How Did it Become So Easy to Get Out of a United Church?

In the United States, we put “the union” in USA. We are as much a republic as France, though we are still in our first iteration (some say Lincoln started our second republic) and the French are up to five. But in a few weeks, POTUS will deliver not “The State of the Republic” but “The State of the Union.” Union matters in part because the Civil War was so traumatic (and deadly). To consider separating from the U.S. is tantamount to the sin of schism. And yet Scotland can hold a referendum on leaving the UK or Britain can do the same to vote on leaving the European UNION! and no one fights a war to protect such unions, maybe because no one like an Abraham Lincoln was around to call these political arrangements “perpetual.”

The effects of political union on Christianity in the United States has been huge. Soon after the Civil War the Old and New School Presbyterian churches in the north reunited, with a large part of the rationale coming from imitating the Union. That merger launched a wave of ecumenical affiliations and networks that resulted in the Federal Council of Churches (1908) and a proposal to unite all Protestant communions in one United Church of the United States (comparable to the United Church of Canada). “United” has been a common part of Protestant church names, Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Presbyterian Church in the United States, United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the United Churches of Christ, the United Reformed Churches, and the United Methodist Church.

Now comes word that the Methodists are about to break apart into two denominations, one traditionalist (at least about marriage and sex) and one progressive (at least about marriage and sex). All it takes these days is a vote. No theological battles, no warring pamphlets. No one has even mentioned the s-word of schism. Although, Episcopalians still do not look favorably on leaving the Anglican communion.

If J. Gresham Machen had tried that back in the 1920s, he would (and did) have faced charges of disloyalty, unfaithfulness, and disobedience. In fact, when he called for a separation of conservatives and liberals, it was as if he had suggested Social Security should be privatized:

whether or not liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity. And that being the case, it is highly undesirable that liberalism and Christianity should continue to be propagated within the bounds of the same organization. A separation between the two parties in the Church is the crying need of the hour.

Many indeed are seeking to avoid the separation. Why, they say, may not brethren dwell together in unity? The Church, we are told, has room both for liberals and for conservatives. The conservatives may be allowed to remain if they will keep trifling matters in the background and attend chiefly to “the weightier matters of the law.” And among the things thus designated as “trifling” is found the Cross of Christ, as a really vicarious atonement for sin.

Such obscuration of the issue attests a really astonishing narrowness on the part of the liberal preacher. (Christianity and Liberalism)

Something is changing out there. The old liberal internationalist order is breaking up. The election of Donald Trump was one sign, Brexit was another. The change also is having effects on the ecclesiastical world.

Even Patriotic Good Works May Be Tainted

The overwhelming case against Confederate Monuments is that either those memorialized or their patrons stood for an evil cause — slavery.

But what if Union Monuments — those memorialized or their patrons — don’t stand for a righteous cause — anti-slavery? What if Union Monuments were designed, like the war itself, to preserve the — get this — Union?

Frederick Douglass pointed out that Abraham Lincoln’s motives in the war were not pure, and that those who came to celebrate the 16th POTUS at the unveiling of the Freedmen’s Memorial Monument, also had mixed motives in the war:

It must be admitted, truth compels me to admit, even here in the presence of the monument we have erected to his memory, Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man

He was preeminently the white man’s President, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men. He was ready and willing at any time during the first years of his administration to deny, postpone, and sacrifice the rights of humanity in the colored people to promote the welfare of the white people of this country. In all his education and feeling he was an American of the Americans. He came into the Presidential chair upon one principle alone, namely, opposition to the extension of slavery.

His arguments in furtherance of this policy had their motive and mainspring in his patriotic devotion to the interests of his own race. To protect, defend, and perpetuate slavery in the states where it existed Abraham Lincoln was not less ready than any other President to draw the sword of the nation. He was ready to execute all the supposed guarantees of the United States Constitution in favor of the slave system anywhere inside the slave states. He was willing to pursue, recapture, and send back the fugitive slave to his master, and to suppress a slave rising for liberty, though his guilty master were already in arms against the Government. The race to which we belong were not the special objects of his consideration.

Knowing this, I concede to you, my white fellow-citizens, a preeminence in this worship at once full and supreme. First, midst, and last, you and yours were the objects of his deepest affection and his most earnest solicitude. You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his stepchildren; children by adoption, children by forces of circumstances and necessity. To you it especially belongs to sound his praises, to preserve and perpetuate his memory, to multiply his statues, to hang his pictures high upon your walls, and commend his example, for to you he was a great and glorious friend and benefactor.

Having said all that, Douglass was willing to honor Lincoln:

Instead of supplanting you at his altar, we would exhort you to build high his monuments; let them be of the most costly material, of the most cunning workmanship; let their forms be symmetrical, beautiful, and perfect; let their bases be upon solid rocks, and their summits lean against the unchanging blue, overhanging sky, and let them endure forever! But while in the abundance of your wealth, and in the fullness of your just and patriotic devotion, you do all this, we entreat you to despise not the humble offering we this day unveil to view; for while Abraham Lincoln saved for you a country, he delivered us from a bondage, according to Jefferson, one hour of which was worse than ages of the oppression your fathers rose in rebellion to oppose.

Where's Waldo Wednesday: Precision Puh-leeze

So why is it that justification prioritists (JPs) regularly receive the charge of making justification the CAUSE of sanctification when in fact they don’t? But to the unionists’ ear, to assert the logical priority of justification to sanctification (and no cheating by sneaking in definitive sanctification) is to say that justification CAUSES sanctification (often, anyway). (In fact, the powers of unionists to read meanings into words and statements are well-nigh remarkable.)

But why is it that when unionists use the explicit language of “CAUSE,” they are merely asserting the TRUTH? Here I point to Rick Phillips’ recent post at Ref 21:

5. Justification does not cause Sanctification. Sanctification, like Justification, is caused by union with Christ through faith (Rom. 6:1-14). Just as Christ justifies, Christ also sanctifies his people (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 3:12-17). For this reason, the idea that we need only preach justification in order to gain sanctification is contrary to the biblical pattern. Paul, for instance, does not preach justification so that sanctification will occur, but rather he preaches sanctification itself (Rom. 6:12-14; 12:1-2, etc.). Peter also declares “Be holy” (1 Pet. 1:15). This being the case, gospel preaching does not consist merely of preaching Christ for justification, but also consists of preaching Christ for sanctification.

Again, the quick identification of union with almost everything good is striking — Union and Christ become synonyms in this argument. But is that what people think when they hear the word union? They think Christ? Well, why is it that unionists don’t think Christ when they hear the word justification?

Notice too the lack of precision in this post regarding the kind of union Phillips is describing. Is it federal, decretal, or mystical? I assume it’s mystical, but given the lack of a technical lexicon regarding union, those who refer to it so often and so positively may actually help by greater precision?

And finally, what kind of CAUSE are we talking about here? Aristotle held to a variety of causes, Suarez to even more. So if we are going to use causal language, might not some of those scholastic distinctions made by Reformed Orthodoxy be helpful? Or is this another example of how biblical theology sometimes disregards the precision of systematic theology?

Where's Waldo Wednesday: Can Union Comfort the Way Justification Does?

The following passage from Luther’s daily readings left me thinking:

What more could God do? How could a heart restrain itself from being happy, glad, and obedient in God and Christ? What work or suffering could befall to which it would not gladly submit, singing with love and joyful praise to God? If it fails to do so, faith has certainly broken down. The more faith there is, the more joy and freedom there is; the less faith, the less joy. Behold, this is the true Christian salvation and freedom from the Law and from the judgment of the Law, that is, from sin and death. Not that there is no Law or death, but that both death and Law become as if they were not. The Law does not lead to sin, nor death to doom, but faith walks through them into everlasting life.

I know, Luther does not mention justification but he might as well since we are justified by faith and our acquittal in justification is precisely what we need to beat the rap of guilt for sin and the accompanying penalty of death. I suppose someone might be able to write about union in such glowing ways, but I doubt it would make as much sense in the forensic world of law, guilt, judgment, and acquittal.

Is there more to salvation than justification? Sure. But can any other doctrine in the realm of the application of redemption pull off what justification by faith alone does? I doubt it.

Forensic Friday: Dominie Clark on Semi-Pelagianism

One of the great misconceptions about the Western church before the Reformation and therefore about the Reformation reaction to it is that the medieval church taught “salvation by works” or, more precisely, “justification by works” whereas the Reformation taught “salvation by grace” or, more precisely, “justification by grace.” There are a couple of reasons why this way of speaking is misleading or problematic.

First, the claim that the medieval and the Tridentine (and post-Tridentine) Roman Church (even today) teaches justification by works is a true conclusion and a powerful but misleading slogan because one will not find many medieval or counter-Reformation or post-Reformation Roman theologians or Councils or Papal decrees saying “justified by works.” Because the debate was (and is) rather more nuanced, sometimes Protestants are surprised to read the medieval and Roman theologians speaking so often and so effusively about grace.
Indeed, the Roman system of salvation (and justification) is positively infused (pun intended) with grace. Remember through the course of medieval history the Western church developed an elaborate sacramental system designed to impart grace to the sinner at every turn. So, a medieval or Roman theologian, when accused baldly of teaching justification by works could quite rightly reply, “What do you mean? There has never been such a gracious system of salvation!”

Here is the problem, and it is a very important problem touching the New Perspective(s) on Paul, the Federal Vision, and other sorts of covenantal moralists. It is too often assumed that the only categories by which these problems, e.g., Paul and Second Temple Judaism, the Reformation reaction to the medieval church, may be analyzed are the categories “Pelagian” or “Anti-Pelagian.” This is a mistake. Though the Reformation often used the adjective “Pelagian” to describe the Roman soteriology, and there were some late medieval theologians who advocated a doctrine of salvation that came perilously close to genuine Pelagianism, in the main, the medieval and Roman soteriology was not actually Pelagian any more than most Second Temple rabbis were baldly Pelagian (i.e. teaching that we are not sinners until we sin and therefore do not necessarily need grace). The Rabbis recognized that we are sinful, but they held we are not so sinful that we cannot keep the law. They had at least some of them a doctrine of sin and grace and so did most medieval theologians and so did Trent and so does Vatican II and the Roman catechism.

Failure to recognize that, in each of these cases, the opponents of either Paul or Luther, had a doctrine of depravity and grace, has led too many to think that so long as they acknowledge sin and grace and especially in Calvinist circles, so long as they say “sovereign grace” that everything else they say is “covered” as it were. As a matter of fact, just as there were late medieval theologians who verged on Pelagianism, so too there were late medieval theologians who had a high view of divine sovereignty. Those late medieval, neo-Augustinian theologians who taught a high doctrine of sin and a high doctrine of grace also taught that we are justified because we are sanctified. They taught that God sovereignly works sanctity within us. To be sure a recovery of the doctrines of depravity and sovereign grace were essential to the Reformation but they alone were not sufficient. . . .

Augustine not only rejected Pelagianism but also semi-Pelagianism (grace and cooperation with grace). The Reformation rejected both Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. For the Protestant Reformers, to say “and cooperation with grace” is to deny the material doctrine of the Reformation, justification by unmerited divine favor alone, through faith resting on and receiving Christ’s finished work alone. The doctrine of justification by grace and cooperation with grace attempts to synthesize two contrary principles: grace and works. When it comes to justification there is no synthesizing grace and works. Either we stand before the perfectly holy God on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to us sinners and received by unmerited divine favor alone through faith (defined as a certain knowledge and a hearty trust or leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified alone) or we do not. It is not possible for a Reformed Christian to speak of justification “by grace and works.” If it is by grace, then it is not by works and if it is in the tiniest bit by our works, even if that work is described as Spirit-wrought sanctity by which we are empowered to cooperate with grace, then justification is no longer by grace. This is what Paul says in Romans 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” or in 2 Timothy 1:9, “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began….”

The medieval church taught (and the Roman church today teaches) that God the Spirit sovereignly works grace within the sinner creating sanctity (holiness). They called this Spirit-wrought sanctity “condign merit.” It is condign or worthy of divine acceptance because it is perfect and it is said to be perfect because it is Spirit-wrought. Nevertheless, the sinner is obligated to cooperate with grace or there can be no merit.

Remarkably, the covenantal moralists of our day are arguing a very similar program. There are two outstanding cases that come to mind. A few years ago, in our own federation (the United Reformed Churches in North America), a minister preached a notorious sermon in which it was argued that, at the judgment, we shall stand before God not on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ but on the basis of Spirit-wrought sanctity by virtue of our union with Christ. This sermon caused a complaint to the minister’s consistory and the matter eventually came to Synod where our churches responded by affirming our belief in the imputation of the active obedience of Christ as the sole ground of our justification.

There is no doubt that the Reformed churches confess the necessity of Spirit-wrought sanctity and even grace and cooperation with grace but not for justification. The fundamental distinction that Paul made, and that the Reformation recovered, is the distinction between justification as the divine declaration of righteousness and the sanctification as the progressive out working of that righteousness in our lives as a consequence of justification. This is why our catechism is in three parts: guilt, grace, and gratitude. The last section flows from the second. It is the result, the consequence of it, not the basis or even the instrument by which we stand before God now or ever. (“Examining the Nine Points,” The Outlook, Dec. 2008)

Where's Waldo Wednesday in the Tetrapolitan Confession*

Chapter 3
Of Justification and Faith

. . . . First, therefore, since for some years we were taught that man’s own works are necessary for his justification, our preachers have taught that this whole justification is to be ascribed to the good pleasure of God and the merit of Christ, and to be received by faith alone. . . . For since it is our righteousness and eternal life to know God and Jesus Christ our Saviour, and this is so far from being a work of flesh and blood that it is necessary for this to be born again; neither can we come to the Son, unless the Father draw us; neither know the Father unless the Son reveal him; and Paul writes so clearly, “not of us, nor of our works” – it is evident enough that our works can help us nothing, so that instead of unrighteous, so we are unable to do anything just or pleasing to God. But the beginning of all our righteousness and salvation must proceed from the mercy of the Lord, who from his own favor and the contemplation of the death of his Son first offers the doctrine of truth and his Gospel, those being sent forth who are to preach it; and, secondly, since “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” as St. Paul says (1 Cor. 2:14), he causes a beam of his light to arise at the same time in the darkness of our heart, so that now we may believe his Gospel preached, being persuaded of the truth thereof by his Spirit from above, and then, relying upon the testimony of this Spirit, may call upon him with filial confidence and say, “Abba, Father,” obtaining thereby sure salvation, according to the saying: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Chapter 4
Of Good Works, Proceeding out of Faith through Love

These things we will not have men so understand, as though we placed salvation and righteousness in slothful thoughts of the mind, or in faith destitute of love, which they call faith without form; seeing that we are sure that no man can be justified or saved except he supremely love and most earnestly imitate God. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed tot he image of his Son”; to wit, as in the glory of a blessed life, so in the cultivation of innocence and perfect righteousness; “for we are his workmanship, created unto good works.” But no one can love God above all things, and worthily imitate him, but he who indeed knows him and expects all good things from him. Therefore, we cannot be otherwise justified – i.e., become righteous as well as saved (for righteousness is even our salvation) – than by being endued chiefly with faith, whereby, believing the Gospel, and therefore being persuaded that God has adopted us as his children, and that he will ever bestow his paternal kindness upon us, we wholly depend upon his pleasure. This faith St. Augustine in his book, De Fide et Operibus, calls “Evangelical” – to wit, that which is efficacious through love. By this only are we regenerated and the image of God is restored in us. By this, although we are born corrupt, our thoughts even from our childhood being altogether prone to evil, we become good and upright. For from this we, being fully satisfied with one God, the perennial fountain of blessings that is copiously effluent, show ourselves to others as gods – i.e., true children of God – by love striving for their advantages so far as we are able. . . .

*The Tetrapolitan Confession (1530) was largely the work of Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito in response to the Emperor, Charles V’s call for an explanation of the Protestant faith. This confession spoke for the Reformed churches of the imperial cities of Strasbourg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau. It was the first confession of the Reformed churches in Germany.

Where's Waldo Wednesday: Dead Bodies

Thanks to one of the interlocutors at oldlife, I have been mulling over the meaning of union with Christ in light of the Shorter Catechism’s teaching that the bodies of deceased saints, while resting in their graves (an argument against cremation, mind you), remain united to Christ. It is indeed a mind numbing thought to think that a body, destitute of life and its soul, is still united to Christ when in fact the point of much union teaching concerns the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit. In which case, how can a dead body still remain united to Christ when the purpose of union is vitality?

I understand that physical life is different from spiritual life (dualism alert!). And I also understand that the resurrection of the body will manifest the body’s union with Christ. Even so, it is hard to conceive how a body six-feet under is united with Christ when the body’s soul is actually in glory with Christ. I wonder here what the difference between being present with Christ and being united to Christ. Is presence more united to Christ than absence?

Anyhoo, these mysteries sent me searching in Fisher’s Catechism. I’m not sure I can follow the logic and after reading Fisher I do wish we had a better glossary on the different kinds of union. But if readers can help a mind that boggles over mysteries I’d be glad for the assistance.

Here is Fisher on the nature of bodies united to Christ in connection with effectual calling:

Q. 13. To whom are sinners united before union with Christ?

A. To the first Adam, Rom. 5:12.

Q. 14. By what bond are they united to the first Adam?

A. By the bond of the covenant of works, by which Adam, who was the natural root of his posterity, became their moral root also, bearing them as their representative in that covenant, Rom. 5:19.

Q. 15. How is this union dissolved?

A. By being “married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead,” Rom. 7:4.

Q. 16. Is Christ united to us before we become united to him?

A. The union is mutual, but it begins first on his side, 1 John 4:19.

Q. 17. How does it begin first on his side?

A. By unition, which is before union.

Q. 18. What do you understand by unition?

A. It is the Spirit of Christ uniting himself first to us, according to the promise, “I will put my Spirit within you,” Ezek. 36:27.

Q. 19. How does the Spirit of Christ unite himself first to us?

A. By coming into the soul, at the happy moment appointed for the spiritual marriage with Christ, and quickening it, so that it is no more morally dead, but alive, having new spiritual powers put into it, Eph. 2:5 — “Even when we were dead in sins, he hath quickened us.”

Now here is Fisher on dead bodies remaining united to Christ:

Q. 27. What benefits do believers receive from Christ, at death, with respect to their bodies?

A. Their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection, Isa. 57:1, 2; Job 19:26.

Q. 28. How does it appear that the bodies of believers in their graves remain still united to Christ?

A. The union was with the person of believers, of which their bodies are a part; and this union being indissoluble, it must still subsist with their bodies in the grave, as well as with their souls in heaven, Isa. 26:19.

Q. 29. How may believers be assured of this from the union between the two natures in the person of Christ?

A. Because, as at the death of Christ, though his soul was separated from his body, yet neither the one nor the other were separated from his divine person, but remained as firmly united to it as ever; so neither the soul nor body of the believer shall be separated from Christ by their separation from one another at death, but both of them remain indissolubly united to him for ever, Rom. 8:38, 39.

Mind you, this all makes sense, especially the second quotation. But I wonder if Fisher is using union in several senses throughout his discussion. In which case, we really do need a glossary.

Where's Waldo Wednesday: Priorities

The objection to the priority of justification rests partly on the idea that justification and sanctification come simultaneously (though distinctly) through union with Christ – prioritization prohibited. And yet, the problem of prioritizing one benefit before another doesn’t seem to bother the advocates of union when it comes to the rest of the benefits purchased by Christ.

The duplex gratia apparently teaches a double or two-fold benefit that comes through faith in Christ, one being forensic and the other being renovative. And yet, the Standards teach that believers receive not simply justification and sanctification, but also adoption and the other benefits that accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification.

Q. 36. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification?

A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end. (Shorter Catechism)

Q. 82. What is the communion in glory which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?

A. The communion in glory which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is in this life, immediately after death, and at last perfected at the resurrection and day of judgment.

Q. 83. What is the communion in glory with Christ which the members of the invisible church enjoy in this life?

A. The members of the invisible church have communicated to them in this life the firstfruits of glory with Christ, as they are members of him their head, and so in him are interested in that glory which he is fully possessed of; and, as an earnest thereof, enjoy the sense of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, and hope of glory; as, on the contrary, sense of God’s revenging wrath, horror of conscience, and a fearful expectation of judgment, are to the wicked the beginning of their torments which they shall endure after death.(Larger Catechism)

So, aside from the question of how these other benefits – such as adoption – fit in the duplex scheme, it looks like the advocates of union prioritize just as much as the advocates of justification priority. One group prioritizes justification and sanctification among the benefits. The other prioritizes justification. Rather than being illegitimate, prioritizing is basic to both sides. (It could even be that union advocates prioritize union.)

More Some of This and That

Church Rater is a website in which users may rate churches or look at ratings in order to select a church.
Here is a sample of what church planters are up against:

This is for one of the lowest rated churches, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque, Indiana: “typical lackluster presbyterian church; bible is read, but not interpreted for adults; kids sermon is down-to-earth; stuffy anglo saxon white community.”

Here is the review for the top-rated Mars Hill Church in Seattle: “Modern facility in a not-so-modern area: the place teamsters would go for a Starbucks, or the place advertising executives would go for a cuppa joe.

There were some paintings inside that reminded me of the cover art for “In the Court of the Crimson King” (

The lighting was low. The band was backlit in greens and reds. The music was something you could easily hear on the radio… Switchfoot-y, Puddle of Mudd-y, Creed-y.

Mark Driscoll was pumped up: thickset, groomed, a choker around his neck, a lost Baldwin brother perhaps (we were kind of far back: it was a PACKED house).

Here’s what I heard: Marl Driscoll was telling us not to eat chocolate cake, not to be lustful, and by denying ourselves such impulses (and many others), we would glorify God.

I get it: selfish behaviors do not glorify God. But is simply denying those behaviors glorifying God? Was I hearing that I didn’t have to DO anything to glorify God, I only had to NOT do certain things?

I felt like I was being lectured. I wasn’t learning anything. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I knew what I supposed to NOT do next. But I felt like having a piece of chocolate cake anyway.

This website may be useful for Home Missions types, especially in showing that the tricks designed to attract are not so attractive. Are American consumers discerning, or what?

On a different note, oldlifers may want to wander over to Scott Clark’s blog for recent interviews with the co-founders of the Old Life Theological Society. One is about union, the other is about Van Til. The blog provides a handy tool for ratings – it’s called comments.

Where's Waldo Wednesday: How the Forensic Makes Union Intelligible

At a conference last weekend on the family and liberty in the early American republic, I read the following from James Wilson’s Lectures on Law (Wilson was, of course, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and one of George Washington’s original appointees to the Supreme Court). When I read it I couldn’t help but think it made union with Christ concrete in ways that “mystical” union do not. Wilson writes:

In pursuance of this principle, a crime, except treason and murder, committed by the husband and wife, shall be charged against him solely; because the law will supposed that she acted under his influence or coercion. In pursuance of the same principle, a husband and wife cannot be witnesses for or against one another; if they were permitted to give testimony for one another, one maxim of the law would be violated – No one can be a witness in his own cause: if they were permitted to give testimony against one another, another maxim of the law would be violated – No one is obliged to accuse himself. . . .

The refined delicacy of the maxim – that husband and wife are considered as one person by our law – appears now in a beautiful and striking point of view. The rights, the enjoyments, the obligations, and the infelicities of the matrimonial state are so far removed from her protection or redress, that she will not appear as an arbitress; but, like a candid and benevolent neighbour, will presume, for she wishes, all to be well.

I know Zrim has been trying to make this point about marriage as a window on union. So I am not claiming anything new. What is striking about Wilson’s lecture, though, is the idea that by virtue of the law, a married couple are one person, so that the benefits and liabilities of each partner extend to the other. If that’s what union with is driving at, giddy up. Also, worthy of note is Wilson’s remark about the effects of union on the wife, as in prompting her to presume “all to be well,” which suggests that the forensic reality changes the wife’s disposition.

Makes perfect sense to me.