« PreviousContinue »
with the sentiments of this learned, judicious, and excellent Bishop. But, on the other hand, he must express his forrow, that his Lordship was so far is distant from his books and
pa“ pers,” otherwise, it is most probable, that he would have produced some valuable testimonies from the antients, concerning what he hints at as-“ little noticed.”
Another thing is also to be lamented, which is, that the good Bishap did not proceed to explain what he meant by those « “ visible imminent hazards," mentioned in the last paragraph.
If so small and inconsiderable a person as myself may venture to guess at the meaning of so considerable and great a man as Bishop Burnet, I should suppose, that his Lordship has here a reference to his observation before made, concerning the difference between the ftate of innocency, and that of mankind since the fall, and to those evils which he mentions as the consequences of the latter which could not exist during the former. Such as
barrenness, sickness, uncleanness, or crollness “ of humour.” What “
great, imminent, « and visible hazards hang over thoufands," from these causes, has been observed before,
To vindicate, therefore, the lawfulness of polygamy is, as the world is now constituted, in such cases at least, to act as a good citizen of the world, by vindicating the * natural privileges," and necessary rights of mankind; and it is, at the same time, to
act a's a fincere believer of divine revelation, to set forth, openly and without disguise, that HEAVENLY SYSTEM, by which those rights are established and secured. To vindicate also that universal law, which had the good of the WHOLE for its object-to Thew that its wisdom and beneficence are too vast to be confined to a single people, or a single period of particular dispensation--to free it from that obscurity which monks and priests, and other enthusiasts and fanatics, have involved it in, to the distress and destruction of millions is a task reserved alone for those, who, for the sake of truth, are willing to sacrifice their ease and reputation to the malevolence pf ignorance and prejudice.
CH A P.
CHRIST not the Giver of a new Law.
MOSHEIM (Eccl. Hift. Maclaine's edit.
quarto, vol. i. p. 295) very justly observes" When once the ministers of the “ church had departed from the antient fim
plicity of religion, abuses were daily mul
tiplied; and superstition drew, from its “ horrid fecundity, an incredible number of « absurdities, which were added to the doc“ trine of Christ and his apostles.”—This is very true, and very strikingly exemplified in that learned and accurate writer's history of the Christian church, both with regard to ceremonies and doctrines. Among other absurdities in point of doctrine, is the notion that “ Christ's mission upon earth, was to • exhibit to mortals a new law, diftinguished “ from all others by its unblemished fanctity “ and perfection.” In vol. ii. p. 277, this is represented as one main article of the Socinian creed, and it is to be wished that it never had been adopted but by the immediate followers of Socinus. Yet this is the language we hear daily, and is at the bottom of that extravagant notion expressed by Gronovius on Grotius de Jure, tom. i. p. 274, octavo, 1735-maire
tained by many learned men, and even adopted as an axiom by the generality of Christians, as much as the Pope's
supremacy and infallibility were before the Reformation--namely, that
" Lex naturæ & veteris fæderis concedunt polygamiam" -The law of * nature and of the
* By lex natura, or law of nature, I understand, for my own part, as far as I can make sense of the expression, or reconcile it to truth, that lex non fcripta, or unwritten law, given of God to Adam, and from him derived by tradition to the people of God till the time of Mofesa when the lex fcripta, or written law, was given by Moses. See John i. 17. former part, and Rom. v. 13. Both thefe laws are in substance one and the fame. The moral obligation of each demanded the same obedience; the ceremonial institutions of both pointed out the same facrifice and atonement for sin. Neither of these laws forbad polygamy, therefore it was practised by Abraham-Jacob, and doubtless many others who lived under what is called the patriarchal dispensation—as well as by the Jews under the Mofaical dispensation. As for what is generally understood by the law of nature, the offspring of what is called the light of nature, or the mores communes naturali rationi confentanei - Grot-by which I suppose we are to understand“ Common rules of moral action, which are con“ fonant to every man's natural reafon”--thus making men their own lawgivers, as to what is morally good and evil ; this, notwithstanding all the learned lumber that has been written upon the subject, is a definition not unlike that of the state of Israel, when they had no king, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Judges xvii. 6. A law of nature, which is to spring from, and be agreeable to every man's natural reason in this sorrupted state, is a ridiculous chimæra, that may bear as many forms as there are men in the world. It is Atheism at bottom (for there is but one LAWGIVER-compare If. xxxiii. 22. James iv. 12.) and is beft described by Monftrum, horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen adem;lum.
« Old Testament, allow polygamy, but it is forbidden" Lege CHRISTI" -- by the law of CHRIST. This appears to be the opinion of Grotius in that place on which Gronovius comments : for he says --" Ex Christi lege ir“ ritum est conjugium cum eo qui maritus fit “ alterius mulieris, ob jus illud quod CHRIS" Tus fæminæ pudicitiam servanti dedit in “ maritum.”—By the law of Christ, a marriage with a man who is the husband of another woman, is void and of none effect, by reason of the right which CHRIST gave to the woman who preferves her chastity, over her husband. Here then Christ is set up to exhibit to mortals a new law, and that, in opposition to the law of nature, and of the Old Testament, as
Let those who think I carry this matter too far, consult Rom. į 21, &c. which passage of holy writ may be looked upon as a summary of what is said in the Old Teltament, of the depravity, blindness, ignorance, and wickedness of the fallen human nature. This is abundantly confirmed by all history, and daily experience. Dr. Alexander, Hift. of Wom. vol. i. p. 169, says, very truly-" Man, in that rude and uncultivated state in “ which he originally appears in all countries, before “ he has been formed by society, and instructed by ex
perience, is an aniinal, differing but little from the
wild beasts that surround him.' Here let me once more recommend to the reader's perusal, Dr. LELAND'S Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation. There he will see a very authentic account of what man is, “ though formed by society, and instructed by expe“ rience,” without the light of divine revelation. This, not as it respects the vulgar and illiterate, but those also who are handed down to us, as most eminent for wisdom, learning, and philofophy. THE WORLD KNEW NOT GOD, I Cor. i. 21. Comp. Job xi. 7, 8.