Page images

that virtue is chiefly exercised, and shines with greater bright



The tree of life, in my opinion, ought not to be considered so much a sacrament, as a symbol of eternal life, or rather perhaps the nutriment by which that life is sustained. Gen. iii. 22. "lest he take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." Rev. ii. 7. " to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life."

Seeing, however, that man was made in the image of God, and had the whole law of nature so implanted and innate in him, that he needed no precept to enforce its observance, it follows, that if he received any additional commands, whether respecting the tree of knowledge, or the institution of marriage, these commands formed no part of the law of nature, which is sufficient of itself to teach whatever is agreeable to right reason, that is to say, whatever is intrinsically good. Such commands therefore must have been founded on what is called positive right, whereby God, or any one invested with lawful power, commands or forbids what is in itself neither good nor bad, and what therefore would not have been obligatory on any one, had there been no law to enjoin or prohibit it. With regard to the Sabbath, it is clear that God hallowed it to himself, and dedicated it to rest, in remembrance of the consummation of his work; Gen. ii. 2, 3. Exod. xxxi. 17. Whether its institution was ever made known to Adam, or whether any commandment relative to its observance was given previous to the delivery of the law on Mount Sinai, much less whether any such was given before the fall of man, cannot be ascertained, Scripture being silent


the tree of knowledge grew fast by,

Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill. Paradise Lost, IV. 222. Which may have been borrowed from Du Bartas ;

He, happy, knew the good by the use of it;

He knew the bad, but not by proof as yet. P. 83.

The church began in innocency, and yet it began with a sacrament, the tree of life-.' Bp. Taylor. Works, I. 149.

5 See the passage quoted from Tetrachordon in the preceding page,

not 1.

See Thomas Aquinas, 12 Qu. 96. Art. 6. Concl.


from work

Now resting, bless'd and hallow'd the sev'nth day,

As resting on that day from all his work. Paradise Lost, VII. 590.


on the subject. The most probable supposition is, that Moses, who seems to have written the book of Genesis much later than the promulgation of the law, inserted this sentence from the fourth commandment, into what appeared a suitable place for it; where an opportunity was afforded for reminding the Israelites, by a natural and easy transition, of the reason assigned by God, many ages after the event itself, for his command with regard to the observance of the Sabbath by the covenanted people. An instance of a similar insertion occurs Exod. xvi. 33, 34. "Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot and put an omer full of manna therein. so Aaron laid it up ;" which, however, did not take place till long afterwards. The injunction respecting the celebration of the Sabbath in the wilderness, Exod. xvi. a short time previous to the delivery of the law, namely, that no one should go out to gather manna on the seventh morning, because God had said that he would not rain it from heaven on that day, seems rather to have been intended as a preparatory notice, the groundwork, as it were, of a law for the Israelites, to be delivered shortly afterwards in a clearer manner; they having been previously ignorant of the mode of observing the Sabbath. Compare v. 5. with v. 22-30. For the rulers of the congregation, who ought to have been better acquainted than the rest with the commandment of the Sabbath, if any such institution then existed, wondered why the people gathered twice as much on the sixth day, and appealed to Moses; who then, as if announcing something new, proclaimed to them that the morrow would be the Sabbath. After which, as if he had already related in what manner the Sabbath was for the first time observed, he proceeds, v. 30. "so the people rested on the seventh day."

That the Israelites had not so much as heard of the Sabbath before this time, seems to be confirmed by several passages of the prophets. Ezek. xx. 10-12. "I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness; and I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgements. . . . . moreover also I gave them my

8 Paley advances the same supposition in his examination of the Scripture account of Sabbatical institutions. Moral Philosophy, Book V. Chap. 7.

sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah that sanctify them." Neh. ix. 13, 14. " thou camest down also upon mount Sinai and gavest them right judgements.... and madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandest them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.” This subject, however, will come again under discussion. Book II. Chap. vii.

With regard to marriage, that it was instituted, if not commanded, at the creation, is clear, and that it consisted in the • mutual love, society, help, and comfort of the husband and wife, though with a reservation of superior rights to the husband." Gen. ii. 18. “it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." 1 Cor. xi. 7-9. "for is the image of the glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man: for the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man; neither was the man created for the

a man....

9 See Tetrachordon. It might be doubted, &c.. lost by her means.' Prose Works, III. 324, 325 'What an injury is it after wedlock to be contended with in point of house rule who shall be the head. 'I suffer not,' saith St. Paul, the woman to usurp authority over the man.' If the apostle would not suffer it, into what mould is he mortified that can?' Doctrine, &c. of Divorce, III. 247. Was she made thy guide, Superior, or but equal, that to her

Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
Wherein God set thee above her made of thee?
Paradise Lost, X. 1.46.

See also XI. 291, 634-636.

[ocr errors]

Therefore God's universal law
Gave to the man despotic power
Over his female in due awe,

Nor from that right to part an hour,
Smile she or lower.

Samson Agonistes, 1064.

This is a favourite doctrine with Milton, and the accounts of his domestic life prove that he acted upon it in his intercourse with his family: Johnson has truly remarked, that throughout Paradise Lost, both before and after the fall, the superiority of Adam to Eve is diligently sustained. See p. 681, note 7. Speaking of Boadicea in his history, he considers her bearing authority as the earliest note of barbarism, as if in Britain women were men, and men women.' Book 2. See also his contemptuous mention of the sex, Paradise Lost, X. 888–895. Again,

For he in vain makes a vaunt of liberty in the senate or in the forum, who languishes under the vilest servitude, to an inferior at home.' Second Defence of the People of England, Prose Works, I. 259.

woman, but the woman for the man. The power of the husband was even increased after the fall. Gen. iii. 16. "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.' Therefore the word by in the Hebrew signifies both husband and lord. Thus Sarah is represented as calling her husband Abraham lord, 1 Pet. iii. 6. 1 Tim. ii. 12—14. “ I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence: for Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, was in the transgression."

[ocr errors]

Marriage, therefore, is a most intimate connection of man with woman, ordained by God, for the purpose either of the procreation of children, or of the relief and solace of life. Hence it is said, Gen. ii. 24. "therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh." This is neither a law nor a commandment, but an effect or natural consequence of that most intimate union which would have existed between them in the perfect state of man; nor is the passage intended to serve any other purpose, than to account for the origin of families.

In the definition which I have given, I have not said, in compliance with the common opinion, of one man with one woman, lest I should by implication charge the holy patriarchs and pillars of our faith, Abraham, and the others who had more than one wife at the same time, with habitual fornication and adultery; and lest I should be forced to exclude from the sanctuary of God as spurious, the holy offspring which sprang from them, yea, the whole of the sons of Israel, for whom the sanctuary itself was made. For it is said, Deut. xxiii. 2. " a bastard shall not enter into the congregation of Jehovah, even to his tenth generation." Either therefore polygamy is a true marriage, or all children born in that


14 Certain it is that whereas other nations used a liberty not unnatural, for one man to have many wives, the Britons altogether as licentious, but more absurd and preposterous in their license, had one or many wives in common among ten or twelve husbands.' History of England. Prose Works, Book II. With the exception of this hint, I am not aware of any passage in Milton's printed works which contains a clue to his opinions respecting polygamy. His History was written just before he became Latin Secretary to the Council, about the year 1650; and it is observable that although, aceording to the above quotation, he appears to have been inclined in favour of the practice, he then admitted its licentiousness.


state are spurious; which would include the whole race of Jacob, the twelve holy tribes chosen by God. But as such an assertion would be absurd in the extreme, not to say impious, and as it is the height of injustice, as well as an example of most dangerous tendency in religion, to account as sin what is not such in reality; it appears to me, that, so far from the question respecting the lawfulness of polygamy being trivial, it is of the highest importance that it should be decided."


Those who deny its lawfulness, attempt to prove their position from Gen. ii 24. " a man shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh," compared with Matt. xxix. 5. they twain shall be one flesh." A man shall cleave, they say, to his wife, not to his wives, and they twain, and no more, shall be one flesh. This is certainly ingenious; and I therefore subjoin the passage in Exod. xx. 17. "thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, nor his man-servant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox nor his ass:" whence it would follow that no one had more than a single house, a single man-servant, a single maid-servant, a single ox or ass. It would be ridiculous to argue, that it is not said houses, but house, not manservants, but man-servant, not even neighbours, but neighbour; as if it were not the general custom, in laying down commandments of this kind, to use the singular number, not in a numerical sense, but as desigrating the species of the thing intended. With regard to the phrase, they twain, and not more, shall be one flesh, it is to be observed, first, that the context refers to the husband and that wife only whom he was seeking to divorce, without intending any allusion to

? See the title to The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce ;—' wherein also are set down the bad consequences of abolishing, or condemning of sin. that which the law of God allows, and Christ abolished not.' Prose Works, III. 169. In these opinions it would be more religion to advise well, lest we make ourselves juster than God, by censuring rashly that for sin, which his unspotted law without rebuke allows, and his people without being conscious of displeasing him have used.' Doctrine, &c. III. 243.

3 Hoc magis video cur in uno relato singulari non possit ad correlata multa esse multiplex relatio; dummodo relatio una numero inter bina tantummodo sit, totiesque consideretur quot sint correlata; patris nimirum toties quot sunt filii; filii quot sunt parentes, pater nempe et mater; fratris, quot sunt fratres et sorores; nam nisi quicquid de relatis in genere dici solet, de singulis quoque relatis vere dicatur.'—Artis Logice Flnio~ Institutio, Prose Works, VI. 234.

« PreviousContinue »