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Not a word against polygamy. How is it possible, in any reason, to think that this, if a sin, should never be mentioned as such, by God—by Moses—or any one of the prophets?
Here I may particularly mention Elijah the Tifibite, who could with truth say of himself, i Kings xix. 1.0. TlNJp Nip zelando zelatus sum. Mont. Which emphatical reduplication we translate by — I have been Very Jealous for the Lord Of Hosts. This holy man was fired with zeal for God's law, and was a most faithful and undaunted reprover of fin, even to the very face of king Ahab (who at that time reigned in Israel, and was doubtless a polygamist, by his having seventysons J yet not a word is laid about his polygamy; which could hardly have been omitted, had it been a sin against either the primary law of marriage, or the seventh commandment. The fame zeal which led Elijah to tell Ahab, that he and his father s house had troubled Israel, by forsaking the commandments of the Lord, and following Baalim, must surely have led him to reprove Ahab'% polygamy, had that also been a forsaking the commandments of Jehovah. The scripture, I Kings xvi. 31. strongly remarks, as an aggravation of Ahab's superlative wickedness, K 3 that
that he marries an idolatress, contrary tp Deut. vii. 3. Had his polygamy been contrary to Exod. xx. 14. this would hardly have escaped the reproofs of the prophet Elijah, who did not forget Jezabel, and the prophets which ate at her table. 1 Kings xix. 19. 1 Although it be true, that none of the prophets before the captivity mention it as a Jin, yet did not Malachi, after the return from the captivity, speak of it, and in very severe terms condemn it? thus closing the canon of the Old Testament with a most awful reprehension of it? Mai. ii. 14, 15.
As this famous passage is taken for granted to be a condemnation of polygamy under the Old Testament, let us examine ity and we shall find that it does not even relate to the subject: if it did, it would be very strange, that so material a point should escape all the prophets that went before him, Moses himself not excepted. This single circumstance should make one suspicious of the common interpretation given to this portion of scripture by the general run of commentators, who, mistaking the found of the words for the fense of the text, have followed one another like sheep, who keep the same track, only because others have gone before.
them. The words, as they stand in our translation, are these—The Lord hath been witness between thee a?id the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hajl dealt treacherously: yet she is thy companion and the wife of thy covenant. And did not He make one? yet hath He the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacbersusly against the wise os his youth; for the Lord God of Israel faith, that be hateth
PUTTING AWAY. .
The last words are a key to the rest, and shew, that the instance in which they dealt treacherously with their wives^ was putting them away; and this, in order to take heathen women in their room. This is manifest from ver. n. Judah hath dealt treacherousty, and an abomination is committed in Israel and Jerim Salem; for Judah hath prophaned the . holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a Jlrange god.
Ezra *, who lived about this time; hath recorded the fact at large, and fully explains the matter; chap. ix. i. The people of Israel and the priests have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, for they have taken of their daughters
* See also Nehemiah xiii. 23—29. -j K 4 for
for themselves, and for their sons, and the holy feed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands.
Ver. 10. And now, O Lord, what jhall wefay after this ? for we have forsaken thy commandments, which thou hajl commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, 'The land which ye go to poJJ'efs is an unclean land, &c.
Ver. 12. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters to your sons, &c.
Chap. x. 2. We have trespassed againsl our God, and have taken strange wives of the people of the land. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God, to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, ver. 3.
The putting away these heathen women was a duty, and this by the positive law of God. For God having, as it were, forbidden the banns in express words (Deut. vii. 3.) their marriages were absolutely null and void ab initio; they could contract no valid marriage whatsoever with them, and therefore must put them away. This affords us a strong proof of the lawfulness of polygamy, where the woman was not excepted against, as by the law above mentioned, or by some other: for if this were otherwise, we ihould hear of putting away all but theJirjl in all cases. God would not have suffered any marriage which was contrary to the seventh commandment, any more than those which were contrary to Deut. vii. 3. When we compare Ezra and Malachi together, we find by the former, that the Jews took heathen women for their wives; and by the latter, that they not only did this, but put away their Ifraelitijh wives for that very purpose. This is plainly what ver. 14. calls dealing treacherously with their wives, their divorcing them for this unhallowed purpose. There the prophet uses the like arguments against them as he had before used, ver. 10. with regard to their dealing treacherously with their brethren —Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man againji his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? When they put away their Jewi/Jj wives, and married the heathen idolatrous women, they profaned the cove?tant of their fathers; that is, that command of God delivered to their fathers, not only in the original institution of marriage, which forbad putting away, but also that positive law, Deut. vii. 3. which forbad marriage with heathens. They dealt treacherously with their brethren i