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shown us, that the number of males and females born into the world is near equal. Conse quently, great inconveniences would ensue from a perversion of the right order of marriage. Nevertheless, nothing can be so effectual, to put and keep things in a right course, as Divine authority, like that in the Mosaic account of the creation.
V. Another thing taught in this account of the origin of things, is the lawfulness, purity, and innocence of the married state.
For God made man male and female, and marriage was instituted in the primitive state of innocence. Chap. i. 27, 28. " And God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." Not now to recite again the farther account of the formation of the woman in the second chapter. Doubtless this account of Moses has been of great service in all ages, to remove or prevent scruples, and to restrain those, who from mistaken notions, or wrong views, have been disposed to prohibit, or to discourage marriage.
But though all are at liberty to marry, if they please, yet our Saviour, as well as St. Paul, seems to intimate the commendableness of the single life in some, if they are masters of their own purpose, and if they prefer it, that they may serve God with less distraction, and greater freedom from the cares of this life: if they choose to deny themselves, and to give themselves wholly up to the service of others in spreading the principles of religion, or promoting the interest of civil society, in any cases of emergency: provided also, that they herein act without ostentation, and do not overvalue themselves on this account, nor at all despise others; then there may be some commendableness in the single life. Nevertheless, after all, it may be reckoned probable, that there are not, and cannot be, many instances of the single life with all the above-mentioned qualifications.
VI. The Mosaic account of the origin of things teaches the duty of the sexes to each other in the married state.
This account teaches this, and is designed so to do. The design is so apparent, that it may possibly, lead some to question, whether there is not some studied contrivance in the narration. And if all is history, and things were so performed in the order here related, it may be esteemed unquestionable, that things were so done, particularly, that God created the man and the woman in this manner, and in this order, on purpose to convey these instructions. So therefore argues St. Paul. 1 Cor. xi. 7, 8, 9. " For the man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man." And in another place, 1 Tim. ii. 12, 13, 14. "But I suffer not a woman to teach, or to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve." Here he adds also: "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
Indeed all nations by their own reason and observation have discerned the same, and have allotted to men the cabinet of princes, the senate, and courts of judicature, as well as the command of navies and armies. But there are two ways of teaching one and the same thing. One is by reason, the other is by facts related in a certain order, and clothed with certain circumstances. And this latter method may be least offensive, and as effectual as the other. For comparisons between equals, or nearly so, are odious and disagreeable. Few or none can bear to insist upon majesty of countenance, bulk and strength of body, compass of knowledge, and solidity of judgment, as grounds of superiority and pre-eminence: when too there may be on the other side advantages of a different kind, that will bring the balance very nigh, if not quite, to an equilibre. The Mosaic narration affords a better, as it is a softer, argument. Ch. ii. 7. " And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. And man became a living soul." Afterwards ver. 18. " And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him an help meet for him." Ver. 21, 22." And he took one of his ribs And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man." All which affords excellent instruction. And if this account teaches yielding of will and desire on the one hand, it does as strongly enforce protection, love and tenderness on the other: the performance of which, suitably, on each side, it is likely, will secure mutual comfort and happiness.
VII. Man was put upon a fair and equitable trial, and fell from his primitive state of happiness by his own fault.
Ch. ii. 16, 17." And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat. in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."
Divines of all denominations, I think, are agreed that Adam had freedom of will, power to choose and to refuse. Good and evil were set before him. Nor was it a difficult thing to avoid the prohibited fruit; and yet he was induced to eat of it.
VIII. If Adam, who was made upright, was overcome by temptation, we ought to be upon our guard.
This is a duty inculcated upon all of us by our excellent Lord and Master. Especially ought we to guard against disadvantageous and dishonourable thoughts of the Deity. By this means, as much as any, the subtle serpent prevailed upon and deceived Eve. Ch. iii. 1. "Yea has God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Ver. 5. "For God does. know, that in the day ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." All dishonourable sentiments of God, as unmerciful, illiberal, rigid, and inexorable, except upon terms of strict justice, are as false as those here suggested by the serpent, or rather by Satan: and if hearkened to, will have a bad influence upon us, and lead us astray from him who is the source of our happiness.
IX. The fall of our first parents is not only an argument to watch ourselves, but also to watch over others. Says St. Paul, 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3. "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy For I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
X. The sentence pronounced by God upon our first parents for their transgression was mild and equitable: or it was a just sentence tempered with mercy.
The whole process of the judgment shows this, as related by Moses. First, Adam is summoned. He could not deny that he had eaten the forbidden fruit: but he has an excuse; not a very good one, yet an excuse it is. "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." The woman too had tasted of the forbidden fruit, and had first tasted. She likewise has an excuse and apology; and though not sufficient, yet of some moment. "And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." Still farther, God begins with pronouncing sentence upon the serpent, which must have been exceeding comfortable to our first parents. And an intimation is given, that the "seed of the woman" should prevail against the serpent: or, that the cause of truth and innocence, religion and virtue, and the true interest and happiness of man, should prevail and take place in the end.
And though afterwards there are distinct and several sentences pronounced upon each, even upon Adam and Eve; and the sentence of death, as common to both: yet they are not immediately destroyed, but have time afforded for repentance.
We cannot forbear therefore to observe the justice and equity of the Divine Being. Man must die, but not immediately. And he would meet with arguments to establish his resolutions for obedience to the will of God, and for performing the duties of his present condition. The angels that fell appear not to have had any mercy shown them: they, it is likely, had no tempter. Herein, then, there is a difference between man and them. God in his great goodness and equity considers this, and treats man accordingly. This, as well as other things, should induce us to acknowledge the goodness of God, and to guard against all those sentiments that impeach it. God is the fountain of goodness. God therefore is the most merciful and most equitable being in the universe.
XI. The Mosaic account may lead us to think, that some magnify the consequences of the fall of our first parents.
The sin of Adam was the introduction of death, and of the miseries of this life. And so far his sin is imputed to his descendants, that they all become liable to the sentence of natural death. As St. Paul says, Rom. v. 12. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. And so death," a sentence of death, " passed upon all men." This is not to be denied; nor is it any impeachment of the Divine justice or goodness. For God might have made man at first mortal, only supposing a future state: and that all things here, comforts and sorrows, be designed and ordered, as preparatory and disciplinary for another and better state.
But beside this, some assert, that the descendants of Adam derive from him a vitiated and corrupted nature, unable and averse to good, and inclined to evil. But where is this taught, either in this origin of things now before us, or in any other part of scripture? And would not this be, in reality, to make God the author of sin? Is not this imitating guilty Adam, who said: "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me, and I did eat." But if men could allege a vitiated nature, it would be a better apology than that of Adam. The bad conduct, and the solicitations of the woman, could be no more at the utmost than a temptation from without. But nature is inborn, and the man himself. If a bad nature be derived to him without his own fault, the evil is past remedy, and quite out of his power. And if bad actions flow from a bad nature, he is scarce accountable for them. They must be put to the account of nature, and the author of it.
Besides, what reason is there to apprehend so great an alteration made in the nature and powers of man by Adam's transgression? Is there an immense difference between Adam and his posterity? Adam was made innocent: but his virtue was not confirmed. How easily were Adam and Eve misled and drawn into transgression! Is it not very strange that, in their circumstances, they should not be satisfied without tasting of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil : when the prohibition was so express and strict, and they enjoyed great plenty of other things? The positive law, delivered to Adam, forbidding him to touch the fruit of that one tree, was a proper trial of his virtue. For it cannot be doubted, that he was obliged to respect this law of his Creator; and if he should disobey it, that must be owing to some defect or failure of moral virtue, as before observed.
Let us, then, not be unwilling to consider, whether the consequences of the fall of our first parents be not aggravated by some: and let us be careful not to admit any schemes which are derogatory to God's honour, and which countenance or justify men in their allowed weaknesses, or wilful transgressions.
XII. Finally, from the Mosaic account of the origin of things, and the explication which has been now given of it, we may be enabled to perceive, that the permission of the fall of our first parents, with the consequences of it, is no reflection upon the wisdom of the Divine government.
For rational creatures must be put upon trial. They cannot be without freedom of will, which may be abused. And as our first parents did not sin without a tempter, or of their own motion, as many of the angels seem to have done, God in his treatment of them has joined mercy with justice. Hence will arise glory to God, and good to men. God by his long suffering and patience, and the instructions afforded to them, and other methods of his Providence, the result of his unsearchable wisdom and goodness, will bring many of the sons of Adam to repentance, true holiness, eminent virtue, and heavenly glory and happiness, exceeding what could have been enjoyed on this earth, even in Paradise itself.
The virtue of true penitents is sometimes very great. They gain an establishment in the love and fear of God, and a full resolution for all goodness. The steady virtue of men amidst the temptations of this world will exceed the virtue of Adam in Paradise. It is true they are not innocent as he was; but they are upright, and fully resolved, and they overcome strong temptations and the moment of their virtue, according to equitable construction, (and such is that of the Divine judgment) may equal, and even surpass the virtue of an angel, who has not so great temptations. I am the more led to this, considering the great recompenses which God in the gospel has proposed to the faithful, the steady and victorious in this state of trial: and if we may attain to such excellence here, and such glory hereafter, we are greatly to blame, and much wanting to ourselves, if we do not "strive against sin," Heb. xii. 4. to the utmost, and resolutely, though humbly, and without ostentation, maintain our integrity amidst all the solicitations of this world.
END OF THE MOSAIC ACCOUNT.
TO JONAS HANWAY, ESQ.
IN WHICH SOME REASONS ARE ASSIGNED, WHY HOUSES FOR THE RECEPTION OF PENITENT WOMEN, WHO HAVE BEEN DISORDERLY IN THEIR LIVES, OUGHT NOT TO BE
CALLED MAGDALEN HOUSES.
OUR generous concern to promote good designs occasions you this trouble. There is now, and has been for some while, much discourse about erecting a house, or houses, for the reception of penitent women, who have been disorderly in their lives: a design formerly unknown and unheard of among us. It has been proposed by some that they should be called Magdalen Houses. And there is already established a house of this kind in Goodman's-fields, which is called a Magdalen House for penitent prostitutes.
As that denomination is disliked by others beside myself, I have taken the liberty to address you upon this subject.
I presume it may be owing to a supposition, that the fine story, recorded in the seventh chapter of St. Luke's gospel, of the gracious reception which our Lord gave to a woman, there called "a sinner," relates to Mary Magdalene. And you, Sir, if I do not misunderstand you, in your Letter to Robert Dingley, Esq. at p. 22, speak of Mary Magdalene as a harlot."
And that she is the woman, there spoken of, must have been at some times a prevailing opinion. For the summary of part of that chapter, in our English Bibles, is to this purpose. Our Lord showeth by occasion of Mary Magdalene, how he is a friend to sinners, not to 'maintain them in sins, but to forgive their sins upon faith and repentance.' "
Nevertheless I cannot think that Mary Magdalene is there meant.
One reason here offers from the history itself, at ver. 27, where she is said to be "a woman in the city," in which our Lord then was: which, according to most harmonizers of the gospels, was either Capernaum or Naim: whereas there can be no reason to believe that Mary Magdalene resided at either of those places. Says Mr. James Macknight, Harm. sect. xliii. p. 134. 'H paydaλnvy, the Magdalene or Magdalite, probably from Magdala, the place of her nativity, a ⚫ town situated somewhere beside the lake, and mentioned Matt. xv. 29.'
A passage at the beginning of the next chapter of St. Luke's gospel deserves particular attention, which, therefore, shall be here recited. "And it came to pass afterwards, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching, and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom
The words, to which I refer, are these: What judgment did the Saviour of the world pass on a harlot? What I was the case of Mary Magdalene?'
The contents, or summaries, prefixed to the chapters in our Bibles, seem to have been annexed to the English translation now in use, which was made in the time of king James the first. For in all editions of that translation, so far as I have observed, they are the same, where there are any contents at all. But it is not to be supposed that they represent the sense of all learned men in general. For in an English Bible in the quarto form, printed in the reign of queen Elizabeth in 1599, by the deputies of Christopher
Barker, the summary of that paragraph in Luke vii. is this: The sinful woman washeth Jesus' feet.' In Pool's English Annotations it is this: Eating at Simon's house, a woman washeth his feet with tears,' &c. And in Dr. Clarke's Paraphrase, the same paragraph is briefly expressed in this manner: Jesus shows by the similitude of a forgiven debtor, that re'penting sinners often exceed other men in zeal and piety." I might refer to others; but these instances are sufficient to show, that not a few learned men have declined naming the woman there spoken of, and that they have not been satisfied she was the same with Mary Magdalene.
And the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits, and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna, wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susannah, and many others. Which ministered to him of their substance, ch. viii. 1, 2, 3.
This text affords divers reasons for thinking, that Mary Magdalene is not the woman intended in the preceding chapter.
In the first place, it hence appears, that Mary Magdalene was a woman of quality. But it is very uncommon for such to deserve the character given, ch. vii. 37, "a woman in the city which was a sinner." And the pharisee, at whose house our Lord was then entertained, " spake within himself, saying: This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him. For she is a sinner."
Mr. Macknight, again, argues to the like purpose, p. 134. Mary Magdalene seems rather to have been a woman of high station and opulent fortune, being mentioned by St. Luke even before Joanna, the wife of so great a man as Herod's steward. Besides, the other evangelists, when they have occasion to speak of our Lord's female friends, commonly assign the first place to Mary Magdalene.' As Matt. xxvii. 56, 61. xxviii. 1. Mark xv. 40, 47. And see Luke xxiv. 10. But John xix. 25. affords an exception.
Grotius, in his Annotations upon Matt. xxviii. 1. speaks to the like purpose. He likewise thinks, it was at her expence, chiefly, that the spices were prepared for embalming the body of Jesus.
To which I would add, that the precedence, just taken notice of, may have been, partly, owing to her age.
Secondly, In the text, which we are now considering, Mary Magdalene is mentioned with other women," who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities." And of her is said, "out of whom went seven devils." Which is also observed by another evangelist, Mark xvi. 9. She therefore was one of those, who are sometimes called dæmoniacs, and had been possessed, as we generally say, by evil spirits."
Accordingly, Dr. Lardner, in his case of the dæmoniacs, mentioned in the New Testament, has several times taken notice of Mary Magdalene. He says: What was Mary's case, appears in general by St. Luke's account. ch. viii. 1, 2-Here Mary is reckoned among those, whom our Lord had healed of infirmities, and such infirmities, as were ascribed to evil spirits.'
But I do not think, we can with certainty conclude from those words, what was her particular affliction, because the Jews in those times imputed a great variety of distempers to the 'influence of dæmons. But though we dare not say positively, what was her case, whether a distempered frame of mind, or epilepsy, or somewhat else: it appears to me very evident, that 'some natural, not moral distemper, is hereby intended, and that by seven dæmons is meant many a certain number being put for an uncertain. It was supposed, as in the case of the man, who called himself legion, that more than one dæmon, or unclean spirit, was concerned in inflicting, or aggravating the infirmity, which she had been afflicted with, and which our blessed Lord graciously removed.'
Thirdly, In this text Mary Magdalene is mentioned with divers other honourable women, who attended our Lord in his journies, and ministered to him of their substance."
But it may be justly questioned, whether our Lord would have allowed of that, if Mary's conduct had been unreputable in the former part of her life. For though he received such an one as a penitent, and assured her of the forgiveness of her sins; it would not be easily reconciled with the rules of prudence to admit such a person to a stated attendance. This argument has affected the minds of many learned men."
• Maria Magdalene.'] Quam, ut ducem agminis, Matthæus nominat. Et credo ab eâ factos præcipue sumptus. Sane cæteris nobilior fuisse videtur, quia nomen ejus aliis præponi solet. Grot. in Matt. xxviii. 1.
Dr. Clarke's Paraphrase of Luke viii. 2, is thus: parti'cularly, Mary Magdalene, whom he had miraculously delivered from evil spirits, that had possessed her.'
• Of that attendance Grotius speaks in this manner. More
Judaïco, ut recte notat Hieronymus, mulieres, viduæ præsertim, solebant magistris necessaria suppeditare. Quod secuti sunt Apostoli inter Judæos, Paulus inter Gentes omisit, ne sinisterioris sermonis ansam præberet. Maluit autem Christus admittere hoc beneficium, quam cum Apostolorum comitatu gravis esse ignotis, ad quos adventabat. Grot. ad Luc. viii. 1.
• Sed et de vitâ Magdalenæ ante actâ nihil plane constat,