Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

make men's * traditions, and not God's word, the rule of their faith.

Besides the evils which have been noticed as the consequences of our superstition on the subject of polygamy, the utter extinction of families might also be mentioned; whereas, sooner than this mould be the cafe in Israel, we find God enacting a peculiar positive law, in order to prevent it j which said law was certainly a virtual command of polygamy in many, perhaps in most, cafes, as it was very rare to find an unmarried man among the Jews. The law to which I allude, is that of Deut. xxv. 5. where the husband's brother was to marry the widow of the deceased, if he died without children— that his name might not be put out of Israel. Though all the reasons of this law do not now subsist, therefore the law itself, as. far as those reasons have ceased, hath itself ceasedyet it serves to shew us, that

*- Among the fooleries of the Jixth century^ an entire abstinence from marriage was held the surest way to Paradise. Women were not even suffered to approach the altar, nor touch the pall which co~ vered it, unless when, by the priests, it was delivered to them to be waflied. The eucharist was too holy to be touched by their naked hands, they were therefore ordered, by the canons of the church, to have a white linen glove upon the hand in order tcj receive it, See Alexanders Hist, of-Worn. vol. 1. p. 166.

God

God did certainly allow polygamy, and even command it, sooner than suffer inheritances to fail by the extinction of families.

Among us, if a man be married to a barren woman, he cannot take another wife while she lives, but must content himself with letting his nobility, titles, honours, and family be annihilated, and his estates escheat to the crown, under pain and penalty of being adjudged a felon if he marries a second wise (living the first) who might be the means of continuing and transmitting all these things to a long and numerous posterity.

This foolish superstition is like that of the sews in the days of Mattathias, who suffered themselves to be slaughtered by the enemy without resistance, because it wasthesabbath-day, I Mac. ii. 32, 38. or like that of the Carthusians, who live entirely on f/h, and would not eat a piece os other meat even to save their lives.

The modern Jews are wiser, for though they in general coincide with the government where their lot happens to be cast, so that they are polygamous or monogamous, according to the laws of the country they live in; yet if a few be married ten years to a woman, and has no child by her, he is at liberty to take

another,

another, that he may have an heir to his substance} and in so doing he certainly is justified by the law of God J which law we have set aside, and established our own superstition in its place, which not only tends to the annihilation and extinction of families, and of course to depopulation; but is, as elsewhere is more fully observed, the source of endless ruin and destruction to the weaker sex, whose seducers, if married men, are totally exempt from making them that amends, and doing them that justice, which God's law commanded, and which, among us Christians, is looked upon as duty to withhold, or rather, as a mortal*fin to comply with.

* Bellarmiae, that great champion for 77;,? Man of Sin, faith.—Lib. 4. de Rom. Pontiflc, "Si Papa *' erraret prsecipiendo vitia, £t prohibendo virtutes, ** teneretur ecclesia credere vitia esse bona, & vir* ** tutes malas, nisi vellet contra confcientiam pec** care."

"If the Pope fliould err in commanding vices, ** and in prohibiting virtues, the church would be "bound to believe that vices arc good, and virtues ** evil, unless she would sin against conscience." And again, Cant. Barel. c. xxxi. "In bono fenfu "dedit Chuistus Priro potestatem faciendi de pec"cato non peccatum,,& de nan peccato peccatum." ** In a good fense—Christ gave Peter" (and of course the Pope) "a power of making that no sin "which is sin, and to make that to be sin which is "not a sin," What better principle do we proceed upon in the matters here mentioned?

As these points are folly treated in other parts of this book, I will now proceed to shew, that the wild notions about marriage, which were introduced into the church, bear an earlier date than the days of Tertullian, and those other fathers mentioned before.

'* There were others," fays Mr. Brought ton—Hist. Lib. tit. Marriage—" who sim-r "ply exclaimed against marriage as «»"lawful under the gofyel. This doctrine "was first taught by Saturnilus, a scholar "of Simon Magus and Marcion, but as-; "terwards better known amongst the *' Encratites; to these may be added the "Apajiolics or Apota&ics, the Manicbees, "Severians, and many others.' The "church had great struggles with these '* antient heretics, who inveighed bit** terly against marriage under the gojpel"Jiate, and wrought upon many weak "minds, to be guilty of great irregula** rities, under pretence of a more re"fined way of living.

"The church had also another content "with the Montanijis and Novatians, "about second marriages, these heretics *' rejecting them as utterly unlawful."— And indeed the ecclesiastical histories inform us, that this madness (for I can call it nothing else) was carried so far, as that 2 second second marriages were styled no better than whoredom; and ecclesiastical persons were forbidden to be present at them on pain of excommunication. This in the very face of the scriptures of God, which declare just as much for second marriages as for first. Rom. vii. 2, 3. 1 Cor. vii. 39. By all this v?e fee what work may be made with the scriptures, when the imaginations of men are let loose, instead of comparing spiritual things 'with spiritual, and making God the interpreter of His own word.

As for the practice of polygamy amongst the first Christians, it was probably very * frequent; if not—why did Paul (i Tim. iii. 2. and Tit. i. 6.) recommend the

* So it should seem to have been in times long after them, not only among the laity, but the clergy also; for Pope Sylvester, about the year 335, made an ordonnance, that every priest should be the busband of one wife only.

So in the sixth century, it was enacted in the canons of one of their councils, that if any one is married to many wives, he {hall do penance. See Alex. Hist. Worn. vol. ii. 217, 272.

The cafe of Philip Landgrave of Hesse, as determined by the fix reformers, is well known. But all these things prove nothing, with respect to the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the matter in the sight of God: I only mention them, to shew that Christians have, by no means, thought always alike on the subject. The transactions of an inspired apostle are certainly good evidence—to these let us attend.

choice

« AnteriorContinuar »