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ginning, revealed firft to Adam, afterwards recorded by Mofes, that it might be transmitted to all fucceeding generations, as the one rule of faith and practice, for all those to whom GOD's word fhould come, to the end of the world. Neither with you only, faith Mofes to the people (then present at the re-publication of God's law, Deut. xxix. 14, 15.) do I make this covenant and this oath, but with him that ftandeth here with us this day, before the LORD our GoD, and also with him that is not (or thofe who are not) here with us this day, i. e. with all fucceeding generations, till time shall be

no more.

Therefore CHRIST, fo far from altering, changing, or destroying the law delivered from GOD by Mofes, enters a caveat against fuch a fuppofition (Matt. v. 17.) Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to deftroy, but to fulfil: for verily I fay unto you, 'till heaven and earth pafs, one jot or one tittle shall in no wife pafs from the law, 'till all be fulfilled—έws äv távta Yevnta-until all things be done. Hammond. And again (Luke xvi. 17.) It is easier for beaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. This not only ftamps unchangeablenefs upon the law, but upon its import, fenfe, and meaning, as one and the fame throughout all ages and generations, as an invariable rule of life for the members of God's visible church upon earth, even to the least jot or tittle.


Notwithstanding, as this paffage of Matt. xix. is the chief ground on which that abfurd pofition is built, that "Polygamy, though "allowed under the law, is forbidden un"der the gospel;" or, though permitted "under the Old Teftament, is forbidden


* The notion that marriage under the New Teftament, is different from what it was under the Old Teftament, which, as will appear in a third volume of this work, is true genuine Popery, reminds one of Moliere's Medecin malgré lui, where SGANARELLE is fetting forth his profound medical and anatomical knowledge; as an inftance of the last, he places the liver on the right fide, and the heart of the left.-GERONTE fays -On ne peut pas mieux raifonner fans doute. Il n'y a qu'une feule chofe qui m'a choqué. C'est l'endroit du foye & du cœur. Il me femble que vous les placez autrement qu'ils ne font. Que le cœur eft du côté gauche, & le foye du côté droit.


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GERONTE. C'est ce que je ne fçavois pas, & je vous demande pardon de mon ignorance.

SGANARELLE. Il n'y a point de mal, & vous n'eftes pas obligé d'eftre auffi habile que nous.

"GERONTE. One cannot, doubtlefs, difcourse bet"ter on the subject.—There is but one thing that has "difpleafed me I mean the fituation of the liver and "the heart.-It seems to me, that you place them other"wife than they are-that the heart is on the left side, "and the liver on the right.

"SGANARELLE. Yes, it was formerly fo; but we "have changed all that, and now-a-days we practife phyfic after a method entirely new.

GERONTE. That I did not know, and I afk your "pardon for my ignorance.

SGANARELLE. There's no harm done.-You are not obliged to be as skilful as we are."


" under

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"under the New" (as if there could be a law in the New Teftament contradictory to that in the Old Testament) it may be worth our while to confider the matter more minutely.


The question put by the Pharifees, Matt. xix. 3. is not, "whether it be lawful to marry two wives at a time, or to take one "to another?" but-" Is it lawful for a man "to PUT AWAY his wife for every cause?" The queftion concerns divorce, and divorce only. When we confider who it was that was to give the answer, we may be certain of its entire pertinence to the question. It follows (ver. 4, &c.) He answered and faid unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and faid, For this caufe fhall a man leave father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they twain (i. e. the man and his wife) shall be one flesh? wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore GOD hath joined together, let not man put afunder.

With fo clofe, fo appofite, fo conclusive an anfwer, grounded on the old marriage-institution, not on any new difpenfation; they ought to have been satisfied that divorce was unlawful. But they urge him farther, and (ver. 7.) faid unto him-Why did Mofes then command to give a writing of divorcement, and put her away ? He faith unto them, Mofes, because of the hardness of your hearts, SUFFERED you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it


was not fo (i. e. that men should put away wives). And I say unto you, that whosoever fhall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and fhall marry another, committeth adultery; and he who marrieth her which is put away, committeth adultery.

This laft is the verfe which has made the difficulty; for if this were meant to condemn polygamy, it amounts, fo far, to a contradiction, or rather repeal, of the old law, which permitted it; and then more than a jot or tittle has paffed from the law. If it means that it was always finful, and against the law of GOD, it condemns, as was before observed, all that ever practised it, and falls heavy on some of the greatest faints, that are recorded in fcripture as patterns of faith, holiness, and obedience.

This difficulty, like many others in the fcriptures, can only be folved, by attending to the character of the fpeaker, the peculiar circumftances of the perfons fpoken to, and the particular occafion on which the words were fpoken; for want of this, we are apt to interpret the fcriptures more by found than sense, and thus make them speak what they never meant ‡.


You then whofe judgment the right courfe would fieer,
Know well each antient's proper character;
His fable, fubject, fcope of every page;
Religion, country, genius of his age:
Without all thefe at once before your eyes,
you may, but never criticife.

Eff. on Crit.




The Jews, at the time of their dispute with CHRIST on the fubject of divorce, were fonder of tradition than of the scriptures, and of the teachings of their rabbies, than of the law of GOD; infomuch that CHRIST charges them (Matt. xv. 9.) with teaching for doctrines the commandments of men: and (Mark vii. 9, 13.) with rejecting and making the word of God of none effect, through their tradition. There were feveral famous rabbies, whom they highly reverenced, but particularly Shammah, Hillell, and Akiba.

*The fchool of Shammah taught, that a man could not be lawfully divorced from his wife, "unless he had found her guilty of some "action which was really infamous, and con"trary to the rules of virtue." But the fchool of Hillell, who was Shammah's disciple, taught, on the contrary, that " the least rea"fons were fufficient to authorize a man to


put away his wife. For example—if she "did not drefs his victuals well, or if he found any other woman he liked better." Akiba was ftill more indulgent than Hillell, for he affirmed that "it was fufficient cause for 66 a man

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If fuch requifites are neceffary for judging properly of the fhallow productions of mortals, how much more are thofe abovementioned neceffary, that we may judge aright of the deep things of God.

* See Cruden, under divorce.

Shammah and Hillell are fuppofed to have lived about an hundred years before the destruction of the fecond temple. Some fay they were cotemporaries with Herod the Great See Ant. Univ. Hift. vol. x. p. 429,


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