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what he has written on the subject, fie has had the honour of coinciding, in so many points, with the sentiments of this learned, judicious, and excellent Bishop, But, on the other hand, he must express his sorrow, that his Lordship was so far "distant from his books and papers," otherwise, it is most probable, that he would have produced some valuable testimonies from the antients, concerning what he hints at as—" little noticed."
Another thing is also to be lamented, which is, that the good Bi/hop did not proceed to explain what he meant by those *' great and visible imminent hazards," mentioned in the last paragraph.
If so small and inconsiderable a person as myself may venture to guess at the meaning of so considerable and great a man as Bishop Burnet, I should suppose, that his Lord/hip has here a reference to his observation before made, concerning the difference between the state of innocency, and that of mankind since the fall, and to those evils which he mentions as the consequences of the latter—which could not exist during the former. Such as '" barrenness, sickness, uncleannefs, ot ** crossness of humour." What " great, im** minent, and visible hazards hang over "thousands,"'from these causes, has been
observed before, p. 181—184. To vindicate, therefore, the lawfulness of polygamy is, as the world is now constituted, in such cases at least, to act as a good citizen of the world, by vindicating the " na«« tural privileges," and necessary rights of mankind; and it is, at the fame time, to act as a sincere believer of divine revelation, to set forth, openly and without disguise, that Heavenly System, by which those rights are established and secured. To vindicate also that universal law, which had the good of the Whole for its object; to shew that its wisdom and beneficence are- too Vast to be confined to a Jingle people, or a single period of particular dispensation—to free it from that obscurity which monks and priests, and other enthusiasts and. fanatics, have involved it in, to the distress and destruction of millions—is a task reserved alone for those, who, for the sake of truth, are willing to sacrifice their ease and reputation to the malevolence of ignorance and prejudice.
Christ not the Giver of a neiv Law,
Tl/TOSHEIM, (Eccl. Hist. Machine* edition, quarto, -vol. i. p. 295) very justly observes—*' When once the mini"fiers of the church had departed from tx the antient simplicity of religion, a'* buses were daily multiplied; and fu"perfiition drew, from its horrid fecun"dity, an incredible number of absurdi**' ties, which were added to the doctrine "of Christ and his apostles."'—This is very true, and very strikingly exemplified in that learned and accurate writer's history of the Christian church, both with regard to ceremonies and doSlrines. Among other absurdities in point of doBrine, is the notion that "Christ's mission up* "on earth was to exhibit to mortals a '* new law, distinguished from all others "by its unblemished fanBity and perfec"tion." In vol. ii. p. 277. this is represented as one main article of the Socinian creed, and it is to be wished that it never had been adopted but by the immediate followers of Socinus. Yet this
is the language we hear daily, and is at the bottom of that extravagant notion expressed by Gronovius on Grotius De Jure*, torn. i. p. 274, octavo, 1735.—maintained by many learned men, and even adopted as an axiom by the generality of Christians, as much as the Popes supremacy and infallibility were before the Reformation—namely, that—" Lex natu." ræ & veteris fœderis concedunt polyga"miam"—The law of* nature, and of the
* By lex natura, or taw of nature, I understand here (as Gronovius joins it with the lex veteris fœderis—the law of the old covenant—) that lex non fcripta, or unwritten law, given of God to Adam,
( and from him derived by tradition to the people of God till the time of Moses, when the lex fcripta, or
. written law, was given by -Moses. See John i. 17. former part, and Rom. v. 13. Both these laws are
. in substance one and the fame. The moral obligation of each demanded, the fame obedience; the ceremonial institutions of both pointed out the fame sacrifice and atonement for sin. Neither of these laws forbad polygamy, therefore it was practised by Abraham—Jacob, and doubtless many others who lived under what is called the patriarchal dispensation*— as well as by the sews under the Mosaical dispensa
. tion. As for what is generally understood by the law of nature,* the offspring of what is called the light of nature, it is best described by—
Monflrum, horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen
Let those who think I carry this matter too far,
consult Rom. i. 21, &c. which passage of holy writ
may be looked upon as a summary of what is said
rin the Old Testament, of the depravity, blindness, . Voi.I, Y * 'ignorance, Old Testament, allow polygamy, but it urforbidden—Lege Christi"—by theiaw bf 'christ. This appears 'to be ;the opinion of Grotius in that place 6n lwhich Gronovius comments: for he fays'—l£x "Christi lege irritum est 'conjugTum "cum eo qui maritus fit alterius mUlierrs, '** ob jus illud quod Christum fœmhife pudicitiam fervanti dedit in maritum." •—By the law of Christ, a marriage with a man who is the bujband of another woman, is void and of none effect, by reason of the right which Christ gave to the woman, who preserves her chajlity, over'her Misband. Here then Christ is set up to exhibit to mortals a new law, and that,
ignorance, and wickedness of the fallen human nature. This is abundantly confirmed by all history,
"and daily experience. Dr. Alexander, Hist, of Worn, vol. i. p. 169, fays, very truly—" Man, in that 14 rude and uncultivated state in which he originally "appears in all countries, before he has been form** ed by society, and instructed by experience* ''is "an animal, differing but little from the "wild •* beasts that surround him." Here let me Once
"more recommend to the reader's perusal, Dr. LtLand's Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation, There he will see a very authentic account of what Man is, "though formed by society, "and instructed by experience," without the light of divine revelation. This, not as it respects the vulgar and illiterate, but those also who are handed down to us, as most eminent for wisdom, learnbrg, and philosophy.—The World By Wisdom1 Rne'w Not God. x Cor. i. 21. Comp. Job xi. 7, 8.