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might himself be faid to commit adultery. But more of this hereafter.
If thofe divorces could have operated, as a diffolution of the first marriage, fhe would not have been DEFILED by marrying another man; but this not being the cafe, fhe was DEFILED* in the fight of GOD, when put away by unlawful divorce, as when she went to another man without any divorce. Very ftriking are the words of Jer. iii. 1. They fay, If a man put away his wife, and fhe go from him, and become another man's, fshall be return to her again? Shall not that land be greatly polluted ?—But where is any thing like this faid of polygamy? That polygamy was practifed throughout all ages of the Jewish economy, cannot be denied. It is equally evident, that it was the deliberate, open, avowed, and wilful practice of the most holy and excellent of the earth, of Abraham, the father of the faithful, the friend of GOD, If. xli. 8. as well as of the most illuftrious of his children; and this, without the leaft reproof or rebuke from GOD, or the moft diftant hint or expreffion of his difpleafure, either by Mofes, or any other of the phets. No trace of forrow, remorse, or repentance, touching this matter, is to be found in any one inftance, and therefore many commentators are at a loss to maintain the finfulness of polygamy, but at the expence of fcripture, reafon, and common fenfe.
* The word (Deut. xxiv. 4.) which we translate defiled, is N. The fame word is ufed, Ezek. xviii. 6, II, 15. for violating another's wife.
Some fay-"It was a fin, but GOD * allow"ed it for the hardness of their hearts." That Mofes fuffered (EπÉTρE↓εv, permitted, tolerated) divorce, fo far as not to exact the outward punishment of it in certain cafes, is evident from the fuppofed circumstances in Deut. xxiv. 1, &c. But this was in order to avoid worse mischief amongst the wicked and profligate part of the community, fuch as mal-treating, beating, or even killing their hated wives. This is what we may suppose, in part at least, to be meant by our LORD, when He saysMofes, because of the hardness of your hearts, Suffered you to put away your wives. This is faid of divorce, not of † polygamy, as plainly appears by the words of the text. And herein Mofes feems to have acted more as a politician, than as a lawgiver-by permiffion, not
*The idea of JEHOVAH's allowance of fin, and that for ages together, is placing him, in point of holiness, purity, and juftice, below the notion which the heathen had of their gods-Homer fays
Οὐ γὰρ χείλια ἔργα θεοὶ μάκαρες φιλέισι. Odyff. z. ver. 85.
Pope. See Pf. v. 5.
The learned authors of the Univerfal Hiftory, vol. iii. p. 137, observe, that Mofes, among other things, "was forced to indulge them (the Jews) in polygamy. -But what could this have to do with Abraham, Jacob, and those who lived before Mofes? It is evident that polygamy was practised by the holiest of the faints, ages before Mofes exifted; therefore, afcribing the practice of it to an indulgence of Mofes, is as great a mistake, as afcribing the original of circumcifion to the law of Mofes. Comp. Gen. xvii. 10-14. with John vii. 22.
by commandment, like that of Paul, 1 Cor. vii. 6. It is not faid-GOD fuffered it—but -Mofes fuffered you to put away your wives: but, CHRIST adds, from the beginning it was not so-i. e. that men fhould put away their wives. Here is not the leaft hint about polygamy.
Can we fuppofe, however, that God fuffered Abraham, Jacob, David, and others of His faints, to break His law, and this for the hardness of their hearts ?-If they had hearts of ftone, who ever had an heart of flesh? Ezek. xi. 19. Do not reafon and common-fenfe start back at such a fuppofition?
Others have as abfurdly faid, " that, GOD, being the fovereign, has a right to difpenfe "with his own laws, and having done this, Ipolygamy was no fin,"
The elaborate Noldius, after long arguments upon the subject, pro and con, of his own and other people's, which may all be feen Heb. Part. Annotat. 225. concludes-Sanctos veteres polygamos non peccaffe coram Deo, quia habuerunt difpenfationem fpecialem & extraordinariam. The old faints, who were polygamifts, did not "fin before GOD, because they had a special and extraor"dinary difpenfation." But, 1. Where is fuch a dispenfation recorded? 2. The very fuppofition of fuch a thing is as abfurd as it is profane; more becoming the character of a Pope of Rome, than of the HOLY GOD. 3. The idea of a fpecial and extraordinary difpenfation to fome, and leaving others under the guilt of fin, feems to be borrowed from the fpeech of one of the doctors (Soto) at the famous council of Trent, who faid, "The antient fa“thers had many wives by difpenfation, and the others, "who were not difpenfed with, did live in perpetual “fin."-Hift. of Council of Trent, Eng. Tranf. by N. Brent, p. 671. This directly militates against the univer
We find particular occafional inftances of GOD's difpenfing with the rigour of His laws on certain emergencies, and for particular purposes-as in DAVID's eating the fhewbread, which it was not lawful for any but the priests to eat. Also in fome other inftances which might be mentioned. But where do we find a total fufpenfion of one of the commandments of the moral law for ages together? If it was as great a fin for a man to have two wives, as for a woman to have two husbands, why suspend it on the part of the man, and not on the part of the woman? Why invariably ordain punishment on one fide, and not on the other, if each was equally finful against the law itself? Doth GoD pervert judgment? Or doth the Almighty pervert justice? Job viii. 3. GOD is no respecter of perfons. Acts x. 34. He accepteth (i. e. with undue and partial favour) no man's perfon. Gal. ii. 6. As many as bave finned in the law, fhall be judged by the law. Rom. ii. 11, 12. Nor is it conceivable that the righteous JUDGE OF ALL should Himself depart from the rule laid down for his vice-gerents, the judges of
fality of the law, Deut. xxi. 15, which is conceived in as general terms as poffible, and moft clearly supposes that any man might have two wives. The Levirate, or law, Deut. xxv. 5, 6. which Noldius calls a difpenfation for marrying the brother's wife, contrary to Lev. xviii. 16. is very improperly called fo, it being a positive commandment, eftablished for a particular purpose, and both the law itself, and the reafon of it are there fet down. This is not the cafe with polygamy, for there is no law which prohibits it, nor any to establish a partial allowance of it.
the earth, (Deut. i. 17.) Ye shall not respect perfons in judgment. No other account then can confiftently be given of the matter, than what may be gathered from the uniform and unvaried use of the word -adultery-in the Seventh commandment, as relating to the wife; that is to fay, as forbidding polygamy on her fide, but not to the husband as forbidding polygamy on his.
Others would make the wife, holy, great, and good men, who were polygamifts, wholly ignorant of the law, as to the true meaning thereof, and fay-"The times of ignorance GOD "winked at"-wrefting this text ( Acts xvir. 30.) which speaks of the blind Gentiles, who were without the written law of God, and making it relate to the Jews, to whom were committed the oracles of GOD. Rom. iii, 1, 2. But, waving this, was ABRAHAM, that prophet, Gen. xx. 7. whom GOD, from the familiar intercourfe He had with him, calls His friend? (If. xli. 8.) -was Jacob, who fpake with GOD face to face (Gen. xxxii. 30.) ignorant? Could Moses, the facred penman and expounder of the law, be ignorant? so ignorant, as not to know its true meaning? Could
*GOD faith, Gen. xviii. 19. Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? -for I know him, that he will command his children and his houshold after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment. How Abraham could teach others to keep the way of the LORD, and yet be ignorant of it himself, cannot eafily be conceived. If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Matt. xv. 14.