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This foolish superstition is like that of the Jews in the days of Mattathias, who suffered themselves to be laughtered by the enemy without resistance, because it was the fabbath-day, 1 Mac. ii. 32, 38; or like that of the Carthufans, who live entirely on fish, and would not eat a piece of other flesh (see 1 Cor. xv. 39.) even to save their lives.
The modern Jews are wiser, for though they in general coincide with the government where their lot happens to be cast, so that they are polygamous or monogamous, according to the laws of the country they live in; yet if a yew be married ten years to a woman, and has no child by her, he is at liberty to take another, that he may have an heir to his substance ; and in so doing he certainly is justified by the law of God; which law we have set aside, and established our own superstition in its place, which not only tends to the annihilation and extinction of families, and of course to depopulation ; but is, as elsewhere is more fully observed, the source of endless ruin and destruction to the weaker sex, whose seducers, if married men, are totally exempt from making them that amends, and doing them that justice, which God's law commanded, and which, among us Christians, is looked upon as duty to with= hold, or rather, as a mortal * sin to comply with,
* Bellarmine, that great champion for The Man of Sin, faith-Lib. 4. de Rom. Pontific, “ Si Papa erraret præ
As these points are fully treated in other parts of this book, I will now proceed to Thew, that the wild notions about marriage, which were introduced into the church, bear an earlier date than the days of Tertullian, and those other fathers mentioned before.
" There were others,” says Mr. Broughton-Hift. lib. tit. Marriage-" who simply “ exclaimed against marriage as unlawful “ under the gospel. This doctrine was first
taught by Saturnilus, a scholar of Simon Magus and * Marcion, but afterwards bet
ter known amongst the + Encratites; to “ these may be added the Apoftolics or Apo“ taftics, the Manichees, Severians, and many “ others. The church had great struggles
“ cipiendo vitia, & prohibendo virtutes, teneretur ec66 clesia credere vitia esse bona, & virtutes malas, nisi « vellet contra conscientiam peccare.”
"s If the Pope should err in commanding vices, and in " prohibiting virtues, the church would be bound to “ believe that vices are good, and virtues evil, unless " she would fin against conscience.” And again, Cont. Barel. c. xxxi. “In bono sensu dedit Christus Petro “ poteftatem faciendi de peccato non peccatum, & de
non peccato peccatum.' “ In a good sense“ CHRisT gave Peter” (and of course the Pope) 5 a
power of inaking that no fin which is fin, and to " make that to be fin which is not a sin.” What better principle do we proceed upon in the matters here mentioned ?,
* Marcioa prescribed to his followers an express prohibition of wedlock. See Mofheim, vol. i. p. 110. edit. Maclaine. One of Marcion's abominable tenets, which he laid down to his followers, was, that they should k! renounce the precepts of the God of the Jews.” Ib. + See Newton on the Prophecies, vol. ij. 442-3,
" with these antient beretics, who inveighed
bitterly against marriage under the gospel“ state, and wrought upon many weak minds, go to be guilty of great irregularities, under
pretence of a more refined way of living.
i. The church had also another contest " with the Montanists and Novatians, about
second marriages, these heretics rejecting “ them as utterly unlawful." —And indeed the ecclefiaftical histories inform us, that this madness (for I can call it nothing else) was carried so far, as that second marriages were styled no better than whoredom ; and ecclefiaftical persons were forbidden to be present at them on pain of excommunication. This in the very face of the scriptures of God, which declare just as much for second marriages as for first. Rom. vii. 2, 3. I Cor. vii. 39. By all this we see what work may be made with the scriptures, when the imaginations of men are let loose, instead of comparing Spiritual things with spiritual, and making God the interpreter of His own word.
As for the practice of polygamy among the first Christians, it was probably very * fre
quent; * So it should seem to have been in times long after them, not only among the laity, but the clergy also; for Pope Sylvester, about the year 335, made an ordonnance, that every priest should be the husband of one wife only.
So in the fixth century, it was enacted in the canons of one of their councils, that if any one is married to many wives, he shall do penance. See Alex, Hist, Wom. vol. ii. 217, 272.
The case of Philip Landgrave of Hesse, as determined by the fix reformers, is well known. But all these things
quent; if not-why did Paul (I Tim. iii. 2. and Tit. i. 6.) recommend the choice of Bishops and Deacons from amongst those who had but one wife ?-—What occasion for this caution of the apostle's, if none had more than one ? That the election was to be made from amongst the Christian believers, there can be no doubt, that is to say, of such as had been admitted to baptism and the Lord's fupper, and were enrolled as members of the Christian church. To suppose that none of these had more than one wife, is to fuppose the apostle giving a needless rule in the election of Bishops and Deacons. To suppose that any who had more than one wife, should be admitted to baptism and the Lord's fupper, if Christ had forbidden polygamy as adultery, is to suppose a greater absurdity still, and that the great apostle of the Gentiles was less faithful to his trust, than those yefuits who refused to admit the King of Tonquin into the CHRISTIAN church, unless he would put away all his wives but one : for which these pseudo-apostles were very justly driven out of the country.
The learned Selden has proved, in his Uxor. Habraica, that polygamy was allowed, not only among the Hebrews, but among most other nations throughout the world i doubtprove nothing, with respect to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the matter in the sight of God: I only mention them, 'to shew that Christians have, by no means, thought always alike on the subject. The opinions of an inspired apofile are certainly good evidence to these let us attend.
the inhabitants of that vast tract of Afa, throughout which the gospel was preached by the great apostle of the Gentiles, where so many Christian churches were planted, as well as in the neighbouring states of Greece : yet in none of Paul's epistles, nor in the seven awful epistles which St. John was commanded to write to the seven churches in Aħa, is polygamy found amongst the crimes for which they were reproved.
Every other species of commerce between the sexes, is diftinctly and often mentioned, this not once, except on the woman's side, as Rom. vii. but had it been sinful and against the law on the man's fide, it is inconceivable that it should not have been mentioned on both sides equally.
When St. Paul says that a Bishop or Deacon is to be the husband of one wife, it certainly carries with it a tacit allowance of polygamy, as to the lawfulness of it with regard to * all other men; not that it was finful in one more than in another ; but this was a prudential caution in that distressed and infant state of the church, that those who were to have the management of it,
* Cardinal Cajetan, who disputed with Luther at Augsburg, and who
to have given a brief, but judicious exposition of the Old and New Testament, writes thus –“ Pluralitatem uxorum nusquam a Deo prohi“ beri ; adeoque Paulum cum Episcopum vetet habere “ plures uxores, reliquis concedere. - A plurality of “ wives is no where forbidden by God: so that Paul,
when he forbids a Bishop to have many wives, allows ço it to others.” Rainold de lib. Apoc. tom. i. præl. 4.