) of
Christ to such a. poaition that His knowledge would be vary little
above that of the average Jew of His time, a. position very far diiier-ant
to the conception of the Christian Church.
the teaching and discipline of the Church of
England, as given in her Prayer Book and
Canons ? "
In the compilation of these pages I have
endeavoured to acknowledge gratefully the
many and various authorities and works used ;
but if from inadvertence any have been cited
without such acknowledgment, sincere thanks
is here offered.
H. J. WILKINS.
I. Divorce and Re-Marriage among the Greeks,
Romans, and Jews at the time of Christ and
His Disciples . . . . . . . 1
11. The Tcaohing of Christ . . . . . . 6
111. The Gospels of St. Mnrk and St. Luke . . . 16
IV. The Prohlem in the Gospel of Matthew . . . 28
V. Criticism of the Gospel of Metthew . . . 30
VI. The Teaching of St. Paul . . . . . 47
VII. Historical Evidence till A.D. 314 . . . . 51
VIII. A.D. 314-527. Prom Constantino to Justinian . 08
IX. The Eastern Church after Justinian, A.D. 692.
The Council in Trullo . . . . . 97
X. The Anglican Church . . . . . . 112
XI. From the Norman Oouquest . . . . 127
XII. After the Reformation . . . . . . 146
XIII. The Divorce Act, 1857 . . . . . . 157
XIV. The Lambeth Couferenoe of 1908 . . . 164
XV. Conclusions . . , . . . . . 171
Index . . . . . ,181
DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE AMONG THE GREEKS.
ROMANS, AND JEWS AT THE TIME OF CHRIST AND
OUR Lord Jesus Christ and His earliest disciples
would, for the most part, have to encounter the mar-riage
laws and customs of three nations-the Greek,
Roman, and Jewish.
The Roman Empire was at this time supreme over
the whole world-as then known-and communica-tion
had been made easy by the magnificent roads
and caravan routes ; while the Greek language was
the general medium for interchange of thought and
The policy of the Roman Empire was (unless im-perial
interests demanded otherwise) one of tolera-tion
and non-interference with the marriage as well
as other laws and customs of the nations who had
"By the Athenian Law," writes Dr. Howard,=
"which probably was not entirely supplanted by the
Roman until A.D. 212,3 divorce was freely granted to
either spouse. The benefit inured, however, mainly
' Cf. p. 550 of Oohu's " Gospsls and Modern Researoh".
'(History of Ni~atrimonial Institutions," 701. 11, p. 12.
Geffeken, op, cit. p. 15.
2 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
to the husband, since to begin proceedings for a
divorce the wife was required to present in person to
the archon a written statement of her desire; and
this, in a society where popular sentiment relegated
woman to a seclusion truly Oriental, it was in practice
exceedingly hard to d0.l
Among the Romans, and some time before Christ
commenced His earthly ministry, the stricter forms of
marriage; with their right of divorce to the husband
alone, had passed away, and free contract both for
husband and wife had taken their place, the marriage
form-excepting for the fiamimes-being "a simple
private agreement," and divorce "a formless private
transaction" open equally to both parties.
About 18 B.G., according to the Lax Julia de add-teriis,
the declaration of divorce must be made before
seven witnesses-Roman citizens of full age : but
this enactment was only in order to secure publicity
of what was hitherto a simple private transaction,
and not to restrain divorce.
It will not be necessary, for the purposes of these
pages, to consider the resulting depravity and vice
1 Thus Aloibiades collected a. bsnd of men and dragged his wife
Hipparets from the arohon, when she attempted to get a divaroe on
socount of his 1iosntiousness.-Wolsey, "Divorce and Legislation.''
aCf. notein Howard's lLMe*trimoniailn stitutions," Vol. 11, p. 14,
whioh states: ',By eo?%fa?reatio and coemptio the man acquired the
mams et the nuptials; but the usus, ar the form through whioh
transition was made from the striot to the free merrisge, he seems
to have gained it only bg a. year's prescripiion, when the women
neglected her privilege of trinoctium. In the meantime, before the
manus wan aoquired, it is 8 question whether the woman was
lagallg usor or merely vroris loco". Here fallow eight authorities.
GREEKS, ROMANS, AND JEWS S
from such conditions of marriage and divorce which
degraded Roman society, and which so many writers
of those times satirized. Seneca (c. 3 ~.c.-65A .D.)
denounced this evil with special vehemence, declaring
that divorce in Rome no longer brought with it any
shame, and that there were women who reckoned
their years rather by their husbands than by the
Among the Jews, at the time of Christ, divorce was
the privilege of the msn alone.2
The position among the Jews at this time is very
clearly given by Edersl~eim.~" To begin with, divorce
(in the legal sense) was regarded as a privilege ac-corded
only to Israel, not to the Gentiles. On the
question what constituted lawful grounds of divorce,
the schools were divided. Taking their departure
from the sole ground of divorce mentioned in Deuter-onomy
xx~v1. , ' a matter of shame' (literally naked-ness),
the School of Shammai applied the expression
to moral transgressions only, and, indeed, exclusively
to unchastity. It was declared that if a woman were
as mischievous as the wife of Abab, or (according to
tradition) the wife of Korah, it were well that .her
husband should not divorce her, except it be on the
ground of adultery. At the same time, this must not
' Cf. Lecky, "History of European Marsls," Vof. 11, p. 307;
"Ssn." Ds Bsnof. 111. 16.
At most there was only a faint trsce of thewoman's later right,
ssnotioncd by the Talmud, of demanding a separation; of. Exod.
xxr. 7-11, as interpreted by Amram, "The Jowish Law of Divorce,"
p. 55 ff.; Howard, Yo1.11, p. 13, and note.
a "Life and Times of Jesus the Mesuiah," Vol. 11, pp. 532,
4 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
be regarded as a fixed legal principle, but rather as
an opinion and good counsel for conduct. The very
passages from which the above quotations are made
also afford only too painful evidence of the laxity of
views and practices current. And the Jewish Law
unquestionably allowed divorce on almost any ground,
the difference being, not as to what was lawful, but
on what grounds a man should set the law in motion,
and make use of the absolute liberty which it accorded
"But the School of Hillel proceeded on different
principles. It took the words 'matter of shame ' in
the widest possible sense, and declared it sufficient
ground for divorce if a woman spoiled her husband's
dinner. Rabbi Akiba thought that the words 'if
she find no favour in his eyes' implied that it was
sufficient if a man found another woman more attrac-tive
than his wife. All agreed moral blame made
divorce a duty, and that in such cases a woman
should not be taken back. According to the Mishnah,
women could not only be divorced, but with the loss
of their dowry, if they transgressed against the Law
of Moses and of Israel. The former is explained as
implying a breach of the law of tithing, of setting
apart the first of the dough, and of purification. The
latter is explained as referring to such offences as that
of going in public with uncovered head, of spinning
in the public streets, or entering into tall< with men;
to which others add that of brawling, or of disrespect-fully
speaking of her husband's parents in his presence.
A troublesome or quarrelsome wife might certainly
be sent away; and ill-repute or childlessness (dur-
GREEKS, ROMANS, AND 3EWS 5
ing ten years) were also regarded as valid grounds of
Such then were the conditions of divorce obtain-ing
among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, and
carrying with it the right of re-marriage.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST
WHATw as the attitude of Christ towards the depraved
conditions of life mentioned in the preceding pages ?
What were His commands?
Turning to the New Testament we find the follow-ing
statements attributed to Christ: (but the phrase
"except for fornication," as given in the Gospel
according to Matthew, is disputed, modern Biblical
criticism proving that these words did not form part
of the teaching of Christ. The subject will be ex-amined
in the course of these pages).
Verse 31.-It hath been said, Whosoever shall put
away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce-ment
: 32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall
put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,
causeth her to commit adultery : and whosoever shall
marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
31. It was said also, whosoever shall put away his
wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement : 32.
But I say unto you, that every one that putteth away
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 7
his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh
her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her
when she is put away committeth adultery.
Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament.
32. 'EYh 62 heyw hPiv ~TTL& F 6 b~ohdwuT T)U
yuvaka bv~o6T ~PEICT~XF ~~OrrUop vela~T OL& ahqv
po~xeu0ljua~[ ml $7 f'dv ~~oheh~~71~apv4cqn uPO L-x~
3. The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting
Him, and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to
put away his wife for every cause?
4. And He answered and said unto them, Have ye
not read, that He which made them at the beginning
made them male and female,
5. And said, For this cause shall aman leave father
and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they
twain shall be one flesh?
6. Wherefore they are no more twain, but one
flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let
not man put asunder.
7. They say unto Him, Why did Moses then com-mand
to give a writing of divorcement, and to put
8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hard-ness
of your hearts suffered you to put away your
wives : but from the beginning it was not so.
9. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away
his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry
8 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth
her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10. His disciples say unto Him, if the case of the
man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
11. But He said unto them, All 171.07~ cannot receive
this saying, save they to whom it is given.
9. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away
his wife, except for fornication,' and shall marry an-other,
committeth adultery: "nd he that merrieth
her when she is put away committeth adultery.
Westoott avid Hart's Greek Testament.
9. [Xhyw Bi Cpiu ZTL 8~ 11u C;aohhuq T+U ywuai~a
ah06 p+ Qai aopueiq ~ayia pdun IIXXTV ~OLXZTUL.]
Alternative reading given hiyo SB +lv, 87 Bv ci~ohl;ug
r+v yuuail~aa h~oirr apercrh~X 6you vopuela~r,o cei a$-
T+V po~~~~B+~jua6a ir~l v,o Xehvpf'v~u~ apljuaq~ OLX~TUL.
2. And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him,
Is it lawful for a, man to put away his wife ? tempting
3. And He answered and said unto them, What
did Moses command you ?
4. And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of
divorcement, and to put her away.
1 Some ancient authorities read saving fo? the cause of fornication
lnaksth her an adultpress: ss in oh. v. 32.
%The following words, to the end of the verse, are omitted by
some anoient authorities. hlarginsl notes.
TBE TEACHING OX CHRIST 9
5. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For
the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6. But from the beginning of the creation God
made them male and female.
7. For this cause shall a man leave his father and
mother, and cleave to his wife;
8. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they
are no more twain, but one flesh.
9. What therefore God hath joined together, let
not man put asunder.
10. And in the house His disciples asked Him again
of the same matter.
11. And He said unto them, Whosoever shall put
away his wife, and marry another, committeth
adultery against her.
12. And if a woman shall put away her husband,
and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
11. And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put
away his wife, and marry another, committeth
adultery against her : 12. And if she herself shall put
away her husband, and marry another, she committeth
Westcott and Hort's Greek Testament.
11. ~aXl& ~ELa i~oiv'0&~u &~oh6agT ~Uyu uat~a
a6~oCn ai yap~ugdX hqu ~OLX~TZUT L'a i~ljux,a i <Au
ci.rioXuuaua T~Uil ~6~a3a71 jr yapjug li'hXou po~xi?~a~.
18. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth
another, committeth adultery: and whosoever mar-
10 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
rieth her that is put away from her husband com-mitteth
18. Everyone that putteth away his wife, and
marrieth another, comlnitteth adultery: and he that
marrieth one that is put away from a husband com-rnitteth
Westcott and Hort's Greek Testantent.
18. Il& 6 rl~oh6ouT ~Uyu uaina ahoG nal yaPGu
Edpau p~X~hen~a,i 6 a'~oXeXu~f'ur~l~v 6a' v8pb yapGu
The earliest Greek manuscript extant is probably
the Codex Vaticanus (B) and is generally assigned to
the fourth century. I t is possibly a few years older
than the Codex Sinaiticus (N), which is assigned to
the middle of the fourth century. Before entering
upon the study of the actual words, attributed to
Christ, a few preliminary considerations will be neces-sary
in order to enter into the points to be raised in
the course of these pages in reference to the trust-worthiness
of the Gospel narratives.
Admittedly the Gospels are not an exhaustive ac-count
of the life of Christ, for "on the very shortest
estimate the length of the ministry must have ex-tended
to about 400 days, and I doubt if our Gospels
contain stories from forty separate days. So that nine-tenths
at least of the public life of Jesus remains to
us a blank, even if we were to take every recorded
incident as historical and accurately reported. And
all the recorded sayings of Christ, how long would
they take to pronounce? With due gravity and
THE TEACHING OF CJXRIST 11
emphasis they might take six hours-hardly perhaps
But nevertheless the Gospels give us the character
of Jesus and the fundamentals of His teaching?
The Gospels, in the form in which we have them,
were not written till probably from twenty to sixty
years after Christ's work on earth was finished. Yet
doubtless there were sayings committed to writing
and notes made by persons interested in the teaching
of Christ, for " the common use of writing among the
lower classes in Roman times, and also the presence
of a professional scribe among the Apostles, make it
probable that early notes end docu~nentso f Christian
teaching were in use ".3
Still it must be remembered that the usual Jewish
methods of teeohing were oral and that they plaoed
the highest value on oral tradition. Christ Rimself
committed nothing to writing, and doubtless the
Apostles-thorough Jews-followed for the most part
His method of teaching: nor would they feel any
necessity to commit His teaching to writing, since
they looked for the speedy return of Christ.
1 " Gospel History and its Trausmission," p. 20, by I?. C. Burkitt,
D.D., Norrisisn Protossor of Divinity in the Universityof Cambridge.
a c'Curiously enough Dr. Salmon uses almost the same expres-sion
as Sir Wm. Ramsay :-
"'The moreIstudy the Gospels the more convinced I am that we
have in them oontemporsueous history; that is to say, thst we
havs in them the stories told of Jesus immediately after His death,
and which hed been oiroulated, and ss I am disposed to believe, put
in writing while He was yet alive' '' (LL The Human Element in the
Gospels," p. 274).-Prof. Sanday, c%ife of Christ in Recent Re-so~
roh," p. 172.
Dr. Blinders Petrie'su Growth of the Gospels," p. 52.
12 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
But with the non-fulfilment of that hope and the
extension of the area of teaching, the necessity for
written documents arose: partly on the ground that
the new catechists, who would teach for the Apostles,
would need an authoritative statement both for their
guidance and to avoid heretical teaching, and partly
because the number of the Apostles and early disciples
mas being rapidly diminished by death. Dr. Petrie
writes : "The need of a written record for the Churches,
which were springing up in distant regions before
A.D. 50, would make some formal collection of docu-ments
requisite by them. Some form of Gospels was
thus both probable and necessary at an early date."
So then from about A.D. 50 and onwards many
Gospels were composed. Luke (I. 1) wrote : " For
as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in orde~
a declaration of those thi~zgsw hich aremost surely believed
among us," etc.; but these written Gospels did not
entirely supersede oral tradition till about A.D. 120.
I t will be readily understood that in these records,
based on oral tradition, many variations, interpola-tions,
and interpretations, according to the point of
view of the writer, would appear. The ground for
surprise is not that they are so many, but that they
are not very many more.
The sources used by our Evangelists were " altered
freely. They changed, added, omittied." 2
But the process of sifting these records was at work,
and it went on from the middle of the second century
till the fourth century. "In Athanasius' Canon
1 " Growth of the Gospels," pp. 52, 53.
2 Prof. Burltitt, p. 21.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 13
(A.D. 365-370) we meet for the first time with a list
of New Testament books identically the same as our
own. This Athanasian Canon was confirmed by the
Third Council of Carthage (A.D. 397), though the
Eastern Church still refused to accept it. In A.D.
692 East and West combined and confirmed the
decision of the Council of Carthage."'
How difficult the task of deciding the text of the
New Testament must be will be gathered from the
following passage : " The New Testament consists
of 7959 verses. In 1892 there were said to be more
than 150,000 various readings, or an average of twenty
variations for each verse."
This statement will prove alarming to many devout
Christians, and especially to those who cling to the
theory of verbal inspiration; but it need not be so,
for most variations are unimportant as regards the
teaching or meaning, although many as regards
number. " The last verse of the Bible will illustrate
"(a) The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.
" (b) The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you all.
" (c) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all. Amen.
"(d) The grace of Christ be with you all. Amen.
" (8) The grace of Christ be with you all. Amen
"(f) The grace of Christ be with us all. Amen.
' Oohu's " Gospels in the Light of Modern Resewoh," p. 155.
a Cohu, p. 157.
14 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
" (g) The grace of Christ be with all. Amen.
" (h) The grace of Christ be with all men. Amen.
" (i) The grace of Christ be with the saints. Amen.
"(j) The grace of Christ be with all t7ze saints.
Further, there are some passages in the Authorized
Version of theNew Testament which are now generally
admitted to beinterpolations. This is borneout by the
marginal notes in the Revised Version : compare :-
1. Against Matthew VI. 13, where "For thine
is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever,
Amen," is omitted, and a marginal note inserted :
"Many authorities, some ancient, but with variations
add, 'For thine is the kingdom and the power, and
the glory, for ever. Amen.' "
2. Against Matthew XVI. 2-4 is placed the note :
"The following words to the end of verse 3 are
omitted by some of the most ancient authorities and
other important authorities ".
3 . Matthew XVI. 21 is altogether omitted, and the
note runs : " Many authorities, some ancient, insert
verse 21. But this kind goeth not oat save by prayer
and fasting." See Mark IX. 29.
4. Against Mark XVI. verses 9-20, the following
marginal note is placed: "The two oldest Greek
manuscripts, and some other authorities, omit from
verse 9 to the end. Some other authorities have
a different ending to the Gospel."
5. Against John VIII. 1-11 appears : " Most ancient
authorities omit John VIL 53-VIII. 11. Those which
contain it vary very much from each other."
' Cohu, pp. 151,158.
THE TEACHING OF CHRIST 16
It will not be necessary to pursue this further, as
cases can easily be multiplied : enough has been pro-duced
to show that variations and interpolations are
frequently met with in the Gospels.
But there are some variations the importance of
which cannot be over-estimated or minimized, e.g.
the " exception " in the Gospel according to Matthew
in reference to the subject under discussion, and to-wards
which modern Biblical criticism has more and
more directed attention : and it must be remembered
that true criticism, reverently and carefully pursued
" hringeth men about to religion," while no good can
possibly ensue to "true religion and sound learning "
by refusing to "verify conclusions ".
At the same time it will be helpful to remember
that, "whatever doubt there may be as to the actual
words of Christ in some oases, the existence of the
Church is an impregnable witness to the historical
Christ, whose living voice was the 'Gospel' of the
etbrly Christians ".
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE.
BEBORE examining the disagreement in the words at-tributed
to Christ, it will be as well to dispose in the
first place of the ground which is common in them.
From the statement in Matthew and Mark we
learn that the Pharisees came to Christ and sought
to embroil Him in a dispute with either the stricter
School of Shammai (p. 3) or the laxer School of Hillel
(p. 4) by putting to Him the question, "Is it lawful
for a man to put away his wife" (Mark X. 1) for
every cause? (Matt. XIX. 3). The answer of Christ
satisfied neither party, for He raised marriage to
a plane vastly higher than that upon which either
school placed it, and convicted them of going beyond
the law of Moses, which they professed themselves to
be zealous of guarding.
That which Moses had sz~ffered (Matt. XIX. 8)
-not commanded as the Pharisees said (ibid. XIX. 7) -
because of the "hardness of their hearts " (Mark
x. 5), the School of Shammai had converted into the
normal standard: while the School of Hillel, by its
lax interpretation had "made the law of none effect ".
Christ recalls them to the record of the first mar-riage
in the Bible, as given in the first chapter of
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE 17
The form of the story, in which that truth is en-shrined,
does not concern our present purpose : that
would be a separate study in itself.' What is im-portant
to notice is that Christ takes the truth
therein embodied and makes it His own. "But
from the beginning of creation, male and female
made He them. For this cause shall a man leave
his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife;
and the twain shall become one flesh: so that they
are no mow twain, but one flesh. What therefore
God hath joined together, let not man put asunder "
(Mark x. 5-10). This union of man and woman,
living in harmony with the Will of God and in
Spiritual Communion with God, is pronounced by
Christ to be indissoluble.
The disciples of Christ were much perplexed at the
teaching of their Master as to the indissolz~bilitg of
marriage (for otherwise it would not have appeared
to them so great a hardship if Christ had but en-dorsed
the teaching of the School of Shammai in its
strictest form), as based upon the teaching in con-nexion
with the first marriage recorded in the Old
Testament. Typical Palestinian Jews, with a pro-found
reverence for the law of Moses, they were
amazed that Christ had treated the Mosaic privilege
as a concession to human weakness and had gone
behind that privilege. So we are told by Mark
(x. 10-12) that they returned to the question again
when they were alone with Christ: "And in the
house the disciples asked Him again of this matter.
And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away
'Of. Prof. Driver's " Genesis ".
18 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery
against her : and if she herself shall put away
her husband and marry another, she committeth
adultery ". The prohibition is absolute : there is no
such concession as that, "except for fornication,"
given by Matthew: marriage, as described by Christ,
is indissoluble : a husband and wife, if they separate,
may not contract a second marriage, because the first
To consider Mark's Gospel in relation to Matthew
and Luke more closely. In doing so, attention must
be restricted to some only of the synoptic problems,
and to those which bear upon our present subject.
From a harmony of the three Gospels, Matthew,
Mark, and Luke, it will be seen that there is such an
agreement in language and material, which renders
the conclusion almost beyond a doubt that they are
not three original and independent accounts, but that
there is a "common gospel running through the
three Gospels, and that it is almost identical with
our Mark, which is now, it is generally agreed, the
earliest Gospel ". " Opinion, however, has gone more
and more in the other direction. The independence
and priority of Mark have been accepted by some
(e.g. Ritschl) who originally held the other view ; and
scholars of different tendencies (Weisse, Wilke, Lach-mann,
Reuso, Thiersch, Ewald, Volkmar, Holtzmann,
Schenkel, Weizsacker, Weiss, Meyer, etc., and most
English authorities) have been led, though not always
1 It will not be neoesssrg, for the purposes of these pages, to dis-cuss
the question as to what use Mark made of documents, etc.,
usually designsted " Q ".
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE 19
in the same way, to the common conclusion that
Mark is the most primitive of the Gospels. I t is
also very generally held that our second Gospel, or
a source corresponding substantially to it, forms the
basis of the 6rst and third Gospels."
" Thus it has been shown that if Mark is divided
into 106 sections or paragraphs, Matthew borrows 93
of these, Luke 81. There are only five which one
or the other of these two Evangelists has not bodily
incorporated in his narrative. Or if we take Mark
674 (R.V.) verses, only 50 remain when Matthew
and Luke have made their loans. A glance at Rush-brooka's
' Synoptioon ' and Sir John Hawkins' 'Horze
Synoptica?' will prove convincingly that this extra-ordinary
coincidence between the three Gospels is
not limited to their matter, it extends even to words
and phrases and turns of expression."
Note.-Schwitzer states : " Weiss made this
discovery for himself in March, 1837, and his argu-ments
for the priority of Mark rest mainly on the
following propositions :-
" 1. In the first and third Gospels traces of a
common plan are found only in those parts which
they have in common with Mark, not in those which
are common to them but not to Mark also.
" 2. In those parts which the three Gospels have in
'Cf. Hastings' "Diotionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 259, where
this qnestion is very ole~~alrygu ed.
a Cohu, p. 204.
"'The Queat of the Historicel Christ," pp. 122.4, English trans.
20 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
common to them, the 'agreement' of the other two
is mediated through Mark.
"3. In those sections which the first and third
Gospels have, but Mark has not, the agreement con-sists
in the language and incidents, not in order.
Their common source, therefore, the 'Logia' of
Matthew "-which will be dealt with later on-" did
not contain any type of tradition which gave an order
of narrative different from that of Mark.
" 4. The divergencies of wording between the two
other synoptists is in general greater in part where
both have drawn on the Logia document than where
Mark 1s their source.
" 5. The first Evangelist reproduces this Logia
document more faithfully than Luke does: but this
Gospel seems to have been of a later origin.
" Wilke came to agree in his work of the same year,
' The Earliest Evangelist, a Critical and Exegetical
Inquiry into the Relationships of the First and Third
Gospels '. Reuso defended in 1842 the priority of
Mark in his ' History of the Sacred Writings of the
New Testament,' as did El-uald in 1850, Ritsohl
('Origin of the Ancient Catholic Church ') in 1850,
Rdville in 1862. In 1863 the foundations of the
Marcian hypothesis wgre relaid more firmly than be-fore
by Holtzmann's work."
Prof. Burkitt states : " Until Lachmann's time
the prevailing opinion had been that Matthew's
Gospel was the earliest, or at least that it offered
the most primitive arrangement. The priority of
Matthew was upheld by critics of such different
opinions as St. Auguetine and Ferdinand Christian
Bauer, the founder of the Tiibingen School. I am
not going to give t,he history of the ebb and flow of
modern criticism; it will be enough to say that the
relative priority of Mark is now accepted almost
as an axiom by the great majority of scholars who
occupy themselves with Gospel problems."
So, then, it is accepted that Mark's Gospel is the
earliest Gospel we have, and that it embodies the
teaching of Peter and was written in Greek. Papias,
A.D. 140, writes of Mark as the interpreter of Peter.%
This is accepted by Irenmus, Justin, Clement of
Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome.
As to the date of colnposition of Mark's Gospel :
"The period which seems to be most probable, both
by historioal testimony and by internal considerations,
is that between Irenzus' date "-after the death of
Peter and Paul-" and the year A.D. 70. Weiss pro-poses
the close of the seventh decade, or about A.D.
67. A date only a little before the destruction of
Jeruselem, perhaps early in A.D. 70, is as near as we
can get."$ Plummer gives A.D. 65-15 as the prob-able
So, then, the earliest of the Gospels gives the
teaching of Christ in reference to marriage and which
was that it was indissoluble : "Whosoever shall put
away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery
'"The Gospol History s*na its Transmission," p. 38.
aMdprar ipwveu.i$r ni7poyve uopivor, aoa 6#vnpducurrv, bnp~Bwr
Fypa+ru, ob +$Y 70' T~$GL~b Srb mi) X~LVTD3~ )X CXBIYT~Y ) =p=xB(~~a.
-Euseb. 'I Hist. Eoo." 111. 39.
3Haatings' " Dictionary of the Bible," Val. 111, p. 261 sgg.
22 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
against her: and if she herself shall put away her
husband andmarry another, she committethadultery".
THE TEACHINGOF ST. LUKE.
Luke's testimony is to the same effect and is given in
ch. XVI. 18. As to the authorship of Luke's Gospel,
"it is manifest that in all parts of the Christian
world the third Gospel . . . was universally believed
to be the work of Luke. No one speaks doubtfully
on this point."
As to the date, "we may accept, perhaps, some
date about the year 80, that is, the beginning rather
than the end of theperiod (A.D. 78-93), within which
it is placed by Harnack" (" Chronologie," pp. 246
ff.).2 Plummer gives the probable dates as A.D. 79-89.
As regards the sources of Luke's Gospel, the fol-lowing
results are obtained from a critical analysis :-
1. Luke " follows, over a large part of his narrative,
the Gospel of Mark, and that probably in the form
in which we have it, and not merely some under-lying
document," although there are omissions and
additions. Haruack *states : "It is unnecessary to
prove anew that Luke used Mark". Peine5 states :
"The use of Mark as one of Luke's sources is a
generally established fact of Gospel criticism ".
2. In Luke and in Matthew there is much material
in common over and above Mark's Gospel and which
1 Plummor, "St. Luke," p. 16; snd for esrly authorities see Hast-ings'
"Diot~on&ryof the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 162.
2 See Hastings' "Dictionsry of the Bible," Val. 111, pp. 162-4.
SHastings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 167.
4 (' Chronologie," p. 652.
5 " Eins voroanniachs Ueberlieferung."
THE GOSPELS OF ST. MARK AND ST. LUKE 23
may be called narrative and discourse material.
This "implies a common written source, and that
requirement is to be satisfied by the hypothesis, not
of a direct use of Matthew by Luke, but by the
supposition that both have used some one collection
or more of our Lord's discourses." '
This common written source other than Mark and
now completely lost, is for the most part considered
to have been the " Logia " or sayings of Christ, col-lected
by Matthew, the Apostle, about A.D. 50. Weiss
states : "Luke's acquaintance with and the use of the
Apostolic source of the first Gospel is just as certain as
his want of acquaintance with the Gospel itself ".
3. "Besides these L~tke seems to have access to
oral tradition, by which he corrects or supplements
the narratives common to him and others."
4. Luke " used especially for chs. I. and 11. and the
section beginning with rx. 51, some special written
sources, which do not supply much information as
to Galilee, and may have been connected in origin
with Jerusalem ".4
Sources 2, 3, and 4 are often spoken of by Com-mentators
under the title of " Q," from the German
quellem, sources, springs, etc.
Such then very briefly were the sources of lznow-ledge
open to Luke, and with the knowledge of these
he tells us, using what is obviously part of a longer
discourse, that Christ taught that marriage was in-
' Hsstings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, pp. 167.8.
s" Introduction to tho Nev Testament," Vol. 11, p. 249.
3 Cf. St. Luke 1. 1-3 ; Hastings' " Diotionaq of the Bible," Vol.
111, pp. 166.8, and Cohu, oh. xv11.
4Hostings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 168.
24 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
dissoluble, and that a second marriage, during the
lifetime of either of the separated partners, could not
be anything but adultery. "Every one tht putteth
away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth
adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away
from her husband committeth adult,ery " (Luke xv~.
18 (R.V.) ).
THE PROBLEM IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.
WE now pass to the teaching of Christ as given in
the Gospel according to Matthew (see pp. 7-8).
Before we deal with the "exception " therein con-tained,
afew points must be considered. In Matthew's
Gospel it will be noticed that the case of the man is
alone considered: with the Jews it was intolerable
that a woman should divorce her husband: it was the
privilege of man alone. The same applies to Luke.
Yet one very marked feature of Christ's undoubted
teaching was equality of treatment for man and
woman. I t will be noticed that the latter part of chs.
v. 32 and XIX. 9 is not, according to Westcott and
Hort, contained in some manuscripts. This in itself
throws a clear light upon the way, in which early
writers felt at liberty to deal with the manuscripts,
which they used in the compilation of their own
works. Prof. Burkitt thus comments: "This con-demnation
of the womm is not found in Matthew and
Luke, and it is pretty generally assumed to be a
secondary addition, 'based on Roman Law,' says
Dr. Schmiedel in 'Encyclopadia Biblica,' col. 1851.
I venture to think such a view mistaken, and that so
far from being a secondary addition it is one of the
really primitive features of the Gospel of Mark, a
26 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
feature which was dropped out or altered where its
historical meaning had been forgotten. It was no
doubt monstrous to imagine that a Jewess should
desert her husband to marry another man, but it was
not quite unheard of. We know the woman and her
history. Herodias had left her husband-the man
whom Mark calls 'Philip,' but Josephus only knew
as ' Herod '-in order to live with Antipas. Antipas
also was guilty: he had put away the daughter of the
Arabian King Aretas to marry Herodias, his half-brother's
wife, she herself being his half-niece.
"We need scarcely pause to inquire whether Hero-dias
merely deserted her first husband, or whether,
like her great-aunt Salome,' she availed herself of the
methods of Goman procedure and divorced him.
Our Lord's previous words show that He did not re-gard
an immoral act as being any the less immoral
for being carried out according to law: in either case
I ventnre to think the saying as reported in Mark
clearly implies a reference to Herodias, a reference
which is singularly appropriate in the time and place.""
The " exception,'' contained in chs. v. and XIX. of
the Gospel according to Matthew, demands the most
We have seen that Mark and Luke state that Christ
taught that marriage was absolutely indissoluble, and
that another marriage could not be entered into dur-ing
the lifetime of the partners of the first marriage.
But the Gospel according to Matthew is opposed to
that of Mark and Luke, for it tells us that Christ
Josephus, "Ant." xv. 7, 10.
Z'' The Gospel History and its Trmsmission." pp. 100-1.
THE PROBLEM IN THE GOSPEL OB MATTHEW 27
taught that divorce (which with the Jews carried the
right of re-marriage), was allowable on the ground of
fornication-practically the teaching of the School of
Shammai at its best.
It is, as already stated, impossible to over-estimate
the importance of this exoeption with all the conse-quences
that logically ensue.
If that exception formed part of the teaching of
Christ, then the Church of the iirst three centuries
was in error in regard to its teaching, and also the
Anglican Church from its earliest days till now, and
the marriage service of the Church of England goes
beyond the teaching of Christ, and binds burdens
about the necks of its members, which for many men
and women are beyond their u?zoided human strength
If the "exception" formed part of the teaching
of Christ, then it is logically possible to justify the
claim for the extension of the grounds of divorce, and
thus create a position in absolute contrast to the
rest of the teaching of Christ.
Granted the Church has (with some exceptions)
considered ~opveia (fornication) to be the equivalcnt
of /LOLX&~ (adultery), yet to a vast number of Chris-tians
the all-important point is, not what the Church
has taught or deduced from the words of Christ,
but "Is it in the Bible ? " In other words, if the
"exception " forms part of Christ's teaching, what
is to be understood by these words? How would the
Jews, to whom they were spoken, understand them?
1 We believe that God's grace is sufficient for whatever Ho de-mands
of His servants.
28 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
There is the further difticulty in attributing the
" exception " to Christ, because of the inaccuracy of
the language employed and the confusion of thought
ensuing by making rropvela identical with po~x~ia.
It does not appear that "fornication " would in the
Jewish mind be limited to prznuptial unchastity, as
Bengel and Liddon limited it. That would mean,
it has been argued, that the woman would be liable
to punishment for her actions before she entered into
any agreement with her husband, while a breach of
the actual agreement could not be punished if divorce
could only be for rropuia : for, although the penalty
for adultery was already laid down in the Jewish
Law, the exaction of that penalty was not permitted
by the Roman Government.
So to the Jewish mind (and it was to this mind
Christ spolie) it would seem that fornication would
be equivalent to that which destroyed the spiritual
unity with God. Cf. Lev. XVII. 7, XX. 5; 2 Chron.
XXI. 11 and 13; Is. XXIII. 17; Ezek. XVI. 15 and 29,
If so, then the "modern " developments (in reality
a ~artiarle turn to non-Christian systems), if the " ex-
'But Dr. Plummer in his "Oommentary an Matthew," relying
on Hosea, Ir. 5 and Amos vrr. 17, thinks it is olesr thst ~apvda
would convey the meaning of Prof. Tyson in his "Indis-
~olubility of Msrrisgs" states: "In the time of Christ it was uni-versally
held to inolude illicit sexual intercourse on the pmt of the
~ifew, hile the School of Shammai limited it to that sin. Had
this fact been always remembered, many wearisome controversies
as to the meaning of tiopvs:e in St. Matthew would have been
avoided: for it is there used in its Shammsio sense of unlawful
intercourse on the part of the wife." But there are early Ch~istian
writers, down to St. Augustine, agsinst Prof. Tysan's oanolusions.
ception " does form part of Christ's teaching, cannot
be said to be unscriptural if looked at from this
If this "exception " is Christ's, and so the way of
forgiveness and restoration can be absolutely closed
by re-marriage, what becomes of the injunction to
forgive? Cf. Matt. XVIII. 21, 22, and Luke XVII. 4.
The various suggestions of reading the " excep-tion"
into Mark and Luke are too strained to be
aucepted, and especially having regard to the very
definite statement of the returning to the question
by the disciples, and also because it stultifies the
objection of the disciples, who could not have con-sidered
it an intolerable hardship to be required to
live on the same plane as the disciples of the School
If, then, this "exoeption"-of which Mark and
Luke know nothing-which is opposed to the general
tenor of Christ's teaching, does not form part of the
*ords and teaching of Christ, how is its presence in
the Gospel according to Matthew to be accounted
CRITICISM 08 TEE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.
To answer the question raised at the close of the
last chapter, a consideration of the authorship and
purpose of the Gospel according to Matthew will be
In this Gospel according to Matthew, Mark's
Gospel is largely drawn upon, as has been already
shown. In addition the writer (who, it is held,
was not Matthew the Apostle) had other sources of
information,l and principally the " Logia " of the
Apostle Matthew, which were in existence A.D. 50
and were written in Aramaic (Hebrew), the language
spoken by Christ : but our Gospel is not a translation of
those sayings into Greek, but was itself written origin-ally
in Greek. For (1) " it may be taken as proved
that our Matthew is not a translation from Hebrew
'Prof. Sanday, in his "Life of Christ in Recent Research,"
p. 172, dealing with Sir W. M. Ramsay's review af Earnaok's two
books, writes: "There is one startling obiter dictum in the last
article: viz. that 'the lost common source of Luke and Matthew
(i.e. L'Q") . , . was writton while Christ was still living. It gives
us the view whioh one of His disoiples entertained of Him and His
te.ohing during His lifetime, and may be regarded as authoritative
from the view of the disciples generally' (p. 424). I am afraid this
is rather too optimistic. I do not doubt myself that 'Q' was
sometime before L.D. 70. The more exsot date will de-pend
upon the relabion in whioh it stands to Mark and Paul.
Under both these heads there is much to be said on both sides."
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 31
or Aramaic ; (2) it is improbable that tho ' Logia ' or
' Oracles ' of the Lord, giving all due latitude to the
term logion, included anythmg like so much nar-rative
as does our Matthew."'
Tradition from the second century named Matthew
the Apostle as the author of our Gospel according to
Matthew; but all scholars are now agreed that too
much has been placed upon the words of Paphias,
end that our Gospel was not written by the Apostle,
although his teaching, as embodied in his " Logia "
or sayings, is incorporated in it. "The Matthaan
' Logia ' have as their nucleus the common Apostolic
didactic tradition, which took shape in the early
Jerusalem days under the lead of Peter-a tradition
which passed into Mark in its later Petrine form. At
some stage which we cannot now trace they took on
the special impress of the Apostle Matthew, prob-ably
in a ministry of which Galilee, rather than
Judaa, was the scene. In this form they passed, as
Jewish unrest became more acute, to the neighboux-ing
parts of Syria, in the person of our Evangelist
among others, still receiving fresh elements in the
course of oral teaching. Cf. Matt. XIII. 52, and
XXIII. 34. And it was st this stage that they took
written shape, as the main constituent in the mixed
Gospel composed with the aid of the Marcan memoirs
Historical students will not need to be reminded
'Hsstings' "Dictionsry of the Bible," Vol. 111, p 296; see also
Oohu, pp. 357 spy.
a Of. Prof. Bartlett in Hastings' "Dictionary of the Bible," Vol.
111, pp. 296, 297, 298,
Ib~dp. . 303.
32 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
how whole speeches have been placed in the mouths
of orators by writers (cf. Thucydides) when they were
not spoken at all, and how respect for a person often
led to the use of his name and the ascribing of opinions
to him by admiring writers, and how easy it had been
for "indirect authorship " to become " direct author-ship".
In other words, the ideas and canons of
writing and criticism of to-day must not be read into
those of ancient times.
From internal evidence the date of the Gospel
according to Matthew is about A.D. 70. Hastings'
" Dictionary of the Bible " gives 68-70, Plnmmer 67-
80, as probable dates.
What was the purpose of our Gospel? and in
answering this question we shall get much Iight upon
the disagreement of Matthew with Mark and Luke,
particularly in reference to the subject under dis-cussion.
The writer of the Gospel according to Matthew is
a Jew and writes for Jews-the Gospel is "at once
apologetic and polemical. . . . Jesus is God's Mes-siah,
in spite of all superficial appearances, and that
by realizing the essence of Moses and the Prophets." '
To the Jew the Old Testament was "the repository
of all wisdom? and therefore Matthew must show,
if his fellow-countrymen are to accept the teaching
of Christ, that He was a Jew, and that " He came not
to destroy the law but to fulfil the law ".
In doing this Matthew has that common character-istic
of the early Christians of seeing type and prophecy
1 Prof. Bartlett in Hastings' "Diotionary of the Bible," p. 304.
ZCohu, p. 360.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 33
everywhere in the Old Testament and their fulfil-ment
in Christ. To secure this, texts fro111 the Old
Testament are quoted with different wording.' For
instance, Zechariah (rx. 9) had said, "Behold, thy
King cometh unto thee sitting upon an ass, and a
colt the foal of an ass ". This, of course, is the poeti-cal
Hebrew way of spealiing of one animal, and Luke
and Mark so interpret it. Matthew, however, in his
eagerness to keep close to the wording or prophecy,
turns the one animal into two ! " They brought the
ass, and the colt, and set Him on them." So, again,
we read in Matthew 11. 23: "He dwelt in Nazareth,
that it rnight be fulfilled which was spoken by the
prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene," a prophecy
which cannot be traced in the Old Testament. In
spite of several ingenious but unconvincing attempts
to find some parallel for it in Scripture, it is merely
a play on words based on the accidental resemblance
of the word Nazareth and the Hebrew word for
Similarly, it is only by wrenching the original words
from the true original setting and intention that the
passage "when Israel was a child, I loved him and
called My Son out of Egypt "can he construed into a
prophecy referring to the return of the Child Jesus
from Egypt : " Out of Egypt have I called My Son "
(Matt. 11. 15).
These strained and artificial interpretations of
Scripture were universal among the Jews of that day,
and therefore perfectly legitimate and convincing in
Df. Cohu, p. 361.
34 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
When the Jews became Christians they still re-mained
Jews. " Salvation was of the Jews," of that
they were certain; and if the Gentiles are to be
brought in, it must be as "proselytes of the Jewish
Christian Church " ; ' and so it was only by Christ
fulfilling the law and the prophets that in their eyes
there could be any possibility of acceptance. This
Matthew thoroughly realizes (cf. ch. v. 17) : "Think
not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth
pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from
the law, till all be fulfilled. 19. Whosoever therefore
shall break one of these least commandments, and
shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the
kingdom of heaven : but whosoever shall do and
teach them, the same shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven." To Matthow, Christ fulfilled
the law, and nothing can be allowed to stand which
militates against that conception. " Indeed,z so eager
is Matthew to remove .Jewish prejudice against
Christ in this matter of the law, that he re-writes
Mark's passage on divorce, clean and unclean meats,
etc., and makes them assume a different complexion.
" Thus, as regards divorce, Mark and Luke represent
Christ as making the marriage tie absolutely in-
'Dontrsst Matthew s. 5, 6: " These twelve Jeszcs snzt forth, and
ooncmanded them, sayimg, Go not isto the way of the Garrtiles, and
irrto any city of tlw Samaritans enter ye not; But go rather to the
lost sheep ofthe house of Israel" with Mark vr. 10: "A?zdHesaidunto
then%I,r r whatplaca soaver ye e%ter into a+%h ouse, thsre abide," eto.
where no limits of place %re given to the Apostles.
aCohu, p. 366.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 35
dissoluble. Matthew, by adding words, ' except for
fornication,' brings our Lord's verdict on Deuter-onomy
xx~v.i nto perfect harmony with the best
Jewish views of His day."
To consider the words "except for fornication,"
giving the opinions of certain authorities :-
In " The International Critical Commentary'
on the Gospel According to Matthew,"' ch. v. 32, it is
stated: "It is, however, open to question whether
this exception is not an addition of the editor, re-presenting
no doubt two influences, viz. Jewish
custom and tradition, and the exigencies of ethical
necessity in the early Christian Church. A similar
exception is made in XIX. 9, and it will there be seen
that the clause is clearly an interpolation. There is,
therefore, a presumption that it has also been inter-polated
here. Moreover, the teaching of Christ as
recorded by Mark (x, 11) seems to preclude any such
exception. And Luke represents His teaching as
a simple prohibition of divorce without reservation
(XVI. 18). The same may be said of Paul's account
of Christ's teaching, 1 Cor. VII. 10, 11-~orei &VT;)U
po~~~~OijTuhai~s .c la~lsei mplies the circumstance
that after divorce the woman will be likely to
marry again. In that case the divorce will have been
the means of leading her to marry again; and so
from Christ's standpoint, though not legally, oom-mitting
adultery, because according to His teaching
1 Editors 0. R. Driver, D.D., A. Plummer, D.D., 0. A. Briggs,
aBy Willoughby 0. Allen, M.A., Chaplain, Fellow, and Lecturer
in Theology and Hebrew, Exeter College, Oxford.
36 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
the divorce was ideally wrong, and the first marriage
was ideally still valid-a$ El&, cf. Moulton, 42 ff.
~o~~ibercaaus~e ,sh e is ideally still the wife of the
first husband. Christ's teaching here therefore seems
to admit of no exceptions. If a man divorces his
wife he causes her to commit adultery (it being pre-supposed
that she will re-marry), because ideally her
first marriage still holds good. If a man marries
such a divorced woman, he not only causes her to
commit adultery, but himself does so, since he
marries one who ideally is still the wife of her first
husband. The interpolated clause confuses the is-sues.
If a man divorced his wife for ~opuela, he
would not then cause her to commit adultery, because
she would already be guilty of this crime."
" Instead of explaining away the exception, Bleeli,
Keim, and others have denied the genuineness of the
clause specifying it, and this on the ground that the
original unqualified statement of Jesus was felt to be
a stumbling-block, and that the exception ('saving
for the cause of fornication ') crept into the tradi-tional
report as a concession to the realities of social
Dr. Plummer comments %n Matthew v. thus :
" The third illustration of the superiority of the
Christian ideal to the Jewish is taken from the
question of divorce (31, 32). As being a subject con-nected
with the preceding illustration it comes not
1 Hastings' " Dictiansry of the Bible," Vol. 111, p. 215.
aLs An Exegetical Commentary an the Gospol Aooording to St.
Matthew," by Rev. Alfred Plummer, Dl.A., D.D., formerly Mastor
of University College, Durhanl, and sometime Follow and Tutor of
Trinity College, Oxford.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 37
inappropriately here, but we may doubt whether it
was part of the original Sermon. The substance of
it, partly in the same words, is found again XIX. 3-9 ;
but inneither place does it, according to existing texts,
show that Christ's teaching about divorce was
superior to that of the stricter Jewish teachers.
There is grave reason for doubting whether Christ,
either in the Sermon or elsewhere, ever taught that
divorce is allowable when the wife has coinmitted
adultery. That rropucia here nnd XIX. 9 ineans adul-tery
(Hos. 1.1. 5 ; Amos VII. 17) is clear from the
context. According to the earliest evidence (Mark x.
1-12), which is confirmed by Luke XVI. 18, Christ
declared that Moses allowed divorce as a concession
to a low condition of society. But there was an
earlier marriage law, of Divine authority, according
to which the marriage tie was indissoluble. To this
Divine law men oughtto return. Teaching such as
this is entirely in harmony with the teaching about
murder (21-24) and about adultery (27, 28), and is
above the level of the best Jewish teaching. But
what is given here (31, 32) and in xrx. 9 is lzot above
that level. The stricter Rabbis taught that the
'unseemly thing ' (ilu~~po~vp iypai mpudicum ne-gotium,
Tertullian) which justified divorce (Deut.
XXIV. 1) was adultery: and, according to Matthew,
Christ said the same thing. Nothing short of adultery
justified divorce, but adultery did justify it. It is
very improbable that Christ did teach this. If we
want His true teaching we must go to Mark and
Luke, according to whom He declared the indissolu-bility
of the marriage bond. He told His disciples
38 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
that the re-marriage of either partner, while the other
is living, is adultery.' But it is a violent hypothesis
to assume (in the face of all external evidence) that
' except on account of fornication ' is a later interpola-tion
by early scribes (Wright, 'Synopsis of the
Gospels in Greek,' p. 99). If the interpolation had
not already been made in the Jewish Christian au-thority
which Matthew used, then we must attribute
the interpolation to the Evangelist himself. It is
clear from other cases that he treated his authorities
with freedom, and he may have felt confident that
Christ, while forbidding divorce on any other ground,
did not mean to forbid it in the case of adultery.
Yet, even on the Evangelist's authority, we can
hardly believe that our Lord, after setting aside the
Mosaic enactment as an accommodation to low moral-ity,
should Himself have sanctioned what it allowed.
Mark would have no motive for omitting the excep-tion
if Christ had made i t ; but there would be an
obvious motive for a Jewish Christian to insert it, as
meont, though not reported."
Dr. Plummer, commenting on Matthew XIX. 3-12,
writes : " . . . We must study Mark x. 2-12 if we wish
for a clear and consistent account of Christ's teaching
respecting divorce. . . . According to Mark and Luke
Christ forbade divorce altogether. The permission to
'Augustine's view is this: "Solius fornicationis oaus& lioet
uxorem adulteram dimittere, sed ill& vivente non licst alteram du-oere";
but he is not satisfied with sny solution o£ the difficult
question. Yet he would uso Milrli and Luke to explain Matthew.
"Quod subobscure apud Matthieurn positum est, ex~ositu~eno t
spud alios, siout legitur apud Maroum et spud Lucum." Tertnllisn
is very decided for this view (" Adv. Marc." 17. 34).
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 39
divorce a wife for grave misconduct was conceded by
Moses because of the low condition of society in his
time ; but now men ought to return to the primeval
principle that marriage is indissoluble, According to
Matthew, both here and in v. 31, 32, Christ agreed
with the stricter Jews; an unchaste wife might be
divorced, and the husband marry again. I t has been
shown in the comments on v. 31, 32 that it is improb-able
that Jesus taught this; and we may suspect
that both 'for every cause ' (3) and 'except for
fornication' (9) are insertions made either by the
Evangelist or in the authority which he is using in
addition to Mark. Whoever inserted the words would
think that they must have been meant, and that
therefore it was right to make the meaning perfectly
clear. The remark of the disciples (10) confirms the
view that Christ forbade divorce, even in the case of
the wife'sunchastity. If that was His decision, their
remark is intelligible. I t would then mean that
marriage is a dangerous condition, if a man cannot
free himself from an adulterous wife. But, if He
taught that the divorce of an adulterous wife was
allowable, then their remark would mean that mar-riage
is a hard lot, if a man may not get rid of a wife
whom he dislikes; and it is hardly likely that they
can have meant this. After being Christ's disciples
so long, they would not hold that what even Jews of
the stricter School of Shammai maintained respecting
the marriage tie was an intolerable obligation."
In " The Human Element in the Gospels " 1 it is
'A oomlnentsry on the Synoptic Nmrativo by George Salmon,
D.D., F.R.S., late Provost of Trinity College, Dublin; edited by
40 DIVORCE AND 1 RE-MARRIAGE
stated : " Certainly our best guide to the true inter-pretation
of the sayings of our Lord is the manner in
which they were understood by the disciples who
heard them, and by the Church which He founded,
and this is our best safeguard against the numerous
heresies which have had their origin in the private
interpretation of isolated texts " (p. 127).
Commenting on Matthew v. 31, 32, Dr. Salmon
wrote : "If notice be taken of another variation be-tween
Matthew's version (in ch. XIX.) and Mark's, no
fair-minded critic can doubt that the limitations in
Matthew were made with the express purpose of re-moving
any prohibition against divorcing an adulter-ous
wife. The question with which the Pharisees
tempted our Lord is according to Mark's version, Is
it lazoful for a naan to put awag his toij~? but according
to Matthew, Is it lawful for a malL to pt~t atuag his wij%
jo~or every cause P In fact, the question touches on a
dispute which then went on between rival schools
of expounders of the Law. . . . The question then
arises, If there be a discordance, which report are we
to follow? Which is more likely to ropresent the
record first made of our Lord's words? A question
of criticism must be decided on critical grounds with-out
regard to doctrinal consequences ; and it seems
to me that Mark's version, which appears to disallow
divorce without any exception, is rnore likely to re-present
the common source than Matthew's, which
excepts the adulterous wife. For it is innch easier
to account for Matthew's insertion of the words than
Newport J. D. White, D.D., Professor of Riblioal Greek in the
University of Dublin.
CRITICISM OF TH'E GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 41
for Mark's omission of them, if they had been in his
original " (pp. 130-1).
Later on (pp. 390-1), commenting on Mark x. 2 and
Matthew xrx. 3, Dr. Salmon states : " The dependence
of Mattl~ewo n Mark in this passage is unmistakable. . . . Omitting the words rapenror Xdyou ~o~ueiainr
Matthew v. 32 appears to forbid absolutely the putting
away a wife, no matter how unfaithful; and this,in con-fessed
opposition to the ordinance of Moses. . . . I am
inclined to the belief that we ought to accept Mark's
account here as the most literal report of what our
Lord said, viz. that He uttered His precept against
dissolution of marriage in the most general terms,
and without allowance for possible exceptions. . . .
I t seems (p. 394) now to me plain that the disciples
understood our Lord to say, that it was not lawful
to put away one's wife, even in the case of adultery.
Surely it would be unreasonable for them to say that
it was not good for a man to marry, unless he had
the power of unlimited divorce."
Prof. Tyson writes : 1 "Looking at the matter from
every point of view, I cannot regard the twice-re-peated
exception, both on account of its relation to
its own context and because of its total divergence
from the independent witness of the three Apostolic
writers of the New Testament, to be a genuine saying
of Christ, although, on the other hand, the witness of
antiquity compels me to confess that it formed an
integral portion of the First Gospel."
'"The Teaching of Our Lard &s to the Indissolubility of
Marriage," by S. L. Tyson, 1I.A. (Oaon.), Professor of New Testament
Language and Interpretation in the University of the South, p. 51.
42 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
"The Rev. William Pattison Paterson, D.D., a
minister of the Church of Scotland, and Professor of
Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, entered at
length into Biblical data bearing on divorce. He had
come to the belief that our Lord did not allow any
qualification of the indissolubility of marriage. The
general tenor of our Lord's teaching was against
divorce for adultery. He taught the duty of forgiving
those who wronged us unto seventy times seven, and
witness was therefore of opinion that He would not
have said in a particular case that a man's relation
to his wife ought to cease. Further, the method of
Jesus, as seen in the Sermon on the Mount, was to
lay down ethical principles in the most absolutc forin,
and to ignore qualifying considerations. Accordingly,
witness was inclined to thin11 that when Christ came
to deal with the question of divorce, He said that
marriage was indissoluble. . . . Again, researches
into the sources and relations of the Gospels repre-sented
Matthew as an inferior authority. They had
three authorities for the absolute rule, as against
one for the exception. But further, the general
result of critical analysis was that the Gospel ac-cording
to Matthew was based on two principal
sources, viz. Mark, or an earlier forin of the canonical
booli, and an older document usually described as the
' Logia,' which was also one of the sources of Luke.
Since, now, the exception was not found in Mark,
and since Luke XVI. 18, which was probably drawn
from the same source as Matthew v., 31, 32, was
also ignorant of it, it seemed probable that in both
CRITICISM OB' THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 43
passages Matthew had modified the original tradi-tion."
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham (Dr. Gore) said,2
in reference to our subject and the interpolation of
the writer of the Gospel according to Matthew:
"The only evidence that he was able to offer was
concerning the view which the Christian Church
as a whole, and the English Church in particular,
had taken of divorce. It had been commonly held
in the Christian Church that Christ forbade divorce
in such sense, as admitted of re-marriage, altogether.
Modern Biblical criticism confirmed the view. The
earliest texts, according to the modern view were :-
" 'And in the house the disciples asked Him again
of this matter. And He saith unto them, Whosoever
shall put away his wife, and marry another, com-mitteth
adultery against her, and if she herself shall
put away her husband, and marry another, she com-mitteth
"'Any one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth
another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth
one that is put away from s husband committeth
"A11 the evidence pointed to this prohibition of
divorce, without exception, being the original teaching
of Christ, and modern critical commentators tended
to regard the exception in Matthew's Gospel as a
later gloss upon the original teaching, due to the
'Royal Comlnissian on Divoroe, " Daily Telegraph," 29 June,
ZEvidenoe before the Royal Commission on Divorce and Moitri-monial
Causes, ils reported in "The Times" of 22 June, 1910.
44 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Jewish traditions still at work in the Christian com-munity.'
The Christian Church apparently took no
notice of the exception and maintained the absolute
indissolubility of Christian marriage." This evidence
of Bishop Gore is all the more notable, because he
had some time previously held and written opinions
of quite an opposite character.
The Lord Bishop of Ely (Dr. Chase, sometime Lady
Margaret Professor and subsequently Norrisian Pro-fessor
of Divinity at Cambridge)2 dealt with the
Christian view of divorce, as derived from Christ's
sayings. When they considered the mode in which
Christ's sayings were transmitted through the memory
of many men, through oral tradition, and when,
further, they took into account the fact that His
words, having been spoken in Aramaic, had reached
them in a Greek dress, they were precluded from
supposing that they had an exact or verbatim report
of what Christ said. Witness entered at length into
the evidence as to Christ's teaching on divorce, show-ing
that according to Marli, our Lord asserted the
absolute indissolubility of marriage.
'Cohu, p. 366: " WB do not always sufllciently grssp the fact
that Jewish Christisns wore essentially Jaws as well as Christians. . . . In the constant feud between Judaieers and Pauliniuts;
in the shoclr Peter received when he was told of God to go to
the Gentile centurion (Acts x.): in the agenda of the Council of
Jerusalem (Acts xv.); in the rebuke adlninisterod by Paul to Potiir
at Antiach (Gal. rl.), we oloady soe that Jewish Christians still
continued to regard the obligations of the hlasaio Law as binding
Wee evidence before the Royal Commission as reported in 'c The
Daily Telogrilph," 29 June, 1910.
CRITICISM OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW 45
The late Dean Lefroy wrote : 1 "And accordingly
the Christian Church has ever held that the mind of
Christ is that marriage is indissoluble. Life-long
monogamy is the condition supposed and enjoined by
Holy Scripture. . . . So far, then, we claim that the
teaching of Holy Scripture is the indissolubility of
the marriage bond: the union is essential, its dura-tion
Wats~n,a~fte r careful exaiuination of texts and
manuscripts, comes to the following conclusion : " I t
thus appears that a fairly strong case can be rnade
out to show that the original reading from which all
existing readings were derived was a reading which
may not contemplate re-marriage after divorce ; it is
certain that some manuscripts of high authority have
readings which do not contemplate any such re-mar-riage
; and it is further certain that the text is so vari-ously
read as to makeit in the highest degree inexpedi-ent
to base any argument of important bearing upon
any of its readings. The proper course appears to be to
put aside Matthew XIX. 9 and to direct the inquiry
to (1) other passages of Holy Scripture, (2) the testi-mony
of the Church in history, and (3) the necessary
conclusions of Reason."
Luckock states: " The evidence of early patristic
authority is distinctly against the Authorized Version.
In the Revised Version the amended reading has been
recognized as suficiently authoritative to find its
place in the margin.
1 Pp. 42, 43 in "The Churoh and Life of To-day," 'I Divoroe,"
by the late Very Rev. W. Lofroy, D.D., Dsen of Norwioh.
Holy Matrimony," p. 161.
'' Ths H'i~lOry of Marri&ge," p. 70.
46 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
"No one can deny, then, that the text is extremely
uncertain, and it seems most unsafe to base any per-mission
of such tremendous consequence upon such
uncertainty " . . .
"We submit, however, thai: the real question at
issue is not so much whether or for what our Lord
sanctioned divorce, but whether, if granted, it carried
with it the right to re-marry or not. . . . The West-ern
Church has held that the ground upon which
such a right is said to rest, viz. a simple text of long-disputed
integrity, is too precarious to be trusted; and
to this course the Anglican branch of it has hitherto
yielded a constant assent."
THE TEACHING OF ST. PAUL
ST. PAULin his Epistle to the Romans' wrote in
ch. VII. 1-4 (R.V.): "Or are ye ignorant, brethren (for
I speak to men that know the law), how that the law
hath dominion over a man so long time as he liveth ?
For the woman that hath a husband is bound by
the law to the husband while he liveth : but if the
husband die, she is discharged from the law of the
husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she
be joined to another man, she shall be called an
adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from
the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be
joined to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye
also were made dead to the law through the body of
Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to
Him who was raised from the dead that we might
bring forth fruit unto God."
Some writers have held this passage to teach the
indissolubility of marriage, because St. Paul does not
recognize that under Jewish law divorce, which carried
with it the right of marrying again, existed, and that
he has in his mind the teaching of Christ. The
Romans at this time considered marriage simply a
1 Date-Hsstings' "Dictionary of the Bible," A.D. 55-66 ; Dr.
Plummer, A.D. 54-57.
48 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
question of contract, depending only on the will of the
It does not seem fair criticism to make this passage
apply to the indissolubility of marriage. St. Paul is
not discussing that question at all : he is dealing with
the Judaizing tendencies of some Christians mentioned
above. They considered the Christian still bound by
the law. So it seems this passage cannot reasonably
be divorced from the subject St. Paul was discussing
and made to apply in detail to the subject now under
Upon the subject of marriage we get St. Paul's
teaching in 1 Corinthians ' ~II1.0 , 11 (B.V.) : " But
unto the married I give charge, yeanot I, but the Lord,
that the wife depart not from her husband (but and if
she depart, let her remain unmarried, or else be recon-ciled
to her husband) : and that the husband leave not
his wife : " " Toir 62 ye"jalL~6uW~uC L~U~O~CKQ XX~,
&AX& 6 K~~LyuOuaFin,a &v;lA u6phr pi ~opruO~va~-;&u
62 K~L~O~pL~uU&&ro& ~ya,p or 6 VI,& u6pln a~aXha"/rj~m,
-gal tl~6~yauu aixa A+L~U~L."-Westcotta nd
The Corinthian Christians would be well acquainted
with the Roman Law and its terms of divorce. They
are not to take advantage of it-~o~~uO?juaeif: a
separation taltes place then the wife is to remain un-married
or be reconciled. The man is charged not
to leave his wife. Again in verse 30 (R.V.) : "A wife
is bound for so long time as her husband liveth; but
if the husband be dead, (margin fallepz asleep), she is
1 Date-Hsstings' "Dictionary of the Bible," A.D. 55 ; Dr.
Plurnrnsr. A.D. 52-50.
THE TEACHING OF ST. PAUL 49
free to be married to whom she will; only in the
It will be noticed that in the R.V. and in Westcott
and Hort's Greek Testament " by the law " (u&o) is
omitted in verse 39, although it appears in the
Authorized Version. It is not found in the best
manuscripts. So then St. Paul's instructions to the
converts-Jews as well as Gentiles-is that Christian
marriage is soluble only by death. Also he advised if
a second marriage, which in his personal judgment is
a matter for deprecation, is to take place, it is to be
olzlyin, the Lord and not with unbelievers. This would
be a very real restriction, as there were in the early
Church more female converts than male, and so the
difficulty of securing husbands was felt. But St. Paul
is concerned with the spiritual life of the converts
and wishes to avoid danger to it by marriage with
This concludes the teaching concerning our subject
to be found in the New Testament. It is clear that
according to St,. Marlr, St. Luke, and St. Paul, Chris-tian
marriage is indissoluble, while the " exception " in
the Gospel according to Matthew cannot be regarded
as the words of Christ, modern Biblical criticism con-sidering
it to be an interpolation by the compiler of
1 ruvh8 i8r.ioi iQiro ov ~pdvov 6 &vhp bu~iir. i2iv 81 ~orpq85d bv<p
ihrv8ipa ili~lv+3 8dh.i yaliv8iivaa. P~YDYb ~~~i~.-Westcaontdt Hart.
The following verse (40) throws light upon the opinion Paul had of
mmriage : "But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my
judgment : and I think thst I also have the Spirit, of Gad ".
the doctrine concerning re-marriage of oonverts end mixed
marriages, see Watson's " Boly Matrimony,"pp. 438-590.
50 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
that Gospel or even of a later date than that. So then
it cannot be used to modify the teaching of Christ as
given by the three other writers in the New Testa-ment,
who are in agreement as to the i~ldissolubility
of the marriage bond.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314.
WE must now consider the evidence, outside Holy
Scripture, as to what was the belief of the early
Christians and the teaching of the Church.
I t will be convenient to consider first the period
down to the conversion of the Emperor Constantine,
A.D. 314, and the consequent union of Church and
State, which union of necessity would mean then,
as now, that the State assumed some control over
c. A.D. 75. HERMAS.
The first reference to our subject by any Christian
writer is found in " The Pastor of Hermas," which
was "one of the most popular books, if not the
most popular, in the Christian Church during the
second olld third centuries. . . . The most probable
date assigned to its composition is the reign of Hadrian
or of Antoninus Pius."' Hermas lived at Rome, but
it is now agreed that he was not the Hennas men-tioned
by St. Paul in Romans XVI. 14. This book was
so popular that it was placed almost on a level with
Holy Writ, and it was even read as such during the
first centuries in the Churches. Irenaus speaks of it
'Cf. "The Apostolic Fathers,' p. 319, in T. & T. Clarlt's "Ante-
Nioene Christian Library ".
51 4 *
52 DIVORCE, AND RE-MARRIAGE
as " Scripture " in these words : " Truly, then, the
scriptures declared, which say," and here follows a
quotation from the shepherd of Hermas.l Clement
of Alexandria : " Divinely, therefore, the power which
spake to Hermas by revelation said ".2
The opinion of Hermas IS clear from the statement
on Commandment IV: "I say to him, sir, permit
me to ask you a question. Say on, he said. Sir,
I said, if anyone has a wife who believes in the Lord,
and if the husband has found her in certain adultery,
does he, living with her, commit sin ? As long as he
remains in ignorance, he said, the husband does
not sin. But if the husband knows the sin of his
wife and if the wife does not repent, but remains in
her fornication and the husband lives with her, he
becomes partaker of her crime, and a participator in
her adultery. What then, sir, I said, is the hus-band
to do, if his wife abide in this state? Let the
husband, he said, put ,her away and remain by
himself. But if he put his wife away and marry
another, he also commits adultery. What, sir, I
said, if after the woman is put away she should re-pent,
and wish to return to her husband, shall she
not be taken back? Verily, he said, if the husband
do not take her back, he sins, and brings a great sin
upon himself; for he ought to take back the sinner
who has repented. But not repeatedly. For there
is but one repentance to the servants of God. There-fore,
because of the possible repentance, the husband
ought not to marry another. The course of action is
the same for the woman and the man. Not only,
' " Adv. Her." iv. 20, 2. ' " Stramate," Blr. I, oh. xxrx.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 63
he said, is it adnltery if anyone defile his flesh but
he also commits adultery who does things similar to
the heathen." '
It will be noticed that separation is enjoined for
linown adultery, but the marriage bond still remains
unbroken, so that on repentance conjugal intercourse
can be resumed. Further, that whatsoever endangers
the spiritual union with God is on the same level as
adultery and is a cause of separation.
A.D. 139. JUSTIMNA RTYR.
In his First Apology for the Christians, addressed
to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, his sons, the Sen-ate,
and the whole people of Rome, Justin Martyr
states : "But that we should not seem to be reason-ing
sophistically, we consider it right, before proceed-ing
to proof, to call to mind a few precepts given by
Christ Himself. And let it be your part, as powerful
Icings, to seek whether we have been taught and do
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1867, p. 392.
54 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGK
teach these matters truly. Brief and concise words
were spolien by Him, for He was not a sophist, but
His word was the power of God." " Iva 62 ~4 uo+d
@uBa~6p Ciy S~&U~EdVhl,y wu TLU&rUDj u rap' ah05 roc
Xp~uroi8, ~8a~pLrwEul~ ~puvutJljnuaah~oi v ZX~LVr pb re7
&r08e~&w?j wukpefIa, nal 6p4repou h'urw, i~8~ uarDjv
,C?au~X~dEv'(,~ rkuac€ 1 LXqtlDj~ raFra 6~6~6L~periBala
8~8ku~opeu/. 3pa~8~2 in~ai UUUTO~OLr ap' ahoi, X~YOL
y~y6uau~u0.6 y hp UO~LUT&~Tnj pxfu,&XhaG dvap~vB coc
6X6./oa~t roi, 3u."-" Apol." I . § 14. The challenge of
inquiry shows that the statements were not a matter
of Justin Martyr's private opinion, but of the known
teaching of the Church.
He continues : " Whosoever loolted on a woman to
lust after her, hath already committed adultery in
his heart in the sight of God. . . . He who marries
a woman put away from another man, commits
adultery. . . . So then both those who commit
bigamy under the sanction of the law of man, are
sinners in the eye of our Master, and those who look
on a woman to lust after her." "'OF tlu E'p,C?hg+j
YUU~LKr~p6 9 76 f)r16up.iuaL adrljv, 487 f)poI~e~rv1je
nap81? rapd T$ Be$ . . . 'OF yap& &roheXuph~~~
24' f)~Qpo(iuv 8ph~~, OLX~T~L. . . . "Our~pria l oi v6p0
&uBpwrluy G~~apla~yo ~oLpeudoP~a,p rwXol rap& T$
Ijpmipy As8aunkhy ~1~n1ai, o E rpou/3k~rouryeu~u a~lcl
rp6v ri) dr~Bvp7jua(~i~ rlj~."-Ibid.
In his Second Apology Justin Martyr gives the case
of a woman, who, leaving her former evil life, became
a Christian, but her husband continued his evil course.
Over persuaded by her friends she continued to live
with him for a time in hope of amendment : but the
HISTORICAL EVSDENOE TILL A.D. 514 55
husband eventually departed to Alexandria and there
conducted himself worse than formerly : therefore
she " in order that by abiding in conjugal intercourse
and by sharing his table and bed, may not become a
participator of his wickedness and impiety wes separ-ated
from him, having given whet is called among
you, a bill of repudiation".'
c. A.D. 177. ATHENAGORAS.
Athenagoras was an Athenian philosopher, who
became a convert to Christianity, and one of the
ablest Christian apologists. In his Plea (.rrpeu,&la or
Legatio), which is addressed "to the Emperors,
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Com-modus,
conquerors of Armenia and Sarmatia, and
more than all philosophers," he wrote : "For our
business consists not in the study of words, but in
the practice and teaching of deeds-that a person
remain as he was born or (contented) in one mar-riage,
for a second is only specious adultery. For
whosoever shall put away his wife and shall marry
another, commits adultery ''.Z Athenagoras is one of
the three writers (Origen and Clement of Alexandria
being the other two) of the first three centuries
who refer to the disputed passage in the Gospel ac-cording
to Matthew: the reference is not by name
'#nor 'OLYWY~Y7 ;" CL~LII~K~T~Wn.Y1 b<r6qpdi~y~h q7at, E(&~~~c7a
6"' T< <mCuyie, aal d~o6iairorx ai ~~KOITYOLY~O ~~YVT,& A~Ydpe~e~,
sap' tp?v prriod8iov GoCaa i~wpI~t?q.A-~p~ol . " 2, a. 2.
$0; y=p pchirg hdywv, bhh' i~16ei(rr xal 8i8armahlq ipywv d
+phrp~.ij oldr ~rir7 &~8qp,d vsv, 8 ?.P1 ivl ydp9. '0 ydp 6867ep09
clsprlrljr 81171 po~~ci=".0 s yhp 8" &~oh6qm,n d, .rhv yuva7~aa ka;, KG!
Lthhqv, ~OLX~~LLI.L-"e g~itiop ro Ohristianis," 5 33,
56 DIVORCE AND RE-I'IARRIAGE
-for the earliest references to the Gospels do not
give the name-but it will be noticed that Athena-goras
does not employ the exception: on the con-trary
he uses the passage against the repetition of
To the indissolubility of Christian marriage the
testimony of Athenagoras is absolute and is endorsed
by the Church, but the teaching in reference to second
marriages was repudiated.
Saving the three books written to his friend Auto-lycus,
who in conversation with Theophilus had
probably disparaged Christianity, no other writings
of Theophilus have come down to us : but Eusebius
and Jerome speak of other works of Theophilus
against the prevailing heresies. To Autolycus he
wrote: "And the voice of the Gospel teaches still
more urgently concerning chastity, saying, every-one,
who looks upon a strange wornan to long after her,
hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.
And he who marries, it says, her that is put away
from her husband, committeth adultery: and who-soever
puts away his wife, saving for the cause of
fornication, canseth her to commit adultery ".'
Theophilus is true to Christian teaching as regards
1'E 6i E8ayy~Aio.s movh irri~a~i~&~GtcFd~oonun w epi byvelar Aiyovoa.
nb d isliv yvvai~ab hho~plavs pbs vb ist8upijsa~a hhv ~poi,y~~btu
abrhv ivT $ ~apsaiL~ro i. mi d yagv, q701v, ~~OA~AU~~dvsVpo~r V
pocXe6a~. nai 8s Baoh6rr yuvaixa sapcit~br Adyou ~opvciar, no'ci a$~hv
palxcuRijva~.-'8 Ad Autolgoum," lib. iii. o. 13.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 57
c. A.D. 192. ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA.
Clement was the famous head of the Catechetical
school at Alexandria, and was a man of very great
learning and extensive travel. He wrote: "But
that the Scripture counsels marriage, nor at any time
allows separation from that union, the law straightly
enjoins, ' Thou shalt not put away thy wife, except
for the cause of fornication,' and it considers as forni-cation
the marriage of those separated while the other
still lives ".'
St. Clement is evidently quoting from memory, and
it is ~lmoscte rtain that he refers to Matthew XIX. 9.
He is the second of three writers during the first three
centuries to do so.
c. A.D. 193-220. TBRTULLIAN.
The witness of Tertullian is not certain, so much
so that it has been claimed to prove that marriage
after divorce is permissible, and also that marriage
is indissoluble. Tertullian is to be treated as a witness
to historic facts, rather than an authority, and particu-larly
after his secession to Montanism.
In his treatise "Ad Uxorem," written between A.D.
197 and 199 and before he became a Montanist, he
wrote : "Now let our attention be turned to the next
best councils in respect to human infirmity, the exam-ples
of certain women urging us thereto, who through
divorce, or by thc death of the husband, when an
opportunity of continence was offered, ilot only threw
'"Ori Fi yapriv il rpc@~'lruPSouAa6er0 36s A@imarB~11T Y~CTB S ruCuY1as
ir<.rpdsr2,K YIIKPYS OAR AroAl<eis ~uYG?T~A+~Y, t ip+ id adYy
aapvsiar. yorxeiavFifyci~ai ~b 2myGp.i CGijy~o~Biiii~~~~i)v~(ex~p~rp&~v.
-" Stromsta," lib. ii. osp. 29.
58 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
away the opportunity of so great a benefit, but not
even in marrying again chose to remember the rule
that above all they should marry in the Lord,."' Also in
the second chapter: "I will reply, if the Spirit give
(me power), alleging that before all things the Lord
considers it more approved for marriage not to be
contracted than to be at all dissolved ; in fine, he
prohibits divorce, except for the cause of fornication,
but he commends continence ".'
Again, Tertullian wrote in his work "against
Marcion " : "For he is an adulterer who marries a
woman unlawfully put away as much as if he married
one who is undivorced. For the marriage, which is
not rightly dissolved, stands. To marry while matri-mony
exists, is adultery."
Also, " and so divorce, when justly deserved, has
even Christ as a defender ".4
Also, "But even Christ, when He commanded a
wife not to depart from her husband, or she hasdeparted,
' "Nunc ad seounda. conailia. oonvertamur, respect" human= in-firmitotis,
quarumdam enemplis admoventibus qua divortia "el
mariti excess", ablbta continentia oocesiono, nan mado abjecerunt
opportunitatem tnnti boni, sed ne in nubsndo quidem rursum dis-ciplinae
meininisse voluerunt, ut in Donimo potissimum muberent."
-<'Ad Uxorem," lib. ii. cap. I.
a "Rsspondebo: si spiritus dsderit, ante omnia, allegans Domi-num
magis riltum haberr matrimonium non oontrahi, quam omnino
disjungi: denique divortium prohibet, nisi stupri oaussa, contin-entiam
vsro commendat."-Bk. 11, c. 11.
" Illioita snim dimisearn pro indimissa. duoens, adulter est.
Manet enim metrimonium quod non rite diremptum est. Manente
matrimonio nubere, adulterium est."-" Adversus Marcionem,"
lib. iv. cap. 34.
* "Habot ilaque ct Christum assertorem justitia divortii."-
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 59
to remain tcninarried or to be reconciled to her husband,
both permitted divorce which He did not entirely
prohibit, and ratified marriage, because in the first
place He forbade separation, and if by chance separa-tion
had taken place, He wish it to be renewed.' It
has been sought to discredit this later testimony on the
ground that the work against Marcion, as we have it,
was revised by Tertullian-and undoubtedly it bears
distinct marks of revision-after he had adopted Mon-tanist
opinions: and then holding that all second
marriages were unlawful, he was of necessity obliged
to revise his former opinions.
But " whateverperverting effects Tertullian's seces-sion
to the sect of Montanus may have had on his
judgment in his latest writings, it did not vitiate the
work against Marcion. With a few trivial exceptions,
this treatise may be read by the strictest Catholic
without any feelings of annoyance." a
This discrediting can only be done at the expense
of the consistency of Tertullian. Further as Xeble
points out "hat, "if the orthodox enemies of Tertul-lian
the unorthodox and heretical, had allowed mar-riage
after divorce, it is almost inconceivable, that
being the man he was, that he would not have held
his opponents up to scorn and contempt ".
'"A tquin ot Ohristus, cum preoipit ?,~ulierema vim nolzdiscede~.e
cut si discessevit, mancre innuptam, aut reconcilimi l'iiro, et re-pudium
permisit quo6 non in totum prohibuit, et matrirnoniurn
oonfirmavit, quod primo vetuit dispingi, et si forte disjunotuln
voluit reformeri."-Lib. v. o. 7.
8 Dr. Holmes' "TertulliadAgainst M&roion," in T. & T. Clarke's
Librwy, etc., pp. 16 spq.
Seqnel to the Argument," p. 13.
60 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
But Dr. Pusey in his celebrated "Note 0 " 1 on
"The Second Book to His Wife," wrote : " Tertullian
here, no less explicitly because incidentally, allows of
marriage after divorce. Only, here, from the context,
it appears that it is marriage of a woman who has
divorced her husband, not been divorced by him.
The same is implied in the ' Adv. Marc.' IT. 34 : ' The
marriage abideth which is not duly severed. To
marry, while a marriage abideth, is adultery. Thus,
if He conditionally prohibited to put away a wife,
He did not wholly prohibit it ; and what He did not
wholly prohibit, He permitted in other cases, in which
the cause for which He prohibited it no longer
exists,' i.e. marriage was not to bc severed by man,
he was not to 'put away his wife, for the sake of
marrying another' (ibid.) ; but if the marriage was
severed by God, through death, or ips0 facto broken
through adultery, so that they ceased to be one, in
either case alike it ceased. A new marriage was
adultery only while the former endured ; and it en-dured
until it was duly severed; but since adultery
of the divorced was such a severance, a new marriage,
according to Tertullian's argument ceased to be adul-tery.
It is remarkable that Pamelius and others ex-plain
away this testimony of Tertullian, being opposed
tothe Roman practice, by reference to the treatise 'De
Monog.' c. 9, 10, written against the Church, and,
because he there does not allow of the marriage of
the divorcing party, infer that neither does he here;
forgetting, that he there rejects stl~ouC7 u~arriages
altogether, even of the widowed, which he here
' "Oxford Library of the Fathers," " Tertullian," Vol. I, p. 431.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 61.
admits." It ought to be added most reluctantly and
c. A.D. 185-254. ORIREN.
Origen was head of the Catechetical School at Alex-andria,
having been appointed, while still a layman,
by Bishop Demetrius. .Origen's teaching on our
subject is to be found in his commentary on Matthew's
Gospel, ch. XIX. Therein he deals with the questions
raised by those who put the question to Christ,
Who replied "what God hath joined together let
not man put asunder". He deals allegorically-a
mode of thought which had the greatest fascination
for him-with Christ's connexion with the Law and
the Church. He is not quite sure of himself, and so
it would be more than unfair to press the details of
this allegory to prove a, point: any more than it
would be right to press every detail in the parables
Origen is troubled about the conduct of certain
leaders of the Church, who have suffered a divorced
woman to marry again. Nothing is known as to
who she was : or whether she was the repudiator or
repudiated: or whether the divorce was for the cause
stated in Matthew's Gospel, or whether it was for one
of the many reasons sanctioned by the Roman Law.
Most commentators consider it was a lawful
1 rl xal d8oEapcv 81B08ur&pwv~,xarGai apiu$@Rair ir~obr~6raurapoy
pL~~v.-Cammentary on Matthew xrx.
a Of. Posoy's" Note 0," supra; Bmghem, xxrr. ch. 11,s 12, p. 300 ;
but Watkins in his " Holy hlstrimouy,"pp. 213,214, mskes the follow-ing
suggestion: "Itis possible, however, and indeed, as regards
62 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
At any rate to Origen the Mosaic concession was a
condescension to hardness of heart and human weak-ness
(6~b ~;lv &u8euerav), so the ,marriage of the
woman in the lifetime of her husband was acting
"contrary to Scripture and contrary to that com-manded
and written from the beginning ".I
Origen is the third of the three writers who during
the first three centuries quotes Matthew XIX. 9 ;
"and shall marry again " is not quoted by him, and
he draws no help from the text concerning the ques-tion
c. 200-258. ST. CYPRIAN, BISHOP OF CARTHAGE.
St. Cyprian wrote to his son, Quirinns, three books,
called " Testimones," against the Jews, containing
" those Divine teachings wherewith the Lord has
condescended to teach and instruct us by the Holy
Scriptures". He states that "a wife ought not to
depart from her husband, or if she should depart, to
remain unmarried ".
In the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians :
that age, exceeding probable, that the divorced wives spokan of
were the whes of non-Christian husbands, who had put them
away. If this was done bofaro or at the baptism of the wives, the
divorce would be regarded by the Church tls sffarding no bar to re-marriage.
. . . The marriage, so sovercd, oould never have been
Ohristisn m&rri&ge at all."
"H67j 6e 7zapb yrypczPp(va xu> liver .iiu ~youpdvwv icr 'EKKAVC~G~
ishpcjrdv .r,va, Dvvr <Gv,or 7.0; duXpbr, yape:raa, yuva:,ta, ,,ap& 7b
YeYPawivovpiunoio6urer iv $ AiAcna~. "ruvil 6i iq' 8sov ~pdvov Cp
d dvhp ah$r," nal 70. '("Apa 08" po'xahl~~ pnpa~icriir y ilvil ycvopiuq
6~6i~7i1pw (srjv70rT OG bv6pbr," 03 pilv dhdywr. cixbr ybp 71" cup
nep2qnpbv ~od~qovuy rrpbri ~ci~dvwinvip racrerri rapb 18 dr' cip~jr
vrvopoa.7Vfi:va ~aylry pawCva.-Commentary on Matthew xrx.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 63
"But to them that are unmarried I command, yet
not I, but the Lord, that the wife be not separated
from her husband: but if she should depart, to re-main
unmarried or be reconciled to her husband;
and the husband not to put away his wife".'
THE APOBTOLICACLA NONS.
The date of these canons is uncertain. The whole
question is carefully argued by Dr. Hefele,= who
states : " Drey . . . supposes that a great number of
the Apostolic canons were taken from those of the
Council of Antioch, held in 341, and Bickell agrees
with him on this point. It cannot be denied that
Drey's opinion has much to be said for it: it does
not, however, appear to us quite unassailable; and
perhaps it may still be possible to prove that the
canons of this Council of Antioch were rather taken
from the Apostolic canons. I t may also be the same
with the Synod of Nicaa, which, in its first, second,
fifth, and fifteenth canons, alludes to ancient canons
in use in the Church. Perhaps the Council placed
the canons referred to among the Apostolic canons
which may have circulated in the Church before
being inserted in our present collection."
"The Synod in Trullo being, as is well known,
1" Uxorem a viro non rsocdare, aut si racesserit, innuptam
In Epistola Psuli sd Corinthios prima,: "Iis autam quie nupse-runt
prinoipio non ago, sed Dominua, uvorsm a uho non sepe.r%ri;
si autsm reoesserit, manere innuptm, aut raoonoilisri viro, et
virum uxarem non dimittere."-"Tsstimonia sdversus Judieos,"
Ilb. iii. o. 90.
2Cf. "History of Church Counoils to A.D. 325" (T. & T. Clark),
64 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
regarded as oecumenical by the Greek Church, the
authenticity of the eighty-five canons was decided in
the East for all future time."
CANON4 8 (47)
"If any layman, putting away his wife, take another
or one put away by another man, let him be excom-municated."
In Smith's "Dictionary of Antiquities " appears the
following statement : "This canon is commonly
understood to refer only to men who had illegally
put away their wives, or to women who had illegally
separated from their husbands " (see Balsamon's ex-position,
"In Canon. Apostol.," p. 258, Paris, 1620). But
no leading cauonist supports him, and it is not to be
expected that an Eastern Bishop, some nine hundred
years afterwards, and faced with the laxity of his own
Church and practice, would support the strict view.
c. A.D. 305 OR 306. COUNCILO P ELVIRA.
Hefele, after carefully examining the e~idence,~
comes to the conclusion that the date of this Council
was in the autumn of A.D. 305, or in 306. He states :
" The synodical acts, whose genuineness could only
be doubted by hypercriticism, meution nineteen
bishops, among whom was that ' Abrahamic old
man' (Athanasius) Hosius of Cordova as being
'Ei7cs Amkhs T~(Y~V TOCY UY~i~nP~dACAl~uu &&pav Adsn Y "ap' &AAOU
diro~rh~~.6'+o~pvr(e,c 8w. The same ruls was given by the eighth
and tanth canons of Elvirs, and by the tanth of Aries. Dreg
(s. 251) reckons this canon among the most ancient. Its source is
unknown.-Hefele, ibid. p. 478.
ZVol. 11, p. 1112.
Of. '(History of the Church Councils to A.D. 325," pp. 131-1.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 65
present at the Colmcil, which was held at Illiberis,
in the south of Spain, in the province of Bcetica, now
Andalusia. There were therefore bishops from the
most different parts of Spain, so that we may con-sider
this assembly as a Synod representing the
whole of Spain. The acts slso mention twenty-four
priest;, and say that they were seated at the Synod
like the bishops, while the deacons and laity stood
up. The decrees proceeded only from the bishops ;
for the synodical acts always employed this formula :
episcopi miversi dizerzcnt.'"
"Also, women, who without any precedent cause,
have left their husbands, and have joinea themselves
to others, may not receive communion at the last."'
From this canon it has been attempted to draw the
conclusion that women incurred this extreme penalty
because " nulla precedente causa " : but for no cause
coulda woman leave a Christian (i.e. baptized) husband
and be married to another; the penalty here is be-cause
she has wantonly left him : and this is clear from
" Also, if a Christian woman who has left an adulter-ous
Christian husband and marries another: if she
has married, she may not receive communion unless
he, wbom she has left, has departed this life, unless
mortal siclrness compel to administer."
1 Of. "History of the Churoh Councils to A.D. 325," p. 132.
3" Item fcomina, quw nnlla. precodente causa, reliquierint viros
sum, ot se copulaverint slteris, nec in tine aocipiant cammunionem!'
3"Item fcemina fidelis, qua sdulterum msritum reliquerit tide-lem,
ot nlterum ducit, prohibeatur ne ducat; si duxerit, non prius
66 DNOROE AND RE-MARRIAGE
In this canon there is found no sanction of the
marriage, only a mitigation of the greatest penalty of
the Church: the marriage with another man, after
the divorce of an adulterous Christian husband,
cannot be recognized, so long as the husband is
alive, because the bond of marriage still continues;
and the erring wife, although provoked to wrong-doing
by the adultery of her husband, can only re-ceive
communion if she is " in extremis " and on the
verge of departing this life, the sin then, it is under-stood,
being repented of and repudiated by the sick
Canons 10 and I1 cannot be rightly applied to
Christian marriage (as is done in Smith's "Diction-ary
of Antiquities "') as Dr. Hefele has carefully ex-
~lained.~T he failure to make this distinction has
been a frequent source of confusion by transferring
regulations concerning other marriages and referring
them to proper Christian marriages.
If the evidence, which has now been given, is care-fully
weighed, the overwhelming conclusion must be
that, according to the teaching of Christ, as inter-preted
by the Church of the first three centuries,
Christian marriage is indissoluble. No use is made
of the exception in the Gospel according to Matthew,
as modifying this teaching, when it would have been
"the line of least resistance," since in some measure
it would have been in harmony with the civil mar-aooipiat
oommunionsm, nisi quem reiiquerit, prius do saoula
exierit; nisi forte necessitas infinnitatis dare oampularit."
1 V0l. 11, p. 1112.
a 8i Church Councils to A.D. 325," pp. 141,142.
HISTORICAL EVIDENCE TILL A.D. 314 67
riage codes, under which the early Christians lived
and worked. Separation was allowed, and even en-joined,
for adultery: rropvcla is taken to mean post-nuptial
unchastity, and is thus construed to moan
adultery. Repentance was to be followed by restora-tion-
an impossible course, if the marriage bond had
been broken and dissolved.
A.D. 314-527. Fnoivf CONSTANTINTEO JUSTINIAN.
THIS period was a time of great difficulty for the
Church. The days of persecution for Christians passed
into days of recognition by the Emperors, who, with
their subjects became nominally Christian. Religion
then in Rome became " fashionable " and so "not
The effect of the conversion of the Emperor Con-stantine
has been variously estimated, but in no way
can s better estimate be formed than by considering
his celebrated edict in A.D. 321, to Helpidius in refer-ence
to the Lord's Day, which is called " dies solis ".
It is necessary to remember that, although at thc
time of the decree, Constantine was on the threshold
of the Church, he remained there Inany years and was
not baptized until the hour of his death. His attitude
(and that of subsequent Emperors) can be better ap-preciated,
if it is remembered that the above-mentioned
edict was also accompanied by one providing for the
regular consulting of the auspices : and this attitude
is a typical attitude.
So, while the State became nominally Christian and
people pressed into the Church from various and
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 69
varying motives, it would be a mistake to under-estimate
this " lowering tendency," which was a dis-tinct
force against the teaching of the Church, in
reference to the indissolubility of Christian marriage.
The Church continued to teach, but the laxity of
practice, sanctioned by the Civil Law, also continued.
During this period mutual consent was all that was
as a rule necessary ander the Civil Law for a divorce
with power of re-marriage ; and a study of the laws
of Constantine, Honorius, Theodosius, and Valentinian
will show how far they were from the Christian
standard : yet there was a somewhat upward tendency
in those laws which is witnessed to by the "Lex
Julia et Papia Poppzea ".'
The effect of the influence of the State was felt with
the greatest force in the Eastern Church, which was
overshadowed by the residence of the Imperial Court
at Constantinople, after its removal from Rome.
Free from the corrupting influence of nominal
Christians in high places, the Western Church re-mained
true to the teaching of the first three centuries
of Christianity, but the Eastern Church started on
that divergence which has separated her so widely
from the West.
Milman wrote: "The removal of the seat of the
Empire to Constantinople consummated the separa-tion
of Greek and Latin Christianity; one took the
dominion of the East, the other of the West, Greek
Christianity has now another centre in the new
capital, and the new capital has entered into those
close relations with the great cities of the East, which
'See Howsrd, Yol. 11, pp. 26-33.
70 DIVOROE AND RE-MARRIAGE
had before belonged exclusively to Rome. Alexandria
hss become the granary of Constantinople; her
Christianity and her commerce, instead of floating
along the Mediterranean to Italy, pours up the Bgean
to the city on the Bosphorus. The Syrian capitals,
Antioch, Jernsalem, the cities of Asia Minor and
Bithynia, Ephesus, Nicsea, Nicomedia, own another
mistress. The tide of Greek trade has ebbed away
from the West and found a nearer mart ; political and
religious ambition and adventure crowd to the new
Eastern Court. That Court becomes the chosen scene
of Christian controversy ; the Emperor is the proselyte
to gain whom contending parties employ argument,
"That which was begun by the foundation of Con-stantinople
was completed by the partition of the
Empire between the two sons of Constantine. There
are now two Roman worlds, a Greek and a Latin.
In one respect, Rome lost in dignity: she was no
longer the sole metropolis of the Empire; the East
no longer treated her with the deference of a subject.
On the other hand, she was the uncontested, unrivalled
head in her own hemisphere: she had no rival in
those provinces, which yet held her allegiance, either
as to civil or religious supremacy. The separation of
the Empire was not more complete between the sons
of Constantine or Theodosius, than between Greek
and Latin Christianity.
"In Rome itself Latin Christianity had long been in
the ascendant. Greek had slowly and imperceptibly
withdrawn from her services, her scriptures, her con-troversial
writings, the spirit of. Christianity. . . .
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 71
Rome, therefore, might gather up her strength in
quiet, before she committed herself in strife with any
of her formidable adversaries, and these adversaries
were still weakening each other in the turmoils of
unending controversy, so as to leave the almost un-divided
unity of the West an object of admiration and
envy to the rest of Christendom,"'
As regards divorce and re-marriage "it appears
that during the two centuries between Constantine
and Justinian the legislation of the State relative to
the vital question of divorce is practically untouched
by the influence of Christianity. In formal divorce
bona gratia and divorce by mutual consent, both con-trary
to Christian teaching, axe freely allowed. The
principle of further marriage after separation is fully
maintained for the innocent party, and usually under
restrictions for the guilty person as well. The causes
of legal divorce are, indeed, limited, and the penalties
for unjust repudiation made more severe; but the
strict principle of indissolubility of the marriage bond
. . . is completely ignored." "
A.D. 314. COUNCTOLF ARLES.
This Council was the first Christian Council sum-moned
by the Emperors, and this was called by Con-stantine
and opened on 1 August, A.D. 314. Its
primary object was to re-try the case of the Donatists
against Cecilian, Bishop of Carthage, but marriage
questions were also dealt with.
The number of persons taking part is variously
'"History of Lstin Christianity;, Vol. I, pp. 74-6.
2Howard's "M&tri~noniltIln sl,itutions," Val. 11, p. 31.
72 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
given, even up to 600. A great part of Western
Christendom was represented, bishops, together with
priest and deacons, coming from Gaul, Italy, Sicily,
and Africa, and also from Britain. It is of interest to
Anglican Churchmen, as indicative of the teaching of
their branch of the Church, that the decrees of this
Council were signed by the following bishops, viz.
Eborius of York, Adelfius of Carleon, and Restitutus
This Council decreed: Canon 10.-That he whose
wife has cofnmitted adultery may not talce aftothev while
she is alive. "Concerning those, who detect their
wives in adultery and the same are Christian young
men and are forbidden to marry, it was resolved that,
as much as possible, counsel be given them, that they
do not take others, so long as their wives although
adulterous are living." 1
This canon has been subjected to a different inter-pretation
by a few, but the almost general oonsensus
of opinion has been that it absolutely prohibited re-marriage.
Howard slates : " The youthful husband, who puts
away a guilty wife, is to be 'advised' not to marry
again during her lifetime; thus dealing far more
leniently with theman than did the Council of Elvira
with the woman for the same ~ffence".~
1 Canon lo.-" Ut is cujus WEOT adz'ltbl-wit aiiast illa vive~rte 3i.m
accipiat. Us his conjuges suss in adulterio deprehendunt, et iidem
sunt sidoiesoentes fidelas et prohibentur nubere, piaouit ut in qnan-turn
possit oonsilium iis detur, ne viventibus uxoribus suis lioet
sdultaris alias s*ooipiant."-Hefele, p. 189.
2.I Matrimonial Institutions," Val. 11, p. 20. The following note
is then added : "This disparity isvariously explained. F~iesem,a p.
FROM OONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 73
Dr. Pusey wrote: "The first Council of Arles
(A.D. 312) advises against re-marriage in such cases,
does not forbid it ".' Smith's "Dictionary of Anti-quities
Yet the position seems to have been as follows:
these husbands would seek divorce, because of the
adultery of their wives, at the hands of the Civil Law,
which would regulate the control of offspring and
property, and would then by the Civil Law be at
liberty to marry. But by the Christian religion, and
these husbands were fideles, i.e. baptized Christians,
they are forbidden to re-marry (et prohibentur uubere).
The Council urges that since the young men are
forbidden to re-marry that instruction be given them,
as far as possible (ut in, quantum possit co~zsilimi is
detur), that they obey the rule of the Church: in
other words, that their instructors are to he diligent
in the performance of their duty to rightly instruct.
Dr. Hefele states : "In reference to the 9th canon
of Elvira, the Synod of Arles has in view simply the
case of a man putting away his adulterous wife;
whilst on the contrary, the Council of Elvira refers
cit. 771, sees hero the influence of the Roman Law (0. 1, Cod. ad ley.
Ju1. [ix. 9]), which he s*llages judges the man more leniently than
the woman; but. Ceffeciien, op. oit. 22,23, explains it more reason-ably
as the result of a. difference of local practice, since such a
discdmination between maon and woman 'the Ohuroh had thus far
zealously opposed'; and besides, ha insists that the passage from
the code is not in point. I t should be remembered, also, that same
of the early Fathers, as we have seen, followed theilliberal prinoipies
of the Mosaic L&w discriminating against the woman; this prejudice
may hwe prevkled at the Oounoil of Arles."
1 Note 0" on Tertullian, p. 432.
2 Df. Vol. I, p. 142 and Vol. 11, p. 1112.
74 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
to the case of a woman leaving her adulterous
husband. In both cases the two Councils alike
depart from the existing Civil Law, by refusing to the
innocent party the right of marrying again. But
there is the noteworthy differenoe, that the right
of re-marrying is forbidden to the woman, under
penalty of permanent excommunication (Can. 9);
while the man is strongly advised (ie gua~ztumpossit con-siliuwz
iis detur) not to marry again. Even in this case
marriage is not allowed, as is shown by the expression
et prohibentur nubere. This Synod will not allow that
which is f'oiorbidden, but only abstains from imposing
ecclesiastical penance. Why is it more considerate to
the man ? Undoubtedly because the existing Civil Law
gave greater liberty to the husband than to the wife,
and did not regard the connexion of a married man
with an unmarried woman as adultery." '
Petavius tries to meet the difficulty by making
the canon read " et non prohibentur nubere," upon
which Bingham notes, " Petavius reads this canon
differently from a11 the printed editions "."
c. A.D. 315. COUNCIL os NEO-CBSAREA.
The date of this Council, which was held at Neo-
Casarea in Cappadocia, is usually given as A.D. 315,
but Hefele places it between A.D. 314 and 325. It
decreed, Canon 8 : " If the wife of a layman has
committed adultery and is openly convicted, such
a layman cannot come to the service of the Church.
But if she has committed adultery after the ordina-l"
Church Oounoils to n.o. 325," pp. 189, 190.
9" Antiq. " XXII. O. ii. 5 12.
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 75
tion (of her husband), he is bound to put her away.
But if he lives with her, he cannot have the service
which has been entrusted to him." 1 This is follow-ing
the "Pastor " of Hermas : there must be no sns-picion
about the life of one who is ordained and in
active ministry, and so the adulterous wife must be
c. A.D. 250-325. LACTANTIUS.
[Lactantins was born about the middle of the third
century, it is supposed, since he was "far advanced
in life in A.D. 315." Some hold that by birth and
education he was an African: others that he was
born at Firminm in Italy. He attained great re-putation
as a teacher of rhetoric, his master being
Arnobius, so that the Emperor Diocletian invited him
to come to Nicomedia and teach there. " He appears,
however, to have met with so little success in that
city as to have been reduced to extreme indigence.
Abandoning his profession as a pleader, he devoted
himself to literary composition. It was probably at
this period that he embraced the Christian faith, and
we may perhaps be justified in supposing some con-nexion
between his poverty and his change of
religi~n."~H e became tutor to the Emperor Con-stantine's
son Crispus. He died probably at Treves
m A.D. 325.1
Lactantius wrote : "But as a woman is bound by
1 rwr) rivar por~rv@cioAaa i~oGZ v~or,i dv iAryxB$ @avcpGr, b roeoGror
sir 6r~pqoioviA Beiv oi 61va~ai. 'Ei 6ia al pcd~ ijxvc ipa~aulavp ozxsvBf,
JgelAc~d roAjsai ad~r)v. 'Edv 66 cu@, od 8hva~a6.* xecBa'~?iri yxa2praOei.
onr ahy, 6sqpec2dr.
Dr. Pletcher on Lactantius (T. &; T. Cl~rlr's Library), pp. ix, x.
76 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
the bonds of chastity to desire no other, so let the
man be held by the same law, since God bound fast
the husband and wife in the frame of one body.
Therefore (Christ) commanded that a wife be not
dismissed, unless convicted of adultery, so that the
bond of the marriage covenant may never be undone,
unless u~lfaithfulnessh as broken it." 1
Also, "he is an adulterer who has married one put
away by her husband; so also is he who has put
away his wife, except for the crime of adultery, that
he may marry another ; for God is unwilling for the
body to he dismembered and torn asunder." Lac-tantins
is the first Christian writer who definitely
states that adultery breaks the marriage bond and so
gives the right of re-marriage. Various reasons have
been given for this breaking away from the teaching
of the Church.
Bishop Bull states : " That writer was almost
ignorant of Christian discipline and better versed
in rhetoric than theology. Certainly was never
numbered among the doctors of the Church."
I" Ssd siout fcemina. osstitotis vinoulis abligata est, ne alium
ooncupisoat, its vir eadem lege tenoatur quoniarn Dous virum et
uxorcm unius oorparis campage solidsvit. Ideo priecepit, non
dimitti uaorom, nisi crilnine sdulterii reliotsm ut nunquam con-jugi~
lis fcedoris vinculum, nisi quad perfidis. ruperit, reso1vatur."-
"Epitome," 0. LXVI.
z" Adulterum esse, qui 8 msrito dimissam duxerit, et eum qui
prmtcr orimon ildulterii uxarem dimiserit ut nlternm ducat. Dis-sooiari
enim corpus et distrshi Deus no1uit."-" Adversus Gentes,"
iib. vi. cap. 23.
"‘Erst soriptor ills pena rudis disoiplinie Christianae et in
Rhotorioa melius guam in Theologis. versatiis. Certe uunquam
inter dootores eoolesiie nuineratus init."-" Def. Bid. Nio." ii. 14, 4.
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 77
Others have thought the influence of Constantine,
whose views can be gathered from his Edict, A.D. 331,
may have been the cause which made his courtier,
who was tutor to his son, approximate, as much as
possible, to the ideas of his patron.
If Dr. Fletcher is right, that poverty was an in-ducing
reason which drove Lactantius to embrace
Christianity, then certainly the obligations of a
courtier may also have weighed greatly with him.
But it must be admitted that his writings and their
honesty point away from that conclusion.
If, as seems probable, Lactantius is quoting
Matthew v., the real reason may be that the text he
used contained the exception ".
A.D. 360. ST. BASIL.
St. Basil, who was born of Christian parents in A.D.
329 at Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia, seems to
have felt the full force of the union of Church and
State and the lowering tendency of the Christian
standard of marriage which ensued in the East.
About A.D. 360 St. Basil wrote "that the husband
ought not to be separated from his wife, or the wife
from the husband, unless one be taken in adultery or
hindered in piety "?
So it will be seen that St. Basil allowed separation to
the wife as well as to the husband on the ground of
adultery or hindrance to spiritual life.
In Cap. 11. St. Basil wrote : "It isnot lawful for him,
who puts away his wife, to marry another, nor for
'"07' oh 8~i~Y FPO!b rb ~YY~LK4 ~yP~ ~abivb~ bavSp br xwplCeoBn1,
ei 4 nr bu r'al aopvdq ;A@ i) air 7+v B~osdperav nwAhia1.-
" Moralia Reg." 73, o. 1.
78 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
her who is put away from her husband to be married
to another ".'
In connexion with this decision against re-marriage
after divorce, it is important to notice that St. Basil
makes his statement after he has cited Matthew
XIX. 9. ~ayla lLljuy)B XX~Y).
About AD. 364 St. Basil, when a presbyter it is
thought, wrote " Hexameron," in which he urges the
wife on no plea to consent to tear asunder the mar-riage
In A.D. 374 St. Basil wrote letters, commonly called
" The Canons of St. Basil," to Amphilochius, Bishop of
Iconium. In Letter 188 (Canon 9), he is in a
difficulty as to the custom, prevalent even in the
Church, which treats the wife with greater strict-ness
and allows no place for repentance, while " the
custom enjoins that husbands, even when committing
adulteries and living in fornication, be retained by
their wives ".3 He proceeds : "If it be because he is
living in fornication, we have not this rule in our
ecclesiastical custom of the wife divorcing her hus-band
".4 St. Basil feels the difficulty of this and the
custom obtaining; but it was SO.^
The customary practice went still further: "If
"OTLO ~<K@ LTTLVI ; d710A6cav7~T ~EYa u~oGy ~~aix'ymaf ie?~g hhnv O~T*
~h&rro ArAu+dvnv &wb b~8~oi~ri pyy,o fiaioOar.
2 $K I(~~F+T nPo#dre~~~ai a8ixecOai~ hBuY W~Y8i aoa@u.-VII. 5 5.
3% 8i nuvfiRria xal poi~edou~Bavr6 par ~al2rvo pvela~r8 v~arx a~i~co0~~
"Ei 82 6th ~b iv ropvcia abibv C$v, a$* ixopev TOGTO Zv T$ ~~vqOe731 ~
i~~~~craov~bi amfpia 7ljpqfi~~.-Ibid.
6~T~O~T1YY8 i t hdym 04 P~~LO5P .6: r~~ljormY~ TW KCK~~T~K~.
'' Epist. "-109 (Can. 21).
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 79
such a husband be left he is pardoned, and she who
dwells with such a man is not condemned ".I
St. Basil knows the teachingof the Church, but he
is faced with the prevalent laxity of practice among
Christians ; he sees nothing for it and so he hesitates
-a line very much repeated in this twentieth century
and likely to prove as disastrous now as it did to
the Eastern Church.
c. A.D. 310-404. EPIPHANIUS.
Epiphanius was Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus in
A.D. 402. The date of his birth is variously given
from A.D. 310-320. He died in A.D. 404. His great
work is the "Panarion," dealing with the prevalent
heresies of his day. He wrote: "But he, who is
unable to be satisfied with one wife after she is dead,
separation having taken place on account of some
pretext, fornication, adultery, or evil cause, if he is
joined to a second wife or a wife to a second husband,
the Divine word does not accuse him nor excom-municate
him from the Church and from Life; but
bears with him because of his infirmity : not that he
may have two wives together, the first still surviving:
but separated from the one if it should happen, he
should be lawfully joined to the second. This man
the Holy Word pities and the Holy Church of God :
especially if such a man is pious as regards the other
things and lives according to the law of God."
"0 bi ~a~aAe~$oBu~ylyrv wodr imc, nal d lruvaixoCoa ~y7^0 ~o(i~qOL
26 b/ I(?) b~vq9alr T$ hpnaaBijvai .icAcu.rqrdiisn 8vrxrv .r$uor wpo.
qdorur sopveiar iipoi~eiar,i) aesijr akler XWPCC~OCy s~o~ivro~~~,a $Riw~*.
6eu7ipq yuvcrai, yvvh 6eurdpyi &~bpi, oLx ai?Z~ai 6 Be& Adyor, odbi
80 DIYORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
A.D. 370-390. ST. GREGORYN AZIANZEN.
St. Gregory Nazianzen was Bishop of Constanti-nople
and friend of St. Basil.
His opinions, in reference to our subject, are found
in a sermon preached by him, bsfore the Emperor
Theodosius at Constantinople and based on Matthew
In the course of this sermon he notes the difference
in treatment of the wife and of the husband: the
difference between the teaching of the Church and
the usages and customs prevalent: "A wife plotting
evil round the bed of her husband commits adultery,
and sharp thence are the penalties of the law. But
is a, man, committing adultery against his wife,
guiltless? I do not hold this law; I praise not this
custom. Husbands were the makers of the law,
therefore the law is against the wives."'
He is clear that only adultery, because of co~~usio
prolis, can be a ground of divorce: all else must be
patiently endured, "the law grants divorce for eveiy
cause. But Christ not for every cause: rather He
allows separation only for adultery, all other things
He commanded men to endure patiently. And He
&~7b51 'ERKA~~x/a~l s7 % Ca5s &~IIDR~~~T&TAFh&L ,8 'aBa<~d<e~.6 1a ~b
bs@cu6r. o$x ba 810 yuvaixar iwl ~b add rxt rep~o6~~n5~7
p6s, &Ah' 6vb p6s drorxe@elr, 8ru7ip5, ei .iiixorev, vdpW ouua@Bijvag.
'EAcrilaRo~Q iiyior Adyor nai ii byia 8.0; 'E~xAnda.p dAc<ia ii ~uy-
~dveQi ~oioi~o73s. &Aha ebAaShr, xal sad ~dpovB ro; raAc~rvdpcuor.
-" Panarion," LIX. o&p. 4.
I~aylv vh pi" xa~GrB ouhasapiun rep1 KO~T~J6V~ 6pb9p 01~27n.2, K-I
rqir @VT~~@C7Y6 78" Y&YY imi~i~~&Ya+-,~ 8 i KDT~?TO~YC~~YUYY GLX~S.
&vd@uvor; Od GIxopar ~a1in7uh u vapoeiriav, od$~ra w; ~ljvou vfiO~izv.
"AV~d~m~#S o i vaiioRe~o;uiar, 6r& TO;TO K~T&Y YY~IKGY j) ~op00~cia.-
" Oratio," rxxvIi.
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 81
allows adultery because it makes spurious the off-spring."'
Hegoes on to urge the utmost care before
divorce, "do not cut off rashly, do not separate "2
c A.D. 400. ST. ASTERIUS, BISHOP OF AMASEA.
St. Asterius, in his fifth homily onMatthewx1x.gives
a terrible picture of the life of certain Christians of
his time, who acted according to the Civil Law:
"But hear now, ye hucksters, of such marriages and
who as easily assume your wives, as you put on
clothes;"3 . . . "believe, that marriage is severed by
death alone and by adultery ".-'. . . "I praise the hus-band
who 5ys from the designing wife, who cuts
asunder the bond by which he is bound to the asp or
c. A.D. 381-385. ST. TIMOTHYO F ALEXANDRIA.
St. Timothy was Patriarch of Alexandria A.D. 381-
385. I t is di6cult to decide what he thought in refer-ence
to the subject under consideration, for his answer
(15), one of the eighteen given to his clergy, is " non-committal,"
and perhaps designedly so, having re-gard
to the practice of his day and allowed by the
Civil Law :-
Question 15.-"If the wife of any man become
1'0 piv vdpor R~T&ri aav akiw 7b ~?TO$T~~6OiY6~ m1.X p~r'rb6~i 05
mr7& rioav ai~iav.B AA& cuyxwp~ip ip rdvov xwpiSeoRa< &jr lidpunr, r&
61 bnna ndv~e.+ iA~oo.+~rria~h icc. Kal 7+yn dpvtjv, a?, uo9is 7b yivar .
2~7Lhp1 r 68 rpore~&rp, ' ~wplrg~.-Ibid.
3b~aboa~6c1 ut, ai ~o6~ucdvin lnor, xal idr yuvai~ar,A s lfid~ra,
4neLr~7re,i iv ydpoe t~ap~dpyd. K~~p~Ior x rri 6tcr~drn~r~,.-Bid.
Sinaiv&u T~Y.+v Ydv7a T~Yid @o~Aov7, 8" 61a~d$an~7ab v 6irplrbv, $
npbr .+v bodsa 3 7'" iXz6uav rpipom6Wio.-Brd.
82 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
demented, so as to habitually wear chains, and the
man says that I am not able to be continent and
wishes to take another wife. Ought he to take a
second wife or not? "
Answer.-"Adultery has a part in the matter : and
concerning this I have not and find not what to
c. 347. ST. CHRYSOSTOM.
St. Chrysostom allows separation for adultery:
"Whoso putteth away his wife, except for the cause of
fornication, maketh her to commit adultery ".% But
there is no dissolution of the marriage bond or re-marriage.
3 St. Chrysostom repeatedly uses the phrase
"let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her
husband ".4 Alsoif the husband will not be reconciled,
"await his death, for as it is never permitted to a
consecrated virgin to be married, because her bride-groom
always lives and is immortal, so it is only
permitted to her that is married, when her husband
is dead ".5 Also, when commenting on Matthew v.
31, 32, where St. Chrysostom states of the woman
"Ep&moer 'Edv iivor yvvi, avcupa~i$%, mr ol6qpa $opriv, 6 61
dvhP Adyei, 871 Oi Gdvapa~i ylrpwa4~o!3~an~1, 8dA.r AaRciv MAW b$eiAei
AaReiu i7dpo.v i) 06; 'Asdnpiow. MoiXrla ircooAaPci 76 irpdyP~~~u~i~
rvi TO~TOU TL dxoxplvro0ar aia ixw, i) i$cup8mw.
aTb yap, "0s dwohuog ~hyvuv aina ~6.~0r5a,p ea~brA dyou ?rapvelar,
note? e375v po~x6rBaa.-'' DB Virginitate," 5 28.
j'o 6i bvhp, ~b7v7 " brrdv~vv& pyaArw.i$ar %?)y uvai!ta, 07ipyeiv
dvmyxm<enz~7 hv ~OYAFIK~CLYL A, lrw 0i6euiav 016i 8cd<oh~v7 al~6n4~~011 7.1
I$? 6erro7rlar rdpr<v.-Bid.
4 Mruhw yap, $qalv, tiyapor, $76 bv6pi no~aAAayiiiw.-Ibid. $40.
Qrrrpy &p 7fvapRdvyr yapeio8ai od6i~ore9 rc7z 61b ~b @P oir$r drl
~bvvup $iov xaz &@dva~ov o8vw T!, yryamp6vp rdre pdvov $<WTLP,
87." 6 dvhp dao8dug.-Ibid. 5 40.
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 83
cast out, "for when cast out she continues to be the
wife of him that expelled hex ".'
I t has been claimed that St. Chrysostom, from his
words, "for an adulteress is the wife of no one,"=
thought that adultery broke the marriage bond and
therefore that re-marriage was allowed, but a careful
study of the whole pasmge will show that nothing
of the kind was present to the mind of St. Chrysostom,
but only the real practical difficulties which ensue
c. 393. THEODORETB,I SHOPO F ANTIOCH.
Theodoret admits divorce for adultery. He wrote :
"He (the Creator) forbids to dissolve the marriage,
but gave one only cause of dissolution, that which
tears asunder the bond. For every one, he says, who
puts away his wife, except for the cause of fornica-tion,
causes her to commit adultery, and he who
marries her who is put away, commits adultery."
c. A.D. 340-397. ST. AMBROSEB, ISHOPOF MILAN.
[St. Ambrose, as Bishop of Milan, "exercising the
authority of a patriarch, and presiding over a city,
which was frequently the residence of the Emperor,
was a great dign~tary. . . . I t is one of the chief
glories of Ambrose in the Church, that St. Augustine
Kal yhp &%!3Aqeri.rap bci 70; irPdAAovrar o&a yuvii.
yap poixahlr ol6rudr imr yuufj.-Horn, on 1 Darinthisns vii. 39,
aKal 7b aiah6.ru iLsayiyopdri ~byvkP av, piav 6i pduqu d@app?u 8~aAdoewr
i6waa, T+Y bAq061 Gieoniirc~u~ h(vdy hqv. n2s ykp, +vvlv, 6 d=wALv
T~yVuv ai~ora t.ro0, TSPIIIT~EA 6y0" TOPV~?~~Po,z ~imh?PvO IXEYO~YGmiL ~
&na~yop~wv p~o~~~2~a~i.-~i'G~r;eo~&ru~Amf f ectionurn Curatio,"
Disp. IX. Mlngs's Ed. Tom. IT. p. 1056.
84 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
ascribed to him his conversion, and sought Christian
baptism at his hand."]
St. Ambrose held equal conduct for husband and
wife : "Let no one flatter himself in reference to the
laws of men. All unchastity is adultery: nor is that
lawful for a husband which is not lawful for a wife."2
On Luke xv~1.8 , St. Ambrose wrote : "Hear what
God has said, HE who puts away his wqe, causes her to
commit adultery. For over her, to whom it is not
lawful, while her husband is alive, to change her
consort, the lust of sinning may stealthily creep." . . .
" Consider if she marries. The blame of her necessity
is yours : what you think marriage is adultery; for
what does it matter whether you admit it with the
open confession that it is sin or as an adulterer under
the appearance of marriage."
Later on he writes of the Mosaic concession in
contrast to the teaching of Christ : " Mosespermitted,
he says, not God ordered; from the beginning the
law of God existed. What is the law of God? A
man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave
to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Therefore he,
1 " Dictionary of Ohristis,~ Biography."
ac'Nsmo sibi blandiattur de legibus haminum. Omne stuprum
adulterium est, nso viro lioet quod mulieri non 1icst."-" De Abra-ham,"
3 'c Audi quid dixerit Dominus: Qui dimittit mulie~em, faiacit
eam mmchari. Etenim oui non licet, vivents viro, mutare oon-jugium,
potest abrepsre libido peocs*ndi."-"Expositio Evangelioa.
seoundum Luosm," lib. viii. 8 2.
."'Pons, si nubat. Neoessitatis illius tuum crimen est ; et con-jugium
quod putas, adultcrium est. Quid enim rsfert, utrum id
aperta criminis oonfessione, an rnariti speoie adulter admittas."-
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 85
who dismisses his wife, cuts his own flesh, divides
While St. Ambrose allows separation for adultery
(and ?ropvelameans with him post-nuptial unchastity),
there is no allowance of re-marriage.
c. 350-407. ST. CHROMATIUBS,I SHOOPB AQUILEIA.
['I Chromatius is better known by the wholesome
influence he exercised over some of the first men of
the age than by any remrarkable actions of his own."
He became Bishop of Aquileia, his native city.1
Chromatius wrote: "For He commands the mar-riage
bond to be kept spotless by an indissoluble law,
showing that the law of marriage was at the first
instituted by Himself. For He himself says: What
therefore God has joined in one, let not man separate. . .
saying that except for the cause of fornication it is not
lawful for a wife to be put away, showing clearly that
he acts against the will of God who presumed to
desecrate marriage, joined by God, with the unlawful
separation of divorce. Whence let them not be ig-norant
how heavy a sentence of condemnation they
inour in the sight of God who through the unbridled
pleasure of lust (without the cause of fornication), after
dismissing their wives wish to pass to other marriages.
Which, therefore, they believe they commit with im-punity,
because that appears to be allowed by human
laws and those of the world, ignorant that in this
1" Moyses permisit, inquit, non Dens jussit : ab initia sutem Dei
leg sst. Quae est lax Dei? Rdliltpuet homo &?em et mati-ern et
adhoerebit uzori sum, et erunt ambo in came u7za. Ergo qui di-mittit
uxorem, oarnem suam soindit, dividit oorpus."-Ibid.
2" Dictionary of Christian Biography."
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 87
vile faults that not even a prostitute or mean slave
could endure them. . . . The Lord enjoined that a
wife ought not to be dismissed except for the cause
of fornication, and if she had been dismissed to re-main
unmarried. Whatever is enjoined to husbands,
this, as a consequence, extends to wives. For an
adulterous wife ought not to be dismissed, and a
husband who is an adulterer retained. . . . The
laws of the C~sarsa re one, the laws of Christ are
another. Papinianus enjoins one thing, our Paul
another. . . . Among us what is not lawful for wives
is equally not lawful for husbands. . . . Therefore
Fabiola, both because she had persuaded herself and
thought that her husband was rightly dismissed by
her, and because she did not know the force of the
Gospel, in which the entire ground for marrying is cut
off from wives, while their husbands are still alive;
while she avoids many wounds of the devil, unawares
she receives one wound. . . . Who will believe this,
that after the death of her second husband . . . she
put on sacltcloth that she might publicly confess her
error, and with the whole Roman city looking on,
before the day of the Passover in the Basilica of
Leteranus (who was beheaded with the imperial
sword), she stoodin theline of penitents (the Bishops,
Presbyters, and all the people weeping with her). . . .
So she grieved as if she had committed adultery, and
at much cost of remedies desired to heal the wound."'
'"Tants, prior msritus vitia habuisse narratur, ut ne soortum
quidom et vile manoipium ea. sustinere posset. . . . Przoepit
Dominus unorem non deberc dimitti, exoepta onus& fornicationis :
et si dislilissa fuerit, manere innuptam. Quidquid ?ins jitbetur,
88 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
St. Jerome then held that adultery was a ground
of separation both for husb'nd and wife, but re-marriage
during the life of the partner was forbidden
to both. The only excuse he can offer Fabiola is that
" she knew not what she did ".
This position is further emphasized, for in A.D. 384
Jerome wrote to Amandus, a priest of Bordeaux:
"It is inquired of that man, that is fromme, whether
a wife having left her adulterous husband, who is a
sodomite, and having received another husband
through compulsion, can without penance communi-cate
with the Church, that husband whom she had
first left being still alive. . . .
"Thus in reply tell the sister, who inquires from us
concerning her position, not our opinion but that of
the Apostle. Are ye ig?zora?zt, brethrem, for I s~eakto
them that klzow the law, since the law gouerns the man as
long as he lives ? For the woman, who is t~nder the man,
is bound to the law, so long as her lzusband is alive. But
hoo consoquenter rsdundat in feminas. Neque enim rtdultera
uxor dimittends, est, et vir mcechus tenendus. . . . Aliie sunt
leges Cassrum, alia Ghristi : siiud Papinienus, aliud Paulus nostex
prieoipit. . . . Apud nos quod non licet fominis, aque non lioot
viris. . . .
" Igitur et Rebiola, quia. persutlserat sibi, et putsbat a so vhum
jure dimissum, nec Evsngelii vigorem novsist, in quo nubondi uni-versa
oausstio, vivontibus viris, feminis amputatur, dum muita
diaboli vitat vulnors, unum inoauta vulnus aooepit. . . . Quis hoo
crsderat, ut past mortem seoundi viri . . . saooum induevet ut
errorem pnblice fatoretur: et tota urbe spectante Romana ants
diem Paschie in Basilica quondum Leterami, qui Diesariano trun-catus
est gladio, staret in ardine penetentium, Episcopo, Presbyteris,
et amni populo oollaelymantibus . . . sic doiebat, quasi adulterium
commisisset, et multis impendiis medioaminu~n unum vulnue
sanare oupieb~t."-Ep. ~xxx~Avd. Oceanum.
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 89
+' her husband be dead, she is free from the law of her
husband. Therefore, nui~ileh er hzisband is alive, she is an
adnlteress if she has married another man. And in an-other
place : A woman is bound so long as her husband
liveth, but if he is dead, she is free : she may marry whom
she wishes, only in the Lord. Therefore the Apostle,
cutting off all reasons, very clearly laid it down that
a woman is an adulteress if she has married another
man while her husband is alive. I do not care if you
urge upon me the violence of the ravager, the persua-sion
of the mother, the authority of the father, the
crowd of relations, the plots and scorn of slaves, the
loss of the family property. As long as her husband is
alive, although he be an adulterer, a sodomite, plastered
with every shame and left by his wife for these crimes,
he is considered her husband, and it is not permitted
her to take a second husband."
' "Quaerendum ab eo, id est & mo, utrurn mulier relicto viro
sddultero, et sodomita, et aiio per vim aooepto, pussit abscpe pceni-ientia.
oommunicare Ecolesiae, vivsnto adhuo so quem prim reli-querat.
. . .
', Responde itsque sorori, qua a nobis super suo statu quazrit,
non nostram, sed Apostoli sententiam. Czli iqsoratis, pat re^,
scisntibus enim legem loquor, quoniam laz donziliatur homini,
qua~ztote m~orev ivit ? Mulier eniwc puce sub wivo est, vivenie viro,
astricta est legi. Quod si mortuzhs fuerit vir ejus liberata est a logo
uiri. Elgo, vivenie vim, ndultora wit, si dumerit alterum .~irtrn.
Et in slio loco: Aft'lier alligata @st, quanto tsmpore vivit uir ejus.
Si autwn~dovmie~oiitl . ejus, libewata est : cui stit m~batt,a nturn
im Domino. Omnes igitur oausiltiones Apostolus amputansl &per-tissime
definivit, vivsnteviro adultsram ssss mulierem, si alteri nup-serit.
Nolo mihi proferas raptoris violentiam, mstris psrsuas-ionem,
patris suotoritatom, propinquorum ostorvsm, servorum,
insidias stque contempturn, damns rei familimis. Qusmdiu vivit
vir, licet adulter sit, licet sodomits, licet flagitiis omnibus oo-
90 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
A.D. 354-430. ST. AUGUSTINE.
St. Augnstine wrote very fully on marriage and
divorce, and what he had to say is spread throughout
his work. He deals with the many difficulties sur-rounding
the questions, and we have his teaching from
his days as apresbyter right on through hisEpiscopate.
I t will not be necessary, for the purposes of these
pages, to quote all the passages ; for any student,
considering the good indexes attached both to the
original text and transiatlons, can easily for himself
work through the passages.
It will he as well to first deal with a disputed pas-sage,
in reference to its meaning, in St. Augustine's
writings. I t is the passage in " De Fide et Operi-bus,"
and may be translated as follows :-
"Also whosoever has put sway his wife taken in
adultery and married another, it does not appear that
he ought to be put on a level with those who for
other than the excepted cause of adultery dismiss
their wives and marry others. And in the Divine
sentences themselves it is so doubtful, whether he
also, to whom indeed without a doubt it is permitted
to dismiss an adulterous wife, is nevertheless to be
deemed an adulterer if he has married another wife,
that, as far as I form an opinion, on that point auy-one
may pardonably (vmialiter) he deceived. Where-fore
whatever sins of unchastity are clear they en-tirely
must shut off from baptism, unless they are
corrected by change of will and penitence. As to
opertus, et ab uxore propter heeo soelera. dereliotus, msritus ejus re-putstur,
cui alterurn virum aocipere nan 1iost."-Epistola r.v.
FROM OONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 91
what moreover is doubtful, in every way an endea-vour
ought to be made t'hat such unions do not take
place. For what necessity is there to involve oneself
(oaput mittere) in so doubtful a condition (in tanturn
discvime7z anzbigtaitatis) ? But if these marriages
have been entered into, I am uncertain whether
those, who have contracted them, may not appear
to be eligible for admission to baptism." '
St. Augnstine is here dealing, it is obvious, with
those who were unbaptized, i.e. the Catechumens,
and who therefore were incapable of Christian
marriage, which alone is indissoluble. The contro-versy
has arisen from the fact that what was in-tended
to apply to those not yet Christians, has been
made to apply to Christians.=
These Catechumens delayed their baptism-as
did Constantine-because they were unwilling for
various reasons, such as disinclination to discontinue
their wicked practices, and wished first to " sow their
wild oats" and then, at baptism, "have all such
sins forgiven ". They, allowed by the Civil Law,
1 " Quisquis etiam uaorem in adulterio deprehensarn dimiserit, et
aliam durerit, non videtur tequandus eis qui excepts, cans& adulterii
dimittunt et ducunt. E t in ipsis Divinis sententiis it8 obsourum
est utrum ot iste, cui quidem sine dubio sdulteram licet dimittere,
sdulter tamsn habesrtur si alteram di~xerit,u t, quantum existimo,
venialitex ibi quisque falls*tur. Quamobrem quie manifests sunt
irnpudioitite orimina, omni modo a baptismo prohibends. sunt, nisi
mutstione voluntatis et pmnitontia. oorrigantur: qua autem dubia,
omni modo oonilndumest ne fiant tales conjunctionas. Quid enim
opus est in tnntum discrimen ambiguitatis oaput mittere? Si
autem faotce fusruit, nescio utrum ii qui feoeruit, similiter ad bnp-tismum
non debere videantur admitti."
2 Of. Bingham, xx11. oh. xi. 5 12.
92 DI'IOROE AND RE-MABRIAGE
divorced their wives and took others. St. Augustine
is dealing with the question of these re-marriages
after divorce, allowed by the Civil Law but disallowed
by the Church. He thinks it may be perhaps con-sidered
a venial offence (vcnialiter ibi quisque fallatzlr),
but asks, why run one's head into such a doubtful
position even for Catechumens? The passage has
nothing to do with Christian marriages and cannot
justly be so applied.
St. Augustine's teaching in reference to Christian
marriage and its indissolubility is abundantly clear
from his writings :-
"It is possible that a husband may dismiss a wife
for the cause of fornication, which the Lord willed
to be an exception." '
The wife has the same right of dismissal as the
husband-'' if then the rule is similar, it ought not to
be understood, that it is permitted, as to the husband,
so to the wife to dismiss the husband except for the
cause of fornication ".2
But in neither case is it lawful to marry during
the lifetime of the other. " Moreover, if it is not per-mitted
her to marry while her husband is alive from
whom she departed, neither is it granted to him to
take another, his wife whom he dismissed being
alive." This is brought out very clearly in his reply
"'Fieri enim patest ut dimittat uxarem osusa,fornioatianis, quam
Dominus exoeptam esse voluit."--" De Sermane Damini in Monte,"
lib. i. 9 39.
%" Si ergo similis forma est, non oportet intelligi lieere mulieri
~irumdi mittere nisi causa, fornicationis, siout et viro."-Bid c. 43.
3" Jemvsro si nsc illi nubsre oonceditur viro viva s, quo reoessit,
neque huio alteram duoere vita uxore quam dimisit."-IMd. o. 39.
FROM) CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 93
to Pollentius, who maintained adultery was equal
In his "Retractations " St. Augustine withdrew his
former opinion that a husband need not dismiss a
wife living in adultery, but a place of repentance must
still be left open to her. "And where I said that
this was allowed, not ordered, I did not consider
another passage of Scripture which says, He who keeps
an adulteress is foolish and impiotbs (Prov. X~III. 22).
Neither could I indeed have said that woman must
be considered an adulteress, ever after she heard
from the Lord, Neither will I condem?~ thee : Go, now
sin no more, if she heard ob~diently."~
In his early years St. Augustine was inclined to
think that ("Sermon on the Mount," bk. i. 5 46)
unbelief, which included idolatry and covetousness,
was fornication, but in his later years in his "Re-tracts"
(bk. i. c. XIX. § 6) he stated : " But now
this fornication is to be understood and limited; and
whether also on account of this it is permitted to
dismiss a wife is a very obscure question." " Sed
quatenus intelligenda atque limitanda sit hac forni-catio,
et utrum etiam propter hanc Iiceat dimittere
uxorem, latebrosissima quastio est."
" Finally, with Augustine," writes Dr. Ro~ard,~
'"Nee s, lege viri nisi mortui liberstur, ut non sit adultera, si
fuerit cum alio viro."-"De Conjugiis hdulterinis," lib. ii. o. v.
2" Et ubi dixi hoc permissurn oms, non jussum, non attondi aliam
Scriptursm diosntem: Qui tenet adulteram, stultus et impizcs sst.
NBC Sane adultaram dixerim fuisss dsputandum illsm mulieram,
etiam postsaquem sudivit a. Domino, Neo ego te danznabo; valde,
dsinee-ns i.am noli -o eecave, ai hoo obedienter audivit."-"Rotraota-tianes,"
lib. i, cap. XIX. $6.
3"Histoq of Miltrimonial Institutions," Vol. 11, pp. 26.7.
94 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
"the strict doctrine of the early Church takes a
definite form, to which the masters of later times
look back as to an authoritative canon of interpreta-tion."
He gave to the theory of indissolubility, de-clares
Esmein, a "basis solid, in a measure scientific.
He gave it a consistency forced from the sacrament
of marriage. He set aside at one stroke all the
causes of divorce admitted by the secular law: sick-ness,
captivity, or prolonged absence. He was, one
may say, the artisan who gave the final touch to the
theory of indissolubility." ' According to Augustine,
adultery is the only scriptural ground of separation ;
but even this does not dissolve the nuptial bond.
Moreover, those who, following the letter of Mat-thew's
text, would for this offence allow the man,
but not the woman, the right of repudiation, he
"justly reproaches with violating one of the great
principles of Christian law-the equality of the
wedded pair "."
Such is the testimony to St. Augustine's teaching,
as given by a by no means "friendly " critic.
A.D. 407. AFRICANC ODE.
(Probably the 8th Canon of the Synod of Carthage,
A.D. 407.) Canon 102: "It was decided according
to the evangelical and apostolical discipline neither
the husband dismissed by the wife, nor the wife dis-missed
by the husband may be united to another,
but let them thus abide or be reconciled to each
other. But if they have treated this rule with con-tempt,
let them be brought to penance. In which
' Esmein, op. oit. 11. 53. Ibid. 51, 52.
FROM CONSTANTINE TO JUSTINIAN 95
matter action must be taken for the promulgation
of an imperial law." '
This canon is interesting, as showing the attitude
of the African Church. It does not define the ground
of divorce, but it does deny any right of re-marriage
to either the divorced husband or wife. I t urges that
the secular law should be invoked to uphold the dis-cipline
of the Church.
A.D. 402-417. INNOCIE. NBITS HOPOF ROME.
Innocent I, replying to Exsuperius, Bishop of Tou-louse,
wrote : "Your charity also enquired concerning
those, who (a divorce having taken place) joined them-selves
in marriage with another : it is evident that on
both sides they are adulterers. Those, then, who
while their wives are still living, although the marriage
appear to be broken, hasten to another union, cannot
but appear adulterers, so much so that even the
women, to whom such husbands are united, must also
appear to have committed adultery according to that
wh~chw e read in the Gospel." " De his etiam requis-ivit
dilectio tua, qui interveniente repudio alii se
matrimonio copularunt: quos in utraque paste adul-teros
esse manifestum est. Qui vero vel uxore vivente,
quamvis dissociatum videatur esse conjugium, ad aliam
copulam festinarunt, neque possunt adulteri non
videri, in tantum ut etiam hae personie, quibus tales
conjuncti suut etiam ipsie adulterium commissise
' " Plaouit, ut secundum evangelioam et epostolicam disciplinmn
neque dismissus sb uxare, nsque dismissa s. msrito alteri oanjun-gantur,
sed it& manesnt, sut sibimet reooncilientur. Quod si oon-timpserint,
ad pcsnitentiam reaigantur. In qus. oeuse legern
imperialem petendum est promulgad."
96 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
videantur : secundum illud quod legimus in evangelio."
-"Ad Exsnperium Episcopum Tolonsanum," Mansi,
Tom. III, p. 1040.
There are certain commentaries on St. Paul's
Epistles by an unknown writer; but one thing scholars
are agreed upon is that they are not by St. Ambrose.
The writer declares : "It is not permitted a woman
to marry if she has dismissed her husband on the
ground of fornication or apostasy . . . because the
meaner part has not altogether this law which the
more dignified has," hut declares, "it is permitted a
man to marry again if he has put away his sinning
wife, because the man is not so bound by the law as
the woman, for the man is head of the woman."
"Non enim permittitur mulieri, ut nubat, si virum
suum causa fornicationis dimiserit, aut apostasia
. . . ., quia, inferior non omnino hac lege utitur, qua
potior . . . . viro licet ducere uxorem, si dimiserit
uxorem peccantem : quia non ita lege constringitur
vir, sicut mulier ; caput enim mulieris vir est."-
Commentary on 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11, Minge's "St.
Ambrose," Tom. 11, p. 218.
This unknown writer is the only writer, excepting
Lactantius, connected with the Western Church, who
takes up this position.
THIS EASTERN CHURCH AFTER JUSTINIAN
TEIS Council decreed-
Canon 87 : " If anyone forsakes his wife and marries
another, he shall (according to the 57th Canon
of St. Basil) remain for a year in the lowest, two
years in the second, three in the third, and one year
in the fourth grade of penitence." '
It will serve no good purpose to trace step by step
the progressive divergence of the Eastern Church
from the Western. She simply carried her premises
to their logical conclusion.
"Eastern theology at length passed for itself rules
shortly expressed in the following canons, founded in
the synodical decisions of Alexius, who was patriarch
of Constantinople in the beginning of the eleventh
" 1. No clergyman is to be condemned for giving the
benediction at the marriage of a divorced woman,
when the man's conduct was the cause of the divorce.
" 2. Women divorced by men whose conduct has
been the cause of divorce are not to be blamed if they
'Befeie's " Church Counoils, A.D. 626 to A.D. 781," p. 243.
98 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGZ
choose to marry again, nor are the priests to be blamed
who give them the benediction. So, too, with regard
" 3. Whoever marries a woman divorced for adultery
is an adulterer, whether he has himself been married
before or not, and he must undergo the adulterer's
"4. Any priest who gives the benediction at the
second marriage of parties divorced by mutual con-sent
(which is a thing forbidden by the laws) shall be
deprived of his office.
"The teaching embodied in these canons and the
practice founded upon it, has continued to be the
teaching and the practice of the Oriental Church to
the present day." '
(1) THE WESTERN CHURCH IN ITALY AFTER
D. 590-604. GREGORYTH E GREAT.
Gregory the Great wrote: "For if they say that
for the purpose of entering themonastic life (religionis
cam&) the marriage bond ought to be dissolved, it
must be known, that although human law has granted
this, yet the Divine law prohibits it."
A.D. 716. GREGORY11 .
In A.D. 716 Gregory I1 gave the following instruc-tions
to his ambassadors in Bavaria : " The Apostle
himself speaking on this matter says : Thou art bawd
to a wqe, seek not to be loosed; that is, while thy wife
is alive, do not desire to pass to 'concupita ' with
'Smith's " Dictionary of Antiquities," Vol. 11, p. 1113.
'', Epistolarum," lib. xi. 45, Ad Theoetistam Patrioiam.
..a . . .. .. .
" .., .. another woman ".I But his !et%..$rr: ..S .k. .B..d n.i face, who had consulted him in ~.~."7~~.~.i..' s'abbrpti~i11~ ~ one
and creates great difficu$?j. ., i. . I.% .%&s ;th&.E$,i i bf a wife incapable of conjuiaI 1nterdo~~6'.~n~ir'nEIkdte
correpta). It was post-nuptial infirmity. The hus-band,
WESTERN CHURCH IN ITALY AF&?~~U$T~IAN99
if unable to contain, is allowed to marry again,
but he must not withdraw maintenance from his
The great Canonist Gratius in the twelfth century
realized the diffionlty of this break in the teaching of
the Western Church, and wrote : " That passage of
Gregory is found altogether opposed to the sacred
canons, nay, even to the evangelical and apostolical
do~trine".~H e wrongly explains it as being a tem-porary
concession to the English, seeing that the
latter referred to the Germans, among whorn St.
Boniface was ~orking.~
A.D. 747. ZACHARIAS.
The inroads of the Barbarians upon the Roman
Empire created other difficulties for the Church,
as will be seen from Pope Zacharias's letters. He
quotes-" C. 7 : Concerning a layman repelling his wife
from the canon of the holy apostles, chapter XLVIII.
1" Dicente ds hoo ipso Apostalo: alligatus es rama~i: noligz'corera
solz~tionevz : id eat, super canjuge, sd alteram femina concupitam
non vella transiro."-c' Capitulare Gregorii Papa 11."
" Sed quih hoo magnorum est, ille, qui se non potorit continaro
nubst magis. Non tamen subsidii opem subtriuhat sb ilia."
"Decretum," o. 18, o. 32, q. I.
Watson in his 8'Haly Matrimony," p. 378, hes an interesting
suggestion that Gregory I1 deferred to Archbishop Theodore af
Canterbury, who, as will be seen in oounegion with the Anglo-
SaxonOhurch, look the view of the Eastern Church.
. . . . . . . . . .
100 .. . ... . .P. .. . .~.. . ~A?NDF REE-MA RRIAGE If i~:&. y. b.. 8. n .: .x epel%ng his own wife has taken anotfier 6r ~Ee'di~rhi~bsy ~adno ther, let him be de-
~ .... . ...
p.'1 j.i+p. .% . .6.2. C?mp+ieg... ... .i ": ..a '"'C.'lZ:"C'dric6rnlng those who dismiss their wives
or husbands, that they remain thus : from the African
Council above mentioned in chapter LXIX. it is thus
contained: it was resolved that according to evan-gelical
and apostolical discipline, neither a man dis-missed
by his wife, nor a woman dismissed by her
husband, may be joined to another; but that they
so remain or be ~nutually reconciled. But if they
have acted contemptuously, let them be brought to
A.D. 791. COUNCILOF FRIULI.
The Council of Priuli in Canon 10 debated the
question of the "exception " in Matthew XIX. 9, and
carefully studied St. Jerome's teaching "when im-mediately
it nevertheless became clear that it referred
solely to the permission of putting away a wife ".=
" So it was resolved that when the bond of marriage is
loosed by reason of fornication, it is not lawful for the
man, as long as the adulteress lives, to taker another
1 " C. 7.: De laioo pellente suam oonjugem ex canons sanotarum
apostolorum, oapitulo 48. Si quis laious uxorcm pmpriam pellsns
siteram vel sb &lio dismisssm duaerit, comrnunione privetur.
, 11 0. 12: Ds his qui uxoros aut viras dimittunt, ut sic maneant,
ex oonoilio superasoripto Afriosno, oapitulo 69 ita. oontinetur:
plaauit ut secundum evangelioav~n ot apostolicam disoiplinsm,
noqus dimissus ab uxore, neque dimissa a marito, slteri oanjun-gi~
ntur; sod ita maneant ant sibi invioem raooncilentur: Quod si
~ontem~seruiatd, pmnitentiam rodipntur."
2 ',In prornptu nihilo minuspatuit, sd solam dimittendi uxorsm
WESTERN CHURCH IN ITALY AFTER JUSTINIAN 101
wife . . . nor for the adulteress, who ought to pay
the heaviest penalties or the punishment of penance,
to take another man, whether her husband, whom
she has not been ashamed to defraud, be alive or
A.D. 826. COUNCILO F ~~ONIE.
This Council was held under the presidency of Pope
Eugenius 11. It decreed : "It is permitted no man
to give up, except forthe cause of fornication, the wife
joined to him, and then unite with another. For the
rest it is expedient for the transgressor to be joined to
his former wedlock. But, moreover, if the husband
and wife for the sake of the 'religious life ' alone
have consented to separate, nevertheless, let it not be
done without the consent of the bishop. . . . For
without the wife's consent, or either of them, even
for such a cause, marriage is not to be dissolved."
" Nulli liceat excepta caussa fornicationis adhibitam
uxorem relinquere, et deinde aliam copulare : alio-quin
transgressorem priori convenit sociari conjugio.
Sin autem vir et uxor divertere pro sola religiosa inter
se consenserint vita nullatenus sine conscientia epis-copi
nolente, aut altero eorum, etiam pro tali re
matrimonium non solvatur."
This canon is very uncertainly drawn: as it stands
it permits re-marriage after divorce for fornication and
so breaks into t,he traditional teaching of the Church.
' "Item placuit ut, resoluto fornicstionis coussa jugali vinculo,
non licest ~iroq,u amdiu adultera vivit, aliam uxorem duoere, . . .
sed nsc adulterre, qua pmnas gravissimas vs! pcenitentia tormcn-turn
luere debet, alium sccipere virum, neo vivente, neo mortuo,
quein non erubuit defraudare, marito."-Mansi, Tom. XIII, p. 849.
102 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
A.D. 862. POPEN ICHOLASI AND THE THIRD
COUNCILO P AACHEN.~
Xing Lothair had married Theutberga, daughter of
the Count of Burgundy, but shortly afterwards re-pudiated
her on the ground that she had been guilty
of incest before her marriage. The matter was much
debated in Synod by the Bishops of Lorraine, who in
the Third Council of Aachen (A.D. 862) at Aix-la-Chap-elle,
after claiming to have carefully examined the
evidence of Scripture, Councils, and Fathers, and after
declaring the result that re-marriage after divorce
was not permissible, decided the marriage null and
void ab i?~itio.~
Pope Nicholas I regarded this as a surrender, and
promptly excommunicated all who had taken part in
(2) WESTERN CHURCH OUTSIDE ITALY.3
A.D. 453. COUNOILO F ANGERS.
This Council decreed : " Those also who abuse other
men's wives, while their husbands survive, under the
Given in this aootion becmne of the action of Popo Nicholas T,
although the Council itself would properly ooms in the next
2 Cf. Hinomnr " do divortio Hlotharii et Theutbergie ".
"0 appreciate the difficulties whioh beset the Churoh and the
action of the various Counoils, it is nnoessary to remember the
character and oustoms of tho people to be Christianieed. "To
analyze the ~ooulalra ws or ecoiesissticd canom relating to divorce,
as they were slowly developed on Germanic territory after the oon-version,
is not sn easy task; for they reveal a striving to harmoni%s
in vitrious ways the often irreoonoilable elements of Roman, Teu-tonic,
and Christian ideas ". (Howard, Voi. 11, p. 36, but see also pp.
33.8). Yet gradually, but none the less certainly, the Churoh was
enablcd to give her full te8ching.
WESTERN CHURCH OUTSIDE ITALY 103
name of marriage, let them be excluded from Com-munion
". " Hi quoque qui alienis uxoribus, super-stitibus
ipsarum maritis, nomine conjugii abutuntur
a communione habeantur extranei."
This Council, under the presidency of Perpetuus of
Tours decreed : "Those also who having left their
wives, as it is stated in the Gospel except for the
cause of fornication and without the proof of adultery
have taken others, we decree must be in like man-ner
repelled from Communion, lest sins passed over
through our indulgence invite others to the license
of error." " Canon 2 : Eos quoque qui relictis uxoribus
suis, sicut in evangelico dicitur, excepta causa forni-cationis,
sine adulterii probatione alias duxeruit, statu-imus
a communione similiter arcendos : ne per in-dulgentiam
uostram praetermissa peccata alios ad
licentiam erroris invitent."
Re-marriage is granted by this Council, which was
faced with the laxity of the laws of the Frankish
This Council decreed :-
" Canon 25 : But those secular persons who are set-ting
aside or even have set aside their conjugal fellow-ship
for a somewhat grave fault, and alleging no
reasons of divorce, nevertheless dissolve their mar-riages
that they may take up either unlawful or
foreign connexions, if before they have stated the
causes of divorce before the comprovincial bishops and
104 : DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
have rejected their wives, before they are condemned
by lawful judgment,let them be excluded from the
Communion of the Church and from the holy as-sembly
of the people for the reason that they are de-filing
their faith and marriages." "Hi vero seculares,
yui conjugale consortium culpa graviore dimittunt
vel etiam dimiserunt, et nullas causas discidii proba-liter
proponentes, propterea sua matrimonia dimit-tunt,
ut aut illicita, aut aliena prasumant ; si ante-quain
apud episcopos comprovinciales discidii causas
dixeruit, et prius uxores, quam judicio damnentur,
abjecerint ; a commuuione ecclesia, et sancto populi
ccetu, pro eo quod fidem et conjugia maculant, ex-cludantur."
This Council allowed divorce for fornication and
probably other causes and also re-marriage.
A.D. 681. TWELFTFCI OUNCILO F TOLEDO.
This Council, held under the presidency of Julian,
Metropolitan of Toledo, and at which King Ervigius
was present, decreed : "It is a command of the Lord,
that except for the cause of fornication a wife ought
not to be dismissed by her husband." " Praceptum
domini est, ut excepta oausa fornicationis, nxor a viro
dimitti uon debeat."
This Council, which was attended by twenty-three
bishops, decreed : "Any man while his wife is alive
may not take another wife, nor a woman, while her
husband is alive, take another husband." " Nec
marito vivente suam mulierem alius accipiat, nec
mulier vivente suo viro alium accipiat."
WESTERN CHURCH OUTSIDE ITALY 105
THE CASE OF CHARLEMAGNE.
This case, happening about this time, will serve to
illustrate the difficulties of the times, arising from
secular and religious ambitions.
Charlemagne for political purposes desired an
alliance with the House of Lombard, so without any
scruples " divorced his wife (an obscure person, whose
name has not been preserved by history) and wedded
the daughter of Desiderins, King of the Lombards.
In this union the Pope saw the whole policy of his
predecessors threatened with destruction, their mighty
protector become the ally, the brother of their deadly
enemy," and so in unmeasured language, in which
hatred of the Lombards rather than the upholding
of religion was apparent, wrote against this marriage :
"The enmity of the Lombards to the papal see is
implacable. Wherefore St. Peter himself solemnly ad-jures
them, he, the Pope, the whole clergy, and the
people of Rome adjure them by all which is awful
and commanding, by the living and true God, by
the tremendous day of judgment, by all the holy
mysteries, and by the most sacred body of St. Peter,
that neither of the brothers " (both of whom were
already married) "presume to wed the daughter of
Desiderius, or to give the lovely Gisela in wedlock to
his son". (Adelchis was unmarried.) " But if either
(which he cannot imagine) should act contrary to this
adjuration, by the authority of St. Peter he is under
the most terrible anathema, an alien from the king-dom
of God, and condemned with the devil and his
most wicked ministers and with all impious men, to
106 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
be burned in the eternal fire ; but he who shall obey
shall be rewarded with everlasting glory. But
Pope Stephen spoke to obdurate ears. Already
Charlemagne began to show that, however highly
he might prize the alliance of the hierarchy, he was
not its humble minister. Lofty as were his notions
of religion, he would rarely sacrifice objects of
This incident will show the temper of the times
and also how the sanctions of religion were used by
the Papacy both on the side of right and also against
a temporal policy which was hostile to the Papacy.
A.D. 753. COUNOIO~F ~V ERBERIES(V ERNON-SUR-SEINE).
This Council decreed :-
" Canon 2 : That in the case of incest the innocent
party could marry again, but the guilty parties could
never at any time marry any one."
"Canon 5 : If any woman has plotted with any
other men the death of her husband and that hus-band
in defending himself has killed her man and he
is able to prove this: that husband has power to
send away that wife, and if he wished to take
1 Milman's "Latin Christianity," Bk. IV, ch. xir. pp. 36-8.
a"Si diquis oum filiastra so% manet, neo matrem, neo fili%m
ipsiiis potest habere, noo ille neo ills, aliis se potuerunt oonjullgere
ullo unquam tempore. Attamen uvorejus . . . potest ~linou bero."
3"Si qua mulier mortem viri sui cum aliis hominibus consiliavit
et ipse vir ipsius hominem ss defendendo oooidsrit, eum sequi
noluent, ipsa omni tempore, quamdiu uir ejus, quem secuta, non
fuit, vivct semper innupta, penllanoant. Nam ille vir ejus, qui
WESTERN CHURCH OUTSIDE ITALY 107
"Canon 17: If any woman has recalled herself,
because her husband has never dwelt with her, let
them go the test, and if it has been true, let them be
separated and she may do what she wishes." '
" Canon 21 : He who has dismissed his wife that
she may take the veil, may not receive another.""
These canons and the canons of the Council of
Compiigne, which are next to be considered, throw
an interesting light on those days and the attitude of
mind then existing.
A.D. 757. COUNCILOF COMPI~GNE.
This Council decreed in Canon 9 that a Frank, who
leaves the service of his seigneur and also the wife
received from him, and then takes another wife, that
he was allowed to have her whom he took last.3
Canon 10 throws a strange light on the ecclesiasti-cal
mind of the times : " Si quis, uxore accepta, invenit
eam a fratre suo contaminatam, ipsam dimittens
accepit aliam, ipsam que contaminatam invenit, uxor
illius legittima est, propterea quia nee ipse virgo fuit
illo tempore. Quod si tertiam postea acceperit,
revertat ad medianam et ipsa posterior potestatem
habeat alio viro se conjungere."
"Canon 19: If a man afflicted with leprosy has
a sound wife, and if he wishes to give her permission
necessitate cogentc in alium looum fugit, si se abstinere non potest,
alism uxorem cum pcenitentia potest aocipere."
1 " Si qua. mulier se reolamsvcrit, quod vir suus nunguam oum
e& mansisset, exesnt inde ad crucem: et si verum fuerit, separantur,
et ills, faoiat quad vult."
2" Qui uxorem suam dimiserit velare, sliam non aooipiat."
a" Definitum eat, quod illam quam postea aocepit ipsamhsbeat."
108 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
to take a husband, that woman, if she wishes, may
take a husband, and in like case, the husband also." '
A.D. 789. SYNOD OF AACHEN.
This Synod was held in the palace of Charlemagne
and decreed :-
" Canon 13 : Also it was decreed in the same
(African Council) that neither a wife, dismissed by a
husband, may take another husband, while her own
husband is alive, nor a husband take another wife,
while his 6rst wife still lives." "Item in eodem (con-cilia
Africano), ut nec uxor a viro dismissa aliurn
accipiat virum, vivente viro suo, nec vir aliarn acci-piat
vivente uxori priore."
A.D. 829. SIXTH COUNCILO F PARIS.
This Council decided : "And because unless for
the reason of fornication, as the Lord says, a wife is
not to be dismissed, but rather to be cherished. And
let those who, after their wives have been dismissed
for fornication, take others, be pronounced to be
adulterers by the sentence of the Lord." " Et quod
nisi caussa fornicationis, ut Uominns ait, non sit
uxor dimittenda, sed potius sustinenda. Et quod hi,
qui caussa fornicationis dismissis uxoribus suis alias
ducunt, Domini sententia adulteri ease notentur."
A.D. 862. THIRD COUNCIL OF AAOHEN
" In causa Theutbergz, uxoris Lotharii regis, in
quo permissum est Lothario, ut aliud conjugium
iniret " (see p. 105).
1 Si vir isprosus rnulierem haboat ssnsm, si ~uleti donere oom-meaturn
ut aooipiat virum, ips8 fernina, si vult, aocipiat. Sirniliter
WESTERN OHURCH OUTSIDE ITALY 109
Canon 16 ; " That those, who dismiss their lawful
wives without the fault of fornication, may not take
others, while their wives are living, nor wives hus-bands,
but let them be rec,onciled to each other." flub1' 11 1 . qui uxores legitimas sine culpa fornicationis
dimittunt, alias non accipiant illis viventibus, nec
uxores viros, sed sibimet reconciliantur."
"Canon 12 : That no one, having left his lawful
wife, may take another." "Ne quis legitima uxore
derelicta aliam duceret."
A.D. 1060. COUNCIL OF Touns.
This Council decreed : " . . . or he who, dismissing
his wife without the episcopal decision has married
or may have married another, let him know until he
has given himself thoroughly ~ructuose) to penance
that he is excluded and shut o!f from the body and
blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and from the precincts
of the Church and in every way, is cut off, as a dis-eased
member from a, sound body, by the sword of
the spirit, which is the Word of God." " . . . Vel qui
suam uxorem sine judicio episcopali dimittens, aliam
duxit, vel duxerit: donee se fructuose tradat pmni-tentite,
a corpore et sanguine domini nostri Jesu, et
a liminibus ecclesite se exclusum et alienatum, et
omnimodis sicut putridum membrum a sano corpore
prtecisum gladio spiritus, quod est verbum Dei,
110 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
c. A.D. 1139-1142. GRATIAN.
[Gratianus Franciscus was the compiler of the
" Concordia Discordantium Canonum et Decretum
Gratiani," and was born at Chiusi in Tuscany about
the end of the eleventh century. . . . The precise
date of this important work cannot be ascertained,
but it contains references to the decisions of the
Lateran Council of 1139, and the statement is
vouched for by the tolerably good authority, that it
was compiled while Pope Alexander I11 was still
simply professor of theology at Bologna-in other
words prior to 1150.1
(" Concordantia Discordantium Canonurn.")
c. 32, q. 7.
" C. 1 : The bond of marriage cannot be broken by
" C. 3 : If either the husband has departed from his
wife, or the wife from the husband on the ground of
fornication, it is unlawful to take another.
" C. 6 : He commits adultery who presumes to
marry a woman dismissed from her husband.
" C. 7 : She is proved an adulteress who, while her
husband lives, marries another."
1,' Enoy. Brit."
2" 0. 1: Vinculum oonjugii fornioatione dissalvi non potest.
" 0. 3 : Sive vir aburore, sive uror a viro oausefornio&ti.tionis dis-oesserit,
alteri adharere prohibetur.
,"0. 6 : Mceohatur qui s vira dismissam duoers prasumit.
" C. 7 : Adultera probatur, qua vivsnta marito alteri nubit."
WESTERN CHURCH OUTSIDE ITALY 111
A.D. 1110-1160. PETERL OMBARD.
[Peter Lombard was born about the beginning of
the twelfth century at Novara, then reckoned as
belonging to Lombardy. He became a theological
professor at the University of Paris, and his famous
theological handbook, " Sententiarum Libri Quatuor,"
was primarily a collection of sontentire patrum. . . .
It soon attained immense popularity, ultimately be-coming
the text-book in almost every theological
school, and giving rise to endless commentaries.'
He became Bishop of Paris.]
Peter Lombard wrote: "The marriage bond still
exists between those who, evenif departing from one
another, having joined themselves to others." "
' " Enog. Brit.''
Z'cMansit snim vinculum conjugate inter sos etiamsi aliis a se
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH.
FOR the purposes of our subject it will not be neces-sary
to inquire minutely into the marriage customs,
prevalent in Britain, and which aresurrounded with
obscurity, before the introduction of Chri~tianity.~
The invasion of the Romans, lax as their own
marriage laws and customs were, would somewhat
raise the conception of marriage in a country where
licentiousness in extreme form, perhaps even to pro-miscuity,
existed; but the well-known toleration of
the Romans of custorns and practices, which did not
conflict with Imperial interests, must be reckoned
"At the time of the conversion the Old English
laws on this subject were probably much the same
in chmacter as those of their Teutonic kinsmen across
the Channel. From the Code of Bthelberht it may
perhaps be inferred that divorce is allowed at the will
of either spouse. Apparently in all cases of arbitrary
1 The studont will find "The History of ILIatrimonial Institutions,"
in three volumes, by Dr. Howard (T. Fisher Unwin), gives a, some-what
exhaustive trestment of Lhis subject, together with anabundant
list of authorities, worked out from a purely seoular standpoint.
lSeparstion sud divorce.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCB 113
separation the responsible parby suffers a severe pen-alty.
The man looses all claim to the purchase price
of the wife; while the woman or her guardian has to
restore the same to her husband or his family."'
At what time Christianity was introduced into
Britain is a much disputed question, but it owed
something to the traders from Asia Minor, through
Gaul, during the Roman rule before A.D. 200. In the
Diocletian persecution we find St. Alban martyred at
Verulam in A.D. 303. The Church at this period
produced several prominent ecclesiastics, including
the heretical ~ela~ius.
A.D. 314. It will also be remembered that the
three British Bishops-Eborius of York, Adelfius of
C~erleon, and Restitutus of London-were among
those who signed the decisions of the Council of
Arles, and this will be an index, in some measure, to
the state of the Church of which they were Bishops.
While St. Jerome, in his epistle to Evagrius, states
"the Churches of Gaul, Britain . . . worship the
same Christ and are governed by the same standards
of faith ".
c. A.D. 547. But the Epistle of Gildas, written
somewhere about A.D. 547, ~ointsto great depths
of wickedness; he denounces the British kings as
"he ststernents of the text are probably sustained by Bthel-bsrht,"
31, 77-83,in Haddan and Stubbs, " Counoils," In. pp. 45,49 ;
Thorps, '' Ano. Lsws,"~1.1 . p. 33, taking intoaccount theusual effects
of wife purchase. Cf. hoae~erJ, eaffreson, " Brides and Bridals," 11.
pp. 294.8, who holds that among the pagan Britons snd Anglo-Ssxans
divorce mag be described as " simple replidistion of wives at the will
of their masters ".
114 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
"tyrants, having very many wives, but harlots and
adulteresses, perjurers, and false swearers ".I
A.D. 596. Upon the introduction of Christianity
into this island, the conversion of Ethelbert and of
Kent when 10,000 of his people were baptized at one
time and a church built on the site of Canterbury
Cathedral, laxity would begin to give some place to
the strictness of the Roman Church, wherever it ob-tained
influence. The conversion of Sebert would
bring Essex under the same influence, two churches
being built on the ruins of two heathen temples (the
supposed origin of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's
Cathedral), while Northumbria shared that gradual
influence, owing to the conversion of its king, due to
his marriage with the daughter of the Kentish king.
Thus the whole country passed under Christian in-fluence.
The questions of divorce and re-marriage were not
among those upon which St. Augustine asked for
directions from St. Gregory, although two questions,
relating to matrimony, were submitted. So it is
highly probable that the British Church, wherever it
existed in an active condition, was in agreement with
the Roman Church upon the question of the indis-solubility
<'Reges habetBritsnnia,ssd tyrannos; judioes habet, sedimpios:
siepe pradantes et conoutisntes, sed innooentes; vindiomtes et
patrooinantes, sed reos et latrones; quam plurirnss oonjuges hs-bentes,
sed soortas et adulterantes; crebro jurantes, sed perjurrtntes ;
voventcs, et continuo prope modum mentientes ; belligersntes, sed
civilis et injustn bella, &gentes."-Haddnn and Stubbs, " Councils
and Eoolesiastioal Documents," Vol. I, p. 48.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH 115
A.D. 673. COUNCIL OF HERTFORD.
The importance of the representative Council of
Hertford can scarcely be over-estimated : "This act
is of the highest historical importance as the first
constitutional measure of the collective English race ".I
All the Bishops of the Anglo-Saxon Church then
living, except Wini, the simoniacal Bishop of London,
were present either in person or by deputy at this
It was held on 24 September, A.D. 673, under the
presidency of Archbishop Theodore, who had been
nominated and consecrated by Pope Vitalian and who
arrived in England in May 669 A.D."
It decreed "that no man leave his own wife except
as the holy evangel teaches, for the cause of fornica-tion
But if any one have expelled his lawful wife,
joined to him by lawful nlatrimony, if he will rightly
to be a Christian, let him be joined to no other; but
let him so remain or be reconciled to his own wife."
Here it can be seen how the wickedness of the
day was met and the indissolubility of Christian
'" Diotionery of Church Biography," Vol. IV, p. 928.
aHaad&n and Stubbs, Vol. 111, p. 121.
3Plummor's "Bede," Bk IV, oh. v. p. 211.
-"'Deoimum, pro conjugiis, ut nulli lioeat nisi legitirnum habexs
cannuhiurn. Nullus incesturn faoiat, nullus oonjugam praprimo,
nisi, ut sanctum evangelium docet, fornioationis csusa relinquet.
Quod si quisquam proprisom enpulerit conjugem legitimo sibi matri-manio
conjunotsm, si Christianus esse recte valuerit, nulli alteri oo-puletur;
sed it& permaneat, aut propria reoonoilietur canjugi."-
Haddan and Stubbs, " Counoils," etc., Vol. 111, p. 120.
116 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
A.D. 668-690. TH~ODORE P'SE NITENTIAL.^
Theodore (Archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 668-690)
was a native of Tarsus in Cilicia, being born in A.D.
602. "By such training as Tarsus and Athens
afforded, he became a sound Greek and Latin scholar,
a philosopher, a thorough adept in secular and divine
literature, and, as appears from his whole history, a
man of much tact and varied experience.'' He was
nominated and consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury
by Pope Vitalian in A.D. 668, being at that time
" sixty-five years old, a monk of the Eastern and
Pauline tonsure, possibly of the rule of St. Basil,
and, if in orders at all, not yet advanced to the sub-diaconate".
2 He was enthroned at Canterbury in
May A.D. 669.
Some writers have doubted if Theodore wrote the
Penitential. The whole question is carefully dis-cussed
and traced historically by Hadden and Stubbs
and the conclusions given are: "Although drawn up
under the eye, and published with the authority of
Theodore, it is not in the modern view a direct work
of the great Archbishop . . . there is nothing to
make it improbable that it was dr~wn up with the
sanction of Theodore himself and under his eye :
rather it may be said that the verses found at the
end of the treatise, in which Theodore commends
1 To direct confessors how to conduct themselves in hearing oon-
Cessions md enjoining penanoo.-Johnson'n " English Canons,''
Vol. I, p. 87.
""Dictionary of Ohuroh Biography," Theodorus (7) by Bishop
Wf. " Oooncils and Eoolesiastical Documents," Vol. 111, p. 173.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH 117
himself to the prayers of Bishop Haeddi, make it
certain that this was the case ".
Theodore, then, directed : "If the wife of any man
have committed fornication, he may dismiss her and
receive another; this is, if a husband have dismissed
his wife on account of fornication, if she were his first,
it is permitted that he may receive another, but she,
if she has wished to repent of her sins, may receive
another husband after five years".'
It will not be necessary to quote the opinions hav-ing
an indirect bearing upon our subject : for "the
penitential literature is in truth a deplorable feature
of the mediieval Church. Evil deeds, the imagination
of which may have perhaps directly floated through
our minds in our darkest moments, are here tabulated
and reduced to system. It is hard to see how any
one could busy himself with such literature and not
be the worse for it."
What appears to be the explanation of Theodore's
opinions? The greater part of his life (sixty years and
more) had been spent amidst the laxity of the theology
and discipline of the East, and so his mind was
"prejudiced in favour of the relaxations to which he
had been accu~tomed".~T he effect of these long
years was dreaded by Pope Vitalian himself, who
really sent "Adrian the Abbot, the first of those two
"'Si oujus uxor fornioata fuorit, lioet dimittere eam et aliam
aooipsre; hoe est, si vir dimiserit uxorem suam proptsr fornica-tionem,
si prima fuerit, licitum est ut aliam aooipiat uxorem; illa
vero, si voluerit pcnitere peooata, sua, post V annos alium virum
scoipiat"-"Poenitential," Bk. 11, o. 12, 55, Haddan and Stubbs,
Vol. 111, p. 199.
2Plummer's " Bede," Tom. I, pp. 157-8. 3 Luokook, p. 196.
118 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
that refused the archbishopric, as a spy upon Theodore,
lest he should introduce any of the Greek rites in
But the chief point to be noticed is the failure to
make his views felt upon the Anglican Church : for
although president of the Council of Hertford, that
Council decided diametrically opposite to his opinions.
A.D. 690-693. JUDICIUCLMEM ENTIS.
Willibrord, at his consecration by Pope Sergius,
was given the name Clement. He was a Northum-brian,
born in A.D. 657 or 658, and from his earliest
days was entrusted to the care of the monks of Ripon.
In his twentieth year he went to Ireland, where he
remained twelve years with Egbert and Wigbert. In
A.D. 690 he set out for the continent, landing at the
mouth of the Rhine and proceeding thence to Tra-jectum
(Utrecht). Finding Radbod and his Friscians
wholly heathen, he retired to Pippin. . . . Willibrord
went twice to Rome, once to obtain the papal sanc-tion
to his mission-probably in A.D. 692 ; the second
time to receive consecration at the hand of the Pope
in A.D. 695. . . . According to Alcuin he was eighty-one
whcn he died, which tool< place either in A.D.
738 or 739.2
The " Judicium Clementis" " is a fragment of con-siderableinterest
as illustrating the Penitential system
and literature of the Anglo-Saxons. . . . Kunstmann
identifies the writer with the Anglo-Saxon Clement,
that is, Willibrord: but Wassenechleben seems to
1 Johnson's 'l English Cmons," Yol. I, pp. 86-7.
2 Gathered from Plummer's " Bede," Tom 11, p. 288 spp.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH 119
doubt this."' In § 14, we find "if any man dis-misses
his lawful wife and takes another, let him be
excommunicated by Christians, even if that former
wife consent ".2 The contrast' between the Peni-tential
of the Eastern Theodore with that of the
Anglican Clement is obvious: although they both
agreed in some measure in reference to a wife,
carried off by ene~iesa,n~d hope of return had been
The difficulties the Church had to contend with
during this period came out in the letter of Arch-bishop
Boniface, to Ethelbald, King of Mercia (A.D.
716-757). Written in A.D. 745 or 746, it gives a sad
picture : the king was not lawfully married: it was
reported that he existed in lust and the wickedness of
adultery and worse still; so Boniface was sad.4
A.D. 732 AND 766. THE DIALOGUEO F ECGBRIHT,
"All authorities seem to agree that Ecgbriht was
consecrated Archbishop of York in 734 and that he
received the pall in 735," and exercised the authority
of a metropolitan for about thirty years together.
[Therefore from this time forward the liingdom of
Northumberland is to be esteemed a distinct province
1 Hsddan and Stubbs' "Councils," do., Vol. 111, p. 226.
'"Si quis uxorom legitimum dimittit st &li,liam duoit, exoam-municetur
a Ohristianis, etiamsi illa prior uxor consontiat,"
Hnddsn and Stubbs, Vol. 111, p. 227.
J Cf. Theodore's " Penitential," $5 22-4 and " Judioium Clementis,"
Wf. the Rt. Rev. Dr. Browne's 'lBanif&ce," pp. 241-4.
Tlummer's "Bede," Tom. 11, p. 378.
zao DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
from that of Canterbury.'] He was the brother of
Eadbert, king of Northumbria, both being sons of
Eata, a descendant of Ida. "While still an infant
he was placed in a monastery by his father. At a
later time he went to Rome with, a third brother,
Egred, who died there. He himself was ordained
deacon at Rome and returned to Britain, where he
was made Bishop of York by Ceolwulf." a
Alcuin, one of the greatest men in the next age,
calls him his master, and desires Charles the Great,
then Emperor, to send young men to York to tran-scribe
the manuscripts left there by him.
It cannot with any certainty be seid what was the
occasion of his writing and publishing the following
dialogue: what seems most probable is, that some
one or more bishops had drawn up the questions,
with a design to propose timm to a, provincial synod,
or rather to a national one, as one would think by
the last question. These were put into Ecgbriht's
hands, to the end that he might procure a public
authoritative answer to them, in council assembled
for this purpose, but he either not being able to
obtain a council, or thinking it to little purpose to
ask the advice of other bishops, in points which they
so little under~toodr,e~s olves to answer them himself,
and returned the answers, with the questions prefixed,
to the hands from which he had received the inquirie~.~
"XIII. Qt~estion.-If a lawful marriage be dissolved
'Johnson's "English Csnons," Vol. I, p. 159.
Plummer's "Bede," Tam. 11, pp. 378-9.
a"All orders of men were scandalously illiterate," Johnson, Val.
I, p. 159.
*Johnson, Vol. I, pp. 159-60.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH 121
by consent of both parties, on account of the im-potency
of the man or woman, is it lawful for the
sound party (being incontinent) to marry, the im-potent
party giving consent, and promising to live
in perpetual continency ? What does your sanctity
judge of this case?
"Anstuer.-No one acts against the Gospel or the
Apostle without punishment, therefore we give no
consent to adultery (or adulterers). Yet we lay
burdens on no man, which cannot be borne without
danger, but confidently enjoin the commandrnent of
God; but we reserve him unpunished for the just
judgment of God, whose infirmity hinders him from
fulfilling [them]. Therefore lest we should seem to
connive at adulterers, or that the devil, who deceives
adulterers, should rejoice at adultery, hear further,
'that which God hath joined, let no man separate';
and also, 'he that is able to receive it, let him re-ceive
it,' for necessity often breaks a law, by reason
of the change of times; for what did David do when
he was hungry? and yet he was without sin; therc-fore
sentence is not to be given in doubtful points.
But there is a necessity of risking counsels for the
salvation of others ; upon this express condition,
that it be by no means allowed to one that hath
vowed continency, to contract a second marriage, the
former (wife or husband) living." . . . [The reader
is to observe that the impotence here spoken of, is
such as is not natural, but accidental, proceeding
from some present bodily disease, and from which
the party might afterwards recover.] '
'Johnson, Yol. I, pp. 170-1.
122 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
" XIII. Interrogati0.-Quod si ex convenientia am-borum
legitimum dissolvitur conjugium, propter
infirmitatem viri vel uxoris, si liceat sans incontinenti
secundum inire connubium, infirm0 consensum prae-bente,
et promittente sese continentiam in perpetuo
servaturum : Vestre sanctitas quid de hoc judicat ?
" Responsio.-Nemo contra Evangelicum, nemo con-tra
apostolum sine vindicta facit, idcirco consensum
minime praebemus adulteris ; onera tamen, quae sine
periculo portari non possunt, nemini inponi~nus ea
vero, quae Dei sunt mandata, confidenter indicimus.
Quem autem infirmitas implendi praepedit, uuo pro-fecto
multum reservamus judicio Dei. Igitur ne forte
videamus silentio fovere adulteros, aut diabolus qui
decipit adulteros de adulteris exultet, ulterius audi
' Quod Deus conjunxit, homo nou separet '. Et item:
' Qui potest capere, capiat '. Saepe namque tem-porum
permutatione, necessitas legem frangit. Quid
enimfecit David, quando esuriit? et tamen sine pec-cat0
est. Ergo in ambiguis non est ferenda sen-tentia.
Sed consilia necesse est periclitari pro salute
aliorum hac conditione interposita, ut ei qui se
contiuentiae devovit, nullo mod0 concedatur secundas
iuire nuptias, vivente priore."
Ecgbriht is clear that remarriage is against the
divine law, but in this exceptional case, which had
been previously allowed by Theodore and Gregory 11,
he decides "we reserve him unpunished for the just
judgment of God whose infirmity hinders him from
fulfilling His commands ".
I t will not be necessary to deal with the so-called
'Hsrddan and Stubbs, Vol. 111, p. 409.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH 123
Excerpts of Ecgbriht for the reason " as they stand,
they are not his. There is nothing original in them ;
and certainly not sufficient evidence to make it prob-able
that they are even based upon anything which
he compiled ".I
c. A.n. 950. LAWSO F THE NORTHUMBRIAPNR IESTS.
Johnson states : " A.D. DCCCCL, or thereabouts,
I conceive these following laws were made, whoever
attentively reads them must he sensible, that they
were enacted by a temporal, as well as ecclesiastical
authority. The reason why the name of the king
in whose reign they were made is not prefixed to
them is, that he was probably a Dane ; therefore the
transcribers in the following ages of King Edgar and
his successors, thought fit to leave out the preface,
lest the name of the king should seem a blemish to
the laws themselves. Anlaf was sole monarch of the
Northumbrians from the year 949 to 952 ; and dur-ing
this interval of time I conceive these laws were
made." Johnson goes on to combat Spelinan's date
A.D. 997 as the date of writing.3 Wilkins follows
These laws enacted : "35. If a priest dismiss one
wife and take another, let him be anathema."
" 54. If any man dismiss his lawful wife and [while
she is] living, marry another, let him want God's mercy,
unless he make satisfaction for it ; but let every one
retain his lawful wife so long as she lives, unless they
'For full disoussion see Haddan and Stubbs, Val. 111, p. 415.
" English Canons," Vol. I, p. 371.
'Of. Spelman, Vol. I, p. 502, note. Val. I, pp. 221-2, note.
124 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
both choose to be separated by the bishop's consent,
and are willing to preserve chastity for the future." '
THE VENERABLEB ED%
At the commencement of the eighth century the
Venerable Bede commented on Markx. thus : "There-fore
is there only one carnal cause, fornication : one
spiritual cause, the fear of God for which a wife may
be dismissed. But there is no cause prescribed by the
law of God that another wife may be taken, while she
is alive who has been abandoned." " Una ergo sol~~m-mod0
cansa est carnalis, fornicatio: una spiritelis,
timor Dei, ut uxor dimittatur, sicut multi religionis
causa fecisse leguntur. Nulla auteni est Dei lege
prescripta,ut vivente ea quae relicta est, alia ducat~r."~
c. A.D. 963. ARCHBISHODP UNSTAN'(S? )
Johnson states 1 " I should think it was Dunstan
that compiled them, and that this set of canons
might be called Archbishop Dunstan's Penitential;
and therefore I date them as made in the second
year of his presidency, viz. A.D. 963."
" 27. He that relinquisheth his wife and taketh
another woman breaketh wedlock. Let none of
those rights which belong to Christians be allowed
him, either during life, or at his death, nor let him
be buried with Christian men : and let the same be
done to a [delinquent] wife ; and let the kindred that
were present at the contract suffer the same doom,
Johnson, Vol. I, pp. 377 and 331.
a Mings's ed., Tom. 111, p. 329.
J " English Ct~nons,"V al. I, p. 426.
THE ANGLICAN CHURCH 125
except that they will be first converted, and earnestly
make satisfaction."-Johnson, Vol I, p. 434.
A.D. 1009. THE COUNCIL OF EANHAM.
Johnson' in his preface, states: "This year, or
however, between the year 1006 and 1013, which
includes the whole time of St. Alfeage's presidency
in the see of Canterbury, a council was called at
Bnham (probably now Ensham in Oxfordshire) at
the command of King Ethelred, and by the advice
of both the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
I t was therefore a national assembly, and the great
men of the laity were present, as well as the bishops
and abbots. And though most of the laws are
ecclesiastical, yet some are purely secular. The old
Latin copy is far from being a translation. I t
rather seems to me to be an account which some one
there present did write down by strength of his
memory; which afterwards falling into the hands of
some Archbishop of YorB was transcribed by him, or
at his command, with two paragraphs added at the
" 8. And never let it be that a, Christian marry
. . . one that is divorced. Nor let him who desires
to observe God's law aright, and to guard himself
against hell-fire, have more wives than one ; but con-tinue
with her only so long as she lives." =
A.D. 1017. KINGC NUTE'SL AWES CCLESIASTICAL.
"A.D. MXXII. . . . This year Cnute king of Den-mark
became king of England, and reigned till A.D.
' " English Canons," Vol. I, p. 480. a Johnson, Yol. I, p. 485.
126 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
1036 ; within this space of time the following laws
were made, but in what particular year is not
"This is the provision which Cnute, king of all
England, and of the Danes and Norwegians, made
with consent of his wise men to the praise of God
and his own royal dignity, and the benefit of the
people, at the holy midwinter-tide at Winchester :- '
" 7. ' We enjoin, and charge, and command in
God's name, that no Christian man do ever take to
wife . . . a divorced woman. . . . Let no man have
more than one wife, and let her be a wedded wife,
and let him remain with her only, so long as she
lives, if he will rightly observe God's will, and secure
his soul against hell flames.' "
So we have the historical evidence of how ihe
Anglo-Saxon Church met the conditions of life and
its difficulties and witnessed to the indissolubility of
Christian marriage according to the teaching of her
Master. " Thus the indissolubility was unswervingly
accepted by the English Church under sanction of
the temporal power."-Howard, Vol. 11, p. 41.
Note.-" The Church of Wales ". See note in
Howard's " History of Matrimonial Institutions "-
based on Haddan and Stubbs' "Councils," Vol. I,
246-51-where it is stated : "The ecclesiastical laws
of Howell the Good of Wales (A.D. 928) show more
clearly, perhaps, than is done anywhere else, the way
in which the Church was often constrained to put up
with barbarian custom ".-Howard, Vol. 11, p. 41.
Johnson, Vol. I, p. 501. said. p. 506.
FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST.
DURINGth~is period there were no further ecclesiasti-cal
laws made upon the subject under review.
"With the Norman Conquest came the traditions
of the Norman Church and the continental system of
Canon law. The century following the Norman
Conquest saw the codification of the Canon law by
Gratian (A.D. 1139), and the law school founded by
Vacarius at Oxford, about A.D. 1138, would not be
slow in commending the " Decretum " of Gratian to
the English Church " '
" During this period the term ' divorce ' came to be
used in two senses, neither of which correspond with
its ancient and proper meaning as a complete dissolu-tion
of the bond of true wedlock. First, the term A-vo~
tiuma vi?aoulo matrimonii is commonly employed to
designate, not the dissolution of a lawful union, but the
judicial declaration of nullity of a spurious marriage
which, on account of some impediment, is void, or at
least voidable, from the beginning. Secondly, the
term diuortiuna a mensa et thoro means a judicial
separation of husband and wife which does not touch
the marriage tie. In each case, therefore, the use of
Watson, pp. 425-6.
128 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
the word 'divorce ' is loose and very misleading."-
Howard, Vol. 11, p. 63.
It was a period of great moral depravity in the
Church and world. The picture traced by Leckyl is
a very dark one, brightened here and there by the
many good and great men which the Middle Ages
produced even in their darkest periods.
This licentiousness comes out clearly in reference
to divorce and re-marriage: and dispensations-based
upon some fictitious plea according to which
the marriage was null and void ab imitio-were ob-tained
from the Pope, e.g. :-
King John had married Hadwisa, daughter of
William, Earl of Gloucester, and lived with her with-out
any scruple on the score of consanguinity, but
being captivated by the personal beauty of Isabella of
Anjouleme, he resolved to shelter himself under the
plea of nearness of kin to obtain a divorce. The evil
was aggravated by the fact that his second wife was
already betrothed: but these were days when kings
claimed to be a law to themselves, and a dispensation
was readily granted for his adulterous union.
His example was followed not long after, in the
reign of Henry 111, by Simon de Montfort, who
appealed to Rome to obtain a ratification for a second
marriage, while his lawful wife was still living. . . .
The dispensation was granted2
There is one remarlrable case in the reign of
Edward I which occupied the attention of Parlia-
1 " History of European Morals,'' Vol. 11, pp. 328-35.
SQuoted by Luokook from Morgan, "On the Laws of Mamiage,"
Ir. 218. Jebb's Essay, 204.
PROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST 129
ment in frequent debates, but no sanction was given
to the plea that adultery dissolved the bond.'
A.D. 1225 (or 7)-1274. ST. THOMASA QUINAS
St. Thomas Aqninas gave it as his opinion that
" since adultery supervening on matrimony, is unable
to effect but that, indeed, the matrimonial bond always
remains, it is not for the one, while the other survives,
to pass, by reason of the adultery, to other nuptials ".2
"The perpetuity of the tie was witnessed to all
through this period by the maintenance of a wife's
right to her dower after separation for infidelity to
A serious attempt was made in the reign of Henry
TI11 to alter the character of marriage by a Com-mission,
the purpose of which was "to order and
compile such laws ecclesiastical as should be thought
convenient ". Hitherto, in theory, whatever was the
practice of Rome, the Church held to the indissolu-bility
To consider " The Reformation of the Ecclesiastical
Laws, as attempted in the reigns of King Henry VIII,
King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth," out of
which so muoh capital has been and is being made
against the formularies of the Church of England.
1 Seldon, " Uxor Hob." xxx.
" Gonclusro-Cum sdulterium, mstuimonio supervenions, effioere
non passit quin vsro sernper remanoat oonjugium, non lioet uni-altero
supsrstite, rations sdulterii, ed alias nuptiss trsnsire "
(" Summa, Theologia," Quiest. LXII. Act. 7.).
3Luokook2s "History of Marriage," p. 2OG.
130 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Its origin is thus given in the Divorce Commission
(1850), First report, p. 4: " The Reformers were about
to revise the whole body of Canon Law, which had
become unsuitable to a Protestant country, they did
not omit the matrimonial code. With this view Acts
(25 Hen. VIII, c. 19, § 2 ; 27 Hen. VIII, c. 15; 35
Hen. VIII, c. 13 ; 3 and 4 Ed. VI, c. 11) providing
that the Crown should have full power to nominate
Commissioners (sixteen ecclesiastics-of whom four
were to be bishops, and sixteen laymen, of whom
four were to be lawyers) to order and compile such laws
ecclesiastical as should be thought convenient. A
work was accordingly composed for this purpose by
Cranmer. . . . This work, having never received the
Royal confirmation, is not indeed law, etc."
Dr. Cardwell ' states : " An Act had been passed in
the year 1549, empowering the king by the advice of
his council to appoint thirty-two persons 'to compile
such ecclesiastical laws as should be thought by him,
his council and them convenient to be practised in
all the spiritual courts of the realm '. Agreeable
with the provisions of three similar statutes of King
Henry VIII, the new code of laws was to take effect
under the great seal, hut the powers conveyed by the
Act were limited to the period of three years. Two
years (during which Cranmer was collecting his
materials) having elapsed without any appointment
of commissioners, and the number being deemed in-conveniently
great, a royal commission was issued in
November, 1551, intrusting the prosecution of the
work to the Archbishop (Cranmer), Peter Martyr and
1 In his oditian publisl~ed by the Oxford Ulriversity Press in 1850.
FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST 131
six others, all of them to he members of the greater
commission. We may infer that from some changes
made in the commissioners, and still more from the
evidence afforded by our manuscripts, that the Arch-bishop
and Martyr took the whole responsibility upon
themselves, employing Dr. Haddon to see that their
sentiments were expressed in proper language.
"It would appear then that they were engaged in
this work during the year 1552, and that our manu-scripts
may he considered as the result of their labours
during that period."
Dr. Cardwell continues : "In this Parliament [anno
1571, Eliz. 131 was the last effort, I think, made to
bring into practice in this realm, by authority of
Parliament, a body of ecclesiastical and civil laws.
. . . Care was taken to have it printed against the
sitting of the Parliament. . . . But instead of review-ing
and furthering the establishment of this excellent
and elaborate book, the Parliament fell rather upon
the examining other matters of religion already
established." "But all that good pains [including
the large preface written by John Fox] is lost and
fallen to the ground." 1 Foxe had been entrusted with
the manuscript of Archbishop Parker in order that it
might be printed for use in Parliament. I t was "in
the same year when the XXXIX articles of Religion
were finally subscribed by convocation and ratified by
Parliament ". It contained the whole code as revised
and approved by Archbishop Parker ; but this manu-script
is not lrnown now to he in existence.
The matter made no progress: for "the Queen,
'Cf. Stryps, Parker, Vol. 11, p. 62, ed. Ox. 1821.
132 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
averse to all interference of the Commons in ecclesi-astical
matters, had conceived an especial displeasure
against the ind~viduals by whom the measure was
recommended; and these individuals too might find
on an examination of the hooli itself sufficient reasons
for delaying the consideration of it to a future period.
There is no notice of it in the Journals of either
house ; and so little does the Queen1 appear either
to have approved the book, or to have been in favour
of the general measure, that no attempt was ap-parently
made during her reign to revive the Act
of 1549." 2
This Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum proposed--
" Cap. 5. Integra persona transit ad mowas nzcptias.
Curn alter conjunx adulterii damnatus est, alteri lice-bit
innocenti uovum ad matrimonium (si volet) pro-gredi.
Nec enim usque adeo debet integra persona
crimine al~eno premi, coelibatus ut invite posset oh-trudi.
Qua propter integra persona non habebitur
adultera, si novo se matrimonio devinxerit, quoniam
ipse causam adulterii Christus excepit."
The innocent party is to be free to contract a new
'. Cap. 6.-Reconciliationem esse Optandam. Quoniam
in matrimonio summa conjunctio rernm omnium est,
et tantus amor quantus potest maximus cogitari, ve-
1 The s~eeohli n the House of Commansl in whioh Mr. Striokland
[both eminent debaters] assented: and the preftlce by whioh Foxe
seeks to rcoomlnend the book cells for further reformation in the
Book of Common Prayer.
*'' O&l.dwell,",p. 12.
FROM THE NORMAN OONQUEST 133
hementer optamus ut integra persona damnatae
veniam indulgeat, et illam ad se rursus assumat si
credibilis melioris vitae spes ostendatur. Quam
animi mansuetudinem licet nullae possint externae
leges praecipere, tamen Christiana Charitas saepe nos
ad eam adducere polest. Quod si damnata persona
non possit ad superiorem conditionem admitti,
nullum illi novum matrimonium conceditur."
But it is much to be desired that the innocent
person grant forgiveness to the guilty and take her
back again to himself if a reasonable hope of a better
life may be shown.
Having got rid of the doctrine that marriage was
a sacrament, "retaining the idea of it being a Divine
institution in its general origin," it seemed easy for
these "Reformers " to go on and make the marriage
bond simply a question of the will of the innocent
Cap. 7. Defines the time for the innocent party to
make up his mind : " omnino volumus anui spatio
vel sex mensibus definiri-a year in all or six months ".
Cap. 8. Assigns desertion-in spite of all exhorta-tions-
as giving the right of re-marriage at the hands
of an ecclesiastical judge while the deserter "is to be
perpetually imprisoned-perpetuae carceris custodiae
dedatur". If the deserter is unable to be found
within two or three years a re-marriage is granted to
the deserted one.
Cap. 9. Grants divorce and power of re-marriage
on account of the too long absence of the consort, i.e.
two or three years.
Cap. 10 asserts that "capital " enmity-with danger
134 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
to life through plots,poisons or open or hidden violence
-as a ground of divorce " Cum igitur una non possint
esse, juxta Pauli doctrina~n matrimoninm dissolvi
par est ".
Cap. 11 grants divorce if a husband is bitter against
his wife and will not be reconciled-"si vir in ux-orem
saevit, et acerbitatem in ea nimiam factorurn
et verborum expromat "-in spite of the warnings of
the ecclesiastical judge.
To summarize : " By these articles, when the hus-band
or wife had committed adultery, a divorce was
allowed, and the unoffending party might marry again
(cap. 35). But if both were guilty, since both must
fall under the same condemnation, the first marriage
was not to be dissolved (cap. 17). Absolute desertion
(cap. 8), protracted absence (cep. 9), mortal enmities
(cap. lo), and lasting cruelty (cap. ll), were all ad-judged
to be lawful grounds of divorce. But recon-ciliation
was inculcated wherever it could be obtained
(cap. 6), and separations from bed and board were en-tirely
abolished (cap. 19). It was, moreover, recom-mended
that adultery should be punished by perpetual
imprisonment, or transportat,ion for life (cap. 3, 4),
and if the offender were the husband, he was to re-turn
to the wife her fortune, and add to it one half of
his own : or if the wife, she was to forfeit her jointure,
and all other advantages which by law, custom,
settlement, or promise, etc., she might otherwise de-rive
from her marriage (cap. 3, 4)."
It has been said that this "Reformatio Legum
Ecclesiasticarum represented in a short compass the
'Page 4 of Report of Divoros Commission, 1850.
FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST 135
opinions of our first Reformers on matters which
affect the civil rights of all men, as well as the highest
of all the moral interests of society." 1
Sir John Stoddart said : "The Reformatio Legum
would have been in all probability, if King Edward
VI had lived, the law of England. But although it
was not the law of the land it was the recognized
opinion and senliment of the English Church at that
time". . . . ("Minutes of Evidence taken before the
Select Committee in 1844 of the Rouse of Lords upon
the Bill for the better administration of justice in the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ".)
What are the facts?
The book was the work of Cranmer aided by Peter
Martyr who, with Martin Bucer, "were strong ad-vocates
for greater freedom of divorce, and they were
the most important foreigners in England "."It is
well appreciated that this advocacy was the outcome
of their dislike of Papal dispensations and the teach-ing
of the sacramental nature of marriage ; but the
theories in reference to marriage of these continental
reformers3 were not adopted by the Church of Eng-
'Psgs 4 of Report of Divorce Oommission 1850.
Z"Luckock," p. 208.
3 Martin Luther allowed many causes of divorce, and went so far
as to write "that a man may send away a. proud Vashti and marry
an Esther in her stead : also in his letter to the Landgrave he
advised self-restraint, failing which he actually permitted bigamy.
Erssmus maintained that the words of Ohrist comprehend msny
other causes of divorceunder the name ai forniostion. Buoer wrote
his treatise on the Dootrine and Disoipiins of Divorce in England
and dedioated it to Edward YI. Peter Martyr advocated divorce
not only for desertion but for the seduoement ~nsdos ndslous de-meanour
of an heretical consort. Beea allows divorQe for danger of
136 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
land, although shared by a few prominent Churchmen.
The date of Henry VIII's commission is A.D. 1549,
the date of the refusal of Parliament to deal with the
Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum is A.D. 1571. The
question then arises what documents about that
period can be produced to show the "Mind of the
Church of England " ?
The Statute of Provisors, consequent upon the rup-ture
with the Pope, declaring Henry VIII supreme
head of the Church, was passed in 1531. I' The Act of
Submissiou in 1533 arranged that no Canons should
have any legal force unless (1) agreed to by the
Convocations meeting under Royal Licence, and (2)
assented to and 'published ' by the Crown. The
principle has been extended to the formularies which
did not take the shape of Canons, such as the Thirty-nine
Articles, the Book of Common Prayer' and the
still earlier but little known volumes entitled the
' Institutions,' and the ' Necessary Doctrine and Erudi-tion
of a Christian Man'. Formularies so issued are
the real standards of Doctrine in the Reformed
Church of England," will be evidence of the existing
opinions of the Church of England.
" The Institution of a Christian Man" about 1543-4,
"was compiled by a Royal Commission consisting of
all the English Bishops (twenty-one in number), eight
Archdeacons, and seventeen other Doctors of Divinity
life from sun heretic, or importunate soiioit&tian to do aught against
reiigion." Bohn's "Milton's Prose Works;' Val. 111, pp. 425-9.
1 The Prayer Book is elso incorporated in sn Act of Parliament,
the " Aot of Uniformity," 14 Carol. 11, osp. 4.
2'<TheDootrine of the Ohuroh of England," published by Rhing.
PROM THE NORMAN CONQUES'P 137
or of Law (regius professors and others) ; most of
those concerned in the subsequent compilation of the
Prayer Book being of the number.' These were all
members of Convocation, and all (without exception)
subscribed their names to the book as its authors:
but from the traditions which connect it still more
closely with the Convocations, probably it was after-wards
subscribed by the whole body in each province
. . . . and there has not been such a comprehensive
consensus of opinion gathered together in any time
since then in the Church of England. It was trans-lated
into Latin and sent to the Diet of Spires by the
king in 1543-4, as a true statement of the religion of
the Church of England, but no copy of the translation
is known to exist."*
"The Institution of a Christian Man" teaches "the
bond of lawful marriage is of such sort, that it cannot
be dissolved or broken, but by death only" (Riving-ton,
"The necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any
Christian Man " is "the Institution revised and cast
in a less devotional form, with some additions and
some omissions ". I t will be then a confirmation of
the teaching of the Church of England at that time.
The history of the book has been confused with that of
the ' Institutions ' by almost every historian; and we
know little more about it than that the Convocation
of Canterbury prepared it, and that the Crown pub-
'The disosrding of some doctrines and the retontion of others in
the Prayer Book, should be carefully considered in ondewouring to
arrive at the "mind oi the Church ".
=Rivington, pp. 13-14.
138 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
lished it in 1543. Some portions of it are framed in
more exact language than that of the ' Institutions,'
but the theology of the two books is substantially
identical. Probably it was prepared partly for the
purpose of making foreigners acquainted with the
principles of the Church of England. . . . There can
be no doubt that the 'Erudition ' was intended to be
substantially the same book as the ' Institutions,'
notwithstanding these changes." 1
The "Erudition" like the "Institutions," after deal-ing
with marriages null and void ub initio teaches :
"Notwithstanding in marriages lawfully made, and
according to the ordinance of matrimony prescribed
by God and the laws of every realm, the bond thereof
cannot be dissolved during the time of the parties be-tween
whom such matrimony is made"?
" The Book of Common Prayer " was in the course
of preparation frorn 1542 to 1548 a,nd was published
in the early part of 1549. It was prepared by a
Committee of Convocation appoirited in the former
year, but whose labours were not permitted to see
light during Henry VIII's reign. On his death
the Committee was reappointed, and eventually pre-sented
their work to Convocation at the end of
November, 1548. Convocation sent it to the King
in Council, by whom it was laid before Parliament,
which incorporated it in the Act of Uniformity.
Some changes and additions, but not affecting the
subject under Convocation, were rnade in 1552, and
again in 1559 ""2nd year of Queen Elizabeth's reign)
after being in abeyance during Queen Mary's reign.
'Rivington, p. 14. 2Ibid. p. 201. 8 Ibid. p. 15.
FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST 139
In "The Book of Common Prayer" as issued
in the year 1549, in the reign of Xing Edward VI,
the doctrine of the Church of England was given
in the following portions of the " Forme of Solem-nizacion
of matrimonie " :-
" . . . Then shall the curate say unto the maa.
"N. Wilte thou haue this woman to thy wedded
wife, to liue together after Goddes ordeinance in the
holy estate of matrimonie : wilt thou loue her, coum-forte
her, honor and kepe her, in sickenesse and in
health : and forsaliing all other kepe thee only to her,
so long as you both shall liue.
" The man shall anszuere.
" I will.
" Then shall the prieste sage to the rooman.
" N. Wilt thou have this man to thy wedded house-band,
to liue together after Goddes ordeinaunce, in
the holy estate of matrimonie: wilt thou obey him,
in sickness and in health: and forsaliing a1 other
kepe thee onely to him, so long as you hothe shall
" Z'he zuoman shall answere.
"And the mimister receiving the ruoman at her father or
friendes handes : shall carrse the man to talce the woma?z by
the ~ight hande, and so either to geue their trouth to the
other : The man first saying.
" I N. take thee N. to my wedded wife, to haue and
to holde from this day forwarde, for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer, in sickeness, in health, to loue,
and to cherishe, ti1 death us departe; according to
140 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Goddes holy ordeinaunce: and thereto I plight thee
"Then shall they looce theyr handas and the woman
taking again the man, by the right hand shall say.
"I N. take thee N. to my wedded husbande, to haue
and to holde from this day forwarde, for better, for
worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickeness and in
health, to loue, to cherishe, and to obey, till death us
departe : accordyng to Goddes holy ordeinaunce : and
thereto I geue thee my trouth.
" Then shal theprieste joyne theyr ryght kandes toyethm
"Those whome God hath joyned together; let no
man put a sundre.
(In the final Prayer).
"0 God whiche by thy myghtye power haste made
all things of naughte, whiche also after other thinges
set in order didde appoint that out of man (created
after thine own image and similitude) womZ should
take her beginning: and knitting them together
diddest teache, that it should never be lawful to put
a sondre those, whoine thou by ~natrimonieh sddeste
made one:" eta.
Such then was the teaching and practice of the
Church of England during the period under considera-tion,
and so the statements on p. 4 of the divorce
commission of 1850 are not historically accurate.
It will be convenient to finish here the evidence of
the Prayer Book as to the continuity of the teaching
of the Church of England as to the indissolubility of
FROM THE NORMAN CONQUEST 141
"A complete review and revision took place at the
time of the Restoration (but no alterations were made
dealing with our subject)' which resulted in the
present Prayer Booli, 1662. Each revision was ef-fected
by the two Cot~vocations of Canterbury and
York, acting under special authority from the Crown ;
and the book (our present one) so revised, was
sanctioned by the fullest possible authority which the
State could give to it through the action of Crown
and Parliament. The only alterations in the portions
of the marriage service, copied above from the first
Prayer Book of ~dwardV I, down to this revision,
were "till death us depart " becomes "do part " and
" 0 God, which " becomes " who ".
So then the authoritative teaching and practice of
the Church of England was altogether against the
claim made that the Ileformatio Legum Ecclesiasti-carum
"was the recognized opinion and sentiment
of the Church of England at that time ".
Note. The Roman Church considered the question of
marriage at the Council of Trent (Tyrol), which was
opened on 13 December, 1545. At the twenty-fourth
session (opened on 11 November, 1563) a decree was
passed dealing with matrimony, couched in ten
chapters and eleven Canons. Two hundred and fifty-five
signatures were attached to the decrees : and also
those of the ambassadors still remaining at Trent.
The bull of confirmation was issued at Rome on 26
1 During the Gommanweslth, the Protectorate and the Restored
Cammonme<h, Ohurch Life, teaching and praotioo, went on quietly
and regulsrlg in many places. Of. "Poor Book of Westbury on
Trym,"i165G-1698 by Wilhins, pub. Arrowsmith.
142 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
January, 1564, and followed by another fixing 1 May,
1564, as the date from which the decrees should be
Canon 7 (cf. Sess. xxiv.) runs: " If any one shall
say that the Church errs, when it taught and teaches
according to the Evangelical and Apostolical doctrine
that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on
account of the adultery of either of the spouses : and
that both, or even the innocent, who has not given
cause by adultery, cannot, so long as the other
partner is alive, contract another marriage ; and that
he commits adultery who, his wife having been dis-missed,
has married another, and that she, who, her
adulterous husband having been dismissed, has mar-ried
another ; let such an one be accursed (anathema) ".
" Si quis dixerit, ecclesiam errore, quum docuit et docet
juxta evangelicam et apostolicam doctrinam ' propter
adulterium alterius conjugum matrimonii vinculum
non posse dissolvi ; et utrumque, vel etiam innocen-tem,
qui causam adulterio non dedit, non posse altero
conjuge vivente aliud matrimonium contrahere ; moe-charique
enm, qui dimissa adultera aliam duxerit, et
eam, quae dimisso adultero alii nupserit, anathema
A.D. 1603. THE CANONS OF THE CHURCH OF
" Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical, treated
upon by the Bishop of London, President of the
Matt. xrx. 9; Luc. xvr. 18; 1 Car. vrr. 11 ; cf. e. gr. o. 5 (cono.
Milev.), o. 6 (August), o. 7 (Hieron.), o. 8 (Cono. Elib.), o. 10 (Aug.),
c. 32, q. 7.
FROM THE NORMAN CONQUICST 143
Convocation for the Province of Canterbury, and the
rest of the bishops and clergy of the said Province ;
and agreed npon with the King's Majesty's Licence,
in their Synod began at London, Anno Domini 1603,
and in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord
James, by the grace of God, King of England, France
and Ireland, the First, and of Scotland the Thirty-seventh;
and now published for the due observation
of them, by His Majesty's authority, under the Great
Seal of England " (S.P.C.K. edition, p. 3).
These canons were adopted in 1606, after full
synodical deliberation upon them by the Convocation
They were amended in 1865.
The directions in reference to divorce and re-marriage
continued the same throughout. These
Canons are binding proprio aigore on the clergy but
not on the laity.
Canon 105 directs that "No sentence for divorce
to be given npon the sole confession of the parties ".
Canon 106 directs that " No sentence for divorce be
given but in open court ".
Canon 107. " In all sentences pronounced only for
divorce and separation a thoro et mema, there shall be
a caution and restraint insisted in the act of the said
sentence. That the parties so separated shall live
chastely and continently; neither shall they, during
each other's life, contract matrimony with any other
person. And, for the better observation of this clause,
the said sentence of divorce shall not be pronounced
until the party or parties requiring the same have
Rivington, p. 15.
144 DIT70RCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
given good and sufficient caution and security into the
court, that they will not any way break or transgress
the said restraint or prohibition."
Thus stand to-day the authoritative teaching of the
Church of England and her Canons; and in this
attitude she is at one with the teaching of the
Christian Church during the all-important first three
centuries and of the Church of England from the
earliest times. We shall consider in the next chapter
attempts-successful and unsuccessful by means of
the State-to override that teaching and those Canons.
AFTER THE REFORMATION.
WITH the Reformation came the repudiation of the
claims of the Roman Church. One immediate effect
of this was the tightening of the marriage bond, in a
way which had not been previously felt, owing to the
corrupt system of dispensations-obtained by various
fictions and devices and which were a fruitful source of
ecclesiast~cal revenue-which those who would not
live answerably to the teaching of Christ, readily
availed themselves of, in order to gratify their lusts
Now that dispensations were no longer available,
and that divorce, which rescinded the marriage con-tract,
was unknown to the ecclesiastical and civil
law, it is not surprising that other methods were
tried by appealing directly to Parliament.
The consequence will be seen from the following
cases, which prepared the way for the Divorce Act of
In the reign of Henry VIII, the Marquis of
Northampton (Parr) divorced his wife Anne Boucher
-a mensa et toro-for adultery, in the ecclesiastical
court, the marriage bond remaining intact. A com-mission
was appointed to inquire if there was any
146 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Divine prohibition to a second marriage, but Parr
would not wait, and so married Elizabeth Brooke, the
daughter of Lord Cobham. The report of the com-mission
two years afterwards was "that the bond of
wedlock being broken by the mere fact of infidelity,
the second marriage was lawful". Here and in the
subsequent Act of Parliament can be traced the in-fluence
of the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum,
although it had no effect on the Church or its
courts. In 1551 Parliament decided that the second
marriage was "lawful, as by the law of God indeed
it was, any decretal, Canon ecclesiastical, law on
usuage to the contrary notwithstanding". But this
statute was repealed by the private Act 5 and 6
One Foljambe, who had divorced his wife a mensa
et toro and had married again during the lifetime of
his divorced wife, was brought before the Star
Chamber in the forty-fourth year of the reign of
Queen Elizabeth. " Archbishop Bancroft " (an error
for Whitgift), "who stated that he had called to him
at Lalnbeth the most wise divines and civilians (who
all agreed in this) by the advice of divines held that
adultery was only a cause of divorce a lnensa et toro."
3 Salk 138.-(Burns' Ecc. Law, Vol. 11, pp. 502-3).
The action of Bishop Laud (A.D. 1573-1644) in
marrying the Earl of Devonshire, his patron, to a
woman divorced for adultery, became a life-long
sorrow to him. So when he drew up the Canons of
the Church of Scotland in 1635, a prohibition of
marriage after divorce was inserted, and so in A.D.
1640, when the Scots triumphantly occupied the
AFTER THE REFORMATION 147
northern counties, and sent commissioners to London
to negotiate a peace, they called for the punishment
of the Archbishop as the great incendiary.'
In the case of Luckenor, who had divorced his
wife a mansa at taro, after which she still continued
to live in adultery, an Act to bastardize the issue of
that unlawful connexion was obtained2 to avoid oon-fusio
prolis, but it is to be noticed that it did not dis-solve
the marriage bond or grant the right of re-marriage
to the husband.
In 1666 Lord Ross obtained an Act bastardizing
the children of his adulterous wife Lady Ann: he
then obtained a divorce a mansa et toro from the
spiritual court. But as the marriage bond remained
intact, heproceeded to obtain a private Act of Parlia-ment
which ran for as much as thereis "no probable
expectation of posterity to support the family in the
male line by the said John Manners, Lord Ross " :
it granted him permission to marry again, any
children to be legitimate with the capacity of in-heritance.
"According to the historians Burnet and Ralph,
this bill was passed on political grounds and with
a political object ; viz. to form a precedent which
would enable Charles I1 lo separate from his wife,
by whom he had no children, and to marry a second
wife, for the purpose of excluding the Duke of York
from the throne."
" This bill appears to have excited much discussion
' Of. "Enoy. Brit." Vol. XIV, p. 347.
'Cf. " 13 State Trials," p. 1308.
"Divorce Commission," 1850, 1st Report, p. 8. lo *
148 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
and opposition in its progress through Parliament.
The debate on the first reading lasted till ten o'clock
at night. Before it was read a second time, thirty-five
peers desired leave of the house to enter their
dissent if the question were carried in the affirmative.
All the Roman Catholic peers were against it and
all the prelates " (seventeen in number) excepting
Cosens and two others. On the question for the
second reading being put, there were for it forty-one
members present and fifteen proxies; against it,
forty-two members present and six proxies; so that
the principle of the measure was very doubtfully sus-tained,
and it was ultimately carried by a majority of
only eight votes.-See Macqueen's " Practice of the
House of Lords," pp. 551-62 ; "Divorce Commission
Report," 1850, p. 8.
The case of the Countess of Macclesfield' was a
flagrant case, and by unscrupulous tactics she pre-vented
her husband obtaining a divorce a mensa ct toro
in the ecclesiastical courts. As a divorce a nmsa et
tor0 was hitherto a necessary preliminary, it was
probably the only way left to the Church courts to
refuse it, so that further proceedings to break through
the indissolubility of the marriage bond could not be
initiated, as things then stood. But her case was
so outrageous that even though "it was so novel a
proceeding to pass a bill of that nature, where there
was not a sentence of divorce first obtained in the
spiritual court that a protest was entered against it
by Lords Halifax and Rochester, the Act was passed.
The Duke of Norfolk in A.D. 1700, although he
' &lacqueen's " Praotioe of the Houae oi Lords," p. 574.
AFTER THE REFORMATION 149
recovered damages at law against the adulterer Sir
John Jermayne, was unable to obtain a divorce a
mensa et toyo from the ecclesiastical court. He, how-ever,
obtained at last under new circumstances an
Act of Parliament, although it had been repeatedly
rejected by the House of Lords.
Parliament had thus established its claim, in spite
of the ecclesiastical courts, to grant divorces a vin-onlo:
so in 1701 a Mr. Box, "without any special or
peculiar reason" such as existed in the cases quoted
above obtained-after proving his case in the Court
of the King's Bench, and obtaining a definite sen-tence
in the Arches Court of Canterbury-:% divorce
a vinculo matrimonii which carried with it as a matter
of course the right of re-marnage.
"From that time to this (A.D. 1850) the Legisla-ture,
in fact, has constituted itself a court for grant-ing
divorces a winculo matrimonii." - Cf. " Divorce
Commission " (1850), First Report, p. 8.
It will be necessary to notice briefly the works and
utterances of the three writers of this period-
Hammond, Cosin, and Milton-as they were op-posed
to the teaching and practice of the Church.
It was a time of much sensuality and vice, against
which many persons wrote.
The learned Dr. Hammond communicated his
" Practical Catechism," which for his private use he
had drawn up out of the materials which he had
made use of in the instruction of the youth of his
parish, Penshurst, to which he had been appointed
150 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
in A.D. 16331 to his friend Dr. Potter, Provost of
Queen's College, Oxf~rd.~A fter much pressure on
the part of Potter, Hammond agreed to share the
expense of publication, and the book was published
in 1644. Therein its learned author bases his argu-ment
for divorce and re-marriage upon the exception
in the Gospel according to Matthew: he allows after
a consideration of Paul's teaching no other ground
than fornication to be a lawful cause for divorce,
"this liberty being peculiar to the hasband against
the wife, and not common to the wife against her
husband " (ibid. p. 14).
If reasons for this opinion, contrary to the Church's
teaching, are sought beyond the acceptance of the
exception of Matthew, they may perhaps be found
(a) in his attitude, as found in his controversial work,
towards the Roraish Church ; (b) in the influence of
foreign reformers from which he may never have got
quite free, in spite of his independent sludy, for we
are told "having taken his degree" (M.A. Oxon.) he
presently bought a system of di~inityb,~ut abandon-
' " Life of Dr. Hilmmond," by Dr. Fell, Dean of Christ Church
and Lord Bishop of Oxford (in Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology,
ZThis Christopher Potter, who suoceeded his uncle, Barnabes
Patter, was Provost of Queen's in 1629. Soon after, says Wood,
when Dr. Laud became a rising fsvourite in the raga1 court, he,
after a. goad deal of seeking, was made his creature, and therefore,
by the precise party, he was esteemed sn Arminian.
3% such an absolute authority were the names and writings of
some men advanoed by their diligont followers, that not to yield
obedience to their ipse dicits, was a crime unpardonable. It is true
King James observed the inconvenience, end prescribed a remody,
sending instruolions to the universities, bearing date 18 January,
AFTER THE REFORMATION 151
ing it for "humane learning," he afterwards studied
theology on different lines.
Dr. Hammond became a member of the assembly
of divines "summoned to meet at Westminster on
1 July 1643. The assembly consisted of one hundred
and twenty individuals selected from all the different
counties, the principle of selection being a disposition
towards the Presbyterian discipline and hostility to the
Established Church. Nevertheless there were some
few, as Eammond . . . who formed an exception
to this "though even these were," says Walker (p.
30), " mostly Calvinistic in point of doctrine " (ibid.
p. xxvii). Dr. Hammond may have shared the
faults of his day. (c) "The later years of Queen
Elizabeth, and the reign of Killg James, and, though
in a less degree, that of King Charles, produced a
vast multitude of catechisms, written by independent
and unauthorized individuals, which for the most
part were composed in a very harrow and Calvinistic
principle. . . . When Bishop Ely, in his 'Answers
anno 1616, wherein it was direotod smongst other things, that
young students in divinity should be exhorted to study such
books as were most agreeable in doctrine and discipline to the
Ohuroh of England; and to bestow their time in the fathors and
counoils, schoolmen, histories, and controversies, and not to insist
too long upon compendiums and abbreviators, making them the
ground of their study. . . . For though I hild a good respect both
to the memory of Luthor and the name a£ Calvin, as those whose
writings hsd awskened all thoso parts of Europo out of ignorance
and superstition under which they suffered; yet I slvays took them
to be men, man as obnoxious unto error, as subjeot unto human
frailty, snd ss indulgent too to their own opinions as any others
whetever" (Heylin's " S~lrnmary of Christian Theology," iMd.
pp. xix, xn).
152 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
to the Articles of Impeachment,' exhibited against
him in the year 1641, by the House of Commons, for
some alleged crimes and misdemeanours, saith, ' That
he did direct that the said catechizing should be
according to the catechism of the Church of England
only. . . . He considered also, that the sjreat variety of
catechisms which every man did i"aformer time thrust out
at laispleasure did distract and corrupt the minds of
the people more than anything else, sowing in them
the8seeds both of error and faction' " (ibid. xxv.).
The opinions of Bishop Cosin that "adultery works
a dissolution of the marriage " were expressed upon
the debate of Lord Ross's case, and it has always
been a source of surprise that he, usually so strong a
supporter of the teaching of the Church, should have
uttered such opinions.'
Several reasons have been assigned. Doubtless the
importance he attached to the "exception" in the
Gospel according to Matthew and his belief that " the
words in Mark and Luke are not to be taken abso-lutely,
but to be snpplied and understood by his words
in Matthew," conduced to that opinion. Mr. Glad-stone,
writing to Lord Lyttelton on 9 June, 1857,
stated : "It " (Badeley's Considerations, etc.) "appears
to me quite unanswerable in its proof that Scripture
prohibits all such divorce, nor can I find anything in
the arguments of the Greeks, far less of Bishop Cosilz,
'Cosin's Published Works, Vol. IV of " Anglo-Catholic Library,"
AFTER THE REFORMATION 153
whose treatnaeat of the Soriptpture evidence is trumpe~y
enough, which at all stands against it "?
Bishop Cosin, among other opinions in his writings,
~tated", ~Co ncil. Eliber . . . et Arelateus gives liberty
in such cases to marry again ". But compare Can. 9
of the Council of Elvira, p. 65. Also the actual
words of the Council of Arles, p. 71 scg.
Again "St. Basil, in his Canons approved by a
General Council, is for marrying again ". The
character of Council of Trullo as a Gemeval Cot~ucil
has never been allowed by the Church of England.
Again.. . " St. Hierome . . . are for allowance of mar-riage
after divorce ". Dr. Pusey states: " St. Jerome
Ep. 55 ad Amand., 5 3, thinksit forbidden to the woman
by 'om. ~II4., l Cor. ~II3.9 , but in that he mentions as
remarkable (Ep. 77, ad Ocean de Morte Fabiolae) that
one did penance for it, this (as Bingham observes)
does not seem to have been required; himself also
calls it " a fault " only ($5 3,4), excuses it on the ground
of "necessity," calls the marriage the I' shadow of a
miserable marriage ". But see pp. 86 sgq.
Again "St. Hilary is for marrying again, as Dr.
Fulk saith on St. Matthew v.". What St. Hilary
wrote was "nullam aliam causam desinendi a con-jugio
praescribens, quam quae virum prostitutae
uxoris societate pollueret ". He did not deal with
the question of re-marriage.
'Lathbury's " Letters on Church and Reiigion of W. E. Glad-stone,"
Vol. I. no. 133-4.
Vol. IV, p.-4-93.
Note 0 on Tertullian, Val. I, "Oxford Library of the Fathers,"
154 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Again St. Ambrose says, " a man may marry again,
if he put away an adulterous wife ". But Bishop
Cosin had confused an unknown writer, commonly
described as Ambroiaster, with St. Ambrose, and thus
attributed to St. Ambrose opinions quite opposite to
those he held, see pp. 83 sgg. and 96.
The reasons of Bishop Cosin's attitude may per-haps
be found in the following statements :-
(a) In "Evelyn's Diary," 22 March: " I went to
Westminster, where in the House of Lords I saw his
Majesty sit on his throne but without his robes : and
all the peers sitting with their hats on : the business
of the day being the divorce of my Lord Rosse. Such
an occasion and sight had not been seen in England
since the time of Henry VIII." '
(b) "This Bill, after great debates, passed by the
plurality of votes, and that by the great industry
of the Lord's (Rosse) friends, as well as the Duke's
enemies, who carried it on chiefly in hopes it might
be a precedent, and inducement for the king to enter
the more easily into their late proposals : nor were
they a little encouraged therein, when they saw the
king countenance and drive on the Bill in Lord
(c) The absence of weight with his fellow prelates
may indicate the reason.
"Of eighteen bishops that were in the House,
only two voted for the bill, of which one voted tlwouqh
age, and one was a :reputed Socinian," These, in a
note, are said to be Dr. Cosin, Bishop of Durham,
Ed. Lond. 1519, i, p. 425, 1670.
AFTER THE REFOILMATION 155
and Dr. Wilkins, Bishop of Chester. To these Bishop
Reynolds is added in the Parliamentary History.'
The poet Milton wrote four prose works bearing
on our subject : " The Doctrine and Discipline of
Divorce," " The Judgment of Martin Bucer, concern-ing
Divorce," " Tetrachordon " and " Golasterion ".
From an examination of them it will be seen that
the "exception" in the Gospel according to Matthew
was developed to the utmost point by him. He
argued much on the lines of the foreign reformers and
so " porneia, " was interpreted in the widest possible
sense ; heused allegorical methods, and his conception
of wedlock was that realized in the New England
states: "e would allow "marriage to be dissolved
freely by mutual consent, or even at the desire of
either spouse" (Howard, Vol. 111, p. 251). This
Milton practically put in force by separation from
his own wife, but it must be added they came together
Milton wrote : "The Parliament, also the clergy of
England, were not ignorant of this, when they con-sented
that Henry VIII might put away his queen,
Anne of Cleve, whom he could not like, after he had
been wedded half a year" (Prose Works, Vol. 111,
"Milton goes further than Zwingli, Bucer, or any
other reformer in admitting grounds for absolute
I See note on p. 499 in Cosin's Works, Yol. IV, in Library of
A. 0. Theology.
=Howsrd, Vol. 11, p. 127.
THE DIVORCE ACT, 1857.
THE establishment of the claims of Parliament to
annul the marriage bond, and the suggestions1 of the
Divorce Commission of 1850, led to the bringing in s
Bill in Parliament.
'The suggestions of the Commissioners were :-
That the distinction between divorce a mensa st taro and
divorce a vinczilo nmtrimonii shsll still be maintained.
Ths t the grounds far di~oroea mensa et tow shall be conjugel
infidelity and gross cruelty.
That wilful desertion shsll either be also a ground for divorce
a mensa et toro. or else sh&Il entitle the abandoned wife to obtain
the above-mentioned causes, as well as by the husband.
That divorce a vinoulo shall be allowed for sdultecy and for
Thst divorce a vinevlo shell only be granted on the suit of the
husband, and not (as a. general rule) on the suit of the wife.
That the wife, however, may also spply for divorce a vinoulo in
case of aggravated enormity, such as inoest or bigamy.
That recrimination, connivsnce, and oondonntion, shsll, if proved,
be deemed and treated ss bars to the suit.
That recrimination shsll include any of the grounds for which
divorce may be obtained a mema et toro.
That the existing mode of obtaining a. divorce a vi~~cuslhoe ll no
longer be oontinued.
That a verdict at law, and an eoolesiastioal sentence, shallnot be
uansidered as preliminary conditions which must ba complied with
before it can be obtained.
158 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Lord Redesdale dissented from those suggestions
and based his dissent on Scriptural itnd historical
grounds, as well as moral and social grounds. One
portion of his opinion must be given : "Let us re-member,
in determining this point-divorce a vinculo
-who He was who said, 'He that i~ without sin
among you, let him cast a stone at her ' : let us take
example from Him who forgave the guilty one, when
she stood alone before Him, bidding her 'to sin no
more'. Let us remember that with God forgiveness
is always accompanied with reconciliation, and
humbly inquire within ourselves whether if we desire
That s. new tribunal shall be constituted to try all questions of
Th&t all mstrimoniai questions also whioh are now determind
in the eoolesiastioal conrts shsll be transferred to the same
Thst this tribunal shdl oonsist oi a. vioe-ohancellor, s oomman-law
judge, and a judge of the ecclesiastical courts.
That the pmty who seelrs s. divorce, whother it be s, divorce a
measa et tom or a ~1ivol.cea vinculo innt~imonii,s hall pledge his
beliei to the truth of the case, and that therois no oollusion between
hirnself and his wife. ,...........
TI& the judge shsll have the power of examining the parties,
and also of ordering any witnesses to be produced, who mq throw
light on the question.
That the court shall be intrusted with a largo discretion in pre.
scribing whether suy, end whht, provisionshall be made to the wife,
in adjusting the rights which she and her husband may rospsot-ively
have in esch other's property, and in providing for the guard-ianship
and maintenance of the children.
Thst there shall ba only one apposl from the deoree of the
oourt; end that appeal shall be carried to the House of Lords.
The suggestions wore signed, Omupbell, Stephen Luahington,
Besumout, Spencer Horatia Walpola, William Page Woad, Edward
THE DIVORCE ACT, 1857 159
to prove ourselves worthy to be His followers, we are
justified in placing the bar of divorce between an
erring woman and all hope of reconci1~ation."-(Cf.
First Report of Divorce Commission, 1850.)
The debates in the House of Lords cause sad re-flections,
showing how the bishops themselves failed
and irreparable damage was done: for who was
able custodere custodes ? During the debate on the
second reading on 3 Maroh, 1857,' the Earl of
Derby said in the House of Lords, he hesitated:
"When I find that the principle of this bill is con-demned
in a most able manner and with great elo-quence
by the only two members " (i.e. Bishops of
Oxford and Exeter, both of whom accepted the "ex-ception
" in the Gospel according to Matthew) " of
the right reverend Bench who are present on this
occasion, these feelings of doubt and reluctance must
naturally be much increased. I should have thought,
my Lords, that if there were one question to which
the heads of the Church in their legislative capacity
were bound to give their utmost attention and con-sideration,
and to advise your Lordships as to what
is the law of the Church, what, in their opinion is
the law of God, and what the effect upon the moral
and social condition of the people under the present
system, that question would be the question of
marriage and divorce. It is to me a matter of deep
regret that, on a recent occasion, when the subject
under your Lordships' consideration was almost en-tirely
of a similar character, no less than twenty-three
right reverend prelates gave their votes, and that on
'See Hansard's Reports.
160 DIVORCE AND RE-MARIZIAGE
the present occasion, when it would well become the
right reverend Bench to enlighten your Lordships
on this subject, there are only two r~ght reverend
prelates present." The Lord Chancellor said that :
"When he had the honour of introducing the bill, he
never supposed that there would be any serious opposi-tion
to it on the part of their Lordships and he thought
he was justified in that opinion." The voting was
Content 25, Nan-content 10.
The bill went further than the recommendations of
the Divorce Commission of 1850 and granted divorce a
vinoulo, carrying with it the right of re-marriage for
the husband on proving in the civil court alone the
adultery of his wife, and for the wife on proving adul-tery
and cruelty on the part of the husband.
The bill finally passed the House of Lords on 23
June, 1857. Contents 46, including the Bishops of
Bangor, London, Ripon, St. Asaph, and Worcester.
Non-contents 24, including the Bishops of Chichester,
Durham, Exeter, Llandaff, Oxford, Rochester, and
Mr. Gladstone fought strenuously for the doctrine
and discipline of the Church, but "what chance
could a lay champion have against a bill, the second
reading of which had been supported by the Arch-bishop
of Canterbury and nine bishops ".' Mr. Glad-stone
held that marriage was indissoluble, and so
re-marriage under any circumstances or conditions
whatever was not admissible.2 'I But though he fought
the bill," says Lord Morley, "with a holy wrath as
1 Lathbury's "Letters, etc., of Mr. Gladstone," Vol. I, p. 130.
Lathburg, Vol. 11, p. 360.
THE DIVORCE ACT, 1867 161
vehement as the more worldly fury with which Henry
Fox, from very different motives, had fought the
Marriage Bill of 1753 . . . all that he could do in
the House of Commons was to obtain the passing of
amendments, which 'narrowed and abated' the
wrong the bill did to the clergy. They were not to
be compelled to solemnize marriages when one of the
parties had a husband or wife still living, but they
were not permitted to close the doors against the use
of thechurch for that purpose by another clergyman".'
The Archbishop of York has said "to insist upon
the Church lending its buildings for such unions, and
permitting its ministers to celebrate them, means that
the State commits itself to a public act of utter re-ligious
This bill overrode the teaching of the Church of
England from Anglo-Saxon days : it reduced to im-potency
the Canons in reference to marriage, and
placed the Church and her teaching in direct opposi-tion
to the civil law, the Lord Chancellor, with
brutal arrogance, remarking during the debates,"' the
'Lathbury, Vol. I, p. 131. We share the opinion which Mr.
Lathbury goes on to record: "It was a, compromise whioh, as
things turned out, did more harm than good. Without it, the Act
might have hsd to be enforced in oiroumstsnoes whioh would have
shoclied the pubiio conscience, and induoeaPhriiament to recognize
the re-marriage of divorced persons only as a. civil contract. With it,
the resistance of the recaloitr&nt olergy has been only a personal
matter. The lsst two letters on this suhjeot th8.t I have printed
show that the lapse of thirty years hsd in no wsy lessened Mr.
Glsdstons's dislike of the Act of 1857, or his conviction that the
'innocent party' in a divorce suit ' is often the more guilty of the
2Hansard, 18 June - 17 July, 1851.
162 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
law of the land must be paramount over religious
The Crown was thus forced to give consent to that
which was morally against obligations undertaken, for
the Coronation oath has the following stipulation :-
''A~clzbishop. Will you to the utmost of yoclr
power maintain the laws of God, the true profession
of the Gospel and the Protestant Reformed Religion
established by law? And will you maintain and
preserve inviolably the settlement of the . . . Church
of England . . . and the Doctrine, Worship, Discip-line
and Government thereof as by law established . . .?"I
How repugnant this bill must have been to the
Queen will be seen from the letter of W. E. Gladstone
to the Rev. S. E. Gladstone : " 28 March, 1885. . . .
I have much hesitation in venturing even to say a
word. But this I would say-there ought to be much
caution in drawing any broad distinction between the
innocent and the guilty parties. For this only means
innocent and guilty in the Divorce Court, and the
person who comes off as innocent is often the more
guilty of the two. It is, I apprehend, on account of
the unsafety of this rule that no divorced person is
ever received at Court. . . . I do not feel at all clear
that innocence bears upon the case. . . ."%
Prom 1857 onwards the Divorce Act has been the
law of the land and in conflict with the teaching of
the Church and steadily producing baleful results.
Lord Campbell wrote that he was appalled by the
1 Phillimore'a l'Ecalesiastioal Lsw," Vol. I, p. 817.
9 Lathbury, Vol. I, p. 137.
THE DIVORCE ACT, 1857 163
results. In 1689 Mr. Gladstone wrote : " Unquestion-ably,
since that time (1857), the standard of conjugal
morality has perceptibly declined among the highest
classes of this country, and scandals in respect to it
have become more frequent. The decline, as a fact,
I know to be recognized by persons of social experience
and insight who in no way share my abstract opinions
in divorce."-Lathbury, Vol. 11, p. 362. I t will not
be necessary to multiply such testimony, which, alas !
is abundantly forthcoming.
THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE OR 1908.
THE Lambeth Conference, meeting in 1908, passed the
following resolution :-
"39. This Conference re-affirms the resolution of
the Conference of 1886 as follows :-
" (A) That, inasmuch as our Lord's words expressly
forbid divorce, except in the case of fornication or
adultery, the Christian Church cannot recognize
divorce in any other form than the excepted case, or
give any sanction to the marriage of any person who
has been divorced contrary to this law during thelife
of the other party.
" (B) That under no circumstances ought the guilty
party, in the case of a divorce for fornication or
adnltery, to be regarded, during the lifetime of the
innocent party, as a fit recipient of the blessing of the
Church on marriage.
" (C) That, recognizing the fact that there always
has been a difference of opinion in the Church on the
question whether our Lord meant to forbid marriage
to the innocent party in a divorce for adultery, the
Conference recommends that the Clergy should not
be instructed to refuse the Sacraments or other privi-leges
to those who, under civil sanction, are thus
THE LAMBE'PH CONFERENOE OF 1908 165
" 40. When an innocent person has, by mmns of a
court of law, divorced a spouse for adultery, and
desires to enter into another contract of marriage, it
is undesirable that such a contract should receive the
blessing of the Church."-" S.P.C.K. Report," pp.
The Lambeth Conference (1908) was composed
of " Archbishops, Bishops nCetropolitan, and other
Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church in full Com-munion
with the Church of England ". Two hundred
and forty-two assembled.-Ibid. p. 21.
Its decisions are not binding on the Church at
large, because it is not a properly constituted Church
assembly or Council, and represents the bishops alone.
Yet from the high ofice of the members and the
personal worth of their characters, its decisions carry
great weight ; so all Churchmen, and particularly one
bearing the office of a priest, would wish to write in
respectful terms of such an assembly.
Yet such respect ought not to prevent considered
and careful criticisms of tha results of its deliberation,
and probably no single member of that assembly
would wish any other course to be adopted.
The Conference of 1888 Inay be allowed to pass, as
"much water has flowed under London Bridge since
that date ".
The crucial question before the Conference of 1908
was, "What was the teaching of Christ in reference to
divorce and re-marriage? " The other points, which
were dealt with, are rightly settled according as this
main question is settled.
With the utmost respect and deference, the present
166 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
writer urges that the whole Conference delegated ihe
consideration of a subject, which it is not too much
to style as "vital to the Church," to a Committee
ill-equipped and ill-endowed for such important work.
The question in the first resort was one for Biblical
criticism-What were Christ's words ? That settled, it
is an easier matter to decide what conclusions should
be drawn from those words.
How much the disputed " exception " in the Gospel
according to Matthew being considered as Christ's
words influenced various writers every student Bnows,
and also the hostility to critical investigation and
reconstruction (due in measure to the rash conclusions
in various " Lives of Christ," and particularly in those
made in Germany). Yet the question is not one that
can be avoided, and particularly by those who claim
to guide the Church of England.
The Committee appointed to come to a conclusion
on this all-important question had absolutely next to
no equipment to arrive at accurate conclusions.
I t is a highly specialized question, involving the
most careful consideration of the results of modern
Biblical criticism. The Committee appointed for
this purpose consisted of thirty-four bishops, of
whom (whatever may be their great personal worth
and character) only one bears the reputation of being
an authority on Biblical criticism, while two others
might be considered as having some reputation for
first-hand knowledge of the subject ; but these three
bishops and all the others were engaged in the most
exacting and continuous duties of their ofEce, in-volving
incessant denlands upon their time and
THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE OF 1908 167
thought, year in, year out, and which, so many bishops
have complained, absolutely prevent continuous study
and accurate research work. Further, very many of
them were most honourably engaged in work far re-moved
even from civilization.
"First-hand" research was one of the chief re-quisites,
and that was most conspicuous by its absence
on this Committee. Most of us Churchmen, Bishops,
Priests, and Deacons, and also the Laity, must depend
upon those authorities at our Universities and else-where,
both at home and abroad, who are not daily
engaged in the endless activities of Church and public
life. "Some branches of Gospel study must be left
in the hands of specialists, and in regard to these
branches our chief duty is loyally to accept the speci-alists'
matured conclusions." 1
It also ought to be remembered that " a question
of criticism must be decided on critical grounds, with-out
regard to doctrinal consequences ".%
The mode of procedure adopted by the Lambeth
Conference was as though a highly specialized and
disputed point in medicine, e.g. "the physiological
action of chloroform and the best way of administer-ing
it as an an~sthetic,"s hould have been delegated
to thirty-four eminently respectable and very busy
general practitioner^.^ Would this course have been
adopted ? Rather, would not those specialists, who
'Prof. Bukitt, " The Gospel History and its Transmission," p. 5.
a Snlman's " Human Elements in the Gospels," p. 130.
To mske the point quite clear : As the busy general practitioners
would without doubt be better judges ss to general treatment and
the appliostian of the results of the specialists' research, so the
168 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
had been and were devoting their lives to that and
kindred subjects, have been summoned to consider
and report upon the subject?
Yet, on this vital question to the Church scarcely
one, whose name stands out as an eminent and un-doubted
authority on modern Biblical criticism in
this special department, was on that Committee, and
so its conclusions demand and carry little weight.
This "nnscientific " attitude comes out in strong
colours when the report is submitted to the whole
Conference. The report is carried by 87 votes to 84.
No names are given or made public. This "vital
subject, demanding accurate knowledge of modern
Biblical criticism," and upon which recommendations
are to be issued to the Clergy and Laity alike, is carried
by hhree votes !
Out of the 240 members co~nprisiug the whole
Conference, 171 voted, giving this majority of three
votes. Examine the list of the members; consider
their work and the abundant labours their office entails
(and many being far away from seats of learning),
and ask, Could a more unscientific, unscholarly way
have been possibly adopted ? Even thus, only three
are sufficient to carry recommendations subversive
of the teaching, formularies, and discipline of the
Then, too, stress is laid upon the "difference
of opinion in the Church," and it is well known
how much the exception in the Gospel according to
Matthew has contributed to that difference. The
value of an opinion depends upon the knowledge
upon which it is based, not upon the ares, it has
THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE OF 1908 169
covered, or the time it has been held, or the character
of the person giving it.
It might as well be claimed that the conclusions
of modern medical science should respect and give
way before such opinions as are recorded in the
" Folk-lore of Medicine " or Pettigrew's " Medical
Superstitions " !
Dr. Foakes Jackson brings out this point in the
following words: " At the same time, since in every
age the Church is tempted to regard her interpreta-tion
of the Lord as final and complete, a return to
the historic Christ is a constant necessity, and the
only cause of progress ".I Also Prof. Burkitt : " The
attempt to 'return to the historic Christ ' is the only
way by which we can escape from the tyranny of
the last generation's theories about Christ ".2
The Church, as a whole, needs to watch most care
fully the claim, which is being made tacitly but yet
none the less really, by the Lambeth Conference, to
deal in a way unknown in Church history with the
doctrine and formularies of the Church.
The words of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Ridg-way
(dealing with points of doctrine) put this point
very clearly: "I cannot sanction them, simply be-cause
in my judgment they require the sanction not
of individual bishops, but of the Church speaking in
her corporate capacity in Convocation, for Convoca-tion,
even unreformed as it is, is still the only ac-credited
voice of our branch of the Catholic Chnrch."
-See "The Guardian," 26 August, 1910. But if it
I" Cambridge Theological Essays," p. 476 note.
7" The Gospel History and its Transmission," p. 31.
170 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
is desired that respect be paid to even the opinions
(and it must be remembered that they are but opinions)
of the Lambeth Conference, and since the question
under discussion in these pages must be a "burning"
one for years to come, and threatens to involve the
whole relationship of the Church to the State-it is
very respectfully urged that the Archbishop of Canter-bury,
before the next meeting of the Conference
takes place, should seek out the best exponents
of modern Biblical criticism at home and abroad
and obtain their opinions (and reasons for such) upon
this question ; and that those opinions should be laid
before the best Committee possible of the whole Con-ference
and appointed from the members who are the
best endowed ttnd equipped to deal wiih so all-impor-tant
a subject. Also, that the evidence, upon which
a decision is come to, should be published at the same
time as the decision, and particularly when it is sought
to go behind the teaching and formularies of the
WE have now considered the yuestion of divorce and
re-marriage, starting from the words of Christ and
working through Church Councils, authorities, and
writers to the present day.
In view of this evidence, the questions arise :
What must he the attitude of the Church of England
to this question ? What action ought to be expected
from a Democratic State?
The Church of England ought to be ready, at all
costs, to instruct her members, teaching them to ob-serve
all things whatsoever her Master has com-manded
her. She must he prepared to welcome the
proved results of Biblical critical scholarship at the
hands of eminent and trustworthy authorities, who
have studied to make clear what the commands of
Christ were, and particularly as her witness from her
earliest times till the present is in harmony with those
results, and with the witness of the first three
centuries of Christianity and onwards, even though
the conflict with various nations and conditions per-verted
at times this teaching.
She will do well to remember that the doctrine of
the indissolubility of marriage is almost unknown
172 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
outside Christianity, and that evcn civilized com-munities
in their civil code of laws have for the most
part not recognized it.'
The Church inust remember that Christianity is
not an appeal to physical force or legal compulsion,
but to the conscience. I t is only when the claims of
Christ have been accepted that His teaching will be
followed. Christ Himself has pointed out the danger
of co~npulsion: "for all that take the sword shall
perish with the sword" (Matt. xxv~. 52). Use
compulsion, and then, when the balance of power has
changed, compulsion will be used against those who
formerly held and used the power.
The mission of the Church is to war against evil-that
which worlts against the teaching of her Master ;
in season and out of season, successful or unsuccess-ful,
her mission goes on and must go on. " The Church
must be known by her worlt, but we must take care
we understand what that work is or we shall be un-reasonably
expecting that from her which she was
not sent to do. Her work is warfare against evil
everywhere, complete conquest over evil nowhere.
Not by the completeness of her conquest over evil,
'". . . There are peoples with whom marriage is a relation abso-lutely
indissoluble. Sometimes this is the csso on Ssorsmenial
grounds, implying usually considerable progress in religious ideas
(the old India law does not recognize a proper divorce, though the
husband msy supersede' his wife; but sometimes by tho existing
custom of Indian peoples it is sllowed) ; but it is also true of peoples
standing on a very low plane of culture, such as certain of tho
Pnpuas of New Guinea, the Vcddahs of Ceylon, or tho Niassers of
Bstu, wheredeath alono is sufficient to dissolve the marriage bond :
(this rule applies, apparently, only to the Papuas in Geelvinkbai):'
--Howard's i' Alatrimonial Institutions," Voi. I, pp. 229. 229.
but by the completeness of her antagonism to all evil,
are we to judge how far she is true to her mission.
To look for more than this is sure to lead to disap-pointment,
perhap to unbelief; to look for less than
this is sure to lead to carelessness and sloth." '
The all-important question for the Church is
whether she is being true to her Masker's commis-sion,
not what is expedient or the "line of least
resistance," for "you cannot bind the teaching of
Christ within the bands of expediency. Religion is
an end in itself."
The co-operation of a Democratic State (in which
persons of all religions and none take a share in the
government) can only be secured (and indeed ought
only to be given) in proportion as the Church has
gained acceptance for her own teaching and led the
majority of its member$ to desire "the beauty of
holiness ". But this point will be dealt with later on
in connexion with the State.
Realizing the conlmands of Christ, His Church must
at all costs be true to that teaching. So then the
work of the officers of the Church is to teach accord-ing
to their commission. Priests must teach and
watch for the observance of ihe discipline of the
Church which is based on that teaching. If any
members seek "to make of none effect " this teaching
in reference to divorce and re-marriage, then it is
obviously the duty of the parish priest to delate,
acting under the canon and rubrics, such members
to the bishop of the diocese, who is the appointed
'Sermonby ArohbishopMages on "The Fins1 Overthrow of Evil".
2 " The Quakers," "Spectator," 30 July, 1910.
174 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
custodian of the discipline of the Church. And it is
not unreasonable to expect that the bishops, when
they are rightly making demands that the Prayer
Book shall be fully accepted by Churchmen, priests
and laity alike, should be ready to accept and act upon
the doctrine and discipline contained in that book.
The parish priest ought not to imitate the " topsy-turvy"
proceedings of the case of Bannister u.
Thompson; the duty of enforcing the discipline of the
Church is cast upon the bishops ; it is no part of the
duty of the parish priest to oustodire cmtodes. His duty
is to teach faithfully and to report infractions of teach-ing
and discipline, after duly warning the recalcitrants,
to the overseer of the Church, upon whom rests the
To turn to Che State. The State ought not to use
force in the reahn of oonseience; but on the other
hand, she ought carefully to guard that liberty does
not degenerate into licence? As regards divorce,
statesmen will realize that the State stands on an
" incline plain ". Her stability depends upon the
homes of the people based on the sanctity of mar-riage.
Even the heathen poet, Horace, realized this :-
Blessed thrice snd more the lovers
Bound by an unbroken tie,
Whom no evil strife shsll sever
Till the day that sees them die.%
1 The present Archbishop of York has said : " I n legalizing the
marrisge of divorced persons in the lifetime of one of the partners,
the State has chosen to ignore Christian principles on which its own
fsmily life hss been based ".
2 " Belices ter et amplius
Quos irrupta tenet copula, neo malis
Suprem& oitius solvet amor die."
If "because of hardness of men's hearts," the
State is conlpelled by those, who are its members and
are of all creeds and none, to allow divorce and re-marriage,
then it cannot be part of the duty of the
State to force such things upon the Church-which at
all costs must follow the teaching of her Master.
Statesmen will do well to consider the other side
of the picture. I t is well put by Dean Strong:'
" It is the spiritual value and importance of marriage
which lies at the root of the austere conception of
it that belongs to Christianity. And it may be noticed
that laxer views of it are invariably based upon what
is ultimately mere passion. The history of mankind
shows clearly enough the value and reasonableness
of the strictest view, and arguments against it de-rived
from the strain of a life-long vow, and the
difficulty of restraining wandering desire-and these
form the stock-in-trade of writers of problem-novels
and plays-are simply picturesque representations of
crude passion. It is in this region that the Church
is most likely to come into collision with the law of
tne State, and it enters upon any snch contest with
less than the usual advantages. Behind it lies the
definite command of Christ, What God hath joined,
let not man put asunder, and the interpretation given
by St. Paul of the indissoluble character of marriage.
The State is also concerned in preserving the purity
of human life, and is inclined to resent the intrusion
of a positive command upon what it conceives to
be a legitimate region of free debate and decision.
1 Pp. 383, 384, in "A M&nua*l of Theology," by Thomas B.
Strong, D.D., Dean of Christ Ohuroh, Oxford.
176 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
Probably the least satisfactory condition of things
is the present, when the State endeavours to do part
of its work through the Church, but shows signs of
objecting to the stricter ideals of the Church. As the
Church cannot surrender these ideals without dis-loyalty,
it may well be that serious changes will be
necessary in the existing arrangements. The State
could rightly insist on a civil marriage for all : it has
no right to insist that ministers of the Church should
bless unions which the Church condemns."
The connexion of Church and State does not im-ply
such proceedings, for the establishment of the
Church-since it is a mere truism to write the State
did not create the Church-is but another way of
saying that the State recognizes that body as a means
by which she performs certain duties to all who seek
her aid and services. It is quite open to the State
to say that the recognition of the Church of England
under the altered conditions of life in this twentieth
century, and in a Democratic State, enables her no
longer to do this, and on honourable terms to both
sides "to dissolve partnership ".
But it is not part of the duty of the State to seek to
violate the doctrine and discipline of the Church duly-ing
the continuance of that partnership, and that in
the supposed interest of a few who, while refusing the
teaching of the Church, seek to make use of her
formularies. Bishop Thirlwall's words still stand
true: " The Legislature cannot reasonably or con-sistently
require the clergy, whom it obliges to
recognize the Scriptures as of supreme authority, to
act in contravention of that which appears to them
to be there plainly taught as the commandments of
To try and force conditions on the Church which,
by virtue of the commission of her Divine Master,
she cannot and ought not to accept, cannot be the
policy of true statesmen, and certainly the work of
the Church in our large towns and alsoin our villages
demands better treatment.'
The State has a right to define what shall be the
terms of the contract of marriage, provided she does
not claim that it is Christian marriage,' that they do
not conflict with the temporal interests of the State,
and that she does not seek to impose those condi-tions
on the Church.
It would be of advantage-since immorality leading
to divorce is against the best temporal interest of the
nation-that a breach of that contract should not lead
to the desired result of the guilty parties, viz. to set
them free " to have their (corrupt) hearts' desire".
'"In the Diocese of Norwioh there are 914parishes, but in no
less than 393 of them there is no place for public worship except
the parish church. The Archbishop of Canterbury onoo pointed
out that in one of the poorest districts of South London there were
57 parishes with 157 resident clergymen, but only 52 chapels with
13 residcnt ministers."
=In 1836 Lord John Russoll sdvocsted that marriage, ss regards
the State, should be purely o, civil oontract, "leaving to the parties
oonoerned to sdd any religious ceremony or ceremonies they may
"his the House of Lords steadily aimed s t , for on 3 Meroh,
1857, during tho second reeding of the Divoroe Bill, aft,ftsr it had
previously bean almost unanimously oarried that those who had
committed adultery with each other should not be permitted to
marry,-this even the Jewish Law decreed, and so does the
Freuoh Law to-day,-the Lord Chancellor said: " As I am respons-
178 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
It may be the "only worldly compensation the man
can make to the woman " ; but such a permission is
often an incentive to break a contract, upon which the
highest temporal welfare of the nation and the well-being
of children rest. The compilers of the " Refor-matio
Legum Ecclesiasticarum " estimated adulterous
conduct at its right value and the penalty it deserved
to pay (p. 134) ; and even now if, instead of such con-duct
resulting in obtaining " their corrupt hearts'
desire," it secured for both parties six months' im-prisonment
with hard labour, the work in the Divorce
Court would soon cease to be congested. If a man or
woman steals gold or damages property, the law
exercises a healthy severity; but when that which
is of vastly more value is stolen, damaged, or broken,
no such penalty is forthcoming.
There is much wasted sentiment over the so-called
"innocent party ". Those parties the late Queen
Victoria estimated at their true value, and so excluded
all such parties from her Court. That her estimate
was a true one is borne out by all who have had ex-perience
in the Divorce Court, or who have studied
the defended proceedings (while the undefended are
even worse) over a series of years. Practically an
"innocent party" is almost unknown; at any rate
ible for introducing the ohsnge in the law, in what I think tho best
mode, I have thought it necessary to omit that provision, leaving it
to your Lordships to re-insert, if I do not convince you that it is
most objeotionabla; your Lordships sro aware that in your private
Aots of Parliament to dissolve marriages, it has always been your
Lordships' praotioe to introduce suoh B proviso, knowing that as a.
msttcr of oaurse it was invariably struck out of the Bill in the other
from the standpoint of the Church, following the
teaching of Christ, the marriage bond is indissoluble,
and no amount of legalization can make it in her eyes
anything but adultery.
Given a truly "innocent party" it is necessary to
remember that progress to higher life, both in the
natural and spiritual world, is most frequently through
suffering. Better the few suffer than tha lives and
welfare of multitudes of children yet unborn be
darkened. To the Christian men or women whose
lives have been saddened by unfaithful partners, the
grace of the Sacraments, the discipline of religion, and
mens conscia reoti will make an otherwise intolerable
burden capable of being carried for "the sake of the
kingdom of heaven". They will know that the
"re~nedy for sin can only be repentance," they will
be prepared to put no obstacle in the way of repent-ance.
So, whatever terms of marriage contract the State,
acting within its rights, decides upon, these cannot be
and ought not to be forced on the Church. If the
State breaks through her terms of partnership with
the Church-the State is entitled to dissolve that
partnership without a doubt, but not to vary the terms
of partnership-and forces other terms, not only in
reference to the marriage ceremony but also as regards
admission to Holy Communion, then the State seeks
to dissolve in an unworthy way that partnership.
Without a doubt such a " pin-prick" policy could be
adopted, but it will be readily recognized that such a
mean course is totally unworthy of even third-rate
180 DIVORCE AND RE-MARRIAGE
The late Archbishop Magee once said : "Whenever
the State treats, and requires the Church to treat, as
married those whom the Church declares to be not
married or marriageable, then will come t~ strain that
will snap, or go near to snapping, the links that bind
the Church and State ".
So, then, let the Church and State both recognize
their proper spheres of work, the one coinplementary
to the other, and the limitations set to those spheres;
the Church seeking to bring about the acceptance of
the commands of Christ ; the State not seeking to
hamper or fetter her in that worli, even though she
may accept for herself, dealing only with temporal
interests and because of the "hardness of men's
hearts," a marriage contract and terms of dissolution
other than that taught by the Church.
Let all, in their several stations and callings, strive
that "true religion and sound learning may for ever
flourish and abound ".