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the beginning, under which these people lived and died, without the least repentance, or any signs of it, as adulterers, sornicators, and whoremongers. That is the infallible * consequence of the common interpretation of this passage; for Christ does not ground the authority of what He declares on any new law which he was introducing, but on an explanation of God's law from the beginning, revealed first to Adam, afterwards recorded by Moses, that it might be transmitted to all succeeding generations, as the one rule of faith and practice, for all those to whom God's word should come, to the end of the world. Neither with you only, faith Moses to the people (then present at the re-publication of God's law, Deut. xxix. 14, 15.) do I make this covenant and this oath, but with him that standeth here with us this day, before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not (or those who are not) here with us this day, i. e. with all succeeding generations, till time shall be no more.

* For fin is the transgression of the law. 1 John iii. 4. All unrighteousness e. all unconformity to the law) if fin. 1 John v- 17. The foul that finneth, it /hall die. Ezek. xviii. 4. The wages of fin is death. Rom. vi. 23. Whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Heb. xiii. 4. The weak arguments which have been made use of to excuse the fin of polygamy, as some call it, in the patriarchs, and the Old-Testament faints, will be fully considered and exposed in this chapter.

Therefore

Therefore Christ, so far from altering, changing, or destroying the law delivered from God by Moses, enters a caveat against such a supposition (Matt. v. \y.) Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to dejiroy, but to fulfil: for verily I fay unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle Jhall in no wife pass from the law, 'till all be fulfilled—iw Olv Trainee . ytwiTXt until all things be done. Hammond. And again (Luke xvi. 17.) It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. This not only stamps unchangeablenefs upon the law, but on its import, fense, and meaning, as one and the same throughout all ages and generations, as an invariable rule of life for the members of God's visible church upon earth, even to the least jot or tittle.

Notwithstanding, as this passage of Matt. xix. is the chief ground on which that absurd position is built, that "Poly"gamy, though allowed under the law, ** is forbidden under the gospel;" or, "though permitted under the Old Testa'* ment, is forbidden under the New" (as if there could be a law in the New Testament contradictory to that in the Old Testament) it may be worth our while to consider the matter more minutely.

The question put by the Phariseesi 5 Matt.

Matt. xix. 3. is not, " whether it belaw"ful to marry two wives at a time, or to "take one to another?" but—" Is it law"fidfor a man to Put Away his wife for "every cause?" The question concerns divorce, and divorce only. When we consider who it was that was to give the answer, we may be certain of its entire pertinence to the quejlion. It follows (ver. 4, &c.) He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning, ?nade them male and femak, and said, For this cause Jhall a man leave jather and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they twain (i.e. the man and his wife) fiatt be one jiejh; wherefore they are no more twain, but one. fiejh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

With so close, so apposite, so conclusive an answer, grounded on the old marriageinstitution, not on any new dispensation; they ought to have been satisfied that di" vorce was unlawful. But they urge him farther, and (ver. 7.) said unto himWhy did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and put her away? He faith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, Suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not for (i. e. that men should/^/ away their wives). And I fy unto you, that whosoever Jhall put away his wife, except it be for fornication,

andfoall marry another, committeth adulteryj and he who marrieth her which is put away, committeth adultery.

. This last is the verse which has made the difficulty; fdr if this * were meant to condemn polygamy, it amounts, so far, to a contradiSlion, or rather repeal, of the old law which permitted it; and then more than a jot or tittle has pafj'edfrom the law. If it means that it was always Jinful, and against the law of God, it condemns, as was before observed, all that ever practised it, and falls heavy on some of the greatest saints, that are recorded in scripture as patterns of faith, holiness, and obedience.

This difficulty, like mahy others in the scriptures, can only be solved, by attending to the peculiar circumstances of the persons spoken to, and the particular occasion on which the Words were spoken j for want of this, we are apt to interpret the scriptures more by found than fense, and thus make them fyeak what they never meant.

The yews, at the time of their dispute with Christ on the subject of divorce, were fonder of tradition than of the scriptures, and of the teachings of their rabbies, than of the law of God; insomuch that Christ charges them {Matt. xv. 9.) with Vol. I. G teaching teaching for doBrines the commandments of men: and (Mark vii. 9, 13.) with rejecting and making the word of God of none eff'eB, through their tradition. There were several famous rabbies, whom they highly reverenced, but particularly Shammah, Hillell, and Akiba.

* The school of Shammah taught, that a man could not be lawfully divorced from his wife, " unless he had found her guilty *' of some action which was really infa*'. mous, and contrary to the rules of virtue." But the.school of Hillell ■f, who was Shammah's disciple, taught, on the con- trary, that " the least reasons were sufH"cient to authorize a man to put away "his wife. For example—if she did not

* See Cruden, under divorce.

t Shammah and Hillell are supposed to have lived about an hundred years before the destruction of the second temple. Some say they were cotemporaries -with Herodihe Great. See Ant. Univ. Hist. vol. x. p. 429, 469.

Of Akiba it is said—Circa ea tempera vixit—" he 11 lived about those times." Athan. Vine.

Dr. Owen on the scripture, p. 227, makes hintarmour-bearer to the Pseudo-Meffias Barchochab, in the days of Adrian; when, in the pursuit of a design. to restore their temple and tvorjhip, the Jews fell into a rebellion against the Romans all the world over. This was about the year 135. Fromrthese different accounts, it seems probable that there' was more than one person of the name of Akiba, or,, as fame call him, Aqitiba.

* *• - '- "dress

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