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books contain a fingle fyllable which can be depended upon; fo that after all the pains we can take to acquaint ourselves with the divine mind and will, we may be as utter ftrangers to them as the favages in America are. But when we fearch the indelible records of truth, we find that the attribute of unchangeableness fhines, with a distinguished luftre; 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 queftion, I will now proceed, with the confidence which the love of truth infpires, and with a proper difregard for the fallacious and unfcriptural reasonings of men, in the freeft manner to confider.
* This is true even of the ceremonial law, as to its meaning and fubftance. It cannot be lefs 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.
Of POLYGA M Y.
PROMISED the Reader, that the proofs for what I advance should be drawn from the word of GOD; and, for my own fake, as well as that of the truth, I find myself more efpecially bound to keep this promife, with respect to the subject before us: for if I were to go to human authorities, I fhould wander into fuch an endless labyrinth of difference and contradiction, as to lofe fight of every thing but fruitless * difputation.
* Fruitless indeed! For the great Puffendorf, B. vi. c. I. § 17. fays-" Whether or no this practice be repugnant to the law of nature, is a point not fully fet"tled among the learned." He then gives the arguments on both fides, "leaving the decifive judgment to "be paffed by the reader." So that upon the footing of human wisdom-adhuc fub judice lis eft. The author therefore only confiders it on the footing of the divine law, conceiving it impoffible to determine its lawfulness or unlawfulness in GoD's fight by any thing elfe. According to this law will all men be judged at the last day: therefore, to appeal to any other, in matters of confcience, is abfurd to the laft degree. There is no other principle or means of difcovering 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 expreffed in that writing. See Dr. Owen on the Scriptures, p. 18.
That the mischiefs which must inevitably attend polygamy on the woman's fide, 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 fo much as mentioned in a criminal light. So far from being prohibited or condemned by the law, we find it allowed, owned, and even blefed of GOD and in no one inftance, amongst the many recorded in fcripture, fo much as difapproved.
at a time.
By polygamy, I would be understood to mean *, what the word literally imports, the having and cohabiting with more than one wife Whether taken together, as feems to be the cafe of king Jehoash, 2 Chron. xxiv. 3. or first one and then another, as JACOB, Gen. xxix. 28. or DAVID, I Sam. XXV. 43; it was this which was allowed of GOD, confequently practifed by His people. The putting away or divorcing one woman, in order to take another, was as much forbidden in the Old Teftament as in the New. GOD fays, Deut. xxii. 29. She fhall be his wife; he may
*Polygamy, ftrictly speaking, is of two forts; either when one woman promifcuously admits of more husbands than one, or when one man is at the fame time joined in marriage to more than one woman-The former of these is too abhorrent from nature, reafon, and fcripture, to admit of a fingle argument in its favour, or even to deserve a moment's confideration. 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 her duty of marriage, he shall not * diminish. Putting away or divorcing a first, in order to take a second, is a palpable breach of thefe 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 fuch, to cleave to her for life, as bone of his bone, fleft of his flesh, Gen. ii. 23; which our LORD cites, and reafons upon, to prove the abomination of fuch a proceeding, as abfolutely contrary to the original inftitution 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 cafes, to the most licentious purposes, fo 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 efteem, than as a means of indulging their depraved appetites. A monftrous practice! against which CHRIST's difcourfe, Matth. xix. 4, &c. is levelled, not against polygamy, as confidered fimply in itself. If we interpret this paffage
*y—not withhold—withdraw-keep back-> dosepnoel, LXX; much lefs fhall he put her away.
as fuch an explanation of God's law from the beginning, as will ferve to prove all polygamifts are * adulterers, we muft condemn a large generation of God's dearest fervants and children; and instead of believing that all thefe died in faith, Heb. xi. 13. we must say, that many of them died in a ftate of unbelief and difobedience; and inftead 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 leaft repentance, or any figns of it, as adulterers, fornicators, and whoremongers. That is the infallible confequence of the common interpretation of this paffage; 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 hiftory of Abimelech king of Gerar; and polygamy therein ftands as utterly diftinguifhed from it-this in the judgment of JEHOVAH bimfelf. Comp. Gen. xxvi. 9, 10, 11. Sce poft.
↑ For fin is the tranfgreffion of the law. 1 John iii. 4. All unrighteoufnefs (i. e. all unconformity to the law) is fin. 1 John v. 17. The foul that finneth, it shall die. Fzck. xviii. 4. The wages of fin is death. Rom. vi. 23. Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Heb. xiii. 4. The weak arguments which have been made ufe of to excufe the fin of polygamy, as fome call it, in the patriarchs, and the Old-Teftament faints, will be fully confidered and expofed in this chapter.