« ElőzőTovább »
instituted by God, there are two, and only two, joined together.
The same truth is elsewhere taught by our Lord, when answering the inquiry of the Pharisees regarding the law of divorce ; " I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commiteth adultery; and whoso marrieth her who is put away doth commit adultery *” Here it is declared that the man who puts away his wife, and marries another, is an adulterer ;a declaration which establishes the truth of the position, that whosoever marries a second wife, while the first is living, is guilty of adultery.
All the passages of the New Testament which allude to marriage, suppose it to signify the union of one man with one woman. “ Know
ye not,” says
the Apostle Paul, “ brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband, is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth ; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband; so then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress f.”—“Let every man,” says the same Apostle elsewhere, “have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
There are, indeed, several instances of polygamy mentioned in the Old Testament, as there are there recorded the deviations from duty, as well as the virtues, of the persons alluded to; but they receive no counte
nance from the authority of God, and were sources of vexation and sorrow, both to parents and children.
II. Let us now listen to the testimony of nature and of reason on the subject. The equality, or, rather, the very near approximation to equality, in the num. ber of males and females born into the world, is a plain indication that it is the will of God, that one woman should be the wife of one husband : “ For, if to one man be allowed an exclusive right to five or more women, four or more men must be deprived of the exclusive possession of any; which could never be the order intended.”
Polygamy is not more friendly to population than the existing arrangement. It is maintained, by some respectable writers, that it is less so; and they adduce in evidence, the creation of a single pair to replenish the world. They infer from this fact, that the allotment of one woman to one man is more favourable to population than a plurality of wives. Indeed, the fact stated in the former paragraph, namely, the equality in the number of males and females who grow to maturity, renders it impossible that polygamy should increase the population. For the question is not, as Paley remarks, whether one man will have more children by five or more wives than one ; but whether these five wives would not bear the same or a greater number of children to five separate husbands.
Polygamy, besides, tends to frustrate, by the evils which it produces, the designs of marriage. It introduces the most unseemly dissensions into families, which impair the happiness of parents, and lead to a neglect of the education of children. The female sex,
who by Christianity are admitted to equal rights with the males in the institution of marriage, are degraded by polygamy into instruments of mere physical pleasure. There would thus, on the supposition of the adoption of this system, be continual injustice done to the half of the human racema circumstance which of itself proves that it is at variance with the will of God.
We must, therefore, regard the law which prohibits polygamy in every christian country as just. In Sweden it is punished with death. In England, besides the nullity of the second marriage, it subjects the offender to transportation for the first offence, and to capital punishment for the second*.
By divorce, we understand the dissolution of the marriage-contract. This was allowed by some ancient nations, and is allowed by some nations at the present day, by the act, and at the will of the husband. Such a permission is incongruous with scripture and with
* “ Polygamy can never be endured under any rational civil establishment, whatever specious reasons may be urged for it by the eastern na. tions, the fallaciousness of which has been fully proved by many sensible writers. It is therefore punished by the laws both of ancient and moderu Sweden with death. And with us in England it is enacted by statute, 1 Jac. I. c. ii., that if any person being married, do afterwards marry again, the former husband or wife being alive, it is felony; but within the benefit of Clergy. The first wife, in this case, shall not be admitted as a witness against her husband, because she is the true wife ; but the second may, for she is indeed no wife at all: and so vice versâ, of a second husband."-Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. i. p. 136. Vol. II.
the law of nature, both of which establish the position that divorces are unlawful, except in cases of incontinence.
I. Let us attend to the testimony of Scripture on this subject. We have recorded in the New Testament the answer which our Lord gave to the Pharisees on this very point. Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 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 unto 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."
From these words of our Lord, it is clearly proved, in the first place, that marriage is a divine institution, and that therefore the engagements made in it are irrevocable by man. The parties joined together are united according to God's authority, and man has no judicial power to put them asunder without permission from the Supreme Legislator.
It is further evident, in the second place, from the language of our Lord, that a divorce cannot take place, except in the case of incontinence, without involving the parties, and their consequent marriages, in guilt. The man who divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery; and the man who marries the divorced wife is also an adulterer. If the effect of a divorce be to allow the parties whose marriage contract is thereby dissolved lawfully to marry, it is obvious that there never can be a divorce according to the divine law, except in the case of the previous adultery of the husband or wife.
It is maintained, and as it appears to me, on the best grounds, that the Apostle Paul teaches the same doctrine in the following passage.
Unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart, or be separated from her husband: but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband : and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest;" that, to those who were placed in peculiar circumstances by the introduction of christianity, and whose case had not existed when Christ gave the command referred to—“ But to the rest I command, not the Lord: if any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children unclean, but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him