William Perkins on the political law of Moses concerning divorce

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Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
... For the first, Moses politick law was, That he which put away his wife, should give her a Bill of divorce. This law the Jewish Teachers did falsely interpret; for the better perceiving whereof, these three points are to be handled, touching Moses politick law: 1. what kind of law it was: 2. the straightness of that law: 3. what effect and force it had. For the first, the law is set down, Deut. 24. 1. when a man marrieth a wife, and she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath espied some filthiness in her; then let him write her a bill of divorce, and put it in her hand, and send her out of his house. This law was not moral, but civil, or politick, for the good ordering of the common wealth.

Now among their particular laws, some were laws of toleration, and permission, which were such as did not approve of the evil which they concerned, but did only tolerate and permit that evil which could not be avoided, for the preventing of a greater evil, which otherwise would fall out. As when the sea hath made a breach into the land, if it cannot possibly be stopped, the best course is, to make it as narrow as may be. Such was the law concerning usury, Deut. 23. 20. permitting the Jews to exercise it upon a stranger, but not towards a brother: and the like was the law touching polygamy, Deut. 21. 15.

If a man had two wives, the one hated, the other loved, and they both have borne him children; if the first borne be the son of the hated (though she were married to him the latter) yet her seed was legitimate, and her son had the right of the first borne. In both which laws were tolerated, that which God condemned, only for the preventing of a greater evil. Under this sort comes our law of usury, for taking ten in the hundred, not approving but permitting so much, for the avoiding of greater usury. ...

For more, see William Perkins on the political law of Moses concerning divorce.
 
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