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books contain a single syllable which can be depended upon; so that after all the pains we can take to acquaint ourselves with the divine mind and will, we may be as utter strangers to them as the savages in America are. But when we search the indelible records of truth, we find that the attribute of unchangeableness shines, with a distinguished lustre; I am Jehovah, faith He, I change not. Mal, iii. 6. God is one. His will is onetherefore this, no more than Himself, can know any alteration, diminution, or change. What was law * at the beginning will be law to the end; and therefore what that law is, as touching the point in question, I will now proceed, with the confidence which the love of truth inspires, and with a proper disregard for the fallacious and unscriptural reasonings of men, in the freest manner to consider.
* This is true even of the ceremonial law, as to its meaning and substance. It cannot be less true of the moral law, which is founded in the relation which mankind bear to God and each other, and therefore must be as immutable as that relation is,
C H A P.
CH A P. IV.
Of POLYG A MY.
PROMISED the Reader, that the proofs
for what I advance should be drawn from the word of God; and, for my own sake, as well as that of the truth, I find myself more especially bound to keep this promise, with respect to the subject before us : for if I were to go to human authorities, I should wander into such an endless labyrinth of difference and contradiction, as to lose sight of every thing but fruitless * disputation.
* Fruitless indeed! For the great Puffendorf, B. vi. C. 1. $ 17. says-" Whether or no this practice be re
pugnant to the law of nature, is a point not fully fet“tled among the learned.” He then gives the arguments on both sides, “ leaving the decisive judgment to “ be passed by the reader.” So that upon the footing of human wisdom--adhuc sub judice lis est
. The author therefore only considers it on the footing of the divine law, conceiving it impossible to determine its lawfulness or unlawfulness in God's fight by any thing else. According to this law will all men be judged at the last day : therefore, to appeal to any other, in matters of conscience, is absurd to the last degree. There is no other principle or means of discovering the mind and will of God touching this, or any other religious truth, no other rule or measure of judging and determining any thing about it or concerning it, but only the writing from whence it is taken, it being wholly of divine revelation, and that revelation being only expressed in that writing, See Dr. Owen on the Scriptures, p. 18.
That the mischiefs which must inevitably attend polygamy on the woman's side, do not accrue from it on the part of the man, is very clear : and on this principle, we may account for the total difference which is put between them in the divine law—the one punished with death, the other not so much as mentioned in a criminal light. So far from being prohibited or condemned by the law, we find it allowed, owned, and even blessed of God: and in no one instance, amongst the many recorded in scripture, so much as difapproved.
By polygamy, I would be understood to mean *, what the word literally imports, the having and cohabiting with more than one wife at a time. Whether taken together, as seems to be the case of king Jehoash, 2 Chron. xxiv. 3. or first one and then another, as JACOB, Gen. xxix. 28. or DAVID, 1 Sam. xxv. 43; it was this which was allowed of God, consequently practised by His people. The putting away or divorcing one woman, in order to take another, was as much forbidden in the Old Testament as in the New. God says, Deut. xxii. 29. She shall be his wife; he may
* Polygamy, strictly speaking, is of two sorts; either when one woman promiscuously admits of more husbands than one, or when one man is at the same time joined in marriage to more than one woman—The former of these is too abhorrent from nature, reason, and scripture, to admit of a single argument in its favour, or even to deserve a moment's consideration. The author therefore, by the word polygamy, only means the latter, throughout this treatise.
not put her away all his days. So before, ver. 19; and again, Exod. xxi. 10. If he take him another wife, her food (i. e. of the first wife) her raiment, and ber duty of marriage, be small not * diminish. Putting away or divoreing a first, in order to take a second, is a palpable breach of these laws, and therefore treated by the great and infallible interpreter of them as a heinous offence against God, it being a breach of that obligation, laid upon the man, to confider his wife as one flesh with himself, and, as such, to cleave to her for life, as bone of his bone, flesh of bis flesh, Gen. ii. 23; which our LORD cites, and reasons upon, to prove the abomination of such a proceeding, as abfolutely contrary to the original inititution of the marriage-bond.
This, however, was the common practice of the profligate Jews of that day, who abused the liberty of divorce permitted by Mofes in certain cases, to the most licentious purposes, so as to make marriage little better than a pretence for gratifying their lufts, divorcing one, in order to take another, and thus profaning the holy ordinance of God, by giving it no higher place in their esteem, than as a means of indulging their depraved appetites. A monstrous practice ! against which Christ's discourse, Matth.xix. &c. is levelled, not against polygamy, as considered simply in itself. If we interpret this passage
* yo85 -- not withhold -- withdraw - keep back--š% á Fosepngel,.LXX ; much less shall he put her away.
as such an explanation of God's law from the beginning, as will serve to prove all polygamists
* adulterers, we must condemn a large generation of God's deareft servants and children; and instead of believing that all these died in faith, Heb. xi. 13. we must say, that many
of them died in a state of unbelief and disobedience ; and instead of looking for Abraham, Jacob, David, &c. in the kingdom of heaven, we must look for them in the kingdom of Satan ; for his they were, and him they served, if polygamy be an offence against the law from the beginning, under which these people lived and died, without the least repentance, or any signs of it, as adulterers, forxicators, and whoremongers. That is the infallible t consequence of the common interpretation of this passage; for Christ does not ground the authority of what He declares on any new law which he was introducing, but on an explanation of God's law from the be
* Adultery is marked as a mortal fin, Gen. xx. 3. in the history of Abimelech king of Gerar; and polygamy therein stands as utterly distinguished from it-this in the judgment of JEHOVAH himself. Comp. Gen. xxvi. 9, 10, 11. See poft.
† For fin is the transgression of the law. 1 John ii. All unrighteousness (i. e. all unconformity to the law) is jin. 1 John v. 17. The soul that sinneth, it Mall die. Fżck. xviii. 4. The wages of fun is death. Rom. vi. 23. Whoremongers and adulterer's God will judge. Heb. xiii. 4. The weak arguments which have been made life of to excuse the fin of polygamy, as some call it, in the patriarchs, anci the Old Testament faints, will be fully confidered and exposed in this chapter.