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a wife that believeth not," (an infidel, or heathen,) "and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman" (a christian woman) "which hath an husband that believeth not," (an infidel or heathen,)" if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband."* That is, supposing such a marriage to have been formed, let it not hastily be dissolved, for fear of the scandal that might be brought upon the church thereby. Although the Saviour had given no express rule on the subject; for, while he remained on earth, there were no Christians who had heathen husbands or wives, yet the Apostle considered himself authorized to enjoin, that, notwithstanding this difference of religion, the union was honourable if maintained in fidelity and forbearance; and so would the issue of it be; "else were your children unclean; but now they are holy;" the root being holy, so are the branches.
Thus one of the great evils which those who submitted this case to the Apostle's consideration, had in contemplation, would be removed; viz. the fear of the Christian parent
* 1 Cor. vii. 12-14.
respecting the state of the offspring. One infidel parent, it might be apprehended, (and it must be remembered that the state of religious discipline, in those primitive times, was, like all their religious opinions, of a far more simple and rigid nature, than those of after ages,) one infidel parent might occasion for its child an exclusion from the Christian Church, and render it unfit for the initiatory ordinance of baptism. But the argument of the Apostle removes this serious inconvenience, the defective religious state of the one party is to this extent remedied by the faith of the other, and the benefits of a connexion with the Christian Church, are transmitted to the offspring unimpaired.
So far the case is clear, proceeding on the supposition that the parties were desirous of the continuance of the connexion; but this supposition removed, the whole complexion of the case is changed. If the yoke, he adds, is found too irksome on such a serious consideration as this, and a separation take place, it need not be resisted. "If the unbelieving
depart, let him depart ;* a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases." On this important passage, the opinions of the
* 1 Cor. vii. 15. Ει δε απιστος χωριζεται, χωριζέσθω.
Fathers and Commentators have considerably differed; as they have severally regarded the Apostle as speaking of a perpetual or a partial desertion.
The passage in question evidently supposes the believer to have endeavoured all means of securing the continuance of the union, but without effect; that the separation has been the act of the other party, who has perhaps sought to annul the contract, and entered into a new engagement. If this had actually occurred, no further resistance need be made. The brother or sister is not enslaved; the remarriage of the unbeliever is an adulterous intercourse, and would, in consequence, open to the injured party the remedial resource specially permitted by Christ. It is on this supposition, that the comments which have been made on the term, " is not under bondage," ou dedovλwra, and which would apply it to a relaxation of the restraint from re-marriage, can alone be justified. Poole declares, on this passage, that that "Christians are not under bondage, by the laws of God, to keep themselves unmarried on account of the perverseness of parties who have broken the marriage bond." Macknight states, that he "sees no reason why the innocent party, through the fault of the guilty, should be exposed to
the danger of committing Adultery." And so Whitby states it: "A brother or sister is not enslaved after all means of peace have been in vain attempted, and the unbeliever hath entered into another marriage, or rather hath dissolved the former by Adultery, as may well be supposed of those Heathens who thus separated from their Christian mates. An interpretation which he seems to think confirmed from the former words relating to the case of the believers; if they depart, let them remain unmarried, it not being probable, that believers would dissolve the marriage by Adultery." So far the supposition may be allowed. But what, if no such adulterous act had followed the separation? What, if merely an interruption of the ordinary intercourse of married life had been the case contemplated by the Apostle; a desertion by the one party, of the society of the other, by reason of a change of religious opinions? Surely the Apostle cannot be supposed to have regarded the bond of matrimony as dissolved on grounds like these, and that a second marriage might be resorted to. Rather, the admonition to the separated Christian wife would, in such case, be considered applicable; "If she depart, let her remain unmarried;" the former contract is not dissolved, and nc
violation of it, of a criminal character, ought to be thought of.
And yet, this case has, by some of the ecclesiastics, been contended to have clearly allowed of a second marriage. They have regarded an ingressus in religionem, as a kind of mors civilis; and, "if the husband be dead, the wife is loosed from the law of her husband." In particular, a canon (the 118th) of Egbert, Archbishop of York, anno 750, states this second marriage to be lawful. "Si vir, sive mulier ex consensu religionem ceperit, licet alterum accipere novum conjugium." This is a fearful liberty. It would have been well had the sentiment remained exclusively appropriated to the darker ages of the Church; but it has descended too far into the comment of more modern writers.
To such remarks, three answers may be given :
1. That St. Paul has himself determined the point otherwise, in verse 11; "If she even be separated, let her remain unmarried." And therefore he could not be supposed, in so short a compass, to contradict himself.
2. He must, under this supposition, be regarded as designating a yoke imposed by his own Master, a grievous bondage, dedovλwral. Far more natural is that interpretation of the