Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce

English 513

Dr. Fike


Deuteronomy 24:1 (quoted by Milton on page 937): 


"When a man hath tak'n a wife and married her, and it come to passe that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleannesse in her, let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house, &c."


Genesis 1:


28:       And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over it, etc.


Genesis 2:


18:       Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.


24:       Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.


Matthew 5:


31:       It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement;


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.


Matthew 19:


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 a man 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 command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?


8:         He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness 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 another, committeth adultery:  and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.


I Corinthians:


7:         But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.    For it is better to marry than

to burn with passion.




English 513

Dr. Fike


The opening address to parliament:


  1. Definition of “discipline.”
  2. An appeal to Parliament against error, which is described in Spenserian terms on 930.  Error supports Custom, and Custom supports Error.  Milton will be an advocate for Truth.
  3. He is a “new Josiah who has recovered a ‘most necessary, most charitable, and yet most injur’d Statude of Moses’ buried ‘under the rubbish of Canonicall ignorance:  as once the whole law was… in Josiahs time” (Lewalski 169).  See 930-31.  On 933, he will “vindicate the sacred honour and judgment of Moses…from the shallow commenting of Scholastics and Canonists.”
  4. He is “a courageious solitary hero” and “a learned scholar and teacher” (Lewalski 169).
  5. He’s writing in English rather than Latin so that his tract will reach a wider audience.
  6. Charity is the guiding principle:  931 right, 932 right. 
  7. His proposal has several advantages on 933 left: 






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Meaning: healed by Jehovah, or Jehovah will support

the son of Amon, and his successor on the throne of Judah (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chr. 34:1)

His history is contained in 2 Kings 22, 23. He stands foremost among all the kings of the line of David for unswerving loyalty to Jehovah (23:25). He "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father." He ascended the throne at the early age of eight years, and it appears that not till eight years afterwards did he begin "to seek after the God of David his father." At that age he devoted himself to God. He distinguished himself by beginning a war of extermination against the prevailing idolatry, which had practically been the state religion for some seventy years (2 Chr. 34:3; compare Jer. 25:3, 11, 29).

In the eighteenth year of his reign he proceeded to repair and beautify the temple, which by time and violence had become sorely dilapidated (2 Kings 22:3, 5, 6; 23:23; 2 Chr. 34:11). While this work was being carried on, Hilkiah, the high priest, discovered a roll, which was probably the original copy of the law, the entire Pentateuch, written by Moses.

When this book was read to him, the king was alarmed by the things it contained, and sent for Huldah, the "prophetess," for her counsel. She spoke to him words of encouragement, telling him that he would be gathered to his fathers in peace before the threatened days of judgment came. Josiah immediately gathered the people together, and engaged them in a renewal of their ancient national covenant with God. The Passover was then celebrated, as in the days of his great predecessor, Hezekiah, with unusual magnificence. Nevertheless, "the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah" (2 Kings 22:3-20; 23:21-27; 2 Chr. 35:1-19). During the progress of this great religious revolution Jeremiah helped it on by his earnest exhortations.

Soon after this, Pharaoh-Necho II. (q.v.), king of Egypt, in an expedition against the king of Assyria, with the view of gaining possession of Carchemish, sought a passage through the territory of Judah for his army. This Josiah refused to permit. He had probably entered into some new Alliance with the king of Assyria, and faithful to his word he sought to oppose the progress of Necho.

The army of Judah went out and encountered that of Egypt at Megiddo, on the verge of the plain of Esdraelon. Josiah went into the field in disguise, and was fatally wounded by a random arrow. His attendants conveyed him toward Jerusalem, but had only reached Hadadrimmon, a few miles south of Megiddo, when he died (2 Kings 23:28, 30; compare 2 Chr. 35:20-27), after a reign of thirty-one years. He was buried with the greatest honors in fulfilment of Huldah's prophecy (2 Kings 22:20; compare Jer. 34:5). Jeremiah composed a funeral elegy on this the best of the kings of Israel (Lam. 4:20; 2 Chr. 35:25). The outburst of national grief on account of his death became proverbial (Zech. 12:11; compare Rev. 16:16).