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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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Is the dissolution of marriage, or separation of man and wife. Divorce a mensa et thoro, 1:e. from bed and board,

in this case the wife has a suitable maintenance allowed her out of her husband's effects. Divorce a vinculo matrimonii, 1:e. from the bonds of matrimony, is strictly and properly divorce. this happens either in consequence of criminality, as in the case of adultery, or through some essential impediment; as consanguinity, or affinity within the degrees forbidden, pre-contract, impotency, &c. of which impediments the canon law allows no less than 14. In these cases the woman receives again only what she brought. Sentences which release the parties a vinculo matrimonii, on account of impuberty, frigidity, consanquinity within the prohibited degrees, prior marriage, or want of the requisite consent of parents or guardians, are not properly dissolutions of the marriage contract, but judicial declarations that there never was any marriage; such impediment subsisting at the time as rendered the celebration of the marriage rite a mere nullity.

And the rite itself contains an exception of these impediments. The law of Moses, says Dr. Paley, for reasons of local expediency, permitted the Jewish husband to put away his wife; but whether for every cause, or for what cause, appears to have been controverted amongst the interpreters of those times. Christ, the precepts of whose religion were calculated for more general use and observation, revokes his permission as given to the Jews for their hardness of heart, and promulges a law which was thenceforward to confine divorces to the single cause of adultery in the wife, Matthew 19:9 . Inferior causes may justify the separation of husband and wife, although they will not authorize such a dissolution of the marriage contract as would leave either at liberty to marry again; for it is that liberty in which the danger and mischief of divorces principally consist. The law of this country, in conformity to our Saviour's injunction, confines the dissolution of the marriage contract to the single case of adultery in the wife; and a divorce even in that case can only be brought about by an act of parliament, founded upon a previous sentiment in the spiritual court, and a verdict against the adulterer at common law; which proceedings taken together, compose as complete an investigation of the complaint as a cause can receive.

See Paley's Mor. and Pol. Philosophy, p. 273; Doddridge's Lectures, lect. 73.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Divorce'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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