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Aaron and Miriam should at this time be suddenly kindled, because Moses forty years before had married Zipporah; nor would they have acted thus scornfully towards one whom the whole house of Israel had gone out to meet on her arrival with her father Jethro. If then he married the Cushite during the lifetime of Zipporah, his conduct in this particular received the express approbation of God himself, who moreover punished with severity the unnatural opposition of Aaron and his sister. Next I place Gideon, that signal example of faith and piety, Judg. viii. 30, 31. and Elkanah, a rigid Levite, the father of Samuel; who was so far from believing himself less acceptable to God on account of his double marriage, that he took with him his two wives every year to the sacrifices and annual worship, into the immediate presence of God; nor was he therefore reproved, but went home blessed with Samuel, a child of excellent promise, 1 Sam. ii. 10. Passing over several other examples, though illustrious, such as Caleb, 1 Chron. ii. 46, 48. vii. 1. 4. the sons of Issachar, in number "six and thirty thousand men, for they had many wives and sons," contrary to the modern European practice, where in many places the land is suffered to remain uncultivated for want of population; and also Manasseh, the son of Joseph, 1 Chron. vii. 14. I come to the prophet David, whom God loved beyond all men, and who took two wives, besides Michal; and this not in a time of pride and prosperity, but when he was almost bowed down by adversity, and when, as we learn from many of the psalms, he was entirely occupied in the study of the word of God and in the right regulation of his conduct. 1 Sam. xxv. 42, 43. and afterwards, 2 Sam. v. 12, 13. "David perceived that Jehovah had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake and David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem." Such were the motives, such the honourable and holy thoughts whereby he was influenced, namely, by the consideration of God's kindness towards him for his people's sake. His heavenly and prophetic understanding saw not in that primitive institution what we in our blindness fancy we discern so clearly; nor did he hesitate to proclaim in the supreme council of the nation the pure and honourable motives to which, as he trusted, his children born in polygamy owed their existence. 1 Chron.
xxviii. 5. " of all my sons, for Jehovah hath given me many sons, he hath chosen," &c. I say nothing of Solomon, notwithstanding his wisdom, because he seems to have exceeded due bounds; although it is not objected to him that he had taken many wives, but that he had married strange women ;3 1 Kings xi. 1. Nehem. xiii. 26. His son Rehoboam desired many wives, not in the time of his iniquity, but during the three years in which he is said to have walked in the way of David, 2 Chron. xi. 17, 21, 23. Of Joash mention has already been made; who was induced to take two wives, not by licentious passion, or the wanton desires incident to uncontrolled power, but by the sanction and advice of a most wise and holy man, Jehoiada the priest. Who can believe, either that so many men of the highest character should have sinned through ignorance for so many ages; or that their hearts should have been so hardened; or that God should have tolerated such conduct in his people? Let therefore the rule received among theologians have the same weight here as in other cases: "The practice of the saints is the best interpretation of the commandments."
It is the peculiar province of God to make marriage prosperous and happy. Prov. xix. 14. "a prudent wife is from Jehovah." xviii. 22. "whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of Jehovah."
The consent of the parents, if living, should not be wanting. Exod. xxii. 17. "if his father utterly refuse to give
Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king, whose heart, though large,
To idols foul.
Paradise Lost, I. 442.
Women, when nothing else, beguil'd the heart
Paradise Regained, II. 169.
4 The subject of Jewish polygamy has been discussed by Selden in his Uxor Hebraica, and Michaelis on the Laws of Moses, Book iii. Chap. 54 The arguments advanced by Paley against the practice seem quite unanswerable. See his Moral Philosophy, Book iii. Part 3. Chap. vi. Compare also Lightfoot's Works, VIII. 40.
The 18th chapter (of Bucer's Kingdom of Christ) I only mention as determining a thing not here in question, that marriage without consent of parents ought not to be held good, yet with this qualification fit to be
her unto him." Deut. vii. 3. "thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son." Jer. xxix. 6. "take wives for your sons. But the mutual consent of the parties themselves is naturally the first and most important requisite; for there can be no love or good will, and consequently no marriage, without mutual consent.6
In order that marriage may be valid, the consent must be (free from every kind of fraud, especially in respect of chastity. Deut. xxii. 20, 21, 23. It will be obvious to every sensible person that maturity of age is requisite.
The degrees of affinity which constitute incest are to be determined by, the law of God, Lev. xviii. Deut. xxvii. and not by ecclesiastical canons or legal decrees. We are moreover to interpret the text in its plain and obvious meaning, without attempting to elicit more from it than it really contains. To be wise beyond this point, savours of superstitious folly, and a spurious preciseness.
It is also necessary that the parties should be of one mind in matters of religion. Under the law this precept was understood as applying to marriages already contracted, as well as to those in contemplation. Exod. xxxiv. 15, 16. Deut. vii. 3, 4. compared with Ezra x. 11, &c. and Nehem. xiii. 23, 30. A similar provision was made under the gospel for preventing the contraction of any marriage where a difference of religious opinion might exist: 1 Cor. vii. 39. "she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord." 2 Cor. vi. 14. But
be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." if the marriage be already contracted, it is not to be dissolved, while any hope remains of doing good to the unbeliever."
known,' &c. Prose Works, III. 289. It is generally held by reformed writers against the Papist, that....the father not consenting, his main will without dispute shall dissolve all.... Because the general honour due to parents is great, they hold he may, and perhaps hold not amiss.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III: 338.
6 There must be a joint consent and good liking on both sides.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 203. This brings in the parties' consent; until which be, the marriage hath no true being." Tetrachordon, III. 345.
7 His drift, as was heard before, is plain; not to command our stay in marriage with an infidel; that would have been a flat renouncing of the religious and moral law; but to inform the Corinthians, that the body of an unbeliever was not defiling, if his desire to live in Christian wedlock showed any likelihood that his heart was opening to the faith; and therefore advises to forbear departure so long till nothing have been neglected
1 Cor. vii. 12. For the rest, what kind of issue generally follows such marriages may be seen in the case of the antediluvian world, Gen. vi. of Solomon, 1 Kings xi. 1, &c. of Ahab, xxi. 25. of Jehoshaphat, who gave his son Jehoram a wife of the daughters of Ahab, 2 Kings viii.
The form of marriage consists in the mutual exercise of benevolence, love, help, and solace between the espoused parties, as the institution itself, or its definition, indicates.
The end of marriage is nearly the same with the form. Its proper fruit is the procreation of children; but since Adam's fall, the provision of a remedy against incontinency has become in some degree a secondary end. 1 Cor. vii. 2. Hence marriage is not a command binding on all, but only on those who are unable to live with chastity out of this state." Matt. xix. 11. "all men cannot receive this saying."
Marriage is honourable in itself, and prohibited to no order of men; wherefore the Papists act contrary to religion in excluding the ministers of the church from this rite.' Heb. xiii. 4. "marriage is honourable in all." Gen. ii. 24. 1 Cor.
to set forward a conversion: this I say he advises-.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 203. See also Tetrachordon; I cannot see by this golden dependence- -not an endless servitude.' III. 326, 327. and pp.
8 What is not therefore among the causes constituting marriage, must not stay in the definition. These causes are concluded to be matter, and, as the artist calls it, form...... First, therefore, the material cause of matrimony is man and woman; the author and efficient, God and their consent; the internal form and soul of this relation is conjugal love arising from a mutual fitness to the final causes of wedlock, help and society in religious, civil, and domestic conversation, which includes as an inferior end the fulfilling of natural desire, and specifical increase; these are the final causes both moving the efficient, and perfecting the form.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 342. See also p. 345. 'Marriage is a divine institution-common duty than matrimonial.'
9. If we speak of a command in the strictest definition, then marriage itself is no more a command than divorce; but only free permission to him that cannot contain.' Doctrine, &c. Prose Works, III. 226.
1 Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Paradise Lost, IV. 744.
ix. 5. "have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles?" 1 Tim. iii. 2. "a bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife." v. 4. 66 one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection."
Marriage, by its definition, is an union of the most intimate nature; but not indissoluble or indivisible, as some contend on the ground of its being subjoined, Matt. xix. 5. "they two shall be one flesh." These words, properly considered, do not imply that marriage is absolutely indissoluble, but only that it ought not to be lightly dissolved. For it is upon the institution itself, and the due observance of all its parts, that what follows respecting the indissolubility of marriage depends, whether the words be considered in the light of a command, or of a natural consequence. Hence it is said, "for this cause shall a man leave father and mother.... and they two shall be one flesh;" that is to say, if, according to the nature of the institution as laid down in the preceding verses, Gen. ii. 18, 20. the wife be an help meet for the husband; or in other words, if good will, love, help, comfort, fidelity, remain unshaken on both sides, which, according to universal acknowledgment, is the essential form of marriage. But if the essential form be dissolved, it follows that the marriage itself is virtually dissolved.
Great stress, however, is laid upon an expression in the next verse; "what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." What it is that God has joined together, the institution of marriage itself declares. God has joined only what admits of union, what is suitable, what is good, what
2 This is in direct opposition to the sentiments attributed to Adam in his original innocency;
to have thee by my side Henceforth an individual solace dear.
Paradise Lost, IV. 485.
3 The same comment upon the passage in Genesis occurs elsewhere, and is remarked by Newton as a beautiful climax.
. for this cause he shall forego Father and mother, and to his wife adhere;
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul. VIII. 497.
And again, Eve replying to Adam, who had said, 'we are one flesh.'
And gladly of our union hear thee speak,