« PreviousContinue »
And His mercy is on
He will keep the feet of them that fear Him from His faints. generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength The bows of the mighty with His arm, He hach men are broken, and they scattered the proud in the that stumbled are girt with imagination of their hearts. , ftrength-the wicked shall
be silent in darkness. He hath put down the The adversaries of the mighty from their seats, LORD shall be broken to and hath exalted them of pieces-the Lord maketh low degree.
poor and maketh rich, He bringeth low and lifteth
up. He hath filled the hun They that are full have gry with good things, and hired themselves out for the rich He hath sent emp- bread, and they that were ty away.
hungry ceased. He hath holpen His fer He shall give strength vant Ifrael, in remembrance unto His king, and exalt of his mercy, &c.
the horn of His anointed.
The conclusion of all which
appears to be, that either we do not worship the fame God which the Jews did, or the God we worship doth not disallow nor * disapprove polygamy. Miraculous blessings bestowed of God, in answer to the prayers of people living in open breach of His law, are totally contradictory to the whole feripture-character of God. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Prov. xv. 9. He that turneth away his
* To say that He once did not disallow or disapprove it, but that He has changed His mind upon the subject is one of those aflertions which are diametrically opposite to the attribute of unchangeableness, so strongly marked out in scripture, and which is, and must be, of the very esence of an ALL-PERFECT Being. VOL.I.
ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. Prov. xxviii. 9. Comp. Pl. lxvi. 18, 19, 20.
In what has been said on the subject of this chapter on po'ygamy, I should think arguments enough have been brought to prove that it was not finful in the sight of God, under the Old Testament, and that the blefJed God, by becoming man (1 Cor. xv. 47.) and condescending to appear on earth for us men, and for our salvation, in the likeness of finful flesh, Rom. viii. 3; made of a woman made under the law, Gal. iv. 4; came not to destroy the law, by lessening the security which it was evidently made to afford the weaker sex against the stronger. That the treachery which was so positively forbidden, and fo amply provided against, among the Fews, should be allowed to Christians (who are children of the same Heavenly Father, subjects of the same Almighty King) and even commanded them in some cases, is a monstrous supposition !— repugnant to the positive institution of God, They shall be one flesh -contradictory to all found reason--and abhorrent from every generous, honourable, and humane principle.
Whatever the situation of the man may be, the danger arising to the woman from the consequences of seduction and dereli&tion is equal, therefore equally provided against by the law of God.
How polygamy became reprobated in the Christian church is eatily accounted for, when we consider how early the reprobation of 5
marriage itself began to appear. The Gnoftics, whom Epiphanius derives from Simon Magus, condemned marriage in the most shocking terms, saying that it was “ of the “ Devil ;” but this was to support themselves in their horrible tenet, that “ all wo
men should be common amongst them.” Better people soon afterwards condemned marriage as unlawful to Christians, and this under a wild notion of greater purity and perfection, in keeping from all intercourse with the other sex. This opinion divided itself into many sects, and gave great trouble to the church before it was discountenanced. Still fecond marriages were held infamous, and called no better than lawful whoredom. Nay, they were not ashamed to write, that, “ « man's first wife being dead, it was adultery, “ and not marriage, to take another.” Amidst all this, polygamy must necessarily receive the severest anathema—for if it could be supposed unlawful for Christians to marry at all, and then so detestable to marry a second time, after the death of a wife, the having two at once must be, a fortiori, accounted more horrible than all the rest. All these several opinions had texts of scripture pressed into their service, by the ingenious zeal of their several abettors: the Old Testament was of no authority in the matter; the New Testament was made to speak what it did not mean, concerning what it does mention; and construed so as to condeinn what, when rightly understood, it does not mention. The two
first of these conceits about marriage have been long exploded, except with respect to the Romish clergy, who, to this hour, are forbidden to marry. But polygamy throughout the Christian church, the western part of it at least, is looked upon as a fin against the seventh commandment, though there is not a syllable in the whole Bible which makes it so. When I mention polygamy, I would always be understood to mean on the man's fide, for on the side of the woman, the whole scripture shews it to be a capital offence.
Why this distinction should be made, He best knows who made it; but, in part, we may suppose, from the consequences attending on one side, which cannot be on the other these are finely touched by the strong and masterly pen of the son of Sirach-Ecclus xxiii. 22, 23. Having spoken of the adulterer, he faith, (agreeably to Lev. xx. 10.) This man Mall be punished in the streets of the city, (see also Deut. xxii. 24.) and where be suspecteth not be shall be taken. He then
proceeds—Thus shall it go also with the wife that leaveth her husband, and bringeth in an heir by another-For, first-he hath disobeyed the law of the Most High- secondly-she bath trefpassed against her own husband and thirdly, the bath played the whore in adultery, and brought children by another man. She Mall be brought out into the congregation, and inquifition Mall be made of her children.--Her children shall not take root, and her branches ball bring no fruit. She shall leave her memory to
be cursed, and her reproach Mall not be blotted out. Though these be the words of an apocryphal writer, they deserve the highest regard, because they are exactly consonant with the law of God. But it is very extraordinary,
that in a discourse against fornicators, whoremongers, and adulterers (which commences, ver. 16. and is continued to ver. 26. inclusive) not a word should be said against polygamifts, if polygamy were a fin as much on the man's fide as on the woman's.--He most likely would not have passed it over in filence had there been any law against it.
His description of the adulteress is very fine, and the aggravations of her offence, by bringing forth a spurious issue, strongly marked; but they are such as cannot exist on the man's fide, and therefore hence, in part at least, arises the difference.
What he says of the adulterer is also remarkably striking, and evidently taken from Job xxiv. 15.
We lose much of its propriety, from our mis-tranlation of ‘O 'Av@pwπος παραβαινων απο της κλινης αυτg-A man that breaketh wedlock, we call it; but this is not a translation of the words they literally are —the man who transgresseth from out of his bed-like the murderer, Job xxiv. 14. who, rising with the light, is in the night as a thiefSo the adulterer. Saith Job--the eye
of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me, and disguiseth his face. The son of Sirach represents the adulterer as leaving his bed, stealing out of it, as it T3