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It involves injuries to the children, which numbers cauhot calculate, and which the tongue cannot describe. The hand of villany has robbed of all their peculiar blessings; the blessings of maternal care and tenderness; the rich blessings of maternäl 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 fireside; 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 wo. A singular, an agonizing, procession is É. ed, at the funeral of departed virtue. Tears stream, which no hand can wipe away. Groans ascend, which no comforter can charm to peace. Bosoms heave with anguish, which all the balm of Gilead cannot sooth. 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; o 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 spew not you out, also, when ye defile it, as it spewed 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, abhorred 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. Vol. III. 53
Soon the Brothel raises its polluted walls ; and becomes a seminary of Satan, where crimes are provided; taught; pool; 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. Disturbed and restless spectres, they haunt the surface of the earth in material forms, filling the sober and contempla: tive mind with alarm and horror; until they finally disappear, and hurry through the gloomy mansions of the grave to everlasting wo.
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 2 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 unto him, Why did Moses, then, command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith wnto 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 †. is Divorce. Were I delivering a formal course of Ethical Lectures; I should feel 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 revalence in the world; and still more from the fact, that it has É. either partially, or wholly, defended by some grave men; it deserves to become a subject of serious consideration. Thinking men ought on such a o to have their opinions settled. For these reasons, although I cannot expiate, 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 Marriage 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#. 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&: they refer to inanimate objects: such as the wings of the Cherubim, Tenone, JMortices, &c. They seem to denote, principally, the exact likeness of one o; 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 been witness between thee and the trife 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 2 Yet had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one 2 That he might seek 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 declares 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 ... 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 Tert. 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 JMarriage, 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 Wife are the terms, invariably used in every case of this nature. .4 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 i. becoming, and proper, o 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, during 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. Noah 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 sexes, 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 oão 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 Mr. 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 W. 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. l Polugamy is unfriendly to population. § . W. . toiled, 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 fulfilling 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 #; terminating in the most fatal manner, and involving in their deplorable consequences both the Parents and the Children.