Imágenes de páginas

ing the first two thousand years after the Institution of Marriage, was that of Lamech; and this appears to have been considered by himself, and those around him, as sinful. Moah, and his three sons, had but one wife each. All the instances of Polygamy of which the history is given in the Scriptures, to any extent, were sources of many and bitter calamities, both to the Parents and Children. Equally hostile to this practice is the state of facts. The numbers of the sewes, born, and living to adult years, in all nations and ages, have been so nearly equal, as to indicate plainly the will of the Author of our being, that one man and one woman, only, were to be united as parties in Marriage. This equality is, indeed, denied by Mr. Bruce, with respect to Syria and Arabia ; and with no small appearance of being founded on evidence. But when I remember, that it is a contradiction to the law of our nature in all ages, and in all other places; that the fact is mentioned by no ancient or modern historian; that JMr. Bruce, so far as my information extends, is the only traveller, who has mentioned it; particularly, that it escaped the observations of Shaw, Russel, Maundrel, and especially Nieburh, I cannot help believing, that this respectable Writer was misled in his apprehensions. It ought to be added, that the knowledge, in question, must, if attained at all, be from the existing state of Society in those countries attained with extreme difficulty, and accompanied with not a little uncertainty. This story is also expressly contradicted by Lord Valentia, who has lately travelled in Arabia. Polygamy is unfriendly to population. When the World was to be replenished, under an immediate command of God, with human beings; a single pair was chosen to be the means of accomplishing this design. When the same design was, under the same command, to be accomplished anew ; God chose the three sons of Noah, and their three wives, as the proper means of sulfilling it. The Turks are Polygamists. They possess all the power, almost all the wealth, and therefore almost all the means of subsistence, found in their empire. Yet they are few in number, compared with the Greeks ; who marry but one wife, and who. subjected to iron bondage under the despotism of these hard masters, are continually impoverished, and plundered of a precarious subsistence, by their rapacious hands. Polygamy degrades from their proper rank, privileges, and enjoyments, to an almost animal level, one half of the human race. This enormous injustice no consideration can excuse, or palliate. Polygamy has regularly introduced domestic broils of the most bitter kind, terminating in the most fatal manner, and involving in their deplorable consequences both the Parents and the Children. Of this truth complete proofs are found in the few historical accounts, which have reached us, of the Turkish and Persian royal families. These considerations, if I mistake not, amply prove, that Polygamy is unlawful, and a direct violation of the Seventh Command. I shall now proceed to consider the proper subject of the Text. This I shall introduce under the following General Observation, as directly expressing the principal doctrine in the Text; That Divorces, for any other cause, except Incontinence, are unlawful. This important Scriptural Truth I shall endeavour to support by arguments, derived both from Scripture, and Reason. From the Scriptures, I allege, 1. That Marriage is a Divine Institution; and is, therefore, unalterable by Man. That Marriage is a Divine Institution has, I apprehend, been made abundantly evident from various parts of this passage, examined in the discourse on the Origin of Marriage. It was there proved, if I mistake not, that God has really joined together every lawfully married pair among the children of Adam. That what God hath thus joined by his Infinite Authority, man cannot lawfully put asunder, needs no illustration. God has made the twain one. Man cannot make them twain again, unless with the evident permission of God. It is to be observed here, that the translation exactly expresses the meaning of the original in this part of the text: Let not Man put asunder. The Greek word is avégoiros, without the article : the most absolute, and unlimited, expression, in that language, to denote man universally, without any respect to age, ser, or condition. The prohibition, therefore, is not, that the husband, as among the Jews, Greeks, and others; nor that a judicial tribunal, as among ourselves; nor that a legislature, as in some other Communities; may not sunder this union; but that Man, in no condition, place, or time ; Man, possessed of no authority whatever; may sunder this union, without an express permission from God. 2. I allege as a decisive argument, the Guilt, which is directly charged by Christ upon all the parties in the Divorce, and the consequent Marriages. In the Text, Christ declares, that the man, who divorces his wife, and marries another, and the man, who marries the divorced wife, are both guilty of adultery in this transaction. The same crime, in Matth. v. 32, is charged upon the divorced woman. It will not be questioned, that the woman, who marries the divorced husband, is guilty in exactly the same manner. Neither of these Marriages, therefore, can possibly take place, without involving the crime of adultery in both the married parties. Conscquently, a Divorce, except for Incontinence, is here for ever barred. A Divorce professedly sets the parties free; so that they may lawfully marry again. But it is plain from these observations, that they cannot be thus set free, and can never lawfully marry again. Whatever husbands, judges, or legislators, may think, or declare, or do; all these parties will by their subsequent Marriages become guilty of adultery. Thus Christ has pronounced; and thus He certainly will pronounce at the final day. It is here to be remarked, that this decision of Christ was totally contrary to the views, entertained by his Apostles. This they directly declare in the following words; If the case of the man be so with his wife ; it is not good to marry. Christ, however, does not qualify, nor soften, the decision at all. On the contrary, he leaves it exactly where he had left it before. All men, he replies, cannot receive this saying ; save they, to whom it is given; and again; He, that is able to receive it, let him receive it.


3. St. Paul has determined the same point anew ; and in the most explicit manner conceivable. Unto the married I command; yet not I, but the Lord; Let not the wife depart : xagonval, be separated; that is, by a divorce; voluntarily accomplished by herself; from her husband; this being the only command, which could be addressed to the wife with any meaning. But and if she depart ; Eaw ös xa, x-gion; But even if she be separated; that is, by means of a divorce, accomplished by him; let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife; xa, avóga 7 waixa un apieval, and I also command the husband not to put away his wife. This also is a part of the Command, given by Christ in the Text; and is quoted, not as I apprehend from the Text itself, which it is very possible St. Paul, at this time, may not have seen; but from that immediate Revelation, which this Apostle received of the Gospel from the mouth of Christ. We have here the decision of Christ concerning this subject recited, and declared to be his decision by St. Paul; and therefore know the manner, in which this command of our Saviour was understood by an inspired commentator. The same precept is here given in all its latitude. A Divorce, on both sides, is absolutely prohibited; and, in case of a Divorce, the injured party, the person divorced, is forbidden expressly, and absolutely, to marry again. The Apostle then goes on, But to the rest; that is, to those, whose cases were not contemplated by the command of Christ, because they had not existed, when that command was given ; But to the rest I command, not the Lord. If any Brother, that is, a Christian, hath a wife, who is an infidel, and she be well pleased to dwell with him; let him not put her away : and, if any woman, that is, any Christian woman, hath an husband, who is an infidel, and he be well pleased to dwell with her; let her not put him away. The case here mentioned by the Apostle was a new one. While Christ was on earth, there were no Christians, who had infidel, that is heathen, husbands, or wives. For the peculiar circumstances of persons, thus situated, Christ had, therefore, made no direct, explicit provision. Doubts concerning the proper conduct of such persons, with regard to the duties of the married state, appear, evidently, to have arisen in the Church of Corinth. The great evil, felt by these Christians, concerning which they clearly appear to me to have written to St. Paul for his directions, seems to have consisted in these two things : the difficulties, to which they were subjected by their infidel husbands and wives, with respect to their attendance on the Ordinances of the Gospel; and their fears, lest their children, having one infidel parent, should, on account of this fact, be excluded from the Christian Church, and denied the Ordinance of Baptism. The latter of these evils the Apostle removes, together with the apprehensions of it, in the following verse. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. That is, the unbelieving party in the marriagestate is, by means of this connection with the believing party, sanctified, in such a sense, that the children are not put out of the covenant, but may be offered up to God in Baptism. The former of these difficulties the Apostle obviates in the verse, next succeeding. But if the unbelieving depart; let him depart. El 6s aridros xogičeral, xogičegów. If the infidel separate himself, let him separate himself. A brother, or a sister, is not in bondage in such things. But God hath called us to peace. The Apostle, it is to be remembered, had no control over the Heathen. He says therefore, If the Infidel separate himself; let himseparate himself. This is a case, over which I have no control; in which you can obtain no relief; and to which you are, therefore, bound to submit with patience and resignation. But a Brother, or Sister, is under no obligation to follow the Infidel Party; whatever may be thought concerning the extent of the marriage-vow; nor to forsake the Worship of God, or its Ordinances; nor to consent, that his or her children should be withdrawn from the privileges of religion. Such a case involves the deepest bondage; and to this bondage no Christian brother, or sister, is subjected. The Verb, here rendered is in bondage, is Ösis) wra; literally rendered hath been reduced to the deepest servitude. The servitude, intended by the Apostle, is, in my apprehension, unquestionably the submission of a Christian to an infidel husband, or trife, so hostile to the Christian Religion, as to

« AnteriorContinuar »