Imágenes de página

the first place, it is the divine precepts themselves that are obligatory, not the consequences deduced from them by human reasoning; for what appears a reasonable inference to one individual, may not be equally obvious to another of similar discernment. Secondly, he who puts away his wife and marries another, is not said to commit adultery because he marries another, but because in consequence of his marriage with another he does not retain his former wife, to whom also he owed the performance of conjugal duties; whence it is expressly said, Mark x. 11. · he committeth adultery against her.' That he is in a condition to perform his conjugal duties to the one, after having taken another to her, is shown by God himself, Exod. xxi. 10. if he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall he not diminish.' It cannot be supposed that the divine forethought intended to provide for adultery.

Nor is it allowable to argue, from 1 Cor. vii. 2. • let every man have his own wife,' that therefore none should have more than one ; for the meaning of the precept is, that every man should have his own wife to himself, not that he should have but one wife. That bishops and elders should have no more than one wife is explicitly enjoined 1 Tim. iii. 2. and Tit. i. 6. he must be the husband of one wife,' in order probably that they may discharge with greater diligence the ecclesiastical duties which they have undertaken. The command itself, however, is a sufficient proof that polygamy was not forbidden to the rest, and that it was common in the church at that time.

this treatise furnishes numerous examples, ders it not improbable that it was originally written pro adulterino ; for which the amenuensis employed in transcribing this part of the manuscript, substituted the more common word adulterio.

Lastly, in answer to what is urged from 1 Cor. vii. 4. "likewise also the husband hath not power

of his own body, but the wife,' it is easy to reply, as was done above, that the word wife in this passage is used with reference to the species, and not to the number. Nor can the power of the wife over the body of her husband be different now from what it was under the law, where it is called 7y, Exod. xxi. 10. and signifies her stated times, which St. Paul expresses in the present chapter by the phrase, her due benevolence. With regard to what is due, the Hebrew word is sufficiently explicit.*

On the other hand, the following passages clearly admit the lawfulness of polygamy. Exod. xxi. 10. • if he take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall he not diminish.' Deut. xvii. 17. neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away. Would the law have been so loosely worded, if it had not been allowable to take more wives than one at the same time? Who would venture to subjoin as an inference from this language, therefore let him have one only ? In such case, since it is said in the preceding verse,

he shall not multiply horses to himself,' it would be necessary to subjoin there also, therefore he shall have one horse only. Nor do we want any proof to assure us, that the first institution of marriage was intended to bind the prince equally with the people ;

Love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet.

Paradise Lost, X. 994.

if therefore it permits only one wise, it permits no more even to the prince. But the reason given for the law is this, that his heart turn not away ;' a danger which would arise if he were to marry many, and especially strange women, as Solomon afterwards did. Now if the present law had been intended merely as a confirmation and vindication of the primary institution of marriage, nothing could have been more appropriate than to have recited the institution itself in this place, and not to have advanced that reason alone which has been mentioned.

Let us hear the words of God himself, the author of the law, and the best interpreter of his own will. 2 Sam. xii. 8. • I gave thee thy master's wives into thy bosom....and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.' Here there can be no subterfuge; God gave him wives, he gave them to the man whom he loved, as one among a number of great benefits ; he would have given him more, if these had not been enough. Besides, the very argument which God uses towards David, is of more force when applied to the gift of wives, than to any other,—thou oughtest at least to have abstained from the wife of another person, not so much because I had given thee thy master's house, or thy master's kingdom, as because I had given thee the wives of the king. Beza indeed objects, that David herein committed incest, namely, with the wives of his father-in-law.* But he had forgotten what is indicated by Esther ii. 12, 13. that the kings of Israel had two houses for the women, one appointed for the virgins, the other for the concubines, and that it was the former and not the latter which were given to David. This appears also from 1 Kings i. 4. the king knew her not.' Cantic. vi. 8. there are fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.' At the same time it might be said with perfect propriety that God had given him his master's wives, even supposing that he had only given him as many in number and of the same description, though not the very same; even as he gave him, not indeed the identical house and retinue of his master, but one equally magnificent and royal.

* Deinde, si valeret Ochini argumentum, profecto non tantum poly. gamiam sed etiam incestus probaret; si quidem consanguinei uxoris eodem gradu junguntur viro quo ipsi uxori. Itaque non magis licuit Davidi ducere uxoris suæ Michal povercas, quam suam ipsius novercam.' Beza De Polygamia.

It is not wonderful, therefore, that what the authority of the law, and the voice of God himself has sanctioned, should be alluded to by the holy prophets in their inspired hymns as a thing lawful and honourable. Psal. xlv. 9. (which is entitled • A song of loves ’) • kings' daughters were among thy honourable women.' v. 14. the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.' Nay, the words of this very song are quoted by the apostle to the Hebrews, i. 8. unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God,' &c. as the words wherein God the Father himself addresses the Son, and in which his divinity is asserted more clearly than in any other passage. Would it have been proper for God the Father to speak by the mouth of harlots, and to manifest his holy Son to mankind as God in the amatory songs of adulteresses ? Thus also in Cantic. vi: 8–10. the queens and concubines are evidently mentioned with honour, and are all without distinction



considered worthy of celebrating the praises of the bride ; there are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number....the daughters saw ber and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. Nor must we omit 2 Chron. xxiv. 2, 3. Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest : and Jehoiada took for him two wives.' For the two clauses are not placed in contrast, or disjoined from each other, but it is said in one and the same connection that under the guidance of Jehoiada he did that which was right, and that by the authority of the same individual he married two wives. This is contrary to the usual practice in the eulogies of the kings, where, if to the general character anything blameable be subjoined, it is expressly excepted; 1 Kings xv. 5. 'save only in the matter of Uriah the Iittite.' v. 11, 14. and Asa did that which was right....but the high places were not removed : nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect.' Since therefore the right conduct of Joash is mentioned in unqualified terms, in conjunction with bis double marriage, it is evident that the latter was not considered matter of censure ; for the sacred historian would not have neglected so suitable an opportunity of making the customary exception, if there bad really been anything which deserved disapprobation.

Moreover, God himself in an allegorical fiction, Ezek. xxiii. 4. represents himself as having espoused two wives, Aholah and Aholibah ; a mode of speaking which he would by no means have employed, especially at such length, even in a parable, nor indeed have taken on himself such a character at all, if the

« AnteriorContinuar »