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pair, his soul becomes a charnel-house, where life, and peace. and comfort, have expired; a tomb, dark and hollow, covering the remains of departed enjoyment, and opening no more to the entrance of the living. It involves injuries to the children, which numbers cannot calculate, and which the tongue cannot describe. The hand of villainy has robbed them of all their peculiar blessings; the blessings of maternal care and tenderness; the rich blessings of maternal instruction and government; the delightful and most persuasive blessings of maternal example; the exalted privilege of united parental prayers; and the exquisite enjoyments of a peaceful, harmonious, and happy fire-side; once exquisitely happy, but now to be happy no more. To this most affecting and pitiable train of mourners, a numerous and additional train of friends unite themselves, to deplore the common woe. A singular, an agonizing, procession is formed, at the funeral of departed virtue. Tears stream, which no hand can wipc away. Groans ascend, which no comforter can charm to peace. Bosoms heave with anguish, which all the balm of Gilead cannot soothe. The object of lamentation is gone for ever; and all that remains is a mass of living death, soon to be buried in the eternal grave. 7. This wickedness, when it becomes extensive, overspreads a Country with final ruin. It is the nature of this evil, not only to become greater, and greater, in individuals, but to extend continually, also, to greater, and greater, numbers of individuals. The corruption of Sodom, and the neighbouring cities of the plain, was rapid, and complete. Within a short period after they were built, ten righteous persons could not be found in them all. What was true of these cities, is true of others in similar circumstances. To the Israelites before they entered into Canaan, God prescribed a long series of laws, requiring absolute purity of conduct; prohibiting in the most solemn manner lewdness of every kind; and enacting against it the most dreadful penalties. Do not, said Jehovah, prostitute thy daughter; lest the land become full of wickedness. Ye shall not commit any of these abominations, that the land ‘pue not you out, also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. In the sight of God, therefore, this sin is peculiarly the source of corruption to a land; a source, whence it becomes full of wickedness; and vomits out its inhabitants, as being unable to bear them. Those who practise it, and the nation, in which the practice prevails, are, he declares, abhorted by him, and shall be finally destroyed. For whosoever, saith he, shall commit any of these abominations, that soul shall be cut off from his people. As crimes of this nature become less and less unfrequent; they become less and less scandalous; and by all, who are inclined to perpetrate them, are esteemed less and less sinful. Of course they are regarded with decreasing reluctance and horror. The father practises them; and with his example corrupts his son. The husband in the same manner corrupts his wife; the brother his brother; the friend his friend; and the neighbour his neighbour. Soon the Brothel raises its polluted walls; and becomes a seminary of Satan, where crimes are provided; taught; perpetrated; multiplied without number, and beyond degree; and, to a great extent, concealed from the public eye. To one of these caverns of darkness and death, another succeeds. and another; until the city, and ultimately the whole land, becomes one vast Sodom. Lost to every thought of reformation, and to every feeling of Conscience; an astonishment, and a hissing, to mankind; a reprobate of Heaven; it invokes upon the heads of its putrid inhabitants a new tempest of fire and brimstone. Morals, life, and hope, to such a Community, have expired. They breathe, indeed, and move, and act; and to the careless eye appear as living beings. But the life is merely a counterfeit. They are only a host of moving corpses; an assembly of the dead, destined to no future resurrection. Dis. turbed and restless spectres, they haunt the surface of the earth in material forms, filling the sober and contemplative mind with alarm and horror; until they finally disappear, and hurry through the gloomy mansions of the grave to everlasting woe.
MAtthew xix. 3–11.
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause * .And he answered, and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He, which made them at the beginning, made them male and female; and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh & Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say writo him, Why did Moses, then, command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away 2 He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery : and whoso marrieth her, which is put away, doth commit adultery. His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife; it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying ; save they, to whom it is given.
The next violation of the Seventh Command, which I shall think it necessary to examine at large in this system, is Divorce.
Were I delivering a formal course of Ethical Lectures; I should secl myself obliged to extend the same examination to Polygamy. As a practical subject in this Country, it demands, indeed, little consideration. But from its inherent importance, and its extensive prevalence in the world; and still more from the fact, that it has been either partially, or wholly, defended by some grave men; it deserves to become a subject of serious consideration. Thinking men ought on such a subject to have their opinions settled. For these reasons, although I cannot expatiate, I feel myself bound to make a few observations upon it in a summary manner. Polygamy is unlawful, because God in the original Institution of JMarriage confines it to the union of one man with one woman. For this cause, said He, who created them male and female, shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh. Whom God, therefore, hath joined together let not man put asunder. God hath joined two. This is the only Authority, under which Marriage lawfully exists. Polygamy is, therefore, a violation of the Institution of God. Polygamy appears to be directly forbidden in the Mosaic Law. Lev. xviii. 18. Thou shalt not take a wife to her Sister, to ver her, in her life time : or, as it is in the Margin, Thou shall not take one wife to another. The words “a wife to her sister,” Dr. Edwards observes, are found in the Hebrew, if I remember right, eight times. In every other passage, except that just quoted, they refer to inanimate objects: such as the wings of the Cherubim, Tenons, Mortices, &c. They seem to denote, principally, the exact likeness of one thing to another; and here forbid, as the margin expresses it, the taking of one wife to another in her life time. Polygamy is forbidden in the Prophecy of Malachi. The Lord hath beca witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one 2 That he might scek a godly seed. Mal. ii. 14, 15. The prophet, in this passage, although speaking of all the wives in the nation of Israel, yet mentions the word in the singular number only. Of the union of one husband with one wife he de
clares God to have been witness; and thus plainly indicates, that this union lawfully extended to no more. In the second verse quoted, he asks, Did He not make one 2 That is, one wife, when he had the residue of the Spirit, and could with the same ease have created many, if he had pleased. And wherefore one 2 To this question he answers, That he might seek a godly seed. In other words, he created one man and one woman, and united them, and them only, in the Marriage Institution; because one husband and one wife, thus united, would by religious education, and example, promote piety in their offspring. This is an implicit, but clear and decisive, declaration, that in a state of Polygamy, pious children would very rarely be found. Polygamy, therefore, cannot be lawful; as being hostile to the design of God in this Institution, and to the highest interest of mankind. Polygamy is expressly forbidden in the Teat. Here, the man, who puts away his wife, and marries another, is declared to commit adultery. In what does this adultery consist Certainly not in putting away the former wife. A man may obviously leave his wife, or a woman her husband, and yet neither of them be at all guilty of this sin. The adultery, then, consists in the fact, that the man marries a second wife, while the first is living. But this is always done in Polygamy. Polygamy is, therefore, a continued state of Adultery. There is not a passage in the Scriptures, in which the Institution of Marriage, or the relation which it creates, is spoken of in the form. either of doctrine, or precept, which gives even a remote hint of the lawful union of more than two persons. Husband and Wise are the terms, invariably used in every case of this nature. A Bishop and a Deacon, in an age, when Polygamy was common, are expressly required, each, to be a husband of one wife. Yet Marriage is declared to be honourable in all. If Polygamy, then, were at all the marriage spoken of, or the Scriptural Marriage; it would be honourable, and therefore becoming, and proper, in Bishops and Deacons; and no reason appears for this restriction on them, any more than on other men. The only instance of Polygamy, recorded in the Scriptures, durVol. IV. 33