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the Sabbath in the wilderness, Exod. xvi. a short time previous to the delivery of the law, namely, that no one should go out to gather manna on the seventh morning, because God had said that he would not rain it from heaven on that day, seems rather to have been intended as a preparatory notice, the groundwork, as it were, of a law for the Israelites, to be delivered shortly afterwards in a clearer manner: they having been previously ignorant of the mode of observing the Sabbath. Compare v. 5. with v. 22—30. For the rulers of the congregation, who ought to have been better acquainted than the rest with the commandment of the Sabbath, if any such institution then existed, wondered why the people gathered twice as much on the sixth day, and appealed to Moses; who then, as if announcing something new, proclaimed to them that the morrow would be the Sabbath. After which, as if he had already related in what manner the Sabbath was for the first time observed, he
proceeds, v. 30. so the people rested on the seventh day.'
That the Israelites had not so much as heard of the Sabbath before this time, seems to be confirmed by several passages of the prophets. Ezek. xx. 10–12. · I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness ; and I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgements ...moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah that sanctify them.' Neh. ix. 13, 14. “thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai...and gavest them right judgements......and madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them
precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.' This subject, however, will come again under discussion, Book II. Chap. vii.
With regard to marriage, it is clear that it was instituted, if not commanded, at the creation, and that it consisted in the mutual love, society, help, and comfort of the husband and wife, though with a reservation of superior rights to the husband.* Gen. ii. 18. “it is not good that the man should be alone ;
I will make him an help meet for him.' 1 Cor. xi. 7-9. · for a man....is the image of the glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man : for the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man; neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.' The power of the husband was even increased after the fall. Gen iii. 16.‘thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.' Therefore the word Sya in the Hebrew signifies both husband and lord. Thus Sarah is represented as calling her husband Abraham lord, 1 Pet. iii. 6. 1 Tim. ii. 12-14, I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence : for Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression.'
* See Tetrachordon. It might be doubted, &c......lost by her means.' Prose Works, II. 121, 122. “What an injury is it after wedlock.....to be contended with in point of house rule who shall be the head...“ I suffer not,” saith St. Paul, “ the woman to usurp authority over the man." If the apostle would not suffer it, into what mould is he mortified that can?" Doctrine, &c. of Divorce, II. 36.
... Was she made thy guide,
Paradise Lost, X. 146. See also XI. 291, 634-636.
Marriage, therefore, is a most intimate connection of man with woman, ordained by God, for the purpose either of the procreation of children, or of the relief and solace of life. Hence it is said, Gen. ï. 27. therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.' This is neither a law nor a commandment, but an effect or natural consequence of that most intimate union which would have existed between them in the perfect state of man ; nor is the passage intended to serve any other purpose, than to account for the origin of families.
In the definition which I have given, I have not said, in compliance with the common opinion, of one man with one woman, lest I should by implication charge the holy patriarchs and pillars of our faith, Abraham and the others who had more than one wife at the same time, with habitual fornication and adultery ; and lest I should be forced to exclude from the sanctuary of God as spurious, the holy offspring which sprang from them, yea, the whole of the sons of Israel, for whom the sanctuary itself was made. For it is said, Deut. xxi. 2. a bastard shall not enter into the congregation of Jehovah, even to his tenth generation. Either therefore polygamy is a true marriage,* or all children born in that state are spurious ; which would include the whole race of Jacob, the twelve holy tribes chosen by God. But as such an assertion would be absurd in the extreme, not to say impious, and as it is the height of injustice, as well as an example of most dangerous tendency in religion, to account as sin what is not such in reality ;* it appears to me, that, so far from the question respecting the lawfulness of polygamy being trivial, it is of the highest importance that it should be decided.
* Certain it is that whereas other nations used a liberty not unnatural, for one man to have many wives, the Britons altogether as licentious but more absurd and preposterous in their license, had one or many wives in common among ten or twelve husbands. History of England. Prose Works, IV. 68. With the exception of this hint, I am not aware of any passage in Milton's printed works which contains a clew to his opinions respecting polygamy. His history was written just before he became Latin Secretary to the Council, about the year 1650 ; and it is observable that although, according to the above quotation, he appears to have been inclined in favour of the practice, he then admitted its licentiousness.
Those who deny its lawfulness, attempt to prove their position from Gen. ï. 21.“a man shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh,' compared with Matt. xix. 5. “they twain shall be one flesh.' A man shall cleave, they say, to his wife, not to his wives, and they twain, and no more, shall be one flesh. This is certainly ingenious ; and I therefore subjoin the passage in Exod. xx. 17. thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass :' whence
† See the title to The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce ; --wherein also are set down the bad consequences of abolishing, or condemning of sin, that which the law of God allows, and Christ abolished not.' Prose Works, I. 332. “In these opinions it would be more religion to advise well, lest we make ourselves juster than God, by censuring rashly that for sin, which bis unspotted law without rebuke allows, and his people without being conscious of displeasing him have used.' Doctrine, &c. II. 32.
it would follow that no one had more than a single house, a single man-servant, a single maid-servant, a single ox, or ass.
It would be ridiculous to argue, that it is not said houses, but house, not man servants but man-servant, not even neighbours, but neighbour ; as if it were not the general custom, in laying down commandments of this kind, to use the singular number, not in a numerical sense, but as designating the species of the thing intended. With regard to the phrase, “they twain,' and not more, shall be one flesh,' it is to be observed, first, that the context refers to the husband and that wife only whom he was seeking to divorce, without intending any allusion to the number of his wives, whether one or more. Secondly, marriage is in the nature of a relation ; and to one relation there can be no more than two parties. In the same sense therefore as if a man has many sons, his paternal relation towards them all is manifold, but towards each individually is single and complete in itself; by parity of reasoning, if a man has many wives, the relation which he bears to each will not be less perfect in itself, nor will the husband be less one flesh' with each of them, than if he had only one wife. Thus it might be properly said of Abraham, with regard to Sarah and Hagar respectively, these twain were one flesh.' And with good reason; for whoever consorts with harlots, however many in number, is still said to be one flesh with each ; 1 Cor. vi. 16. what, know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. The expression may therefore be applied as properly to the husband who has many wives, as to him who has only one. Hence it fol